A few days ago I looked downwards and had to lean over my ever-growing
gut to see what shoes I had on (flip-flops, of course), so yesterday I
decided to make an effort to start getting fit. In all fairness, Ed
& Rep Sabb Andy Machin
was also starting his training regime, so I've really just stolen his
idea. Given how much I smoke, I decided cycling might be better than
running for my knees and pride (since collapsing in a crying heap
wheezing for breath before I get to the end of my road is ... well,
So, yesterday was cycling day, and pelting off down the seafront for
a sprint/cruise/sprint session was going fine until My New Best Mate
decided to pull out right in front of me in his shiny new BMW while
following his mate (also in a BMW) out of a side road. Cue the only
perfectly-formed string of expletives I've ever shouted at anyone in my
life without a rehearsal; his face was a picture. So was mine, I
Today was spent wheezing up and down the local swimming pool with
Andy, and since I was late (as always), he'd done 32("-ish") lengths by
the time I'd done 1. I managed 11 and decided to call it a day before I
drowned - something tells me I need a bit more commitment here...
Meanwhile, back at work, I've been getting more than a little
twitchy, thanks to a combination of some extra-potent filter coffee and
a backlog of e-mails and to-dos which I'll probably be working on until
midnight tonight. I've also been trying to tie up a number of loose
ends left over from last year's web work, and get some new projects
rolling, with the end result that I've been sending out literally
hundreds of e-mails to my unfortunate colleagues, several of whom have
now no doubt put me on their junk e-mail list, so this (from the BBC News Magazine) made me grin a bit today...
Anyway, there's no real point to all this rambling, but I guess I ought
to mention what I've been up to over the last couple of weeks, since
that is (so I'm told) the reason for this blog...
NUS Communication In Action training, Loughborough Uni
Interesting and good fun, and I think I picked up a load of very
good ideas. The last day included a debate over how much control the
Union's executive should exert over its media, i.e. should the Sabbs
have the right to, for example, veto something they don't like? How
about something they know is libellous? Illegal?
On the other hand, how much right should the Union's media - for
example, the student newspaper/magazine - have to say what it likes,
and to ignore the wishes of the exec?
This generated a lot of debate, but (imvho) I suspect in practise
that the media should be allowed to write whatever it likes - within
some bounds of reason I won't claim to know as intimately as our more
experienced staff do, but also that the Sabbs - who have been elected
by the whole student body to represent their views and needs - should
also have the ability to have items published as long as it's in the
student body's best interests.
As always, it's a bit of a balancing act...
Scouts' Jamboree, Essex
I was also shipped off to the Scouts' Centennial Jamboree by Making
Waves, a PR company who do a lot of work with students, to do a spot of
reporting on the event. Of course, not actually being
a journalist of any shape or flavour, I felt like a total fraud all
weekend, but managed to write copious pages of notes and will hopefully
be able to write My First Feature with the results.
While I was there I also met a lot of the Sabbs who are heading off to Ibiza to promote the Malibu Soundclash event coming to Portsmouth...
You might have spotted that I'm going abroad - to the White Isle no
less - apparently on work time, in exchange for an external promoter
coming to the Union to advertise their product, but what's the benefit
for students here?
In terms of value for money for the students, this isn't costing the Union anything, and the Malibu Soundclash is a rather good event indeed,
according to our Fraggy, who wrote about his experiences last year. I'm
all for having more diversity of music at the Union, and this is one
way of bringing in an interesting night which the Union might not
otherwise have the chance to host.
And, if that's not enough of a defence, it's also my birthday while
I'm in Ibiza, so what better way to celebrate than, err, working...?
The last thing on my list I want to mention is the mini-tour of
Students' Unions us Sabbs went on last week. We stopped off at
Sheffield, Liverpool and Birmingham SUs, meeting some of the Sabbs and
stealing a lot of their publications.
I left for the tour not really knowing what to expect, but having
spoken to the Sabbs at other Students' Unions I think it's fair to say
that most of the stronger SUs in the country have a balance of
strengths and weaknesses; some have better buildings but have a smaller
range of clubs and societies than others, while others might have a
great range of club, pub and food venues, and even a supermarket, but
conversely might not have such a strong student media-orientated focus.
At Portsmouth, I don't think we have things quite as badly as we
sometimes seem to imply (or, "I whinge too much" might be better...),
but the one thing I'm putting on my Christmas list is the hope that
some of the Union's long-standing adversarial relationships might
become a bit more friendly. Well, I can hope...
Catching man-flu (i.e. a cold/cough) on the second day kinda restricted
me from sampling the nightlife of Sheffield, our second-day
destination, but I can definitely recommend a chap called "Dave" (I
think that's his name). Dave is a street poet in Liverpool who promises
to write about anything you name in return for a nominal financial
reward. Darby chose the subject, and while I won't actually name it, anyone who knows Darbs will probably be able to guess fairly quickly the subject of the resulting poetic creation... ;o)
I'm off to catch up on some Studio 60.
Tomorrow, I will mainly be upsetting Steve Baker and Mike Cooter with
another torrent of e-mails and stupid ideas. Again... Sorry...!
Oh, p.s. "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana..."