May Day, 2007

So Happy Beltaine to those of you of a Celtic persuasion, and Happy May Day to everyone !

May Day’s always been very dear to me – I really enjoy Mythology, and the Celtic Mythology is one of my favourites – especially the Táin Bó Cúailnge (or the “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” to give a rough english translation). The Táin makes up the the majority of the Ulster Cycle, or Red Branch Cycle as it’s also known (it’s one of the four Irish Mythological Cycles, along with the Mythological Cycle, the Fenian Cycle and the Historical Cycle), and at the heart of the story is the Irish hero, Cúchulainn. For those of you who enjoy the Comic Book Sláine (initially appearing in 200AD), it’s based heavily on Cúchulainn, and the description of his feats in the Tain.

I have a couple of versions, but my favourite is the Thomas Kinsella (more here) translation, which my Mom and Dad brought me back from a visit to our family in Ireland just over 20 years ago. It’s in hardback (black cloth cover and silver leaf embossing), with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy (more here). The drawings are very evocative, and reflect the passion, anguish and energy of the text extremely well (for instance, the Morrígan here, and of Cúchulainn in “Warp-Spasm” here).

May the 1st marks the beginning of Summer, the month of May and Bealtaine. Every year I promise myself that next year I’m going to go to Padstow, in Cornwall, for the May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss celebrations (more here, with a video of the ‘Obby ‘Oss here), and I’m going to try hard to get there for the 2008 celebrations.

In later times the 1st of May has come to represent both the the Act of Union, joining inexplicably the fortunes of England and Scotland (which came into force 300 years ago today, 1707) and of the labour movement (or Eight-hour day movement as was). Also known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, it marked the execution of the Haymarket martyrs – arrested after the Haymarket Riot, 1886, in Chicago, Illinois (which actually occurred on the 4th of May, but was the result of unrest which had began on the 1st).

Nicely seguing into today’s breaking news: after exactly ten years of the labour parliament being in power, having started their government on the 1st of May, 1997, our Prime Minister Tony Blair has committed that he will be relinquishing his position in a week’s time, and that he expects “in all probability” that Chancellor Gordon Brown will succeed him as Prime Minister (PM) “in the next few weeks”. This will be the first time that our PM will have openly endorsed Mr Brown – and is being seen as very significant across the UK press.

I happened to meet Gordon Brown, whilst representing Sun, a couple of years ago at the 2006 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Conference, held that year at the National Indoor Arena (NIA), in Birmingham, my home city. He came across as a much warmer character than is often portrayed in the press, being both friendly and open. He was accompanied by Sir Digby Jones, the recently retired Chairman of the CBI (and I’m glad to say a fellow Aston Villa fan).

During the conference I was also lucky enough to meet Nicolas Sarkozy at the event (currently running for the Presidency of the Republic of France), and to hear him speak – I was extremely impressed by his presence – his public speaking in English was very good, and the topic matter, English, French and EU trade was also interesting.

With the PM going there is very little likelihood of a serious contender to the PM-ship emerging – and it’s probable that Mr Brown will come into office very soon.

From between 1997 and 2000 May the 1st also marked the Anti-Capitalism marches and protest’s taking place world-wide, with large protests in London.

During the demonstrations of 1999, part of the protest had gone online, with hacking of a number of web sites, including some members of the Royal Family’s websites and some of the UK Government’s websites (with some defacements and denial of service attacks having been successful).

The number one tourist attraction in London, not including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament for a long time had been, and still is Harrods. At the time I was working at Harrods as Head of Internet Development, and that year I, a couple of the guys from my team, and the Head of Networks at Harrods, implemented Firewalls for Harrods and the other business which are part of the Harrods group (from a design & security policy I had delivered earlier).

The Harrods sites, and Internet links were also attacked, but that none of them were successful at all (although we had some “deep breath” moments during the day). I still have the very nicely written Chairman’s Award I received from Mohammed Al Fayed for helping to protect his businesses online.

The next update will definitely be my update on the Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference 2007 – it’s taking a bit of time to get my speakers notes typed up I’m afraid – but I’ll get it online very soon.