I recently returned from nearly three weeks of touring the United Kingdom and Ireland. Some of you that followed my posts about the trip on Facebook seem to have the misconception that this was a pleasure trip. I can assure you that was not the case. During the entire trip I was hard at work for the people of Houston.
First, the schedule was excruciating. We normally had to be at breakfast by 9:00 before a morning of meetings and tours. Then there was lunch and more meetings in the afternoon. Of course, we normally broke for tea at 3:00 and then generally retired for a short nap before cocktails. The dinners were tediously long with several courses of food and wine. On several occasions, we were even called on to have a nightcap before turning in and starting the same arduous schedule all over the next day. It was really difficult just to get in a few rounds of golf.
And while I would never be one to pat myself on the back, I do think a great deal was accomplished.
For example, while in Greenwich, I met with the Royal Naval Museum and negotiated a technology transfer agreement on shipbuilding techniques for four-mast, wooden-hulled schooners. These were incredible vessels that could sail at over 20 knots with a zero-carbon footprint! I think we can really revive ship building in Houston with this technology. Now I know some of you are probably skeptical. But, hey, if we can base our mass transit system on 19th century technology, why not our ship building industry as well?
I also had the occasion to visit several whiskey distilleries in Scotland and Ireland and the Guinness brewery in Dublin. I shared with them my market research that shows a huge spike in the demand for alcohol in Houston on Wednesday afternoons about the time City Council adjourns. All immediately saw a fantasic opportunity for their products.
But I was most excited about my meetings with the British Golf Association while I was in St. Andrews about moving the British open to Memorial Park. I shared with them that the City had just installed parking meters in the park and I felt certain it would dedicate that revenue to supporting the tournament. While the officials seemed a bit skeptical, they promised to get back to me in the near future.
Of course, traveling in this manner is very expensive and since I was there in an unofficial capacity, I had to pay my own way. Thank goodness, there are taxpayers and special interests willing to foot the tab for our elected officials on these kinds of trips. I mean since most of them have never worked a day in the private sector, few could afford to go on such trips without the generous support of the taxpayers and special interests.
And if they could not afford to go, well, they would have to stay here and deal with mundane matters like potholes or flood control or a police force that only catches 6% of the burglars. And where would the fun be in that?!