Monthly Archives: October 2019

A motoring post.

Well, since I’ve been to Mallorca to get trained in a new technology 
product and wrote about it for work, I thought I’d share that 
here if that’s okay? (Without the environmental commentary that’s 
an inevitable part of the conversation. 
Buy me a locally brewed beer and we’ll talk offline yeah?)

Porsche Taycan (say Por-Shur-Tie-Can)

But is it a sports car? Of course it bloody is.

First big clue? It’s got a Porsche badge on it.

It moves like a sports car, it feels like a sports car…

Quieterer.

Only fasterer.

Brain scrambling, neck damaging fast.

A four seat 911, but quicker.

Operating procedure

Get in, belt up, press button, drive.

It actually has you wondering if it’s a visitor from the future, science fiction made fact.

Squeeze the go pedal and it wafts along gently like a Porsche video game. Gently, whisper around town without effort, without a whiff of emissions.

Leave the urban scene, mash the pedal and… hold on.

Back a step

Before you mash the pedal, you warn, nay tell, your passengers to put their heads back and, well, hold on.

Because? Because when you unleash the stonk this vehicle possesses, the distant horizon you started with gets closer eversoquickly. (All the Porsche people are shocked by how rapid it is.) With my sensible, Teutonic colleague alongside, we were giggling like naughty schoolboys every time we gunned it. Indeed, the effect is akin to being fired from some unseen giant gun. On one road test section – no traffic, a good surface and input from a Porsche driving instructor – my sense of the phrase “pressing on” has been forever recalibrated.

Eerily quiet, super smooth, just sheer wallop. Grip, turn the wheel and point to where you want and go.

And if you have too much speed from all the whizz? No dramas. We mercilessly tested both acceleration and the deceleration on a race circuit. It stops with a violence that makes it safe (and some passengers puke). If you fail to stop this car, it’s going to be driver error: the hardware is more than up to the task. Stamp on the pedal: brutal stoppage. (Top Tip: Don’t follow one too closely. It will be able to stop in a shorter distance than you can foolish mortal.)

Want to be transported? Cruise in a hushed cabin, listen to iTunes, chat.

Want batshit crazy? Flex your right foot.

Want to stop in a hurry? Press the other pedal as hard as you need to.


Is it silent? No.

At slow speed EU law mandates a noise to warn pedestrians:  the engineers have synthesised a sampled version of the car’s gubbins that gets played to the outside via a speaker. (An app: how very modern.) It sounds – by design – like a piece of space hardware from Hollywood. Inside, you can program it to make sounds too. Spacey, appropriate, subtle but adding a touch of theatre. Or turn it off: your call. We found ourselves cruising around in reverential silence, not speaking, simply enjoying the ride.

It’s also easier to drive than anything I’ve piloted before.

So, an electric car. Yes. Although that’s missing the point. It’s a sports car first, a luxury car, a rather splendid car that is – as it happens – powered by volts. The automotive world has officially moved on: many modern, current production cars are now relics. Manufacturers will aspire to beat/match this car with the bar has been set incredibly high.

What of that temperamental, spluttering, noisy thing in the garage? Y’know with, haha, an internal combustion engine? How quaint! Now that becomes a weekend toy/relic/museum piece*.

*Delete as appropriate. When you are going to stump up £83k+ for a 4 seat car, you’re not short of transport options right?

True story

We met a slender, elegant, relaxed, stylish, monied northern European couple at a high end “olive oil stopover” – a road-tour training location – and we chat. He’s ordered one. Can we do a “drive by” for him to check out the sound?

Of course.

“What do you think?”

“Fantastique.”

Turns out… dude has fifteen cars already. Most of them Porsches. 60% of pre-orders are from this sector. The age profile for the 40% new to the brand? Younger, more ladies, more “eco-aware” people. 30,000 deposits for this car taken already.

I might never be the same again. The car game has changed (And not before time).

Ciao ciao from Palma airport on a Friday night.

Senor Cervesa

 

 

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Imposter!

Not a fun blog this time. After reading around the subject of mental wellbeing, here’s something from yours truly.

There’s this thing. It’s referred to as imposter syndrome. Look up a definition by all means. Here is an excellent short TED Talk. (I’ll wait while you view it.)

Got a handle on it? Have an idea of what it means?

Here’s what happens to me.

As my career and business becomes more established I get to do cool stuff. A track record of success and accomplishment develops further requests to do more stuff for clients. So far so obvious. What is not apparent to the casual observer is an unwelcome travelling companion. There’s an anxiety that is almost always lurking nearby, with bags of worry, sensations of guilt and distressing dark thoughts.

A paradox: I am personally invited to do things because clients view me as capable and yet my black dog has the view that I am not suitable/ready/worthy.

Crazy.

Case study: Tuesday, Germany, huge corporate client

In point of fact, this morning here in Stuttgart I am – utterly irrationally – expecting a tap on the shoulder from (imaginary) security. They will then escort me from the venue and summarily throw me onto the street for not having the right credentials. There is zero evidence to substantiate this paranoia, but it shows up anyway with depressing  (yet somehow impressive) consistency.

(Unless, I do actually get forcibly ejected from the event. That’d put a whole new spin on things eh?)

My stooopid, stooopid brain (still) struggles to come to terms with being asked to do stuff I am fully able to carry out. My racing mind actively questions hard (positive) evidence and is consistently nagging at me: really? Can you really do this?

For example: Personally engaged to give a keynote address my subconscious kicks off. Despite repeatedly being asked to do such work, by people who trust me in front of their clientele and despite getting strong positive feedback. Despite getting repeat requests to do more. Despite lots of positive evidence. By the way, this doesn’t stop my mojo in front of the group – that bit flows unabated – it’s beforehand.

The keynote thing went 100% to plan and all were happy.

Well, all apart from your struly.

So I worry. Worry that I’ll be called out, humiliated, let people down, be unable to provide for my family. This worry carries an intensity that makes me feel physically sick and has started giving me peculiar bad dreams. (Recently, weirdly, it’s after events too. How crazy is that?!) All internally referenced. No real-world evidence to the contrary. My record is a picture of reliability. Yet, uninvited, this sensation follows my every step.

It’s bloody exhausting.

Back to today in Zuffenhausen awake pre-dawn fretting about what’s ahead. But here’s an additional detail: I am not even delivering the work! Today I mere audience. Today I have been personally invited here to learn.

In my head, all the rational (analogue) gauges are reading a jolly sensible “relax and enjoy” but the subconscious dials are in the red pointing to “WORRY”. Mentally, I reach across and firmly tap the gauge hoping to reset a stuck needle. No joy. This makes me chuckle – ironically – because I know the readout is faulty and the feed to that dial is over-sensitised. Irony is self awareness without the ability to get… over it/on with it.

As usual my week is uber organised and yet… And yet paranoia and worry seem to have stowed away in my luggage. Why? No idea…

The default coping mechanism – it’s hardly a strategy – is borrowed from my favourite authour, the late Douglas Adams whose character Slartibartfast muses:

“Perhaps I’m old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what’s actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, “Hang the sense of it,” and keep yourself busy. I’d much rather be happy than right any day.”

So in an effort to self-distract from my anxious mind I plough on with breakfast and force myself to the event which – of course (jumping ahead to the conclusion of class) – goes swimmingly.

Epilogue

It’s now the following week and looking at my busy work diary – you guessed it – I feel like an imposter. This affliction is clearly here for the long haul.

Professionally I often encounter people who are mortified by the notion of public speaking. Famously, the urban legend has it, ranking ahead of death in the Top 10 human fears. Such a response has always bemused me: logically speaking, the actual risks in public speaking are low.

Logically, rationally, professionally I am frequently helping others through perceived difficulties – such as the one above – whilst struggling to help myself.

[Sigh] It’s a funny old life.

Thanks for reading, no sweet resolution nor denouement here. Allow me to leave you with another piece of coping advice:

“We’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together guys.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Somewhere

If last week was nowhere, then today, Tuesday, is most certainly somewhere. A short flight from Heathrow is the German industrial muscle which is Stuttgart.

This is my first visit.

With the knuckle-dragging politic of the Leave EU campaign braying today that “we didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a kraut” I am on a train from the airport to the city centre. Wincing at the Twitter diatribe, I glance furtively around the train. It is filled with people crying over the future of Europe now that the UK is leaving. They are bemoaning the rudderless future without us Brits telling them what to do.

Of course it isn’t. Of course they aren’t.

What it is: a clean, on time, brightly lit commuter transit with people going about their evening business not giving two (or any) hoots about the UK. For the 30 minute ride, I’m charged €2.90 – that’s almost two-pounds-ninety these days! – which includes a transfer via a subway train to my lodgings. The short walk to the hotel is a clean street with designated cycle lanes. The hotel itself is immaculate and has a very definite sense of style. I am greeted in perfect English. I ditch my gear and head out for a bite and alight upon a nearby burger-cafe-bar. Embarrassingly I can only make a 50/50 stab at the menu because my German is pretty much non-existent. No matter, my server speaks English and is very helpful: good food, good beer arrive in short order.

Back at the hotel, the bar is fully international but after a shufty am just not in the mood. In my definitely-designed room the telly has a raft of German channels, none of which appear to feature Brexit. I leave on a ice-hockey match which is suitably vigorous as a kind of chewing gum visual.

Comparison to the east Midlands town in the UK  last week? Another world. Here is sane and ordered and calm and rational. And not boring. The burger joint was filled with grown ups enjoying a lively after work drink and scoff: lively but not intimidating, not in your face LOUD. My mission this week is to get under the skin of a global industrial behemoth. At this rate, I sense it’s going to get under mine first. Am feeling easily European and awkwardly British just now.

Stuttgart-Leipzig-Berlin is the itinerary.

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Nowhere

My positive-mindset voice considers the title of this blog and would say give it some space Mr B. How about this? Now here.

Sorry, not today: Nowhere, Middle England.

September 2019 saw a flurry of splendid locations and Nowhere wasn’t one of them. Not in the top 100 of the seven places I’ve went to. I say Nowhere as the if-you-can’t-say-anything-good etiquette means the real name of the town is deliberately withheld. Although I might change my mind. Read on.

Work takes me to this place with regularity for the duration of a project. So, here we are again, pitching up on a Tuesday evening ready for the next working day. It’s taken several visits and conversations with fellow nomads to source reasonable nearby accommodation. (My word, in some of England’s crappest towns the cost of a bed can be wallet-melting. Bracknell from yesteryear had ewww hotels that were all priced at kerrrr-ching! How so? Simply because the corporate folk needed beds to sob in after their day of godawful meetings.)

On this occasion, the digs of choice were unavailable. Bother. So we’re in an eatery with (brand new) rooms. The web show that geography and B&B rate are attractive. I apply a little optimism. What a fool. When I arrive at eight pm the bar is positively bumping. Only not in a funky, fun, positive way. Two TVs and the music system blare simultaneously. Industrial florescent bleached white lighting. Burly men hogging the bar in noisy angry faced, world weary, cynical conversation about welding. Two people jeering at a football team on one TV. The other entertains itself with a day-in-the-life of a regional airport documentary. A Mum is yelling at her kid – even though he is within arms reach – to “FINISH Y’FOOD.” He doesn’t. Mum goes outside to smoke, his sullen response being to add to the cacophony by forcefully strumming a three-quarters acoustic guitar which has – I can’t help noticing – not been tuned. He’s wearing PJs and a dressing gown (of a style that has its own Facebook following I later discover). His sibling gaps at a hand-help screen. A party of nine local ladies are shown to the table next to me. They order a pallet of weapons grade alcohol and get stuck in. I note that the book I am failing to read is shaking slightly. Popping downstairs for a bite before an early night has not been a good option. Usually a book in a food joint is a quiet disguise. Here it feels like a neon spot-the-nerd sign.

I remain for the time it takes for a plate of tuck to arrive, be shovelled into my pie hole – it’s delicious, unfussy and copious – pay the bill and scarper back upstairs. Resisting the impulse to barricade the door, the book gets some close attention. At least until the noisy barflies continue their now plastered conversation beneath my window before getting in their large 4X4s and driving, driving off.  Presently the nine ladies take the evening air, only to be drowned out by a hot-hatch-rev-limiter driveby and a screechy-loud siren of – I presume – the local constabulary giving chase.

Early-night slumber is punctuated by noisy cars and the locals yelling in the car park. [Can anybody tell me why (some) people SHOUT conversations at each other when they are not competing against background noise? The working assumption is that they spend all day in the heavy-metal-drum-solo factory and this volume of conversation is their default.] At least the new bed is okay.

In the morning the breakfast options are all fried. My breakfast cob is 125% filled with the cheapest ingredients cash and carry can provide. I quite enjoy it. I ask for apple juice at the bar and get poured orange: over half a pint of deffo-from-concentrate-taste-the-gritty-powder stuff. It does something strange to my teeth so I discard it and head to work with a really minor case of sub-sub-sub-PTSD.

Wednesday after work? Not a soul in the place. The proprietor calls me mate and says he loves m’name. I go jogging to help rid me of the day’s tension. It has the opposite effect; mood dragged lower by the soul-sapping greyness, scowling faces, dogshit pavements. I run down run-down roads clogged with parked cars. I turn the corner onto the main street in broad daylight and a portly rat scuttles ahead of me passing a vacant shop which is [insert metaphor for something downright depressing here].

I’ve been back to the client this week. Guess what? I stayed outside the sad town: my soul couldn’t take any more exposure.

Next week Stuttgart & Leipzig. I wonder…

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