Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Social media and football punditry

March 17th, 2012

I’d been wrestling with a suitable title for a forthcoming talk about my exploits on the road. Played with pathos. “Lonely Roads… one man’s two-wheeled odyssey around the world”. Started well but too long. “An evening with…”. Far too pretentious. Endless lengths of the local swimming pool had failed to stimulate creativity. So I’d turned to Facebook for inspiration. Posted a few ideas. Invited suggestions.

It’d struggled at first with social media. What was the point exactly? Surely if you wanted to be sociable, you’d meet for coffee and a slice of moist cake. Maybe a spot of lunch. Dinner if you really liked them. Not poring over a small screen, fingers skimming over a tablet or eyes staring intently at a smart phone. But I’d eventually got it. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Tools for sharing, for connecting. Complementing, rather than replacing, more traditional social interaction.

My return from Somerset was earlier than I’d have liked. But there was a dinner in London to attend and didn’t want to risk disruption on the rails. Must though have been a rough part of town, for those on the door had side arms. No, really. And I’d needed my passport for admittance. Took the one with the least dubious visas. Formal but, as these things should be, very relaxed. It was a Black Tie affair. Acceptable attire a pretty broad church which some had taken it quite literally. I’d so wanted to ask them if they thought this was a Wake, or if they’d been obliged to come in haste directly from the funeral.

I was certain Debretts would advise against such outbursts of wit. Settling instead on teasing my Dad a few days later that I’d been obliged to listen to some sort of football pundit. Definitely not my game, but obliged to admit even I’d heard of the chap. Eclipsed though as an after-dinner speaker by a popular Irish comedian and chat show host. Almost wept. Scribbled a few of his lines on the back of the menu. Well, you never know. But don’t think I’ll ever have his delivery.

Back on the south coast a few days later, tucked away house-sitting for a good friend, endless iterations of my CV were drawing to a close. Honing. Refining. Choice of words had intrigued me. For, I’d learnt, the world was, apparently, full of excellent communicators and outstanding leaders. Just ask anyone in HR. They’ll tell you everyone is. There are endless books to help. But that’s part of the problem. Striking the balance between a welcome familiar format and a grey formulaic offering. Tricky.

If I’d made a mistake with Facebook, it was to suggest “Travels with Emma” as a possible title for my talk. Drawing in a few dubious double-entendres. But there was one offering I really liked. A real gem. “One World, Two Wheels”. Nice ring to it. Short enough. What it lacked in pathos it had in inspiration. But it was now time to put the coffee on. Wondering what intrigue the next week would bring. A job perhaps.


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Social media

October 14th, 2011

Would I mind if they had breakfast under the gazebo? I hesitated. Then explained I’d rather not have my tent contaminated with food odours. Not in bear country. Better to be safe than sorry, quickly adding I’d soon be taking it down. I felt a bit embarrassed, for it wasn’t my gazebo after all and could quite appreciate the desire to be under cover. I’d merely commandeered the place for the night, albeit with permission from the campground’s manager.

Jennifer seemed to appreciate my dilemma, quickly adding they wouldn’t actually be cooking anything. Rather, they just wanted to enjoy breakfast in the dry. I felt relieved. The initial awkwardness over, she and partner Ed invited me to share some fresh bread with them. Local bakery, some sort of co-operative that gave employment to those who’d otherwise struggle to find it.

They were from Seattle, making a short foray into British Columbia. Camping mostly. Jennifer had forged a career in the voluntary sector, working for various Non-Governmental Organisations. Of late helping them develop a social media presence. I gave her one of my cards, curious to know what she’d make of my own efforts.

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Ramblings

March 30th, 2011

If you’ve been following me on Facebook you may have spotted I’m quite fond of posting short "What’s on your mind" entries. Tough. Brevity doesn’t come easy for me. Nor does political correctness. Careful though not to cause offence. Aware that not everyone’s a fan of social media, a few of my favourite ramblings are reproduced below. Enjoy.

"Wondering how koalas mate? Asleep most of the day, stoned out of their tiny minds when actually awake. It’s not as if they live on an inner city council estate…"

"Never mind the traffic on Queensland’s roads, it’s the dead, bloated cane toads you have to look out for. Explode when you run over them. Not funny. Especially when you don’t have a front mudguard"

"Bit of a Charlie Sheen moment. But without the wild parties, wanton women and all the other Hollywood excesses. Instead I’d simply given a frank interview to a local TV station. Admitted I was "nuts". Suppose I’d better check into re-hab."

"Tully, Mission Beach, Cardwell. Devastated by Cyclone Yasi. Now submerged by swollen rivers. Compounded by an outbreak of Dengue Fever. Sounds like a cue for a Royal visit. I’ll look out for the bunting."

"Australian English. For all its close similarity to The Queen’s English, there are a few pitfalls. Try asking for rooting compost in a garden centre. Only to find yourself directed to the nearest chemist. Presuming you’re after organic Viagra. And firm marrows."

If you do want to follow me on Facebook, click on the link on my website homepage.

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Facebook friends

November 28th, 2010

Facebook

And now for…. a message for friends following on Facebook. Alas, the website is blocked in mainland China so, as you might imagine, access can be a bit tricky!

In practice this means that, courtesy of an overseas third party, I can respond to "Friends Requests" – bit sporadic I admit – but replying to your messages will have to wait until I reach Hong Kong. And the blog posts? That’s an automated feed direct from my website.

Please be patient – am really looking forward to reconnecting with everyone fairly soon!

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Following on Facebook

August 4th, 2010

Good news first. For those of you who follow the exploits of Emma, my trusty steed, and I on Facebook, you’ll continue to see all the posts pop up. However, for now at least, I’ll not be able to add photos or, alas, reply to any of your messages or comments. Please be patient. And you can always see my images of China on my own website – just click here.

The so-called "Great Firewall of China" preventing access to Facebook? Looks like it, but whether that extends right across the country I’m not sure. But, to be fair, my day-to-day use of the internet hasn’t exactly been frustrated. On the contrary, web access is easier, more prevalent here, than in much of Central Asia. This is a connected nation.

Enough from the editor. Better to return to trying to fathom out what exactly the requirement is to register your place of residence with the Police "within twenty four hours". Just once, or every time you move on? And how that works with a tent. Over half a million British citizens visit China every year, and countless other nationalities, so you’d think a clear answer would be easy to come by….

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Back on the road

April 11th, 2010

ac globe - refreshed

Spring. It was good to be back on the road, driving hard along the old Silk Road from Trabzon into Georgia and the Caucasus. No sign of the camels, but lots of Turkish lorries so I kept my eye out for large road kill. Emma and I felt refreshed, the same, we thought, that could be said of our website www.acrosscontinents.org.

Lots of fresh, new content. More videos – with the obligatory shades and mug of tea of course, radio interviews, photos, even a map of my intended route through the Caucasus and the ’Stans. And more to come – Bishkek beckons!

If you’ve not already done so, you can sign up for for automatic blog updates, delivered straight to your e-mail account – click on blog, enter your e-mail address and press ’Subscribe’ – simple. Or join me on Facebook – link on my home page – lots of fresh content there as well. And to find out more about the UK charity, The Outward Bound Trust, I’m raising funds for, either follow the links on my own site, or just click here.

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