Just another sucker on the vine

So it comes to this, a sad, yet necessary departure. A bitter sort of weak surrender. A long-delayed recognition that my reality doesn’t reconcile with my self-perception. Yes, I own a ‘hoover’.

Not just any ‘hoover’, mind. This is a gleaming mulberry 1976 Hoover TurboDrive Junior with one prior and now deceased owner. It’s suction power was unrivalled for the decade of its manufacture and I note, with some satisfaction, its extended handle seems perfectly designed for platform boot wearers. Its action is factory fresh and its suction really sucks.

My initial temptation to road-test it immediately has been resisted largely because I have no carpet but were I not so hung up on the nasty paedophile echo of Gary Glitter’s ‘Leader’ I might take it for glam-glide round the floorboards of my flat. There is sadly an additional problem here – I’ve got no floorboards.

My builder ‘D’ya GetMe’ Dave, is poised to sort out my structural deficiencies. This has involved long conversations about galvanised joist supports and penetrated Victorian slate damp courses during which each sentence ends not with a full stop, but a ‘D’ya GetMe.’ I’m getting on quite well with Dave – it’s my first encounter with a construction professional and, having privately calculated that the work will cost me between 30% and 50% more than the quote and take 30% to 50% longer than the schedule, we have made a breakthrough – I have assured Dave I’m good for a grand and I think, at long last, he gets me.

So here I am with a mortgage, an artisan in my employ and the brand royalty of home suction devices. This was not meant to happen but at least I have resisted acquisition of an iron.

Additional Contributors


Well known journalists Bob Emmerson and George Malim have agreed to contribute to the blog. This won’t happen for a while because Bob has a trade show in the US to attend, but I look forward to having my own copy disrupted by some well written postings!

Howard Dean, an American Neil Kinnock?


Dean was feted by the media before the nominations started, because of a vocal and visible core of supporters, but then disappeared as the votes were cast. IT Conversations has a very interesting recording of a speech byJoe Trippi who was responsible for Howard Dean’s democratic party campaign at the recent O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. The Dean campaign looked to overthrow the system of interest group money purchasing television spots and presidential ads and so an election. He was inspired by the dialogue empowered by different web technologies.

Joe Trippi admitted that he was defeated by the system of lobbyists, money and traditional media. Dean started with 137,000 USD in the bank, 437 supporters nationally and a campaign team of seven. Dean did manage to use the Internet to get grassroots support to achieve an unparalleled amount of campaign funding from over 300,000 supporters.

The use of Meetup.com to get online supporters to meet up and then plan real world grassroots action over the water cooler, or over the garden fence was a key element of the campaign.

Trippi said that the internet community do not get the harsh realities of real world politics – money matters. It has also shone a spotlight on the established political machine of special interest groups.

Is Trippi the next Peter Mandelson? I don’t know but his tactics have raised awareness of the web as an effective political tool. The key problem with the Internet based campaign is it couldn’t respond to the repetition of negative television advertisements and negative new stories in the established media. So there is hope for PR people and ad agencies yet.

As an aside I would be interested to see how online grassroots lobbying communities like MoveOn (from the people that gave us the original Flying Toasters screensavers back in the day) will influence the political debate.

Keeping a 63-year old happy


My parents came down for the weekend. While my Mum was content to chill out and do some knitting whilst listening to Daniel O’Donnell slaughtering country and western standards, my Dad was at a loss for something to do. Having been told by my friend Kirsty who has a little boy that the Science Museum has free admission, I had a brain wave.

My Dad is a fitter by trade and we spent about two hours finding out about the development of the steam engine and the rise of the internal combustion engine. We found out that James Watt did not invent the steam engine (our school teachers lied to us) but improved on existing designs. We took a brief break and then pushed into the space section and then on into the modern world with everything from a Mills & Boon novel to an transgenic sheep proteins (derived from their milk). So far so good, the digital section did not impress, despite its architectural scale, but the aviation gallery got a big thumps up from Pops.

When he comes down to pick my Mum up next week, we hope to go back to explore more of the Science Museum.

The journey home however was a bit of a trauma with Thameslink trains shutting down their service completely. We had to get home via Milton Keynes (a soul less bit of urban planning) and it took us four hours.

Good evening Mr Carroll, we’ve been expecting you

Friday, and my Palm PDA bleeped in that nagging sort of way that it does. I looked down and saw that it was time to get my watch serviced again. I have the good fortune to have got a Rolex Submariner at a knockdown price off my old man some years ago before their prices went stupid. The watch is as old as I am and has weathered the adventures we have shared (including scuba diving, flyposting in sink hole estates, dj’ing in abandoned mills and dot.com client meetings) considerably better. Every three years it goes in for a service.

Rolex in London had changed their location since last time, so after getting off at the wrong tube and then heading halfway across W1, I arrived at their new offices in St James’ Sq in a bit of a fluster. Talk about brand experience, their foyer is all sea green wavy patterned glass, dark green marble (all in the same colours as much of their packaging and website) and high quality woodwork, with a couple of lovely looking blonde receptionists; it looks every inch like the sitting room of a Bond villain’s hideaway.

A reassuringly old man in a spotless white coat took my watch away. I will be interested to see how much work it needs in the next week or so. Seriously tempted to get it a companion with a 50th anniversary edition Submariner or a Seadweller, but that would be a bit materialistic…

Firefox up

For some reason Safari, the zippy default browser on my Mac does not like the format buttons in Blogger, the online tool I use to write these musings. I have loaded up the latest iteration of Mozilla called Firefox as a back up. I am very impressed with its speed and relative lack of bugs. It beats seven bells out of Microsoft Explorer and Microsoft was withdrawn from the Mac marketplace for Internet browsers so a fast reliable alternative was required.

Cufflinks & ‘The Game of Death’

Cufflinks are men’s equivalents to alice bands (except for David Beckham) frivolous items of attire, there is no rhyme or reason for them but shirt makers insist that you use them so that they can skimp on buttons. I can find using them to be a right pain in backside. My one set of cufflinks were bought at a shop in the West End and feature a black and white hand and shoulders portrait of Bruce Lee (from The Game of Death publicity stills apparently). This struck me as a bit of an oddity unless that practicing kung fu is as time consuming and trying as doing up a set of cufflinks in a hurry. They are bit of a conversation piece and my friend Ian and I were talking about them. I complained that using cufflinks were a ‘challenge’ and he pointed out that cufflinks in his view were a way of preparing for the day. You cant do them efficiently unless you are at ease, rather than having your mind going in 20 directions at once. There you go, one man’s frivolous clothing item, another man’s zen pillar – you decide….