Wednesday, 29 August 2012


This is not about young people, especially gang members, showing or not showing ("dissing")"respec'" to other similar people. That's an interesting development of language, but that kind of respect is about enhancing someone's self-image.

It's not about traditional respect for elders (children for adults, young adults for older adults), or for clergy, upper-class landowners or whatever - even teachers. My belief at fifteen is pretty much my belief fifty years later, that while some systems, to function effectively, need a fair amount of people acting as if they respect people of "standing" - so, for example, in an effective school, hospital or military unit, if the decision-makers were regularly treated with open disrespect, the work of the unit would be damaged - real respect either has to be earned (so I respect Stephen Hawking, Kelly Holmes or Rowan Williams) or it's due to all humans,perhaps all life-forms.

It's about memorials. Today I was waiting for some other people in a village (Dedham) by the war memorial, so I read what was written on the memorial. I thought at first it was a rare exception, with as many names recorded for the Second World War as the First (this has only happened in my experience when the place was by the sea and had a strong naval connection, since British military losses in the First World War were far higher than in the Second, but naval casualties were higher in the Second). But I'd failed to see that there were two panels of names for 1914-18 and one for 1939-45. In three cases, I think, surnames occurred twice in the 1914-18 list. This might just indicate that this surname was traditionally common in that village, but it might well indicate the loss of two brothers. In one case a surname not nationally at all common appeared in both lists: perhaps a child lost his father in one war and himself died in the next. The 1939-45 list included two civilians, evidently a woman and her young child. That must have been a bomb. Dedham is not the sort of place to have been a deliberate target, but maybe the bomb was off-target for the mail railway line a few miles off, or the plane was unloading its bombs having turned back from its intended target for some reason such as damage, mechanical problems or fog. In Britain as in other countries, such losses were numerous in cities, ports and so on, but rare well into the countryside.

I thought a bit about what I had learnt and the stories of these people, stories I would never learn.

Some children jumped up on the higher steps of the memorial and played noisily. Their parents called them once and after a while they left. When I returned to the place later, more children were playing on the memorial.

Now - I had mixed feelings about this. I feel such a memorial ought to be treated seriously - whatever you think of war in general or these wars in particular - and we should show respect for those who died. But might not they have been happy that children were happy there?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Odanglesex Revisited: Branding the Directorate (2)

Continuing the rerun adventures in Odanglesex County Council with Kenneth Spotlessnob's attempt to find a slogan for his directorate.

FROM: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision
TO: Dale Brashcon, Transformational Excellence Champion


The word for the entries to brand the Directorate is quality rather than quantity. Six entries was a bit low. Could you present the whole thing in an upbeat, positive way in line with our core values? You know the result, of course.


By the way - can we meet with Neil at four to discuss an implementation trajectory for my learning experiences from North Korea? I'd value your input.

FROM: Dale Brashcon
TO: All Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision

I'm sure you were all drumming your fingers waiting for the announcement that's had us all excited - the result of our competition to brand the Directorate! Well, this is it. We experienced a massive surge in entries after my little note of encouragement - a 100% increase, in fact. We knew how keen you all were on this!

Judging the entries was really exciting, but frustrating too as only one could win. Congratulations to everybody, but especially to Scott Gerald Fitzwilliam, Management Trainee, FOR THE WINNING ENTRY:

Collaborative, Responsive, Agile, Proactive! I'm sure you'll all agree that's us to a T! This should go on all our outgoing e-mail traffic and I attach a guide explaining how to add it just under the text.

FROM: Scott Fitzwilliam, Management Trainee
TO: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer

REE! HELP!! I just meant to send that to you. Come and comfort me, PLEASE!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Odanglesex Revisited: Branding the Directorate (1)

Continuing the reposted Odanglesex adventures - this time on Branding the Directorate. Those outside the jargon of large commercial organisations - and large state organisations aping them - might think branding was what happened to steers, but do not fear. Health and Safety rules would prevent this being done to Kenneth Spotlessnob's Directorate and it is even possible the unions might learn of it and object.

From: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision

To: All Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision

I was delighted that so many colleagues from Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision took part in the recent competition to suggest values for the Council that could be summarised in seven words for our branding. It was really exciting to be on the panel with Ed and Councillor Wayneflete and see so many excellent ideas! Unfortunately the winning entry was not from TESV, but I'm sure you'll agree that the suggestion by Bill Sidebottom, Acting Assistant Director of Transportation and Settlement, was brilliant and captured the values of this vibrant and exciting organisation. So I'm sure you were thrillled when it came up on your screens when you turned on your computers: Passionate, Innovative, Strategic, Sensitive, Organised, Factually Founded!

Nothing could better express the Transformation Agenda.

Now our next exciting step change transformation journey is to choose a similar message for our directorate! Suggestions to Kelly Pattrick in my office please, by the end of the month. Let's do better than the other lots and get our essential message, direction and culture into just four words. If teams want to hold brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas, just contact Neil Balderson to gain approval for booking accomodation.

Looking forward to all the wonderful ideas!




Hello campers! As you all know, Kenneth is out in North Korea putting the exciting final touches to the Lord Pond Leadership Values and Benefits Awards Scheme. When he comes back, of course, he'll be full of ideas from his learning experiences, but in the meantime, he's asked me to put a little extra fizz into our Directorate branding brainstorming. We've actually had only three suggestions for the four words and one of those had only two words in it. I'm absolutely sure everyone at this exciting, transformational time is bubbling over with ideas about our excellence journey, so JUST STICK THEM IN AN E-MAIL AND SEND THEM TO KELLY OR ME!! Come on, don't be shy!!



Monday, 20 August 2012

Odanglesex Revisited: The Water Safety Partnership

Continuing the series of reposted Odanglesex adventures, this time with one which is heavily based on my own experience of a senior officer wanting more information.

FROM: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer
TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager


Here's my report on our annual review of the Odanglesex Water Safety Partnership for transmission to Kenneth.

FROM: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager
TO: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision

Kenneth: here are the reports from Reema and Mike. All straightforward, I think.

FROM: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision
TO: Neil Balderson, Transformational Excellence Senior Manager

Neil: I need more information on the Water Safety Partnership from Reema. Please transmit.

FROM: Neil Balderson, Transformational Excellence Senior Manager
TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager

Hamish: Kenneth needs more info on this report.

FROM: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager
TO: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer

Reema: Sorry, Can you flesh out your report on this a bit, please? Kenneth wants more information.

FROM: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer
TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager

More information on WHAT?

FROM: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager
TO: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer

Sorry - no idea. He didn't say.

FROM: Reema Narlikar, Transformational Excellence Officer
TO: Kenneth Spotlessnob
cc: Neil Balderson, Hamish Carpenter

Kenneth: I gather you need more information. I've included all the minutes and the Police, Coastguard and Fire/Rescue summaries.

FROM: Kelly Pattrick, PA to Kenneth Spotlessnob
TO: Reema Narlikar

Rema: Kenneth hasn't got the time to read all this. Can you summarise?

FROM: Kenneth Spotlessnob
TO: Neil Balderson, Transformational Excellence Senior Manager

Neil: Councillor Greer wants to know if it's safe to drink water. Can you get Reema Narlikar to draft a reply for my signature using this Partnership information she has?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Back from Hungary

Just a short post to explain a gap in posts. I was in the centre of Europe, in landlocked Hungary, on a Naturetrek holiday. Going on these organised trips is a relatively new thing for me: I used to see them as too expensive and also I valued independence in choosing where to go and what to do; but getting all the cumbersome and difficult arrangements made for you is a big plus and from a nature point of view, it helps a lot if you're going to be in a country for just a week or so to have a guide who knows exactly where the best spots are.

On the whole I was keener to see dragonflies on this trip than birds, as they offered a lot more scope for new species. In the end I saw a huge range of birds including both reasonably likely "lifers" - Great Bustard and Saker Falcon - and many other excellent birds - Roller; Bee-eater; Middle Spotted, Syrian and Black Woodpeckers; Wryneck; Red-footed Falcon; White-tailed Eagle; Cattle Egret; Squacco Heron; Pygmy Cormorant; both storks (17 Black Storks in one flock); Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes; Short-toed Treecreeper and many others. Five dragonfly species were new for me and masses of butterflies.

Hungary is mostly very flat and rather dry and dusty, with a fascinating mix of architecture and a language completely impervious to most other Europeans. It has few cats, many bicycles (old-fashioned ones), many attractive churches (Catholic, protestant and a few Orthodox) and a lot of red wine.

The natives are friendly.

Nonetheless, I was delighted to re-establish relations with the sea, the cat and the British pub.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Odanglesex Revisited: Councillor Wayneflete's Volunteering (2)

THE STORY SO FAR: The Leader of the Council, Councillor Bill Wayneflete, has decided to spend part of a day volunteering for some worthy cause and thereby promoting volunteering and the voluntary sector (not, of course, promoting himself). However, some of the suggestions from Hamish Carpenter and other officers in contact with the local voluntary sector have been rejected because of political sensitivity. Consequently the short-list was narrowed down to the popular charity Kiddiz Kingdom and Councillor Wayneflete volunteered there in the presence of the press (The Odanglesex News, referred to as the ON)and the charity's chief officer, a Mr Glover.

FROM: Melissa Gurney, External Communications Facilitation Consultant

TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager

cc: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision;

William Wayneflete, Leader of the Council

The volunteering with Kiddiz Kingdom went fantastically! Councillor Wayneflete wanted everyone involved to know how pleased he was. I've spoken to the man from the Odsex News and he's promised not to use the one where the little kid threw the ice cream and it stuck on Bill's golf club tie. They're using one of him with the wheelbarrow and the one with him shaking hands with Charles Glover, the guy who runs KK.

FROM: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager

TO: Dale Brashcon, Transformational Excellence Champion


A potential problem. When I helped with Bill Wayneflete's volunteering as a means of publicising what we're doing to support the voluntary sector, I was not aware you'd deleted the part-time post of Volunteering Officer which supported volunteering by our employees and by the Odanglesex population in general. The opposition could suggest this is inconsistent.

FROM: Dale Brashcon, Transformational Excellence Champion
TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager
cc: Melissa Gurney, External Communications Facilitation Consultant


I'm afraid Kenneth is not very pleased about the debacle over Kiddiz Kingdom. First of all, the ON did use the photo with ice-cream all over Councillor Waynflete after all. More seriously, were we not aware that Charles Glover was about to be charged with fraud? What do we chair the Police Consultative Forum for? The ON ran the fraud story on its front page with the photo of Councillor Wayneflete shaking hands with Mr Glover. It also ran the wheelbarrow picture in its captions competition with the header, "What's he got in the wheelbarrow?". As you recommended Kiddiz Kingdom, Kenneth would like you to speak to Councillor Wayneflete and see what damage can be repaired.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Odanglesex Revisited - Councillor Wayneflete's Volunteering (1)

Another old episode of the Odanglesex Chronicles, very slightly amended. Councillor Waynflete is the Leader of the Council.

Kenneth Spotlessnob: Hamish, can I have a moment?

Hamish Carpenter: Woops. Certainly, Kenneth.

Kenneth Spotlessnob: It's about the Odanglesex Volunteering Strategy. Councillor Waynflete wants to support it by volunteering for a half-day. Dale thought you'd be the person to suggest some possible opportunities. It must be local, of course, broadly within the scope of the Odanglesex Values and the Council's Vision, and not too controversial. External Comms will handle the publicity. Can I leave that with you? It needs to happen in the next two weeks.

Hamish Carpenter: OK, I'll see what Julie or Mike have to suggest.

FROM: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager
TO: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Directror of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision

Kenneth: Julie and Mike have come up with some suggestions and Reema added another. The timescale is a bit tight for the voluntary sector, of course, but how about:

Odanglesex Wildlife Trust: digging out a pond in Nuteley Wood
Great Age Odanglesex: storytelling to residents of Oakleve Close
Friends of the Soke of Odanglesex Railway: painting and decorating Odways Station
Kiddiz Kingdom: Tidying garden and play area at Kiddiz Palace
Sticklehampton Youth Club and Sticklehampton with Claymoor Parish Council: litter pick on High Street.


FROM: Kenneth Spotlessnob, Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision
TO: Hamish Carpenter, Transformational Excellence Manager

Hamish: Thanks. OWT are out because of the argument over the development on McGonagall's Swamp. Great Age likewise because Bill is a bit sensitive about his age and doesn't want to be photographed with a lot of older citizens. I tried the railway one on him and he pointed out that it could seem to be taking sides on transportation options in a way unhelpful to the bus operators or the new road campaigners who represent, of course, some important business interests. He'd love to do the youth club litter pick one if it weren't joint with the parish council. Of course you know the chair of that one is Councillor Bruce-Roberts, who he feels might make political capital out of it. So it had better be Kiddiz Kingdom. Can you forward a choice of dates? Melissa will sort out the photos.



Friday, 3 August 2012

Butter and Dragon

I'm a birdwatcher, but now seriously into dragonflies and a bit into butterflies, though it is frustrating how many of the former (damselflies) are very small and striped blue and black and how many of the latter in Britain are basically brown and orange.

Birds are residents or migrants. Migrants can be passing through or coming to stay. Their arrival and leaving dates are affected by the weather, but for example, by the late April the first clear night with winds from the south should bring some Whitethroats and although the odd bird may arrive very early, in Southern England you listen for the first Cuckoo around 20th April. However, typically you get a few of any species, then some more, with the main arrival two or three weeks after the first pathfinders.

Butterflies and dragonflies also work to a timetable, but it can be much stricter. A few are migrants or vagrants, but for most, when they appear, they've just emerged from chrysalis (butterfly) or straight from the larva (dragonflies). I'm describing the situation in temperate climes, of course: near the equator dragonfly slecies can be around all year.

Two weeks ago as I walked Essex and Suffolk footpaths, suddenly there were lots of Gatekeeper butterflies, small, quite brightly-patterned red-orange and brown butterflies often found in numbers around bramble bushes. Yesterday, suddenly around marshes, there were lots of restless, red, small dragonflies called Common Darters. If I'd picked the right two days, I'd have drawn a blank on the first and seen numbers the next. The Common Darters will be around in declining numbers into late October or even November.

I love the seasons.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Irregular Plurals

You know the sort of thing - one mouse, two mice; one man, two men; one house, two hice. Someone, American I think, maintained the plural of hippopotamus should be hippopotamice.

I have discoverd some others:

One swan, two swine;
One Beagle, two Biggles;
One lass, two lice;
One loaf, two life;
One salmon, two salmen;
One spat, two spit;
One shot, two ****.

I will gratefully receive other examples.