Tuesday, 13 July 2010

intimate conversations

In the last few months, I've been recording and editing conversations on the subject of Sex.

Initially, when it was suggested to me, I thought: no; there's far too much stuff on sex out there already.

Bad porn.
Shoddy writing.
Sensational tabloid journalism.
Terrible late night TV programmes.
The internet.

Why add to the list?

Then I thought about it a bit more.

What would it be like to record and some really powerful conversations on the subject?

And what would it be like if instead of the physical act being the desired climax (yes, double entendres really are unavoidable), what if you took having sex as the starting point?

What if you pay attention to the quality of the conversations so they build into a dialogue: an honest, curious respectful exchange.

And what if we let the theme develop... and go wherever it needs to go?

Wherever that is.

Already it was beginning to feel like a better idea.

And like Pain and Friendship (themes I've taken on in the previous two years), Sex is a subject that people find hard to talk about honestly and openly.

So maybe, with some real dedication there might be some unchartered territory to explore?

(And in a way, sex is a natural follow on from those two themes. I suppose I'll have to do Death next.)

Now I was interested. Really interested.

So I took the criteria I've always applied - to talk to people who've experienced things that not many of us have - and I set about finding some people to talk to.

And I found some wonderful people.

(Thank you very much to all of them.)

So - I started. And now, a few months down the line I've interviewed seven people and edited five of the conversations.

There are more people I want to talk to... more conversations to have.

But for now, I want to share the ones I have.

And luckily for me, each year, Latitude Festival gives me the perfect setting to do just that.

Latitude's a fantastic place to let the conversations loose and open them up to a wider world than my just my two ears.

We have a two hour slot every morning, in the relative peace and quiet before the rock 'n roll kicks in.

People are in a relaxed, curious and open-minded frame of mind. They're not rushing to get to an appointment, or a meeting, or bathtime with the kids.

They amble gently up to our shed in the woods.

They take time to look at the various conversations on offer.

They consider which one they'd like to listen to.

And then we lead them to a quiet spot in the woods, give them an iPod and a pair of headphones.

And leave them to listen in peace.

When they've finished, they might want to talk.

Or they might want to gently walk away.

As Seasick Steve (another Latitude veteran) might say: it's all good.

But not everyone can get to Latitude.

And I'd like as many people as possible to hear the conversations.

I'm proud of them. And I'm fascinated to see and hear what people think of them.

So for the first time, I'm going to publish them here on the blog.

One by one.

Starting on Friday, with the amazing Jane, who I've written about before. (Here.)

I'm full aware that listening to conversations isn't for everyone.

But for some - I hope it's a refreshing, engaging and (who knows) even satisfying way to spend 20 minutes or so.

An important note: the conversations are indeed intimate, honest and (given the subject matter) sometimes explicit and graphic in terms of content. So my recommendation is that they should not be heard by children but by adults only, young and old alike.

(We have other conversations on other subjects designed for younger listeners at Latitude which I'll share here too for summer holiday listening.)

So for now... thanks for reading.

Look out on Friday...

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