Working where I do is indeed a privileged thing. It’s probably no surprise to people who read this site where I work, but I still shall not mention it. Suffice to say it’s one of the top five in the world when compared to its competitors, and having just built a hugely impressive new American campus style headquarters, its now really looking like it too.
So today we’re having the first of two opening nights where employees are invited. Tonight is the all inclusive evening, and Friday the more exclusive one. Luckily I’ve been invited to both. Now, as I sit at my desk looking out at the front entrance I’m waiting for the Queen to arrive.
Yup, I said Queen. We think we’ve already seen Sir Jackie Stewart arrive, and we know that the First Minister Jack McConnell is also due, other than that we have no idea who else is coming today.
As a result we’re confined to our own sections of the building, armed with free cakes and coffee spirits people seem quite happy, and indeed there’s not so much work going on in our section as we’re all keeping a keen eye out for the visitors as they arrive…
…so just waiting for the Queen then. I have to say I wasn’t very excited about it all really, I wouldn’t say I’m a Royalist or Monarchist, but I don’t think that we should abandon the tradition we’ve had for so long. Sure people complain that we’re subjects, not people, well what the hell does that mean to them? There’s no real modern day implication, we still remain one of the most freedom rich Countries in the world, so what’s wrong with that?
I interrupt my short rant to tell you about the Gentleman dressed in black casual gear and a big utility belt wandering around the building checking walls, ground and any odd looking holes – we’ve already had the sniffer dogs round.
For every argument those against the Royals come up with there’s just as strong a one for them. They bring in tourism, they employ a huge amount of staff, Prince Charles is a huge and outspoken activist on many issues, as are many of the lesser-known Royals, and they are responsible for keeping some of the most amazing estates in Britain alive and well.
Now, the Pipers are out again and awaiting another VIP…Back to work!
Updates: 10:24 – Despite being in my team audio, just managed to go on mute to tell you that the Band are in full play, the relevant employees are all liined up outside ready for the handshaking and introductions, and Police presence has just increased. Excitement is high!
10:34 – I think that was Alistair Darling appearing…not very exciting yet!
10:53 – Here comes the helicopter!
10:55 – She’s wearing a tangerine coloured outfit, if that’s of interest to anyone! The helicopter is a nice burgundy…probably of less interest! Everyone in the offices are ignoring all work and staring out the office windows.
11:00 – The RAF Tornado’s were slightly early, but just flew over, and she’s about to enter the building once she’s stopped chatting to the wind blown employees outside!
12:05 – Well that was surprisingly enjoyable. We watched the Queen and the Duke walk around the building and then make a presentation on a podium at the far end of the building with an opening plaque. She was presented with a lovely trophy like dish which is a traditional Scottish item designed to adorn the grandest of homes in Scotland…I can’t remember the name, but I think that was a nice touch. Her speech also had a couple of amusing moments, and referenced the “cannae” Financial Scottish people.
I have to say I’m amazed at how enjoyable I felt it was and how excited I became at the prospect of seeing the Queen and the Duke, and up close as well. It really turned out to be a great experience.
Something I was also surprised about was the Duke himself who was very keen to just walk over and talk to employees at random, he was very smiley and happy and surprised everyone by doing so. He seemed a very nice person.
That’s it for the day I think. We had been told not to leave our areas, but no one seemed to care and there was a huge crowd of people. However now we’re back in and we’ll be back to work for the day…the party in the evening should be fun. More on that later.
17:27 – Some lovely shots of the replica F1 BMW-Williams cars which you can sit in and, facing a large plasma screen, race round some F1 circuits. Fantastic. Also some great shots of the Montoya ’93 race car. Just waiting for the drinks to start flowing and an actual F1 car to be shooting around the building a few times. Photos will follow in the next few days.
Day after… Ouch. Cycling in was a bit of a struggle this morning, but I made it. The party last night was superb. Getting out early I took some more F1 related photos, but this time it was of the actual car racing around the building, and being driven by none other than Webber himself (poor Heidfeld who I believe was booked is still not well after his accident). That was amazing, the noise, the smell, and seeing it race for real right in front of you…we later found out that it managed to get up to 159mph on an amazingly small straight with traffic islands in the middle of the road – stunning driving.
The party inside the building was pretty cool, a band playing one end, a steel drum band at the other, and one of those big percussion bands. Dotted about were street entertainers galore, drink everywhere, nibbles being handed around (and not just fancy stuff either, home made steak pies! Yum!), and if you didn’t fancy nibbles the restaurant was open with loads of different party type food going on.
So it was fab all round, and I made the best decision of waiting until the very end of the night to have a go on the F1 simulator. I actually think I did really well too…although I didn’t get a signed contract by the end of it! Tell you what though, it’s amazing how small the insides are, I was maxing out the leg room and my elbows were digging into my sides, Webber must find it really tough.
Some photos to follow, and for those of you who are after copies I’ll be taking bulk orders!