Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Heavens above

I found this website where you can track the location of the International Space Station, and the numerous communication satellites whirling around the globe. One network of around 80 satellites, known as Iridium, is for satellite phones. Apparently, the mirrors on these satellites catch the sun and reflect it down to us, at certain points in their orbits. These are visible to the naked eye as bright flare of light, known as an Iridium flare. In this website you can enter your location, and it will then provide you with forecasts about where and when you can catch sight of the International Space Station, the Iridium flares and even, if you have some binoculars, the toolbag dropped from the International Space Station by an astronaut. Let me know if you see any of these things. Click here

(Photo courtesy of Ideonexus)

Monday, 29 December 2008

Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis is a cartoon movie about a young girl growing up in Iran through the Islamic revolution and subsequently the war with Iraq. It is a brilliant film, providing a really powerful account of how the impact of huge political change on ordinary people. It is remarkable to see how much of what has happened in this part of the world was brought about by interference of the UK and the West. Apart from the questions that it raises about what it means to be a civilized society, this film is a very moving autobiography. See it if you can.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Head of School

We received formal notification today from the Vice Chancellor that I would be appointed for a further four years to the Headship. This is a four year term of office, and I am currently in my fourth year, which comes to an end next July. So now I, and all my colleagues, know that I shall be continuing for a further four years, so we can continue to implement the planned recruitment strategy with a sense of direction and purpose. The VC consulted the staff of the School in coming to his decision about who to appoint. So while it is not intended to be a democratic decision, there is consultation. And apparently, there was overwhelming support for my continuation, which is great news, because it provides me with a mandate and reinvigorates my enthusiasm.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Three year operating plan

Each year, Heads of School have to prepare a rolling three year plan. This year was particularly difficult, for two reasons. First, the University is continuing to refine the process, and this year, although the once-separate teaching and learning plan was simply rolled up as part of the main document, a research plan was prepared earlier in the year, for the first time, with a view to the feedback from that informing this operating plan, and a risk register was requested in order to demonstrate to our auditors that we are managing our risks adequately. Second. a combination of events has resulted in our need to request lots of new academic posts. Basically, this is a combination of a spate of retirements plus the massive recent expansion of our activities. We have just about doubled the size of the School in the last four years, in every aspect of our work. This is why I have to make a case for a crop of new posts. And each one has to be carefully rationalized in line with our strategy for the next few years. It was a real relief to get it submitted today, just on the deadline. Over the next few weeks, senior management of the university will read all the plans from the different Schools. In January, a group of senior staff tour the Schools, interviewing the Heads, to be sure that they understand the aims, priorities and risks. Then they can rank order a master list of all the posts requested, so that when we find out from the Higher Education Funding Council how much grant the University is to receive this year from government, the final piece of the jigsaw will be in place in terms of next year's overall financial planning. At that point, they can determine how far down the list they can go in terms of the posts requested across the University. So it is a serious business as it affects how many new staff we get to appoint next year, if any. And it takes a lot of consultation and conversations to be sure about our relative priorities within the School before we put the plan before senior management. I was pleased to have got the document drafted, edited down toe the requisite length, and then submitted. Now I wonder how far down our list of priorities we'll get, given the dreadful ever-worsening situation.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Crowthorne Symphony Orchestra

Our concert went very well. It was all a bit touch and go, though. One of the viola players cried off at the last minute with flu, and even the piano soloist was feeling too ill to come to the afternoon rehearsal, so the conductor had to rehearse the orchestra without the soloist, which is not easy in a piano concerto. In fact, it is unheard of! To deal with this strange situation, the conductor and soloist agreed that for once, the soloist would follow the conductor, rather than the other way around. We rehearsed the whole programme from 1:30 until 5:30, which was quite am exhausting to do immediately before a concert. But all the brass, the basses, the harp and a large proportion of the violins were brought in just for the day, because we seem to be low on string players these days. It would be unusual to have many brass for all the weekly rehearsals, as there is generally not enough for them to do to keep them occupied. So the rehearsal on the afternoon of the concert is the first time we have played together, and for some instruments, the first time they have seen the pieces. Normally we would not have this many extras on the day, though. My new trumpet was excellent. I played set it up as a D Trumpet for the Cimarosa overture, and as an E flat for the Liszt piano concerto. It sounded good in the acoustic of the hall. The first half went off without mishap, and most people in the audience seemed to enjoy it a lot. After the break came the Symphony, the big piece we had really focused most of our attention on for the preceding 12 weeks. It is a huge and demanding piece, but very absorbing and great fun. It went very well indeed, and was a real success. I'd sold tickets to 23 adults and 6 children for this concert, an unusually large contingent. Although half a dozen of them were unable to attend due to flu or unexpected guests, I still had 24 people in the audience, which made it a very special concert for me. We're all looking forward to the March concert now. I wonder what we'll be playing?

Graduation ceremony

I have not seen such a strong staff contingent in a graduation ceremony before. We were 44 strong! Apparently, that is pretty close to the maximum that can fit on the stage. The December graduation is mostly for postgrads, although there are sometime some undergrads who passed on resits, or whose results were unavailable in time for the main (July) ceremony for some other reason. This was the first year that there were two days of December graduations ceremonies. It was as smooth and well organized as always, and the VC's speech was short and to the point, and well received. The students and families that I spoke to enjoyed it a lot, and as they were postgrads they were able to compare this to their previous graduation from other universities, and everyone who did so preferred this one. It was not too long, the speeches were interesting and it all worked. The weather was horrible, though. Grey, cold, wet and dark. But we had wine and nibbles with our SCME graduates on the London Road site, courtesy of Gerri Excell, and everyone went away happy. As always, it was a real delight to see PhDs graduating. Of all the awards a University can award, this is the highest, and the hardest work, so doctoral graduates are always enormously relieved to have finally completed their arduous journey. Graduation is always an enjoyable event, reminding us just how much it means to the graduates to have completed their courses of study. Let's hope that we can keep in touch with them, though, as pretty soon they will be the very people we want to talk to for access to research data, or for developing our employer engagement agenda. They generally progress through their careers quickly.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Listing the 700 people who reviewed papers for CM&E this year

Each year, the editors of Construction Management and Economics like to compile a list of all the referees who have reviewed papers in the preceding 12 months, and thank them formally by publishing this list. Given that we have a database recording everyone's involvement, and their contact details, this should be, on the face of it, a simple task. On listing the people who had been active, I first noticed the obvious errors. Some people had been entered twice into the system, sometimes by themselves, sometimes by their co-authors. The system distinguished people by their e-mail addresses, but these change, or people use different ones for different purposes. Then I found that some people type their details all in lower case or all capitals, so I had to fix that, both in the outputted list and in the database. Then I found that a large number of people never bothered to enter their institution, so I had to figure it out from their e-mail addresses, or if that was not clear, find a paper they had authored, then inspect the cover page. Some people have middle initials, but there was no consistency as to whether they put a full-stop after their initial or not. I had to add one for every user who had omitted it, on the basis that if I subsequently wanted to remove it from any output for consistency, a global search and replace would have something to go at. Some users are unfamiliar with the name of their own university! Several had XYZ University, when it should be University of XYZ. Others had apparently not noticed that their University had changed its name, sometimes several years ago. Some had entered the University and part of their address, but not bothered changing the default country (UK), so I had to relocate them to their correct country. And then we noticed that strange thing had happened in the database (which is maintained by a software house in USA). Certain countries had been changed, arbitrarily. While Taiwan had changed to "Taiwan, Province of China", Iran had changed to "Iran, Islamic Republic of" and Hong Kong, SAR China had changed to just "Hong Kong". We decided that the change to Iran and Hong Kong were OK, but were aware of the sensitivities surrounding the status of Taiwan. All of the entries for Taiwan had to be edited manually, because countries are selected in the database from a drop-down list, which we cannot edit. Perhaps this was why some Taiwanese users had left the country as United Kingdom, because they preferred this kind of mistake over being categorized as part of China. After several hours of editing the list of 700 people, we finally had a list we could publish. Having put most of the errant records straight, and allocated someone to the task of checking the database more thoroughly over the next year, I am optimistic that next year, this will be a ten-minute job!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Kitchen finished (more or less)

Finally, the builders, electricians, plumbers, fitters and decorators have departed and we have been able to clean up and start moving things into the cupboards. Modern fittings at last! When a door or drawer is slammed, the "soft closers" prevent them from banging, and the close themselves with a gentle movement every time. It is such a pleasure to have a space like this, and to be able to cook again. We have reorganized the layout completely and now have a much better view of the garden and more of a feeling of open space and brightness. A successful job! We await one final light fitting and one final door closer, but there are always bits and pieces to deal with after a job of this nature, and we are just thankful that these things are trivial.
The next thing is to get a table and chairs to suit the new kitchen, and fit out the pantry with shelves and a stout new door. The table we already had is too small, and the chairs in the picture are from the dining room, and we want them back in there. There's always a "next thing", though. Hard to believe, but the company who did this said that there was plenty of time to get it done for Christmas, and it turned out that there was. Why don't all kitchen companies manage to do this kind of job in a few weeks? This lot have been so impressive, right from the design through to the co-ordination of the installation and building work. I recall that before the job started, the builder and the structural engineer cam to the house to look over the job and decide the best way to do the work, so that the engineer would understand what the builder had in mind, and vice versa. At the time, I thought this was very impressive because they did this quite spontaneously, figuring out that it was the best way to get a co-ordinated approach. Its impressive to me because I read so much research and policy guidance designed to get people in the building industry to do just this kind of thing. Clearly, the lack of co-ordination and communication is not a problem in all parts of the building industry.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Nearly new kitchen

The completion of our new kitchen is tantalisingly close now. The installation was delayed by one day, so the fitter started on Thursday, and in two days has most of the work done. At the close of play on Friday, the electrician and the builder were also here, ensuring that we had something that was useful over the week-end. The new hob is working, but so far without the electric ignition, and the sink is plumbed in. It was a great relief to have access to a cooker in order to do a stir fry. The wok burner is great for generating the right kind of heat under the wok. And life with a sink is much more civilised than life without. The washing machine was half set up, but the hot water connecting hose was unusable as it had cracked, and the fitter did not have one with him, so I picked one up Saturday morning after dropping Dan off at the bowling alley for his mate's birthday bash. We're expecting the fitting to be completed on Monday, with some tidying up and a final coat of paint on the walls on Tuesday. Is it going to be possible to get the whole thing finished in 30 days (they started 3rd Nov)? At the moment, it is still looking likely, strangely enough!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Ephemeral buildings

My research and conversations into the nature of the impact of the built environment on the processes that are carried out in buildings is beginning to worry me. I knew for a long time that most buildings are gutted and refurbished every seven years. So the typical building is a somewhat temporary affair, even though the external shell sits on a piece of land for decades, seemingly semi-permanent. Not only are they refurbished regularly and frequently, but also they change hands. So no matter how appropriate they were for one occupier, the next occupier will inevitably find the facility inadequate or inappropriate in some way. When the Private Finance Initiative was introduced as a means of getting the private sector to fund the development of infrastructure, and then charge the public authority for its use under a 30-year contract, we all thought that finally there was a long-term view of infrastructure. But in the event, the deals were re-structured soon after the project was completed, once the development risk had gone, and the Private sector partner would often sell the facility to someone else for them to operate it. So, the engagement was still temporary. Now, I have discovered something else. There are some very good schools around, and they often have very poor quality buildings. Kendrick School, for example, a girls' grammar in Reading, which is one of the highest performing public sector schools in the UK, is situated in dreadful old, poorly maintained and unfit-for-purpose buildings on a crowded site. Failing schools are often provided with brand new buildings, because they need help, but are their results any better with the new building than with the old? If it is the same teachers and the same kids, dealing with the same syllabus, is anything changed? Finally, I learned that a field surgeon on a battlefield in a tent is more likely to succeed in terms of performance metrics thatn a surgeon in a well-equipped operating theatre. So all this leads me to question the permanence and even the significance of buildings in terms of what happens inside them. They now seem to me to be ephemeral things that have little impact on what happens inside them. Can this be true?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A sense of purpose

Our vision for the School of Construction Management and Engineering (SCME) is to grow the strong multi-disciplinary research base underpinning aspects of construction management in which we have developed an internationally-leading reputation. The vocational disciplines around which our work is focused are not usually the focus of research funding in their own right and, therefore, on the face of it, our research and our teaching seem to be in different areas. That difference is more one of perception than reality. The professional institutions are acutely aware of the need for the professions to develop their respective bodies of knowledge. This extends beyond understanding what passes for best professional practice, to understanding the underlying sciences that can explain and challenge professional practice. In other words, the view in SCME is that the construction professions are not academic disciplines in their own right, but fields of application of theoretical frameworks and empirical research methods drawing widely from management, organization, law, economics, engineering, mathematical modelling, and so on. This is why we appoint academics who are specialists in diverse academic areas, with experience of the complexities of the construction sector. Each academic discipline brings a unique insight into the built environment, and the sector is strengthened as a result. It is this approach that makes SCME a world-class leader of the field. We want to continue to bring diverse academic disciplines to bear on the problems confronting the construction sector so that we can develop new ways of working, new approaches to complex problems, based upon robust and rigorous academic research that not only informs that practical world of construction internationally, but also contributes to the theory-building that helps the mainstream academic disciplines to deal with the complexities of the built environment. We seek to develop the professions in the UK and internationally by providing fundamental insights based on rigorous multi-disciplinary research.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Carlo Mollino

A book about Carlo Mollino, a present from Paolo Tombesi, reveals an architect passionate about his buildings, deeply involved in the craft of buildings and of furniture, and whose designs echo the movements and balance of his other great passion, skiing. It is wonderful to read about the people he shared his passions with, and to see the sketches and designs for the buildings and furniture that expressed his feelings for the mountains, the snow, and the movement involved in skiing. The buildings that were built are remarkable, and still look modern. I was unaware of Mollino until now, and looked him up in the internet, where you would be surprised about his great architectural achievements, and about his writings about skiing style. Surprised because the bulk of the results from an internet search focus on the photos of naked women he took later in life, and his passion for fast cars. But what a complete life he lived, spanning so many different interests. And what a legacy he leaves behind.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Kitchen in progress

Plenty of progress to report on the kitchen. The new back door has been fitted, the new ceiling is in, new window board, new lights, tiled floor throughout, and nearly all the walls plastered. All the electrics and plumbing are ready. Tomorrow, the paint goes on the walls, and next week the units start to be fitted. So far, all is going to plan, and the workmanship is first class. Meanwhile, we are still cooking with one microwave oven, and washing up in a small hand basin in the downstairs cloakroom. This is the third week of the project, and it is on target to be completed end of next week. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Dubai - profligate self-indulgence

Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning were a blur of presentations and discussions, interspersed with excellent food. The business of the conference was very successful and it was worthwhile finding out about all the research being reported and discussing what it all might mean. On Monday, the company responsible for the massive property development here gave us a presentation about the construction of the world's tallest building, the Burj Tower; 750m and 160 stories high. Naturally, he was gushing with statistics about the number and speed of lifts, the planned use of the building, the technicalities of the design and construction and so on. The building is truly impressive and a major feat of engineering. But although it has taken six years to build, they have already started a taller one, which will exceed 1 km. Also, a 1.5 km tower is planned for Saudi Arabia. The drive to create such high towers when there is so much land is not immediately obvious. However, when asked about this, the presenter, Mick Dalton, explained that the vision of the Sheikh was to attract millions of tourists. The Burj tower has a huge 7-star hotel in the first 34 stories, then apartments, with some offices at the top. There will be an observation deck around floor 154. The building has already been paid for, from selling the apartments off plans. One technical innovation was automatic X-raying of everyone that comes into the building. They even have a machine to X-ray whole vehicles as they drive in. It will take 7 weeks to clean all of the windows of the building, and it will be a permanent rolling operation. Just cleaning the windows will cost $3m per year. There is biometric security in some kind of chip that occupants have. When they arrive, the security system gives the receptionists certain details of the person so that they can be welcomed by name with the kind of sycophantic insincerity that the very rich seem to favour. They don't even wait for lifts, or press buttons, because the security system detects the resident first arriving, so by the time one of them arrives in the lobby, the elevator is open and waiting, and it knows which floor to go to. The rich in these parts behave like disabled people! Only the parts that spend money on self-indulgence seem to function.

The technical details gave way to a superlative-laden sales patter as we were told about some fountains in the grounds costing $160m dollars. Some number of times bigger than the previously biggest one, this apparently involves a sound and light spectacle every Friday (supposedly a religious day, but in these parts, the day that all the rich people accumulate in expensive shopping malls or at spectacular displays). It was about this time in the presentation that I noticed how many of the people in the audience had become uncomfortable with the profligacy and pointless self-indulgence of the self-centred occupants of this kind of facility. As we were introduced to a lake in the grounds of the Burj that would lose 25mm of water per day through evaporation, requiring 30,000 litres of fresh water to be added each day just to top it up, the staggering waste of resources hit home. They even use words like sustainability in their vocabulary. They can't be stupid. They are simply disingenuous, I think. They seem to have persuaded themselves (or their customers, more like) that being profligate with a total lack of regard for the planet or one's fellow humans is sustainable.

The extent of the construction works around the city is difficult to comprehend. For example, a large two-track metro rail system is being built all over the city, and is close to completion. Every station is being built simultaneously. Yet there are no footbridges, few footpaths, and you cannot cross the road, such is the weight of traffic.

After the conference, we had the opportunity of another technical visit, to look at extensive luxury developments, including the islands being built to be covered with more buildings. The aim of all these islands is to increase the amount of coastline from something like 75 km to 1700 km, because rich people want to live on the coast, even if it looks like a golf course. We had a short boat trip while someone droned on in a monotonously enthusiastic voice, responding positively and sycophantically to every question put to him. Here, communication is only a marketing activity. After the boat ride a few of us decided to pass up the offer of being shut into a dark, air-conditioned room to be sold the dream. I don't think my colleagues appreciated the offer, but many were impressed by the engineering feats.

The rest of the afternoon was free. The Croatian contingent got the bus driver to drop us near Emirates Mall. We wanted to see the ski slope. He had said we could get a taxi from where he dropped us, but we simply crossed another carriageway of the road to get to the footpath. This was really difficult because it was, by now, close to rush hour. The traffic was fast-moving, nose to tail, on two lanes. Although we tried to cross, there were no gaps in the traffic. Eventually we had to flag cars and step into the road to try to force them to stop. They didn't like to let us cross, but once one had touched the brakes, and the cars had to drive around us, they had to slow down. We crossed the first lane, and caused the second lane to slow down. One wealthy woman with lots of makeup and jewellery felt that it was wrong for her to stop, even though she was already down to 1st gear, and nearly hit me as she drove to close up the gap in the traffic that we were stepping into, but because she'd accelerated at us, there was a bigger gap behind her, and we finally made the footpath on the other side of the road.

We asked people where the taxis were, but it turned out it was normal to have to wait an hour if phoning. We'd seen the ski slope from the bus, and it seemed only a kilometre, so we decided to walk. It turned out to be a lot further. After about half an hour, we encountered a highway crossing our path, next to a transport testing station, and after asking several people in the station, we found one who knew where we might cross, and he kindly came out from behind his desk to show us a gap in the fence next to a generator where we could slip through to a side road and then get to a place with filter lanes where the traffic occasionally thinned due to traffic lights some way down the road. It was not as difficult as the first experience, but still took a ridiculous amount of time. I think that this must be the route used by the Indian and Bangladeshi manual workers who don't have cars. The Emirates Mall was huge, but not as big as the new Dubai Mall. After having walked nearly an hour, we got to the ski slope and paid the fee for going in to have a look. It was remarkable stepping into such a large space with almost no humidity and an air temperature of -4°C. It was enjoyable to see the skiers and snowboarders in front of the alpine murals and adverts on the walls. We couldn't see around the bend in the track to the main slopes, but we were permitted to have a go on the tires and slide down a short run of the slope. So we had a bit of fun and tried to ignore the sheer profligacy and waste represented by this ski slope. We bought some CDs of Arabic music in the mall, and got a taxi back to the hotel. The city seems enormous. The taxi drove dangerously fast and too close the vehicle in front, as everyone seems to do here. Even so, it took well over half an hour. We were pretty tired when we got back to the hotel, but it was good to have seen a bit of Dubai. Some people left for their flights that evening, but I was glad to have a good night's sleep before my daytime flight the next day.

I think that most of us felt that this city was awful. The poverty of the workers and the empty lives of the stupidly wealthy were depressing. There is nothing here that is real. A triumph of marketing over content.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Dubai Conference

Peter Raisbeck from University of Melbourne presented a couple of papers in the CIB Dubai Conference about various aspects of public-private partnerships (PPP) in the construction sector. One of them caught my interest, where he had used analytical hierarchy process (AHP), something that is usually completely uninteresting to me. He used AHP to deal with the responses he got from a survey of perceptions in Australia about PPP projects. I was very interested in how the AHP approach had enabled him to sort out important from unimportant issues, and say something interesting about the relationships between issues. When he said the survey instrument was online, I immediately thought of the value of re-running the exact same survey in several countries at once. I have tried international surveys before, and it is very difficult to catch the interest of practitioners when you are not even based in their country. In this case, though, I could easily imagine asking several hundred practitioners who deal with PPP projects to complete an on-line survey about what they think is important. I also thought that this could be simultaneiously carried out in a number of other countries, such as Hong Kong and Sweden, both of which were represented in the room at the time. It was great being able to pluck out of the air something that could be quickly and easily put together among colleagues all over the world, knowing that the output would be interesting enough for future papers. Conference papers would be easy enough, but I hope that such a simple exercise in an international comparison of perceptions might also be robust enough for journal papers. I am hopeful that we can give this a go.

Friday, 14 November 2008


After an overnight flight on Thursday evening, I arrived in at the hotel about 8 am, and had to wait in the lobby for up to two hours while the room was prepared. I found Stephen Gruneberg in the same situation, and he looked shattered having not slept a wink on his flight. While we sat with coffee, plenty of other colleagues were arriving or just passing by and stopping for a chat. After finally getting my room, I got washed and changed. The newly opened Dubai Mall was across the road. With 4,500(!) shops, I thought I'd go for a stroll to stretch my legs. There was nowhere else to head for, being surrounded with building sites. It was getting on for lunchtime, and there was a food court in there, but it was literally heaving with people, with long queues and no spare seats. Many people were eating their lunch standing up. There was a lot of excitement at a giant two-storey aquarium stuffed with sharks, rays and various shoals of fish. It was hard to get interested in such an overstated and ostentatious display, especially among the shops of famous designer labels, fashion houses and all the jewellery and gold. The incongruity of an artificial piece of the marine environment in a shopping mall was, somehow, a sign of just how wrong this all felt. The mall is filled with the excited noise of people wandering around the shops and getting excited by all the opportunities to buy very expensive things. The prices are generally very high, and the stuff on sale is generally quite useless, unless you need to demonstrate to the world how rich you are, which seems to be the national pastime here.

The registration and reception was that evening and it was great to catch up with all my old friends before the conference started in earnest the next day.

Dubai is bigger than I imagined, and a lot dirtier that I'd imagined, due to the gigantic scale of the construction work under way. The world's tallest building is under construction near my hotel, and it is jaw-droppingly tall. It is broad at the base, and gets increasingly slender, in steps, as it gets higher. The upper floors are very slender indeed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Although the modern trumpet is pitched in the key of B flat, a large proportion of classical music was written when valved trumpets were rare or not yet invented. As a result, much of the music that I play in Crowthorne Orchestra is written for trumpets in different keys. Because our next concert involves two trumpets and two cornets (Franck's 1st Symphny), Dave Johnson, who I used to play next to in Thames Wind Band and Woodley Concert Band, has come to join us temporarily to bump up the trumpet section. He turned up with several trumpets and cornets, and was showing me one that he recently bought on e-bay. This is a trumpet in C that can convert to B flat. It plays well in C, and the sellers appeared to be shifting one of these every day. So I have been joining in the bidding day-by-day, and yesterday I won an auction! For £125 I am getting a new trumpet. This is an incredible price if the instrument plays well, and I am looking forward to its arrival. I guess I won't see it until I get back from Dubai next week.

Toumani Diabaté

I was listening to Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orcestra on CD. I love the way that he plays the Kora. His Symmetric Orchestra consists of people from different cultures and traditions. Their name was chosen because no one style dominates over the others. I love listening to this, and I was reading the sleeve notes again, and read that the Symmetric Orchestra rarely performs outside Mali, but plays every Friday night in Toumani's club in Bamako, Mali's capital. What a shame. The idea of going to see them play, and sit in the club soaking up the atmosphere seemed an impossibility that was hugely appealing, and I was daydreaming about going there to see them, thinking how wonderful it would be, and what a shame I couldn't go there. Then the thought struck me - why not? There are plenty of research active staff and PhD students in West Africa that simply do not have the resources to travel to Universities like mine and get access to resources and staff so that they can develop their research ideas and take part in research seminars. It would probably be useful, as an editor, to engage with these people. Moreover, we recruit many undergraduates and postgraduates from this region. So there are plenty of strong professional reasons for going. And my PhD student, Sam Laryea, from Ghana, is well connected. I discussed it with him, and now we are talking about setting up a visit to Ghana and Mali. A research workshop in Ghana, gathering up people from nearby West African countries, followed by a trip to Mali, would be perfectly plausible. I have the funding for the flights, and Sam has the contacts to arrange the venue and invite the audience. This could be a great trip.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Research Institute for the Built Environment

We established the Research Institute for the Built Environment as an alternative face for the School of Construction Management and Engineering, in order to help us to present our work to audience who might not usually look in our direction. The RIBE is becoming a forum for different kinds of work that take us into new directions and involvement with people we might not previously have come across. Jennifer Whyte, a Reader in Innovation and Design in the School, has organized a seminar series under the RIBE banner, in which external speakers are invited to address an audience of researchers, predominantly from the Innovative Construction Research Centre. Usually, we would get a paper from the speaker a week in advance of the event, and one of our colleagues will lead the discussion. Today, Prof Dick Boland was with us from the Department of Information Systems, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It is always fascinating to go into some depth in a discussion, and particularly so when someone whose research has not been in construction turns their attention to the construction sector. Dick has done some very interesting work on the new building for his School that was designed by Frank Gehry. Although his background is in accounting, his research now emphasizes interpretive studies of how individuals design and use information systems. The way that he had applied this to an in-depth case study of a construction project was fascinating, but I won't write too much about it, because I just noticed on the draft paper that we were discussing was the text "please do not cite or circulate"! It was a draft, after all. Suffice to say, there were about 20 of us, most from SCME but some from the Informatics Research Centre, and we learned a lot by thinking about things from a very different perspective to usual. This is the great thing about these seminars.

Undergraduate tutorials

The tutorial discussions that I set up with Jan Hillig on 31st October have come to an end today. As often happens, that deadline for a stage of their project work coincided with the ten-day exercise n Blackboard, so almost no one even turned to until the last day or two, and the majority of them did it today, the last possible day. It is interesting that it seems not to matter how long they are given, things will always get done on the last day. This is a real shame in this case, because the aim is to get them to make rejoinders to each others' posts. We even give marks for rejoinders as well as their original posts. These marks count towards the final assessment for the module, so they are usually highly motivated to complete this exercise. This year, there were a number of new problems. Some students saved their submission, rather than posting it on the discussion board, then could not find it! Others turned to it after the closing time and wondered why it was no longer possible to take part. One student got quite stressed as only two people in her tutorial group seemed to be active, so she could not make a sensible rejoinder until the last minute, when a few more joined in. Some students wanted to go back and edit their post, after they received comments from the tutors. I explained to them that this functionality was disabled, because the marks they get related to what they posted, and the marks may not make sense if they go back and change what they have written. More importantly, other students may make rejoinders to posts that would not make sense, were the original post to be edited. One student wrote to me to apologise for having hit the wrong button and accidentally posting something completely senseless. I was able t remove it quite quickly. I think we got there in the end. By the end of the allotted time there was a massive amount of work that had been posted by the students, much of was really excellent quality. Now the serious work of assessing and grading it begins. One really useful aspect of this mode of tutorial and assessment is that students get feedback on their performance very quickly. This sense of immediacy seems to be greatly appreciated. It places quite a lot of demand on students and tutors, though, which is why, this year, we have increased the proportion of marks represented by this part of the assessment.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Interventionists

I am extraordinarily lucky to have team of researchers working on various aspects of construction procurement. We meet most Thursday mornings to discuss progress and share ideas. As you can see, we are a diverse bunch who originate from many parts of the world: Ghana, China, Taiwan, Nigeria, England, Iran, Italy and Germany. Because they work on different projects, we needed a name for the group that was not associated with any one source of funding or any single research project. Since we want our research to make a difference, The Interventionists emerged as the name for the group. This constantly reminds us that, in the long run, we seek to create interventions that have an impact, whether in theory-building, teaching or practice.

No ordinary beans

Chatting to Milan Radosavljevic in the coffee bar, I learned that his daughter has developed a liking for tinned baked beans. I shared with Milan what I did with baked beans when wanted to make them special: soften a finely chopped onion with crushed garlic and finely chopped ginger for five minutes, then add some sliced celery and chopped green peppers. After five more minutes, add a handful of curry powder, or ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, chilli, arrowroot and so on in whatever proportions you prefer. Cook the spices for a couple of minutes, then add a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree and a small glass of apple juice. Chop a dessert apple and add this with the tin of baked beans. This can be served on toast with a fried egg on top. If you want to make the egg special, sprinkle paprika on top of it while it is frying. We thought you'd like this suggestion, so go on, give it a try!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Managerialism vs enquiry

In refusing to consider a newly-submitted paper for publication in CM&E, I have clearly ruffled the feathers of a colleague and his co-author. I refuse even to send it for refereeing. The author, who is extremely prolific, is angry with me. Interestingly, a couple of years ago, I rejected one of his papers after receiving negative referee comments and he swore to have nothing more to do with us, such was his indignation. So when he submitted a new paper to CM&E, I felt justified in refusing to consider it for publication, on the basis that he had already dissociated himself completely from the journal (including a refusal to referee papers for us). His reaction was, understandably, irate, but I think we never quite got to the real point in our exchanges of e-mails about what had happened, dealing only with his anger, rather than the substantive points.

On reflecting about the underlying issues, I think that the reason for my discomfort with this author's papers is more profound than the ostensible points that I had latched on to in our heated exchanges. There are several academics who appear to be operating in a different world from the one that academics seem to have occupied in the past. Traditionally, the role of universities has been strongly connected with enquiry, discovery and learning. These days, for political and economic reasons, the success of universities needs to be measured through proxies, such as publication rates, citations and research income. As he is quick to point out in his riposte to my rejection, this author is a very important academic with literally hundreds of journal papers to his name and lots of research council grants. Two previous experiences, one with him and another with his co-author, resulted in me rejecting their papers from CM&E, followed by copious argumentative e-mails in which they made various accusations of inadequate refereeing, feeling that the referees and editors did not understand what they are doing. The feeling of the authors was that their brilliant research was being denied publication because of the impoverished imagination of dull referees and editors who were not bright enough to see the inherent value of the work. The reality was that the work was typically a cursory review of literature followed by an unimaginative survey, poorly designed and executed, with unsurprising findings. Usually, the process involves trying to see if something already known as generally true turns out to be specifically true in the construction sector, with no rationale for the hypothesis that the construction sector might be inherently different from the rest of society. This is a worrying phenomenon. Rather than a science that is styled to develop generalizations from specific observations, this is a science designed to enumerate specificities from accepted generalizations. Such papers proliferate now that universities and the academics within them need to justify themselves in terms of metrics.

The result of the increasing predilection for measuring academic output is that a lot of very mediocre and uninteresting research is published, not as a result of enquiry, learning or discovery, but solely for the purpose of promotion of authors and their institutions who wish to climb up various league tables. And they are doing so well that they feel fully justified in their feeling that they are more important than the journal, more important than the referees and editors, and personally more important than the processes of enquiry which ought to underpin academic work. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the particular case, when authors think they are more important than journals, something is very wrong. No wonder they get so annoyed!

Friday, 7 November 2008

ARCOM Website

The website for ARCOM (Association of Researchers in Construction Management) needs regular maintenance. This evening, I have whiled away a couple of hours on extending the tree structures for browsing all the journals that are indexed on the site. I am working on enabling this browsing function so that a user can click on a journal's title and see the volume numbers listed, then clicking on a volume number reveals the issues, and clicking on an issue reveals a list of the papers in that issue. The citation of each paper is presented, and clicking a paper reveals its abstract, and a URL to where the paper is available on the web. The programming of all of this has been incredibly complicated, and I have been glad to have had the help of Darren Booy and Weisheng Lu in developing this, and the functionality I wanted is finally there. What I now wonder is whether anyone would want to browse the issues in this way, or if they would just prefer to search the database, which has been possible for some time. After recent additions to the database, I am now adding articles from the following series:
  • ARCOM Annual Conferences
  • Building Research and Information
  • Construction Innovation
  • Construction Papers
  • Construction Management and Economics
  • Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management
  • Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management
  • International Journal of Construction Education and Research
  • International Journal for Construction Marketing
  • Journal of Construction Procurement
  • Journal of Construction Research
  • Journal of Corporate Real Estate
  • Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology
  • Journal of Financial Management in Property and Construction
  • RICS COBRA Conferences
  • RICS Research Papers
  • Unpublished PhD Theses
Each new addition to this list requires me to get permission from the publisher to reproduce the text of the abstracts, which is copyright. Until now, the only people to have refused such permission was the American Society for Civil Engineers, who felt that their own website was all the exposure they wanted. This was a shame, because they publish several relevant titles in our area. Perhaps, as this service grows, they might be persuaded to relent.

The idea for building this database grew out of my wish to catalogue everything that had ever appeared in Construction Management and Economics, which I became editor of in 1993. It has gradually evolved over the years and I hope it will continue to grow, and offer a powerful resource to construction management researchers everywhere. With any luck, it will continue to be available to everyone free of charge.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Contractors' clubs

In conversation with a BSc dissertation student this morning, Jan Hillig and I were talking through various methods of financial protection that are used in construction projects. The idea is that the buyer would usually like to find some way of underwriting the risk of a seller's non-performance or insolvency. I have done research into this area in the past (see below), and was aware of many alternatives, the cheapest and most common of which is called cash retention, where a small part of each payment is kept back by the buyer, to accumulate a fund that can be used if the supplier fails to perform or becomes insolvent. Since contracting is a cash-flow business, with money paid for work done to date each month, the manipulation of cash flows becomes extremely important. Contractors can make a lot of profit from utilizing the cash that is passing through their books, because there are plenty of opportunities to make sure that they get cash in before the incur the liability to pay cash out. Therefore, the bigger their positive cash flow, the better off they are. I characterized cash retention as being an option that buyers have, because they could alternatively use a retention bond, parent company guarantees, performance bonds, and many other alternatives. Many suppliers would prefer not to have cash retentions, becuase it would improve their cash flows. And an idea came to me, which might be useful for frequent clients, such as government departments. Why not have some form of a contractors' club where members are not subjected to cash retentions and non-members are? Membership would be earned if the last 2-3 projects were completed on time without defects. As soon as a project is delayed of over budget, through some fault of the contractor, membership is cancelled or suspended. This would be a way of incentivizing and rewarding performance. I wondered if this had ever been attempted. Could this work?

Hughes, W.P., Hillebrandt, P and Murdoch, J.R. (1998) Financial protection in the UK building industry: bonds, retentions and guarantees. London: Spon. 190pp. ISBN 0-419-24290-2.

Hughes, W.P., Hillebrandt, P. and Murdoch, J. (2000) The impact of contract duration on the cost of cash retention. Construction Management and Economics. 18(1), 11-14.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

ISI and CM&E

Andy Dainty and I met today to discuss various aspects of the journal. Among other things, we crystallized some thoughts about the journal's status in relation to ISI, and drafted this message for distribution to the CNBR, Co-operative Network for Building Researchers, about 2,000 construction academics around the world:

The perennial issue of ISI listing is growing more urgent in many parts of the world. The editorial board of CM&E are as interested as any of our authors in getting the journal included in ISI. It will be good for our field in general if more of our journals are included in the list. But inclusion is not easy, because it involves a process of application and the auditing by ISI of various kinds of evidence in a process that usually takes 18-24 months, resulting in a decision that produces no qualitative feedback by way of explanation. We have applied before, but in the process of thinking through this and examining the information in the public domain about ISI, there are some key points about what needs to change if journals like CM&E are to become included in the ISI database.

There is always a tension between fundamental and applied research, especially in our area, because our work is almost always applied research, and therefore, usually multi-disciplinary. The problems that we experience are common in multi-disciplinary fields. We often refer to the more mono-disciplinary areas in which theories are developed as mainstream. Multi-disciplinary, applied research tends to be more theory-testing than theory-building.

If anything is to change in terms of where our work fits in relation to the mainstream journals, as an academic community we need to do two things. First, ensure that the papers we write are citing the theory-building literature in mainstream journals and second, aim to publish papers in mainstream journals that cite the literature in our applied field. Any examination of citations in Google Scholar reveals that most construction management work refers only to the journals in our field, and is cited only from the journals in our field. Clearly, there is a lot that can be done by authors in this field to raise the profile of our work and make the kind of connections with mainstream journals that would make ISI inclusion more likely, not just for CM&E, but for a wider range of our journals.

The kitchen is all but gone

The builders made great progress today, and since they started they have managed to rip out everything, including a wall, the floor and the ceiling. So this is what we are left with. So far, we are still eating properly, but we are only on the third day of what promises to be a dusty month! At least we still have a sink and a cooker, but who knows how long they will last...

The dining room is now doubling as a kitchen, apart from the fact that it has no water and no cooker. The microwave looks set to becoming indispensable. Maybe we should be planning to spend Christmas elsewhere.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

University Board for Enterprise

I had a meeting this morning, the University Board for Enterprise. Some of the discussions were quite interesting. There was lots of reporting from the Faculties about what they had been doing, but the notion of enterprise as a third stream of University activity was challenged by several of us. We felt that enterprise was an attitude of mind, and that all of our work should be carried out in an enterprising manner, where relevant. Among the things that I learned at this meeting was that the government was continuing to push for incentivizing enterprise in universities, despite the economic downturn. There are plenty of initiatives around that will add leverage to any successes we have in terms of behaving more entrepreneurially. As to what constitutes enterprise, the list of potential activities is exceedingly vast, especially as most of the Schools whose reports came via Deans to this committee have each interpreted the enterprise agenda in their own way. One important aspect of enterprise is Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). These are defined on the KTP website as "Europe's leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base". There was a suggestion that we could be doing more in terms of developing successful KTPs into further research grants, perhaps closing the loop and having helped businesses to develop and apply new ideas, we should be harnessing the outcomes to raise new questions for our research.

It was clear from our implementation plans that the work of the School of Construction Management and Engineering forms a fundamental plank of the University's enterprise strategy. There is a lot of interest among businesses in executive development related to many of the issues we deal with in this School. Of course, this does raise the question of whether the researchers developing these ideas are the people who can be incentivized to turn them into CPD programmes and KTPs. This is something I shall need to investigate in the School.

I also learned that the University now has a Director of Events, who can help support the Schools with the organization of business-facing events. Clearly, the support for enterprise is growing more tangible.

One of the observations that I had was that although enterprise was clearly an attitude that should be reflected in everything that we do, whether research, teaching or anything else, this is not the only agenda that has to inform everything that we do. I recollect the introduction of quality assurance and quality management many years ago, that was rolled out across all sorts of organizations as being of fundamental importance. It was briefly highlighted as something that was very important, sufficient for people to be given the portfolio of quality management to look after, but then it became clear that this was an abrogation of responsibility, because it produced the idea that quality was something for them to look after, rather than something that should imbue everything that everyone does. In advanced organizations, it now appears to be integrated as part of everyone's activities. Health and safety is another agenda that has to be taken account of in everything we do, and now sustainability seems to be the most crucial issue that should be taken account of in every decision and plan. Inclusivity also rises up agendas from time to time. I was struck by how many things had to be taken account of at every step, and wondered if there was a life cycle for this kind of thing. Clearly, all this was too abstract for this meeting, but it would be interesting to debate further at some point.

One other issue that came up was the employability and entrepreneurship agenda. I was not sure about the idea of "enriching the students' experience" by providing them with skills and knowledge that would make them more employable. I wondered aloud if this were impoverishing the students' experience, and where the debate was about the role of Higher Education, and why students went to universities. I was reassured by the robustness of responses around the table. Many people shared exactly these concerns and were keen to underline the importance of graduates being able to challenge conventional wisdom and think creatively and analytically. The aim of this push was clearly not simply to turn the University into a preparation for particular vocations, but to provide graduates with the flexibility and imagination to respond in any way they saw fit to the situations in which they found themselves.

Remote dissertation supervision

I started a new blog this morning, but you probably will never see it. One of my students is participating in the modular MSc programme, which involves a residential week four times per year over two years. Thus, when he was transferred from London to Zagreb, it was not going to be too challenging for him to continue with his studies, because getting here from Zagreb is not particularly difficult, and probably quicker than driving down from Scotland. However, he is embarking on a dissertation, and the first thing we needed to do was agree what his topic would be, figure out the basic references for him to look at, and figure out how we would interact for the purposes of supervision while he was in Zagreb.

First, the topic. We shared our ideas about what to study and how to go about it. Given that his interest was in construction contracting with particular reference to resourcing at senior site management level, my advice was that his desire to focus on the site management processes in Croatian construction projects was going to prove interesting as it would enable him to make observations of what happens in practice, comparing them to practical guides such as the CIOB's Code of Practice for Project Management (and similar documents about site management) and to look at both observations of practice and the practical guides in the context of organizational and management theory, as it has developed from the early seminal writers such as Galbraith, J (1973) Designing complex organizations. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley and Cleland, D I and King, W R (1975) Systems Analysis and Project Management. New York: McGraw-Hill. Later writers, such as Dawson, S (1996) Analysing Organizations. 3 ed. Basingstoke: Macmillan provided really strong, theoretically robust guidance for how we should think about organizational structures and management processes. This also connected well with research published in two of my own books: Procurement in the construction industry and Roles in construction projects. Thus, we had a project that I could supervise and that should generate some useful and interesting insights.

Second, the question of how we would work together while in different countries was soon settled because I was interested in trying out a blog which only the two of us could access. We can both read it and post to it, and there is the potential for use to invite others, such as a local professor from University of Zagreb, or colleagues in Reading, or even other students on the programme. One great advantage is the ability to go back and edit and refine a post, adding links and correcting grammar and spelling mistakes. Another is that the blog whould grow as the supervision progresses, and it is always there to backtrack and pick up things that might have got forgotten. It is an interesting substitute for notebooks and a good way of augmenting our supervision meetings that will inevitably be too infrequent. I'm going to try this with some other students now, to see how suitable it is at BSc, MSc and PhD levels of research.

Where are all the ugly people?

A while ago, I was playing in facebook one weekend, and I found that the interactive games worked best if you could engage someone else frequently to do whatever it was that earned points. The trouble was, many of my friends were just too slow to make the points accumulate quickly enough. So I started another account under a pseudonym, in order to have someone a bit more interactive in these games, so that I could accumulate points and then play against my friends. The first thing was that a new person needed at least five friends in order to take part, probably to prevent this kind of cheating, so I had to set up four more accounts! As soon as I was able to get these accumulation games to work, I discovered that glamorous looking women seemed to accumulate friends and rewards far quicker than dull-looking men, so I changed the gender of some of my accounts, and gave them beautiful faces. It is easy enough to find beautiful and glamorous women on the web. All went well, until I got bored of the ease with which I could accumulate these points and use them. Soon enough, I lost interest in this, but the beautiful and fictional women were still visible, and gradually some lonely, sad men started asking to be friends, and telling these non-existent women how lovely they were, and how they would like to get to know them better. This was just too creepy. Initially, I tried telling one or two of these sad men that these were fake accounts and not real people, but their desire to meet these fancy women was so strong, they refused to accept the truth and assumed that my girls were just playing hard to get. Even more creepy! So then I thought that I would change their faces to ugly ones. And this is where things got very interesting. I tried to find some ugly faces through Google images, where I had originally found the pretty faces. It was really tough! There were plenty of people pretending to be ugly, but they weren't really. There were plenty of people pulling faces, or who were flagged as ugly, but they did not have the kind of face that would make you recoil in horror. Anyone who really had a genuinely ugly face never appeared in these searches, because most people are not so insensitive as to flag their acquaintances as just pig-ugly. What a surprise! Most of the so-called ugly people on the internet are actually quite ordinary-looking people who have been snapped while pulling a strange face, or people posing as ugly who aren't really. So this is my question - where are all the ugly people? I then started to think that perhaps most of the glamorous-looking people are really quite ordinary, too, and just happened to be pulling a particularly attractive expression or pose. Hmmm.

Monday, 3 November 2008

CM&E and the benefits of ISI listing

We are having a discussion among the editorial board members of this journal. It has long been our aim to be included in the ISI citations index. The idea of this is that a journal article, an author, a university or a journal can be rated by the number of times that it is cited by others. The ISI Web of Knowledge, as it is now known, tracks citations to all of the journal articles published in the papers that it lists. This is seen as a very powerful method of evaluating the quality of scientific output (see, for example, Judge, T.A., Cable, D.M., Colbert, A.E. and Rynes, S.L. (2007) What causes a management article to be cited – article, author or journal? Academy of Management Journal, 50(3), 491-506.) The trouble is, Construction Management and Economics is not included! Obviously most of those who write for this journal know that it would be better for our academic community if we were included, so we often get requests asking us why we are not. The fact is that it is no trivial matter to apply for listing and we have done so three times (at least). Each time, we spend months putting together the case, and then wait a year or so for a response from ISI. Sufficient time has elapsed since our last attempt for us to now try again, and there are interesting discussions taking place among our editorial board members about what this all means.

One thing that I often raise in this debate is the idea that a journal does not actually have to be listed for papers in it to be cited. I have often thought that if writers in listed journals referred to papers in CM&E, then our authors and our journal would have an impact factor. I'm not 100% sure about this, because I cannot find any evidence in the ISI pages that there are any citations to non-listed journals. But if it were true, then the people clamouring to get our journal included in the list should really be seeking to write the kind of papers that get cited! Whatever the case, if authors' papers were cited from listed journals, then our listing would be more or less inevitable. And we shall be applying again soon, and doing everything we can to get CM&E included in ISI lists. It is simply too important to ignore.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The old kitchen won't be around for much longer

Having moved one large wall cupboard from the utility room to the garage, we can start storing stuff in there that isn't needed until the building work is finished. The builders are coming on Monday morning to start removing the wall between the kitchen and the utility room, giving us a larger kitchen and ripping everything out that is currently there. Today we chose the tiles that will be delivered a couple of weeks from now, and that was the last thing to choose. The layout is designed, the finishes have been chosen, everything is ready. The coming month is going to be awkward with next to no cooking facilities. But all of this will be finished before Christmas (where have I heard that before?) So far, this is a really effective way of burning up money, but with any luck, it will all be worthwhile. The final tour of tile shops being over, I've settled down for the evening with a beer and some Norwegian jazz (Nils Petter Molvaer - Khmer), with the log burning stove driving out all thoughts of the cold, wet, dark outside.

German autobahns

My Yamaha FJR 1300. This bike goes some. I got it to over 140 mph in Germany on the autobahn. That was very exciting, especially when it started to weave a bit at high speed. It was so fast there was no time to look at the speedo properly, things changed so quickly. I didn't stay at that speed for long. If there was a more than one car in front, it was usually the case that the second one would lurch into the overtaking lane with no warning, just before it would have collided with the car in front. I liked the way they lurched into your path, then looked in the mirror, then when they saw there was a bike with a pair of big headlights, they would signal! Briliant. Seeing this, I made sure I never passed a car at high speed, just a little bit above their speed, in case they lurched. Usually, it was OK if it was a solitary vehicle. But as soon as there was any traffic at all, high speed driving was out of the question.

Friday, 31 October 2008

End of the week

Just the thing for a cold evening. And some pizza and fries. And some red wine. The stove is a couple of months old. The fireplace was ideal for this kind of thing, with plenty of space for keeping logs beside it.

First Post

I thought it was time I started my blog, so here it is. Jan Hillig and I are just about to set up an undergraduate tutorial discussion group in the on-line teaching environment that we use, called Blackboard. New format from previous years, so it will be interesting to see how it progresses.

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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