I wrote recently about my disillusionment with the modern way of giving, noting en passant that sponsorable feats are ‘subject to worthiness inflation, that is, to justify sponsorship you must come up with ever more wacky or onerous tasks. It won’t be long before there’s a charitable foundation for the children of people who’ve died on fund-raising trips’. Well, this may have been a joke of sorts even though it was based on observation of people doing frankly stupid things for charity, but today I discover that one American, Richard Swanson, died after being hit by a truck while attempting to dribble a football to Brazil for the opening of the World Cup, to benefit a football charity. Continue reading
I’m not particularly comfortable with, or good at, asking people for money. Last year, when I switched to batting left-handed and asked for sponsorship, the smart money was on a very small runs tally. The smart money doesn’t always win. It began unravelling for my various sponsors during my first innings, in which I scored 40 not out. Though the next few languished in single figures, the die was cast, and this, coupled with an insane quantity of games played, meant that the amount pledged racked up. Naturally, an amount failed to be given in, but this was due to my refusing to accept money until the season’s runs were scored. Continue reading
Like many of us, I simply cannot bear the sound of my own voice, so I have yet to listen to this interview which appeared on the Danny Pike Show this Monday – it starts at 1.09 in.
I do know that the aspects of voice are many, that it means many different things, but that each one of them is down to identity. Whether it’s authorial voice, the voicing of a chord, the collective voice of a populus, or the simple result of air being moved over vocal chords, the voice is something that is instantly recognisable. Why do we not like the sound of our own voice? Is it because we don’t want to be confronted with who we are?
Parkinson’s affects your voice. It gradually softens, slurs, diminishes.
As it does so, another aspect of what makes you you slowly fades.
Eventually, the words ‘I didn’t recognise you’ will be the one I hear most.
Sometimes, I don’t recognise myself. Perhaps that’s why.
I’m truly not convinced I can listen.
I found an odd search term on my website today, and followed it to rater a dinky little piece I wrote quite some time ago … I thought I’d share it again, A sort of revisitation of old writings. Apt, seeing as this piece is about revisiting old haunts. You can read it here. Go on, you know you want to!
Five years ago, on January 30th, my life changed. It changed because a consultant uttered the words ‘you have Parkinson’s’.
In the months that followed, my marriage, my career, and my sense of self took an almighty battering. Continue reading
Picture the scene, if you will. A late night, a mildly drunken (and bloody cold) bike ride home, avoiding the detritus of youth resplendent in sheer stockings bent double on the promenade, skipping the worst of the hills, and arriving at a sleeping house rather flustered, and very much ready for bed. The door opens. Primarily because I put the key in and turned it before pushing, but let’s not spoil the mood. I begin the trial of manoeuvring the bike into the hallway before realising that that ball of ginger mischief is three feet away, having spotted the outside world and, more to the point, an opportunity for a stab at freedom. Well, when he sees freedom it really is conditional. Conditional on his knowing damn well the food will continue to flow. Continue reading
OK, I admit it, I have long believed Ms Mitchell’s line from Big Yellow Taxi. You know the one: ‘Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.’ I fear I may have to perform a volte face. Continue reading
And so, I found myself driving to Huntingdon. Which, all things considered, was in completely the wrong direction. To cap it all, there appeared to be no slip roads on the opposite side, the carriageway which carried its cargo in the direction I wished to go. So on I trundled, anger doing more than bubbling to the surface in search of a fault line through which it can burst, a vent through which … until, fairly screaming at the injustice of it all, I swung left, negotiated some country roadage, and found myself travelling (mostly) South. I settled down for a long sunday drive. I made it home without further incident. Kinda. Continue reading
Much is being made of the gradual, or not so gradual, excision of the arts from our schools, not least in today’s Guardian, where Charlotte Higgins’ piece
concentrates on the artistic glitterati (‘arts leaders’, which sounds a bit like ‘community leaders’ to me … at best people with some genuine standing, at worst self-appointed busybodies with axes to grind … kinda like bloggers with louder voices). The article shouts thus:
Arts leaders voice deep concerns over lack of cultural subjects in Ebacc
Government urged to rethink ‘incredibly shortsighted’ policy amid fears about impact on schools and the creative economy
Grayson Perry: sidelining arts makes no sense
Nicholas Serota: Britain’s creative edge is at risk
Now, I don’t buy this arts leader crap, and I also don’t buy the ‘creative edge’ argument, either. There will always be those with drive and passion who follow their muse, often to the detriment of their own circumstances. Being ‘an artist’ is in many ways in direct opposition to having ‘a career’ of a more normal, predictable type. ‘Arts leaders’, by which is plainly meant ‘artists you’ve heard of ‘cos they’re famous, like’, are simply not these people. They are the few who have made it to the top of the heap, whether through talent, luck, dedication, bloody-mindedness or all of the above. They come from everywhere, and appear everywhere, but they aren’t the lifeblood of the arts in this country.
The arts are supported, funded and populated by the hordes who do it because they have to. The musicians who play in covers bands, who do weddings, who teach the next generation, who enjoy none of the fame and the wealth of the top slice. The artists who paint stuff that sometimes gets bought, but is mostly painted for the pleasure of painting, and given to those who enjoy looking. Those who stop on the way to work to photograph a duck. Those who write stories because they can’t keep them in. These are the people who matter. These are the people who consume art, these and the people who sit and drink beer and applaud the drum solo, those who simply say ‘I like that’. These are the people who count.
The arts work from the bottom up, and then the bits that reach the top sink down to the bottom and the whole circular process starts again.
Of the six ‘cultural figureheads’ cited in the Guardian, three have knighthoods. If we are to persuade Gove and his ilk that stripping the arts from the curriculum is dumb (which it is, palpably so), then the voices ought not come from those in bow ties and drag, those who frequent awards ceremonies where they are wined and dined. The voices ought not come from the establishment, but from those who just are.
Gove needs to hear that voters think the arts are important. Next time anyone sees him at a gig, ask him to leave. Better still, stop playing until he does. Refuse to sell him your paintings. Don’t let him have any access to the arts whatsoever. But Gove doesn’t go down the pub. At least, I doubt he does.
Us real people, the artistic bedrock of this country, we can’t deprive Gove of the arts. He, apparently, wants to deprive us.
This is where the ‘arts leaders’ come in, as they can. Boycott Gove. Stop him consuming the arts. Starve him.
I’ll give you one …
London, 1593. A young Ben Jonson bursts into a dark, wood-panelled room. Inside there are several figures, all wearing hooded capes. They sit around a table, heads bowed.
Jonson stops in the centre of the room. Breathless, he removes his cap.
‘Milords’. He utters. ‘There is a problem with Will’.
‘There’s always a problem with Will. What is it this time?’ Continue reading