Copenhagen, Dicky Drax, The Carbon Army, Boris and Obama. a Busy Weekend

December 6, 2009

So Obama is going to the end of the Copenhagen not the beginning, or is the beginning and the end?  Not sure but what’s your view of the best time to be at a meeting. I always recon its all the way through if it important.  I am not that familiar with the way these COP’s work but I suspect there are endless meetings inside meetings, at the side of meetings and over the top of meetings.  Heaven help anybody you actually attends as they could end in the wrong place.  I am sure that is what happened to “W” at the talks he attended.  The bar is always a big draw.  Incidentally has George W Bush created his own super élite club for those who are universally recognised, not just by there Christian names, but by just one letter?

I got in a black cab this week and asked for City Hall, the cabbie asked

“Which one?”

“Boris’s house.”

“Right you are”

10 minutes latter we were at the right place.  Opps I used a cab not public transport, sorry but I was late and it was raining.  Life just gets in the way some times.

That is my point, it was in the last blog and it will be until someone gets the message.  Sadly the first serious Politian to actually talk realistically about incentivising people to change has been the man Cameron.  The Greens, who you would have thought might have been leaders in this matter are stubbornly sticking to their fascist big stick approach of legislation and regulation.

Today the Tories were trying to convince anyone listening that the best way was to hand over predicted savings to householders once an energy saving installation was commissioned rather than leave us to benefit from the savings in our time.  I can see lots of people signing up to that but the opportunity for fraud is enormous.  Credibility is vital in this sort of thing, the leaked e-mails from UEA have dented the scientific consensus, hopefully a flesh wound and not fatal.

Back to my point if we are to see the much need change take place in our day to day life we need to make it easy and better still  fun.  Climate change is fun as fun!  That should put the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Lord Lawson on the back foot.

On the much loved subject of the ranting Daily Fail can I point you all to http://tinyurl.com/yaaexgf for a very un-Fail outing of Cameron Uber De-Toff, Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax.  If there was ever a made up name (badly) that has to be it, but its real!!!.  The overwhelming image in my mind is of a sinister, drunken highwayman plotting world domination or the mugging of Horace Walpole, from a hi-tech lair buried in a volcano.  Or have I been watching to many movies.

Dicky Drax to his mates, which include “just call me Dave”, appears to be a former Guardsmen and BBC Journo who now occupies himself looking after his Dorset Estate.

He is the PPC for Dorset South which according to the Fail is an ultra marginal and he is shoe in.  Dorset South is the constituency of Employment Minister Jim Knight who increased his majority from a super thin 153 to a more comfortable 1,812.  Helped in some part by the Pm launching the election in Weymouth and some very hard working election staff who really did get the vote out.

Jim has done a fantastic job for Dorset as well as serving as a minister for most of the past 4 years.  I doubt very much if Drax will be able to do any better.  South Dorset stick to the man you know with one the best records in the Commons.  Stick with Jim.

Moving on the sounder ground can I point you all to The Carbon Army.  BTCV are running 3,000 days of positive carbon action.  Go to http://www2.btcv.org.uk/display/carbonarmy_signup and sign up.  It’s probable the best thing you will do that doesn’t need any carbon.  BTCV is very close to my heart as above all they deliver in their promises to change peoples lives.  If only more promisers could claim that.

I have spent a hour this evening in the company of the BBC’s Life offering in HD.  If anything convinces the viewer that we live in an amazing world it’s the sight of 250,000 spider crabs marching to the reef where they will sped their shells and grow a new one.  Its an annual migration that is reminiscent of the H.G Wells’s tripods in War of the Worlds as they march across the floor of the pacific and then, after new shells have grown, they march back through a battlefield of discarded bodies and legs.  Almost Spartan in its pathos.

To return to our opening hero president Obama for a fleeting final thought.  The best party conversations are always in the kitchens so head for the food prep area, behave like a gown up, emboldened by some cheap Chardonnay and promise the earth.


Change, make it easy and its simple

November 21, 2009

The ability to change is in all of us but how do we flick the “change” switch ? Is it just carrot and stick or is there some other way?

I have just had one of those typical business experiences where a huge amount of travelling is done for a short face to face meeting, that in this case was not entirely successful.  I went all the way to Inverness for discussions with a supplier to try a resolve an outstanding issue.  After less than two hours my colleagues and were on our way back, some progress made but no one very happy.

It’s the travel element of this and my attitude to travel that is exercising me at present.  I went by train for the majority of the journey, a bit of car sharing at the other end to link station to office and very short trip in my very small Yaris too my very local station at this end.  So I am feeling very smug on that front.

A bit of advanced planning and clever booking on the lovely internet meant the whole thing was done first class for less than the standard flight costs .  The first class bit is important, not because I am, but because it enabled me to work for much of the journey.

My view of train travel has changed, I have always enjoyed travelling by train or at least said I did but for some reason I have usually opted to fly or drive.  Odd!, yes, why? not sure, something about the ease of booking, some residual glamour that is still attached to flying and a travel desk that does flights but not railways. So why change?  Experience and ease.

Somewhere else I have mentioned that if we do want people to change their way of living it has to be easy and sold as easy or worth it.  I think trains have got there and now I am an evangelist.   In the car journey back to the station we were discussing why, as a business, we did very little train travel and a lot of flying.  One of our number trotted out the usual ease, simplicity and cost arguments.  I have heard these, and in some cases used them, many times before.  But since my trip to The Hague on a train and the amount of work that I did during the journey, I am converted.  The great thing about a train journeys,  especially long (4 hours plus) ones, is the peace, quiet and therefore concentration that is available.  The benefit of the first class option is that even on my return leg, on Friday night from Edinburgh to London, when the rest of the train was packed and the guard constantly reminding people sit in their reserved seats or they would have to stand for the whole journey, the first class cars were busy but civilised and most people were working.  All of this for £98.50.  There was free WiFi, coffee and tea passing every twenty minutes, at seat service for food etc.  The tables are big enough for 4 laptops to be in use at once and there is mains power to keep things going etc.  This is better than my office on most days.  Very little disturbance, and an atmosphere that encourages one to work.  Or is that just me.

Any other form of domestic business travel is madness compared to the reliable, affordable, convenient train service.

My meeting may not have been anywhere near as productive as I had wanted it to be but the journey there and back certainly was.

Book in advance, use the business tools on offer from the train and station operators Lounges, WiFi, tea and coffee, showers etc and access this by travelling with a first class ticket.

If all this was available to the standard class passenger, particularly the peace, quiet and space then I would do that as a preference.  On many European trains this is possible, as it is on Eurostar.

Total travel cost of Tisbury to Inverness by train were:

28 miles from office to station claimed at 10p/mile            £2.80

Parking Tisbury station:             £2.50

Tisbury – Waterloo (first class)            £16.00

Tube Fare            £1.60

Sleeper Euston – Inverness (first class)            £136.00

Collected by colleagues and car share to meeting and then back to Edinburgh

Edinburgh – Kings Cross (first class)            £98.50

Tube Fare            £1.60

Waterloo – Tisbury (first class)            £25.20

5 miles home claimed at 10p per mile            £0.50

Total            £284.60


Compared too:

38 miles to Southampton Airport            £3.80

Parking at Airport            £28.00

Return flight to Inverness            £274.00

Hotel accommodation in Inverness            £75.00

38 miles home            £3.80

Total            £384.60

The train was £100 cheaper, the whole thing took 30 hours door to door and was productive for 20 of them.

The flight option, if it was do’able (flights from Southampton/Bristol to Inverness are not that frequent) would have taken at as long but the productive time would have been closer to 10 hours.

I will not do this analysis for ever journey and some will not be as cheap or smooth but it has to be the way forward.  The last missing piece of the jigsaw is reliable car hire at all stations.

I have changed because I have had a couple of genuinely good and positive experiences.  This is the way to get more people to think about their lifestyle and how they can be more sustainable.

Less preaching, more real life relevant examples of how the same or better still more, can be achieved by just being a bit different and thinking near the edge of the box.


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September 21, 2009

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