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a blog by Chris Barrow


Sometimes we just experience a run of mediocrity in our lives – and the last 12 hours in Glasgow have been that run (which I hope this catharsis will end). Cheers for David, Dawn and the team at Spring Grove Dental for an outstanding day at The Dakota yesterday – a full team meeting with many members of staff contributing presentations on their areas of responsibility. So much so that my designated half-day “Chris Barrow show” turned into a 90-minute web marketing review at the end of the day. The team at Spring Grove “own” their jobs – and that’s a testament to David for “getting out of the way” and Dawn for her superb leadership skills. Cheers also for Robert, Arabella and the team at the BDA West of Scotland branch, who made me very welcome at their AGM last night (in the hallowed halls of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons). I have to say that there were times in the evening where I felt as if I were doing a sales-pitch on the wheel to a gathering of Druids at Stonehenge (“what’s wrong with rolling stones on logs?”) but even the most die-hard, over-55 NHS principals were gracious in their welcome and their attention as I over-viewed UK market conditions. It seems a shame that they are struggling to attract younger members and also struggling to pay their bills due to budgetary restraints. I hope that Peter Ward (who was in attendance) took that message back to Wimpole Street with him. The profession needs the BDA to survive and prosper and not to stagnate as other trade associations thrive. Those very same budgetary constraints (theirs, not mine) found me checking in at The Holiday Inn Express on West Nile Street last night – and wandering (lonely as a cloud) next door to the equally depressing Di Maggios for a late bowl of minestrone at 9.30pm. My room cost £79.00, a rip off – although I have to admit surprise at just how comfy the bed was and how good a night’s sleep I enjoyed (although I’m so knackered that they could have driven a hoover through last night and I would have stayed in a coma). The rest of the establishment was designed to make any resident feel that this was a rehearsal for their last 5 years in a care home operated by Somali pirates. On checking in last night, the chirpy girl at reception asked me (as she swiped my credit card) “would you like to charge any extras to your room, such as a bar bill or movies?” She managed to say it, and look at me “knowingly” in a way that made me feel as if I was browsing Rubber Weekly in a Soho porn shop. I blushed and said “no thanks” with the same shame that I’d feel if I had been caught trying to steal the free blow-up doll out of the magazine. I then asked if there was an iron available in the room. Not a chance – they were all “out” – handed to an army of reps busy pressing their shirts for tomorrow. Promised my turn when one was returned, I asked again at 10.00pm last night, 6.00 and 7.00 this morning – no chance. I’m wearing a shirt today that looks like I’ve just got back from an all-nighter in Ibitha. This morning’s receptionist was a young lad of Eastern European origins who sported some outstanding characteristics:

  1. the default answer to every question – “sorry, no”

  2. a gigantic yellow-headed spot in the middle of his cheek

  3. a shaved head

  4. a propensity for attaching small metal trinkets to as many parts of his exposed body as possible

It looked like somebody had thrown a fried egg into the front door of a staple factory. I went out for a jog this morning, returned and got the hell out of there, booted and suited, to get some breakfast anywhere else that I could. If you think your life is crap – spend a weekend at The Holiday Inn Express – you’ll either finish yourself off in your room or realise that life where you are isn’t that bad. They should change the name of the chain to Dignitas. So off I walk down West Nile Street to the corner of Sauchiehall Street – and I have to make a choice:

  1. Starbucks or

  2. Pret a Manger?

Opposite corners. You know how much I love Pret – so they are a clear winner? I walk in the door of Pret to see a line of tired, glum, sad faces behind the counter. That’s a first – it never happens. It just did – I’m so upset I could cry. What’s going on? Glasgow is one of my favourite cities and I’m meeting slap faces? I walk across to Starbucks and a happy, smiling face greets me and we have a bit of a chat and laugh whilst I order my cheese and Marmite panini (bliss) and double-shot cappuccino. I hope somebody from Pret is reading this – get into that store and tell them all that if they don’t sharpen their act you’ll…. you’lll…. you’ll send them all on a training course at The Holiday Inn Express. I want happy smiling faces – not just coffee. Here goes for a management team training day with the Scottish Region of IDH – I’m looking forward to kicking my ‘stuff’ off with them.

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