Small talk!

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Saturday, March 2 2013

So I was sitting discussing with my colleague (JS) various different topics when we stumbled across old films we used to watch as children. There is not a significant age gap between us, only 5 years, but our choices in favourite films does differ quite considerably.

Once we had finished listing our favourite films, JS touched on the main actor in one of her films (The Indian in the Cupboard) and how she used to have a crush on him when she was 3 years old! I was more shocked at the age of her first crush then the fact she had a crush on Henri from the film.

After controlling my laughter, JS added fuel to the fire by declaring two further crushes: the first, Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone and the second, Buzz McCallister from Home Alone. This send me into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, some of the others joined me. JS literally smiled and joined in with us.

The dreaded question fell on me when on of the girls asked me who I had a crush on when I was younger? I could honestly say I went blank and could not think of a single crush at such a young age.

So now I've had time to think about it, I think it only fair I declare my crushes from childhood films:

1. Allie from The Karate Kid Part I (She also appeared in Back to the Future)

2. Andy from The Goonies

3. Jessica from The Karate Kid Part III

So there you have it, my three choice.

Keep reading and I'll keep you posted on my life as The Odd One Out.

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Family Life | Film | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | Work

MSN - Male Stalking Network

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Tuesday, January 8 2013


Well when you work with a group of women, anything can happen. Everyday brings a new adventure, sometimes a challenge, and as always I am at some point left scratching my head at something one of them has said to the group during the working day... hence this latest post.

Well at the time I was writing this, I was sitting on a leather couch in the suburbs of San Jose, California drinking juice and looking at my notes from previous weeks. I was literally another world away from where I usually am when I encounter my issues as 'The Odd One Out.'

Today's weird and wonderful post is surrounding the inner workings of a colleague of mine when she uses MSN Messenger. (MSN Messenger, for the computer illiterate, is principally an instant messaging service that allows contacts to talk to each other - a sort of text messaging service that is online).

So the women and I were discussing things that annoy us about Facebook when one of them suddenly said 'Do you remember MSN Messenger? We all responded with a unitary nod. 

MSN was great when I first used it, in fact it's how I first began talking with my soon to be wife (She is American and lives in San Jose), but after 4 years we grew tired of the breakages in connection and service and chose to move to Gmail. (Google Mail is awesome).

Anyway... my colleague then proceeded to say aloud to the rest of us "Yeah, did you ever do the sign in, sign out thing?"

I was confused and raised my eyebrow. What shocked me more was that my other colleague said "Oh yeah, I used to do that."

I continued to stay quiet, trying to focus on the invoice I was processing. I didnt want to get drawn into another strange discussion. One a week is enough for me!

Then came another comment "I used to love MSN, I've had some great conversations on there."

The conversation continued, going back and forth across our pod desks. Different pros and cons were listed and they also discussed all the features they enjoyed using. (I can say now, I hated the 'nudges', which shook your computer screen when people wanted to talk to you when you had been idle for 5 minutes or so).

I couldn't take it anymore, I had to interject otherwise I would just look ignorant or worse still, they would draw me into the conversation at a point where it would become uncomfortable for me to back out and they would tease me about it.

"Yes, Jess and I first began chatting on MSN after my holiday to San Francisco in 2007." I said. "But what the hell is the 'Signing in and signing out' thing?" 

Curiosity got the better of me.

The two girls laughed, knowing it would send me into a frenzied rant, as most things do. The others in our group sat silently, waiting to hear.

"Come on what is it?" I persisted.

"The 'Signing in and signing out' thing is where you're already signed in, chatting to other people and you see a guy you like come online. He will obviously look down his contact list and see who is online and talk to who he wants. What I did was to sign out of messenger and then sign back in again." [Cue my long pause and thought] - What the hell for, I thought? "That way, he will see the little notification box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner, signally that I have just come online. That way he is more likely to talk to me."

To say I was thinking of the movies 'Fatal Attraction', 'Obsession' & 'Misery' while she was explaining would be pretty harsh. I was a little disturbed originally but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this was a pretty clever tactic to get a guy to notice you. In fact, it was bordering on genius.

The good thing to add to that is that my colleague appears to know where the line is and is not hovering over it, ready to hop into the weirdo territory. As long as she stays behind it, I am happy to continue sitting next to her.

So that's the latest from me - keep checking in to see my posts and remember, if your on MSN, either remain invisible or sign out first and stay offline before JS sees you. 

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Business | Employment | Entertainment | Environment | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | People of Kent | Work

Strange but true!

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Friday, December 7 2012















So, I have been observing the behaviour of the women in my work team over the last few months and it has been interesting to say the least.



We have had quite a few personnel changes, with three great colleagues leaving us, which I would like to highlight on before I start this post.


Our wonderful Chair's PA, 'PJ', left us for another role. When she left, we felt the pressure. She was the 'Oracle' and a fountain of all knowledge. Whenever we had a problem or needed an answer, we would always ask PJ. That proves beyond any doubt how vital she was to the setup of the office. The Admin team will never be the same again, seriously!


'Leads' was next to leave us. She was the life and soul of the secretariat. Despite not officially being placed within our team on the hierarchy, Leads was definitely considered to be a main cog in our working machine. She was bubbly, fun and showed us all how to make a 'real' salad at lunch time - Sainsbury's iceberg lettuce sales were up during her secondment period.


'Roondog' departed from our team and the glue that held us together seemed to lose it adhesiveness. Her wedding checklist and housekeeping emails have been sorely missed and our team has struggled to get to grips with not having the benefit of a kick ass Office Manager around to look after our interests.

Ladies although you have gone, you will forever remain honourary members of the admin team. (I need a few minutes - Cry).



So, now I've dried my eyes, it's time to get on with the official first post.

I have updated you on the changes in my office but now it is time to move on to my observations, and my reasoning for why I am 'The Odd One Out'.

So this week's topic: the bizarre statements they come out with.

My Evidence

I have come across a series of strange and bizarre statements in my time with these women. I present my evidence for your judgement: (I have included the initials of my colleagues for their own amusement)

Does the lump on the back of my neck look big? (SK)

Believe me, I had to keep a straight face for this one because she was deadly serious.

Wedding shoes are expensive but can still be worth every penny. You just dye them black to get 'wear out of them' (KR)

Or you could purchase a cheaper pair of shoes and not have the guilt of the huge cost spent on them & the additional cost incurred to dye them black!

My friend is trying to lose weight. She is on the Pre Heart Op diet! (SK) - yes, someone actually said this to me.

***Speechless with a grin***

I'm going to take a cheeky trip to Wilkinson. Does anyone want anything? (RL)

I'm still trying to work out what a 'cheeky trip' is but it sounds amusing whatever it is.

I just sometimes do not know how to react. It takes me off guard and I have to just think of the first thing that comes to mind. e.g. 'What are you talking about?', 'Are you nuts?' 'Jess is exactly the same!'.

Don't get me wrong, they provide me with 5 day a week amusement but sometimes I am absolutely stunned at the information being portrayed to me. I also sometimes think that because I am the only man in our team that they forget I am pumped full of testosterone and not oestrogen. The things they say to me may fall on deaf ears because I am not a woman and do not have the working of a female brain.

Sometimes this can be a hindrance more than a help but most of time I seem to get away with it and we quickly move on.

Well I will give you a while to digest the last 3 minutes of your life that you have spent reading this blog that you will never get back!

Keep checking in on my blog, I still have plenty more to talk about.




Categories: Entertainment | Environment | General | Just Life | Moaning | Moans and groans | People of Kent | Public Sector | Real Talk | Work | The Odd One Out

Uni? Do I HAVE to?

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Thursday, September 13 2012

I am seventeen years old. I've just begun the second and final year of my A levels, and all I hear day in day out, are the words, "personal statement", "degree" and most irratating of all "UCAS". At this point in time, if I could just find the individual responsible for the word "UCAS" I would most definitely fight them. Fisticuffs. 

The way I see it, I have just endured 14 years of education- beginning with finger paintings and egg and spoon races, with a slow progression to where I am now-  corsework, essays and ultimately two hour exams (of course via the albhabet, sex education and algebra). To get this far, the idea of another possible four years or more of attending lectures and meeting essay deadlines, kills me. This isn't even touching on the inevitability of walking away with £50,000 of debt. 

However, even as a 'nay-sayer' of University, I am still told by my teachers and peers, "Oh, you've still got to at least apply, otherwise if you change your mind you'll have nowhere to go!" at which point a small part of me dies inside. This is because despite my sheer dislike and contempt for the idea of University, I still have to spend hours of my time attending open days- none of which I believe will interest me considering the whole concept they are offering seems utterly depressing, despite the courses themselves- I must also write a personal statement: a document expressing my passion and desire for a place at said Uni, and through means of flattery, bragging and a bit of grovelling, I must then plead my case for how much I would LOVE to go to University. This process by the way, takes many months and usually several drafts are needed before the final product; I can't wait to get cracking on that bad boy...

Throughout my GCSEs and my A levels, myself and my peers have been drip fed ideas of Universities and degrees directly into our absorbant young brains, and I must admit, after that, it did take me a while to even imagine a post-school future for myself where a Uni wasn't present. However, even though I am heavily leaning towards not going to Uni, around 80% of my peers are all planning to head off to University next year. If this is roughly the case for all schools, and the majority of these students come out with a degree, just how credible is a degree going to be anyway? I mean, in the dark, dingy abyss that the economical future of my generation seems to be, there will of course be 'less jobs', 'less money' and 'more unemployment', so if EVERYBODY has a degree, what good will it do anyway? I'd much rather get out there (give or take) four years early with my youth on my side- lower sallery, easy to for the boss to manipulate, full of child-like enthusiasm- and get a head start on all these other competitors trying to take my job with a piece of paper and a silly hat with a square on the top. Another reason not to graduate: the hats look ridiculous.

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Categories: Education | School | Schools | Work

If you don’t get paid to work it’s charity or slavery

by The Codgers' Club Friday, March 9 2012

by Peter Cook

The defining principle of work is that you get paid for it. If you don’t, it’s either charity, self-sacrifice or slavery.

All these schemes to “break the cycle of unemployment” by getting people to carry out unpaid work like stacking shelves, are meaningless, if that essential ingredient of a wage is not included.

What do politicians think unemployed people do all day? Lounge around in bed watching the Jeremy Kyle Show?

Most people want to work. But the reason they want to work is that it gives them the independence, self respect and freedom of choice that goes with earning a living wage.

When I had my business I reluctantly took on a work experience lad from a local school for a fortnight.

This lad was brilliant. When he’d done the things I asked him he found other tasks for himself. I would have taken him on permanently if that had been possible.

At the end of his fortnight I handed over an envelope with a couple of banknotes in it. “Oh no,” he said. “We’re not allowed to accept money.”

“Listen,” I said. “If you don’t get paid, you haven’t had work experience. Getting paid is the whole point of it. If people don’t get paid, how can they live? How can they pay their rent, their mortgages, their food bills, their travel expenses, or stand a round down the pub?”

If you don’t have a decent wage at the end of the month, then you rely on others for the necessities of life. That might be the state, your family or your friends. It’s not a healthy way to be. You lose self respect and it saps your self confidence.

I’ve had a job of sorts since I was 10. It started with a butcher’s round – 8s. 6d. for a hard Saturday afternoon’s work. Then, in addition, I got a morning paper round. In the school holidays I did farm work and at weekends I milked cows.

So what do I want a medal? No. I got my reward. It was cash which enabled me to do all sorts of other things I would otherwise not be able to afford.

Only once did I get a handout from the state. It was after I had left school and been fired from my first job for complete and total incompetence. A nice lady asked me if I minded factory work. I was glad of anything.

She then reached into a drawer and found 16s., which she gave me to tide me over. I went up the pub and blew the lot.

I then spent six months doing the mind numbingly tedious job of keeping peas cascading through a hopper into a water flow, so they could be floated off to the canning factory.

On occasions the boredom of this was relieved by being allowed to pour baked beans through an electric mincing machine so they could be used for baby foods. I could get overtime by sitting by a conveyor belt and picking out bad peas as a river of green went unremittingly by. But at least I was being paid at the end of each week.

I would hate to be applying for jobs now. In my day you just wrote a letter, they interviewed you, and you were either chosen or not. Bosses relied on their judgement.

The last time I applied for a job, the process of filling in an endless and pointless on-line application form sent me almost catatonic with fatigue and boredom.

But I have wandered off the point. The only real way to break the cycle of unemployment is to create jobs. It shouldn’t be hard. There’s plenty needs doing.

When people have jobs they contribute to the economy, rather than becoming a drain on it. That way we can get growth and start to reduce the deficit.

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Categories: Work

Was it right to shred Fred?

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Wednesday, February 1 2012

So Fred Goodwin has joined traitor Anthony Blunt in the Hall of Infamy wherein languish the handful of once revered people stripped of their gong.

But what has the former Sir Fred the Shred done to deserve a criminal’s fate?

He had hubris - what successful businessman hasn’t? He shredded jobs. Nothing unusual there then.

He wanted to expand his company’s global reach and market share. So what’s strange about that? We criticise local business people for lacking ambition, and preferring a lifestyle enterprise.

By many accounts, he was not the nicest of people. But show me a nice boss and I will show you an under-performing business. Yet he has ex-racing ace and nice bloke Jackie Stewart as a friend who obviously shares a love of life in the – former - fast lane.

So why has Fred been shredded by the Establishment?

One reason only of course, Political symbolism. Somebody had to pay for the crash, for the misery inflicted on so many, for the taxpayer bailout, and frankly, for embarrassing politicians who deserve to be embarrassed.

I’m assuming that Fred did not set out to wreck the economy, to ruin the Royal Bank of Scotland with a takeover too far. With hindsight, military planners would not have asked our troops to go a Bridge Too Far at Arnhem with disastrous consequences. How many generals were demoted and ridiculed after that Dutch debacle?

Did Fred set the level of his own pension pot? It was more likely a remuneration group, Have they been stripped of their honours for living in a false world of astronomical rewards?

Stephen Hester is used to six-figure payouts. That’s what happens in financial services yet their practitioners do not merit the remuneration so out of kilter with rewards for people in equally necessary jobs and craftspeople paid little or nothing beyond their normal salary, wage or fee. Hester and his kind would get nowhere without the support of the humble teller at his local branch.

These bankers may well give away lots to charity and keep employees of Rolls Royce and Lamborghini happy. But the public don’t see that.

Fellow banker Stephen Hester should have had the wit to see the storm that would brew over his bonus. Why didn’t his PR people see it coming and advise appropriately?

Perception in today’s world is reality. He would have earned plaudits for either turning it down or giving it to charity. In the end, he was forced to yield by media and political denigration.

Fred’s public humiliation was symbolic and political and in a fairer world undeserved. Hester’s decision was forced and should have been taken earlier.

Both episodes damage business credibility and, when it is only business that creates the wealth of the country to help the sick, the young, the jobless, the elderly and the disadvantaged, that is an unhappy place for our wealth creators – and there are many in Kent.

In his rags to riches to rags disgrace, Fred is only human, a risk-taker who ultimately got things wrong. That’s what happens to entrepreneurs.

However much we deplore banking greed, he deserves a measure of sympathy rather than the gleeful grins of a crowd cheering a public hanging.

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Categories: National Politics | Work | Banking

I drink, therefore I am

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, March 7 2011

They say if you can remember the 1960s then you weren't there.

Perhaps the O2's new nightclub Proud2 is pushing for a similar slogan, judging by the incredible party they threw for their press launch on Thursday.

Yes Thursday. Four days ago and I still can barely remember anything past 11.30pm from that night. The occassional free bar is a wonderful perk of the journalistic world but they never lose their devastating potential.

And on Thursday, it felt like they caused Armageddon for my liver.

Ok, so I fell fowl of having a few too many glasses of champagne and can barely report on The Bees, Nero and The Mystery Jets, pictured left, who performed on the night to the, shall we say, enthusiastic crowd.

That doesn't make me a criminal but it did make me ponder my attitude towards drinking.

Did I go out with a couple of my mates on Thursday with the intention of getting mind-bogglingly bladdered at the free event? No I didn't. Did we decide we were going to take advantage of the free booze on offer? You bet!

There lies the problem. Although we claim to know our limit, all notion of moderation went out of the window once what was on offer became free.

Was my shaky camera work at the opulently laid out and impressive club a sign of unprofessionalism? Or did I just have a few too many on a night where I was letting my hair down?

Perhaps we deserved the raging hangovers (mine suffered at work) the following day. But should we feel bad about it?

I was still at work at 8am and able to report on what was going on. Work hard, play hard is a philosophy that has served many before me well and will serve many well in the future.

Should I have felt naughty for arriving at my desk bleary-eyed the next day, even though I got on with the task in hand? Answers on a postcard please.


In Strictly news, Tom Chambers appears to be the main star set to grace the stage at the New Marlowe Theatre when their first programme of events gets underway in October.

He will don his dancing shoes once again for Top Hat, the first ever stage version of the 1935 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Tom was never my favourite Strictly Come Dancing champion. Lisa Snowden or Rachel Stevens should have won that year but no one could deny he was a charmer.

Also Tom made no secret of claiming Fred and Ginger were his dancing idols during his run to the glitterball in 2008.

Which surely means his toe-tapping antics will be a coup for the new Marlowe, who will stage the show before it goes on a West End run.

Categories: Celebrities | Dancing | Entertainment | Health | Leisure | Media | Showbiz | Work

Workplace woes - from wealthy to 'wrinkly'

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Wednesday, January 12 2011

Heroine and villain.

The contrast in the news coverage of Miriam O’Reilly, the ex-BBC presenter axed allegedly on age grounds, and Bob Diamond, the fabulously wealthy Barclays boss, could hardly be more stark.

Backing for Miriam was of course a good way of getting at the BBC, never much liked by other media. But the welcome verdict underlines the perception, maybe even the reality, that Auntie has dumped women – and men - of a certain age far too quickly.

Moira Stuart and Arlene Philips top the list. There was no good reason to get rid of any of them. They were doing a perfectly good job and with an ageing population, many viewers relate to them. Closer to home, BBC South East axed popular presenters Beverley Thompson and Geoff Clark and replaced them with the younger pairing of Rob Smith and Polly Evans.

The Beeb always denied accusations that the decision was made on age grounds, but the suspicion remains that wrinklies are not welcome on the box. Yet ITV Meridian is happy to keep lovable Fred Dinenage.

Esther Rantzen struggled to get a word in edgeways in a Newsnight debate last night (11), perhaps illustrating further subliminal prejudice. Yet, she was the ideal person to speak for the older person. Dame Joan Bakewell would have been another.

Youth is not everything but media businesses are desperate to pander to an audience that watches less television than most. It’s high time that a few grey hairs were not a quick route to the television graveyard.

As for Bob Diamond, he did banking no favours during his MP grilling yesterday (11), reinforcing the image of a select clique of greedy vastly over-paid bankers. “Shameless” was one stark - and pretty accurate - headline.

I know investment specialists are a minority who create wealth for the bank and nation, but their bonus levels tarnish their colleagues in humble branch operations. They can never live down their apparent culpability in the global financial crisis and, especially in bailed-out banks, should expect little if any bonus.

Diamond no doubt gets fed up being asked to apologise and thank the taxpayer, but like other senior bankers he has done nothing to show he is in touch with other folk who are lucky to get a Marks & Spencer voucher. Let alone a £5 million cheque. Many only receive a P45 and all are squeezed by higher taxes and food inflation.

Diamond exists in a culture where vast sums of money are the norm.

If only the bankers would show they “got it,” slashed bonus levels for a year or two, just to show they are in the real world, they would earn more respect from a wider population who now despise their apparent greed in a time of austerity. 

But every time they defend the bonus culture, they shoot themselves in the foot. They are a PR disaster that tarnishes an otherwise decent profession. Bank managers and counter staff across Kent must be fuming.

Banks and the BBC are in the firing line because they have not squared reality with perception. They may feel hard done by, but they need to recognise that perception is often more important than reality.

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Categories: Economy | Work

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