Wednesday, March 22, 2006

And the Adventure Continues....


Well, I had wondered how I’d cope doing 12 hr days with no breaks, even at the weekend. And last night I found out. Hence I was not at my station this morning. I was shattered. But it’s amazing what a little lie in can do and I was in by lunch, well refreshed. Sunday night the ‘bring out your red (caps)’ mailing to fellow exhibitors had gone out, so we’re committed to this little PR effort now. I hope that we get a good response. I’m now pondering how to get a trolley rightaway to drum up daily support, and how to make a neat sign up for the red bin I’ll tote about. All good fun, and will keep me active on the stand.

Which I’ll need to do. One interesting aspect of my absence, which I’d half suspected, was confirmed by the lovely Suzy from the Loc8tor stand opposite; namely that more people seem to come through the stand when I’m not in it. No offence taken, as it’s obvious really. We are there to share information in a gallery setting. And with 599 stands trying to flog stuff it’s no surprise that some may be cautious about entering a salesman’s den.

Sadly, the show rules will not allow for me to absent myself from it, even if it would make more of what we’re trying to do. However, I think I can be nearby a lot on my cap-collection rounds.

A bit like the stand, my cap-collection idea seems to be so far attracting more quality than quantity. As a consequence of the idea I just had a visit from a nice chap working with ecover, who has a glass-crushing system called ‘Bottle Crusher’ []. Sounded good and we’ll certainly check it out and pop it on if it’s within our remit and appropriate to our audience, which I certainly sounds lie t will be. We had a good chat bemoaning the fact that guys like us seemed to struggle a lot with funding when those who need it a lot less seem to get it on a plate. But hey, who said life was fair?


I was preparing our application of the Observer/ecover ethical awards, so I moved the Mac to the demo table, partly for comfort and partly to ‘hide’ behind and see if it will encourage more folk to we’ll through. We’ll see. One consequence is that I can get a bit of PC-time in on the keyboard, so I have an opportunity to get going on some blogs as a consequence of some inevitable eye-twitching stuff and my Monday morning trawl through the Sunday papers. And it has all been a rich seam. Here goes:


Two days in, and I’m pretty sure the whole show has forgotten my cap ‘n cork collection plan. So I decided to drum up support. Bearing in mind the theme is ‘Bring out your red..’ (a play on the old plague cry of bring out your dead) I attached the big red bin to the back of the display bike, festooned with ‘cap ‘n cork collection signs’, with the attention of walking it around the show.

However, I did realise that I would need some kind of permission. Hence it was foolish to ask a man with a walkie-talkie, flak-jacket, gelled hair and the sound of guns in his head. Not only would he not allow me to do it, he would not even tell me who I could ask. Helf ‘n safety has become the curse of this country, empowering a wealth of nay-sayers to stop ANYTHING without thinking about how it could be done and meet all parties interests. In this I feel true empathy with Mr.
Clarkson (balancing JC blog follows shortly, no doubt). They win the battle for now, but I have a cunning plan…


As is the way of things, just as we are sending a horde of Junkk.comophiles to both the site and our in-boxes, the very computer that takes the messages died last week. So far, so typically frustrating. How fortunate then that we had invested in the 3-year 24-hr repair plan from the computer seller in question (see headline to guess name). Strange that it remains unfixed at time of writing, some five days later. Apparently, they didn’t get the email. Ponder that one. The largest PC company in the world’s customer tech support… didn’t get the email. Priceless.


We seem to get a lot of press releases these days at Towers from financial institutions who are trumpeting their going ‘carbon neutral’. Fighting the urge to wonder if there is an annual report in the offing that needs a quick CSR light green touch-up, we always write back politely to say that we applaud that at long last they have seen the merits as organisations of cutting down on their own wasteful practices, but… what would be a story is if they had something that served the environment AND their customer base more tangibly. Such as loans for enviro-related works at highly preferential rates. So far, no takers.

However, today I did read in my Metro there are at least (or just, depending on your view) three sympathetic mortgage providers: the Ecology Building Society. The Co-op Bank and The Norwich and Peterborough Building Society. However, the terms I saw did not exactly light my fire. A campaign beckons.


A long time ago in Asia, I was interested in a thing called an endless pool. Basically a very small swimming pool which had a water jet you swam against. Kind of a water treadmill. Having come back to the UK this was still a dream, but the cost of buying and cost of running (enclosing, heating, cleaning, etc, all not required out East) put paid to that dream. And we have a public pool right next door. Well, here at the show I’m surrounded by the things again!

And after a BBC ‘spot’ on their ‘popularity’ (another 10 minute commercial courtesy of the public broadcast network) recently, I thought the sales guys would be floating on air.

Well, it looks like the water companies are demanding pool bans, which may put a dampener (forgive the pun. You know, it hasn’t rained since I arrived in London) on the whole thing.

Looking to provide some positive angle, try this website: Plus it may be a good thing the Princess Di water feature is only good as a skateboard park.

There’s also an interesting book on all this that looks worth reading, called ‘When the Rivers Run Dry’, by Fred Pearce, which was reviewed [,,176-2086810,00.html] by Richard Girling in the Sunday Times.

What I do think may help a lot is not building a lot more houses where there is already a water shortage. Sure the people will still exist, but does it really make sense sticking a concrete structure on top of a field, which will then demand all those extra litres to water the lawn?


Metro has been running correspondence for a while about junk mail. Today I read a letter from the ‘other side’, which did give my cause to ponder. In response to a lot of quite ‘spirited’ ideas that mostly involved throwing it all back, the writer pointed out that the recipient would just be some poor minion trying to do their job and with little say or influence on company practice. It is worth bearing in mind the human element when drastic measures are considered, no matter how frustrated one may be or how warranted a fight back may be.

Look at the response to Anita Roddick selling (out, depending on your viewpoint) Body Shop to L’Oreal. The news headlines are full of calls for a boycott. People, she has got her money. If you are angry with her all you will do is hurt the employees left behind. And in any case, it may be that the principles of the Body Shop may start to influence, positively, those of the larger entity. Working from within can be just as effective as campaigning in the wilderness.

But if you decide on the high-profile, glam route of confrontation, just make sure you target the generals and not the poor foot soldiers.


This… I like. A millionaire businessman called Johan Eliasch has bought 400,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest to protect it. Best £8 Million he ever spent, I’d say. Big up to him. Hope a lot more who have the dosh copy his example. I just hope the motives are all pure, as the piece I read did hint at him being credited carbonally. Why? Just take the credit for keep a bit of green… green.


As you know, I have a bit of a roller-coaster set of opinions about Jeremy Clarkson. Mostly good. But this Sunday’s piece [,,27909-2084921,00.html]he wrote was not my favourite, straying as it did into shock-jock, bull-bating territory. While it was headlined, ironically, as an assault on the destructive health & safety culture we have, and which I have again fallen foul of at the show, I was saddened to see him also weighing in with both barrels against any aspect of environmental consideration in our travel choices.

Jeremy, you are a powerful voice, a role model, often skilled articulator of sane paths in an insane world and one hell of a funny, talented journalist. People listen to you. You do not need to play to the lowest level of the arena to get an audience.

It doesn’t matter whether it is true or not that what we do as individuals will or won’t make any difference, but as an engineerophile you can surely appreciate that it simply does not make sense to waste anything if we don’t have to. It is simply inefficient.

No one is telling you to buy a Prius. They are being built and offered as an option, and their use favoured to encourage a switch in behaviour. And as someone whose career is founded on access to media space and time, you must know full well that getting one’s biased point across is all part of the game. It just so happens that the ‘green’ message has a lot of supporters amongst those who make such decisions. I simply wish they’d accord those of us who don’t move in their circles a tad more access and opportunity.

Maybe you could help us with that?

Like you, I do not know what the planet will do next, but unlike you I also feel it’s worth changing a few behaviours just in case what we’re doing isn’t helping. That’s not an illusion of knowledge, just a precaution on behalf of my great-great grandkids.


I was reading about a new website called, which does exactly what it says on the URL. I see this as taking off quite well, and am pondering how we could work with this. Personally I am not in favour of shaming, especially in the environmental area, as I see it as polarising attitudes and creating confrontation. But maybe we can see a way clear to at least adding a complement that offers a method for the ‘shamee’ to turn things around and resolve the issue.


I’m guessing a few press releases have gone out, because the papers are full of Fairtrade. And typically they seem to fall down into slavish rehashes without a second thought, or the most aggressive digs into the ‘true situation’ that are enough to make you almost insist your next cuppa is made by a child labourer after they have come back after a 14 hr stint in a trainer factory.

But as you know what does get me offside and all eyebrow twitchy is when a celebrity starts telling me how I should be doing things. In this case there were hordes. But one did make me laugh.

One such was a blonde ex-TV presenter who has managed to snag a multi-millionaire who through birth runs with the Goldsmith set (whose famous son is now well in with the rather funnily dubbed His Royal Plantness). Lucky girl. She saves the planet by drinking a nifty ethical cappuccino. Plus a choice of wellies to coordinate with feeding the livestock at the private zoo. He drives a Range Rover and flies around the UK in his helicopter. Bless.

Is it just me, or is there a teensy danger that those who seem be tasked with, or taken it upon themselves to encourage us to live greener lifestyles are not, how do I say, like you and I?


So David Mills, estranged hubby of Tessa Jowell, has lost a wing mirror on his Beemer that will cots him £1k [,,176-2092506,00.html ‘The Painful Part of car Ownership’]. Hah! Our Golf glove compartment lock failed. After several months wedging it shut we decided to commit to a repair as I for one couldn’t see how to fix it. And we’re looking at around £170!!!! For a broken lock. Because the whole door needs replacing to fix the lock, and it will take 2hrs to do because of the design.

Now car manufacturers are pretty good with recyclable components, but these obstacles to home repair are a farce. GUYS, DON’T DO IT!!!! You might almost suspect you were not sincere in your CSR obligations and claimed intentions.


Sunday Times Doors, which sadly have ignored us so far in our attempts to get a plug, have a campaign against waste in the IT industry. Well, we’re not ones to bear a grudge and as we agree with them and what they’re doing will give ‘em a plug anyway. Find out more at Tell ‘em we sent you, though!


One consequence of our ‘caps collection’ idea here at the show is I am now ‘he who gets asked on all matters enviro’. Sadly, I am often stumped as we’re in London and I mostly know a man who can out West. So now I’m the proud owner of a growing pile of dud batteries while we try and suss out who in this postcode zone will take them. And I sure my little collection will not get them round. But boy is the show missing a trick here. How many exhibitors and visitors get through these every day? Enough, I’m sure, to make a recycler get interested. I shall seek a franchise. And the funding to make this work. Emma, we may yet find the immediate source of money we were looking for!