Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
September 07, 2005
Filets de perche et frites - an interlude

I spent the day at CERN with a colleague looking at a few technologies, and then went down to the centre of Geneva to sit by the lake at the Bleu Rhône restaurant with a plate of Genevoise fish and chips and a metallic Pinot Noir (my fault entirely). The sun shone on the lake, the Jet d'Eau sparkled and we people-watched for a while before taking the number 10 bus to the airport and an aeroplane back to the UK.

Posted by nathan at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)


August 31, 2005
Stress City

We're moving into September now and all my bids are in for new and renewed work. It'll be at least another 3 weeks, probably 4 before everything becomes clearer. The uncertainty feels rather like the experience of finishing one's exam papers and having no idea as to what the result will be.

We took advantage of the 33 degree heat to enjoy a barbecue on the balcony (yet again), washed down with some Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. We enjoyed the sight of a tremendous electrical storm with lightning forks dashing across the sky.

Posted by nathan at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)


May 27, 2003
Feeling positive

I'm doing well at the moment - working hard for my customers and getting results. I'm really pleased with some of the achievements we've clocked up over the past 3 months. New prospects on the cards and just need to stay determined.

Posted by nathan at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)


May 07, 2003
Some progress

Is my irony obvious enough?

Work's not so good at the moment. I finally decided / felt pushed into taking on office premises, and the new people joined at the beginning of April. Things were looking so good. And now, after coming back from New York, it doesn't seem so rosy. A combination of lots of one-off admin jobs, a couple of prospects moving backwards and me being 100% booked on projects has left me feeling very uncomfortable.

And my sleeping pattern, which was so good when I came back from the USA, has been broken - I'm awake at 3-4am every morning again with worries on my mind.

At least I've managed to do some good work for my customers this week.

Posted by nathan at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)


May 02, 2003
Chain mail

One of my illustrious colleagues sent an email to 250 people today, with their addresses in the ‘cc’ line (rather than as ‘bcc’). “Hardly a hanging offence”, as a friend put it, but an unwelcome lapse in the professional veneer, causing annoyance all round. It seemed a fitting end to the week.

Posted by nathan at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)


April 07, 2003
The team assembled

Six of us sat around the table in our new office for the first time today. I kvelled inwardly. Howard said to me afterward that the atmosphere is so different - more people, bright, shiny office, reasonably good order book (although we need a lot more for the new guys).

A sunny Monday.

But, reading JustNathan, you need a dose of angst. And that's on the client side. I'm feeling so much under pressure to deliver and I've been letting one of my clients down. Everything's a rush, and the move has generated a mass of minor disruptions that has made it difficult to focus. So I've been back to the routine of extremely long hours (14 per day) and exhaustion. And I'm still behind. All very ineffective. Plus we're off to New York in a week - just the time for a holiday.

The only way out of it is for me to focus on completing specific tasks.

Posted by nathan at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)


March 31, 2003
Monday in the new office

So today, for the first time in nearly four years, I drove to work. At 05:30.

It all felt very strange.

I left at 20:45.

But I'm not a workaholic. Honestly.

And the long-suffering Alfred even managed to be pleasant about it.

Posted by nathan at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)


March 28, 2003
The big move begins

Not such a big move really. I tried to concentrate on my work whilst the furniture was delivered and the computer network moved from the flat. So many distractions! It was really hard to get any work done - and suddenly the move seems so real.

My car load of files and David's, later in the day, were easily swallowed by the new cabinets. It's going to be a big office for so few of us.

Posted by nathan at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)


March 25, 2003
A different kind of WA

I was in Birmingham today, givong a talk to about forty companies at the Chamber of commerce. Oy, was the hotel lousy (but i can't grumble as I wasn't paying). Noisy all night (plus BBC News 24 with the sewer of war), watered down orange juice and incomprehensible service. But the businesspeople at my talk were a very pleasant bunch and I seem to be getting plenty of feedback.

Back to Cambridge in the late afternoon.

Posted by nathan at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)


March 07, 2003
It's only a piece of paper

All sorts of paperwork in front of me today. First, and most worrisome, is the lease on the new office. That comes with a month's prepayment and a deposit. Then there's a mountain of new furniture to buy. On top of it all is the PII renewal, with seventeen pages of disclosures to fill with minute detail about my daily life. Ugh. What a way to spend the day. Then, on top of on top of... I even have to buy telephones, because the office comes with handsets that won't be siuitable for the business.

The office move is only three weeks away, so I suspect that there will be several more nasty surprises to come.

Posted by nathan at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)


February 26, 2003
Back to Georg and Pauli

Walking over the Kennedybrücke in Hamburg, the icy cold and still waters led to a crazy-paving-like effect on the frozen surface.

crazy paving on the Alster lake

The morning was glassy clear and sunny. It made for a pleasant, if rather bracing, walk to the exhibition centre.

Posted by nathan at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)


February 05, 2003
Airport lounger

Sitting in the airport at Geneva. I just want to get home. I’m working such long hours for customers who I’m sure are quite happy but really don’t demand such dedication. On this trip, I got up at 03:00 on Monday morning to catch an 06:30 aeroplane to Geneva. I’ve worked each day from early until late and now I’m hanging around in the airport terminal because I decided to take the 21:55 (yes) plane back to the UK instead of the 17:30. Then tomorrow morning I have my first meeting at 08:00, leaving very little time to sleep and recover. Why do I push myself so hard? And now I see the plane’s been delayed to 22:20. Marvellous.

I had lunch in the “glass box” today – all the talk was of war. It was made more interesting by the divergent viewpoints and mixed nationalities of the people in the conversation. Me (the Brit), a German, French, Spanish, and a French Eurocrat (but a pleasant bloke for all that).

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


February 04, 2003
Temp in bowlout

My temp resigned. Good riddance. She was taking me for a ride. Also, how do you tell somebody you work with that they have an odd smell? I hate being impolite – maybe I’m just far too British.

I had a pleasant meal with John and Mike at the Auberge Communale in Meyrin. After rabbit and chips yesterday, today was little perch and chips with fois gras as a starter. Tarte tatin to finish and I was feeling very well off. Maybe Switzerland isn't such a bad place.

Posted by nathan at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)


January 17, 2003
A good feeling

I closed the big licence option deal for the client who isn't paying me any more. At least it makes me feel good. I can point to a job well done and the profit they'll make from it. I have carried out an interesting evaluation of my work for them over two years that shows I've charged them less than 15% of the actual sales, plus the potential of at least twice as much in long-term payments if the technology works. It's something I can be proud of, even if I won't be involved any longer. That's a pity, but I've learned from it that generosity and dedication doesn't really pay. In the end, it's my pride and craftsmanship that makes me want to see a sale closed.

Posted by nathan at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)


January 06, 2003
Nice work if you can get it?

The muse has deserted me today. There's so much to do for this project, and I haven't been in a writing mood. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. It would have been more sensible to try working on something else.

Posted by nathan at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)


December 18, 2002
A quiet day at the office

For the first time in several weeks, I had the chance to catch up with myself today. I haven't started on the in-tray, but I'm ahead of myself with finishing off work for clients. That makes a change.

I've also managed to tie down one deal, and nearly at the end of another deal for one client that has had problems. Nice to feel that I can work the sales magic occasionally.

Posted by nathan at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)


December 17, 2002
Another drink and it all seems bigger

Another person joining the company. We really are starting to grow up - I'll definitely need an office in April, May or June next year.

After such a hectic weekend, with so many cultural events, the holiday in Munich is approaching rapidly. Bring on the boys!

Posted by nathan at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)


December 13, 2002
Stones in his pockets

As I can't abide Christmas, I arranged our company do (for the second time) to be a "December Theatre Evening". I think it worked well - everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. We stayed at the Grange Hotel in Holborn (5 star in a 3 star sort of way) and had supper at Zilli Fish Too - food not as good as last time, but that's the penalty of taking a party of twelve.

We then went on to the Duke of York's Theatre to see Stones in his Pockets, an excellent two-hander of a play which managed to be funny whilst combining a serious (if well-trodden) message about extras, exploitation and fifteen minutes of fame.

Back to the hotel for a cocktail and then off to a deep sleep.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


December 04, 2002
I love Swindon

Over to Swindon today for a couple of meetings. I must be softening towards train journeys, as I chose to go this way. If only we were living in London, everything wouldn't feel so far away.

Of course the 06:15 train was cancelled due to "points failure ta the sidings" and we were put on the 06:26 slow train, which stopped for 15 minutes at Royston because of "door problems". So I arrived in Swindon late, but at least just in time for the presentation.

Whoops, another train rant. At least there was a cute guy to ogle.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


December 03, 2002
A dilemma in the making?

I think the project I'm being asked to quote for is in one of the anti-Israel states in the Middle East. That'll be an interesting conundrum.

I don't wish individuals any harm, but I'm so disillusioned with the apparatus of the Israeli state that I can't work up any feelings of loyalty. So should I be helping a (non-military) business capability in one of the Arab states?


Posted by nathan at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)


December 02, 2002
Review day

We managed to get through the project review today - it's good to see that we could produce such a coherent message after just five weeks learning about a new product and technology. On to the next phase now - I'll enjoy all of the agency work.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


December 01, 2002
Sunday papers

Robin has agreed to join the business from next year. Brilliant news.

Also, a scandal seems to be erupting around Cherie Blair. We'll soon see whether it's the Mail or Downing Street apologising.

Posted by nathan at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)


November 28, 2002
Welsh Boarders

Meetings in Cardiff today - then a long, long train journey back to Cambridge.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 27, 2002
EPNS not steel

Off to Sheffield today on business, by train, not car because of the icy fog over the last two days. I must be mad to take such a risk. But it paid off - I managed to do loads of work on the train and only arrived a few minutes late.

The trin from Sheffield to Cardiff was not as good, with delays amounting to over half an hour.

The teaspoons were made in China.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 14, 2002
Tum ti tum

I'm missing the Archers.

I know I could listen to it on the Internet, but I prefer to listen on Radio 4. I'll just have to wait until Sunday's Omnibus edition.

There was much more snow on the Jura Mountains today, but it poured with rain on the CERN site!

The Jura Mountains from the CERN hostel

Posted by nathan at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 12, 2002
What the mountains tell me

I'm back in Geneva for a few days. It poured with rain yesterday, but it's a cold and sunny morning right now.

I've had a most amusing time trying to find an electrical connector from a British plug to a Swiss plug. After searching the emporia of Luton Airport, we discovered an adaptor that claimed to connect British plugs to power supplies IN 148 COUNTRIES!!!! It was a false claim, as we found out upon arrival in Geneva. The pins fit the socket, but the plastic housing is too big to allow connection.

So I pinched an adaptor from the projectionist when I gave my talk yesterday. Shh....

Posted by nathan at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)


November 07, 2002
Breakfast with the toffs

It's funny how the Cambridge Colleges bring out the inverted snob in me. It must have something to do with watching "Porterhouse Blue" last week.

I'm getting ready for my trip to Switzerland on Sunday. I still can't find that silly little plug.

Time to start listening to Meistersinger.

Posted by nathan at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)


October 29, 2002
Today was a blur

Well, it was a very long day, with a drive to Oxfordshire in the morning, meetings all day and then supper with the team in a pub called "Barley Mow" in the evening.

Posted by nathan at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)


October 23, 2002
The saga of Jenny

I found her CV on the Cambridge Network web site at 20:30 yesterday evening, called her, arranged an interview this morning, took up her references at lunch time and offered her a job by 15:30.

This song is about a rather different Jenny :

Saga of Jenny

(Music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin; from the musical Lady in the Dark, 1940)

Jenny made her mind up when she was three
She herself was going to trim the Christmas tree
Christmas Eve she lit the candles, tossed the tapers away
Little Jenny was an orphan on Christmas day

Poor Jenny, bright as a penny
Her equal would be hard to find
She lost one dad and mother, a sister and a brother,
But she would make up her mind

Jenny made her mind up when she was twelve
That into foreign languages she would delve
But at seventeen to Vassar, it was quite a blow
That in twenty-seven languages she couldn't say no
Poor Jenny, bright as a penny
Her equal would be hard to find
To Jenny I'm beholden, her heart was big and golden
But she would make up her mind

Jenny made her mind up at twenty-two
To get herself a husband was the thing to do
She got herself all dolled up in her satins and furs
And she got herself a husband--but he wasn't hers

Poor Jenny, bright as a penny
Her equal would be hard to find
Deserved a bed of roses, but history discloses
That she would make up her mind

Jenny made her mind up at fifty-one
She would write her memoirs before she was done
The very day her book was published, history relates,
There were wives who shot their husbands in some thirty-three states

Jenny made her mind up at seventy-five
She would live to be the oldest woman alive
But gin and rum and destiny play funny tricks,
And poor Jenny kicked the bucket at seventy-six
Jenny points a moral with which you cannot quarrel,
Makes a lot of common sense--
Jenny and her saga prove that you're gaga
If you don't keep sitting on the fence

Jenny and her story point the way to glory
To all man and womankind
Anyone with vision comes to this decision--
Don't make up your mind

Posted by nathan at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)


October 22, 2002
Another day

He signed up. Although he kept me going until 18:30 before he confirmed it.

Posted by nathan at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)


October 18, 2002
French food is the best

OK. I said I had a marvellous meal in Covent Garden, but you have to take your hat off to the French. Some colleagues from CERN and I went to a super restaurant last night. I deliberately took the all duck option and had fois gras with a bottle of Rully (not bad at all), followed by Barbary duck with a rather tinny Marsannay (did it deserve that AC)? I finished with an ice cream with marrons glacés. It's a hard life.

It kept on raining. Geneva is unbelievably dreary when it rains.

The day at CERN was a little better - there is some super technology there. I went to the British Consulate-General this afternoon and met a super Irish lady who should be a great supporter for this project.

The flight back was uneventful except for being half an hour late, so I didn't get into Cambridge until gone 22:00. I wanted to buy something for Alfred but could't find anything non-tacky. Flopped out with a drink and "Will and Grace". Back to reality! I fell asleep during the Graham Norton show - sorry Graham.

There was even milk in the fridge for a cup of tea.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


October 17, 2002
A square-pinned plug in a Swiss hole

I've been to CERN a few times already, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. I guess it was the awful reality that I've agreed to work for three years to help promote technologies from there into the UK. I love the technology and get on with most of the poeple, but it's awfully hard going. The culture of CERN is rather like the institutionalised academic stereotype of a 1970's ivory tower, with the added overlay of a mélange of twenty nations.

Having grumbled like that, the culture can change over time and, with a few successes, people will realise that spinouts and industrial collaborations will be very much in their interests.

So they're pussy cats, but spiky ones.

Posted by nathan at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)


October 13, 2002

A varied day after far too early a start.

We went down to London in the rain, which topped up my reservoir of bile. I managed to sleep a bit on the train, so felt in better humour by the time we arrived. Coffee with Paul, who is off on a fantasy singing holiday next week.

I then spent over four hours with a group of people who are looking to set up a new business. Lots of discussion about the potential for their business, and it sounds really interesting - it's a pity that I don't know the market well enough to be really helpful, but I hope they manage to find the right people to complete their team.

I then trapesed over to Covent Garden and met up with Alfred and Erik (who I hadn't met before). We had supper at Guili Gulu, but I wasn't that hungry (I've not had much of an appetite for the last couple of days). Over to Sloane Square to see A Number by Caryl Churchill at the Royal Court Theatre. A short, dense play with Daniel Craig and Michael Gambon, who I last saw in Pinter's The Caretaker a year or so ago.

It took us hours to return to Cambridge, as the bastards had decided to replace the train with a bus service for a night-time tour of rural Hertfordshire. I wish I was living in London. I hate the railways with a passion - but doesn't everybody in this miserable country?

Alfred keeps reading my blog. I guess that's to be expected, but it's very unnerving. I'll just have to be more revealing in future.

Posted by nathan at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)


October 10, 2002
Vanitas, vanitatum, omnia vanitas

I didn't attend the conference today, and spent my time instead trying to get some interesting work done for a customer. The others spent the first half of the day interviewing. What arguments we had after the interviewees had all left! One personality really divided us all - I think he's great, but nobody else does. Anyway, we've made an offer to one person, who I hope will accept.

Growing a business is a constant struggle. Dunno why I do it.

I heard on the radio that there has been an earthquake in Borsetshire. Rumblings and tremors have been building up for months. In yesterday's quake, at least two homes were said to have been destroyed.

Posted by nathan at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)


October 09, 2002
The wonder of the Internet

It's a remarkable change over the last eight years that I have been able to meet so many people through the medium of the Internet.

Stop there.

In this case, it was an enquiry for the business, where somebody came across us by searching for our type of technical marketing service, and was impressed enough with our web site to call me. Jonathan and I went down to Bracknell to see them yesterday - they were a pleasant bunch, who I feel we could really help. I've drafted a proposal for them, and they'll probably balk at how much work there is to do, but I hope we'll get the contract.

I also had supper yesterday evening with a former colleague. it was a pleasure to catch up with him. We ate at the Fishes pub in North Hinksey. He seems to be doing so well for himself now that he is free from the shackles of corporate life.

I still can't get that amazing climax from the first movement of Mahler's 3rd out of my head.... it's with me all the time at the moment.

Posted by nathan at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)


October 07, 2002
I've got you under my skin

Another week begins, with Japanese guests in the morning and a company visit in the afternoon. This is going to be a busy week, with a lot of darting around. After my lassitude at the weekend, I'll probably have to miss Thursday's conference, which I had already booked and paid for.

Haydn's Creation Oratorio has been buzzing round my head all day.

Posted by nathan at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)


October 04, 2002

I'm working too hard. Of course that's mental exhaustion, rather than overexertion in the physical sense. As the weekend starts, I know that I haven't completed enough in the last few days, so I'll have to work over Saturday and Sunday just to catch up with myself.

Of course I love the work I'm doing, but I seem to be taking on ever more pressure from myself - sales, recruitment, admin, alliances, staff - I can do it quite well, but the pressure is relentless.

It now doesn't look as though I need to go to the West Coast this month. I would have looked forward to a few days there, but this had been planned as a 2-day visit, so I'm happier without it. I'm still off to Switzerland on 16th-18th.

Posted by nathan at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)


October 03, 2002
Female charms don't work on me...

A funny experience today. After having coffee with the lady in question for nearly an hour, i became aware that I was being chatted up... and I hadn't noticed.

Off to London now for a shindig with the great and the good of the physics community. I've never heard the Standard Model explained to a general audience in 15 minutes before.

Posted by nathan at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)


October 01, 2002
Back to life, back to reality

This evening, I was asked at short notice to give a presentation about the company. Why do laptops have so much trouble with data projectors? Anyway, it was a reasonable event and I (mostly) controlled my urge to ramble.

Posted by nathan at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)


September 27, 2002
You're just building a wall...

I've waded through nearly fifty CV's now, telephone interviewed half a dozen and met as many again and I'm now down to four people. It all feels scary. To move this business to the next level, I need to hire at least two new people and move out of the flat into an office. but there is just about enough business for the four of us at present and, although there are quite a few prospects, I should really have more confidence before making the move. Oh well, this business is becoming an obsession - I'm far too proud to be content with it as a one-man affair, so I have to grow it - but it's been much more difficult than I imagined.

Posted by nathan at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)