Sunday, 29 March 2009

Last Day in America

Wednesday 14 July 1993. We had spent the previous day shopping in the malls and we went to see the movie Jurassic Park a few days before it opened in the UK. We thought, having been in some wonderful art-deco theatres inside the parks, that this would be a great place to see this much-hyped film but we ended up in a tiny cinema with a small screen set to the side so that we were looking across it rather than at it. Huge disappointment!

So for our last day we drove to Disney's Magic Kingdom, then left the car and got on the monorail to MGM Studios, where we - sorry where I - sang along to the background music... We went on the rides again, quite good actually as the Great Movie Ride gave us a different set of tableaux as we were sitting towards the rear of the train and had been at the front the last time.

Around lunchtime we got back on the monorail, rapidly learning the Spanish for "Please mind the doors" and "For the safety and comfort of your fellow passengers, please, no smoking eating or flash photography"! We trundled along to EPCOT and walked round the World Showcase again. There was another fabulous tijuana band at the Mexican pyramid, really superb.

Then we had an early thunder storm. "But it's not 4 o'clock yet!" Fran protested. We watched as Italy got wet then carried on as it brightened up again. But only for a few minutes then FLASH! BANG! we had another. But it was the third and most prolongued thunderstorm that set the tone for the rest of the day.

By now we had reached Morocco and we took shelter on a bench outside a building under an overhanging roof (with occasional forays into a souk where a bit of belly dancing was going on...)

The rain, thunder and lightning was coming in vast quantities. The yellow plastic chickens started to make an appearance but we hadn't brought ours and in the end we just gave up and sallied forth and got wet. It was no worse than being on holiday in England after all...

Then it was back to the monorail - ah not quite, but almost got that Spanish phrase... and we headed for our third and final park of the day, Disney's Magic Kingdom. We ate in a restaurant close to Liberty Square where (only with the greatest difficulty) we resisted the clam chowder and enjoyed a more familiar meal, watering the gravy with rainwater drips from the head...

We rode the cablecar to Tomorrowland and went on the Carousel of Progress where the audience seating rotated around tableaux of different periods with animated robots saying how wonderful the new technology of that age was - it mostly automated some chores so the wife could do others... Having running water let her do more sewing, having a sewing machine let her do more ironing etc. Quite right too... Agh! No! Stop that! Yeowch! Ok, ok, I was joking!!!

Someone's child was screaming throughout most of it, there was applause when the ride staff eventually came out to suggest they should take it outside. I thought the ride was excellent, we hadn't realised how old it was and it was dismantled the following year and disappeared into the very history it had depicted.

Another ride shortly to disappear was the Wedway People Mover, a train without drivers, based on the magnetic field induction principle where the magnetic field creates electricity as the train passes over it which gives it enough boost to reach the next magnet in the track. As we travelled on this we saw the most glorious sunset over the park.

Then it was back to the castle for the firework display. Disney don't sell you short on this, there's a great display every night and afterwards the park closes and a huge mass of people leave all at once, laughing, singing, dancing and as entertaining as any of the park's formal parades.

It had been a holiday like no other. We had never before been out of the UK and our holidays were normally spent mooching around the old or picturesque places in the south of England. It was an unforgettable two weeks that we have never yet repeated, but one that I still hope we will sooner or later.

And after that long run of blog posts I now have to think of somewhere else to take you don't I? Ah yes... the very place...

Large versions of the photos: rather than link the individual ones, here is a link to the set of 164 photos of the holiday at Flickr.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Universal Studios

Monday 12 July 1993 saw us driving to Universal Studios, Florida.

After the fantastic landscaped gardens of Sea World and the Disney parks, Universal in 1993 came as a bit of a culture shock. Based on street scenes and cityscapes, the closest to landscaping it got was the harbour base for the stunt show.

We found lots to do though. This was just before the Jaws ride opened and the big ride of the year was Kong. Unfortunately after queuing for 45 minutes the technicians had to make the decision they couldn't fix the ride quickly and we had to leave the queue disappointed.

We had ridden the Back To The Future simulator and the E.T. ride where E.T. himself spoke our names to the car in front... oops, bad timing! I braved the Earthquake ride which was very good if a little similar to Disney's Disaster Canyon ride a couple of days before.

We were impressed by the number of look-alikes posing and giving autographs, some of them were really like the originals. Laurel and Hardy were driving about in an old car, the Ghostbusters team were doing likewise in their distinctive vehicle and Elvis, Marilyn and a host of others were waiting to hug and be hugged by adoring fans. I didn't choose Elvis... I can't find the Marilyn photo...

The diner was based on the one from George Lucas's film American Graffiti. It was as functional as it was decorative and we went in and ordered burgers - what else?

A Wurlitzer 1015 jukebox was belting out American fifties and sixties hits and our table had this Seeburg selector unit which we duly fed with coins even though it was quite obvious the jukebox would not be allowed to go silent!

We only caught the end of the Blues Brothers show and there was a Rocky and Bullwinkle show, one of two horrendous films that year based on superb cartoons, that were desperately being pushed in the parks. MGM Studios had been driving actors in Tom and Jerry costumes around in a bright red sports car trying to convince people that the film would be worth going to.

We left the park before the daily 4:00pm thunderstorm and watched it from our hotel window, jumping out of our skins as lightning struck the lamp post on the corner of the car park across from our room!

We had our evening meal at a Ponderosa Steak House - what an experience! We paid for our meals and were given empty plates. These were for the vegetable bar. Every sort of vegetable you could think of - and a few we had never thought of - were there and you could take your plate back as many times as you wanted to fill up. Some people were gorging - the only apt word - on plates stacked into pyramids. We waited until the main course came but when the steak arrived it filled the plate it was on...

Large versions of the photos: cityscape, Laurel & Hardy, diner, Gill and jukebox selector

Monday, 23 March 2009

Sunnyside Down!

What a FABULOUS weekend!!! The Billy Fury weekend went in a blaze of meetings, hugs, laughs, highs and great, great music!

We went down to an Innkeeper's Lodge hotel in Northampton that was more-or-less just filled with Billy fans including the wonderful Moya, a close personal friend of Billy's who had come all the way from her adopted home in New Zealand. Moya's a pint-sized person with a tanker-sized personality and was such a lot of fun!

Friday afternoon we played a set in the meeting room of the hotel to a small but enthusiastic audience and then Friday night was the first main gig - an informal gathering in a packed room with many of the great artists who have sung on the Sounds Special monthly feature on Billy Fury web site. We met up with all the artists and the other regulars from the site's forum and it was a great night with music from (in totally random order)Rob Dee, Bruce Seaton, Johnny Storme, Jewel, Dean Hubert, Angus, Steve Sinclair, Jane, Pat James, Paul Staines, Snowy, Phil Jennings plus David and myself.

Paul and Johnny, dubbed The Fury Boys by the female members of the forum, (The Fury Girls...) did a fantastic duet together and set hearts fluttering all round the room judging by the reactions!

Then it was the turn of The Fury Girls themselves at the end of the night to gather to sing Fans of Billy Fury to the tune of Land of Hope & Glory, whilst I desperately tried to keep up accompaniment on the keyboards! We ended with all the
singers up for a rousing rendition of Billy's most famous hit Halfway To Paradise.

After such a great night there wasn't much chance of sleep until we had wound down a bit and a bottle of wine in the room with David and Jeannie brought the night to a close and David and Jeannie went back to their own room and we collapsed like a light switched off.

Saturday was the main event at the Sunnyside club where Billy had given his last stage performance. The singers were joined by Jett Scream, Geoff Howlett and Andrew Tween.

Out of 14 acts we were chuffed to find ourselves only 4th from the top of the bill, which was topped by Billy's ex-flatmate Vince Eager with his band Rockola.

With three hours of music before we were due to go on, there was plenty of time for a few butterflies in the stomach and I was unbelievably nervous as the MC, disc jockey Pierre Petrou from London's Radio Northwick Park introduced us. But the roar that followed us as we walked onto the stage banished the nerves and I quickly made sure the guitar was still in tune and then promptly cocked up the intro to I'm a Believer! Not to worry, we gave what seemed like a good set of six songs and we hadn't gone all that far before the floor filled with dancers which is always a good sign!

Lots of people made very kind comments afterwards but we found it quite strange and having spoken to some of the other singers we knew we weren't alone. You grow into a gig and we felt that we had only just got going and then our 6 songs were up and we had to come off. But enough people said how much they had enjoyed it to make up for any regrets about only having a 20 minute slot and the whole night was a buzz with some really great acts!

I was grabbed to dance with Babs and then Jean and Marie and then once more all the singers joined Vince on stage to sing "HTP" and a really great night ended on a high.

We left on Sunday morning after doing a final round of goodbyes and reflected on lots of new friends made and meetings with people from the forum who I've felt I've known for so long. The proudest moment? Probably when someone from one of the two fan clubs came to say how much he had enjoyed my arrangement of Billy's King For Tonight which he described as "rocked up"!

Unfortunately Fran's camera died but David (the Click-Monster) took loads of photos of the other artists so I'll borrow them to add to my memories of a BILLYANT night!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Sunnyside Up!

It's been a bit quiet on the blog this week - I've been charging about again and doing more Twittering than blogging. I'm johnburke1 on Twitter if anyone wants to follow me there.

I'm going to be a bit busy over the coming weekend too.

We're just getting ready to load the car with keyboards and guitars and head off down to Northampton for this event.

If you haven't got tickets already there's now no chance of getting any I'm afraid (for "afraid" read "glad to say"!) The event is sold out and the Sunnyside club it was reported had to turn down another 50 applications for tickets the day after it sold out!

Tonight is a chance to meet all the great people from the forums and I'm anticipating a great night tonight also!

Reports to come...!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Busch Gardens Roller Coasters

We've reached Sunday 11 August 1993 in our trek through the American holiday and this particular day we left Orlando for a look at Busch Gardens near Tampa.

This was part theme park and part zoo with enough space to have some really great environments and an overhead monorail train so you could actually see the animals.

One of the problems with zoos now is they create areas where the animals can feel safe and quiet but then of course, it's less good for the visitors. The last few times I've visited one particular zoo I've been disappointed at the number of seemingly empty enclosures!

Anyway, there were a couple of roller coasters at Busch Gardens that I really loved. No doubt they are old hat now and there will be bigger and better coasters but at the time these were brilliant.

I'd never ridden a coaster with a corkscrew loop before and Python had a double corkscrew that took you through 360 degrees twice in quick succession. That was pretty much all it did, but it was great all the same. Plus I took the camcorder with me and sat in the front seat and I have a shaky black-and-white-cos-the shaking-affected-the-camera video record of the event.

I was going to do the same on the large four-abreast coaster Kumba. This was an awesome coaster, it did more aerobatics than the normal up and down with an occasional loop coaster. However the staff were adamant that my camcorder had to remain with them until I had got off the ride and I have to admit, it would have been very difficult not to bash myself in the face with it on that particular ride!

An excellent day. Even though Fran at one point was told by a woman "I'm going to hit you - you have a mosquito on your back!" There was then a hefty thump, enough to make Fran stagger! However she wasn't stung and didn't catch any grisly tropical disease so I suspect it may have been worth it!

Large versions of the photos: through the corkscrew, python 2, kumba

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Blackpool's Golden Mile 1980s Style

Ages since I added to the occasional series of Vanished Blackpool so here's a quick one to savour!

Savour may not quite be the most apt word, and I'm not sure I should have used style in the title as the Golden Mile in July 1981 showed little flair for style.

The buildings had originally been houses - you can spot gable ends towards the right. The original Golden Mile started as stalls in front gardens. The householders sold drinks for the beach and were so successful that they learned that if they knocked down their garden fences or railings and let out the front garden they could earn fortunes.

Drinks stalls were joined by quack medicines, sideshows, and some really tasteless stuff. One not-so-rich newly wed couple spent their honeymoon in a glass case "Starving to Death for Love", just one of many questionable shows which included the (arguably wrongly) defrocked Rector of Stiffkey, who exhibited himself in a barrel. He later died in the jaws of a lion in Skegness when, whilst preaching from inside its cage, he inadvertantly trod on its tail...

But despite the boarded up windows and horrendous dilapidation of the upper storeys of the buildings, I always think of this section as the last bit of the Golden Mile with character...

There was an excellent burger bar there too before burgers became the bland stuff you get at franchise burger bars these days. Fried onions and ketchup with none of this cheese and salad and grated onion nonsense! The late 1970s saw a rapid decrease in the small independant burger stalls. New Trade Description laws meant that the term hamburger had to disappear - as burgers were made with beef - and a new word beefburgers appeared on the menu.

Large version of the photo: Golden Mile

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Saturday 10 July 1993. Today we are at EPCOT, Disney's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

Gill thinks it should stand for Every Person Comes Out Tired...

Epcot has two bits - a science and nature section with the landmark golf ball structure at its centre and The World Showcase, a series of themed building collections based on various countries from around the world. Judging from the bit representing England, I suspect they are all a bit of a cliche'd view of the countries. England had the Rose and Crown Pub next door to a Tudor half timbered building, next door to the Norman castle...

This is the Germany bit - a very picturesque bit of Bavaria with this chap strolling around playing a squeezebox and singing under his breath, presumably to save his voice for when some tourist turned up. Once he spotted us he did get louder and it seemed to me to be eminently sensible not to sing your heart out and give yourself a sore throat unless there was someone to admire it.

In fact his hairstyle was worthy of admiration. I suspect he'd been given an electric shock shortly before someone from a duelling school swung a very sharp sword...

Some of the "countries" had a ride and some had live entertainment. China had a filmshow projected all the way round the inside of a circular pagoda building which was really good and they also had acrobats and plate spinners outside - it would have spoiled the film inside...

Japan had some drum bangers, which I found difficult to get into, the rhythms they use didn't gel with my ideas of music but that was the whole point of the World Showcase - a chance to immerse yourself briefly in a different culture, where all the staff were of the relevant indiginous ethnicity and spoke the language but also spoke English if you didn't.

Many of the staff were students from the relevant country, who had taken the ultimate in holiday jobs. We spoke to Victoria in the Twinings Tea shop in England who when prompted turned in a very proper and refined English accent.

The souk in Morocco was a much more laid back place than the souk we visited in the real Morocco - no one attempted to drag us into their stall and no one pestered us or threw baby goats at us so we would catch them by instinct and that be taken as an invitation to take a polaroid and sell it us for twenty quid...

In the America bit a singing troupe told the story of the American national anthem and the audience all joined in to sing it and then congratulated each other on how good it had been. "Boy, what a great way to start the day," one chap said and there was no hint of irony or self-conciousness about it. They take their patriotism seriously in the US of A. The story telling and the singing was done very well and I have to think in retrospect that I envy them their opportunity to wave flags and sing their national anthem without some lunatic trying read something into it and tarnish it. But we don't have that culture anyway and so it only works here once a year at the Proms.

Outside the Aztec (or was it Inca?) pyramid the entertainers were superb and large crowds gathered to watch and applaud them and have their photos taken with them.

I really enjoyed the World Showcase and whenever going to Florida is discussed as a possibility, it is this place I particularly think of. We'll visit it again before the holiday is over.

Large versions of the photos: golf ball, German entertainer, Mexican group

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Great American Bar-B-Que

It was 6 July 1993. After our scare of getting lost on the Freeway late last night we made sure we took our map with us everywhere!

Having all this fun takes it out of you so this was to be a more restful day. We had booked a bar-b-que dinner with entertainment and had a lazy start to the day.

We headed for one of the smaller Disney Parks, the Island of Discovery. This was located at Disney's Fort Wilderness park and we walked along a white sandy beach to board a ferry that took us to the island.

There were lots of animals living on the island, some roaming free - we stopped at one point as a long snake zig-zagged across the path before us - and some in pens and environments. The heat was astonishing. We were really sweltering, but mooched along looking at alligators, monkeys and spiders and being pooped on by the macau parrots in the trees. Er... thanks guys...

We walked round Fort Wilderness for a bit. They were erecting a massive marquee. "Someone's having a bar-b-que," Fran said, pointing to some huge gas-fed barbies.

The penny dropped later that day when we got on a coach to be taken back to the marquee... Just about all of the coach couriers we had travelled with during the week were there. Grizzled old Charlie and Jonathan from our Silver Springs trip, the girl whose name escapes me, but she took us to Kennedy Space Centre... All the company's coaches had been given the name of a Disney character for the night as we were to be divided into teams for some sort of competition. We were laughing at being on a Minnie bus...

The meal was simple as you might expect at a bar-b-que but very good and we sat at long trestle tables opposite a family from the UK who we swapped stories with and our experiences at various parks. After the meal a comedian started the entertainment and then a live band came on to play for dancing. At this point a host of Disney characters came in to mingle and pose for photos. It was a great night. The band were very good and the atmosphere was great. The competition was a quiz so there was lots of shouting and team spirit and laughing at Charlie who obviously wasn't up on his Disney. He was looking after the Tigger bus but when it came time for his party to cheer he roused them by shouting into the mic; "Come on the Tigers!!!"

Then it was out and down to the white sandy beach from where we watched the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, on the opposite side of the lagoon with a most spectacular display of lightning playing around the horizon, lighting up the cloudy night sky. More of us watched that than watched the fireworks!

And that was the evening. We got back on the bus where my Minnie badge fell off and was stuck back on by Fran... thanks... I had bought some sweets from the hotel shop. We thought they must be the equivalent of Polo mints as they were exactly the same shape and size and packaging but a different name. Ugh!!!! They tasted exactly like the stuff dentists give you to rinse your mouth! Yeuchhh! A little white sweet-with-a-hole rolled down under the seats towards the front of the bus...

Dandelion and Burdock

I've mentioned sarsparilla before on this blog but not the other great taste of childhood.

For me, either of the two could knock Coca-Cola or Pepsi for six. Dandelion and Burdock, despite sounding as though you should throw up on hearing the name, never mind tasting it, is a rich dark wonderfully tasty drink. It immediately brings back memories of being 12 and skipping school dinners to go to the local chippy eating room.

Then we'd go to the sweets shop which had big bottles of Ben Shaws drinks, every flavour imaginable. They had a huge stock of plastic glasses and you could buy a glass of your favourite pop for 3d. Some kids went for cream soda, some went for ginger beer, but I would always go for one of my favourite two, or on those days when I simply couldn't make my mind up, I'd get all giddy and have a half-and-half!

And now Asda, at least, have brought back this great taste for me to enjoy again. Thank you Asda!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Dinner Party

Great night last night. We hosted a dinner party to celebrate Fran's birthday which falls within the week.

We had Gill and Eddie, Mum and our great friends David and Jeannie.

The table had to be dismantled and taken into the front room to fit us all round it but it was well worth the effort!

Fran and Jeannie had decided (in advance I hasten to say) to be twins for the night and we had a very laughter-filled night with a brilliant meal - starters: chicken liver pate with toast, onion relish, green salad and cherry tomatoes or melon with summer fruits coulis or prawn cocktail. main course: chicken marinated in white wine with a white wine and cream sauce with choices of potatoes au gratin, boiled new potatoes, cubed roasted potatoes with green bits on (fancy names?!? what do you want fancy names for?) and a choice of veg with sliced carrots, asparagus spears, peas and mixed cauliflower and broccoli. Sweets were mandarin orange cheesecake, chocolate gateaux or an assortment of cheese and biscuits and we finished with coffee and mints. All complimented with pink cava, chardonnet, or decanted merlot - hey, can be good with chicken if you're not that fussed!

Me and my little girl!

Photos courtesy of David the click monster, great hilarity ensued when he announced in a shocked tone that the camera's storage card was full... It did already have a fair number of photos stored when he started. But even then it was after 100 photos of the night...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Magic Kingdom

Monday 5 July 1993 and our long-awaited first look at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom.

This view is so familar to everybody whether they have been to a Disney park or not that once you come through the turnstiles and see Main Street USA before you with the princess's castle at the far end it really is a magical moment. We just stood for a moment taking it all in, saying things like "Wow!" and "Brill!"

We had made a point of being at the park early and not everything was open. We explored Main Street USA with its shops full of fluffies and an arcade with old amusement machines (and a couple of new pinballs!) We went in a 3D cinema and saw a Chip 'n' Dale cartoon in 3D and then the rest of the park opened and we made a beeline for the castle.

In Orlando the castle is Cinderella's and the tale of Cinderella is told in mosaics containing hand-cut glass, marble and a lot of 14 carat gold on the inner walls of the castle. We tried lots of the rides, Pirates of the Carribean in pre-Johnny Depp days was even then an excellent ride.

Each section of the park - Fantasy Land, Tomorrow Land, Frontier Land etc, had it's own uniform for the ride operators who were not allowed to venture into another part of the park wearing the wrong uniform. All the staff were excellent. They were genuinely concerned with making your day a brilliant day, whether it was helping with the rides or simply waving for the video camera. Also there was a total lack of litter.

We went on the stern-wheeler Mississippi boat and as you can see from the rather generously-built lady with the umbrella, testing the thickness of the ship's decking, it was by now getting to thunderstorm time. It didn't really spoil the trip I have to say - rain there was a welcome break from the heat for a while. In fact, every day at 4:00pm on the dot there was a horrendous thunder storm, heralded by strong winds that bent over the palm trees. The lightning and thunder were fierce and everyone was scurried away from water of any kind. After the rain finished, the Disney employees came out in force with brooms, to sweep the water towards the drains! I was amazed and said "You missed a bit!". The young lad didn't miss a second in his comeback; "I got it Buddy!" and he did a quick circle around me with the broom! Impressive! In England the most probable response I'd have got was "Sod off!"

What? Er... yes, the chap with the hideous legs and white socks would be me...

When the rain came everyone put on bright yellow capes that either had Mickey Mouse or Shamu the Killer Whale on the back - depending on where you bought them! They had hoods and especially over a baseball cap they reminded us of chickens with the cap peak forming the beak. 16 years later, we still refer to rain capes as plastic chickens...

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the Magic Kingdom. It really was magical and the firework display at night was the best we had ever seen. We then set off to drive back to the hotel at 11:00pm, getting hopelessly lost on the Freeway. We had remembered where we got on it, only to find you couldn't get off it at that junction travelling north! We didn't get back to the hotel which was only 20 minutes away until 1:30am...!

Large versions of the photos: Main St USA, stern wheeler, Cinderella's castle

Friday, 6 March 2009

Shamu the Killer Whale

Let's journey back to 1993 and continue the story of the one and only holiday trip to America. It's not that I wouldn't love to go back, it's just I've never found the chance since then.

Anyway, you may remember that we visited Sea World on our first day in Orlando and dragged a sleepy jet-lagged Fran around until she gave up and had to be wheeled about in a dolphin-shaped baby stroller. We had been given free tickets to return so this is the...

Return To Sea World

We saw the daytime Shamu show on our previous visit but everyone kept telling us not to miss the night show so we went back and took the opportunity to turn up early and go down to the glass front of the pool to watch these huge wonderful animals swim past us, noting that they were sizing us up as much as we were them!

The show was spectacular - and wet for anyone sitting near the front. The two killer whales performing were able to sweep vast amounts of water over the audience by swimming on their sides and pushing the surface of the water with their flukes.

There was lots of jumping, there was lots of loud music, there were trainers riding on the whales' backs or "log rolling" as the whales rolled over. All in all a whale's dream existence... or whatever... It was a very good show but I do get a slightly guilty feeling watching such animals performing. But these were (just about) pre-Free Willy days and the whales had plenty of opportunity to gobble, maim and rip apart their trainers had they so wished. Taste like chicken apparently...

Earlier in the day we spent some time at the dolphin touch pool where it's up to the dolphins whether they want to be touched. One did come near enough to Fran for her to touch it, she said it was a bit like stroking wet Tupperware... Having thus hurt its feelings it refused to come anywhere near us again.

We watched the dolphin show, jumping out of our skins as did the rest of the audience and all performers and trainers as there was a lightning strike just behind the stands. My video at that point went a bit wobbly...

So we have now been in America for several days and I've skipped a couple of days here so the next entry about this particular holiday will take us to Disney's Magic Kingdom.

Large versions of the photos: Shamu swimming, Shamu jumping, dolphin pool, dolphin ride (a wider view)

There are several other photos of the American holiday at the Flickr site

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Building Bridges

I've spent the first three days of this week in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Tuesday and Wednesday have been the Building Bridges conference for Records Managers held at the new conference centre at Gateshead College, from whose windows this view of the Millenium Bridge over the Tyne was taken.

The conference was organised by JISC infoNet and the brainchild of my colleague Steve Bailey. Records Managers from universities, colleges, local authorities and elsewhere gathered to discuss the future direction of records management and the impact that the growing use of social networking sites such as blogs, wikis and networks such as Facebook have on an organisation's ability to control its data and information.

I gave a session on communications during the implementation of change and facilitated a group discussion session as well as running round with the roving microphone for question and feedback sessions.

It has been a most interesting two days with the benefits of a records management approach pushed to the fore over compliance issues. There was some discussion as to where, in an organisation, does the Records Management function logically sit and there was some disagreement amongst the delegates when HR was suggested (because of the staff development role they usually have) or in Finance (because of the strict controlled way that accountants like to work).

What did come out strongly was that wherever they sit, the Records Manager needs the support of a senior manager committed to driving the records management agenda forward across the organisation. Someone at middle manager level sitting within one team or area does not have the necessary influence over the other functions and structural areas that exist in large organisations such as universities and colleges.

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Roadie Bit!

Went out for a Chinese last night with David and Jeannie, Gill and Eddie and David and Jeannie gave me some photos of the last gig which included some rare set-up shots.

We don't often get photos of all the work involved in setting up the stage, arranging cables into a loom so we don't trip up and tuning instruments and so on, so I thought I'd include a few here. Looks like I'm doing most of the work too! Sigh...

We are looking forward immensely to the Billy Fury gig in Northampton in 3 weeks. We are sharing the stage with lots of other artists but hope to do a set of 6 songs at the Sunnyside Club, the last venue Billy played. Saturday 20 March.