Friday, 30 November 2012

Panning for gold, panning the crowd


Everyone is so charming, and interesting, and full of insightful things to say. We are all our friends! Witty, and charming, and interesting. Yes! Books and blogs and innovation! Disruptive jargon! Aspiration and connections! Influence and credibility! Self promotion disguised as personal viewpoint disguised as insight disguised as reference. A fleeting soufflĂ© of vanity; air bubbles of ego. My friends, my followers! 

* * * *

You are deciding which event to go to. What will make the difference?

Maybe the language:

"We have a great cross-section of blah blah blah and are thrilled to see so many from blah blah blah joining what should be a thought-provoking and inspirational blah blah blah"

Maybe the other people who are going:

"Here is who's currently in the crowd:

ACCENTURE
Global Director for Corporate Citizenship

AKZO NOBEL
Sustainability Director

AKZO NOBEL
Communications Officer

ARCADIA GROUP
Ethical Trading Manager

ASOS PLC
General Counsel & Company Secretary

ASOS PLC
CSR Manger

AVIVA
Group Corporate Responsibility Director

AXIS EUROPE
Sustainability Manager

B&Q
Director of CSR

BALFOUR BEATTY
Sustainability Manager

BAML
Technology Analyst

BARCLAYS
Citizenship Manager

BARCLAYS WEALTH
Assistant Vice President

BBC
Project Manager - Environmental Sustainability

BEN & JERRY'S UK
European Social Mission Team

BNY MELLON
Sustainability Manager

BP BIOFUELS
Sustainability Manager

BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO
Sustainability Reporting

BSKYB
Responsibility Manager

BSKYB
Corporate Communications

BSKYB
Head of Corporate Responsibility

BSKYB
Stakeholder Engagement Executive

BT
Energy & Carbon Policy & Compliance Senior Manager

BT
Better Future Strategic Engagement Lead

BT PENSION SCHEME
Manager

BURBERRY
Community Investment, Corporate and Europe

BURBERRY GROUP PLC
Sustainability

CABLE & WIRELESS
Director Energy & Sustainability

CABLE & WIRELESS
Energy & Contracts Manager

CANON EUROPE LTD
European Director - Environment

CAPGEMINI
Group CSR and Sustainability Director

CARILLION PLC
Head of Corporate Communications

CARILLION PLC
Chief Sustainability Officer

CEMEX
Sustainability Director

CENTRICA
Group Director, CR Strategy

COUNTRYSIDE PROPERTIES
director for sustainability

DE BEERS
Responsible Business Initiatives

DEFRA
Head of Food Composition, Standards and Alcohol

DELPHIS ECO
CEO

DEUTSCHE BANK
Managing Director

DIAGEO
Procurement Compliance, Risk & SusManager

DIXONS RETAIL PLC
Energy Manager

DOMINO PRINTING UK PLC
Strategic Product Director

ECOVER
CFO

ENRC
Group Head Stakeholder Engagement

F & C ASSET MANAGEMENT
Governance

FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER
Head of CR

FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER
CR Manager

GE CAPITAL BANK
Manager - Sustainability

GLAXOSMITHKLINE
Sustainability Manager

GLAXOSMITHKLINE
Corporate Responsibility Manager

GOLDMAN SACHS
exec director

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Programme Manager

HEWLETT PACKARD
UK&I Environmental Manager

HILTON WORLDWIDE
Sustainability Manager

HOME RETAIL GROUP PLC
Head of CR

HOME RETAIL GROUP PLC
Corporate Responsibility Executive

HSBC
Senior Communications Manager, Global Sus.

IRRC
CEO JACOBS
Technical Director - Sustainability

JACOBS UK LTD
Environmental economist

JAGUAR LAND ROVER
Director CSR

KFC
Head of Comms and CSR

KINGFISHER PLC
Finance Coordinator

LEND LEASE
Head of Environmental Operations EMEA

LBS
Assistant Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship

LONDON ENERGY EFFICIENCY FUND
Investment Manager

LONDON FIRE BRIGADE
Head of Sustainable Development

MARKS & SPENCER
Ethical Trading Manager

MARKS & SPENCER
Plan A delivery manager

MARSH & MCLENNAN COMPANIES
Envir. Risk Advisor and Broker

MARYLEBONE CRICKET CLUB
Sustainability Manager

MAY GURNEY
Sustainability and Renewable Resources Dir .

MCDONALDS
Sustainable Supply Consultant

MICROSOFT
Environmental Sustainability Manager

MOLSON COORS
Global Sustainability Manager

MONSOON ACCESSORIZE
CR Manager

MORGAN SINDALL PLC
Head of Sustainability

MORGAN STANLEY
SRI & Sustainability analyst

MULBERRY
CSR Coordinator

O2
Head of Sustainability

OVERBURY
Environment Manager

PAPERLINX EUROPE
Sustainability Manager

PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF LTD
Director of Corporate sus.

PENGUIN GROUP
Global Procurement Analyst

RECKITT BENCKISER PLC
Sustainability Comms Analyst

REED ELSEVIER
Global Environment Manager

SAB MILLER
Sustainable Development Manager

SAINSBURY'S
Head of Sustainability, Energy, Environment

SAINSBURY'S
Sustainability and Innovation Manager

SAINSBURY'S
CR&Sustainability Manager

SAINSBURY'S
Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sus.

SKANSKA UK PLC
Sustainable Procurement Manager

SONY
Head of Technical Compliance

SPENCER ASSET MANAGEMENT
Researcher

TATA GLOBAL BEVERAGES
Sustainability Manager

TAYBURN
Strategy & Policy Lead, Global Corporate Citizenship

TED BAKER PLC
Green Guardian

TELEFONICA EUROPE PLC
Environment Manager

TELEFONICA UK
Head of Environment

TESCO
Corporate Responsibility Manager

TESCO
International Community Plan Manager

TESCO
Energy Performance Manager

THE CROWN ESTATE
Head of Sustainability

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Climate Change Strategy Mgr

TRAVIS PERKINS
Group Environment Manager

TURNER & TOWNSEND
Global CSR Co-ordinator

UK POWER NETWORKS
Sustainability Manager

UK POWER NETWORKS
Low Carbon London Project Mgr

UNILEVER
Sustainability Research Engineer

UNILEVER
VP Finance

UNILEVER
VP Sustainability

VEOLIA ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
CR Manager

VIRGIN ATLANTIC
Head of Sustainability

VIRGIN UNITE
Director of Business Action

VOLANS
CEO

WHITBREAD
Head of Energy & Environment

WINDMADE ASBL
Communications Director

WPP GROUP PLC
Energy & Climate Change Manager

WRAP
Programme Manager Clothing"

How can you resist?

(With thanks, but no apology, to Green Mondays)

Maybe the swanky website:

http://www.londonpolicyconference.com/

(Er, you are talking about London? As in, the real city, not an artificial digital one? Might be worth, maybe, just a hint, thinking about or mentioning, oh, I dunno, maybe, - air quality and climate change and transport and water and waste and energy and… oh, sod it, get back on your plane and fuck off.)

Or maybe there’s a nifty idea:

http://www.greenstrategyconference.com/2012/idea-idol/the-competitions/

(yes, this is how the world ends – with a prize draw, not a bang...)


* * * *
Bollocks. If they want to play these ridiculous games, fine. But don’t let them waste my time. What matters? Authenticity. Not ‘achievement’ or being ‘powerful’ or having ‘connections’ or appearing in a Top 100 list compiled by one of your friends. In a most-post-modern, pluralist, wicked, de-browning pre-greening most mangled high tempo pan-material pro-digital con-fusible world, there’s only one survival strategy that counts – being real.

  • If it dawns on you that none of the organising parties give a toss about the issues (the sponsor is interested only in being able to say they ‘engaged’ with the political elite; the political elite is going through the motions as a favour to the organisers; the organisers are interested only in securing funding from the sponsor) – leave.
  • If the speaker is indulging in self-congratulatory self-aggrandisement and patently has nothing new or worthwhile to say – leave.
  • If you have a question that seems, to you at least, almost embarrassingly foolish because everyone else seems so erudite – ask it. It’s the question they’re scared of.
  • Don’t fucking network – just talk to people you find interesting.
  • Be generous in your use of the phrases “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand” and, for a thrill, “I don’t see why I should care, actually”.
  • Look for the people that really mean it, whatever it is.
  • List the five most authentic people you can think of (it doesn’t matter if you know them personally or not) and think about what they have in common. Go hunting for those traits.
  • Listen to The Sunscreen Song (or at least read the lyrics) regularly (at least once a week).

It’s like my mother used to say – did you hear about the man who went to a party to try and create an impression? Well, that’s exactly the impression he managed to create.



Friday, 23 November 2012

Lila


And you may find yourself...

...following a falling rising path:

...so John Lloyd on Desert Island Disks cites The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts as the book he would take with him to his desert island...

...and Alan Watts was a hybrid hippy west-coast most-Zen philosopher who hung out with Aldous Huxley...

...whose nephew Stewart Huxley built the remarkable Corpus Clock in Cambridge...

...and my best friend sent me a review from the New York Review of Books written by Freeman Dyson, who during his time in Cambridge shared a staircase with Wittgenstein...

...and Wittgenstein was mates with Piero Sraffa, whose Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities was the means by which I survived my second year at Cambridge...

...because I spent most of time reading other stuff, including Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig...

...whose second book was called Lila...

...and Lila is a Vedantic Hindu concept that refers to the playful way in which god hides from himself by being everything that there is...

...which is the underlying philosophy of the The Taboo Againat Knowing Who You Are.


Lovely.  If in doubt: play.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Death Race 2012


We are, apparently, in a race to the death.  Yes, it’s a race – and we are competing, to win.  Winning is all that matters.  We either win – or we’re dead.
 
Here’s the precise line from Mr Cameron’s speech today at the CBI Annual Conference:
 
"In this global race you are quick or you’re dead”
 
And how do you win? By
 
“having an all-out war on dumbing down” and by being “tough” and “fast”.
 
Yeah!  Screw the losers! Fuck the weak!  Hail only the winners – us! Ha!
 
[Small voice, off-stage]
 
“Hello? Er, hellooooo?  Er, I think there may be a problem.  With this, er, winning thing.  Yes, er, they’ve doing some research.  Yes, research – you know, the evidence thing?  Yes, well, they’ve been having a close look at this winning thing and, er, it seems like there may be an error.  Yes, er, it seems that these things called ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-operation’ are, um, better for us.  Yes, better.  Apparently they make us happier, they enable us collectively to achieve more, and they’re better suited to the complex problems that the modern world faces.  Uh-huh.  Racing to win is, in fact, the best way to lose.  Yup.  Racing to win is, in fact, yesterday’s strategy.  Only someone rooted in the past, or facing backwards, or who stubbornly clings to an out-dated ideology in the face of mounting evidence could possibly believe that ruthless and ceaseless competition was the way to help ‘our people thrive’."

 

 

 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thanks to Ivan, Pablo, Jorge... and Stuart


I have a fantasy that, somewhen in the future, we shall be able to move beyond the ugly and restrictive tribalist politics to which we have become inured, and find a way to allow poetry and science to guide us to what is true, and right.

Meanwhile, a prose poem (shortly to appear in Smoke) and a fleeting lament that seemed its pair.



Olympic Stadium 7th August 2012

My recently widowed mother stood among the flowers:


"This is the best day I've had in years" she pronounced. He had had cancer. It took ages.

She did not mind that the flowers were a contrivance, surrounded by a capitalist deceit. She did not mind that she had joined the painfully ignorant that she had only a few moments before condemned for having ignored the signed entreaties and merrily trampled over the beautiful flowers.

She tramped, and she was happy, and it was the least she deserved. Somewhere nearby, hyper-reality jumped and ran and threw: my recently widowed mum smiled, a real smile, for the first time in years. They really were very lovely flowers.



A Few Months Later

Autumn always looks the same

all the years of my life
all the years before my life
all the years beyond it

Reassuring
almost
that innumerable eyes and minds and hearts
will drink the amber liquid leaves
imbued, perhaps, with reverie
as I am now

I think not of dust, and ashes;
but golden rust, and mulch, and
how my father and I shall be – are! – the
nutrients for tomorrow