Elsewhere: World Radio Day

The Elsewhere category on this site seems to be home for things I have posted on Facebook; and this is no exception. In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly agreed that World Radio Day was a real International Day and, thus, February 13 became WRD. My little contribution to the spirit of the days was posted on Facebook (and a version on Instagram because, if you don’t do all the social media channels, what’s the point?)

Apparently, we are almost at the end of #worldradioday.

When I was younger all I ever cared about was the magic of radio. It was my private world: in my childhood bedroom there was a whole universe created by the Piccadilly presenters and it was all in my head. When I was ten years old, visiting the original Piccadilly studios in central in Manchester was so important in my life I called it ‘my happiest memory’.

Although many people thought it was, it was never about being on the radio but it was all about the world radio created for those who listened and how that world was put together.

For a small part of my life I was lucky enough to be part of the magic: in the late 80s if you called The BBC in Shropshire you may have spoken to me or in the early 90s, if you listened to the Network Chart Show, I often pressed some buttons to make sure it got to your local radio station (or at least I was there in case the satellite that sent it to you ever fell out of the sky: it never did). If you ever heard a Shoe Express ad, chances are I spent all night getting that 30s of audio to your local station (and if, like me, you heard a version, or two, for every town in Britain you’ll guess why shoes are not my thing).

But, most importantly for me, the people who made that magic pointed my career in the direction it’s taken and, although there are too many to mention, I will forever be grateful to them all.

So, thank you radio: we may be listening to audio in ways we never imagined but there’s still some magic in the voices that come out of the ether. Tomorrow morning, why not ‘turn up the feel good’ with ‘more of the songs you love’ that are probably ‘the biggest hits and the biggest throwbacks’ on the ‘UK’s No.1 Hit Music Station’ or, my current choice, ‘The UK’s Country Station’.

Tune in and rip the knob off!

Originally posted on Facebook

Let’s hang out in the blogosphere

On January 2nd this year, Matt Mullenweg encouraged people to get blogging,

Write for a single person. Share something cool you found. Summarize your year. Set a blogging goal with reminders. Get a Gutenberg-native theme and play around with building richer posts. Start a nom de plume. Answer daily prompts on Day One. Forget the metaverse, let’s hang out in the blogosphere. Get your own domain!

Reading that reminded me that I haven’t written on curnow.org for some time. I used to ‘summarise my year’ pretty regularly – albeit in different ways – on here. In 2021 I tried the weeknotes format but it didn’t really work for me. In December 2020 I posted a 10 Year Instagram retrospective and, earlier that year, looked back on the handful of tweets I posted in 2019.

I wrote 2018’s Annual Report at the start of 2019 and took a moment to look back on my 2017 Reading Challenge the year before. Previous annual(ish) reviews were photography based, the last one of those was My 15 for 2015 posted at the end of December 2015.

In the spirit of ‘hanging out in the blogosphere’ and because I have previous writing to point to, on January 4th this year I gave myself 27 days to compose something to summarise 2021. Clearly, I missed my own deadline but these are the words I’ve put together since then.

2021

2021 was an odd year. Like many others I began the year back in a London COVID-19 lockdown dreaming of freedom in spring. I took part in a virtual escape room in March which was fun but not as much as the real thing. And nowhere near as fun as the summer of normality which followed a few months later.

I got my first vaccine shot in the early part of the year but it took until April 15th to be able to go out and see people. I met some friends for an outside meal. I have two memories of that evening: that it was fun to be able to talk to people across a table but it was cold. I bought a jacket with an in-built, battery-powered, heating element to get me through that – and a couple of similar – evenings.

This year I continued a trend from the first months of lockdown in 2020: going on local history walks. On one of them, we tried to find the site of the Craig Telescope but I am not convinced we ever did.

The year opened up from June and I was able to get to the Isle of Wight for a holiday and there was a family trip to The Lake District. Later in the summer I got to see AFC Wimbledon’s new Plough Lane stadium which was fun and I hope to see a few more games this year. By the time the weather was getting colder again there was a trip on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William which was wonderful but my overriding memory is of rain.

All the socials

I didn’t really tweet much in 2021. I think I was trying to avoid doom-scrolling about the pandemic. I appear to have enjoyed The Masked Singer last year (as I am in this year). I also noted that I, finally, killed off a couple of experiments I had been running for ten years on local tweeting. The local engagement was fun but it was time-consuming and when I moved house I gave up and a couple of accounts just became automatic re-tweeters. I don’t think it’s a good use of Twitter. I had always planned to write more about those experiments but I think their time has been and gone. Still, it was a fun side project for several years but I am glad it’s been put to sleep.

I ended 2021 tweeting about Stretchy Pants which is a much more relevant topic for this time of year.

On Instagram there were 16 grid pictures vs 104 stories. So I guess the story format wins. Yet again the algorithm chose my Top Nine but I got to pick my story highlights.

If I had to pick my favourite photographs, I’m not sure what I would pick, but I do like these three night shots; although my favourite photo didn’t get to Instagram.

I tried quite hard to complete a full year’s photo journal with Blipfoto. It’s an excellent and, I think, unknown photo sharing site that I briefly used many years ago but came back to during the pandemic. I started 2021 strongly but my continuous burst really ended in September. I’m not sure what killed it off but I am back trying again in 2022.

As a result of working at home I probably listened to more music than I have done in previous years. Last.fm says there were 9,456 scrobbles. Contemporary country music is the genre I am listening to most at the moment. It’s interesting to see what the various services say about my top artists:

  • Last FM says Miranda Lambert was my top artist of 2021 while Famous Friends, Chris Young & Kane Brown, was my top track. They also say that 59% of my listening was new tracks which I found surprising.
  • On Spotify, I apparently played more Luke Combs while If I Didn’t Love You was the most played 3 and a half minutes.
  • Apple Music agrees that Famous Friends is my most played song but makes it way too hard to figure out who my most played artist was for me to bother with for this post.

My 2021 Media Diet only included three films. I can’t choose between them because they were all perfectly passable ways to spend a couple of hours. So, in the order that I saw them (with a short review):

  1. In the Heights (Good, but I preferred the stage show)
  2. Free Guy (Good, but felt a bit familiar)
  3. No Time To Die (Good, but some of the action scenes went on for too long)

Of the films watched on a TV screen I am finding it hard to pick a favourite. Perhaps honourable mentions for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Wonder Woman, My Octopus Teacher and Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.

I went to theatre five times but two visits were to see things I’d seen before. I saw Declan Bennett twice; once in his one man show, Boy Out of the City and once in Carousel at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in August. Both were excellent.

I did write about my failure to meet my GoodReads Reading Challenge as an end of year post to Blipfoto. I read two books, 767 pages and listened to five audiobooks. I’m pretty disappointed with that and I aim to do better this year.

This year, I started listening to the Strangerville story-telling podcast. There are over a hundred episodes to catch-up on. It’s really great.

Out and about

Swarm, by Foursquare, doesn’t give me stats anymore about the number of check-ins. I’m guessing it’s way down because of the pandemic but I’d be interested in comparisons with previous years if anybody knows of simple tools to query my data let me know. On the other hand Google tells me that the total amount of travel in 2021 was equivalent to 19% around the world. I find that quite a surprisingly high number (or, perhaps, my sense of the distance around the world is skewed). Mind you Google says I walked a total of 783 miles this year while Apple thinks that was 1008 miles. The lesson here might be to not trust the trackers.

The pandemic has changed the ways a lot of us have been working. In November we tried an experiment and spent a month working from an Airbnb on the Isle of Wight to see how well that would work (turned out pretty well, really). I hope to do that again this year.

Weeknotes #8

Week commencing Monday, 17 May 2021

  • I had to visit a hospital at the beginning of the week. It was nothing major but it was very controlled and unlike any other time I have had the need to be an outpatient: arrive, alone, no more than five minutes in advance, for example. As a result it seemed remarkably efficient. It would be nice if this kind of thing is retained as we move into a post-pandemic world.
  • I got caught in a torrential downpour on the walk back from the hospital. I was equal distance between two bus stops and, by the time I had sheltered from the enormous hailstones and arrived at the next stop, the sun was out. I decided to walk home in order to dry my clothes. This is very strange weather for May.
  • Helping PY’s company move offices on Saturday necessitated travel in central London. As I was on the edge of The City, it wasn’t overly busy but it is definitely noticeable that people are out and about again.
  • After the office move we had out first restaurant meal that was inside since December last year. It felt remarkably normal. The place was well ventilated and people were reasonably separated so we didn’t have any concerns.
  • Being out of the house meant I had a couple of deliveries diverted to a local pick-up point which was the first time I’d had need to do that since lockdown began. But one item was delivered to the doorstep, and subsequently stolen. It’s all on camera so can be reported. However, it did occur to me that the move away from everybody being home all the time is going to change the way deliveries work for the second time in eighteen months: few retailers have solved the problem of the last few metres of the delivery chain when they find nobody in.
  • Being out of the house also meant that we did not watch any of the Eurovision Song Contest performances from Rotterdam. We were back in time for the results. Disappointing for the UK. Congratulations to Italy (who last won in 1990). The main question on Sunday seemed to be did he, or didn’t he?

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #7

Week commencing Monday, 10 May 2021

Personal

  • The interesting, interconnected world in which we live has been highlighted for me on my quest to buy a new jar of Marmite. Don’t judge me for my love of the yeasty spread. Apparently, our inability to buy beer in pubs had an impact on yeast supplies to Unilever which, in turn, had an impact on the amount of Marmite that can be produced. I found a big pot on Amazon which saved the day but, please, as the local pub opens go and buy some beer!
  • I finished Dolly Parton’s America podcast. I fear some people may be put off by the title. Sure, Dolly is the thread that connects all the episodes but it deals with so many big issues for today. Give it a listen. My favourite Dolly line, “I don’t know that I believe in reincarnation. And I didn’t believe in it when I lived before”.
  • I went to the gym 3 times. Rather pleased that I managed that.
  • Walked around part of central London on Sunday which was most enjoyable. Took a picture of Tower Bridge with the clouds that I thought was quite good.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #6

Week commencing Monday, 3 May 2021

London is in my blood – it’s the absolute honour of my life to serve the city I love for another three years.
My mission over the next three years is to put the dark days of the pandemic behind us and deliver a brighter future for all Londoners.
@SadiqKhan

Personal

  • I don’t know why house maintenance issues always worry me. At the start of the week there were issues with next door’s plumbing and it looks like they might want to lift some of our decking to try to find the problem. In the end, they didn’t. Still, need to keep an eye on this. At the end of week a plumber came to fix the bathroom leak but ended up leaving claiming it was a bigger job than the time allotted and promised a quote which still hasn’t materialised.
  • Bank holidays are always nice and we did a lovely long local history walk back to Earlsfield and up to Wandsworth Common in search of The Craig Telescope and it made for a lovely day. I also managed to grab a few snaps of the changing high street in Earlsfield. It’s a subject the fascinates me but I don’t have the time to document more. Yesterday evening I came across an office block where I once worked that’s being redeveloped. It’s the relentless march of progress.
  • Thursday was polling day in the Mayoral year-delayed elections. Sadiq Khan was selected. Disappointedly, the turnout was only 42%; but that maybe typical. The BBC reported that a Record number of mayoral votes rejected because of the supplementary vote system and says that the government is considering moving the vote to a First Past the Post system. I wonder if that favours them?
  • I made the gym three times this week. Quite happy with that although I realise it’s all about the continued momentum.
  • I wholly recommend My Octopus Teacher on Netflix – an Oscar winning documentary that was feel-good.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #5

Week commencing Monday, 26 April 2021

It turns out, however, that setting and then chasing after goals can often backfire in horrible ways. There is a good case to be made that many of us, and many of the organizations for which we work, would do better to spend less time on goalsetting, and, more generally, to focus with less intensity on planning for how we would like the future to turn out.
Oliver Burkeman quoted in I’ve Never Had a Goal, by Jason Kottke

Personal

  • Turns out today is day 412 of lockdown. I had been on a long weekend before we were told not to go to work so it’s been a little longer since I worked in an office building. SO much has changed.
  • I had to write my annual objectives last week and I’ve been thinking a lot about them since. Everybody I have ever worked for has some variant on goal-setting. I understand the process but the output rarely ranks as my number one way to think about the work I do. This week I discovered Jason Kottke’s 2016 piece, I’ve Never Had a Goal which resonated and also linked to Jason Fried’s similar piece (“I want to make progress, I want to make things better …). If you find goal-setting as difficult as I do then these are reassuring words.
  • I am really enjoying reading blogs via NetNewsWire, it feels like a proper uncluttered RSS reader and reminds me of the original Bloglines or Google Reader. Tom Stuart writes weeknotes and he’s in my feed. A line in Weeknotes 68 struck a chord, “When I was a CTO I was the most senior technical decision-maker in the company; now I’m a nobody”. I was never a CTO nor do I have much desire for people management but the idea that I had a prioritised voice and now I just have a job made me stop and think about what I want in my career.
  • I’m starting to see people out and about again. On Friday we had a small team social at work for those of us who live in South West London (a pub garden in Teddington) and on Saturday a trip to see my parents who did a barbecue in the garden. It’s the first time I’ve seen them since last summer and it was lovely to be out and about.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #4

Week commencing Monday, 19 April 2021

  • Beautiful weekend weather lead to much sitting in the sun. I may be a bit sunburnt. Taking a train to Southampton to see family on Sunday seemed very normal (even though I haven’t done it for over a year). The train disruption on the return journey also seemed remarkably normal and predictable.
  • The question I can’t get out of my head this week: at any given moment, how many people are saying the word “Alexa”?
  • We’re starting to plan what our ‘return to the office’ will look like. According to the BBC, HSBC plans to shrink its office space by 40% in a post-pandemic shake-up which, I suspect, is like a lot of other companies.
  • We had a team meeting to discuss our individual thoughts on the back-to-the-office. Generally, the return to the over-crowded commute was unwelcome. But, also, the idea of turning up to an office space to don headphones and video conference the people who are not in on that day. This is more than a change of ‘where’; it will be a change of ‘how’.
  • For a random reason I saw a statement on a Spotify job spec and I love this sentence, “You are welcome at Spotify for who you are, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or what’s playing in your headphones.”
  • Reminded this week about Troubled Diva’s ‘The 40 in 40 Days Project’ which you can still read via The Wayback Machine.
  • I feel asleep while watching The Spy Who Loved Me on Saturday night which must have been as a result of the wine I drink in the sunshine and the large Indian takeaway that we had.
  • Spent more time listening to Podcasts than I have done for while. The Chaos and collapse: European football’s not-so-super league episode of The Guardian’s Today in Focus was an interesting discussion about the launch and collapse of the Super League this week. Also recommend for the remote working conversations, Stephen Wolfram on 28 Years of Remote Work an episode of ‘Distributed, with Matt Mullenweg’ that’s from 2019 but interesting in light of this week’s conversations.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #3

Week commencing Monday, 12 April 2021

  • Blood test this week; hopefully nothing important; a text from the Doctor and a follow-up consultation in a couple of weeks suggests nothing urgent was found.
  • First night out with friends in Streatham. £28.56 for bottle of wine is much more expensive that the ones in the fridge but it was nice – if cold – to be outside.
  • The heated Gillet that I bought kind of worked: it kept my back very warm but made me realise how cold my arms and legs were.
  • Initial planning for an evening out with with former colleagues. It would be the first time I have been into Central London this year – which isn’t surprising but still feels odd to write.
  • We’re trying The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ but I am struggling with the new Captain America. To be fair, we are only on Episode 2.
  • The weather was lovely at the weekend so, on Saturday, we sat outside at the front of the house which gets the late afternoon soon. Met some street-neighbours who we’ve never said hello to before. Quite lovely.
  • Sunday we walked to Merton Abbey for some lunch and a walk around the shops. All the craft stalls were back and it was also great to be outside in the sunshine.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknote #2

Week commencing Monday, 5 April 2021

  • Prince Philip has died aged 99: “Prince Philip was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life; a life intimately connected with the sweeping changes of our turbulent 20th Century, a life of fascinating contrast and contradiction, of service and some degree of solitude. A complex, clever, eternally restless man.” BBC News
  • As Diamond Geezer said, “Few events are as well planned for as the death of a major royal” but I thought the decision to take BBC Four off air seemed odd. I wonder how much streaming services were up this weekend?
  • COVID passports are in the news. There’s a feeling the people don’t want a 2-tier system that would exclude some people from whatever the new normal is. The BBC reported there was strong public support for their use in some situations. I’d happily have one if to means things can open up more quickly.
  • I had some fun with Google search console trying to figure out why I need a separate property for http v https. In the end I went down the domain verification path. It seems every few years I have to verify the ownership of domains I have had for years with them.
  • Working with my domains made me wonder when I first registered them, so I looked it up: curnow.org (14th-May-1999) and musak.org (17th-Feb-2003)
  • I am not sure I learnt much from Kara Swisher’s interview with Tim Cook but it was an interesting listen.
  • Too many radio station Wikipedia entries seem to focus on the station today and radio history is lost. I added some links to The BBC Radio Shropshire wiki entry. I wonder how long they will stay around?
  • I Tweeted about some links I cleaned up on a Listen to Musak entry and how many of the URLs have gone or changed. I’m a bit of a hypocrite because Listen to Musak’s URL schema broke when I moved it to WordPress and 12 years later I haven’t really fixed it but I am, gradually, repairing the site so the links work.
  • I also installed an RSS reader. Yes, I really am recreated the web of 2004. But Net News Wire is nice and the team behind it appear half way through enabling iCloud sync (it works on desktop but not to the mobile app yet).

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknote #1

Week commencing Monday, 29 March 2021

… and who need a little bit of reminding, in chaotic times, of what it was like to telnet into a blank screen which contained the entire world.

Why Generation X will save the web, Heather Burns

There’s an excellent article by Heather Burns entitled “Why Generation X will save the web” which you should read. It was written in January but I was only pointed to it this week. Back in the glory days of blogging we’d all have been quoting that within a hour of it being published.

Heather’s comparison that “We – the GenXers – think of the internet as the open web” and “Today’s policy facilitators – the millennials – think of the internet as MySpace and Facebook. The closed web” is wonderful insight into the way the web has changed since I built my first sites and since my first blog entry.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the evolution of the web and how it’s not as we foresaw. I think it’s something to do with celebrating a significant birthday last year and an urge to document what I’ve written here on the web over the years. It may also be do do with the fact that I’ve spent more time lately away from social media platforms and more time exploring the web as it used to be. I’ve been discovering how many of the blogs of old are still in existence and how many are being updated.

I still read Phil Gyford. His ‘Half Century Notes‘ is a lovely piece of writing about his version of that significant birthday.

Several of the bloggers I used to read, including Phil, have morphed into the Weeknotes format. So, as there’s a passing bandwagon, I thought’d I jump on it.

Weeknotes

  • the clocks went forward last weekend and we have lighter evenings now. I decided to try Couch-to-5k again and did the first session over 2.43 miles. That’s all I managed this week – but next week can bring another beginning, can’t it?
  • the highlight of the week is the gradual reduction in the lockdown rules. We can now meet outside – which includes the garden. This inspired a B&Q trip and some planting in the pots on Good Friday and visitors on Saturday. Also a visit to a garden on Easter Sunday for a lovely outdoor lunch. It’s cold out of the sun but pleasant while the skies are blue.
  • thinking of this weekly format reminded me of the 10-part newsletter I penned in 2010: Last Week in Digital Advertising. I looked at the first one and discovered about half the links no longer existed. I managed to find alternative sources for some but many will forever 404. That’s inspired me to check all links here for entries in the Internet Archive.
  • new guttering week and, just like every repair to this house, it ends up more because some shoddy previous work is uncovered but, after a brief worry about some missing roof tiles, all seems well.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

200

Two directions at once

High Cedar Drive Bus Stop

A New Year’s Day walk to Wimbledon Common. Taking a minor diversion along Copse Hill you come to this bus stop (and there will be a similar one on the other side of the road). This bus stop is an oddity – although I imagine there are other examples elsewhere. – because this stop is going in two directions at once. It’s not an indicator to get on a bus in the opposite direction across the road, no, you can board here but you must get on the correct 200 because, for this little leg, buses going in both directions pass this stop. The Copse Hill and Atkinson Close stops are part of a loop that buses in both direction take. I don’t know why but I imagine it is to do with serving the expensive new apartments on Wimbledon Park Hill. Still, if you get on here, make sure you get on the one going to Raynes Park or Mitcham because in about 5 minutes from this point you could be going in the wrong directions.

The ladies who bus did this route back in 2009 and when they passed The Collier’s Wood Tower (once deemed the ugliest building in London) which they said looked like it was “about to be demolished” but turned out to be mid-regeneration becoming Britannia Point by about 2017. Also, the Waitrose at Raynes Park had just opened when they rode the 200 – the place that became a lifeline to so many this past year and I am very glad was opened.

The Prom

The Prom is a joy-filled song fest that works to keep the spirits up in these in-between Christmas and New Year days

I’ve spent a few hours re-reading entries from this time of year on my blog. I realise I wrote a lot of film reviews when I was blogging. As a result, I’ve been reevaluating what I thought about House Of Flying Daggers, Napoleon Dynamite, Love Actually and The Lord of The Rings. The main problem with this, of course, is that blogging is stuck in the early 2000s. So, what about a more contemporary review?

It’s December 2020 and London is in COVID-19 lockdown tier 4 which means that cinemas are closed and, thus, a film review may be hard. Having said that, streaming is the new cinema and tonight we watched The Prom on Netflix.

I do not come with preconceptions of the film based on any prior knowledge of the musical on which this is based. The film was recommended by my friend Rob and my Dad which suggests a broad appeal. The adaption is by Ryan Murphy, who I know as creator of Glee and one of my lockdown highlights, Netflix’s Hollywood.

The movie is set in world where ‘Eleanor: The Eleanor Roosevelt Story’ closes after first-night terrible reviews that tag the stars (played by Meryl Streep and James Corden) as the worst of self-obsessed celebrity. Somehow (and here my memory of any plot is gone), characters played by Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells become part of their ‘Broadway liberals’ gang.

Meanwhile, in Indiana a school’s PTA cancels the school prom because a female student – Emma – wants to take a girl to the dance. The schools head teacher seems to be the only supportive character in the town of Edgewater. Thus, a cause is created for the New York performers to prove they’re not as self-obsessed as the reviewers said. They all get on a bus to head to Indiana. This is not a Priscilla road trip movie and, before you know it, Broadway’s stars are trying to check into a Holiday Inn Express. Or something like that.

You do have to suspend disbelief here – in spite of the real-life roots of the story – because it’s a musical and the story is advanced in song. The premise manages to be both a big-old cliche and remarkably well-done at the same time. If you can work with the idea that an entire town’s moral compass can be re-pointed by an Andrew Rannells’ song and dance routine set in a shopping mall and using the water feature fountains as a central prop, performing a song called Love Thy Neighbor, then you’re going love this film. And, if you think you’re not going to find that concept remotely appealing, you probably should still watch this film because it’s funny, with the right amount of musical theatre camp to keep it rooted in a joyful place even when the story, inevitably has it’s downbeat moments. And at this point in 2020 we all need a bit of cheering-up.

The musical numbers are more Legally Blonde than Hamilton (although a pinch of Chicago, with all the associated jazz hands, is added for flavour) but they’re good fun and, in true Andrew Lloyd Webber style, move the plot on at a decent pace.

Two different story lines – the prom story and the redemption plot – work together so well that they can conjure up Tracey Ullman (but saying as who and why would be too much of a spoiler). Supporting cast, Kerry Washington, Jo Ellen Pellman, Keegan-Michael Key and Ariana DeBose are all excellent but we tuned in for the A-listers, didn’t we?

Meryl Streep is a pure joy to watch as Dee Dee Allen (she has two Tony awards, you know). A really solid, believable performance and you could watch an entire movie based on her character. James Corden, as Barry, manages to hold the camp to right side of funny – and tragic, when it matters – while walking a tightrope where he could, at any moment, fall into the offensive side. I think he handles it well. For me, Nicole Kidman playing a Chicago chorus girl is under used, especially at the start because she manages to be the only Broadway liberal to manage empathy and, I think, that provides the thread that holds the story together. Andrew Rannells’ character doesn’t quite have the depth of the others to make him quite so real but it’s a great perforamance and, after all, manages to convince an entire shopping mall that same-sex relationships are not an abomination in under 4 minutes. It’s a work of genius.

The Prom is a joy-filled song fest that works to keep the spirits up in these in-between Christmas and New Year days. And it’s on Netflix so, if you have a subscription, you can spend a couple of hours laughing for no extra cash. An actual New Year bargain

Instra Rewind: 2020

Crank it up to 11 pictures from my 10-year retrospective. Why not?

I felt there was a little flaw in my ten year of Instagram posts which is being corrected.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Because I decided to choose a picture from each of the calendar years in my ten-year Instagram retrospective, a quirk of my plan is that there really should be a picture from 2020 even though that would make eleven pictures. There are a lot fewer pictures in my feed this year for obvious reasons. Being stuck indoors for much of the year means that I have felt that there are fewer opportunities snap something interesting. I wonder what the numbers are for posts?

Anyway, I decided I should commemorate 2020 regardless. One of the most joyous moments from the year is captured pre-lockdown at the little show lounge at Brasserie Zedell. La Voix interviewed choreographer Arlene Phillips. I’d never seen La Voix before and the evening was fabulously entertaining. This one was, really, an Instagram story so it’s supposed to expire after 24 hours. It did make one of my 2020 Instagram Story highlights because, well it really is. La Voix’s Instagram feed has become a regular source of entertainment during the lockdown but this moment in February, with some original members of Hot Gossip who had been in the audience too, is a joyous moment that could not foretell what was to come just a month later.

And that’s my retrospective. I wonder what the next few years will bring and if they will also be documented on Instragram. One way to find out is to follow.

Insta Rewind: 2017-2019

In the third part of the my epic 10-year time travel adventure, I’m off to California, King’s Landing and the London Palladium.

I’ve really enjoyed looking back at 10 years of my photographs on Instagram. I realise there is a massive amount of sentimentality involved in writing this. On this blog I am, unashamedly, sentimental in December. So, let’s get to number ten …

Thursday, 12 October 2017

There was a team meeting in Palo Alto and everybody travelled for it. We held them, in different locations, each quarter to bring people together to discuss plans for the next 13 weeks or so. I think this was the last time it would have been held in California because most of our team, and our management, moved to London sometime after this. Our immediate team didn’t actually work together that much, each of us distributed over other projects, and so these regular meet-ups were an opportunity to share ideas. There was always a great deal of thought in the planning. I don’t recall what everybody else did on the Thursday night but, from memory, the people in this picture were working on video advertising projects and we, therefore, had our own breakaway group evening. We went bowling at Cloverleaf Family Bowl. I’ve since read it has closed, being unable to survive the 2020 pandemic lockdowns. Back in 2017 it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

As the caption on this picture says, I didn’t watch Game of Thrones but I was reliably informed the view of old Dubrovnik was, at least in part, King’s Landing in the series. This was taken on our first day there. We’d stayed at a Gatwick Airport hotel the night before as the flight was 8:30am. The aim was to get a good day looking around Dubrovnik before we got on a boat on the Sunday for a holiday around the Croatian islands. So, we had rented an apartment in the old town, checked-in in the pouring rain, then walked the walls of the old town as the sun came out. I thought this was a great view over the iconic rooftops. Turns out it’s a pretty classic tourist shot. It was a great start to what tuned out to be a beautiful holiday.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

PY first took me to see Shakespears Sister in July 1992; they were one of his favourite bands. He had been waiting from 1983 until early 2019 to hear that Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit would reform and perform again – he was straight-in when tickets went on sale. We had the full meet-and-greet package for their November London Palladium show and it was an unforgettable night. While stood in line for the meet, I remember having no idea what to say, and even now I can’t recall what we talked about. But they were friendly and the fans were thrilled they were back together making for a wonderful atmosphere. The show, which was actually on the Tuesday night, was a triumph. I must have posted these when I got home and clock must have tripped into Wednesday.

And, that’s ten years. It feels odd not to include this year. Maybe tomorrow?

Insta Rewind: 2014-2016

Looking back at my Instagram pictues – this one is all about travel. But where did I go?

Yesterday we had Christmas, a Royal wedding, the Olympics and Nico Rosberg to sum up my first 4 years on Instagram. Let’s dive in to the next few years and see what we can find.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

From late-2012 through the March 2014 I spent some time in Australia. The company that was a start-up in the 2010 picture had grown and been acquired in the years since and one of our largest customers was based in Melbourne, a city I fell in love with over the time I was there. I spent weeks on-site with them – one the nicest organisations I had the pleasure of working with – right up until we turned on the software about 10 days before this picture. I feel blessed to have been able to visit Australia and see some wonderful things: Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Sydney for the Opera House and Mardi Gras and The Great Barrier Reef. By this point, I’d completed the project and, deep down, I knew this would be my last visit as I was pretty certain I’d accept a job offer from another company when I got home. Looking back, the caption hints at it. It was my first ever Uber ride, booked from the hotel to the airport, and as I saw a view of the Melbourne skyline behind me, I knew I should take a picture to capture the memory.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

We used up our holiday allowance early in 2015 with a trip to Vietnam (including time in Cambodia and Hong Kong). Hoi An was the third stop on our visit. It’s beautiful and was quite different to Hanoi where we’d started the visit. One of the unexpected finds was a teahouse, in the heart of Hoi An, staffed by speech and hearing impaired people. Nobody really speaks, there are these little blocks and a notepad to communicate your order. It’s a tranquil oasis and, even though there were some memorable assaults on the senses elsewhere on the holiday, the peace and quiet of this teahouse, with a view of the street, really sticks in my mind.

Friday, 22 April 2016

I went to France to give a presentation about native advertising on Facebook. I recall the team arrived fairly late in the day on the Thursday and went straight to the office for a rehearsal and equipment check. I think this was my first big presentation for them, so I was a little nervous. As we were leaving for the evening a group of people were pulling apart a section of the office reception. We went to dinner and thought nothing more of it. The next morning, a car, props and video backdrop had appeared, seemingly from nowhere. After we had finished our presentation and could all relax a little, I got to wear a silly hat while waving in a static car. It was the first video I posted on Instagram. I remember the talk went reasonably well, the lunch in the canteen was excellent but I most remember everybody on the team having a go in this car.

Right, I’m only doing three years this post which is, primarily, a reason for another post tomorrow but also because today was my last day in the office for the year and I’ve already has a glass of wine so I don’t trust myself to sit here and go through any more.