Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 110 Commandments

There's an amusing article in today's FT about Zhang Yue, Chairman of Broad Group, a Chinese air-conditioning company. He has wriiten a book of 110 rules for his employees to memorise including "Brush your teeth twice a day" and "Love Broad Group; if you leave, never harm it." Most of his employees live in Broad Town, a suburb of Changsha in Hunan province, where there is a corporate training palace which resembles Versailles. At the beginning of every day the employees gather outside the palace to sing the Broad anthem: "I love our clients and help them to grow their value."
Mr Zhang's latest project is to build the world's tallest skyscraper (838m with 220 storeys)  in three months using prefabricated blocks slotted together like Lego bricks. He was the first Chinese businessman to buy a private jet.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chronicles of Light

If you are thinking about visiting Winchester this autumn, you may want to come between 12-28 October and see the Chronicles of Light at the Cathedral. It's a 90 minute sound and light performance of the history of the Cathedral and the characters involved with it, for example, King Canute, St Swithun, Alfred the Great, Mary Sumner, Josephine Butler, Jane Austen, William Walker and Izaac Walton. The list of actors is impressive: Dame Judi Dench, David Suchet, Bernard Cribbins, Tamsin Greig, Alastair Stewart, Anthony Andrews, Wendy Craig, Hugh Dennis, Finty Williams, John Rhys-Davies, Jon Snow and Alan Titchmarsh. Should be fun!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Fairy Queen

The highlight of my weekend was seeing Henry Purcell's Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne. No matter that, for the third year running, it was pouring with rain. I had not seen it before and hadn't actually realised that it is half a play, adapted from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and half opera. The director, Jonathan Kent, did a wonderfully witty job with a huge variety of costumes, ranging from Bottom, Snug etc's modern workmen's overalls, a large chorus of Playboy-esque bunny rabbits, the Duke in his eighteenth century wig, the seasons in exotic attire and of course the glittering Titania. My favourite was gay summer who wore a vermillion long dress, had long blond hair and carried a parasol: it was only the voice which betrayed him as a man. Absolutely brilliant!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Islands for sale!

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is suggesting that Greece could sell or lease some of its islands. (I seem to remember we were suggesting this years ago) The German dream comes true...

Russian heat

Today's FT points out that August can be quite a dramatic month in Russia:

1991 Attempted coup
1998 Debt default
2004 Terrorism
2008 War
2012 Jailing of Pussy Riot and joining the World Trade Organisation.

Meanwhile in a letter, Mike Post points out that when protestors against homophobia disrupted the Easter service at Canterbury Cathedral in 1998, their leader, Peter Tatchell, was fined £18.60.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Life Class

Have you read Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy? I loved it, particularly the first volume, so I was thrilled to hear that she's just published the second volume of a new trilogy about the First World War and rushed out to buy the first volume, "Life Class". I am ashamed to admit that I devour good novels and have only a quarter of the book left, having bought it yesterday afternoon (I did have the train journey from Waterloo to Winchester to enjoy it). It is gripping though, so much that I read another chapter before I left the house for work today.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quotations of the day

In today's FT, Lucy Kellaway has a cheery tribute to Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan magazine who died last week. She remembers the following quotations:

"The faster you get back to people, the less brilliant you have to be."

"Never fail to know that if you're doing all the talking, you are boring somebody."

"While putting on her make-up, a girl should tell herself, 'Tonight, baby, I'm going to get laid.'"

"Feeling insecure is good for you: it forces you to do something better, drives you to use all your talents."

"To get around the problem of forgetting people's names, call everybody 'Pussycat'."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chinese medicine

My friend Tim was climbing mountains in south-west China with his wife and two sons. His elder son was ahead. "Rock!" came the cry of the boy, meaning that a rock was falling. Tim watched and waited but no rock appeared. Maybe his son had been injured by a rock? Suddenly a rock the size of two cannon balls came hurtling through the air towards him and crashed into his thigh. He collapsed and passed out. A few minutes later he came round and his first thought was, "Phew, I don't think my leg's broken!" His leg was a mess and he was in agony so he told his Mandarin-speaking elder son to climb down quickly to the road and to find transport to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile, Tim, his wife and younger son climbed down very slowly.
The nearest hospital was 30 minutes drive away. Many people, those who were sick and their relations, were waiting in the entrance hall. The method for seeing a doctor seemed to be who could shout the loudest. Tim's son shouted very loud and managed to get Tim second in the queue behind a man who'd been so badly beaten up that his bones were showing. He couldn't have an x-ray until he'd paid for it. He son rushed off to find out whom to pay. He had to use the same trolley as the man before him and there were no staff to wash it clean from that man's blood. He had the x-ray and saw the doctor. "No bones broken: you can go!" was the diagnosis. Tim asked for some pain killers and was given a prescription.
They then tried to find a taxi to take them back to their hotel. However, no taxis would stop for an injured person. Eventually they managed to persuade a hospital visitor to give them a lift. Nightmare!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

West Ham

My colleague John is a West Ham supporter. He was at a meeting in London and went over to the ground to watch a match, joining the long queue to buy a ticket, dressed in a suit. A man approached him, "Looking for a ticket?" "Yes!" John replied. "Follow me," the man said. John dithered. Should he leave his place in the queue? He decided to take a chance and followed the man who showed him the ticket.
"How much do you want for it?" John asked.
"It's normally £40 but you look like a decent fellow so I'll let you have it for £20."
John paid the £20, took the ticket and found his seat which had a great view. He found himself sitting next to the man who'd sold him the ticket and they began to chat.
"Your seat belongs to my son," the man said. "He can't come to any matches at the moment so if you ever need a ticket, just call me!" He then revealed that his son was in prison for punching the referee at a previous match. In fact, his son had a lifetime ban from the ground but was hoping to get around that by growing a beard in prison!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Golden boys

Many congratulations to Mo Farah for another gold - this time in the 5000 metres!

And to Ed McKeever for his gold in the 200m kayak!

And to Anthony Joshua for his boxing gold!

Olympic heroes

Well done to Tom Daley for his diving bronze!

Bravo to Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills for their sailing silver in the 470!

Hurrah for Fred Evans' middleweight boxing silver!

Olympic brothers

Many congratulations to Alistair and Jonny Brownlee for winning gold and bronze in the triathlon!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Golden horsemen

Six cheers for Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer and their horses for their gold in the team dressage!

Golden cyclists

Many congratulations to Laura Trott who won gold in the omnium!

And to Sir Chris Hoy for another gold - in the keirin!

Golden girls

Many congratulations to Jade Jones for her gold in taekwondo!

To Charlotte Dujardin for her gold in individual dressage!

And to Nicola Adams for her gold in boxing, the first time women's boxing has ever been contested at the Olympics!

Olympic heroes continued

Bravo to Robbie Grabarz for his bronze in the high jump!

And to Laura Bechtolscheimer for her bronze in dressage!

To Nick Dempsey for his windsurfing silver!

And to Victoria Pendleton for her silver in the cycling sprint!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A long day

After an unsuccessful detached retina operation on his left eye in 2007, my father depends on his right eye for reading and getting around, so when he said yesterday that his eyesight had suddenly deteriorated and he couldn't see the time on his watch, I was alarmed. He also said that sight was returning to his left eye which had been dead for 5 years. We arrived at Boots Opticians in Winchester at 12.50. The optician was also alarmed. After various tests, she sent us off to the Eye Casualty at Southampton Hospital and we got there at 3pm.
We saw a nurse at 3.45.
Nurse: "How are your eyes?"
Father:"It's amazing that the sight is returning to my left eye!"
WW: "The reason we're here is that the sight in the right eye has suddenly got worse."
Nurse: "Look at the screen and read the bottom-most line you can."
Father: "I can't see anything."
The nurse tried covering one eye, then covering one and holding a cover with just a pin prick hole through it over the other. My father still saw nothing. We were sent back to the waiting room.
A blood test was taken at 5pm.
Father: "It's amazing that my left ear has suddenly come back!"
Nurse: "I'm sorry but I'm not a hearing specialist."
We saw the doctor at 6pm and were told that blood vessels have burst behind the right eye and there is a retinal vein occlusion. We should not leave the hospital until we'd have the results of the blood test. The nurse  offered us a cup of tea, which she brought in bone china mugs along with a side table.
WW: "Very good service here!"
Nurse: "I don't want to have to fill in paperwork to explain why you've spilt hot tea down yourself!"
By this time, we'd exhausted all the reading material in the unit so I resorted to The Tailor of Gloucester from the children's section.
The blood test results came through at 7.30pm and were fine. The doctor said there's nothing that can be done to restore my father's sight but there's a 35% chance the occlusion may clear. He's referring my father to the Eye Clinic. He advised me to bring the car round from the main car park to the Eye Unit to collect my father.
I drove round and walked back to the unit, waving at my father through the glass door. The door wouldn't open. No staff seemed to be on my father's side of the door. There was a notice on my side of the door saying that the Unit closed at 7pm. I spotted a nurse coming in the building behind me and asked if she could open the door. She could not but she signalled to my father to press a switch on the right hand wall. The lights went off in his room. "No, not that switch! The one next to it!" she shouted. His hand hovered over the alarm button. "Not that one!" the nurse shouted, "The next one!" The next one was marked "DOOR" but of course my father couldn't read that. He found the button, nevertheless, and escaped. We got home at 8.45pm.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


"We must now focus 110% on the economy," said George Osborne yesterday. Call me pedantic, but I don't find such a phrase appropriate from the Chancellor.

Golden jumpers

Four cheers for Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles for their gold in showjumping!

Sporting heroine of Monday

Congratulations to Beth Tweddle for her bronze in gymnastics!

Monday, August 06, 2012

At last!

Andy Murray wins a championship at Wimbledon!

(And bravo to Laura Robson who won silver with Andy in the mixed doubles!)

Golden sailor

Congratulations to Ben Ainslie for his sailing gold!

Sporting heroine of the weekend

Bravo to Christine Ohuruogu for her silver in the 400m!

Golden athletes

Congratulations to Jessica Ennis for her gold in the women's heptathlon!

To Mo Farah for his gold in the 10,000m and to Greg Rutherford for his gold in the long jump!

Rowing heroes of the weekend

Congratulations to Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter for their silver in the lightweight double sculls!

Golden boys

Four cheers for Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge who won gold in the coxless four!

More golden girls

Congratulations to Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking for winning gold in the lightweight women's double sculls!

Rowing heroes

Nine cheers for Alex Partridge, James Foad, Tom Ransley, Ric Egington, Moe Sbihi, Greg Searle, Matt Langridge, Constantine Louloudis and cox Phelan Hill for their bronze!

Gymnastic heroes

Congratulations to Louis Smith for silver on the pommel horse!

And to Max Whitlock for bronze in the same event!

Sporting heroines of Friday

Bravo to Rebecca Adlington for winning bronze in the 800m freestyle!

And to Gemma Gibbons for winning silver in judo!

Also to Karina Bryant for the judo bronze!

Golden and silvery canoeists

Hurrah for Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott for winning gold in the canoe slalom!

And to David Florence and Richard Hounslow for winning silver in the same event!

Golden cyclists

Three cheers for Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Sir Chris Hoy who won gold in the men's team sprint!

And three cheers for Dani King, Jo Rowsell and Laura Trott who won gold in the women's team pursuit!

Hurrah for Victoria Pendleton who won gold in the keirin!

Golden shot

Congratulations to Peter Wilson who won gold for double trap shooting! His coach, Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, had agreed to help him on one condition: that he wouldn't reveal his methods until after his death.