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I went to look at the City of Manchester Stadium as a possible event venue yesterday morning. As always, I parked at one end of the stadium and the conferencing facilties where right on the other side. Although the stadium is now the home of Manchester City football club (I didn’t see Sven!) the conferencing facilities are not in any way jingoistic or football orientated. As part of this search I had telephone Old Trafford, of Man United fame, and stopped the conversation within about 2 mintues. The ‘hold music’ consisted of football songs about Man United and bits of commentary on games. I interupted his sales pitch with – ‘There is no point going on with this conversation, that music has annoyed me and I think the attitude will alienate half of the people we want to come, so sorry’. Anyway, the City of Manchester Stadium, where the Commonwealth Games were held seemed to be smart, slick and hopefully we’ll have a successful event there.

I took a half day’s leave in the afternoon and went to Haworth of Bronte fame to hear a talk by Margaret Drabble the novelist on the influence of the Brontes on her work. She was very good, funny and certainly knows her literature, or so I thought. I went with a retired professor of English Literature, who is a Bronte researcher. ‘Well she was wrong about that bit of Wuthering Heights, it was in the January 2 months before the baby was born that, that happened’. Somtimes you can know too much.

I contributed to a survey a few months ago on the top ten tools for e-learning with the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies. They then produced a report which gave a very comprehensive breakdown of the tools mentioned. Becta have now just discovered it and are asking for contributions – bit late methinks.

I’m a pretty broad minded individual, but was close to nausea with James May and Oz Clark on the tv tonight, tasting the contents of a spittoon.  Made me think of the joke when one man bets another that he daren’t take a sip of the spittoon – the other man takes the bet then drinks the whole thing down in one.  When asked he answered – ‘well I meant to take just one sip but it was all joined up’ – eeeeurghhhh! Vile.

Just found a great blog with contributions from people who have to serve the general public. A good example: –

Customer: “Do you have that book from that movie Les Miserababah?”

Me:Les Miserables? Yes it would be on the 3rd floor.”

Customer: “What section would it be in?”

Me: “The fiction section.”

Customer: “So nonfiction is true, and fiction is not true, right?”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “How can this book be fiction if there is a movie about it?”

Me: “Movies are not true.”

Customer: “Really?”

Me: “Yes. Movies are not true, movies are fiction.”

See more here.

The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary this week. I remember their Silver wedding and I’m pretty sure we all were given a day off school for that; things were different in those days and we were much more deferential. I’ve just finished reading Alan Bennett’s ‘The Uncommon Reader‘. What a smashing if very short read and I would love to think of her Majesty really being just like that, though it’s unlikely. I would happily read Alan Bennett’s shopping lists he writes so deliciously.

I visited a college early in the week and saw some fantastic creative and imaginative teaching with some very complex young people. It was a delight to see and I’m going back in a week or two, to get some video and possibly audio for a podcast and a case study. It’s been one of those week’s when I think, I really love my job, which is a luxury not many folks have, so I’m feeling a bit smug.

Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of what was Rhodesia has died. I met him very briefly in the late 70’s. He had been invited to attend the Battle of Britain service in Westminster Abbey and the pilots’ association dinner. The dinner was held at the Officers’ Mess where I lived at the time as a young WRAF officer. Some friends and I bought some spitfire prints and took them down to the ante room and got the old guys to sign them. One of the ex-pilots was Douglas Bader, famous for rejoining the RAF as a pilot at the start of the second World War despite having had both legs amputated. His story was immortalised by Kenneth Moore in ‘Reach for the Skies’. Anyway, it was a riotous evening and they were all such fun, including Ian Smith who was a bit of a curiosity. Very stupidly we presented the prints to the Mess and never thought to keep any for ourselves, as they would now fetch a tidy sum now.

Yesterday I was at a day’s project management workshop as sort of joint host. It was on the theme of elearning, and was expertly delivered by John and Clive from JISC Infonet. It was held in the refurbished Refreshment rooms of Carnforth Railway Station which was the location for ‘Brief Encounter‘ filmed in early 1945 starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. Although there is a lot of information on the history of the station the main theme of the visitor centre is a homage to the film. I wasn’t able to resist the temptation of speaking with a clipped British, don’t move your lips, accent for long.

Apart from high speed trains on the West Coast mainline thundering past every 10 minutes or so it is a lovely location and the building has been very tastefully restored. There is the original refreshment room, souvenir shop, with Brief Encounter playing on a large tv, and the Furness Room which is available for hire and the main rooms have 1940’s music playing softly in the background. An added bonus for me was I could catch the train there from my local station and I can recommend the cakes.

Apparently it isn’t sufficient to mention that my nephew passed his Class One test on Tuesday, he expects me to get him a job also. So if anyone out there reading this has a haulage company and would like to employ a newly qualified driver – get in touch and I’ll pass your message on. Though I really would recommend that he tries some agencies locally – just in cast the offers don’t come flooding in!

On a different tack, I had read that Facebook were allowing members to recommend products that were featured on the site, though I hadn’t seen any evidence of it happening till now. I’m delighted to become a fan of Common Craft who produce the great short explanatory videos that we use on our TV Channel – www.rsc-northwest.ac.uk – click on publications then RSCTV – in fact if you didn’t catch it before Halloween, you can learn how to recognise and avoid a Zombie attack.

I’ve just been directed to this site by Michael at East Michigan University. It’s a sort of social mapping thing which uses Google Maps but what I like about it is you can add other locations that you like. I’ve managed to add Emau Hill next to the village of Amani in Tanzania as a location, but seem unable to add the website link to it. Hopefully the webmaster on the Tukae site will add the url so we can link up to it. You can add other blogs that are already registered, and there are pitifully few, so for it to work it will need far more registrations and people linking their own blogs to each other. I’ve invited a couple of folk, and will invite more as I trail through my feeds. A direct link to the location of the blog is here and I’ve inserted a widget in the left hand side bar.  Astonishingly, with 12 hits I am now in the top 100 on the site!  Won’t last long.

I’d just like to say congratulations to my nephew who passed his Class One driving test yesterday.  He’s such a star and like a big brother to my girls – well done boy.  Will the streets of the nation ever be the same again – and will we all have to pay higher insurance premiums now?

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