Tuesday, 29 December 2009

two old men

This morning... David Hockney as guest Editor on The Today programme.

A breath of fresh air from a smoker.

An old man who loves technology.

He paints the rising sun on his iPhone from his bed. (He has two because they get full; two iPhones that is, although by the sound of it his bed still gets full too.)

"Blackberries are for secretaries. The iPhone has a sense of humour."

On noticing things: "When you're jogging, you're thinking of no-one but yourself are you?"

And on people who tell us that eating omelettes is bad for you: "Their vision. It's too small. It's not big. It's not a big lovely vision."

A happy story of a man who knows he's lucky to be alive. Thanks David Hockney.

And a beautiful slideshow - an underrated and under used form.

And then also today, with barely any sense of risk in terms of public relations, the Chinese executed Akmal Shaik, a British man (as the BBC website keep calling him.)


A man. A mentally unstable man, who thought he could spread world peace by becoming a popstar. Manipulated by others for financial gain and undermined by his own condition.

An appalling story. But one that hasn't (as they say) "captured interest."


Because he's not young?

Because he's not white?

Because he's not talented?

Or because he's not been on The X Factor maybe.

Without a reality TV show attached to his story, it's not real enough perhaps.

Not a happy story.

David Hockney and Akmal Shaik. Two old men.

One of whom is still lucky enough to get excited staring at puddles.

Monday, 28 December 2009

over and over

Serial music.

Something my stepfather introduced me to when I was a teenager.

If you don't like it, you hate it.

If you like it, you love it.

The marmite of music.

And now... Terry Riley's In C, remixed. Heaven.

Zoe Keating's 'cello is my favourite version: Zinc. Download it. And listen.

On headphones.

Lost. Utterly lost in it.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

always in the season

So here's a song for Christmas.

From the excellent Pomplamoose.

Refreshing, live music.

And with it - a perfect way to spend money today, or any day.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

as if it were the last time

One of the loveliest things to do this evening instead of Christmas shopping: Subtle Mob

If you live in London... Take your partner to Charing Cross at 6.30pm and before you go...

Click here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

My brain on Monday

So - I found a Neurologist.

Not just any neurologist.

Baroness Susan Greenfield.

(Camilla just phoned up and asked. And she said yes.)

Was it great to meet her?

Did I learn anything?

About the brain?

About what then?

Was it a dialogue?

Is she an extraordinary woman?

Is it worth listening to?
When I've edited it, yes.

Can I listen to all 36 minutes of it before you've edited it?

What was the most interesting thing in the conversation?
Her answer to my question "What would you give to every child on the planet if you wanted them to appreciate what an extraordinary thing the individual mind is?"

What was her answer?
A brain. A real one.

Thank you Susan Greenfield. And power to your elbow.

My brain hurts.

Better questions....

Just a small thought...

In a week where I've helped a big organisation to think globally, I came across a project and website this morning that's encouraging people to do the same thing. In a different way.

The questions I'm left asking myself include:

What's the best thing I can do?

Where's the dialogue that might make the most significant difference?

Is my desire to drop everything and work for a year somewhere where poverty is rife really just my ego at work?

Is the most valuable thing I can do to send money to people who know what they're doing?

Or should I take a leaf out of the corporate vision I helped cascade last week and put into practice what I think I try to do anyway: Small Actions Big Difference.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Total Recall

And then...

I was walking past a well known shopping store in Covent Garden, a store I don't think I've actually been in since 1980-something...

(I've been into the one Next to it... but not this one.)

And I noticed something odd.

There were just three signs in the window.

This one...

(Where the Pyjamas are dangerously inky...)

And then this one...

Where the heel might come from the shoe.

(And where the fur has definitely come from a rabbit.)

And then next, this one...

...Where the trousers are 'technically deficient'

What could this possibly mean? (In trouser terms?)

And how urgent could a trouser recall be?

Anyway - 3 signs. 3 recalls. Urgent recalls.

No Happy Christmas signs...

No "Buy our clothes. (Well, the safe ones anyway.)"

So - what's going on here?

A cunning and brilliant strategy of honesty at all costs?

A new and extremely influential Head of Compliance?

Or (an animal rights conscious) revolutionary sitting where it counts in a High St chainstore?

Whatever it was - it didn't seem to be attracting many customers. Not when I was there.

So there it was: in a shop window: a total recall.

"Well," I thought to myself: "I'm glad I'm not recalling anything in the build up to something really important (like Christmas must be to High St retailers.)"

And (to lessen the likelihood of me recalling anything in the build up to something really important) I was reminded of how important it can be to really think things through.

To slow down before putting something out there...

So - note to self: whatever it is, do it properly - and check as best I can that it's not going to leak, or hurt someone, or stop a rabbit form being warm this winter. (Or even alive this winter.)

And then I thought about the word recall.

An urgent recall.

I quite often find myself wishing I could recall something.

In my mind...

From my mind.

With my mind...

What I need is to talk to a neuroscientist...

Now where on earth am I going to find one of those?

Good enough to steal...

First meeting of the day with Rehana and Eleni from CCE and Zarah from Gazelle Media talking about how we make a series of video podcasts to help people facilitate big conversations through dialogue...

Rehana is a wonderful combination of surprising (and sometimes apparently contradictory) facets and qualities. She works for a government funded organisation but exudes creativity. She's a passionate, forthright woman of conviction and beliefs. A fixer by trade and an artist by nature.

And she's the only Muslim woman I know who's into Formula One.

Anyhow - walking Rehana and Eleni back to their office (which they share with the Design Council) she points out to me their shop window...

An exhibition of bikes - the Brompton fold up ones people use to get to work.

They're very desirable things.

So much so... that the window display has been the subject of various robbery attempts.

So they've replaced the real ones with cardboard ones.

So they're no longer exhibiting the real thing. Because it's too tempting not to steal.

The cardboard ones look lovely as well though.

(And would be less heavy to carry on the tube.)

(Or steal.)

"I've got one of those." said Rehana.

"Where do you keep it?" I ask.

"Under my desk." she said.

"It's safe there."

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Dominion Theatre... then and now.

Good grief - it's been nearly two months and no blogging. That's what happens when you start to work with commercial clients I suppose. Lots of interesting things happen but you cant write publicly about them.

So there I was at the Dominion Theatre yesterday... with 1,800 people in it at 10am. About 20 years ago I was playing Snug the Joiner on that same stage. Trying to extract laughs from strangers in barn of a theatre.

And there I was yesterday. Helping a small group of people to help four large groups of people in four different venues around Britain to hear and see roughly the same thing at the same time...

I've been struggling to think how I can best put down some of what I've been learning whilst maintaining confidentiality and sensitivity and I think I've got it. Can't say what it is obviously. That's for me to know.

So - blogging's back on the list of things to do.