Oxford life. Thirtysomething challenges. Music leanings. Anything really.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lunch with Richard

Yesterday was nice. I had lunch at Richard's place. It's a pleasant enough place north of Kidlington. You may have heard of him. He's not one of those "famous" bike riders I rabbit on about, people who are famous only within a tiny subculture.

Oh no, this was Richard Branson.

How on other did yours truly manage that?

It was the Fast Track awards day, and what a day it was. I felt like a real charlatan as I mixed with Seb Coe, Sir Richard Noble, Richard Branson and scores of multi-millionaires. How did I get to be here, and was it a sense of awe, amazement, or just bewilderment that was the prime emotion?

There was plenty of ego on display amongst the 400 delegates, people arriving in helicopters, someone bidding £120 000 in a charity auction for a big holiday in South Africa. Yes, you did read that right. The trip was also a week with Richard Branson, and a stake in a new business he is setting up down there. But, um, if I was bidding in a charity auction after a long and boozy dinner, well, maybe I'd stump up £100 if the cause was really really good. £120 000!

But was it really ego, or is one's interpretation of something as arrogant just an indication of one's own jealousy? I've never been one to have ambitions to be super-rich, but you can't help feeling a little bit envious. And fair enough, most of these people have worked bloody hard, from small starts, to get to where they are, so a little bit of preening is fair enough.

There were lots of great things about the day. Firstly, the speakers were all inspiring. Exactly the kind of thing I want from my Fasttrack job - inspiration and ideas; maybe I'll have that brainwave one day and get earning my millions.

The event was sponsored by Virign, amongst others, and they did a big presentation about their Virgin Galactic space tourism venture. Now, I've been pretty sceptical about this, because it seems like a vast amount of effort for obscene amounts of money. But, having seen the technology, and the excitement of the project team, and watched footage of the amazing craft that will head out to space, I am converted. Clearly, it's not going to be me on one of those flights, but, well, it does look bloody good.

Have a look at the Virgin and the Scaled Composites sites; I'm amazed at the acheivement of the engineers who got that craft into space.

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