I’ve been drafted in (er, volunteered) to help out on the communications front with Rail North. I’m still not entirely sure what either of us expects from the other, and I’m sure they haven’t realised that I don’t do what the last guy did on lobbying and public affairs.

At Westminster.
At Westminster.

But a couple of information sessions had been set up at Westminster for today, which meant I got to the Houses of Parliament for the first time. Ever.

It’s strange once you passed through security. I had no idea where I was going, ended up in Westminster Hall by following other people and had to ask for directions to the Central Lobby, where I met the person I was meeting. The Central Lobby is the bit you see on television when they interview politicians after PMQs and similar. And although PMQs were on today I didn’t manage to get myself in the background of any interviews – I was having lunch after helping move our displays from the Committee Room were in to the next one. Committee rooms are so busy that you don’t get more than five minutes before or after your session, normally – woe betide anyone who overruns!

Our second – lightly-attended – session followed PMQs, in one of the rooms off Westminster Hall. Then it was all over, bar the obligatory photo!

If I could have a pound for every moment I spent wondering
About the the little things in life that frankly there’s no hurrying;
Then I would be a rich girl, and I want to be a rich girl – soon.
But I think at this rate, that it’s gonna ‘least take ’till there’s life on the Moon —

Oh, where does the time go?

Yes, the only web site to quote Julia Fordham lyrics (outside of Julia Fordham’s own, I guess), which is my way of saying that since I became Chair CIPR Yorks & Lincs life has not stood still long enough to do a decent blog post or three.

And I’m off on holiday to Brussels tomorrow for a long weekend of mostly relaxing (I hope), so you’re not going to get one now, either!

Yes, I do get to go out once in a while.

Sophie (l), Sammie (r) and me in the middle, letting it all hang out.
Sophie (l), Sammie (r) and me in the middle, letting it all hang out.

Saturday 9 March saw the press launch party of SW1 Management, a fab ‘n’ groovy new model & events management company, co-Directored by Sophie Walton (ex-Leeds United Ladies, now with Lincoln Ladies).

It’s a shame that the person taking the photo for me couldn’t manage to maintain focus for a few seconds… I like to think I have that effect on women, but truth be told it was a bit dark in Paipa VIP by that time!

Anyway, it was a fun – and brief – time creating the site for them. Still one or two issues to sort out, but they are/were great people to work with, who knew exactly what they wanted and weren’t afraid to change their minds the night before the launch… oh dear.

Back in, I think, November, I completed my ninth year of Continuing Professional Development. Go me! Anyhow, after nine years and with the Advanced Certificate completed back in 2004 under my belt, I was now eligible for Chartered Practitioner status – but do I apply, I wonder?

Several people said I ought to go for it, and I toyed with the idea. Then Jane Wilson tweeted:

To which I replied:

That, and knowing that I was taking over as Chair from 2013, did kind of commit me, really…

So I signed up and completed the online application form. A word of warning: give yourself a good half day to complete this! Or less, if someone thinks to post the questions beforehand, so you know what strange things (to me, anyway) you’re going to get asked. Then pay your £50 + VAT and wait…

And wait…

And ask what the status of your application is, and find out that hurrah! you’ve passed Stage One. Next stop Stage Two, 3,000 to 4,000 words “which must be an original piece of work and should demonstrate the attributes we have defined as essential to Chartered Practitioner status.”

I’ll keep you posted.

Well, there we go. Duly elected as Chair CIPR Yorkshire & Lincolnshire for the next two years (barring any disasters – like being found out as a fraud and charlatan).

We’re not a trade union, but with 560 regional members to look after, professionally, I’d like to think that my late dad – a shop steward in the seventies – would be a bit proud.

As Deputy Group Chair – and thus Chair-Elect – I’ve obviously had a few months to think about things, and I realised that what I’d like to achieve (ooh, a ‘manifesto’) forms an acronym: VIPER.

I want the CIPR regionally to be more visible. We have to educate people – especially in the boardroom – of the value of good Public Relations.

We need to be more integral, working together with similar disciples such as Marketing and becoming as vital to the delivery of projects as the bloke with the mechanical digger.

We are professionals – not just because of CPD, Accredited Practitioner and Chartered Practitioner status, but because our members know that simply having a degree in a subject doesn’t reflect the learning done through experience. We need to be more proud of that, and make it part of the ethos of being a CIPR member.

We must be more engaging with PR practitioners; but not just with our own members, as building trust in the CIPR and our abilities is good for the industry / profession as a whole. And yes, that includes with the PRCA (you can always have a shower afterwards).

Finally, we must be relevant to the industry in which we work, and provide courses, training or whatever else our members need to do their jobs effectively – whether they know they need it or not.

If we can do these things, I believe we will have a profession to be proud of. And it’s something I’m willing to be judged upon.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that you could rearrange the letters to spell ‘pervi’…

No, it’s not an ‘o-mage to Trainspotting… but it isn’t the sort of place you’d visit twice, and it is a great way to generate what would, in slack terms, be called “bad PR”.

Last Saturday, I went out with a friend for some food, then to one of our favourite pubs for a couple of somethings.

Eventually, nature called, so off I trotted the half-mile or so down to the basement and into the gents… where two of the urinals were full to overflowing, one of the sink taps was stuck, the hand-drier didn’t work and the whole place had the look of something that would have Kim & Aggie in fits.  Once you realise that the hand-drier doesn’t work, the next time you visit you won’t wash your hands…

The ladies (it was a female friend, I didn’t personally investigate them) had cubicles with either no loo seat or no locks, and the same air of uncleanliness.

Now: you might say that this would be normal for a pub on a Saturday night. I would argue that, with the current bout of winter vomiting sickness doing the rounds that Environmental Health should deploy Flying Squads of inspectors to swoop in unannounced on all our city centre premises, with the power to close down any pub whose facilities were no better than going round into the side alley.

Or am I over-reacting, as usual?