August 2008 Archives
Couldn't resist it ... original post on Flickr, but found on the brilliant stumbleupon.com, the subject of a Post blog some time back - do try it: it will change your browsing life.
Pretty much wall-to-wall misery on the Birmingham Post editorial floor this week when I did one of my regular freelance sub-editing stints. It's how I cover my Council Tax and pay for drugs - how else do you think I get through the night?
But amid all the wailing, insecurity and, frankly, hatred of parent company Trinity Mirror, there seems to be a reasonable amount of sympathy for editors Marc Reeves and Steve Dyson, currently Post and Mail supremos respectively.
I would fail any lie detector test because I'm the kind of person who gets palpitations and blushes even when I'm telling the truth.
I remember getting hot in the school classroom when the teacher stormed in and demanded to know who had thrown the wastepaper basket out of the window.
I blushed because someone else was telling a lie. It wasn't even me.
Fibbing is not one of my talents.
That's why I'm perplexed by those who have a looser relationship with the truth than me.
I'm not talking about the Anne Darwins of this world. I'm talking about a friend who has made out she is five years younger than she really is on Facebook, the guy who says he'll meet me at 7pm while being fully aware he can't get there till 7.30pm, the shop manager who says he'll call when my order comes in, even though he knows he never does.
The puzzling thing for me is that the kind of people I'm talking about are not criminals. I'm talking about friends, good friends - kind, decent people.
I know there are crooks who want something for nothing and for whom lying is a way of life.
It's the good people who break promises and tell porkies that interest me. These are people who think of themselves as honest - and they are - and yet they don't think of it as lying when they say something they know isn't true.
Is there something wrong with them - or with me? Am I too pedantic? Do I use language too literally? Is it because I'm a writer that I expect there to be an accurate relationship between someone's words and what's actually the case?
I'd really like to know. If you're honest enough to admit you're not always honest, or that you don't even see it like that, do tell me how it is for you.
I need to preface this posting with the following comment: I am as happy as the next woman that Team GB did so well in the Olympic medal table.
One cannot fail to have been moved by the mix of joy, elation and often pain on the faces of our athletes over during the Beijing Games, whether they 'medalled' (since when was that a verb?) or simply completed their event. The UK has gone Olympic-mad with pride, and with great justification. All Olympians are very special people indeed.
Much discussion has taken place over investment in elite sport, particularly in the disciplines where we've achieved such success, and it's clear that we have a winning formula: UK talent x investment = return. Injuries and illnesses aside, where the sports' governing bodies have got things sussed to identify upcoming talent and where money has been invested, we've won medals. Great.
Looking forward to 2012, there is already talk of even more medals in London as the home nation always has an edge with the opportunity to familiarise itself with the venues long in advance of the incoming nations, as well as the support of the crowds. But we do need to look at where the money to pay for this is coming from.
I used to know a world famous improvising musician (sadly no longer with us) who, on tour, would spend a lot of time going up and down in hotel lifts.
I recall doing an interview with him at Birmingham's Strathallan Hotel donkeys' years ago when I first observed him at it. He was fascinated by the effect of what was once called 'elevator music' on fellow lift users and the general levelling out of rhythm and pitch.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery used to have a local history room, there were old police uniforms and a button you could press to hear a snatch of "I can't find old Brummagem". That and the papier-mÃÂ¢chÃÂ© T-Rex is pretty much all I can remember of the museum from my childhood, which is odd because we went there a lot -- it was a cheap day out.
Since then the local history responsibility has been covered a bit by Thinktank, a bit by more local museums such as Soho House --ÃÂ but that's about to change with a ÃÂ£300,000 grant which BMAG will use to create a new gallery showing the history of Brum from "medieval times to the present day".
A great opportunity. The museum has a wealth of artefacts that would suit this -- many at its collections centre that gets popular but infrequent open days -- and there are some pieces at Thinktank that could do with bringing back into context a little. There are also pieces such as the Baskerville collection at Central Library that it would be great to see in a proper setting.
I've been collecting ideas of what else the museum should have: some have been serious "A retrospective of the old adverts that encouraged families to move from Birmingham into the new towns.", some not so -- but interesting all the same -- "Camp Hill Flyover".
My best times at the old local history museum were when my old granddad would tell me more about (giving the human side) some of the things there. It's a fine line that has to be trod between the kind of interactive, but child-focussed, exhibits seen at Thinktank - and the dry exhibition of artifacts. A local museum has a perfect opportunity to create an experience that not only engages people, but draws on the experience of its potential visitors about the subject.
What price a sort of "wiki-museum" where the public could pop in and add/correct information and even drop off stuff that that they think contributes to the story?
After a rather grueling week up-country, it's back to Handsworth to try and put my house in order, both physically and metaphorically.
There's always that moment of trepidation after you have turned the key and pushed open the door past the pile of post.
Yay! I didn't leave the anchovy hotpot in the slow cooker for a week.
Yay! The washing machine isn't full of damp dog-smelling towels.
Boo! My Busy Lizzy has died.
The four-day International Festival of Glass centred on Stourbridge was absolutely wonderful in every way. It was worth travelling from the ends of the earth just to sample the fabulous bread pudding (made with muscovado sugar) on offer in Wordsley Church Hall or see the extraordinary glass dresses at Broadfield Museum or the magnificent work by international artists in the Sculpture Garden at Ruskin Glass Centre.
Not forgetting the sounds of the street performer in a bowler hat, apparently smashing windows or being chased by wolves, hiding behind a buggy-pushing mum or relieving himself against a wall - hilarious and utterly unexpected.
It lasted a bare hour, but the world premiere show by Theatre of Glass has kept us talking for days.
Tempestade is very loosely based on chunks of The Tempest, the Shakespeare text which has been referenced by several items and events at the Stourbridge International Festival of Glass, which finishes today (Monday, Aug 25) with a knees-up on the Nile.
But Tempestade has about as much to do with the Elizabethan narrative as the melody of Greensleeves has to do with the Thomas Tallis Fantasia. It's a starting point for a riff, a brave and fascinating experiment which struck me as having a lot to do with the methodology of free improvisation in music.
I've been to a few film premieres in my time, but nothing quite as important as this. I was escorted to the screening by two security guys from CV1, afraid I'd be late. I needn't have worried. The production team was still working on the credits when I arrived. Typical film set chaos.
Let's set the background for you, the mise en scene, as we say in the trade.
All parents will know, I hope, about the brilliant (with awards to prove it) website set up by the BBC which runs in tandem with the CBBC channel. One of the myriad features gives youngsters the basic software tools and some instruction in film making. It's called Me and My Movie.