Holloway’s needle

By | 14th February 2012

A question of trivia: How many needles did Cleopatra have?

The answer, it seems, is four!

If you have been reading my recent posts from New York, you will not be surprised to learn that one of the “needles” is in Central Park. Its partner is on the Embankment in London and they came originally from Heliopolis. How they came to be called Cleopatra’s Needles, I do not know. A blog written by the evocatively named William Wallace under the strapline of London is Cool  has an original take on the reason and reveals that Cleopatra moved them from their original site in Heliopolis to Alexandria where she ordered them to be placed in a temple in honour of Mark Antony. The pair was later split up with one in London and the other in New York. The second pair is equally mysterious. Having been erected originally in Luxor, one is now in the Place de la Concorde in Paris and the whereabouts of its twin is unknown.

A second titbit from New York concerns Predictive Coding, aka Technology Assisted Review or TAR. I attended only two of the many sessions on this subject. One was an emerging technology session moderated by Chris Dale with panel speakers Craig Ball, Certified computer forensic examiner, Attorney and Forensic Technologist, David Cowen, President of the Cowen Group and Stephen Stewart, Chief Technology Officer of Nuix.The other was a session moderated by Dean Gonsowski, eDiscovery Counsel of Symantec where the speakers were Maura Grossman Counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, The Honourable Andrew J Peck, Magistrate Judge United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and Ralph Losey, blogger extraordinaire and a partner and National eDiscovery Counsel at Jackson Lewis LLP.

Both sessions were informative and well run, but the titbit concerns comments made by Ralph Losey about TAR or CAR as he prefers to call it, being Computer Assisted Review. The “CAR” lends itself readily to his theme that a good “CAR” tends to achieve more “files per hour” and that every “CAR” needs a competent driver. I cannot better that!

My last titbit concerns luggage. After an excellent flight home I arrived at Heathrow in the early hours of Saturday morning to find a mere nine pieces of luggage from my flight sitting on the allotted carousel in baggage reclaim. None was mine! After waiting for a short while despite my impatience to begin the long journey to Norfolk which takes about as long as flying to London from New York, I realised that someone had taken my suitcase in error. There was another which looked similar still going round although its owner would have seen, had he/she looked a little more closely, that it did not carry a large brown leather label with the name HOLLOWAY on it in large black letters.

Chris Dale has told me in the past that he and Charles Christian compete with one another for the title of the grumpiest in town and that the title is not vacant, so I will conclude by telling you a heartening story. BA Baggage Enquiries at Heathrow were brilliant. Having filled in a very short form, I was informed by a helpful member of staff that he had checked that my luggage was not “out the back” and that he had already left a message on the mobile phone of the person suspected of lifting the wrong bag to alert the miscreant and ask him to bring it back. He said that bags usually turned up after a couple of hours but that I should continue my journey unencumbered. This allowed me to catch a particular train at King’s Cross to get me home on time as planned, which I would not have done had I had to run for it with a heavy case. Halfway through the journey I received a text saying that the case had been returned and would be couriered to me during the day. True to that promise a courier arrived at my house around 8p.m. that evening at the start of the heavy snowfalls (poor chap) with my suitcase.

One in the eye (not to mention a needle) for BA’s detractors I say, and many thanks to them.

I have less praise for the people at BAA for their subsequent decision to cancel flights “in case there were delays caused by snow.” Taken to its logical extreme, Network Rail would never run a train in case there was an accident!

Nor have I any sympathy with BAA when it is compared with Frankfurt where six inches of snow fell at the same time as the couple of inches at Heathrow and not one flight was cancelled.

Meanwhile in nearby Gatwick, the runways were fully open but many planes were grounded for several hours because of a shortage of de-icing equipment. A colleague stranded in Grenoble awaiting the arrival of his return flight to Gatwick, quipped that whilst Gatwick obviously has ample de-icing equipment to cope with normal demand during the summer months, the arrival of wintry conditions in early February had evidently placed an unexpected strain on resources.

I could go on but, in the warm spirit of benevolence I feel for BA, I will put away my needle for another day!

Photo: Cleopatra’s Needle (London) – Wikimedia Commons