What is my purpose in life? Will it, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up in the morning?
17 January 2019 by David Bott
Yet another “start the week” that I take part in. What is the world coming to? This was followed by another meeting in the series to get ready for the Board meeting and a series of meetings about allocation of manpower on key projects. Then down to London for the launch of the second edition of Michael Braungarts book “Cradle to Cradle”. Michael has been on the chat show circuit of environmentalism for many years now, but the first edition of this book, published on plastic in the US in 2001 made a lot of people sit up. Its message is disarmingly simple – that doing less of bad things is not the same as doing good things – but hellishly difficult to implement. The problem is that the book (as a means of communication) is inherently linear, and the problem is dendritic.
Tuesday was a very long Executioners meeting. There is a lot to talk about at the moment - from the external circumstances. The progress of our many improvement programmes, our ongoing recruitment and assimilation (how Borg-like) of new people and so on. I came out a little drained of willpower, but chats about work roused me for a working dinner on recruitment and manpower planning with wrongly spelt Ian. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of being struck down by the plague and the dinner consisted of a few sentences of use followed by a coughing fit. That said we have progressed the planning of the “Gravel Pit” a bit more. I will explain separately.
Wednesday saw a helter-skelter on meetings with new people. It was such fun. I started with Huw and Karen, then went on to Mark and Julie. By this point I was running about 20 minutes behind Julie’s draconian schedule. Alex and Jeremy (with added Sian) had a buffer after them so I got back on track by the MNT meeting at lunchtime. Then it was back into a session with Lisa on the “top 150” and a final session with Michael. I felt like the Duracell bunny after all that – burning with energy. Lots of really great talent.
Thursday was another early start down to London. Chiltern have subtly changed the train from 7.21 to 7.19 so I had to run. The resulting coughing fit made me feel like wrongly spelt Ian! First meeting was with Mike Farrimond of the UK Water Industries Research. I have known Mike for many years and started meeting him at Cave meetings, so he was interested to find out what he could do to help us unpack and understand the water industry. He had some questions about how Innovation Platforms are built, what is going on with the Knowledge Transfer Networks and so on, but the stories of the tension between Ofwat and the various water companies was eye-popping in its stupidity. A quick trip back to Fortress Kingsgate for a coffee, then back to DECC. This meeting had started as a cosy chat with Jeanie Cruikshank to get to know one another, but had snowballed into me giving the standard intro presentation to about 10 DECC officials, some of whom hadn’t met before. They asked intelligent, if rather Sir Humphrey, questions and showed real interest in our low carbon agenda. They all took my cards but no-one gave me theirs. I believe they don’t yet have them, but who knows. I then met Celia Caulcott of BBSRC for a clandestine coffee between meetings. She made it plain that BBSRC think we are pretty ignorant about biology but was very pleased to hear that we are to move on food without action from DEFRA – the BBSRC feeling is that we will get that shortly after hell freezes over. That reminds me - http://www.pinetree.net/humor/thermodynamics.html. The final commitment of the day was dinner with Brain Collins, the Chief Scientific Advisor of both DFT and BERR. Apparently, he was not briefed on the Heathrow announcement until that morning and only because Number 10 had asked John Beddington for a scientific briefing, John has asked Brian and everyone had discovered that CSAs were even less in the loop than usual. What a waste!! We talked about the rest of Hoon’s announcement, which was uniformly good news for our programmes, but was overshadowed by the 3rd runway debate.
Friday was the Governing Board meeting. We missed the extreme challenge of his Spittleness so ended up with decisions that are evolutionary rather than revolutionary – but all the more achievable for that. I am sure Fearless Leader will communicate this officially soon.