Audley Harrison, the definition of madness and why boxing should be grateful

So Audley’s been knocked out again, early in a fight to the derision of the crowd ringside and by the looks of things, a lot of people who have no idea what its like being hit in the face were being very brave on twitter.

Now I’m the first to admit that Audley’s professional career hasn’t been great, certainly not if compared to either his amateur history, or the hype that he’s managed to get going for his numerous comebacks.

One could in fact argue Audley is the physical embodiment of a popular definition of madness – constantly repeating something you know is wrong.

Can you sense a “but” coming?

Ok, here it is

Audley Harrison was a very good amateur boxer. Won the gold medal at Sydney and reignited my interest in a sport which I’d nearly forgotten when it left terrestrial tv in the wake of the benn-McLennan fight.

Audley was the man that started it all again. He won a gold at a great games (Sydney) which raised the profile of boxing in the wider sporting context. Sky had annexed professional boxing and those great middleweight fights of the 90s seemed a long time ago.

Audley made other people think. Sure the bbc thing was hyped beyond all probable success. It turns out that Audley is a very good short format tournament fighter, having won the Olympics and prizefighter.

What he’s never been is a full on professional fighter. I’ll leave why to people with important letters after their names. What it does show is the difference between the different codes, a difference which has always thrown up notable divergences. Some well thought of boxing writers suggest Tom Stalker, previous the UK Amateur Boxing Captain, might not make it as a pro.

My point is that for his failures, anyone that loves boxing should love Audley not for what he couldn’t do, but for what he did do. He he.ped bring boxing back to the top stage. No Audley, then no Kahn, no London boxing medals, less boxing coverage in national media.

Audley raised public interest in boxing and surely that’s half the battle in the pros, and for that, boxing should be grateful

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Quality Chop House, Farringdon

God, this place is good. The only problems for me are the very uncomfortable chairs, and slightly short wine by the glass list.

Apart from that, everything is brilliant.

From a well seasoned potted rabbit, to more morels on toast cooked in veal stock than you can buy for the price retail, going through a great pork chop and a braised short rib of beef that was anything but simple, this is serious top level cooking.

Even the wine by the glass is pretty good and well priced, plus you can drink a few kernel table beers whilst you’re waiting, as they’re only 3%, but taste like a full on modern IPA. If you don’t have to work later, bottles are well sourced and priced by the co-owner, who I believe is Jancis Robinson’s son.

I know everyone has already said this already, but I’ve been twice whilst working and I remember EVERYTHING I ate and drunk, and not just because I was making sure it was ok for expenses.

This is actually pretty rare and in my experience makes QCH stand out ahead of some well thought of and pretty good places; sardo, morro, Bocca do lupo, polpo, pizzaro and hawksmooor. I know they were all great. Apart from hawksmooor I wasn’t smashed in any of them, but my memories are of little snatches (quiet at the back) and of the company.

I loved it and wish it were somewhere more accessible for me, but then it means I get a treat every now and then.

Finally, the maitraisse d’ is a spit for ziva from ncis.

All in all a very good thing

When your son equates you with the phrase “bye bye”

I’ve just had to confront one of the challenges of parenthood when you have a job. A few nights ago, I was playing with Aidan and he waved at me and said “bye”.

I was surprised as I’d got home early so I could see him and Kirsty and we were having fun reading a bedtime story. Kirsty suggested that he connects me with “waving bye bye” as I leave in the morning when he’s been up for 20mins, and I don’t always get back to do anything other than put him in his pyjamas and kiss him goodnight.

I thought she was taking the mick and then realised that apart from weekends, I don’t see Aidan for more than am hour a day, if that, outside the weekends.

I was lucky enough to see his first steps, but I missed his first word (“more food”) and on his first day at nursery, I was there, but talking to some journalists and bankers about whether Russia was going to buy Cyprus. For the record, it wasn’t.

At the same time, I love my job and have worked hard to build a career. It’s intellectually rewarding and whilst they can always pay you more, there are worse paid jobs.

So I finally get to understand the sick feeling everyone gets when they wave ‘bye to their kid(s) in the morning, knowing that they’re not as involved as they might want to be. I now understand why Dad tried so hard to make weekends special when I was young and it also makes me a mixture of jealous of but impressed with what a great job Kirsty is doing bringing up our son.

But this is what being an adult is about – constant compromise to come up with the best solution. The best solution is I continue my career, but try and box as clever as I can so that I get to see a bit more of the boy, but still do all the work that is necessary to keep both the clients and my employers happy.

Come one, how hard can this parenting / career deal be? And who wouldn’t want to spend more time with this kid?

Wk 1 pics KSA 004

Milk & Honey, Soho

I had a good night out with some old uni mates last night, drinking outstanding cocktails at m&h. As ever it was great, but something on the way got me thinking.

I bumped into a current and ex colleague on the corner of broadwick and wardour streets. They were looking for a decent bar in soho. Shouldn’t have been a problem, but they weren’t sure and I’m normally a pub man. In the end I suggested the Player on Broadwick and I believe they had a good night.

My point is as a member at milk and honey for approx 10 years, I don’t know any bars in soho, as if I want a cocktail, I go there. I’m sure there are gear bars around soho, I just haven’t got a clue, so am happy to get recommendations.

Anyway, onto milk and honey.

It’s still too dark and its been there so long the whole speakeasy / deco vibe is actually back in again. I happen to love jazz, but if you don’t, you’re going to get sick of it quickly, although I’d go whole hog and have some Coltrane and Monk

Anyway, it’s still great, and its all about classic cocktails. I had a few vodka Martinis (v dry, twist of lime) a few old fashioned and a few manhattans (sweet, one with bourbon, one rum). They were all excellent and the table all enjoyed other drinks such as pisco sours, aviations and caipirinhas.

We were on the public floor and it was full. Nice buzzy atmosphere with a pretty mixed crowd. Early 20s through to a couple finding love for the second time at least.

Staff were great. The Rushmore group http://www.rshmr.com/ has a rotation policy, but as they’re all quality joints this isn’t an issue. Nice bit of chat, very knowledgable, good advice on spirit choices for the drinks. What else could one want?

If you want a deco themed discrete bar for a few brilliant classic cocktails, this is the place to come. It is a members club, but there’s no rubbish about being invited and needing referees. Also the ground floor and basement are open to civilians, with members getting more space upstairs, including a smoking roof terrace.

I’ve been a member for a long time and I’d have to lose my job to give it up. The only downside? Try getting from soho to Croydon after drinking what I did.

Why “emerging markets” is a patronising term

Another one from my employer’s blog, but as i both scripted and read this, figure it can go on my personal blog.

My point here is twofold – London remains key for any hard core international corporate reputation campaign, due to a number of interlinking reasons:

  1. Timezone: a relic of British imperialism, but GMT means we remain at the centre of things. Logistically, this can be vital for a global campaign
  2. International media: There remains a pool of globally influential media based here: BBC / FT / Economist to name but a few
  3. Capital: A lot of money flows through the City; which is often one of the reasons why international actors play on the London stage
  4. Skill set: There’s an awful lot of people like me here

Secondly, we can be incredibly patronising about “emerging markets”. Recently at a big Ketchum global shin dig, the heads of our Russian and Chinese operations suggested that we need to move away from this sort of language. Their message was simple – “we’ve emerged, and you need our cash, so enough of the snide labeling”.

I’ve spent my career working with post Soviet, Middle Eastern and African stakeholders and one of the issues that links them all is a wish to be better understood, but a deep anger at the “west’s” tendency to pat them on the head and look greedily at their resources.

To truly service clients from Moscow, Kinshasa, Bejing or Sao Paulo we need to look beyond the cliché, if we want to genuinely help drive the reputational change they pay us for.

In praise of….. the light and bitter

OK, so I’m stealing a format from the Guardian, but hardly anything in this world is original anyway.

This includes the new trend for hoppy, refreshing pale ales served cold. Now I happen to love a lot of these, and regularly drink British versions of the American style, such as Kernel, Thornbridge and Brewdog.

However…..

Just saw a tweet from the boozer where I learned how to drink, the Dukes Head in Wallington, Sth London / Surrey – @dukesheadhotel. They suggested drinking pints of Bombadier in the sunshine; something that is particularly doable there as they are adjacent to a big village green. I’ve spent many a day / evening there and I’m sure I’ll continue to, although I’ve never been a fan of Bombadier.

I would however suggest anyone that likes pale ales, but thinks they can be a little strong for session drinking (anyone that cares about their liver, or has to get home fairly sober) might consider an old-fashioned alternative. My dad and his mates have drunk “light and bitter” most of their lives, and it’s very much a drink of the baby boomer generation, as opposed to those of a younger vintage.

I have to commend this slightly arcane, and also quite hard to get combination. It’s probably pretty much confined to Young’s pubs, and is best with their “Ordinary” Bitter topped up with a bottle of cold light ale. It’s cold, refreshing  hoppy and quite low in alcohol – probably about 3.5%., which means it’s an ideal session drink, especially in warmer weather.

It’s also been known as the “greedy man’s drink”. If it’s poured properly, you’re meant to get more than half a pint of bitter before the light ale goes in – eg you get more than a pint. This convention is being rapidly cut back, to the point where in some places very close to my heart in Borough, you have to make a point of getting an extra squeeze just to make sure you end up with a proper pint – let alone a greedy one.

Anyway, for anyone reading this, I can heartily recommend a light a bitter if it’s warm and you’re looking for a thirst quenching pint or two after a hard day at work, but you need to stay sober(ish).

 

 

I’m shocked, shocked!

So I work in a corrupt industry? That would appear to be the view of the learned judge presiding over the case against two PR people for fraud. See here for more details: http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/1179680/activision-frank-pr-duo-sentenced-fraud/

‘What is surprising is that cases like this are happening more and more often in your industry. But this is not the place to explore the PR industry.’

Forgive me for questioning a no doubt well educated and qualified member of his profession, but what encyclopaedic information does the learned gentlemen have as regards a large and diveresified industry that allows him to make comments such as these?

I’ve worked in communications since 2001, often on assignments that are intensely complex. I’ve work for sovereign states, energy and mining companies, ultra high net worth individuals and some of the most high profile corporations in the world. I’ve also worked across the world, specialising in “emerging markets”, primarily the post soviet space, Africa and the Middle East.

You might imagine therefore that my life is an long procession of brown envelopes, baksheesh and conspiracy.

Or not. There’s a pretty big community in London that does what, or something like I do. Whether its PR, banking, law, consulting I really don’t think there’s s much dodgy money floating around as m’learned friend imagines.

Sure there’s the odd black sheep and some firms, but the same could be said about most careers. Most journalists are straight, as are most bankers.

As Francis Ingham, boss of the PRCA commented on twitter (@PRCAingham), “there are criminals in every profession, we should not beat ourselves up about this”.

I’m not saying that we should not be vigilant. I am however suggesting that he who is without sin should throw the first stone.

Even if his name is