The smell of brandy lingers

Coming down to the kitchen this morning, there was a definite odour of brandy. This may have been from the left-over Christmas pudding (flamed in brandy) or the sundry articles involved in flaming. The new Christmas experiment this year was playing Snapdragon. We didn’t research how to play, so merely put raisins on a plate, poured flaming brandy over them and then snatched raisins out of the flame. There was a certain excitement in watching raisins re-ignite. Apparently we should have put raisins in a bowl of brandy and then set light to that. Oh well, maybe next year. We still have some brandy left, and it’s not high on my list of liquids for easy drinking.

I am feeling slightly jaded this morning, and pondering the pleasures of doing things that are difficult and entertaining and challenging. Playing music and singing, well, all the arts in fact, are not improved by making them user-friendly. User-friendliness is about tools rather than skills.Many human pleasures involve setting oneself challenges and putting barricades in one’s way (otherwise called rules).

I went to the public library before Christmas to stock up on reading material for the festive period. I was very entertained when I realised that my heart had leapt in excitement – not from the new Barbara Kingsolver or Martin Amis, but when I saw a newly returned copy of John Seddon’s Systems Thinking in the Public Sector. Just what I needed. Admittedly I’ve read the new Barbara Kingsolver and am in the middle of Rupert Everett’s second volume of autobiography, but I’m sure that once the mince pies have been digested, I’ll be telling all my friends about how to set up systems in a better way – because usability applies to organisations as well as objects. Yes, my new year’s resolution – do a blog post on systems in my company and how to improve them.