I have seen Boris Johnson naked.

12 02 2012

The new way to introduce yourself at business meetings seems to be “tell us an interesting fact about yourself that no-one would know”. This has happened to me twice in the last two weeks. I’m sharing this with you so that you can be better prepared than I was.

The first time it happened I learned that a senior colleague was addicted to angry birds and that another had skied for Scotland. I freely admit that I panicked and confessed to having a piercing. This revelation was greeted with a stunned silence rather than by the smiles of approval with which the other contributions were received.

I thought, hoped, that this experience was a one off. I’d never been asked to be interesting at meetings before and imagined that I wouldn’t be asked to be so again. I was wrong. Yesterday it happened again. I was third in line for this ordeal so had a few minutes to think. In theory. In practice I heard the first woman say that she was a fully qualified football referee and the second that the Beatles song, ‘I saw here standing there’ was written about her mother when she was going out with Paul McCartney! Follow that!

Actually, to digress, this isn’t the first time I have been upstaged by Paul McCartney’s girlfriends. In the mid 90’s I was a speaker at the International Womens Day Conference held in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. I was third up. First was Dame Jill Knight and second was Heather Mills, later to become Heather Mills-McCartney. She stood up and talked through her life to that point, including abuse, homelessness, amputation, failed relationships, all of it – warts and all. Bearing in mind that the conference was themed “Women in Business” her soul-bearing was not what anyone expected. When her talk finally came to an end there was what felt like a decade of silence before anyone clapped while we all gather our wits, un-dropped our jaws and decided how best to respond. My first thought was that she should probably be sectioned, the second was, “How am I going to follow that?” I am pretty sure that my talk on “Women in Technology”, thrilling though I had imagined it would be, paled in comparison.

To return to the point, all I could think of to say was that I had recently performed a stand up comedy routine and am seriusly considering a suggestion that I do so again at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. I agree, not that interesting. On my journey home I racked my brain to come up with interesting facts about myself so that I wouldn’t be caught out again and, since I suspect that this method of breaking the ice at business meetings might be flavour of the month, I suggest you do the same.


  1. I have sky-dived from 25,000 feet
  2. I designed my own celtic knotwork armband tatoo, which is now, permanently, on my left upperarm – much to the disgust of my mother
  3. I sailed a boat around the Mull of Kintyre in the midnight moonlight and saw the sun rise alongside two humpback whales
  4. The CEO of Microsoft bought two of my sculptures and they now adorn his house in Palo Alto

and 5. Yes, I have seen Boris Johnson naked.



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