The Winless Week Woefulness

The received wisdom from the media cognoscenti covering the political world is ” a week is a long time in politics”.

You could adapt that saying to the beautiful game , i.e. football ( soccer for any readers across the pond ) – in the past week my team , Swindon Town have played three games at home , one game in the Capital One Cup , one game in the FA Cup and one game in League One . As you can probably guess by the title of the blog post it hasn’t been an entirely successful week !

On Tuesday night last week we played a team two leagues above us in Aston Villa , went 2-0 down ,pulled it back to 2-2 and eventually lost 3-2 to a last minute goal . The general consensus was that we played very well and were unfortunate to lose.

Fast forward to Saturday where we play Macclesfield in the First Round of the FA Cup , a team two leagues below us and put in a truly woeful performance losing 2-0.

Last night we play Sheffield United , one of the best teams in League One , managed by our former manager Danny Wilson and put in a better performance than Saturday and in a game dominated by both defences grind out a dull 0-0 draw.

So the summary of the last week is basically the good , the bad and the ugly ……

So after supporting the Town for the last 47 years some things still remain the same – you never know what you’re going to get when you turn up at the County Ground !

Such is the joy of watching live sport – and long may it continue

Up The Town…..

The Mislaid Mojo Mystery

In November last year I was walking around the Seaworld theme park in Orlando - another beautiful sunny day in Florida , not a cloud in the sky and a general good atmosphere in the park when all of a sudden I hear over the park sound system the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby crooning ” It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas “.

I remarked at the time that it may be beginning to look like Christmas and it was late November but it certainly didn’t “feel” like the run up to Christmas walking around wearing short sleeves and having to worry about sun block !

I’ve had a similar problem with the start of the new football season – my football “mojo” seems to have taken a hike , the new season kicks off on Saturday and so far I have forgotten to pick up my new Season Ticket book ,book a ticket for the Capital One Cup game against Brighton and worst of all booked a Utility Warehouse Win A Mini event on a Saturday when Swindon are playing at home .

It seemed that all the evidence pointed to the start of the new football season but somehow I couldn’t get enthused about despite being a regular visitor to the County Ground since the 1966/67 Season . I thought that perhaps that was the problem , familiarity breeding contempt etc. but was not entirely sure , maybe I should just take a break for a month or two ?

But then yesterday it happened – I bought my ticket for the Brighton game tonight and upon parking at the County Ground car park I felt “at home” again , quickly followed by viewing  a host of conspiracy theories about the team and potential transfer targets on the Town football forums and a reminder to meet fellow Supporters Trust members before the game tonight – the “mojo”is returning….

It’s beginning to look a lot like the new football season ………………………………………

The Cleanskin Celebration

Just over two years ago I received a prospectus for an opportunity to invest in a film produced by a small independent film production company based in London . After doing some due diligence on the people behind the project I decided to have a minor punt and then basically forgot about the project.

Last summer I attended the Investor’s screening of the finished product and was impressed by the cinematography , acting and production so was really looking forward to the film’s release scheduled for 2012 .

I was looking forward to the release of the film in March 2012 even more so when I discovered that the film distribution had been picked up by Warner Bros.  , a major player in the industry. But then disappointment set in , the film was distributed by Warner Bros. but only in major cities – it didn’t show in cinemas in my home town of Swindon and opened to reasonable , but not great reviews .

So I was intrigued to see how the DVD/Blu-Ray/Ultraviolet release would go on 2nd July – I duly purchased a copy and was pleased to see that the DVD release was well advertised and featured in many major store outlets as well as online distributors .

A quick visit to Swindon town centre on Friday revealed that the film is still , at the end of the first month of release still well  positioned in the DVD charts and has received great reviews from people who have purchased it via online shopping portals .

So here’s to the British Film Industry – great to see that a small independent film studio can make a good film particularly when we are having to endure a summer of over-hyped “blockbusters”.

The film  ? it’s called Cleanskin – stars Sean Bean , Charlotte Rampling , Abhin Galeya and Tuppence Middleton and despite my obvious bias , it’s definitely worth a look  !

The Solopreneur Salutation

I have just finished reading a great book called The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau – a really good read on the subject , as the title suggests of setting up a small business on limited funds . In the book the author explains that the days of needing seed capital, real estate and a host of employess are gone – new technology and communications mean that small businesses can bootstrap with a few pounds/dollars , a computer and internet connection and of course , a great idea.

This has led to the type of individual that Chris calls a Solopreneur – an individual that has no desire to build a large corporation but wants to work on their own with the goal of achieving financial and time freedom . Chris cites various examples in his book of Solopreneurs who have achieved this aim and covers vast range of industry sectors where Solopreneurs are making an impact.

A lot of the examples in the book are non UK based which led me to wonder  if the Solopreneur is alive and well in the UK . It didn’t take me long to realise that they well and truly are as I realised that on the l ast two weekends I have been actively engaged with a variety of them .

Two weeks ago I attended a “Kindle Ebook” training workshop in Birmingham run by Trevor Dumbleton of SEOMax – a really good seminar with the audience consisting of a Feng Shui consultant , a Herbalist , a Personal Development Coach , an Internet Marketing guy and a Telecoms dude ( me) – all Solopreneurs.

 

SEOmax Kindle Seminar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend I did a Utility Warehouse Win A Mini event with some fellow Utility Warehouse Distributors from Swindon and Chippenham at a Craft Fair in Calne - the Craft Fair hall was full of Solopreneurs , people selling hand made clothes , food , ornaments , art plus of course some really good guys representing the best business opportunity in the UK.

So it looks like the Solopreneur is alive and well in my neck of the woods – long may that remain the case !

 

Win A Mini Stand – Calne

The Morris Manoeuvre

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and what should a Utility Warehouse Distributor do on a Bank Holiday ? -  a Win a Mini Free Prize Draw of course !

So it’s up early and off to Chippenham for the Chippenham Street Fayre – arrived at 0805 and was allocated our pitch for the day . A great start , right next to Starbucks so a quick skinny Latte to start off the day followed by a ten minute battle to assemble the Win A Mini stand and I was good to go.

The rest of the Utility Warehouse crew arrived and after a slow start the Win a Mini stand soon became busy with a steady stream of people entering the draw and many interested in saving money on their household utilities .

 

And then at about midday the Morris Dancers arrived and began to entertain the crowd – they did a great job but unfortunately focussed the public interest in Morris Dancing rather than Win A Mini’s and footfall to our stand dropped to zero !

So two great English traditions were observed today – (1) Morris Dancing and (2) Just when you think things are going well something will come along to screw it up !

 

 

Happy Jubilee everyone………………………………………..

 

 

The Olympic Obligation

The 2012 Olympic Games countdown has now begun in earnest and on Wednesday this week we saw Day 5 of the Olympic Torch Relay hitting my home town , Swindon . I was not really bothered about seeing the torch relay in my home town but then considered it almost an obligation to attend as clearly , the Olympic Torch arriving in Swindon is unlikely to happen again in my lifetime .

So after finishing my breakfast networking meeting ( 4N Swindon – good group ,they even make Utility Warehouse Distributors welcome!) I went home , got changed and headed straight for the Town Centre . My initial reservations about this gig were soon reinforced when I saw the usual array of cheap looking Union Jack themed tat being sold at extortionate prices added to the overt commercialisation by the Olympic sponsors with their army of personnel giving away branded freebies . Add to that the fact that most businesses along the route felt that a bit of free advertising would not go amiss with various bits of “guerilla marketing” and I was left wondering why I had bothered .

But then the crowd started to gather , a party atmosphere began to develop and on a nice sunny day it felt like that whole town had gathered to celebrate. And celebrate they did , an enormous crowd cheering the Torch Relay runners all the way including the  numerous ecstatic Chelsea fans who were delighted to see the star of the show ,Didier Drogba carrying the Olympic Torch .

I managed to get a fleeting view of Didier as he ran up Commercial Road to the acclaim of all his fans but was amused to hear a Gooner behind me comment :

That’s the first time in 8 years he’s ran 300 yards without falling on his arse !

I couldn’t possibly comment…… Up The Town….

 

 

 

The Championship Challenge

If you are a fan of a football team in the lower reaches of the football pyramid you have to get used to putting up with some seasons where the performances from your team are less than stellar . This season however, has been an exception and as such these occasions should be celebrated so on Saturday afternoon Swindon Town fans cheered on their team to an emphatic 5-0 over Port Vale and celebrated the subsequent winning of the nPower League Two championship.

The championship trophy was presented to the team after the game with most Town fans wondering if back to back promotions would be possible , after didn’t Norwich do it ? – that’s the challenge but for the time being as a Swindon fan it’s just time to enjoy the success.

For any Town fans visiting this blog here is my record of the momentous day !

 

The Big Bang Theory

No, not my favourite TV programme but funny goings on down in sunny Swindon……….

At around 1820 on Thursday evening most of the population of Swindon heard an enormous bang aligned with buildings/windows shaking. I was indoors merrily working away at my PC when I heard the noise and subsequently felt the building shake – I was certain that a car had collided with the building but a quick inspection showed that all was OK .

A quick look at a few Forums and Social Media sites showed that this was widespread , not just in Swindon but in Wiltshire , Oxfordshire and even Warwickshire - most people were perplexed wondering what on earth had caused the noise.

Speculation was rife about the cause of the noise , was it :

An Earthquake ?

An Explosion ?

A Sonic Boom ?

Aliens Landing ?

Town Fans celebrating promotion to League One  early ?

OK I made the last two up – Aliens would never negotiate the Magic Roundabout in Swindon and hopefully promotion to League One will be sorted in the next game or two !

Eventually the MOD “fessed up” that it was them causing the problem and that the noise was , in fact a sonic boom caused by a Typhoon fighter going supersonic to aid a helicopter in distress – subsequently shown to be a false alarm . The noise made the local and national news and even features on the front page of the BBC News site here .

But conspiracy theories still abound , why were two Typhoon jets scrambled to aid one single civilian helicopter  ? , who was the pilot of the helicopter ? where were they heading ? and who else was travelling in the helicopter ?

I think we should be told…… but you can bet the two pilots were sat in an Officer’s Mess last night having a drink and a great laugh about alarming half of Wiltshire , Oxfordshire and Warwickshire !!

The COP Confutation

In a week full of gloom on the financial markets -  Ben Bernanke stating that he thought there would be no need for QE3 and sending the markets immediately lower , the Bundesbank stating that they thought the LTRO in February had not worked , Draghi from the ECB saying that there was “downside risk” still , Spanish 10 year paper going back up to January levels at 5.69% and the UK retail industry still struggling ( as a Game Shareholder , don’t get me started on that one !) I wondered how this news would affect the normal ” man/woman in the street” .

So on Tuesday night I rock up to the Utility Warehouse COP ( Career Opportunity Presentation ) meeting at Marsh Farm Hotel in  Royal Wootton Bassett and find that instead of the normal 30-40 people in attendance the place is jam packed with nearly 70 people in attendance.

The attendees are a mixture of existing Utility Warehouse Distributors like myself and people who have come along to listen to the presentation and find out more about the Utility Warehouse Business Opportunity . There was a common theme of general disquiet with the current economic situation with both existing and prospective Distributors realising that hope is not a strategy and in order to maintain a reasonable lifestyle in retirement then a business opportunity paying a residual income is well worth pursuing .

So the Utility Warehouse Business Opportunity used to be called ” The UK’s Best Kept Secret ” – clearly by the crowd on Tuesday night that is no longer the case !!

 

The Irene Irritation

So it’s Saturday and time for another visit to the Theatre of Dreams ( a.k.a. The County Ground , Swindon ) to see the local derby between Swindon and Bristol Rovers . After Swindon’s defeat at Wembley in the Johnstones Paint Trophy Final on Sunday Swindon fans were anticipating a good performance from their team but slightly wary as the games between Swindon and The Gas ( Rovers ) rarely produce free flowing football and tend to become a war of attrition rather than “the beautiful game ” .

And so it proved – Swindon had the majority of possession , missed a few chances and had difficulty breaking down a resolute Rovers defence resulting in a 0-0 draw . Not the result that Swindon wanted as league leaders but clearly the result that Rovers had come for in their short journey down the M4 .

However , due to other teams near the top of the league also having mediocre results Swindon are still in a great position to gain automatic promotion so all in all not a bad afternoon’s work .

The only downside of course being the inevitable rendition of “Goodnight Irene ” from the Rovers fans – quickly countered by a chant from the Swindon fans suggesting that Irene was in fact, a lady plying the oldest trade in the book .

So it’s Goodnight Irene and frankly good riddance !

In Paolo we trust……

Up The Town