Archive for June, 2012

Heroes and villains

30 June 2012


Earlier this week I facilitated a workshop for a company in their ‘Lennon’ meeting room. Lots of companies have such room names – they’re easier to remember than say, 1G, and are supposed to convey some sense of inspiration at the same time. Although I can’t help but think that I haven’t come across many ‘Lenin’ rooms, which is maybe surprising when you think how much the modern corporation obsesses about ‘focus’, ‘execution’ and ‘delivery’.

The best story I heard about such room names came from someone who worked for the subsidiary of an American company in London. Someone had decided to call one of their meeting rooms after the American diplomat Henry Kissinger. (When Kissinger shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Vietnam war the satirical singer Tom Lehrer said that political satire had become obsolete.) “The trouble is that half of the company don’t know who he is”, I was told. “And the half who have heard of him think he’s a war criminal”.

The image at the top of this post is “The Connections (Kissinger)” by the Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi, whose work “explores the intersection between politics and popular culture”. It is used with thanks. You can find out more about the work and the artist at Artspace.


This is London

24 June 2012


I was at a meeting in a building in central London with a view which seemed to capture what London is these days. The building in the foreground is, of course, Centre Point, the emblem of the 1970s property boom, while the brightly coloured building behind it is Renzo Piano’s Central St Giles building, a distinctive improvement on the rundown Ministry of Defence building that used to be on the site.

And down below: the hole in the ground is one of the many places in London where Crossrail is being built (and hence the cranes). It’s said that for the same amount that’s being spent to tunnel a new rail line across the middle of London, the entire country could have been rewired to provide highspeed broadband. Everywhere. I don’t know whether that says more about the lobbying power of the City, or the speed at which politicians catch up with technological change.

I took the picture at the top of the post. It is published here under a Creative Commons licence: some rights reserved.