Category Archives: What I think

Women’s work #IWD2016

I don’t work for free, that’s a firm rule.  But when Helen asked me to help with making a series of podcasts with women in tech for International Women’s Day, I said yes without hesitation.

I’m proud of the work we did today, all of us, in collaboration.  I know that you’ll get great value out of listening to the stories of the women we met and worked with.

But whatever the financial value, whatever I might have been paid ordinarily for a day like today can only represent a tiny, tiny fraction of the value of unpaid physical and emotional labour as well as financial support given to me by the women whose homes and lives I’ve shared over the years, support which continues to today.

Thank you, all of you, mother and sister, grandmothers and aunts, girlfriends and wives, I love you all.

How do you find a smell?

Often, if I’m out in town, I will catch a whiff of something nice.  Some cologne or perfume or something that transports me to a happy warm childhood place or an image of someone or something or just a feeling of rightness, a rightness that isn’t there all the time.  And I think wouldn’t it be nice to smell that more often.

But how do you find a smell?  Even if it’s a mass-produced thing that you can find behind the counter in Debenhams, how would you start?  How does this happen?  I’ve never done it.  I can remember buying after-shave perhaps once or twice in my life and then it was always pretty random.  Oh yes, that one will do.

I know there’s a vocabulary, “lemony”, “sharp”, “tweedy”, “high notes”, “musky” etc. but I’m not sure what they really mean – they can only be subjective can’t they? There’s one that reminds me of a playgroup I went to more than forty years ago – how do I communicate what that is?  I know it when I smell it but I can’t conjure it up in the same way as I can say, the smell of cut grass.  It’s just out of reach.  When I come across something I like, I want to say to someone, “what’s that smell?  How would you describe it?  Do you know what brand it is?” but that wouldn’t go down well on the Waterloo & City Line at 08.51 on a crisp Thursday in February.

 

Theatre Blogging: it’s not what it could be

I heard recently about a director having the nasty experience of inviting a journalist into rehearsals and then having an unhelpful (I haven’t read it, it’s paywalled) preview article published just before the show opens.

Yuk.

Reading about it sent me back to look at what I wrote nearly eleven years ago (!) about using blogging in theatre.  I was surprised to see what emphasis I put on buzz and PR (that was how the original question had been framed).  And it’s that angle that all the marketing people picked up. I went to see John Berry at ENO because (see the comments on the post) they were doing something like this a couple of years later.  And a year after this first post, I did a little site about the opening of Avenue Q.  It had to be done, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t read any of the West End theatre blogs or the mainstream journalism that has taken on our blogging form but sticks to traditional writing styles of reporting and criticism.

But I was thinking about more than marketing.

What I was thinking was of a kind of collaborative production journal, where everyone contributes…  think “The Making of…” fly-on-the-wall documentary style, only on the web, and released in chunks as they happen, day by day rather than being stitched together after the show has closed.

I think this points to something much more interesting to do – about using these tools as part of the production, as part of the artistic process, to log progress and reflect on thinking and how things are emerging, for the benefit of the team themselves much more than prospective audience members and to create something bigger and longer-lasting and more networked than traditional documentation or archiving.  It’s “sources going direct”, cutting out the dependence on news organisations (and their sodding paywalls) and making our own media.

 

Audioblog 160223 – Walking by the canal thinking about @solobasssteve

Download .mp3 (7.9MB)

Walked by the canal this morning, nice and slow and easy. Reflective, as canals are and encourage us to be. Not much to do except dodge buggies, joggers and duck poo. And think about something Steve Lawson wrote on Facebook this morning.

6m 11s I pass by a jackhammer, mind your ears.
It made me realise how long I’d been talking for, so I finished.

Self Care: Things To Do

This is by no means a canonical list, but I remembered on Saturday that I had it with me and so I shared it with people.  It occurred to me that it might be useful to share here too.  I could add to it, so could you, but it’s just what came out one day when I sat down to write “Things I need to do to take care and resource myself.”

  • Go for a walk – 20 mins to 1 hr (longer on rest days)
  • Have a rest day
  • Go on holiday
  • Walk in the woods
  • Talk to someone, anyone
  • Have a nap
  • Meditate
  • Tidy up and process stuff
  • Time my work periods (25 minutes working, 5 minute doing something different)
  • Do the washing up or some laundry
  • Read for fun
  • Play a game
  • Go to unplugged/tuttle/some other coffee morning type thing
  • Forgive myself for not being perfect all the time
  • Do someone a favour
  • Stop working for free
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Listen to music
  • Play music, sing and dance around the living room

Audioblog 160220 – Why So Serious?

Download 5.7MB

I recorded this on Waterloo Station shortly after the Devoted & Disgruntled Vaults Festival Open Space on Saturday. The space was opened to discuss “Let’s stop romanticising depression and marginalising other mental illness” and I called a session called “Why So Serious?” about the issue of taking oneself too seriously, dealing with other people’s expectations, the link between adopting a serious persona and depression or burn-out.

I reported like this mainly because I’d called a session at the previous week’s space but had then spent the whole week not being able to write a report.   It’s reminded me how much I like making this format.  Expect more…

[insert celebrity name] died in January what’s up with that?

We have seen some cultural icons pass in the last month.  And whenever we hear of another individual death, we’re tutting on social media and giving January 2016 a bit of a hard stare.

It’s had me thinking about death, how it’s always a surprise even though we know it’s coming.  How the War Babies and Boomers are getting older and will naturally be starting to disappear and what it also means about our culture.

First of all, January.  Yes January is a bastard.  Even if you’re well it’s long and dark at our latitudes and I think lots of people who aren’t so well decide consciously or not that they’re not up to sticking around for another winter.   From the ONS Winter mortality statistics from England & Wales you can see that January 1st was the number one day to die in the period 1/8/2014 to 31/7/2015 and that January was the peak month for deaths with just under 60,000 people.

image (7)

But what about Bowie, Lemmy, Rickman etc?  Well they’re the early-ish ones of a much bigger trend.  Although life expectancy at birth for males in the UK is currently about 78, back in the late forties it was 63-64 (presently ONS don’t produce life expectancy tables for people who took extremely large amounts of drugs in the seventies like Bowie and Lemmy).  A bit like house prices, most people have come to expect average life expectancy to keep going up even though they realise it can’t keep going forever.  Sooner or later everyone who had a top ten hit during the sixties and seventies will be dead, shortly followed by everyone who bought a copy of said hit.

And during the sixties and seventies we had something that we hadn’t had before and haven’t had since – the primacy of youth.  If you look at the people playing on number one hits during 1965, for example, most of them are aged 25 or under (the youngest was Dave Davies of the Kinks who was just 18, the oldest was Ken Dodd at a venerable 38).  That means we have a bubble of very famous people all around the same age who will probably be dying in the next few years.  We’ll have to get used to losing our heroes.

[Help me improve this.  Can you see better ways to use available data to make the point?  Can you see some more important points to make?  Pointe them out, let’s improve it together.]