Down the Procurement Pub with Pete Loughlin, David Shields, Swim Deep and Lincoln hotels

Talking of pubs... Brakspears is not what is was when it was one of the last ancient family breweries, situated in Henley on Thames, but it’s still not a bad pint. (And did you know that Nicholas Breakspear, who became Pope Adrian IV in 1154 — the only Englishman to become Pope - was related to the brewing family?)

Anyway, I had a Brakspears at the leaving drinks hosted by David Shields, exiting Managing Director of Government Procurement Service, this week in London. He got an interesting mix of people, folk who work for him and have worked for him, a sprinkling of suppliers, some senior folk from other departments, but only one other senior Cabinet Office person I could see  – and that wasn’t his boss, Bill Crothers.

 Sparkling wine was provided for everyone, paid for I assume by Mr Shields, which seemed a bit extravagant, until someone pointed out it probably worked out less per serving than buying beers for the guests. No sausage roils or curled up sarnies though.. you can always spot a good procurement man!  We understand Shields isn’t going straight into another big job, but I suspect we will see him working on a number of things in the short term. And even after a couple of drinks, he still wasn’t saying anything (to me anyway) about his departure!

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Pete Loughlin has a good piece on his Purchasing Insight site about the United Kingdom National e-invoicing Forum, which held a meeting last week. The group is trying to move UK government towards e-invoicing, and Loughlin has a good analysis of progress – or lack of.  But he maybe misses a key point – how can the government mandate or even fully promote e-invoicing when their own Whitehall shared service centres are stuck in the pre-industrial age? The biggest centre can only handle paper invoices received through the post. So until the centres get privatised / outsourced and the new partners get fully on board and conduct a major updating, then I predict nothing dramatic is going to happen in this space as it would only highlight the backward nature of the government’s own processes.

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Just found it very easy to book a hotel room at very short notice in Lincoln. The UK economy feels like it is recovering in London with top end property prices going mad and parties of tourists everywhere,  but get more than 50 miles out.. I’m not so sure. It was also interesting at our brilliant local Indian restaurant last week – Manzils in Camberley – to see that we were almost the youngest people in a busy room.  That says something maybe about who has the spare cash these days – it’s not my daughter’s generation for sure.

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Delighted to see the weather for Glastonbury set fair for the weekend. We’re Reading Festival people, so still two months to wait. But I’m starting to scour the line-up for the less well known bands on the bill that sound interesting  – to me, that’s the beauty of the event, finding a little known act that we’ll be boasting of seeing three years later when they’re huge. Being right at the front seeing Florence and the Machine at 3pm in the smallest tent with about 200 other people in 2008 for instance. One band that look promising this year, and are playing both Glasto and Reading/Leeds, are Swim Deep from Birmingham – this track, Honey, sounds good, and is nicely chilled for a sunny summer weekend! Have a good one...

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