Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My dearest friend, Ed Harwood.

February is a bad month for me. Since my buddy Ed Harwood was killed on his motorcycle a few years ago, and the fact that we shared our birthday to the minute (him being the oldest :-) it sends me a bit nuts because he's not around.

In a bit of a less sober moment, I tried to post something that I'd found out of the blue. An old cassette, when it was my birthday a week or so back. And then I spent so much time trying to delete it!

Anyway, I'll post it now.

Back in the day, when radio ran on steam, I asked Ed if he'd pretend to be a listener to one of my radio programmes so that I could get an (as live) promo (in-house advert) for my Sunday program recorded (as I'd forgotten to make it).

We started just after we came back from the pub (it was an afterthought) and thought it would take about 15 minutes... And we used cartridges for jingles and vinyl for music... Imagine!

The following day, the commercial producer found the remnant of our little drunken effort and made this tape (warning! This contains very, very strong language. Even if you are a friend, please don't listen if you're offended by bad language. Please, please.This is why I had to think twice about posting it. I am Irish, y'know! And before you ask... It's 1982)

Frank from Blaydon!
A new model SEM firm...

Today, I sold my share of McKenna-Direct back to my great buddy, Paul McKenna. It's been a funny old time with us both being so busy that the online business was just a background thing. However, I'm paid handsomely, McKenna-Direct has a huge affiliate program now (try it, now that the downloads are going to be there for international orders).

And why I did I sell... ? Was I hypnotized? No, now that I've started a new company, with a huge international client in there, I just don't have the time to do "private stuff" anymore.

I love Paul, he and I have been great friends for over 25 years now. Nothing changes there. But I need the working capital to cover the four new hires (amongst everything else) that I have to take on.

All of a sudden, life seems a little less dull than just going from airport-to-airport without knowing the final outcome!!!

I swore I'd never start a new company... But, y'know what? It's pretty exciting!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Buonjourno Roma...

It was my birthday at the weekend. There's a kind of tradition that my wife has started, it's a surprise trip as a birthday present. Basically, I meet her at the airport and have no idea where I'm going until we go to board the plane.

For the past few years it's been a very Italian theme. A couple of years ago, we decided that we should have a big party, for a change. And so, she whisked me off to wonderful Venice for the carnival, which is just about the biggest party in Europe at this time of the year.

I took a couple of really nice shots, which I've never posted because I didn't have a blog to post to back then. I love this one of Grand Canal taken from the famous Rialto Bridge.

But my real favourite is the one below which just seemed to capture the whole essence of Venice.

Last year, it was buonjourno Milano, for a pair of shoes. But actually turned into a haircut and a weekend on beautiful Lake Como. Interesting that, my son Michael discovered that my blog ranks at number two at Google for the word buonjourno. I can't think of any use for that at all. In fact, I'm sure some Italian blogger should have that one!

This year, I've been blacking out and keeling over now and again, so I've been having a series of blood tests. And while the doctors mess around with my blood, my thoughtful wife (knowing that I'm of the Roman Catholic variety) decided a blessing at the Vatican is what I need, not more blood tests!

And so it was we arrived in beautiful Rome and headed straight for the Vatican. Last Saturday it was pouring from the heavens. So it was a very wet Basilica that Tatiana and I stood in line for more than an hour.

It was as if Tatiana and I had joined a huge European umbrella fest.

Inside, the Basilica is breathtaking. And sure enough, I was able to join a small mass taking place in one of the chapels. And it was here, that I received my blessing. Of course, I didn't take communion, I didn't want to be responsible for the roof of St Peter's falling in after all the years it's survived. By the time mass was finished (my wife is an atheist, so she couldn't participate) the Sistene Chapel had closed. Tatiana was a little disappointed, but said it was more important that I had received my blessing in one of the most important catholic churches in Rome.

Our favourite Italian restaurant in Newcastle is called Sabatini. The original though, is in the Trastevere area of Rome. And it's superb. So, my wife, thoughtful as ever, had booked us a table for lunch.

The food s just wonderful. Try the seafood risotto, it's simply delicious.

The Roman skyline is quite different to that of Manhattan, or Shanghai, or... Gateshead...

A visit to the Coliseum is a must for all tourists in Rome. It's quite a special thing for me, because the Coliseum, most people are not aware, was given its nickname (as it is) by an Englishman. An Englishman from my very own city of Newcastle, no less. The venerable Bede is a local saint who was responsible for coining the term Coliseum. Which he used as there was once a huge statue of Colossus at the gates.

Here's Maximus Grehanus inside the ancient building.

It really does send you hurtling back in time just imagining the gory games that took place all those years ago. I took a nice shot of the Coliseum with the underground tunnels used by the Gladiators clearly visible.

Tatiana seemed to be living by the old adage "when in Rome, do as many Romans as you can." So she picked up one of the locals on the way out of the Coliseum.

Of course, just up the hill from the coliseum, you can visit the ruins of the forum. Many people think Brett Tabke has one of the oldest forums on the planet, but even he would admit that the Romans beat him by a tad.

T was certainly on a mission on Sunday afternoon. She has always wanted to vsit Trevi Fountain, since she fell in love with it when she saw it in Fellini's classic movie, Roman Holiday. And I have to say, the location of the fountain is nothing like it's been depicted in that movie and others, but it certainly is breathtaking.

And so, she made it. A pic of herself at a destination she has longed to visit for many years.

After a short walk to take in a few more famous Roman attractions, we made our way to Via Della Maddalena, where the major attraction is... Pizza! (and beer, of course :-)


And cheers to you, T. Once again, you gave me a wonderful, wonderful birthday present. Thank you x x x


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Congratulations to Rand and Geraldine!

The secret's out. JP, the guy Joe Morin has been promoting for a super wedding proposal, is actually Rand Fishkin.

It didn't quite make the Superbowl, but in the middle of Veronica Mars (a US TV show) up popped Rand with his wedding commercial proposal. And what a great job he did! (boy could have a future in TV)

He was calm, composed and yet still damn near managed to give Geraldine a heart attack!

Nip over to Joe's place and take a look at the commercial there. And I think Geraldine's response is there also.

And best of luck to Rand and the future Mrs Fishkin. I don't know what Rand has planned for the wedding, but can I suggest, Geraldine, that you have a paramedic on hand just in case :-)


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eight years on...

So, it's eight years since my wife and I were married on the seafront at Larnica, Cyprus. How we haven't killed each other by now, I'll never know.

We just couldn't be more different!

However, I love her dearly, she may be difficult at times, but anybody who can put up with me for eight years deserves a medal or some kind of humanitarian recognition.

I decided that, even though eight years is no special deal at all for a wedding anniversary, at least she should be rewarded for me leaving her on her own for more than 20 weeks last year. Not that she complained that much. But that's probably because she had to spend so much time with the landscape gardener out in the back. Must be the case, because the phone was so rarely answered when I rang home...

So, I came up with a wonderful idea. I'd take her to London with me as I had to attend a special round table event with my buddy Jim Sterne. And then as a special treat, take her to a west end show. But not just any show... Oh no.

The round table event was last Thursday (the day of our anniversary) but we agreed that we'd have the official anniversary celebration on the Friday. She was happy with that, but was wracking her brains trying to imagine where I was taking her.

Anyway, as a quick aside, she and I traditionally go to a Greek restaurant for our anniversary (being married in Cyprus, and all) but they've closed our favourite place down (not the we helped keep it open only going there once a year!).

So, this year I had to come up with something new. Well... I know a little Russian place in London which is just so, so cool. And we'd never been together. Believe me this is the real deal (my wife would spot a fake restaurant a mile away). So, I booked us a table and we drank *real* Russian vodka and ate *real* Russian food. The vodka helped me to build up to the next surprise I had for Tatjana.

I explained to her that with it being our anniversary and knowing what was expected of me, I had responded to an email I received. I told her that the email promised that the product could add a full, three extra inches to my manhood. That'll excite her, I thought...

Somehow, can't think why, the thought of a four inch penis still seemed to be very amusing to her...

As a build up to our big Friday night out, I took Tatjana to The British Museum, as a culture-vulture she loves looking at old things (could be the reason she married me, actually!).

We were looking at the bust below and she looked at me and said: Michael, who is that? But I swear... she said it like it was maybe some guy I used to hang out with!

The British Museum is a wonderful place conjuring visions form the very distant past...

In the so contrasting environment of its new, 2000 updated image...

So, what about the west end show? Well, you guys in the States won't know anything about this, as you were never inflicted by the most fatuous Euro-Disco band of all time, known as Boney M. However, in Europe/UK they were big. But In Russia... They were enormous. Totally huge!

And in London, they're doing a Abba, Mama Mia type show featuring the hits of Boney M. And it's named after their first hit: Daddy Cool.

So, purely for my wife whom I love so much, I prepared myself for a night of trite music pap, the type of which makes me head for the toilet bowl.

It was... FANTASTIC! One of the most feel good shows I've seen in the west end for years. Seriously, even though the lyrics are about as meaningful as the cat sat on the mat and some of the tunes are pure kindergarten, it is a great show. Absolute escapism. Try it!

And then... I decided to treat myself and take my wife to one of my favourite eateries in London, the Brasserie in the very posh Covent Garden Hotel. Now wait for this... Having spent two hours listening to Boney M... I went to the bar at the brasserie and bumped into former Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McClaren whom I'd not seen for many a long year.

All in all... a great anniversary weekend. Thanks T - you're very special. And here's my favourite picture that I took of you in 2006 - it was your birthday, and what a session that was :-) XXX