The Joy of Sets! A notelet on a busy time.

Table of Contents

A note from sunny Italy, to catch up where we are work wise amongst the chaos and wish you all the best for a busy new year. Obviously because of NDA’s I can’t give any juicy details but a big thank you to everyone who has trusted us to be part of their teams this year on projects far and wide.

So in mid June I had a call to join as Production manager the merry band at Brands at Work to come on board with some projects in the Autumn in the UK. Fantastic news after 18 months of relatively little work to have 2 months solid to get my teeth into.

I left warm and sunny Italy to head up through France to hit the ground running in the UK on the 1st of September. Wet and cold aside, it was nice to be back on the road. I was back to old habits of loading the car in order of need, with an overnight bag on the top of everything, and of course the easy to reach but bad for you snacks in place on the passenger seat. Sporting my new bin arrangement for recycling in the car, (two small bin bags in reach of the drivers’ seat) I headed north to see a long time supplier of mine Staging Services in Walsall to start the first of three projects.

Next day, back down to London for a site visit in Wembley, for a job I can’t tell you about, then three nights in London at the Metropole for another job I can’t tell you about, then up to friends in Malvern for three weeks while I worked on two jobs remotely.

Three weeks locked to the Zoom call and Teams apps followed, trying to keep up with the new technology, learning new meeting slang, new shortcuts, and also new levels of tiredness after 18 months of a pedestrian lifestyle. Most people I have spoken to struggled with the long days after such a long time away and getting the grey matter back into action and I was no exception. It was interesting how the muscle memory soon clicked in though with long days and multi-tasking.

I am also currently doing an HND in Construction Contracting and Operations management, so I was squeezing in course work and sorting my test for the CSCS card. The Management level CSCS card test was surprisingly relentless, my first attempt I got 94 percent and that’s a fail! I was gutted but took too much for granted and some of the detail on some of the more obscure elements of site management needed some revision. Second test two was a 100 percent pass and then I applied for the wrong card which runs out in a few months, easily resolved I’m sure as the test last two years. During Lockdown 1-3 there were a lot of jobs while the events industry was closed looking for time served site managers and as I always wanted to be a location manager on film it seemed a good skill level to achieve as I go forward.

Back To It

Back to Zoom Land and I’m ready to hit the road after three weeks of email overload. Down to London for 8 days as PM for a corporate gig including full corporate tech and set install and a very detailed exhibition load in. It’s amazing how venues built in the last twenty years still don’t have sufficient Lifts, storage space, or any thought as to how venues will actually work if they intend to sell it as an event space.

After 8 days in London’s North West I head South West for a wake of our friend and colleague Anthony Carroll who we saw off in a suitably Irish wake way!

A day off feeling exceedingly non-human post wake, as I headed South East to Dock X. A quick look around Dock X, then back up to Malvern for a few days then back to Walsall for a few days, then down to Dock X for 10 days.

Dock X was a great project for me to learn new high-tech approaches to broadcasting and a massive logistics project also. As well as being PM in Dock X, I had also coordinated the main design and build elements for this and three other venues for the same project. A great team and a great company to work with and although tiring, I realised how alive it made me feel being in a room with a load of stuff to sort out, loads of kit and suppliers, issues to resolve, new people to meet and also have time to catch up with the old guard and keep them all happy!

Great fun and very rewarding.

A quick break

Direct from Dock X, I picked my wife up from the airport and headed north. An overnight stay and a trek up to the Isle of Skye landed us in the mists and rains of West Scotland for a break! 7 days and 1000 miles later we are sitting in York having dinner with Tim Leigh of Stage One fame and putting the world to rights.

Moving South and heading back to Italy, we pick up two other projects in Milan to work as a local agent supplying kit, people and comfort for projects in December. One of these goes by the wayside quickly but using my contacts in Italy we manage to get started on the one existing project for the client whilst I drive south. These sorts of projects come through referrals from long time colleagues and friends such as Phil Swallow and Kate Smith and new colleagues and friends such as Celia Waite. To all of whom we are eternally grateful.

We source and find suppliers for all event needs here in Italy and over the few years I have been here, it’s been lovely to meet new people who are just as passionate and detailed as I have been used to in the UK.

Home safely on the 1st November We pick up another project, which I can’t tell you about, installing a touring exhibition stand for a client in Lyon and Bologna which we squeeze in around site visits in Milan for our December project, which I also can’t tell you about, of course.

Milan can be easy to work in but factor in, a 5 day official/semi-official holiday in the first week of December and the recent manic market which has found suppliers scarce all over the world, and it can have its challenges. I have done enough here now to be able to warn clients of the unexpected bills for H and S for instance and what to expect when asking questions of suppliers when the first answer is generally no! The paperwork and general chaos can be contained and managed and we are happy to do it for clients who come.

After 10 days in Milan we are home to the mountains, blue skies and a different pace. Or so we thought.

We have been working pre production on a project for Milan next year which we have been researching and visiting venues for the past 6 months in amongst the rest of the work, meeting various deadlines when they appear. Those deadlines come thick and fast, so we have been hard at work on the detail for this as we start the festive season.

It Is so different from last year when I would have taken a job as an Elf in Santas grotto, if they had been open, and seen it as a positive career move.

As we move into the New Year we are working on projects in Abu Dhabi for May and Milan in June neither of which I can tell you about, with some smaller bits to fit in touring around Italy and France before so finally we have a calendar looking like BC 2019.

So, you have to take my word for it that I have been working, I could show you receipts, although quite why I would stay in the Travelodge in Wembley for 10 days for anything other than work I don’t know.

So, from a sunny, but wintry Italy (the view from our Kitchen above) I hope the people still in our industry who want to be busy, are busy, and those who don’t want to be, have found something in their lives that fills them with joy and pleasure.

I am very grateful to everyone I meet and have the pleasure of spending time with in our small and intimate world of events and I wish you all a great season of togetherness and joy despite the chaos that surround us.


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