Friday, November 27, 2009

On The Personality Trail

Low, high, low, medium, medium.

What am I talking about? No, not gas oven levels for cooking but personality. Specifically, my personality (no sniggering, please, or snide comments about a personality by-pass, thank you.)

Yes, you might be interested to learn that I’ve been a digital lab rat and completed the BBC’s Big Personality Test

This looks at our “Big Five” traits of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Scientists refer to these as “your unique personality fingerprint.”

It was all quite painless really - an online survey with loads and loads of questions to answer as honestly and openly as possible. If you want to duck some of them you can – I went the whole hog although the education questions do not reflect the Scottish system I passed through.

Others could be considered a bit too intrusive, too, but people can decide whether or not to respond to those.

The test, the testers suggest, is designed to answer the question: do our personalities shape our lives, or do our lives shape our personalities?

My results revealed the following:

Openness - low, 3 out of 5. (Thought I would score higher.)

Conscientiousness - high, 4.2 out of 5. (I am certainly that.)

Extroversion - low, 2.8 out of 5. (Yep, sounds about right.)

Agreeableness - medium, 3.4 out of 5. (Again, thought I’d rate higher.)

Neuroticism – medium, 3 out of 5. (Should I be worried?)

I also scored 6.2 out of 7 on life satisfaction; 4.4 out of 5 on relationships; 5 out of 5 on job satisfaction; 82.5 out of 100 on health: just why the “out of” figures change is beyond me.

I’ll not delve any further into details but if you fancy taking the test, you might find it as intriguing as I did. Some feedback was spot-on and I agreed with, some I doubted such as the “openness” trait result, which irritated/surprised me somewhat.

But I guess we all have views on ourselves, how we are with others, how we want others to see us, how we work, rest and play. Don’t we?

It’s been far from a life-changing moment for me - I don’t think that’s the purpose – but nevertheless a worthwhile exercise, a bit of fun one could say.

It would be interesting to hear what others think once they’ve completed the test.

* The results of the Big Personality Test will be presented in a special series of BBC One’s Child of Our Time, which will go out in Spring/Summer 2010.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Swine flu immunisation programmes are a headline hogger at the moment.

But it’s the news bulletins on this issue I’d like to comment on. Please be assured this is not a flippant blog on a serious health matter.

Essentially, the information being provided is balanced and helpful - but why do TV news programme have to show close-up images of patients being injected?

For needle phobics - or wimps, if you prefer like me - it’s just too graphic. It’s why any TV medical dramas or fly-on-the-wall documentaries are a no-watch area for me. Now it’s perfectly understandable why Casualty and ER-type TV soaps or medical-themed films include people being jabbed. That’s fine, because I can elect not to watch.

But TV news catches me on the hop when there are items about drug deaths, flu jags and now swine flu. Of course, words and images need to be matched up on telly, but we know what sticking a needle in someone’s arm is like, don’t we?

If someone choked to death on a peanut, would we have to be shown a peanut? Come to think of it, one tabloid newspaper did such a thing on one occasion.

Newsreaders, when introducing some items, frequently say: “The following report contains some flash photography.” So maybe, for the benefit of faint hearts like me, there could also be a warning, when necessary: “The following report has graphic scenes of people being injected with a hypodermic syringe.”

I have a deep-seated fear of needles and I just have to live with it. It presents problems such as preventing me from being a blood donor, though curiously I used to be one in my late teens and early 20s.

It’s doubtful that news presentation of vaccinations etc will change so my eyes will have to stay shut - or I’ll just look away quickly.

Friday, November 13, 2009


TIME is a four-letter word.

There’s not enough of it in the day, we observe often, unless you’re a Dr Who-like Time Lord.

But I noticed a recent and interesting survey - - saying that the average Scot would like an extra 104 minutes a day to find time for family, friends and fitness.

One Hundred and Four Minutes - that’s longer than a football match, about three CDs worth, a normal telephone call between my wife and her sister, or five episodes of The Simpsons, roughly.

In Glasgow, according to the survey, we would like an extra 95 minutes every day while our good neighbours along the M8 in Edinburgh would welcome an additional 113.

Because of increasing work and business commitments, free time is crucial so what do you think you would do with that “extra” time each day if you had it?

Sleep would be the quick answer in our household given our darling, three-year-old son, Adam’s unpredictability when it comes to going to bed and sleeping through. If that were resolved, the mythical “extra” time would be great for my wife, Maggie and I to unwind, watch a DVD film (I think I remember them) or laze around and chat.

At weekends, the “extra” time could be spent with Adam as he explores his world, creating games and lots of happiness, as well as fitting in visits to or from friends.

Selfishly, I would try to listen to more music, live or recorded - at the moment there are four unopened CDs on my desk, one has been there for over a month. Reading more would be great, too. Mastering social media more quickly and confidently would also be high on my agenda.

The survey is a clever way for Indesit to plug its “time-saving” products with an actor from Coronation Street at the helm and, as a PR chap, I applaud the company and its brains behind this project.

Finally, I don’t like to think I’m wasting precious minutes writing on this topic. So, if anyone reading this has the spare time - I know, what’s that? - I’d be interested to learn how others might use any “extra” time in their day-to-day lives.

Friday, November 06, 2009


THREE additions to my record collection this year are in the running for the Uncut music magazine’s Album of the Year 2009 award. These are:

The Low Anthem – Oh My God Charlie Darwin
Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
Bob Dylan – Together Through Life.

I enjoyed the first of this trio the most and am looking forward to their Celtic Connections’ gig in Glasgow in January. So I hope they win the title as I feel the album is an intriguing mix of styles – from a Tom Waits’ cover, torched tonsils and all, to the Arcade Fire to any delicate, lo-fi, close harmony trio you can think of. Not sure who will win.

Predicting a winner is difficult especially when I’ve not heard all the albums fully. For the judges, too, it’s a real challenge. Being on such a judging panel would be a dream gig for me.

One thing for certain, the final decision definitely won’t please everyone. Disagreement is part of the fun of such lists and contests.

Singer/songwriter, Ricky Ross cheekily wrote on a recent blog: “It is only the sad, old or young male that does lists…..” Obviously, I don’t share his view but, graciously, he permitted me, as a fellow Dundee United Arab, to reply: “As for lists – I am a sucker, always have been. They are fun, provocative in a non-combat way.”

Don’t know when the Uncut results are coming out but I’ll wait until they are revealed – and then I’ll do my own “best of” list for 2009, to amuse myself if no-one else.

On the other hand, any feedback - plus your own “best ofs” - would be welcome and most interesting in due course.

The other five contenders for Uncut’s award are:

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night

Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions has more.

Monday, November 02, 2009

No Reply

I have been quite taken aback recently about the attitude of some businesses to the prospect of potential new work. It astonishes me how sloppy some are when new opportunities arise.

I have been looking to discuss the staging of a charity event on behalf of one of my clients with companies offering that expertise. Responding to messages in email and voicemail format, clearly, doesn't seem to be a priority for a few companies.

Several have yet to respond to my inquiries, lodged two weeks ago. If they are too busy, I’m pleased for them, but I’m busy, too, and I’ve been making return calls to prospective new clients. I’m delighted they are considering using my services.

A courtesy call or an email to say ‘we can't take on new work’ is preferable to a stony silence any day.

Basically, it's a form of the rudeness in my book.

Can businesses afford to ignore potential new income? I very much doubt it.

To those who have replied to my specific inquiry, I thank you.

And I WILL be in touch.