The month began with a continuation of Immy’s 18th birthday celebrations, … this time with a ‘gathering’ in the garden. We transformed the lower-deck into a suitable social space with an event shelter and gazebo draped in twinkling white party-lights, we put grass protector matting across outside areas so it didn’t get muddy. We had heating in the shelter, a fire pit outside and a big solid table at the far end of the shelter for the excellent sound system courtesy of James and Harry. Immy invited 40 guests, for whom we produced about 80 vodka Jello-shots, more than required beer, cider, Smirnoff Ice, and set up a production line of pizza and hot-dogs. Fair to say that it was a success. First guests arrived at 8pm, about an hour later the volume had been turned up and it was in in full swing. The momentum continued through to some time after midnight when carriages began arriving for those heading home and at 12:30 the Ubers arrived to transport the hard-core party-goers (including Immy) down to the Casino Club in town.
On 4th November the UK terrorism threat level was reduced from “severe” to “substantial” for the first time since 2014.
Mothercare finally went into receivership on 5th November and at 1 minute past midnight that night the 57th Parliament was dissolved which was the cue for all parties to go into overdrive with their campaigns in preparation for the General Election which is now scheduled for 12th December.
The question put to respondents to the ongoing YouGov poll above is ‘if you had to vote tomorrow, who would you vote for?’ The graph speaks for it-self.
Two days into the election campaign the Times reported a leak from an undisclosed source that Downing Street had suppressed a parliamentary report of Russian interference in UK political activities. There were implications of Conservative cover-ups and more questions than answers about some of the funding that Tories are currently benefiting from.
More extreme weather this month has caused chaos, major flooding and misery across a big part of the country. By 8th November there were 100 flood warnings issued across the Midlands and the North of England, reminding us all again of the imperative to deal with climate change.
One of the little highlights of the month was disembarking the train at Waterloo and walking down the platform to the sound of the Band of the Grenadier Guards playing a Madonna number (cant’t remember which one, does it matter?). An absolutely brilliant start to the morning. Having boarded the last carriage that fine and sunny morning I had the pleasure of listening to them along the entire length of the platform, the music getting louder and louder until I reached the main ticket hall, and there they all were, stating their presence. Lots of commuters stopped to listen and donate to the Remembrance Day collection.
I’ve been settling into my new job at Reach and quite enjoying the work which is much more operational than almost all other jobs I’ve had in recent years. I’m thinking of going down the Kanban route (rather than Scrum) as this really is about keeping the team fully optimised and responsive to demand (for change) from the business. Working at a newspaper is really quite interesting at the moment as advertising tech (in particular video monetisation) is still in in still in its infancy and developing fast. The dilemma everyone faces is that Ad Tech is delivering great financial returns while at the same time slowing down the performance of these websites. Getting the mix right between ads/monetisation, performance and editorial content is a challenge. The forthcoming election is clearly a big focus in the News and Media sector at the moment. One of my responsibilities is integrating components that will give readers insight into the election campaigns and results as they come through, fed by live data streams being provided by PA.
Yesterday afternoon , at 2pm and my manager and I are just getting into our weekly update. Yesterday he’d booked a meeting room on the waterfront side of the office with great views across the south side of the Thames from Tower Bridge, County Hall, HMS Belfast across to The Shard and London Bridge less than couple of hundred metres to the right of our building. About 15 minutes into the meeting I’d become aware of a continual sound of at least one helicopter and numerous sirens close to the office (not unusual in central London) and was also conscious that our phones were pinging a lot . Then I noticed a couple of black high-speed police ribs blasting past all with blue flashing lights and I think my manager realised that our phones were pinging us due to breaking news, which turned out to be an act of terrorism on London Bridge. We looked out of the window and could see the bridge was at a standstill with lots of Police activity, there was a big white lorry at a really odd angle, blocking the northbound carriage way. A fanatic had gone on the rampage about 10 minutes earlier armed with knives and stabbed 5 people (killing two) before being overpowered by 3 or 4 civilians. The Police arrived within 5 minutes and shot him dead as he appeared to be wearing an explosive vest and wouldn’t stay still as instructed (the ‘explosive vest’ turned out to be a hoax). When I left the office a couple of hours later the whole area was in lock-down (including the nearest tube stations) and it was not possible head towards Waterloo on foot without taking a missive detour, so I hired a Santander bike and cycled around the lockdown area. London seemed just weird that night, traffic in the city at a stand-still, lots of people out on foot trying to make their way home or heading for bars and pubs and the atmosphere seemed subdued, slightly apprehensive. The whole area was sealed-off, and all the roads connected to the incident were blocked to traffic. I would have needed to follow a huge diversion to gat back to Waterloo on foot and the closest tube stations were sealed off. Guessing that other local tube stations were likely top be very busy with disrupted services, I hired a Santander bike to get me back to Waterloo. I was routed through the square mile. . I will never forget the cycle ride across this city of London that night. There was constant a wail of emergency sirens and the thumping sound of helicopter rotors. The sides roads were all deserted of traffic, and the main roads were at an almost standstill, with peaople spliing out of their offices and making their way on foot.
In my next post I cover the journey home which took a turn for the worst and made it an even more memorable day, for all the wrong reasons.
The picture below was taken later the following week. It was a poignant moment walking to work across London Bridge on the Monday morning and seeing the blue flashing lights and police cordons still up and protecting the forensics tent.