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Best Seat In The House


Mum knitted this little bear for me when I was a kid. It fits in the palm of my hand and it’s worn the Tranmere Rovers crest for as long as I can remember. Today, Sunday May 14th 2017, the bear (it has no name) sits on a purple chair in front of the TV, waiting for the Non-League playoff final to start. Tranmere Rovers v Forest Green Rovers. Best seat in the house?

I’m writing this on a train to Wembley Stadium to watch the match. The bear is one of very few physical connections I have with our Mum. It’s staying at home, too small, too easy for me to lose. I first saw Tranmere play in 1974 when my Dad and I visited Selhurst Park to watch Crystal Palace. Tranmere were the away team, and they lost 2-1. The naïveté of youth prevailed, and though I returned to Selhurst Park a number of times, I pinned my allegiance to Tranmere, and much like the badge was pinned to the bear, the allegiance stayed put.

The occasional away game sufficed for a long while, and after I learned to drive, the 500 mile round trip to see a home game began to feature in my life. As I trundled up and down motorways, I cursed my younger self for choosing a team based so far from home. And I kept going.

Things shifted up a gear when we enjoyed a few seasons of success in cup competitions. This, coupled with the emergence of internet chat rooms, meant I began to know some of my fellow supporters better. I encountered lots of good humour and kindness, as I travelled to more games, home and away, people would offer a place to stay. This generosity helped break up many a long journey, and meant we got to know each other better too. The kindness of strangers became the kindness of friends.

Over the years Dad and I returned to Selhurst Park together whenever Tranmere and Crystal Palace played. We took it in turns to sit with each other’s supporters so that we could be together. I have fond memories of these games, lots of laughs with the occasional bit of watchable sport thrown in.

I held a Tranmere Rovers season ticket for a while. It used to get used by friends when I couldn’t make the long journey to the ground. I was at Tranmere when the Football Supporters Trust was founded, and served on the board for a few of the early years. I once rode my bike 306 miles from home to the ground (the journey took five days) to raise money for the club and British Heart Foundation.

Fatherhood came along, and this great privilege took me away from football, though before it did, I recall Carole being kind enough to endure an awful home game while pregnant so I could tell our kid there first football match was at Tranmere. Sorry Carole!

I’ve not seen the team play in a long time, and I feel a little awkward turning up for a big occasion after such a long absence. But hey, whether we win or lose, I get to see some lovely people and watch an important match. Did I mention I’ve got a front row ticket? Best Seat In The House.

Update Monday 15th May 2017 : We lost, and were well beaten. 3-1. It’s the hope that kills you, etcetera 🙂  It was great catching up with old friends. For that, and for the chance to be at the game, I’m grateful.

7 Reasons to Visit Riga

These past few days have been an interesting first trip to Riga, the capital of Latvia. I’m heading home today and giving a talk on social media in the workplace in London tomorrow. Shortly after that I’m heading to Louisiana with Neil Morrison before returning here to Latvia again later in April. There’s something about the letter L featuring large in my life just now. Enough already.

Something we have been focussing on in our work here is the importance of visual media, and as I enjoy writing occasional travelog type posts I thought I would use some of my photos to help illustrate my short trip here.

7 Reasons to Visit Riga

Number 1 – The Sun Rise

Sunrise over Riga

This is the view out of my bedroom window, taken just after the sun peeked over the horizon. You can see a church tower in the distance and snow on the roves. The temperature had been very mild until this weekend when a sudden cold snap returned.

Number 2 – The Architecture

Riga Cathedral

There are lots of interesting buildings here. This is Riga Cathedral, taken at night. It was built in 1211 and has undergone several modifications since. I was lucky to find a pause in people wandering through the square to get an uninterrupted view.

Number 3 – Design

I spotted lots of interesting design touches when I was out and about. This old door handle really caught my eye, I’m glad I don’t have a screw driver on me otherwise I might be taking a few of these home. And this restaurant chair has lovely curves, it feels good and is comfortable to sit in too. I’m a bit nerdy about these small things, and when done well – they make a difference.

Number Four – The Food

It’s a good job that Riga is an easy city to walk around, I’ve eaten dangerously well here and the subsequent strolls have hopefully prevented me from putting on too much weight.

Number Five – The Art

Riga is the 2014 European Capital of Culture and on this short trip I’ve barely managed to scratch the artistic surface. There is loads to see here and on my next visit I will have more time to explore what Riga has to offer. For now though, here’s a wonderful, modern interpretation of The Venus of Willendorf.

Venus of Willendorf

Number 6 – Kronvalda Park

Kronvalda Park is a small open space in the town centre. It has many pathways wandering through it and this pretty canal. I like open space in a city – it’s great for stretching the legs and clearing the mind.

The Canal in Kronvalda ParkNumber 7 – The People

I’ve let the side down here, no picture I’m afraid. Everyone from the border control guy, to the taxi driver, hotel and restaurant staff and particularly the people I’ve worked with, have been lovely. Friendly and attentive, and when we’ve worked together, curious, enthusiastic and helpfully challenging. I enjoy work so much more when it flows, and when we need to rethink and shift our perspectives based on emerging information. Thanks folks.

I’ve enjoyed my short time here and I’m already looking forward to returning. My work with employees of the Latvian Government on smart use of social media is useful and enjoyable, and after I’ve concluded my second visit I will share more of what we’ve been learning about.

Away Day

I’m scribbling this blog on my iPhone travelling into London for the cipd social media conference.

Today is an away day for me in the sense that I’m out and about, and an away day in the sense that I’ll be fiddling with the controls on the cipd tumblr again.

If you are at the conference today please come and say hello. If you are not, then follow the day’s events at the tumblr and on twitter using the hashtag #cipdsocial13

Have a great day.