to poll and to paul

There’s a new feature which has been added to my blogsite facility which will allow visitors to the pasta paulie site to vote on topics of my own choosing. It sounds great fun, rich in potential and I’m going to try and introduce it later in this posting (ie assuming my attempts at registration etc have worked). It’s been developed by the WordPress team who run the platform for these blogsites in conjunction with some other company and, in celebration, the boss of WordPress (some bloke who looks like a 15 year old kid) has posted an interesting picture of his WP team on our bloggers’ dashboards.  Of which more later…..

Seeing this guy proudly posting a photo of his team reminded me of the many colleagues I’ve worked with over the years and all the great friends I’ve made in that time. I’ve written about many of them in these postings but one guy in particular came into my thinking this week – Paul S, who worked alongside me at BT and who had his leaving do a couple of nights ago. Sadly I simply wasn’t able to make the event. But note this – when I left the company, Paul only organised a This is Your Life party from the top of the BT Tower for me (he bent a few rules to get this authorised) involving dozens of the people I’d worked with over 30 years in the company and many celebrity contacts. In return, I left Paul a 1 minute voice message at 9.30pm on the evening of his do, by which time he was probably  deep into people offering  memories and mohitos. I’ve said before that I’m a crap husband at the nice stuff and as a friend I know that I give far, far less than I receive. Some mate! And now I’ve just demonstrated another endearing quality – an inability to be a truly supportive (ex)boss.

Well that’s me but as for Paul, he was one of the key guys who supported me when I went back to BT to project manage their involvement in the Rugby World Cup ’99. I’ve written about the core team before; Tony, Linda, Rebecca and Paul but here’s some stuff about PS that’s worth re-telling:

– I met him the day Tony and I were  presenting to a bunch of BT product marketing managers in some godforsaken soulless office complex near Berkhamstead. He was going insane writing copy for some BT promo leaflet that went into customer bills and came up to me after our presentations to tell me how much he loved the sport of rugby and how he’d die to work on the RWC project. He was the only person to respond positively and I was short on manpower at the time and thought his enthusiasm would be invaluable. I’d have to take a chance on his marketing ability. I went back to our London office and, going over his immediate boss’ head, went to see his head of department and told him I’d like to ‘borrow’ Paul for the term of the project. He gave me the usual BT response which was f*ck off. Undeterred I offered him what I had recently secured and he was running short of – budget. I tantalised him with a  £35,000 transfer fee for Paul – he was so desperate he accepted immediately even though it was totally against all internal rules. But I knew he was over budget on a campaign and one internal transfer later, Paul was in my team.

– Paul was the youngest and most energetic in the RWC team. He was destined to be the road runner, handling all the F2F stuff etc which was crap but someone had to do it. His vitality, exuberance and youthful appearance stood us in good stead with many layers of local management who had become  jaundiced by so many brushes with so-called hard-arsed marketing experts from HQ. Paul was a breath of fresh air to them but he was no green horn and Paul was well connected with many of the key guys in the wider marketing team – his talent was apparent for all to see. What’s more he rapidly became trusted at higher levels who liked his honesty, brightness and energy. For an old dog like me who could never permeate beyond the cynical level of management, Paul was a storm trooper.

– we did some brilliant stuff together after RWC – it sounds immodest but having clawed back a huge %age of BT’s spend on what we considered wasteful sponsorship we put together a programme of activity (at a fraction of the cost) which garnered  nearly 20 major awards over the next few years. And Paul handled all the tough internal work, agency liaison reporting arrangements and so on. It’s a trait that other former guys who worked for me will undoubtedly recognise – I took the resulting glory stuff and they ‘enjoyed’ the real graft.

–  I could go on about the many great hospitality occasions we organised (P and I gradually acquired responsibility for all the UK-organised activity) but my favourite event was beyond the UK in Singapore where  the hosts of the 2102 Games were to be announced.  We’d been backing the Bid and had the chance to take a few guests to the lobbying frenzy/announcement ceremony. I’d assigned our department’s representation over to Paul for reasons which escape me but it seemed like a truly brilliant experience for him. But somehow he convinced the powers that be that a 2nd ticket for me would be appropriate and off we both went. What a few days. The day that the final selection was made was one of the truly amazing days in my life. As it became clear that London was surviving each of the voting stages Paul and I decided to record the event by capturing one of us kissing prominent athletes/politicians/celebrities etc as the day’s events unfolded. Of course it seemed natural for sweet innocent Paul to become the primo kisser and for fat, bald ugly me to take the snaps. And I took many shots of Paul with all the key figures in the Bid, celebrating fully-lipped and delirious. What a night. We were all having fun with the Mayor and even the Minister. She’s quite a girl that Tessa. I have to admit to probably succumbing to some excitement fever and having one or two glasses beyond my normal limit that night. Inexplicably I went on to lose  my camera together with a rather dashing light blue jacket, worn for the first time that evening, whose pockets contained all the film cartridges taken earlier in the day (yes this was before digital), plus my glasses and my mobile phone. So no record exists of Paul kissing Bobby Charlton, Seb, Tessa, Ken et al. But I know it happened and will never forget that day nor the massive part Paul played in my career with big BT part II. If it hadn’t been for Paul I wouldn’t have survived or enjoyed it for as long as I did. He was the best fun to work with and the company is mad to let him go IMHO.  But what do I know? I just thought him a bright, incisive guy with bags of energy and eagerness who delivers results and enjoys his work enormously – and who is liked and respected immensely, both internally and externally. I’d settle for a quarter of that. Thank you, salute and good luck in the future Paul S!!!

E allora …..back to the poll facility from WordPress (which seems a long time ago since I raised the subject). Below is a shot of the WP team which they’ve bravely posted to all our admin inboxes:

Now you can tell instantly that this is a group of people who work all day developing software and the like. I know that because they dress like 15 year olds and most of them look like they haven’t started shaving yet. Honestly, have you ever seen a more motley crew? Look at the geeks in the upper left area starting with the big guy with funny hair, beard and glasses then the guy in front of him with enigmatic smile and eyes very close together, then the chubby guy to his left with strange looking neck hair and in front of both of them the chap with red shirt, no geeky glasses but a very odd curtains style hair cut. Then there’s the chap frontish left with a very big forehead – he must be very clever. What about the solitary bespectacled nerdy guy over on the right next to the geeky girls. And then there’s the chap centre rear  who looks like he’s just returned from his hols – he’s all happy and still wearing his sunglasses and wacky Honolulu shirt, bless him. Next to him are the backwoods brothers; big Earl up front and young Cleetus behind him. Finally how many points for spotting the Russ Abbot look alike over on the right – the big unit wearing not one but two hoodies!

Ah happy days in the office. And here’s the poll – it’s my first attempt so please indulge me and send me your votes folks:



2 thoughts on “to poll and to paul

  1. hear, hear, here’s to Paul S
    great guy

    Lot’s of fun to be had with the Poll, why not try an alternative US election (or a Brit one for that matter). And, I’m impressed, did you do it all on your own?

  2. hi r

    good thinking – the US election’s beginning to suffer from interest exhaustion, so could be fun. the republican effort is just so rich in potential for mickey-taking don’t you think? and yep did it all myself – which as you well know is staggering news!

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