30 November was an unusual day.  I was doing more listening and reading than communicating myself.  This is what I heard and saw.

On a serious note, the UK snow dump was at its height (literally).  Councils all over the UK were keeping people up to date about the impact on their services – mainly travel warnings and closures of various sorts. The #uksnow web site map spelt out by the minute where the white stuff was falling.

The UK Department of Health quoted Secretary of State Andrew Lansley on his new proposal for public health responsibilities to be moved to English councils – “Directors of Public Health will provide strong and consistent local leadership by acting as champions within councils”.  Hope the budget moves with the responsibilities.

I received a reminder from HM Treasury that their independent review of fair pay in the public sector led by Will Hutton would  publish its interim report next day (They did.  He recommended the highest paid employee in any public sector organisation should receive no more that 20 times the salary of the lowest paid – I’d have missed that without the reminder).

The Scottish Government told me I could watch a video on their web site of their response to the UK Government’s Scotland Bill.

There was other serious stuff too.

Someone said “Several years ago, I worked with the head of a large company who was very skilled at his job.  Because no one doubted that, including him, he was also utterly at ease with acknowledging his shortcomings.  He was also eager for any kind of feedback, because above all, he wanted to grow and improve.  What you got was a whole person, confident and humble, skilled and flawed.  Not surprisingly, he was beloved”. A great example of leadership.

Meanwhile over in the Daily Telegraph a medic was recounting his experience of being an unexpected emergency patient in an NHS hospital – “A kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a sympathetic smile: these are the things that there are no tick boxes for, and that are so difficult to regulate or control; yet for the patient, are so important”.   Hmm, that put performance management in perspective.

Elsewhere, there was a heartfelt blast by a dis-satisfied customer against his internet service provider (ISP) –“What is it about Virgin.net call centre staff that is most irritating?  Their ability not to listen or their ability to patronise?” Be assured friend.  They are not unique.

I also learnt for the first time about social media surgeries where those  familiar with the likes of blogging, Facebook and all things webby make themselves available for people to get help with the technology so many still fear.

Another first was discovering Jumo“We connect individuals and organisations working to change the world – find issues and projects you care about; follow the latest news and updates; support their work with your time, money, and skills”.  One to investigate further.

Sometime after mid-day (a bit late guys) the Scottish Government reminded me it was St Andrew’s Day.  As it happens, someone else had got there first and already let me know that “legend has it St Andrew’s head was once stolen from Constantinople and brought along to Rome”.  They cited Radio Vatican (“la Voce del Papa”) as the source so no doubt about that one.   In a surfeit of things Caledonian someone in York (York?) asked me what my three favourite Scottish beers were.  I was tempted to answer “The first three pints” but held back.  Even more weirdly, Hillary Clinton, yes her, sent me and doubtless many others a historic (she said) St Andrew’s Day message.

The bit of me interested in history was intrigued to see the UK mapping agency Ordnance Survey had mapped the Southampton blitz 70 years on in a “mashup” of data.

To leaven the diet of serious information the wilder fringes enlightened me on other matters of great import:

  • the Queen had little to say in favour of Nick Clegg but a lot in favour of a good G&T (this intelligence sadly turned out to be false)
  • an American woman who uses the Twitter name “theashes” had been pestered by cricket fans falsely believing she is the bearer of news about sport and was driven to respond “I am not a freaking cricket match!”
  • The Economist advised me that Canadians do not like to be fondled (at least in airport security searches)
  • someone said they’d just discovered that MILF stands for Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Filipino terrorist group and advised the group concerned to “get some brand advice”.

And back to where we started another correspondent wished Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and himself a Happy Birthday and noted the first two were probably having a better day than him – “Being dead beats being snowbound”.  Oh, I don’t know.

Footnote.  If you use Twitter you may guess what was happening.  All this was brought to me in or via the Tweets I received on 30 November.  It’s taken a while to review them and post this.  Yes, there was a lot of dross and, no,  I don’t normally do more than scan incoming Tweets quickly.  But there was news, learning and amusement, nearly all of which I’d have missed otherwise.

My thanks to the anonymous and unattributed authors of my 440 Tweets that day.  A quick Google will probably bring you oodles more information on any of the topics not linked above.