Total Pageviews

Thursday, 15 March 2012

London for a day to see a man about a book

I was at Aylesbury Vale Council on Tuesday evening leading a seminar on Chairing Skills for Scrutiny. So much of this is less about the obvious matter of politeness, which unlike etiquette isn't a skill, but about getting the scoping right...
Chairing is needed to steer through stages of scrutiny
...and setting the scene so that as many as possible know and agree what they are looking for, or if they begin to find out something that comes as a surprise, being able to recognise the unfamiliar. Good questioning tends to follow. I've simplified types of questions to five - rhetorical, open, closed, probing and reflective. They gain their strength in combination. Standing orders and rules of debate are almost irrelevant with Scrutiny since it doesn't make decisions, doesn't by and large entail voting and prospers through influence rather than authority.
From Aylesbury I took a train to London...
Up-line at Aylesbury
...getting into Marylebone by 10.30pm and checking into a nice cheap hotel on Gloucester Place - with only Sky on the TV and strange landscapes on the wall...
...a toy boat inside the glass of one. How I'd have enjoyed that as a child! Dropping off my bag, I cycled out to find a place to eat and had to go all the way to Euston then up to the edge of Camden Town to find an open Indian Restaurant. The ethnic mix has shifted. I could have tried Colombian, Mexican, Lebanese, Moroccan and plenty of Japanese but the mix has changed and I wanted bhaji, poppadoms, paratha, balti...
The next morning after a comfortable sleep and a shower I had breakfast in the basement full of young French tourists served by French students. I was probably the only one there with a UK passport and certainly the oldest. It was a nice place since my other cheap London Hotel has gone up-market. Why should I pay more than £50 for a night in the centre of London? I wrote complimentary things in the feedback form and said goodbye at the desk and a young man carried my bicycle all the way up a narrow flight of stairs to the street. I worked my way across a town. I can't get lost in this city. Off Oxford Street I turned into Soho via Dean Street. How thoroughly established the bicycle is becoming in the capital; more and more people riding the familiar Barclays 'Boris Bikes'more and more cycle shops open every time I visit. Unlike the situation in - say - Amsterdam, the bicycle still carries a frisson of subversion. People grumble about cyclists, sometimes vehemently, even venomously on web sites' in reader's messages in London papers and the congestion of London makes cycling its streets even more satisfyingly efficient as one sails among vehicles slowed by their own proliferation.
Charles Law at Simons Muirhead & Burton in Frith Street is giving me advice on my rights to publish one of my stepfather's books, that might be sold alongside the re-issued DVDs of Out of Town (scroll down 'Saplings' for back story).
Charles Webster of Delta who've bought a licence from Endemol to re-issue the DVDs, met me and the other Charles in the lobby, I keeping an eye on the 'chess-clock' to stay inside the hourly fee I've allowed myself. Charles W showed me the thirty four recovered versions - transferred to DVD - of original Out of Town broadcasts lent him by Endemol. Before Christmas, when these new and original episodes were unearthed via Kaleidoscope, I was convinced they belonged to me. Since then Endemol who own the other films about to be re-issued have 'discovered' that these tapes are part of a large batch of material they, or their predecessors Primetime, then Southern Star, bought from Meridian TV the successor to Southern Television which lost its franchise in 1981.
Charles Webster of Delta with the 'new' 34 episodes of Out of Town

*** *** ***
Το Διοικητικό Συμβούλιο του Αγροτικού Συνεταιρισμού Άνω Κορακιάνας, καλεί τα μέλη του Συνεταιρισμού σε επαναληπτική Γενική Συνέλευση την Κυριακή 18/03/2012 και ώρα 11.00 π.μ. στην αίθουσα συνελεύσεων του Αγροτικού Συνεταιρισμού, με τα παρακάτω θέματα:
1.Τροποποίηση Καταστατικού – προσαρμογή στο νέο θεσμικό πλαίσιο (απόφαση για αυτόνομη πορεία Συνεταιρισμού)
2. Μετατροπή έκτακτης εισφοράς σε συνεταιριστικό κεφάλαιο.
3. Επιστροφή μερίδων θανόντων συνεταίρων
4. Διαμόρφωση θέσης ενόψει της Γενικής Συνέλευσης της ΕΑΣΚ στις 19/3/2012
5. Ανακοινώσεις - Διάφορα
Ο Γραμματέας ΔΣ: Γ. ΚΕΝΤΑΡΧΟΣ

The administrative council of the Ano Korakiana Rural Co-operative invites members of the Association to a General Meeting next Sunday 18/03/2012 at 11.00 am in the Assembly Room of the Farmers Union, with this agenda:
1.Modification to the Association - adapting to the new institutional framework (to pursue an autonomous Cooperative route)
2. Convert special contributions to a cooperative fund.
3. Back portions for deceased partners
4. Make arrangements for the General Assembly on 19/3/2012 of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (EASK)
5. Announcements - Miscellaneous
The Chairman of the Board: SEB. METALLINOS
The Board Secretary: G. KENTARCHOS
*** ***
It's flattering and touching when a stranger decides to tell a story about you, with added music and design - a page from my old diary with an owl's feather found at the Pierian Spring, το ύδωρ της Πειρήνης, at Corinth - as has Sihlangu Tshuma, Journalism student at Birmingham City University, from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, writer of these words on his country:

Mugabe: the author of smart genocide
The silence of the lambs: when Christians stand aside and look

He came to visit us a few days ago, showed me a film he'd made at Uplands Allotments and another of Bonny in the Garden of Eden, and one of my friend Rajinder Rattu  - and, with a dinky little recorder, encouraged me to talk about mum and Maria - 'the other women in my life'


  1. Six years in that job. A lot to be said for the chair starting a session with a question rather than giving officers carte blanche. We used to give officers "just a minute" to give us updates to their written reports. After that they needed to talk about what we wanted to know. I'd like to know whether you think scrutiny gains or loses 'influence' under an elected mayor.

  2. Scrutiny doesn't make decisions. It succeeds or fails as an influencer. I doubt the context - elected mayor or council leader - makes a difference. What matters is how scrutiny is led. .

  3. another riveting post. gosh i could have done with the scrutiny data when i was involved in lecturing and guiding others. on the other hand, when i was a lord of the universe i thought i knew it all and would have been too jealous of simon's post to own up and share.

  4. Jonny Jacobsen - see i have commenting here..its working..

  5. I'm stuck on the matter of repairing my quick edit function since Google added country specific tags. I've invited you to become a co-author to see if you can fix it for me. S


Back numbers