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since 18/10/2002


Selling To Win - Richard Denny 03/04/2005


Selling To Win - Richard Denny Selling To Win by Richard Denny When I tell people that I work in a bank, the natural image that springs to the mind of most is a local HSBC: Customers patiently queuing in line, an array of cashiers willing to serve, and general banking activities taking place all around. When I describe my place of work as an office, with no cash on the premises and without a current account facility, it’s easy to understand why people see me as a salesman rather than a bank employee. My business cards acknowledge me as a Customer Account Manager. It sounds posh, but in real terms, I am a salesman, and it’s my job to sell loans. When I first joined the company, a little under a year ago, there was a copy of a book called “Selling to win” hanging around the office. A quick flick through showed it did what it said, and that it was a sales book. Indeed, the inner cover boasts the tag “Tested techniques for closing the sale”. As any person involved in or around sales will testify, particularly those who earn commission, “closing the sale” is the most important part of the job. Rather than pay out £9.99 for a copy, I searched around and got it for a fifth of the price on eBay. Richard Denny is well regarded as a motivator, and having worked in Sales all of his life is considered, by the blurb on the back of his own book at least, as “one of the UK’s foremost authorities on sales”. Alongside a money-back guarantee, you are quick to assume that he is self-confident and that the book ...

Strepsils Lozenges 04/07/2004


Strepsils Lozenges What does a foal and my throat have in common? Both are a little hoarse. I tell you, seeing as I can barely speak right now, I’m grateful that the internet exists as a medium to get across my terrible jokes! That’s right, I’ve been struck down with yet another cold, and as well as having a nose that could run for England right now, I’m also suffering with a croaky throat. Seeing as I am 100% male, I’ve decided that I need medication as there is no way that I could possibly be expected to ask my natural defences to cope with this affliction. A quick search through the cupboards uncovered a packet of Strepsils which were left over from the last bout of disease to hit the SeasonTicketless house. The box holds 24 lozenges each of which are approximately 15mm in diameter. This particular box doesn’t have a flavour as you would expect and is instead labelled merely as “Strepsils with Vitamin C 100mg”. The colours used in the packaging are black text and orange graphics, and fortunately this isn’t misleading as the lozenges themselves have a distinctly orange flavour. The packaging also displays the simple claim at the top: “Soothing effective relief for sore throats” with the word “effective” in italics. Whether they are trying to imply that other brands are ineffective is anyone’s guess, but this wasn’t my main reason for buying the packet in the first place. The reason was, quite simply, that they were on a “Buy One Get One Free” offer in Boots and also that Strepsils are ...

Everything that starts with G ... 27/06/2004


Everything that starts with G ... God. Another challenge. As with all challenges, all you need to do is copy and paste the diatribe below and amend the answers to your own. I don’t know why it’s a challenge as there is no prize and there will be no winner. It’s something to do though, I suppose. I will, if asked nicely, come and read and rate yours if you shove a message in my guest book. I'm nice like that LOL 1) Name one celebrity that you detest for no particular reason Colin Farrell. I just do, ok? 2) Where would you LIKE to be in ten years time? Well by then I’ll have a 13 year old daughter, an 11 year old daughter and a 10 year old daughter. I’d like to be financially much better off, be able to take my family on holiday every year, have a nice car, be able to afford take away as a treat once a week. The simple things really. I’m happy with the house we’re in, but I’d like to be some way down the line in paying off the mortgage. On a professional level, I’d like to be working for myself in some way, whether it was owning my own business or just working for myself in some way. I’d like to have a portfolio of properties, shares and a few other materialistic things, and be healthy and happy. 3) Where do you THINK you will be in ten years time? Hmmm, nowhere near the scenario above unfortunately. I think I’ll be struggling to pay all the bills, though will be better off than I am now. I reckon I’ll be wiser having lived through tough times where I had been out of work with a young ...

Everything that starts with Y ... 22/06/2004


Everything that starts with Y ... I recently had to attend a Selection Day for a national bank that I had applied to. Having already been through a psychometric test on the phone, an interview with the Branch Manager at my local branch and also an interview with the Regional Manager at a branch in Romford, not to mention spending several hours in the branch followed by a credit check, I was feeling pretty confident that I had the skills to get through the last part of the application process: The Selection Day. The Selection Day was held in a beautiful country house in the middle of nowhere. Although situated just ten minutes from a train station, my journey via public transport took several hours, and included a bus to Chelmsford train station, a train from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street, a tube to Farringdon, another train to St Albans and then a further train to yet another station. From door to door it took me around three hours, which I felt was good going. The day itself was split into four parts which myself and fellow applicants, of which there were 11, all had to succeed in. Although we had all been briefed as to what to expect, we were naturally all nervous. The four parts were: 1) Another interview, 2) A group discussion, 3) A single person presentation and 4) A written exercise. After meeting my fellow job seekers and trying hard to be seen to “fit in” by being smiley and generally over-nice, we were all taken to a meeting room and introduced to the team that was looking after us ...

Practical Car & Van Rental 18/06/2004


Practical Car & Van Rental Having recently been made redundant and losing a company car, I have slowly been adjusting to life without transport. So far buses have been able to get me as far as I need to go, but what I barely remembered in time was that I was due to attend the wedding of my best friend. Although it was being held just two bus rides away I felt that dragging my partner and three kids (all under the age of four) on two buses and a 90 minute one way trip probably wasn’t the wisest idea. The next idea of a cab would have cost in the region of £30 each way and would then leave me with the problem of getting from the wedding to the reception which was about two miles away. After much thought and reflection I decided that the best bet would probably be to hire a car for the day. A quick scout about online, primarily through gave me a few numbers and I began to ring round. The first thing that I noticed was that all car companies, when it comes to weekend rentals, only seem to hire out cars for the two days, as opposed to midweek when you can get cars for just a single day. This surprised me as most of the companies were open seven days a week, and yet no-one could give me a direct answer as to why one-day hire was not allowed at the weekend. After checking and comparing a couple of prices with local firms, I plumped to use Practical Car Rental, who were established locally and were part of a national firm. The name was also one that I recognised, which eased my mind somewhat, ...

The Wiggles 13/06/2004


The Wiggles Having kids is the greatest thing on Earth, right? Of course, as any parent will tell you. Apart from the many bad bits, such as finding out the reason that the video hasn’t worked in over a month is due to a piece of toast that your 3 year old has pushed into it, jam side down. Or having that slow-dawning realisation that the chair you’ve just plonked yourself into (wearing your brand new and expensive suit, naturally) is wet where your potty-training two year old has had an accident. Or when Murray, Greg, Anthony and Jeff appear on your TV and start singing. Yes, you’ve guessed it, kid’s TV. I remember being a youngster and having programmes on one or maybe two channels during the day, and even these were segmented between bouts of boring international news and poor Australian soap operas. Nowadays my kids have their own channels that they like to watch. That’s right, when I was little I had to ask if I was allowed to watch my favourite half an hour program. Today, I am told that my kids want CBeebies on, or Nick Junior. I thank my stars that both channels have finished by 8pm! However, although many programmes on these two channels can bore me senseless and irritate me, there are one or two that stand out as being quite catchy and inventive, and the Wiggles is one of these programmes. The Wiggles are a group of four men, Murray, Greg, Anthony and Jeff, who live together in the Wiggle house and generally spend all day singing. Along with their friends, Dorothy The ...

Cutthroats: Terror on the High Seas (PC) 08/06/2004


Cutthroats: Terror on the High Seas (PC) A GOOD PLACE FOR SOME DRINKIN’ AND WHORIN’! Well, shiver me timbers, it does me ‘eart good to see a salty ol’ sea-dog like meself. It’s 1640, you have a ship, 500 pesos, and a few crew members. Your aim? To take control of the High Seas, battle your way through traders, pirate hunters and war-ships, overthrow governors and take over islands. The more you can do, the more famous you get – or infamous, depending on how you play the game. In the 17th Century, the seas of the Caribbean were laden with bounty, and 1640-1655 is the golden age of piracy (the High Sea version, not the dodgy software version!) though you can choose to start the game any time from 1625 through to 1700 depending on how difficult you want it to be. You start off in a port in the Caribbean. You are given a small ship, a small crew consisting of sailors, marines and gunners, and the rest is down to you. Before you can sail you have to ensure your crew is sufficiently large to cope with the size of your ship. At the start of the game, half a dozen or so sailors are all you need, but as the game progresses you will find that you can get bigger and better ships which need more sailors. You may also find that although you can get by with a minimum amount of sailors, having many more makes the ship far easier to handle, and therefore gives you a better chance of doing what you want to do at sea. Each port gives you the option to buy gunnery or make repairs at a shipwright, buy and sell goods, hire ...

The Book, the Film, the T-shirt - Matt Beaumont 01/06/2004


The Book, the Film, the T-shirt - Matt Beaumont Matt Beaumont can’t write. Well, not literally you understand. I mean, this is his third book, and you’re unlikely to get even the one book published if you cannot write. What I mean is that Matt Beaumont seems incapable of writing a normal book in a normal fashion. Take his first book, “e” for example. The entire book is in email format. The whole plot, sub-plot and character description comes via emails that have been sent to, from and around the firm upon which the book is centred. The follow-up, “an e before Christmas” was done the same way and both were enjoyable reads, if a little hard to follow from time to time. Beaumont’s third book, “the book, the film, the t-shirt” follows the same anti-establishment rules of writing. Not that there is even the merest hint of an email here. Instead, each chapter is split into character perspective. A two-way conversation is either relayed back to the reader by one, two or more characters. It’s an unusual way to write a book, but it seems to work. Once you get used to reading each new section or paragraph in the mind-frame of one of the characters, you begin to appreciate their take on things. Based around two central characters, Rebecca Richards, an English actress who had made her name in one of the USA’s biggest soap operas “All Our Lives Before Us”, playing the lead part alongside her on and off-screen lover Joe Shirer, this book, as with Beaumont’s previous two, is set around advertising. Greg Fuller, Creative ...

Boy: Tales of Childhood - Roald Dahl 20/05/2004


Boy: Tales of Childhood - Roald Dahl November 1990 was a sad time for England. Not because the country’s two largest satellite broadcaster, Sky and British Satellite Broadcasting joined to form BSkyB, nor because we lost Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. In fact, it was as far removed from these two incidents as you could possibly imagine. On 23rd November 1990, aged 74, Roald Dahl, creator of several of the world’s most engaging children’s books died as a result of a rare blood disorder called Myelo-dysplastic. In doing so, we lost a great talent whose imagery and imagination live on forever in books such as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Witches and The BFG. Released in 1984, Boy is as close to an auto-biography as you can get. In fact, Dahl’s bold statement early in the book sums up his feelings: “An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and it is usually full of all sorts of boring details. This is not an autobiography. I would never write a history of myself. On the other hand, throughout my young days at school and just afterwards a number of things happened to me that I have never forgotten.” Between you and I, it’s an autobiography, but without the boring details! I first read this book at school, when I was perhaps no more than 10 or 11. Having consumed many of his other books and been fascinated by stories as diverse as James and the Giant Peach, or getting lost in a different world with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I was given this book from the school ...

Patience (Parental Advisory) [PA] - George Michael 24/03/2004


Patience (Parental Advisory) [PA] - George Michael 1996. Eight years ago. Since then we’ve seen wars start, foreign men managing the England team and a new phenomenon called the “Y2K” Millennium bug pass by without so much as a whisper. The Millennium Dome sprung up from nowhere and opened in Greenwich, failed miserably and then shut just as quickly. George Michael also managed to write 14 songs. Yes, that’s harsh. But it’s also true. For a man with the talent that George Michael possesses, it’s not unreasonable for his fans to expect a little more from their idol. After all, this is a man who not only shuns promotion and interviews, but also a man who has not performed live at a major concert for over a decade. However, the release of Patience, which is the first new studio album since Older, and the first new material since 1999’s cover-filled Songs From The Last Century has seen the ex-Wham! star back to form, looking and sounding as good as ever. Beginning with a slow, piano-backed vocal, the title track of the album is a strange way to begin what is effectively the first album of an artist leaving his youth and looking towards middle age. Angst-filled lyrics and a lack of natural rhythm lead to a disjointed track. Not the best way to win over the critics, and by far the worst song on the album. Track two is "Amazing". That’s the title and not the brief synopsis of the song, though the poppy tune is a welcome sound following such a dour opener. This song was released as the first single in 2004 and was a ...

Moral Dilemmas 17/03/2004

Morally Reprehensible

Moral Dilemmas DILEMMA You've just cooked dinner for your four friends, when disaster strikes and you drop the chicken on the kitchen floor. Before you can stop him, the dog dashes in and licks it, but you get it away before he can do anything else. You have nothing else to cook. Do you own up, or do you serve the chicken up for tea? You're vegetarian anyway. RESPONSE Well, you’re assuming that I cook for one thing, but if we skip by the details, I’d pick up the chicken and serve it. Normally I can’t bear anything that drops on the floor, let alone something that had also been licked by the dog, but with nothing else in the cupboard I’d probably serve it up. Failing that, I’d offer it to the table with the explanation: “I dropped it on the floor. The dog has sniffed it. I’m willing to eat it, but if anyone doesn’t want to, I understand. The phone is over there, here’s a Domino’s menu, mine’ll be the Mighty Meat Feast with extra sausage and BBQ sauce.” DILEMMA You're in the supermarket car park, when in a momentary lapse of concentration, your shopping trolley scrapes somebody's new Mercedes down the side. Nobody appears to be looking. Do you own up? RESPONSE Nobody saw me? I don’t see the dilemma in this one. I’d leave it, without saying a word and without leaving a note. If anyone had seen me, I’d blame the shopping trolley. Besides, they can always claim on insurance if they need to, right? DILEMMA You're out with your mate, who starts chatting up a rather fit ...

Everything that starts with M ... 03/01/2004


Everything that starts with M ... Dear mum, It’s so hard writing this letter. After all those years that we didn’t speak, and all that time that we wasted when we could have kissed and made up so easily. It seems such a waste. I can’t even remember what the argument was about now – the one that caused the rift. How trivial must it have been that it didn’t even leave an indelible mark in my memory? How stubborn were we both to simply shrug our shoulders and walk away from each other? I don’t know what I hope to achieve with this letter. After all, you are never going to be able to read it, are you? Perhaps I hope that by expressing my feelings, it will allow me some kind of release. A way out of this depressive place that seems to have become my home. They say that there is a link between the physical and psychic worlds, and I can only hope that my feelings somehow reach you, and that I can tell you how truly sorry I am for making you miss out on so much. It no longer pains me to admit that I was wrong about so many things. Never again will I feel your embrace which used to comfort me so much as a child, nor sit down to eat a family meal with the people that I loved most all remarking on what a great cook you were and how great it was that we were so lucky to all be together. The grave looks fantastic by the way. Not too flashy, not too sombre. In fact, had we been speaking, I think it’s something we’d have agreed on. Not that we argued often, did we? Though granted, when we did, it was always a ...

Mars Maltesers 28/12/2003


Mars Maltesers Maltesers Maltesers are made by the famous Mars Company and have been around for the best part of seventy years and are instantly recognisable by the red packet with the brand name and several pictures of the sweets themselves blazoned across the front. With so many years of promotion, the name has become indelibly inscribed on the nation's conscience, and as such these are constantly amongst the highest selling chocolates each year. Maltesers are small balls of crisp honeycombed malt covered in a thin layer of milk chocolate measuring approximately 15mm in diameter. The standard size bag is 37g and contains approximately 15 Maltesers, which sounds a little on the stingy side, but is actually just about enough as a snack. Based on a malt extract (which is in fact the third highest ingredient listed on the packaging), the overwhelming scent on opening the packet is unsurprisingly a malty one, though a sweet smell can also be detected. A quick bite into one shows that the honeycombed centre is almost a very light brown colour - think of the foam on your latte and you will get an indication of what I mean. The chocolate is not too thick, but balances well against the malt taste, though I would think that if the centres were any sweeter the chocolate wouldn't match up as well. The actual eating of the sweet is part of the experience too. Although Crème Eggs have captured the "How do you eat yours?" catchphrase, the same slogan can be applied to a ...

Everything that starts with B ... 09/11/2003


Everything that starts with B ... * The Morning She knew that she was being daft. After all, how many others would be buying clothes for a new friend that they had only made the day before? Well, it doesn't matter, decided Brenda. That's what a friend does for another friend. Brenda hadn't gone out with the intention of buying anything. In fact, she considered herself a veteran window-shopper, but this cold spell of weather, complete with a bitter wind and several inches of snow convinced her that a matching hat and scarf combination would make the ideal present. She smiled as the wind bit even closer. Yes, these would be perfect. * The Evening Brenda knew when she was wrong, though she was not always so quick to admit it to others. The present, she decided, was a bad idea. Sure, the scarf and hat had looked great, just as she had expected. The snow had eased off, but the Winter chill still clung in tight, so the gift was practical too, but there had been no words of thanks. In fact, despite thinking that a present would be enough to make anyone smile, the attitude on receiving the clothes had been frosty, the emotions unchanged. Not even a flicker of a smile on the face. Brenda had left her friend shortly after, no words at all having been exchanged between the pair of them. * The Next Day Having experienced the distinct selfishness the day before, it came as no surprise to Brenda to find that her new friend had vanished. The fact that the hat and scarf remained in a pile in the exact ...

Innuendo - Queen 19/10/2003


Innuendo - Queen I prefer the long meaty ones (of the tracks, that is!) Innuendo, by Queen 1) Innuendo 2) I'm Going Slightly Mad 3) Headlong 4) I Can't Live With You 5) Don't Try So Hard 6) Ride The Wild Wind 7) All God's People 8) These Are The Days Of Our Lives 9) Delilah 10) The Hitman 11) Bijou 12) The Show Must Go On 1991 was a strange year for Queen. Twenty years after they'd first started out as a group, they released this offering - Innuendo. A twelve-track album, showing a mixture of new heights for the band and also some really below-par album fillers. The year started with the release of the title track as a single, giving the group their first Number One on their own since Bohemian Rhapsody in the 1970's, as well as a joint effort with David Bowie in the early 1980s with Under Pressure. For as much as the year started in celebration for the band, it ended in mourning with the loss of Freddie Mercury to AIDS-related illness, and the posthumously released Bohemian Rhapsody shooting back up to Number One, as part of a double A-Side single with These Are The Days Of Our Lives. Hindsight allows us a unique view of the band and their decisions taken with this album, such as the need to film two of the videos (I'm Going Slightly Mad and These Are The Days Of Our Lives) in black and white in an attempt to hide the obviously ill and gaunt features of Freddie, as well as the poorer tracks on the album which were someway explained a few years ...
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