Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

The opposite of 9/11

Patti Smith, Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye

Shame it’s not November yet, specifically the 9th, because then I could characterise the gig I’ve just been to as the opposite of 9/11 i.e. 11/9. But life’s rarely that neat so let’s push on regardless…

Patti Smith, Philip Glass and Lenny Kaye performed a show of poetry, music and song in tribute to Allen Ginsburg at LSO St Luke’s in Old Street, London – and it was the quintessence of New York (New Jersey) creativity, the polar opposite of the vacant dead-beats who flew those planes into New York’s towers. Today I arranged my first trip back to NYC since I went to collect the Grand Award at the New York International Film & Television Festival in 1994 – with my mum, fiancee and sister-in-law-to-be in tow. In the foyer after the ceremony Richard Norley of Jump Design introduced me to a certain Peter Fincham who was then at TalkBack. I had to apologise for not being able to shake his hand on account of all the silverware I was carrying ;-) . Believe he went on to do quite well for himself – lousy bastard never even answered my letter when I wrote to him for a job before he went to the Beeb (probably still jealous about the big silver bowl from which we drank copious amounts of champers – that was a great night, said sister-in-law arrived at the party in her apartment on E14th St dressed in a black cat-suit draped in the stars and stripes, as she had gotten her US citizenship that same weekend – the official at the swearing allegiance ceremony had asked her if she would bear arms for her country – Bronagh’s reply: Honey, there ain’t no machine gun big enough!).

So Patti & Philip began with some poems by Ginsberg, then by her – she speaks poetry so well with that great Noo Joisey accent. Philip Glass went on to play solo on the piano Night on the Balcony, Piano Etude #2 and Piano Etude #10 – getting onto that pulsating thing he does like John Adams and Steve Reich. Patti & Lenny then took to the stage and performed a few songs including In My Blakeian Year and Ghost Dance.

We shall live again, we shall live again,
We shall live again, shake out the ghost dance.
Here we are, Father, Lord, Holy Ghost,
Bread of your bread, ghost of your host,
We are the tears that fall from your eyes,
Word of your word, cry of your cry.
We shall live again, we shall live again,
We shall live again.

She dedicated the song to the monks in Burma. The first song she had dedicated to Rimbaud, whose birthday it is today. I spoke to her briefly after the gig about Rimbaud’s time in London in College Street, Camden Town.

The three of them performed some more Ginsberg poems including Magic Psalm and On the Cremation of Chogyam Thungpa Vidyadhara:

I noticed food, lettuce salad, I noticed the teacher was absent,
I noticed my friends, I’ve noticed our car, I’ve noticed the blue Volvo,

I’ve noticed a young boy hold my hand
Our key in the motel door, I noticed a dark room, I noticed a dream
And forgot, noticed oranges lemons and caviar at breakfast,
I noticed the highway, sleepiness, homework thoughts, the boy’s nippled chest in the breeze
As the car rolled down hillsides past green woods to the water.

I noticed the sea, I noticed the music – I wanted to dance.

This very special, intimate performance – Glass and Ginsberg were pals, Patti and Allen were friends (both New Jerseyites), Glass and Patti were present in Ginsberg’s last hours in his New York loft (she lifted a book from his shelf at random and it was a volume of Blake’s poetry which Ginsberg had completely rewritten in every piece of available white space in the margins) – came to a close with the Footnote to Howl:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an
angel!

Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!

I love that word “kindness” – it’s the opposite of 9/11.

Skin Up

The Big 4

The blue wrap came off. The Big 4 saw the light of day. A real buzz was released into the air around the Channel. Big Art, bold creativity.

The Minister for Culture Margaret Hodge unveiled the 40’ high figure four based on those much admired idents on Channel 4. On the approach to the Channel’s Richard Rogers designed headquarters in Horseferry Road (London SW1), the 4 stands three and a bit storeys high. The structure forms a figure four only from a particular angle, just like the on-screen idents masterminded by Brett Foraker. The concept of the TV graphics is that the four only comes together for a fleeting moment. So, strictly speaking, the Big 4 should be viewed walking by, no stopping.

The structure has been skinned by leading British photographer Nick Knight. He is the first of four artists to tackle the task over the coming year. His approach: skin the figure with images of people’s hearts – from the outside. White skin, black skin, brown skin, the patchwork that is modern Britain. Stand in the middle and you can hear the beating of a heart.

In three months it will be the turn of Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, and then the marvellous Mark Titchner. The last skinner will be the winner of a competition run in conjunction with the Saatchi Gallery.

The Big 4 celebrates 25 years of Channel 4 Arts and the launch of the Big Art Project – an innovative, bold cross-platform initiative involving a 4 part documentary series from Carbon Media, the commissioning of 6 new works of public art across the UK – from Beckton to the Isle of Mull, and the first comprehensive map of public art in the UK in the form of the Big Art Mob – a mobile blogging initiative where people photograph public art they know and love and send it from their camera phone into a visually led blog and a Google Map mash-up, the Big Art Map.

Today I had a meeting at the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association with its Chief Executive Jo Darke to make sure the Big Art Mob complements what the Courtauld Institute-based research project has been doing. We (Jo, me and sculptor Nick Pearson) had a fabulous chat in a tranquil corner of Somerset House animated with passion for public art. What I so love about this interactive commission is it’s so adaptable to partnership initiatives. From arts & disability groups to the Arts Council, from Kew to specific creations like Aluna, Big Art Mob is an easy, accessible way to record, explore, enjoy, engage with public art in all its forms.

The day before the unveiling Montreal-based Mexican-Canadian multimedia artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer revealed his idea for the Big Art piece in Cardigan on the Welsh coast to the local community. Home of the first Eisteddfod, hub of the oral tradition; point of departure for America in the 19th and early 20th centuries; Lozano-Hemmer has really got under the skin of the place and distilled in a work based on buoys floating just off the river bank, collecting and projecting back the voices of the local population and interested people beyond.

There’s 2,800 job cuts being discussed at the BBC today. That’s over three times the size of Channel 4. What the Channel lacks in bulk, it makes up for in size of ambition, degree of creativity and scale of idea. Sometimes it’s good to be the underdog. Between Saturday’s unbelievable England rugby match in Paris and yesterday’s unveiling of the Big 4, I’m totally c!h!a!r!g!e!d.

Art and Soul of London

Urban Chiaoscuro


Had the pleasure yesterday of two inspirational encounters with London-inspired artists.

At lunchtime photographer/artist Emily Allchurch visited Channel 4 to talk to any interested parties about her work. This was at the invitation of Andrew Webb, the Picture Editor in Channel 4 New Media’s design unit who had first met Emily working together in the Tate’s shop. She focused on her new exhibition ‘Urban Chiaoscuro’ currently at the Frost & Reed gallery in St James’s.

The exhibition is inspired by the fantastical Caceri d’Invezione drawings (c.1745-1761) by Piranesi, intricate architectural constructions of prisons of the mind.

In recent years Emily has focused on reconstructing old master paintings and drawings by seamlessly collaging contemporary photographic components in Photoshop. Hundreds of layers of photoshopped elements – individual details photographed from very particular angles to make the perspective work – result in smooth, painterly transparencies displayed on thin lightboxes, the size of an art gallery painting.

A little later in the afternoon I pulled by Frost & Reed’s to see the works in the flesh. They typically take three months to create. In real life all that masterly craftsmanship is even more evident in the painterly, surreal qualities of the luminous images. I bumped into Emily again at the gallery and had a chance to chat a bit more – I was saying how what really struck me in her images was where she had (re)created fantasy, impossible environments – for example, Bruegel’s Tower of Babel and some of the more labyrinthine, Escheresque Piranesis.

Emily featured in the excellent BBC4 series Digital Picture of Britain. In the episode I saw of that she recreated a Whistler nocturne viewed from Battersea Bridge using images taken on a mobile phone (that was part of the challenge of the series – each photographer ended up with a high-end digital camera, a high street one or a mobile phone by luck of the draw). It was only in the wake of participating in the series that Emily switched from film to digital.

Despite being born on Jersey, Emily is clearly turned on big time by London, which, as a major league Londonphile immediately elevates her in my eyes. There’s an interesting element of fear in her works which stems in part from having to hang out alone in the dark recesses of the city to get her raw material. It manifests itself in the photographs as references to surveillance – cameras, tannoys, signs, warnings. Yet for all the anxiety there’s the joy of discovery.

When we were looking together at one of her Urban Chiaoscuros made in Paris, I spotted one of those mosaic Space Invaders. Emily didn’t know what it was and I was able to explain to her that it’s part of a long-term public art project with its roots in Paris – something I found out when I posted one on the Big Art Mob which I’d come across round the corner from St Martin’s art school in Kingsway.

Which brings us neatly to the second inspiring encounter of the day, as I’m hoping to feature this artist and her work on the Big Art Project and she posted her first image to Big Art Mob from St James’s Park where we had our meeting.

Laura Williams was introduced to me by the Creative Accountant (Sydney Levinson). She is slowly but surely creating an amazing public artwork, Aluna, a lunar clock which is destined to land on the north bank of the Thames opposite the Millennium Dome at the site of the old East India docks.

The huge sculpture indicates the movement of the moon around the earth and the flow of the tides using LEDs built into its recycled glass curves.

Aluna is designed to reconnect us with a slower, more natural flow of time – much as can be gotten from the allotment where I’m writing this post from on a Blackberry, having just eaten a very late raspberry off my neighbour Maurice’s bush. And just to be neat about things I’ll pause for a moment to go and get a late blackberry off our fence…

…Yum, had three but they’re pretty much done now for the year, they’re mostly rotting on the plant, covered in a yellowy fungus or something. Ah nature, dontcha just love it – one big restaurant.

Now where was I? Ah yes, close to the Meridian in East London. Laura is also truly inspired by London and the Thames. The lunar clock is, naturally enough, tidal powered, sitting on the bend in the river with one of the fastest tidal flows. The artwork will be driven by turbines in the river which will generate surplus electricity to sell back to neighbouring houses making the whole thing self-sustaining.

So between Emily and Laura, the ol’ creative batteries were certainly recharged yesterday, ready to plug in to Medicine Men and Fourmations and all the other interesting creations coming over the horizon in the world of Channel 4 Factual interactive media.

Pictures courtesy of Emily Allchurch

TLAs

SPV

In the last few days, during the course of day-to-day work, I’ve come across a whole load of new TLAs – that is, Three Letter Acronyms – and I thought it might be high time to collect the whole set, so here are the beginnings of my A to Z of TLAs. Do feel free to teach me some more…

A – ASM = Assistant Stage Manager {courtesy of Moblogger OJ and the BBC} or AFP = Advertiser Funded Programming or ACL = Anterior Cruciate Ligament (which footballers damage just when they are most needed) {courtesy of Paul Chappel} or ATV = Automated Transfer Vehicle [launched by the ESA (= European Space Agency) in March 08 bound for the ISS (International Space Station)] or = Appointment to View {courtesy of Hideous Productions} or ADP = Automatic Data Processing or ASD = Autistic Spectrum Disorder {courtesy of Siren’s Cry} or AWS = Amazon Web Services (see 4iP) or API = Compulsory Advance Passenger Information for the Spanish authorities (required if you are flying from the UK, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland or Morocco to Spain) {courtesy of Ryanscrewthemforeverypennyair} + Application Programming Interface or AIG – American International Group or AET = After Extra Time (in sad rememberance of Carling Cup Final 1st March 09 in which Spurs lost on penalties AET) or ATM = Airtime Management (Channel 4) or AFM = American Film Market or ACR = A Certain Ratio (Factory Records band as seen in 24 Hour Party People)

B – BNC = Bayonet Nut Connector (“y’know, the locking connectors like what you use to join co-ax together”) {courtesy of Mat} or BFF = Best Friend Forever {courtesy of Lisa Devaney} or BOF = Beurre Oeufs Fromage [a blackmarketeer in wartime occupied France - read in Murder in the Marais by Carla Black] or BBC = Bucks Boarding Centre {sticker on the tube today 11.1.08} or BAA= British Animation Awards {4mations} or BRB = be right back or BTP = British Transport Police or BOA = British Olympics Association (to mark this first day of the 2008 Beijing Olympics 08/08/08 ) or BEA = British European Airways (BBC Radio 4 1968 Day-by-Day) or BoE = Bank of England (to mark the credit crunch meltdown) or BBW = big breasted woman or BYO = bring your own bottle or BIP = Brand Information Page (channel4.com jargon) or BOD = Brian O’Driscoll (in commemoration of Ireland-England 6 Nations international at Croke Park at which BOD scored a telling try and drop goal 28th Feb 09, watched at McKevitt’s in Carlingford) or BME = British Music Experience (launched 3.3.09 by Harvey Goldsmith at the old Millennium Dome) + Black and Minority Ethnic or BFC = Britain’s Forgotten Children, forthcoming season on Channel 4 starting 9.v.09 – not to be confused with BFG = Big Friendly Giant (Roald Dahl) {courtesy of Jodie Morris} or KFC = Kentucky Fried Chicken or BSG = Broadband Stakeholder Group (which I helped establish in 2000) or BSD = Bullshit Detector {courtesy of The Clash – and me} or BSL = British Sign Language {courtesy of OAD Alex Horstmann}

C – CTA = Call to action {courtesy of Adam Preloaded} or CSF = Comic Sans FTypingerror / Cerebro-Spinal Fluid {courtesy of Mobloggers Seaneeboy and Hildegard} or CPF= Close Personal Friend {Mojo – used with irony i.e. celebs/musos you don’t really know properly but pretend you do} or CPR = Courtesy Professionalism Respect {NYPD} or CDO = Collateralized Debt Obligations [what made Goldman Sachs even richer this year - i.e. dumping them] or CBT = Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy or Computer-based Training (so if you do an online course you could find yourself doing CBT CBT) or CSF = Cheltenham Science Festival (where we recently filmed Richard Dawkins speaking on Charles Darwin) or CPO = Chief Petty Officer or CPM = Cost Per Thousand or CIM = Come in Mouth or CPD = (Continuing Professional Development) + Compulsive Price Disclosure [as in 'Oh this top, £5 from Primark' or 'these shoes, £20 in the sale'] {courtesy of Technokitten, she’s outdone herself} or CDN = Content Delivery Network {courtesy of Mint Digital} + Cultural Diversity Network

D – DOG = Digital On-screen Graphic [those watermarky things on the corner of on-line video and digital tv channels] or DTO = Download to Own {courtesy of Gareth RDF} or DIC = Dubai International Capital [who want to dic about with Liverpool FC] / Death is Coming [medical term] or DSS = Dinosaur Space Service [Astrosaurs] or Dgl = Donegal {courtesy of Maura Logue of Ballyshannon} or D2T = Direct to Tribe ["marketingspeak - not 1 to 1, not 1 to many, but 1 to some"] {courtesy of Technokitten} or DCD = Digital Cinema Distribution {courtesy of UK Media Desk} or DRC = “(not so) Democratic Republic of Congo” {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or DSA = Daily Supplementary Allowance or DPA = Data Protection Act or DFI = Different Fucking Idea (production crew codeword on TV shoots) {courtesy of Sarah Mulvey, Commissioning Editor, Documentaries, Channel 4} or DIY = Don’t Involve Yourself (Roy on The Archers 28Nov08 ) or DFP = Documentary Film Program (1/09 the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and Sundance Film Festival announced a new partnership with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program to take the innovative documentary pitching forum, the Good Pitch, on the road in North America) or DHC = Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (Brave New World – Aldous Huxley)

E – EOF = End Of File {courtesy of Mat} or EDP = Education Projects {Pirate, heart of the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of Channel 4 commissioning} or EAB = Education Advisory Board {courtesy of Channel 4 Education – some lovely peeps involved} or ETB = Embarrassing Teen Bodies (coming Oct 08 ) or EPC – Elasto Plastic Concrete {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or ECM = Editions of Contemporary Music + Every Child Matters or ECB = England & Wales Cricket Board (Wales doesn’t get its dubya) + European Central Bank

F – FRO = fuck right off (as in “I’m going to FRO now” rather than as a term of abuse – courtesy of Cowbite) or FFS = for fuck’s sake or FoI = Freedom of Information or FDR = Franklin Delano Roosevelt or FTW = For The Win (geeks, courtesy of Mike Butcher, TechCrunch) + Fuck The World (bikers) + Forever Two Wheels (motorcycle enthusiasts) or FSA = Football Supporters’ Assocation + Financial Services Authority

G – GSM = Global System for Mobile communications {courtesy of Alfie Dennen} or GEH = Gormley Event Horizon {courtesy of Billy Liar} or GCT = Grand Central Terminal {courtesy of Bronx Elf} or GIB = Government Investigation Bureau {Zac Power} or GTA = Greater Toronto Area {encountered by chance in the Facebook Group ‘Single Muslims looking for their Soulmate in the GTA’} or GOK = God Only Knows [commonly used on doctors' notes - from The Guardian: Medical Shorthand 8.2.08] or GBS = George Bernard Shaw or GFE = Girl Friend Experience or GBH = Grievous Bodily Harm + Godalming Borough Hall or GPF = Global Protection Force (Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt, current favourite of Enfant Terrible #2 – see GIB) or GSE = Grapefruit Seeds Extract {courtesy of Denise on Medicine Chest} or GYO = Grow Your Own (came across thanks to my Landshare project with River Cottage) or GBF = Gay Best Friend (“every girl’s gotta have one”) {courtesy of Kate Quilton}

H – HRD = Human Resource Development {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or HEI = Higher Education Institution or HoF = House of Fraser (as in “I’m nipping out to HOF”) {courtesy of Alma Demirdzic & Lizzy Keene} or HLC = Hideous Lady’s Cardigan {Nationwide TV ad} or HFR = Horseferry Road or HON = Health on the Net {courtesy of MedicineChest Ltd} or HTH = hope that helps

I – ITB = Invitation to Bid {courtesy of the UN via Practical Psychologist} or ITT = Invitation to Tender {courtesy of Mike Flood Page of Illumina Digital} or ICT = (no, not the dull one but) Inverness Caledonian Thistle (the northerly football team) or IBS = Irritable Bowel Syndrome {Embarrassing Illnesses online, Maverick TV} or IOC = International Olympics Committee [to mark the Olympics hand-over 24.8.08 ] or IED = Improvised Explosive Device (heard in a recent news report about Afghanistan) or ICE = US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (The Visitor) or ITT = Initial Teacher Training or IMO = International Maritime Organisation + In My Opinion or ISA = Intelligent Speed Adaptation (mooted technology for limiting car speeds, in the news 12.08) or IRL = In Real Life {courtesy of Mike Butcher of Techcrunch} + Indy Racing League + Ireland or IoM = Isle of Man (George Best Airport, Belfast) or ICC = International Criminal Court (who yesterday 3.3.09 issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan who then withdrew the licences to operate of various NGOs in a new Waltz with Bashir) or ITF = Indie Training Fund (where I spoke on Multiplatform interactive media yesterday 3.3.09 at the invitation of MFP [Mike Flood Page of Illumina Digital] but unfortunately my taxi arrived at ITF = International Transport Federation, so a real life example of the dangers inherent in TLAs) or IFB = the Irish Film Board aka Bord Scannan na hÉireann or IOT = In Our Time (with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4)

J – JIT = Just in Time or JLC = Justin Lee Collins {courtesy of Top Gear} or JKG = John Kenneth Galbraith

K – KPS = Kosovo Police School {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or KTN = Knowledge Transfer Network {courtesy of TSB courtesy of DTI} or KGB = Komitjet Gosudarstvjennoj Bjezopasnosti / Committee for State Security + Knowledge Generation Bureau (owners of 118 118)

L – LDM = Life Defining Moment {courtesy of Practical Psychologist from his new book} or LGR = London Greek Radio (coming to you live&direct from North Finchley) or LSD = Light Space and Drawers [from Skins, when Chris was learning the ropes as a trainee estate agent] or LBD = Little Black Dress or LOL = laugh out loud or LCT = Luxury Car Tuning {courtesy of spam} or LTS = Long Term Solution {courtesy of Daily Networker} or LCC = London Cats Club, a Flickr group I just noticed with one member (go on, help her out) or LHC = Large Hadron Collider [8 Sep 08 to mark the start of a grand experiment] or LFB = London Fire Brigade or LHR = London Heathrow or LBV = Late Bottled Vintage (port)

M – MPU = Mid Page Unit [i knew what they were - flat ad spaces within the editorial content of websites - but had never heard what it stood for] or MSM = Mainstream (offline) Media or MDC = Movement for Democratic Change [who probably should be running Zimbabwe at this point] and Milk Development Council or MPT = Movement Poise Thrill {courtesy of Body Data Space} or MTS = Medium Term Solution {courtesy of Daily Networker} or MAV = Mothers Against Violence as featured in Secret Millionaire (series 3 episode 1 5/8/08 ) or MAC = Motorised Ambulance Convoy [Christopher Landon: Ice Cold in Alex] or MJQ = Modern Jazz Quartet (inspired by listening to Joe Locke {courtesy of Tom Marcello}) or MHQ = Mission Head Quarters {courtesy of Practical Psychologist, just back from a stint with the UN) or MAP = Membership Action Plan (what Georgia & Ukraine need to get into NATO 12.08 ) or MLF = Martha Lane Fox (Channel 4 Non-Exec, fellow member of the C4 EAB = Education Advisory Board) or MTP = My Tiny Plot (which I came across while working on Medicine Chest) or MVP = Most Valuable Player – from NBA via CNN (Lebron James is 08-09 MVP)

N – NTK = No to Knives {courtesy of Royal Armouries} or Need to Know {courtesy of Dave Green} or NGA = Next Generation Access {Broadband Stakeholders’ Group} or NCA = News and Current Affairs {courtesy of Jon Rowlands, Renegade Pictures} or NQR = Not Quite Right [commonly used on doctors' notes - from The Guardian: Medical Shorthand 8.2.08] or NFI – no fucking idea or NSU – Non-Specific Urethritis (” ’the clap’ to you and me” – courtesy of Practical Psychologist) or NID = Naval Intelligence Division (For Your Eyes Only James Bond exhibition at the Imperial War Museum 1.6.08 ) or NCT = National Car Test, the Irish MOT + National Childbirth Trust or NFI – No Fucking Invite {courtesy of Ed Baker at the video dictionary Wordia} (“when you don’t get invited to a party/gig – and all your friends have been invited” – ‘I’ve been NFI’d’) or NED = Non-Executive Director {courtesy of Martha Lane Fox} + unruly layabout youth (Scottish, most likely derived from acronym for ‘non-educated delinquent’ according to The Septic’s Companion)

O – ORT = Oxford Reading Tree {courtesy of Mr O’Shannessy, Our Lady of Muswell School AKA OLM) or OMG = Oh my god! or OBL = Osama Bin Laden (the Osama but not an Osama) or OSS = Office of Strategic Services [formerly COI = Central Office of Information, at the time of FDR - Philip Kerr: Hitler's Peace] or ODC = Ordinary Decent Crime (as opposed to terrorism – Radio 4 Today 27/9/08 ) or OWO = Oral Without Condom or ONS = Office for National Statistics to be found at NSO = National Statistics Online (overseen by UKSA)

P – PPC = Pay per Click [I heard it used by a marketeer this afternoon to mean paid for search on web search engines - when I asked, it took her a good few seconds to remember what the letters actually stood for] or PFJ = People’s Front of Judaea {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or PWD = Public Works Department {courtesy of Empire’s Children} or PSP = Public Service Publisher (if you’re Ofcom, and something more straightforward that fits in your pocket if you’re an everyday mortal) and Personal Support Plan (if you’re a teacher) or PQQ = Pre-qualification Questionnaire {courtesy of Mike Flood Page of Illumina Digital} or PVT = Public Value Test {BBC} or PDI = previous disco injury ["occurs in persons over 40" - courtesy of Maura Logue] or PDA = Public Display of Affection or PDW = Programme Data Warehouse (Channel 4 IS) or PMQs = Prime Minister’s Question Time or PWL = Percy Wyndham Lewis (exhibition at the NPG [National Portrait Gallery] 7.09 ) or PCA = the Professional Cricketers’ Association (trade union for the men in white) or PSG = Paris Saint-Germain (in Il y a longtemps que je t’aime) or PWI = Possession with Intent (to supply) (Richard Price’s novel Samaritan) or PHF = Paul Hamlyn Foundation (who I visited recently to explore synergies) or PAD = People’s Alliance for Democracy (Thai “yellow shirt” movement, whose leader was shot yesterday 16.4.09) – not to be confused with Pad Thai = Thai-style fried noodles or PLP = Parliamentary Labour Party

Q – QVC – see TSV or QoS = Quantum of Solace or Question of Sport (Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode’s film reviews on BBC Radio 5)

R – RSM = Resident Sergeant Major {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or RFP = Request for Proposals {courtesy of Alfred in Prague} or RSA = Regional Screen Agency + Royal Society for the Arts + Ridley Scott Associates) or RFO = Regularly Funded Organisations {courtesy of the Arts Council via Mike Smith of Carbon Media} or RMU = Retail Merchandising Unit {Make Your Mark in the Mall} or RMC = Ready Mix Concrete {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or RAF = Rapid Action Force (the men in blue protecting the India vs England cricket test match 12.08) or RPG = Rocket-propelled Grenade {courtesy of the outstanding Waltz with Bashir} + Role-Playing Game or RBS – Royal Bank of Scotland AKA Right British Swindle/Scandal or ROG – Ronan O’Gara {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or ROA = Rave on Air (annual event at Ravensbourne College on whose Broadcast Advisory Board I sit) or RPS = Rock Paper Scissors – check out my new game

S – SWA = Site Wide Applications, after first 4 years of development became WCL {courtesy Channel 4 New Media} or SNS = Social Network Service/Site {courtesy of Matt Locke} or SPV = Special Purpose Vehicle – meaning a not-for-profit organisation {courtesy of Caroline Norbury of South-West Screen} or SPV = Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle {Captain Scarlet} or SIV = Special Investment Vehicle {mentioned on Radio 4 by Niall Ferguson, Harvard Professor of History and presenter of the Channel 4 series Empire} or SSO = Single Sign On {BBC – courtesy of Azka Malik} or SSI = Single Sign In {Channel 4 – courtesy of Azka Malik} or SPD = Space Patrol Delta {courtesy of Finlay Gee, age 5} or SLT = Science Lecture Theatre {unearthed by renowned archaeologist Nick Golson} or SIV = Simian Immunodeficiency Virus {courtesy of Chris & Xand van Tulleken, the Medicine Men} or SDM = Sustainable Defence Mechanism {courtesy of Practical Psychologist from UNFCCC, the UN Climate Change agency} or SID = Sound Inner Dialogue {courtesy of Practical Psychologist and his Assertiveness training know-how} or Seismic Intruder Device {courtesy of Sebasian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming in Devil May Care aka DMC} or SOE = Special Operations Executive {courtesy of Les Femmes de l’Ombre/Female Agents} or Society of Operations Engineers [professional engineering membership organisation promoting career development in road transport, plant engineering or engineer surveying, and light on gorgeous French actresses] or STS = Short Term Solution {courtesy of Daily Networker} or SFT = Students for a Free Tibet (who unfurled banners near the Olympic stadium in Beijing today 6.8.08 ) or SRE = Sex and Relationship Education or SJP = Sarah Jessica Parker or SFO = Serious Fraud Office (which today decided not to investigate TV phone-in scandals at the BBC and ITV) or SRE = Sex and Relationships Education (much in the news in the wake of Sexperience X.09 ) or SOW = Scheme of Work or SHH = Special Half Hour (Richard Bacon show on BBC Radio 5, refers to 12.30-01.00) or SOP = Standard Operating Procedure (Billy Boyle by James Benn) or SDP = Social, Domestic and Pleasure only (car insurance jargon) + Social Democratic Party, Society of Decorative Painters, Session Description Protocol.

T – TDC = Thinly Disguised Contempt {courtesy of Technokitten} or TML = Trans Manche Link {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or TLC = (no, not what you think) Taxi and Limousine Commission {New York City} or TSB = Technology Strategy Board {offspring of another TLA, the DTI, which is now an FLA} or TLD = Top Level Domain or or TLR = Two-legged Rat [commonly used on doctors' notes to indicate experimental/extreme treatment - from The Guardian: Medical Shorthand 8.2.08] or TSE = Testicular Self-examination (thanks for the leaflet Una, TS Eliot must be turning in his grave) or TBH = To be honest {courtesy of Cowbite – “less pompous than imho” ihho} or TPT = Tara Palmer-Tomkinson [how many people are TLAs?] or TBL = Tim Berners Lee {courtesy of Stuart Cosgrove} or TBI = Traumatic Brain Injury {courtesy of Gary Trudeau as he addresses the issue of Iraq} or TLA = Three Letter Acronym and Teacher Learning Academy and Thomas Lord Audley school, Essex or TSV = Today’s Special Value as seen on QVC {courtesy of LJ Rich via Technokitten} or TBS = Talk Between Ships {Philip Kerr: Hitler’s Peace} or TMI = Too Much Information or TAC = The Archaeology Channel or TST = Traveller Support Team {courtesy of Siren’s Cry} or THR = The Hollywood Reporter {courtesy of THR spam} or TMO – Test Match Official {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or TCG = Tir Chonaill Gaels (GAA Gaelic football club in London)

U – UNV = United Nations Volunteers {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or URL = Uniform Resource Locator [not a directory of army tailors but the most oft used TLA of which no-one cares about the long form] or UBI = Unexplained Beer Injury [commonly used on doctors' notes - from The Guardian: Medical Shorthand 8.2.08] or UUC – University of Ulster at Coleraine {courtesy of alumnus Practical Psychologist} or UKA = UK Athletics

V – VFM = Value for Money {courtesy of Paul Deane at Aardman} or VTT = Velo Tout Terrain [learnt in Ondres, Les Landes]

W – WCL = Web Component Library {courtesy Channel 4 New Media} or WRL = Work-related Learning {Skillset} or WTC = World Trade Centre {as in Man on Wire} or WTF = What the fuck! or WFH = Working from Home {courtesy of Louby} or WFK = Who fucking knows? {courtesy of Louby – “I made it up just for you.”}

X – XRF = X-ray florescence {courtesy of Practical Psychologist}

Y – YSL = Yves Saint Laurent (until something more useful comes along) or YIF = yours in friendship “and is used to sign off emails in groups like Ladies Circle and Girlguiding UK” {courtesy of Technokitten} or YMO = Yellow Magic Orchestra {courtesy of Practical Psychologist} or YBA = Young British Artist(s) like Marc Quinn

Z – ZPL = Zero-error Probabilistic Logarithmic space {courtesy of Mat} (not too useful in my world but I think with Z it’s probably a case of beggars can’t be choosers) or ZTT = Zang Tumb Tuum {courtesy of Technokitten}

So the plan is to add to this list as I come across the little darlings.

Update 4.xii.07: As these little fellas (TLFs) multiply I’ve decided to give a bold award to the ones I most like

Known Pleasures

Control

Walked down the road last night to the Phoenix Cinema to a preview screening of Anton Corbijn’s new film Control about Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Corbijn came to England from the backwaters of the Netherlands in the late 70s as a photographer and spent his first 14 days here tracking down the band Joy Division to take their picture. He went on to direct videos for them and others of that generation like U2. He re-mortgaged his house to finance this film so it’s a real labour of love from a person with a first-hand perspective of the characters and events.

One of the characters showed up after the screening for a Q&A chaired by journalist and producer Paul Morley (who also has a first-hand perspective of the post-punk scene in Manchester – including having stood Joy Division up for an early recording session) – the character in question was the bassist Pete Hook.

Unlike today, as Hooky explained, not much of that classic era was recorded for posterity. People didn’t have the cash to film stuff so there’s hardly any footage from the early years after Warsaw evolved into Joy Division or when Joy Division disappeared off the scene for a while for a Robert Johnson-like moment and reappeared transformed with magical qualities.

The band didn’t even have the facilities to record the songs they composed in a matter of hours at Wednesday (2 hours) and Sunday (3 hours) rehearsals. Those great songs only existed in the heads of those four individuals until they got into the studio together, where laying them down was to a large degree an act of memory.

Morley pointed out the key role played by legendary producer Martin Hannett – not just in adding depth to the music but recording it in a timeless way so that Unknown Pleasures shows none of the aging signs of many other records of that era.

The scene that best captured the brilliance of Joy Division for me was the recording of Isolation with Hannett sitting at the mixing desk, fag in mouth and mad hair a go go, with Curtis behind him, alone in the glass booth, singing with sweet intensity.

I also liked the sequence where Curtis crosses the line from his epileptic dancing – which I saw for myself at the Lyceum in London when Joy Division supported fellow Mancs the Buzzcocks in around 1978/9, frankly an embarrassing spectacle at the time – from his epileptic dancing into an on-stage seizure as if brought on by his own intensity.

I know to use the word ‘seizure’ not ‘fit’ because I made a film for the British Epilepsy Association at a location in the very same high street as the Phoenix – entitled The Right Stuff. It was a drama and I had to accurately recreate a seizure with an actress from Byker Grove (who strangely enough I later came across working at the ticket office of the Phoenix when her thesp work was thin on the ground). My title graphics – like Corbijn’s – took their cue from the idea of electrical disruption.

In the same high street I bought, only last year, the copy of Atmosphere whose Pete Saville designed cover Hooky signed for me last night.

When asked which scene was most poignant for him Pete Hook said it was the one in the pub after Ian’s wake – he said it was the most true-to-life scene in the film. All the friends sitting around the table in shock, sorrow, anger and a discordant medley of emotions was very resonant for me too as it had strong echoes of the pub me, Stuart, Carol and co. visited in Southgate after the funeral of our friend Steve. Should we have spotted something? How come he was so up on the phone just hours before, making plans for the not too distant future? Hooky said: We should have known, just looking at the lyrics alone – but you choose not to, don’t you?

Now I’m a huge fan of Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People and, for all the love that’s gone into this and the very impressive performances (the cast play many of the tracks), it’s not in the same class. This is mainly down to the script which hardly has a scene longer than a half-dozen lines of dialogue, which precludes it having much depth. The romance between Ian and Annik, for example, hasn’t much fire – although I liked the detail that when Debbie Curtis finds her rival’s phone number it’s scribbled on the gatefold sleeve of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Join Hands. Icon is the great track on that top record and the Icon award is what Pete had just picked up at the Diesel music or some such awards before this cinema session. In the audience had been Debbie Curtis, Paddy Considine (24 Hour Party People), Sam Riley (Control) and various other real and fictitious characters from the Joy Division story. According to Hooky, something of a headfuck (he’s a Shameless curser). But a reflection of the dynamic where a largely unrecorded-at-the-time story is gradually pieced together as people work out what went down, an amalgamation of individual perspectives. Pete mentioned how interesting he’d found it watching the recent Joy Division documentary as he heard Bernard and Steve’s interviews – they’d never spoken toegther in that way. It was clear from the emotion in the auditorium last night that Ian’s suicide cast a long shadow.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Steve Simmons, with whom I shared some great adventures

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