Archive for December, 2009

Rudeness dressed as Politeness

30 December, 2009 1 comment

I just heard a series of people say “How are you” in the most perfunctory way I’ve ever come across.

I’ve left off the question mark from that sentence because that’s an accurate portrayal of the interaction. None of the people waited for a response because none of the people posed a question. I heard three different interactions between pairs of people and in each case they couldn’t wait to move on to the thing they really wanted to talk about – which was to buy something.  WHAT’S THE POINT?? You don’t care how the person behind the till is – and that’s fine. They don’t really care about you either. So don’t go through the pretence of politeness just so that you can tick the pre-programmed box in your head which says you have to. Assuming that you haven’t got the empathy levels to care about other members of society (used to be called decency, i think) then either ask a question and have the courtesy to wait for an answer – even if you just pause long enough so that it sounds like you give a damn that there is an answer never mind what it might be. OR just buy the drink and skip it.

Perhaps this rant is because I’m working in Canary Wharf with the armies of soulless suits? or is it that this is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate? am i old fashioned? or just going soft cos it’s Christmas time?


T -62 days: 2 months today, Christmas unmarried

27 December, 2009 1 comment

For the first 18 Christmases of my life I was a single man.

For the next 13 I wasn’t.

For the 5 Christmases after that I felt single even if I wasn’t. But mostly I was.

This Christmas was something of a contrast. It passed in a contented whirl. Splitting three celebratory days across three locations, I found myself at home on the night of the 25th. Home alone. And not in a Culkin way.

As I went to bed I noticed the odd but satisfying serenity in feeling happily alone and yet not.

This is the last Christmas I will be unmarried. Ever.

I feel a daunted excitement even on typing that. Knowing that every Christmas eve, day and boxing day from now on will involve a heady mix of Ayers’s and Clough/McVeys … So different and so similar. And sometimes none of the above when myself and the FMA escape to foreign lands.

You know sometimes you don’t know how a decision will feel, and it’s only when the decision is made that you can tell? Well…

For the next 50 or so Christmases I’ll be with my wife and our family.
Which is nice.

Geek dedication

23 December, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the reporter/producers on the Liverpool Echo not only struggles with our CMS by day, but finds time to do this:

You have to admire that kind of geek dedication.

T -67 days: The man from the Vatican, he say “Yes!”

22 December, 2009 Leave a comment

Last Thursday morning Fr Gerard woke early, scoffed down some shredded wheat and made sure he was ready for when the post was delivered.

When he heard the postie stamp his feet outside the presbytery front door, he rushed to snatch up the clutch of post as it fell through the letter box.

Discarding the church heating bills, Fr G frantically flipped through the pile looking for the letter that would determine the fate (or at least the date) of the Ayers/Clough wedding. There hadn’t been this much excitement since he was sent those Kylie tickets for the O2.

And there it is!!
He grabs up the letter with the seal and rips it open to see what the Diocesan guardians have to say after their investigations into Ayers marriage v1.0.

Will they give the all clear? Can plans proceed and dates be set? Or do they need to dig a little deeper?? Fr G can hardly bear the tension.

But there it is, in plain black and white!
Yes! It’s a Yes! “Wahey! Geronimo! Fandabidosy!,” he shouts and rushes to the phone. Luckily he has me on speed-dial so gets straight through and gives me the good news.

Ok, so perhaps that isn’t exactly how it happened. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Either way, and despite knowing that everything was fine, it was still a great relief to get the Papal signoff to get married on 27th Feb, and very good of Fr Gerard to make sure he called as soon as he found out. It means we can now crack on. And it’s exciting.

The time is also set now at 3.30pm in St Joan of Arc.

From there we jump on some routemasters down to RIBA in Portland place, so although you could drive, I’d recommend public transport if you can. More details on parking etc will be on the wedding info page as and when we have them.

BERG impress again

17 December, 2009 1 comment

When I’m wittering on about the possibilities of interaction design, product design … or just generally having cool friends who do good work, then stop me and remind me that they also make nice videos to explain some of the thinking.

Like this:

Week 11: Photos & #rifiwedding

13 December, 2009 Leave a comment

The half-way point is passed with 11 weeks to go till W day. Don’t know what all the fuss is about really, everything’s under control.

Photographer decided. Susie Barker and Harley Evans of are the winners. Although there wasn’t much decision in the end. Their, er, pitch to the FMA was so successful I think they may be hiring her for marketing in future. But with an excellent track record and having shot no less than TWO of our friends’ weddings with great results, we can relax and put ourselves safely in their hands.

Speaking of photographers, I came across this story from our friend Helen of Finsbury Park: Helen went to some friends’ wedding in Birmingham. They’re black and they found their photographer on the web. Somewhere in the conversation it came up that they’re black and the snapper commented “oh, I’ve never done a black wedding. Not a problem though.”

A little odd, you might think, but they let it pass. Until, that was, they got the photos back. All of which showed the people framed against Carribean backgrounds. Which he’d photoshopped in, one assumes, to make them feel more at home than they would do against the grey skies of Droitwich or the subtle colours of Solihull. Yes, beaches. And waterfalls.
“I’ve never even been to the Carribean,” said the newlywed.

He refused to change them or hand over the original files. They didn’t pay him and made do with the audience material. We may enter into a contract of some detail just in case I’m against the background of a raging sea, and arctic expedition or The Cloughs are pictured against a scene from Highlander.

The site’s changed. Better or worse? Comments below please.
New “Wedding Info” page too.

And finally: thank you @AndyGardiner for the hashtag. It’s a Twitter reference keyword. Ours is: #rifiwedding

Week 10: Hotel, Making the unjustifiable unjustifiable.

11 December, 2009 2 comments

So, church, check. Venue, check.
Nearby hotel for a whole bunch of people, check.

With (now less than) 12 weeks to go, last week’s achievement was to sort out a reasonable rate at The White House at the bottom of Regents Park, and just a stone’s throw from Portland Place and Riba. Yes, it’s the White House so anybody should be able to get in.

Feel free to call and book yourself in under the Clough/Ayers party name and at the double room rate of £130.
I know, hardly a cheap b&b, but would you believe the same price as the local holiday inn and infinitely nicer.

In other news, the FMA has been using the hunt for a photographer to practice what she’s learnt from the Official Book of Tiscali Negotiation Skills. Original copyright Mr N McCleave, 2005, with updated version by Mr R Ayers, 2009. This book is currently out of print, but I can do you a special deal and get you some notes for a very reasonable price.

Speaking of negotiation: the wedding gravy train is dispicable. You can see the pound signs in their eyes and hear the kerching in their head when you talk to any potential supplier.

Now, let’s get this straight: YOU ARE NOT A PART OF MY ‘BIG DAY’! You are a service provider in a very crowded market in a recession, aiming to deliver that service out of season. You are not a family friend. I do not know you. I do not want to know you. I could not give a toss if you go all misty eyed and ooh and aah about the arrangements and I am getting pissed off with you trying your influencing sales skills out on my fiancé. Leveraging our love and excitement about the event to maintain your margin is soulless and morally reprehensible. Pretending to share in that excitement in the hope that this will mask or indeed justify the unjustifiable 30% price rise won’t work and deserves to have forks placed between your patella and knee joint which are then twanged over-enthusiastically by my 5yr old godson Seb to the tune of Bat Out of Hell. The long version. Looped. Oh fuck it, make that Jedward singing anything *and* you’ll be in a gitmo-style stress position.

My advice? 1. Decide your budget. 2. Scope the product/suppliers who are in that range but ignore the price. 3. Then, appoint a negotiator (whether one of you two, family or friend) and let them go to it with a large hammer.

And finally, in an ironic pre-climate-change-march consumerist dash around Selfridges, The FMA, sister elder and niece elder had a very nice time being very decisive about bridesmaid stuff. Me and nephew younger went and played games and wondered why the girls’ bits of toyshops are all in pink.

Week 9 : Mum and the Merricks in Mellor

4 December, 2009 Leave a comment

My mother has a serious problem with the wedding arrangements. I’m not sure that we’ll be able to cut through it. An issue this big is difficult to trim down.

Yes, the follicular profundity worries her. Mum’s pretty good at playing things close to her chest, but with this one I can tell it really matters. “You can always grow it back after the wedding,” she says.

I’ve proposed a deal. I’ll shave if Dad grows a beard. I may even sweeten the deal by agreeing to use brylcream too.

In other news: On the 27th February, sunset will be at 1737. So no problems with darkness till we’re safely ensconsed in RIBA.

More importantly, sunrise is at 0650 and tee-off at 0730.

Final points from last week: We had the delight of being with the gang at Shelley and Simon Merrick’s wedding on Saturday. And what a day it was. After all the rain of the previous week, the skies in Mellor, Lancs were blue and beautiful. Everyone happy, most of all S&S, lovely service, great reception, top speeches and some moves on the dancefloor later. What more could one want. Pics here.

Naturally, the realisation that, before long, I’d be the one making a speech… well, there’s a spike of adrenalin just in writing that. As Sandra put it “You’re next Rich!”. <gulp>

And finally, if you haven’t seen this, I think it’s rather sweet – a knowing nod to their family use of facebook.

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