Who slept here?

September 27, 2008

I arrived home early afternoon today to unpack and prepare to fly out tomorrow midday to Derry for a couple of days. The flight is on Ryan Air from Bristol (fight for a seat) which will be a bit of a contrast with my upgraded flight from LAX to LHR last night! I was last in Derry as an idealistic 14 year old on a civil rights march back in 1968 so its going to be a real education to see how much it has changed. My hotel also claims that Bill Clinton slept here along with several other stars of stage and screen. The hotel web site reminded me of a passage in one of the classics of English comedy, Three Men in a Boat. I quote: Ceasar, of course, had a little place at Walton- a camp, or entrenchment , or something of that sort. Caesar was a regular up-river man. Also Queen Elizabeth, she was there, too. You can never get away from that woman, go where you will. Cromwell and Bradshaw (not the guide man, but the King Charles’s head man) likewise sojourned here. They must have been quite a pleasant little party, altogether.

I get a day free thanks to flight times so, subject to the 10kg limit, I will take the camera and play tourist. The reason for the visit is to define a possible project for one of the great intractable problems in social services. Its not certain at this stage so I am constrained in what I can say. But I am much encouraged at the increasing willingness of governments in the UK and US (at a national and local government level) to start considering new, complex solutions to intractable issues. Its been a sea change over the last couple of years. Probably a mix of process and traditional systems approaches failing to deliver coupled with a growing body of cases and material on complexity approaches. It’s been a long time coming, but we are getting there. The great reward for all the work of the various groups I have been involved in for the last couple of decades would be if we could make a difference to the ability of society to look after its citizens.

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