Wow it's hot...
How can it be before 6am and this hot? Isn't that illegal? In fact, isn't being up before 6am illegal?
Let's face it, I'm moaning... Moaning, complaining, whinging, carping, nit-picking, fault-finding, grousing, showing dissatisfaction and going on a bit... But it's not my fault... I'm only doing it because it's hot. And because it's before 6am.
Why is it so hot? It's hot because 2013 has decided to grace us with the first warm summer weather since 1882... The year the river Severn boiled and the people of Worcester famously threw bags of tea leaves, barrels of milk and shovels of sugar from the bridge so that downstream the good people of Tewkesbury could enjoy a nice cuppa.
Why am I up before 6am? One of the best things about having been part of the team that developed Clearview Customer Engagement is that I get wonderful opportunities to do things that are out of the ordinary for someone that works in Involvement. I not only get to enjoy frequent visits to my home turf from the staff and customers of housing providers wanting to see the system in action, but I also occasionally get the chance to leave the safety of Worcester's city walls to witness that outside world I keep hearing about on TV.
Already this year I've enjoyed speaking about Customer Engagement at Housing Technology 2013 (the last place on Earth you'd expect the computer system to fail you...) while last year I got a great opportunity to present in front of the Midlands Network of Resident Involvement (MNRI) on three different occasions (hopefully they've got the message by now...).
It is for just such a reason that I am up this morning, boarding the early train to Paddington where I will make the connection to Croydon. Here I am to speak in front of the London Tenant Scrutiny Network. Now I don't know if I've mentioned this... but it's hot. Not only is it hot outside, but it's also incredibly hot inside the train. From the train I hop onto the Tube which is so unbelievably hot that I discover it is possible for fingers to sweat. Finally I make it into the open air which is so unbearably hot that, after a quick dash across town to Braithwaite Hall, means I stink like hot dog.
The first thing that strikes you about Braithwaite Hall is its striking similarity to Hogwart's School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. At any given point you expect owls to fly in delivering letters or for a great lunch spread to appear miraculously in front of you. The second thing that strikes you is that at no point did JK Rowling write: "...and as well as the moving staircases and ghosts, Hogwarts was also fitted with an exemplary air conditioning system". Ok, ok, I know I'm moaning again... But I believe it is my right - nay duty - as an Englishman to do so... Damn it was toasty...
Despite everyone present being hot and bothered, the presentation was great fun. The audience were still well up for a bit of interaction, shouting out questions and generally getting into the spirit of this great networking occasion. What always surprises me at these events is that customers rarely want to know about how the system can benefit them (e.g. about how we use the system to run WCH's incentivisation programme) but are instead interested to discover its organisational benefits. The London Tenant Scrutiny Network were no different and wanted to know if it really does work in terms of increasing their number of involved customers. The answer I always give is a resounding "Yes". After all, at WCH this has made time savings equivalent to half a full-time post. This is time we have pumped straight back into involvement activities, getting out onto the estates to engage with more customers than ever before.
Yet how can I prove this to the Croydon audience?
It is at this point I make my most musty mistake...
Ignoring all my better judgement, I remove my shoe. On any other day, showing off your battered-street-worn-door-knocking-shoes might be a good way to prove a point... However, as my hot, steaming, sweaty shoe beams under my nose and my gag reflexes kicks in, I can't help but think I could have come up with a better example.
Three members of the audience received hospital treatment. My apologies and thoughts are with you and your families.