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How to make the best use of £1 million

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In 2010, the lottery fund of UK gave £1 million over a period of 10 years to Radstock and an adjacent part of the town – Westfield “to make a difference to the lives of the people living here”

Many activities take place, but at least once a year they have a Dragons’ Den type of evening and tonight was such a night in the newly refurbished Radstock Hall. Three local business people were in the Dragons chair and 11 groups presented. They were given 90 seconds to make their case and were for the most part asking for £500. Among the people asking for money were the Radstock Museum, an acting group, Somer Valley Walking Festival, an amateur boxing club, and the grandly named Lower Brislington Colliery Batch Fossils Source, which is an archaeological club for those wishing to find ancient fossils.

There were about 100 of us in the audience and we listened to the pitches; it caused me to reflect what is it that makes people convincing. I think if you try to put across too many ideas at one time people forget what you’re talking about. I believe that “less is more” is a good rule. I also think it’s a very good idea not to read from a script. Quite frankly, if you cannot talk about a subject when you have been involved with it for years without reading a piece of paper it doesn’t really give a good impression of commitment. It is much better to say a few simple words, look at the audience, and ask for their help.

Another point is that you should not be bashful about asking for money. Some people did not say how much money they wanted and what they wanted it for prompting the Dragon is to have to ask them. the chap who was number one ran a little organisation called The Potting Shed where people with learning difficulties could associate themselves with gardening and generally being outside and relating to others. It’s a pretty good rule of selling that you need to sell yourself first and your product second. You may have  the most wonderful product in the world but people can’t see the product, or service then the only channel is you and if you don’t come across as an honest and straightforward person you’re going to miss the boat.

Prize giving – three Dragons sitting in the background

I think every applicant will benefit, even those who did not win the 500, because they will have been encouraged by even attempting to make a presentation to others. I’m sure it will do their confidence good and plant a seed for future opportunities of this nature.

The most delicious food was served, very clever combinations that I have not seen before and really done with love and caring. I think it is so important that there is real power and communication on a local level.

There were two parents who brought along some rather noisy children, one was hardly a year old but the loudspeaker drowned out most of the crying and it didn’t really seem to matter on this occasion. I can see the wisdom of the Big Lottery Fund to give £100,000 a year over 10 years rather than overwhelming them with £1 million in one go.

is there life without a mobile phone?

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I suppose I’ve got used to it now, glancing at it every 10 min or so to see if there is a message. I think it’s actually a bad habit, and slightly sad. Not only was my phone stolen but my old one that I wanted to rely on gave up the ghost site by new phone and what  better place than eBay. I think I paid about £35 altogether including postage. It is a similar Nokia but not exactly the same but who cares. It says 4G but I don’t really need that.

The real problem is the transfer of numbers. I’m sure that somewhere there is an apt for uploading your numbers. In my case I had about 200, in most cases the people are out of date that the up-to-date ones I had were actually quite valuable and I’m going to have to recover them from somewhere.  in the real world, when you just want to transfer numbers, you just load them to the SIM card and then transfer them or I think you can do it using wireless. If you cannot do this, it’s a real pain.

On a more general basis, when I don’t need to have my mobile phone with me I do feel more free because the phone could ring at any time with someone that I could actually deal with another time. Also, and were going into a big topic now, the phones radiate and they are particularly disastrous with children who have thin skulls and there will be a huge crop of cancer cases in a few years time. The inverse square law does apply to electromagnetic  radiations. I could give a whole talk on this but if you are in an area of low reception, in other words if there is only one bar on the phone, the phone has to work extra hard to keep in touch with the signal.  I have a signal strength meter and every half a minute or so there is a burst of radiation which of course is not naturally good for the body.

Creatively, I’ve had a happy day so far, I sent  artwork for a new leaflet to a PPH person who happened to be in Bristol. She was exactly the right person and I got the artwork back at about 11:30 AM. I sent it straightaway to the printers and as of 12:45 PM it was ready. Technology can be a bit of a pain in the neck sometimes it but on this occasion it served me well. As I mentioned before, I have a meeting next Wednesday and I hope the brochure will give a good impression. If it doesn’t, it’s not for want of trying.

And now, off to pick up the leaflets mentioned above, and also to mow two plots on the allotments of which I’m secretary. They are in very poor condition and no one is going to want to rent them so I’m going to try and top them up a bit and make them look halfway decent.  Later…. The leaflets look brilliant and are head and shoulders above anything else that I have seen. To celebrate I bought a bottle of champagne. Well done Elizabeth of Bristol you did a great job.

contacting companies by telephone drives me mad

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The general enquiry number of the cooperative bank has four choices none of which involve speaking to a human being. some clever company has come along and said that you can save 20% of your operator charges by automating the system. What they have said is that you annoy 50% of your customers by having such a system in the first place.

It annoys me that none of the four alternatives given about what I might want actually apply to my question. you can’t even press zero you sometimes can to get the operator; they thought of that too. I also don’t need to be told that my call is valuable and that all other operators are busy. I sort of got that idea anyway because they didn’t answer. I resent the same message being given every 15 seconds especially when it says thank you for holding.  I don’t have any choice do I?

If they could spend just a little bit more money saying that you are 10th in the queue and we estimate your call will be answered in 3 min 21 seconds that would be great. BT do this to their credit, and they need credit. I have nothing against Indian people  and I do realise that their liaison with BT saves money and that such a job must be regarded as a prestige job. However, there is a difference between speaking English and thinking English and I do breathe a sigh of relief when I call 0800 800 150 or whatever it is and gets the BT centre in Scotland. It seems to be a  random matter whether you get an English operator or an Indian one.

I have resigned myself having to go through the security questions because there are so many con artists around someone else could easily impersonate me but touch wood, this has not happened for a number of years now save when I ordered a mobile phone someone impersonating me, ran up a large bill, and the company charged me for it. I complained and the money paid was refunded.

Sometimes I abandon the hope of speaking to an actual human being and rely on the instant chat essentially by SMS message. The problem is that the operator is not just responding to your written query but a number of others as well so you can be waiting almost a couple of minutes for a response but I think on balance this is a more reliable method. When I lost my mobile phone a few days ago I used the SMS method with a person from India. I reported the theft of my seven and the phone about 1:30 PM and next morning at 10:30 a new SIM card had arrived.

Other practices of operators I object to is asking me “can I call you Brian”. I always tell them that I don’t really care what they call me so long as I get service.  is always grinds on mean when they endlessly repeat “Mr Snellgrove” or “Brian” because someone is told in the script that it is more bonding. I find it more irritating. I suppose they had to ask you at the end “is there anything else I can do for you”. I suppose it by optimism I would expect them to imagine that I had constructed a list of things and if I say thank you very much that means I don’t have anything to discuss. I could  of course have been wicked and said, “well actually there is something, I’m not getting on very well with my wife, do you have any comment on the matter?”