Interesting theme I’ve noticed from the Apple Watch reviews I’ve cast an eye over. they all look backwards. “when the iPhone was launched” etc etc and so on. A bit like they’re struggling to see how the watch fits in the future. Not saying this is a necessarily negative thing and contextualising the journey is an important thing, but when the iPhone launched it was about how it might just be the phone format for the future, same with the iPad. With the watch it seems a bit “this could be awesome because the iPhone turned out to be awesome”
Employing a new headteacher is, so they say, the most important job a governing body undertakes. It is one of the few areas where the governors have to actually make decisions rather than let other people make them and bitch from the sidelines about how good or bad those choices were. What is often referred to as ‘providing effective challenge’.
As a chair of governors this is your time to actually lead. You have to. First, the governing body will expect it. Second, you owe it to the children, staff and parents. And don’t mistake me when I say lead I really do mean that.
Of course, the governing body is a collective you make decisions as a whole. The ‘none of us is dumb as all of us’ doctrine that you’ll know well if you are on any board or body is just as powerful in schools as it is elsewhere. However, there is no point pretending that headteacher recruitment will work in the same way. Members of the governing body will expect you to do the leg work, that’s why they elected you chair, members of the governing body will expect you to listen to and respond to their concerns on their specific points of interest. Members of the governing body will look to you to let them know what’s going on. So, let’s dispense with the idea that this is a wholly collective effort, if you’re chair and your headteacher has just resigned expect to do the ‘recruitment’ – no one else will do it for you, everyone else will assume that you’re doing it and best of all nothing is really set in stone. Guidance, such as it is, can be, um, thin.
First up, it is 2015 (just to give this post context, you might be reading it in 2046 in which case things might have changed) Right now headteachers are retiring and resigning like there’s no tomorrow. Even worse, deputies are looking at the workload of headteachers and thinking “fuck that for a game of soldiers” (not a direct quote). There is, a crisis in headteacher recruitment because lots are leaving and few are applying. Keep this in mind, it’s important.
Get help. Immediately. If you are a maintained school buy in support as soon as you can. When the headteacher says “I intend to resign in the x term” before they’ve got the gn of resign out of their mouths Get. Help. You can sit around for a few weeks waiting for a governing body meeting or arrange an extraordinary meeting if you like Waste. Of. Time. Get on the phone to you local authority HR department and see what services they offer – pay for it. Call Governor Line, subscribe to Governing Matters speak to teachers you know and ones you don’t, call or email other chairs, speak to the local authority, contact your governors. Be a sponge for information and advice.
Record everything you do – the governing body will thank you for it when they realize how much shit you’ve had to do on top of answering their emails at 11pm on a Tuesday night about what shade of green you’re planning on using on page two of the recruitment website.
Arrange to meet with the senior leadership team and any/all other members of staff, speak to them and ask what they want in a leader, what they want to see from a new head. Then, after you’ve had the official meeting, go back another day and speak to them informally – you’ll get much better info from them this way. No one want’s to sit in a meeting with the chair of governors and their colleagues and say “the outgoing head is good, but this is shit, that’s shit, I’d change this” they’re much more likely to be forthcoming in person and in private. Make sure this happens. If they say the head is awesome pay attention to that too.
Speak to the school council or a group of children, let it be facilitated by a teacher, maybe ask them to prepare some thoughts or questions. The children will be brutally frank and are unencumbered by financial reality, but there’s no more honest assessment of what affects and worries children than speaking to the children themselves*.
Get an ally. The headteacher can’t really be involved in the recruitment process so put this to your advantage and use them in the recruitment process as much as possible (if they’re leaving on good terms, natch). If you’re really lucky you’ll have a deputy who can help you out too.
Sort your timetable first – there’s no point not doing this. Sounds obvious, but we managed to have a first and second round timetable in place that allowed for a September start. For this we had to start in January. January.
Do what is ‘standard’ there will be calls to be radical and fresh and interesting. If you have the time and inclination you can do this, but I think it’s a risky strategy. Headteachers looking for a new challenge are expecting to see an advert in the TES or relevant online jobs bulletin – projecting your advert on the Houses of Parliament might sound cool, but I’m not sure it’ll get you the best candidates.
Elect a recruitment panel. If you have an active governing body then this can be perilous as every member and his or her dog will want to be involved. They can’t be. Stay strong. Pick your five and don’t be bullied into swapping and changing it unless totally necessary. If you are a maintained school the local authority will want a piece of this action too. Don’t let them dictate to you unless they make good points that you agree with. “It’s your decision” they’ll say “we demand that you do it like this” they’ll also say. “bog off” should occasionally be in your repertoire.
Prepare for disappointment. You’ve done the planning, you’ve spoken to children and staff and parents. You’ve wrestled with the governing body and the local authority, paid for adverts and HR services, booked rooms, planned a recruitment selection process that suits all stakeholders – picked the menu for the governors lunch with the candidates (I shit you not more people will care about this than you think humanly possible) and set your deadline. Now you wait as sure as tick follows tock and count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until midday on the Friday of your deadline. The job is 50% done.
Remember when I said you should keep a paragraph in mind? Yeah, this is where the shit hits the fan. How may applicants would you expect for a job paying somewhere between 55 and 65 grand? Five? Ten? None? If you picked five or ten then I’m sorry to disappoint you. None is much more likely. We beat the average by one. Yes, one applicant. We had about ten potential candidates come to visit, of those it was felt that half had the potential to lead our school. Was our application process to onerous? No. We used the standard forms – basically a list of your previous experience and a personal statement. It’s just the way things are.
Judge your applicants against the person specification and not on the feeling of shear blind panic you now have in the pit of your stomach. To be fair it’ll be in the pit of all your other vital organs too. I don’t want to sugar coat this for you. If your one or two applicants aren’t good then DON’T INVITE THEM TO INTERVIEW. It is a waste of your time and theirs and you’re only doing it to salve the panic pits coursing through your body. On the other hand if they DO meet the person spec even if it’s is just the one of them you have NOTHING to lose by interviewing them. How will you know if they’re right with no other candidates to compare against? You won’t. Then again if you’re comparing them against other candidates you’re doing it wrong. It’s not Pop Idol, you’re not choosing the best from the group you’re picking the best for your school. Subtle. Different.
With fewer interviewees (I’m assuming that you’ll have no more than 3 and really I’m guessing you’ll have one or two at best) make your applicant day or days (yes, days) tough. Don’t be kind, test the living shit out of them. At the end of the day if they don’t want to climb into a hole and never go into a school ever again you’ll have failed. Well, maybe not that harsh, but along those lines. And to be fair, the ones who make it to the end of the day and are still smiling are probably the ones you should consider. I’m not joking about this, make it hard, really hard. Headteacher is a very tough job and it ain’t going to get easier in the near future. If you let the candidate off because you think the interview process is tricky you’re letting the school down. Don’t be mean, be thorough. Very thorough.
As chair you should avoid trying ‘run’ the day but pick a strategy for your involvement. At various times you may find yourself in discussion with the recruitment panel – either lead off with your thoughts or stay quiet until others have had their say – don’t try to argue or refute any position that isn’t yours. Listen. USE THE PERSON SPEC. If you’re a maintained school listen to the views of the local authority representative they interview more headteachers than you – if they say this is good, bad or indifferent, regardless of your feelings then take that advice on board.
Our interview process went like this:
Candidate to lead whole school assembly Candidate to observe a lesson Candidate to feedback on that lesson Candidate to meet with out-going head and chair of governors (waves!) Candidate to lead staff discussion Candidate to meet with school council Candidate to have lunch with governors (sandwiches went down well) Candidate to give presentation, 45 minutes to prepare Candidate to be interviewed by recruitment panel (Two hours. TWO. I KNOW!)
At the end of the process you’ll know, if you don’t then I’d argue the answer should be no. At the end of the recruitment day I wanted to crawl into my fortress of solitude and sleep for a month. This is normal. However, before that I had the massive pleasure and privilege of calling someone I’d only met 8 hours hence to offer them a job. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. As chair you’ll be looked to for leadership and for headteacher recruitment at least will have to take some decisions. Make the offer knowing you’ve made the right decision and all the hassle will have been worth it.
*Back up there somewhere is an asterisk next to meet with and speak to the children. It’s easy to scoff at this as a paper exercise in being inclusive, but I spoke to the school council and so did our prospective head and both times they said things that were invaluable to the process. A collective of ten children aged between 7 and 10 had as much insight into the heart of the matter than I think anyone would ever give them credit for. I’m not going to say here what they said about the candidate as that is confidential, but what they fedback had as much if not more sway on my decision making than any of our other fake tasks. Anyone can look at Pupil Premium data and count Ever Six children on a spreadsheet then say the right things, what they can’t necessarily do is bullshit children. We don’t credit young people with much insight, but they can see and smell bullshit a mile away and whilst the adults are all politely ignoring it children are making “EEEWWWW” noises and pointedly asking “What’s that smell?” Don’t involve the children because it looks good involve them as an equal part of the recruitment process, it is after all their future you’re playing with.
If you’re a chair of governors and your head has just resigned please do feel free to contact me and we can have a chat – I mean, it’ll be largely me saying RUUUUUUNNNNNNN AS FAST AS YOU CAN, but I might be able to offer some calming words of sympathy if nothing else.
I should point out that there is a certain level of hubris to the tone of this piece and that’s because our process worked. The elephant in the blog post is this, though: it could just have easily not resulted in a new headteacher for the school. We had a plan for that too. Even if you think you’ll be successful have a backup plan and a backup for that backup. In total we had three plans for each what if? Even if plan 3 is PANIC AND RUN AWAY at least have it.
Of course all this is unique to our governing body and our school and our area so your mileage may vary, but hopefully there may be some nuggets that you can nibble on and find useful.
Speaking personally – I mean not as The Chair – there was one moment when it really hit home hard how important the recruitment of the right headteacher is. I was in a good work assembly listening to the children murder with extreme prejudice some faux hymn about friendship. When my mind wandered off and I realised how many people were directly affected by the decisions I was going to be part of. The staff the parents and, probably most directly, the children. Appoint the wrong person and it would materially affect all of them in some way or another. I didn’t panic so much as have a little moment, but I’d suspect I’m not unique in that regard. If you’re a chair and about to go through this process then good luck and God speed, if not, what the hell have you just read all that for?
Ever since the Apple Watch website went live I’ve been enjoying this particular feature. Lots.
I mean, seriously?
There’s a lot of unsubstantiated waffle discussing the reason MacUser closed so please allow me to do some more. Dennis Publishing is lots of things, but sentimental isn’t one of them. Dennis has for a long time looked to make the most money from what it does. In recent years rather than let a magazine wither on the vine and close with a full team of staff they’ve franchised out the title to wring as much profit as they can from it.
I have no insider knowledge and everything here is a mere guess, but I’d wager that MacUser didn’t close because people don’t appreciate high quality content anymore or that readers don’t like nice paper and cutting edge design. I doubt it closed because people can get the same or similar information on the Internet. I don’t think that publishers aren’t willing to invest in new ideas either. My guess is that MacUser simply wasn’t making the profits that Dennis wanted. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that MacUser was probably still profitable, just not enough for Dennis. Simple as that really. If you’re looking to make money in publishing it may as well be real money, I suppose.
We moved house. That is where all this started, the house we bought was much bigger than our previous property and included another whole house on the side in the form of a granny flat, which is where granny lives so it is well named in that regard. The increase in the size of our house and having a whole additional adult human on site inevitably meant that electricity consumption was higher than we’d previously been used to. More than double, just about.
With that in mind, a few months ago we decided to look at how a solar PV installation might help us bring down those much higher electricity bills and, as the adverts kept telling us, the system would pay for itself and more.
The process has taken longer than we’d have liked, but in the end we’ve signed up to a system that we are happy with and it will indeed pay for itself and more over its lifetime. I was going to try and do the whole ‘we went solar’ blog post in one entry, but thinking about it I realised it would take more than just one session, I mean, you don’t know it yet, but there’s nearly 1500 words here already.
In this first bit I’m going to discuss the process of getting a quote, which can be much more ridiculously ridiculous than you might think.
Four quotes in to three.
We found there were two camps of solar installation companies. The first type is modeled on what appears to be a similar style as selling double glazing and is the reason we only ended up with three quotes and not four, which was our initial aim. The second is more like a traditional ‘we sell stuff you by stuff’ model, which I prefer.
Quote 1 – Would you like to go large?
I was cold called by a solar installation company, which as it happened was handy, they asked if I’d like a ‘no obligation’ quote from a ‘professional surveyor’ I agreed and a few days later a man turned up asking where my wife was. Bit odd.
Unperturbed by the lack of a wife at home he went on and on and on and on and on and on about the benefits of a solar installation. He showed me his electricity bills, pictures of his house and told me about an amazing store loyalty card and pack of free LED light bulbs that were included in the quote. So far, so very double glazing salesman. He put together a quote without so much as a glance at our roof, funny, but not too unsettling as the house and therefore roof is pretty big. 16 panels an inverter and all the work included came to about £9000.
Best of all during this quote was the call to his area manager (on speaker, naturally) to get an install code. ‘Can’t get government approval without them’ he said. Well, what would you know! They’d run out that day and only had the higher-tier codes left – this higher tier code meant we’d be getting black panels for a lower fee! But obviously I had to sign up there and then to benefit from this glorious stroke of luck.
The Green Deal loan was talked about a lot and even though I knew that particular government promotion was dead – he seemed not to. I didn’t mention that I knew the Green Deal incentive had finished, he insisted all the finance would be really easy because of it.
There wasn’t much talk about the efficiency of the system only to say that it was ‘the most efficient’ and ‘reliable’ available and as it was manufactured in Germany was of a much higher quality than panels from the far east. There was no evidence to support this other than a vaguely racist implication that Germany is better at making stuff than the Chinese.
After he’d gone I received a call from his ‘assistant’ telling me that there was a ‘massive backlog’ of applications for green deal financing and that it could take ‘several months to process’ he seemed nonplussed when I insisted there was no urgency and that I could wait, ‘Tesco’ he mumbled were ‘doing good deals’ and hung up.
Quote 2 – The ghost quote
‘Is your wife here?’ Again? I thought. Still, this one was more insistent ‘Legally I can’t give you a quote unless both house owners are present’ Legally? ‘Which law?’ I asked. Well, turns out there is specific legislation ‘from the government’ regulating the sale of solar panels. He seemed upset when I insisted that this appeared to me to be complete bollocks and that he could give me a quote or go. A little surprisingly he went, but not before he told me about the ‘specifically designed system with unique panels’ these would cost £12,000.
Quote 3 – Go local
A local company man arrived and didn’t even mention that my wife wasn’t there. The very first thing he did was ask to see the roof. So far so good. There was no hard sell and no mention of other systems’ performance, but what felt like an honest and open discussion of the best options for our house. There were two options that differed in price and complexity. The more expensive was for 16 panels and 16 micro-inverters, that is, each panel has a DC to AC module that then all feed together into the grid. The second and cheaper option was a 16 panel system with a ‘traditional’ single inverter setup where all the panels feed into one large DC to AC module before hitting the grid. The micro-inverter system was about £8000 with the single inverter price £1000 cheaper. This man knew the green deal was dead and was aware that the lack of any finance options was an issue for his company, but all the same the system was tempting.
Quote 4 – Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.
We were cogitating over the local installer and thinking about getting the more expensive system when my wife was told by a colleague that she’d just had IKEA round and they were good. Why the hell not we thought. I put my details into the website and a few hours later got a quote with the full price and expected returns.This seemed at odds with the experience so far, they never even asked where my wife was. The next day a man from IKEA (actually a sub-contractor called Hanergy) was on the phone asking if the quote was ok. Well, the IKEA system was the cheapest so far at £6000 and it had the same returns, but it was 30 panels not 16. Turns out that IKEA use a different type of solar panel that is rated at 120v and not 250v, which the majority of others use. Some sales obfuscation later and the sales pitch was: though you needed more panels they work more efficiently with lower light levels because of the lower voltage. The IKEA system used a single inverter module. The only difference with the IKEA quote, from the others, was that in order to have it finalised we would have to pay a £100 deposit for a site survey. *Shrug* we paid the £100 and a man turned up with ladder and measuring tape and a notebook. A few days later we had the survey returned and quote confirmed. And here was the true clincher for us – arranging finance took about twenty minutes – naturally, this will depend on your credit rating, but a 10-year loan for the total was sorted and, well, after a few days we signed on the dotted for a system from IKEA.
Our experience of getting quotes for a solar installation varied from laughably 1980s sales pitch to flatpack modernism, but I’m glad we got a few just to see. If we could have arranged the loan with the local company we might have chosen them, but the hassle of doing that and the fact they were a couple of grand more expensive put paid to that. There isn’t much chat online about solar panels that I’d put a great deal of trust in as, to a point, there’s not much to be gained or lost in the technology when you’re looking at a larger system. Micro-inverters, single inverters, thin-film panels, black-panels they’re all pretty much the same. Though a few forum dwellers seemed to have very strong opinions on the ‘right’ choices these were often based on the ‘this is what I bought so I really need it to be the best choice’ flavour.
If you’re looking to make a fortune from solar on your roof, then, well, you’re out of luck.
Can you smell astroturf?
It struck me when reading reviews online that many of them use similar or near identical language, which raised concerns in my mind. A number of times the phrase ‘multiple point of failure’ was used in relation to a micro-inverter system, but it didn’t seem to occur to these people that it would be unlikely for 16 inverters to break at once. Or, that if one breaks you still have 15 panels working, not something that would be the case if a single inverter system broke, then none of your panels would be working. Therefore a multiple point of failure system had its advantages. Still, one of the biggest factors on investing in our system was the ease of arranging finance and not necessarily the system.The generation targets and warranties were all much the same anyway, regardless of the system on offer.
The Tour De France ended today in Paris and a nice man called Nibali won it. He climbed mountains faster than anyone and didn’t fall off over the cobbles, he even survived two days in Yorkshire.
He rode the 2.276 miles in 89 hours 59 minutes and 6 seconds – for some context, today I rode 12 miles at an average speed of 10.1mph, with that in mind it would take me (assuming I keep that same average speed, which is very unlikely) the same distance would take me 225 hours 20 minutes and 47 seconds. With a following wind, no doubt.
It’s quite the achievement, but the problem is that since Armstrong I no longer feel the same. I used to love cycling, the way the bunch swept up the inclines as if they weren’t there the way a bloke who has been leading by miles alone all day is sped past by a peloton in full force or the lone attacker on a huge col, a col so huge it is HC or outside the usual categorisation, winning by peddling faster up up up with superhuman effort.
It’s the superhuman that bites. Armstrong was the superhuman superhuman and I believed in him, in his achievements. The look at Ulrich, the detour across the grass with Beloki prone on the road, the spectator and the strap of his bag. Pantani and the Alpe d’Huez.
I loved it and no failed drugs tests seemed to confirm he was doing it on his own, the naysayers could moan all they liked, but science is science and not once in all the years was there a failed test, the arse cream aside, naturally. But then the big reveal on Oprah. So little so late.
All of this and more has destroyed my trust in cyclists, probably unfairly but for all seven of Armstrong’s years in yellow it will probably take another 70 before I get too worked up about a winner of the tour especially as so many of them now have an * against their name.
Such a shame as I’d love to not think that Nibali is on drugs, but I can’t shake the feeling that in ten years time there’ll be another * to add to the list of past winners of the greatest cycling race.
One of my favourite in-house ‘jokes’ at Dennis was that in every leaving card Felix would sign:
Fuck off, Felix.
I always checked any card for it and childishly it always raised a smile. Wasn’t him, obviously and I doubt he knew of this tradition, but it was just a little bit of fun that permeated the building entire. Ads, HR, editorial, marketing, board of directors, post room, didn’t matter which department you worked in, if you left and you got a leaving card somewhere on that card would be the final sign off from ‘Felix’. It’s there in mine and it still makes me grin. I don’t know if it still happens, but something tells me it does, or did until today at least.
Like all good company traditions that mocks the attitude and personality of the boss or company there’s a little bit of truth in it too.
Dennis was an awesome (and challenging) place to work and as the management mantra goes “you set the tone” Felix most certainly set the tone from the top down and though it wasn’t always roses and sweet dreams (what workplace is?) I have incredibly happy memories from my time working at Dennis and today’s news is very sad and not just because a stupid old joke must now be retired.
I just don’t know how it happened. One minute you were there and then gone. Gone to the great LCD screen graveyard in the sky. There’s much and more to lament about your passing – so much pleasure in your bits and bytes and I mourn your untimely death in that very modern way by immediately trawling the Internet for a new model. You’ll be replaced, of course, but still, but still.
We shared so much you and I. We’ve walked the trenches of The Great War and stormed the beaches at Normandy 20 odd years later. We spent horrifying months together on Peleliu in fox holes full of blood and guts and rain, oh the rain. We visited animal farm took the road to Wigan pier spent some time in 1984. We thought about the five people we might meet in Heaven. We’ve flown on the back of an eagle from Mordor to the Shire and played the Game of Thrones, we still don’t know who will win. We’ve ridden up big mountains with Lance Armstrong and discovered his big dirty secret on the way down. Gone back and to the left with Kennedy and Oswald. Touched the face of God and travelled into space aboard Apollo 13, made it home safe too, then just for fun gone on the other missions. Together we marvelled at the arrogance of power through Nixon and Bush and Clintons both. We fought Liston and prejudice with Ali and learned how to be a woman. Lived America’s great depression with mice and men, flown on a mockingbird’s wings and started Ulysses over and over and over. One day my friend one day I will reach that beautiful last line without missing out the main body, but not you.
Perhaps not now, but as recently as 2006 Apple paid for me (as a member of the media) to go to WWDC. Not only that, first they flew me (and a host of other UK and European journalists) to New York first to see the Apple Store with the cube on top before giving us plush 10th row seats at the keynote. Apple stumped up the cash for flight and hotels and meals. They offered and I accepted.
I’m not sure why but there’s a very definite split between US and UK/European journalists on accepting this sort of ‘gift’ from a company you cover. In the US it appears that you have been seen to leave your integrity at the door if someone else is paying. My experience of the UK is that no one thinks it out of the ordinary or that it would affect your independence.
The Trades Club at Hebden Bridge is a small spit and sawdust sort of place that a Guardian review would probably describe as ‘intimate’ a Telegraph one ‘unmistakably northern’. A Yorkshireman’s view would most likely be ‘shithole’ but in a cuddly and sympathetically warm and loving way. Bottom line is, The Trades probably hasn’t seen many world premieres, but there are always boundaries to be pushed and Rubicon’s to be crossed and so it is home to the very second airing of Jon Ronson’s Frank Story. Second because Jon admits to performing a warm up rehearsal of the show in Brooklyn, but that didn’t count because he was the only person in the room who had the slightest clue what was going on.
The story of Frank Sidebottom is thoroughly intriguing. Today he would be a massively popular, but un-winning novelty contestant on Britain’s got talent, delivered to millions for weeks, talked about endlessly in school classrooms and playgrounds, filling column inches in tabloids and weekly chat mags and then unceremoniously dumped out of the collective consciousness damned to open supermarkets or tour what’s left of the working men’s club circuit until bankruptcy and or a stint heading up Iceland’s advertising campaign thrust him ever so briefly back into the limelight.
Frank’s rise to almost fame from the margins is told with love and, importantly, first-hand experience by Ronson. It is a eulogy of sorts for the man who played Frank and Frank the character, Ronson flits perfectly between the two – just when Frank’s larger than life on-stage persona is set to steal the show Chris Sievey staggers back in to with a dose of real life to balance out the story.
It’s also a homage to Ronson’s youth, a tale of those ridiculous early days as an adult where preposterous freedom and, often, financial necessity breed situations that in retrospect seem utterly bizarre, but at the time perfectly reasonable. The story goes that a single phone call is all it took for Jon Ronson to drop everything and join Frank Sidebottom’s band for a life touring the North of England to packed halls of “nearly 500 people”
Whatever your connection or disconnection to Frank Sidebottom the story as Jon Ronson tells it is compelling, warm, sweet and a little bit bitter. The ten-year gap where Frank and Jon didn’t speak seemed glossed over, as is Sievey’s death from cancer and funeral. The installation of a bronze statue in Timperley belies, just a touch, the idea of Sidebottom as a marginal character too – Eric Morecambe was dead a long time before his hometown saw fit to immortalise him in a metal of any sort. A section about Jon’s Twitter argument with academics from Durham University felt incongruous and out of place as well.
Funny, fringe and a little bit odd this show is a wonderful tribute to Sidebottom and Sievey, the list of people he inspired or worked with is like a who’s who of TV, music and radio establishment, only he worked with them before they were famous.
At the end Jon asked if there were any requests or questions and without hesitation the man next to me demanded a singsong. Obligingly, Ronson played a verse of Frank Sidebottom’s I Should Be So Lucky and for a brief few moments the audacity and ridiculousness and shear fun of Frank Sidebottom was alive in the room.