Friends of Harry

Harry Tuttle
Thinking about Harry Tuttle. Harry is a Freelance Heating Engineer in a world where such things are illegal. Central Services call Harry a terrorist.

Harry appears briefly two or three times in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I don’t know if it’s the best film of the late 20th Century, but it’s certainly consistently one of my favourites. Harry, played by Robert De Niro, and his attitude to paperwork and bureaucracy just struck a chord with me, growing up as the battle raged between Thatcher’s anti-social selfishness disguised as freedom and the post-war monolith of nationalised industry. And despite the fact (brought home to me last week in Berlin facing a row of smooth-faced twenty-somethings) that this was more than 20 years ago and before some of you were born, that film – what it says about the state, big business and “terrorism” are still things we’re talking about.

Harry’s spirit is summed up when the hero, Sam Lowry asks Harry about his broken-down, over-engineered, bodged together heating system. Sam says “Can you fix it?” “No,” says Harry, “but I can *bypass* it”. And that’s what I see again and again among this band of misfit, oddball geniuses who I bump into around the web and it’s physical outcroppings, many of whom I now call “friend” and not just in a FaceBook kind of way.

Thank you for your suggestions about guest/hosts. It really helped me be clear that we needed something simple which neither implied any power, hierarchical or elevation of status in the relationship nor unswerving agreement, just something in common, that we can all agree on. “Friend” is great for that. And I’d suggest that we’re all, in some way “Friends of Harry” so that’s what we’ll be. Anyone who comes to the café will be a Friend of Harry, but of course, you can be a Friend of Harry without actually coming there – that’s what Harry’s like.

To keep this up, I’m also starting to talk about the “Tuttle Club” as another name for Social Media Café partly because it’s shorter, partly because it says more about a point of view than a technology and partly because I increasing get the feeling that we’re about more than Social Media. The names are interchangeable, but I think that the Tuttle Club probably covers more than the just the café in London. Let’s see.