Sunday, 11 January 2015

Christmas lunch day #3 - my Bestest Friends at CIPA

12 December 2014, 5 pm

At some point during the Christmas lunch, it occurs to me that the CIPA people are my new Bestest Friends.  Bester even than the Dutch Apple Cake Pixies.  Almost as bestest, in fact, as the people at my day job, who put up with me swanning in and out to nick paper clips, and are therefore my Firstest Bestest Friends.

Let me introduce you.  First there is Amazing Dwaine, who organised this whole event so as to take his mind off the fact that his partner is about to have their second baby.  Dwaine plays football, or rather, Dwaine used to play football until one day he played it so hard he injured his leg.  He is going to have an operation to make his leg footballable again, and conveniently for all concerned the operation is also round about the time the baby is due.

Then there is Fantastic Fran, who has been at CIPA for longer than is sensible.  And there is Spreadsheet Spurgeon, who has been at CIPA for longer than is healthy.  Spurgeon looks after the accounts and can remember the days when the budget was done on an abacus and the salaries on a slide rule (pre-2010 I think), so you can see why he might enjoy spreadsheets.  Fran can remember the days when the library was full of earnest patent agents combing back-issues of the RPCs for typos, and the cupboards were full of past presidents and their cufflinks.  These days she and Amazing Dwaine put together newsletters and things for the student members.  In the old days no-one even knew we had student members.

Amiable Iain is there to run the Journal, because it is all very well having an Editor mincing around shouting Dahlings! Hold the front page! but there has to be someone who can turn all the waffling and shouting into a document and get it to the printers.  Iain has not quite been at CIPA long enough to remember the days when the Journal was stitched together by hand and delivered in brown paper packages together with a little something for the weekend.

Iain is helped by Crispin, who is a stand-up comedian in his spare time.  I imagine he is never short of material.  Spreadsheet Spurgeon is helped by Andrew, who is not a stand-up comedian but who has the look of someone who would like to be.  Andrew is keen on football, but not enough to injure himself doing it like Dwaine does.

In a special lair full of unpatentable subject matter, Byte-Sized Bill sorts out the Institute’s IT systems.  Every now and then he emerges with some tangled wires, and we are never sure whether these wires were crucial to the IT systems and Bill has only just discovered them, or whether they are superfluous to the IT systems and Bill has decided to throw them out, like he threw out some bits of the database the other day.  No-one dares ask and Bill never tells us.  He is an Unpatentable Enigma.

Charlene and Kirsty and Lisa work in the Membership Team, alongside Fran, Dwaine, Iain, Crispin and the cuddly dinosaur.  It is their job to make things happen for CIPA members.  So when naïve idiots like me say Dahlings! Let’s do a seminar! it is their job to find a venue and a buffet and some seats, on a budget of £5 a head, and to untangle the bookings from the bird’s nest that is the CIPA website.  They make name badges and print programmes and chase speakers for slides and biographies, which some speakers seem to regard as an affront if it happens more than 24 hours before the event, but Charlene and Kirsty and Lisa are patient people and they have plenty of biscuits to eat while they wait.

Alice the Welcome works on reception.  She has a very smiley face, which is great for lulling visitors into a false sense of security, before we show them into the mausoleum I mean library and turn the heating off.  Ms Sear, our Head of Education, also has a smiley face but you have to earn it, and normally most things that an average person might do will be nowhere near sufficient to earn it because Ms Sear has very high standards.  She wants everything to have a Learning Outcome and she has a way of making it clear that it is you who is supposed to be doing the learning.  Angelina and Rebecca are her bodyguards and they have some spare Learning Outcomes for people who have forgotten to bring their own.  They also know a lot about examinations and training courses and they can do project management before you even know you have a project.

Then there is Mr Lampert, our Chief Shouty Person.  Mr Lampert joined CIPA in the summer and he still looks a little bit shocked when he comes into the office of a morning.  This is because he has a desk next to Mr Davies and of the two of them, Mr Lampert is definitely not the most shouty.  He is in charge of the whizzy new e-newsletter and is about to publish a special Christmas edition containing seven whole typos as a treat for patent attorneys to spot: there will be a prize for the person who writes in about them first.

Unlucky Gary looks after Mr Davies’s brain.  He keeps it in a desk drawer under a pile of Post-Its® with swear-words on them, which he holds up as prompts when Mr Davies is on the phone to people.  Mr Davies does not like being prompted, though; it is a drain on his creative energies.  He prefers to ad-lib his swear-words.

Mr Davies himself is the Chief Eggsek.  He is supposed to do as he is told by Council.  Unfortunately no-one spotted, when they recruited him, that he has a website called  This was a massive clue but it got past even the most eagle-eyed of the sober-suited ones.  So now Mr Davies is the irresistibly disruptive force to Council’s immovably conservative object, and Unlucky Gary has to pick up the pieces.

Unlucky Gary was called Unlucky Gary even before he joined CIPA.  Now he is thinking of changing his name to Doomed Gary.

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