Things they don't tell you about living in London

Things they don't tell you about living in London

No one is here for their health, and London is a cruel mistress, showing you so many tantalising delights, but giving you precious little time to enjoy them. It is also a place of magic, energy, passion and creativity that you need time to discover for yourself ...

Here are a few things no one told me

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The crassness of this Tory government is inexcusable by any argument.


It's the inconsistency.

Watching a group of people totally unfamiliar with the power they wield attempt to work it out with really big consequences if they get it wrong and no sense they are capable of grasping that en masse.

Individually I find many Tories well meaning, good people but they are cowed by the same forces that brought down Major. Dinosaurs. Those who represent the worst excesses of the past, and the worst kind of politics - the self serving.

I resign.

What did Techbikers achieve?


Well, more to the point, what did you acheive? If you sponsored me for the recent Techbikers Paris to London 200 mile cycle then you are of course awesome, but this is why ...

We will fund the following 2012 projects in Nepal:

  • One two room School Construction project at 22,000 USD (Brand new school built)
  • One constructed Library at 20,000 USD (brand new library built)
  • One School Library at 5,000 USD (re-purposing of an existing room in a school with no library, filled with books)

I could not be prouder today, and this extends to each of you who supported me - thank you with all my heart.

The plaque text will read: This school/library was established through the cooperation of the local community, Room to Read and TechBikers. TechBikers (40 entrepreneurs in East London) were inspired to support this space and hope that it similarly inspires the local community to dive into a world of creativity, initiative and curiosity that was opened up to us by books and learning.

To Twitter, my love

A love letter to Twitter, whom I once loved

It was three years ago. We'd flirted at a few parties but I just couldn't understand you: I followed you, but you didn't follow me back. I called out "Hello World" but not a chirp.  Ignoring the advice of others I gave you up.

Of course I thought of you. I tried to shut you out but I kept hearing your name on everyone’s lips. Even Philip Scofield was talking about you.

Then we bumped into each other at some work event I'd been pressed into.  It was electric, you followed me, then I followed you, and suddenly … we were surrounded with people: you and me at the heart of a thousand conversations.

Oh that night, and the many nights we shared. Of ignoring people we had long known in favour of the unknown, of staying up later and later to never miss a moment together...

That was three years ago now. I'm not saying we've changed. Oh, who am I kidding, of course we've changed. No don't look away, you know it's true. The passion has gone, well it has hasn't it? We shared everything with each other, not a moment wasn’t recorded and broadcast. Our very location drew comments or people checking in with us but now our relationship is more and more, well, normal. The honeymoon is over.

I still love you, of course. How could I not? We moved together, changed jobs - life before is a distant memory. Everything is different now but for the better. We still laugh, and sometimes not just in nostalgia. And we learn from each other, debate and banter. We'll not weary quite yet, are we?

I just wanted to ensure I recorded these words lest we forget ourselves, and what we once had and might not again.

A Moustache for Life, Not Just Movember


I was asked by Freestate to write for their Themepark blog, I chose a subject close to my heart, well, my nose really ...

The moustache of legend is a sign of strength and manliness, but beyond  the bravado, is the ritual of moustache cultivation more powerful than  we realise? Why through history has overt personal grooming been seen as  effeminate, while the cultivation of a moustache is revered as the very  symbol of masculinity? I posit that what is missing from men's lives is  the ceremony of grooming that a moustache brings. Yes, there has been a  resurgence in the moustache lately, but where once the moustache was  described as having a "wonderfully powerful effect upon a man's whole  expression" it now most usually adorns the ironic lip of hipsters of  Dalston or Willamsberg.

Read the rest of my article here

I MADE IT #techbikers

I made it from Paris to London on a bike, almost 200 miles (minus a little when we got flooded off the Sussex hills) over 3 days with 40 others to raise money for Room to Read. Thank you to those who supported me with donations, tweets and Facebook messages, it made all the difference to what was the most gruelling thing I have ever done.

Be it the frosty mornings, the pea-soup fog at 40 miles an hour, the river that was once a road I cycled up or the 10 mile stretches all uphill each mile I cycled closer to home broke me but renewed me at the same time.

I know lots of you were waiting for payday to support me - this means a lot and each donation after the event has been an extra pat on the back: if you can, support me here

Some stats for the group:  

  • Collective miles cycled: 6,925
  • Collective calories burned: 68,634
  • Collective pedal revolutions: 3,985,200 (Four million!!)
  • Collective feet climbed: 197,702

To add some context, that means the team cycled from London to Mount Everest, and along the way ascended its height seven times over.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you,


Support here:

I'll be thinking of you each painful mile and smiling

Stop, take a moment. Think of me. Yes, me. Cycling. Not a commute across London, or a casual cycle in the New Forest. Think Paris, think London. Think cycling 200 miles from Paris to London. Now back to me. Yes me. Scared. Excited. Determined.

I need your help -

It’s been a long time since I was last asking for sponsorship (1992 Aberdeen to Crathie Comic Relief cycle to be exact), and now I ask again. I’m cycling with a bunch of fellow geeks to raise money for Room to Read.

Room to Read are a charity that believes that World Change Starts with Educated Children. They envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

Please, from the bottom of my heart, donate. I promise I won’t let you down.

Go to Virgin Giving now and donate, selecting my name from the donation screen.


More about Room to Read

Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organisations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.

It's worth starting something even if you don't know where it's going

When I started themeet140 a few years ago as a way of meeting likeminded people I had no idea this tweet up would go around the world, but I certainly had no idea that Glasgow (home of the largest meet) would conjure up this brand new format. 

Watch this video for the overview, or below for the full event:


Hosted live at 29 Studios, the panel discussion - with audience and Twitter interaction - was filmed and shared on the platform. Thanks to Michelle Rodger, Kev and Gillian O'Neil 

Stacks - this is something you should know

Bruce Sterling is a bit of a hero of mine, and here is a quote from his closing speech at SXSW this year that I've been meaning to post for a while ...

"[There's] a new phenomena that I like to call the Stacks [vertically integrated social media]. And we've got five of them -- Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The future of the stacks is basically to take over the internet and render it irrelevant. They're not hostile to the internet -- they're just [looking after] their own situation. And they all think they'll be the one Stack... and render the others irrelevant. And they'll all be rendered irrelevant. That's the future of the Stacks.

People like the Stacks, [because] the internet is scary now -- so what's the problem there? None of them offer any prosperity or security to their human participants, except for their shareholders. The internet has users. Stack people are livestock -- ignorant of what's going on, and moving from on stack to another. The Stacks really, really want to know you're a dog.

They're annihilating other media... The Lords of the Stacks. And they're not bad guys -- I'd be happy to buy them a beer. But really, a free people would not be so dependent on a Napoleonic mobile people. What if Mark Zuckerberg trips over a skateboard?

This structure won't last very long... But you're really core people for them and their interests. You are them. I'm them. And your kids are going to ask embarrassing questions about them. And there are voices here and there complaining about them, [like] Jonathan Franzen. He says Twitter is destroying literature. And he's right. So don't make fun of him. He's telling the truth."


The power of community - the small, big things

This world is amazing.

I tweet that I want to play guitar again and someone I have never met gives me a guitar, won't take a penny for it. You have to stop sometimes and reflect on how amazing people can be when they feel part of a community.

For my part I have freely given start up advice, relationship stories and fostered partnerships that have blossomed but still I didn't expect a guitar. Humbling really. 


Another day, another dollar

Today is an important day for me; I have decided not to go back into agency-land but to strike out for myself, returning to the roots of my career.

My reasons for this are many but it really comes down to a belief that I achieve my best work when I am free from the inertia of a large agency, and especially free from the shackles of selling over creating.

Currently I am working on a number of lovely projects including Head of Digital at Nova Festival, but I do have capacity so please let people know I am available for hire





Things you should know if you work in digital communications: some history

I was rendered unusually speechless on Monday evening and I wanted to put you in the situation and ask what you think. The scene is a Social Media Week conference, 150 professionals interested in digital communications, are packed into a room and as an aside a speaker says “Hands up who has heard of Alan Turing?". How many hands do you think go up?


Yes, three. Three hands go up in the room to signal that they know of the man who by played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.

Come on, something is wrong when people don’t know the origins of the technology that allowed social media to exist, right? I wanted to ask the room if they know who Tim Berners-Lee is, but I refrained; I might leap into the Thames if I didn’t see 150 hands go up.

Does history matter?

Innovation & opportunity:When I became a man, I gave up childish ways

First published at the Like  Minds Conference October 2011

Our greatest moments of innovation are long behind us. This may sound harsh but it needn’t be, as long as you recognise it and stop trying to grow up.

I was talking with a mother recently, she was amazed that her young son could pick up a knife and fork and with absolute conviction craft a story of good and evil, of both battling it out where there could only be one victor. I remember how a white sheet draped over boxes could become a snowy wilderness for toy soldiers to scale, chilling me to the core to live their struggle as I played.

One day I read a verse from the bible that scared me until, without realising, it became true: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways”.  Eventually all I knew seemed childish.  

Innovation is something we as adults strive so hard for, but often miss out that it is the opportunity taken that we need, not to think harder, but almost to not think at all. Like the children we once were, free from the inherited pressures of growing up, with space to fail, to learn, to embrace and to grow – not up but out.

So I challenge you – are you truly more innovative now than then, or happier even? If not, maybe the opportunity you need is the one in front of you.