Archive for the ‘derry’ Tag

John Hume – Respect

John Hume 1971 derry

At a civil rights march in Derry 1971

“Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace – respect for diversity.”

John Hume – Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 1998


john hume

MP for Foyle & Leader of the SDLP

Coincidence No. 776 – Snowdrops

This one I’m writing in the porte-cochère of Beech Hill House, Derry.

I am out for a morning jog and I stop to take this picture of early snowdrops.

As I crouch down I hear in my earbuds this from Kermode & Mayo’s film podcast: “Dear Timely Snowdrop and Early Daffodil” – the coincidence of “snowdrop” and clicking the shutter is exact. They go on to talk about “coincidences (or are they?)”

Note 1: I got married at Beech Hill

Note 2: I was at school with Mark Kermode and Jason Isaacs

Note 3: Hallo, Jason Isaacs

Note 4: Beech Hill was Base One Europe, the first US base on the continent for WW2 – tinkety-tonk and down with the Nazis

Gilt Trip (Days 6-8)

As foreseen, Day 6 was a reading day since I was on the move, heading over to Derry (currently the UK’s first City of Culture so at least some degree of appropriateness for a budding author) to speak at CultureTech. Focused on the Advertising chapter, reading through a couple of Paul Arden’s short books to get a feel for the man from that perspective. I ploughed through a creativity title, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be (2003), intriguingly billed by Art publisher Phaidon as “The World’s Best-selling Book”. Always thought that was a close race between the equally preposterous The Bible and The Da Vinci Code. On the subject of which, I then had a go at 2007’s God Explained in a Taxi Ride.

an grianan ailigh

The next day was my birthday. My first 0 writing work day since beginning. Starting out from the much-loved Beech Hill, I did a speaking gig at The Playhouse theatre in Derry with Mina Dimintrova, Content Partnerships Manager from YouTube and a couple of smart Israelis in the soft- and hard-ware businesses (one who’s just sold his company to Samsung for plenty of millions of dollars). After that I walked round the city walls to the Verbal Arts Centre for lunch, signing Seamus Heaney’s condolences book while there. I popped into the Guildhall during the afternoon with my other half to look at the room where we were married – it has now been transformed from the council chamber as it was back then to an exhibition about the Plantation of Ulster. It is one of the best museum displays I’ve seen in a very long time, presenting a complex story through interactivity which was unforced and illuminating. From there  we walked over to the old shirt factory where we met the artist Rita Duffy, a collaborator of Heaney’s associate Paul Muldoon. Rita showed us around the shirt-themed exhibition and initiative she’s set up in the old factory with the help of producer Margot Harkin, producer of Hush a Bye Baby, an early Channel 4-backed film through the Derry Film Co-op.

The highlight of my non-work day and big birthday came next. We cabbed it out of the city to the ancient fort high on a hill to the West of Derry, just into Donegal. Grianan Ailigh is my favourite place in the world. It’s no accident I found myself up there at dusk on this special day (birthday also of John Martyn, Mick Talbot, Herbert Lom and DH Lawrence) with no strangers around – just with two old friends and my wife up on the walls drinking probably the first ever Kir Royales downed on the ancient circle of stone.

Day 7 was still away from base, over in Derry. I went to lunch at multi-award-winning head chef Ian Orr’s well regarded Browns restaurant on the Waterside.  After a fabulous lunch he kindly came out to discuss candidates for open and generous chefs. I’ve had various in mind so wanted to test them against Ian’s broad experience. The rest of the day was more reading and research – Gertrude Stein & Alice Toklas and lastly the evolutionary role of altruism.

The week rounded off with a trip to Amsterdam to do a pair of speaking gigs at the IBC conference – the first with multiplatform colleagues from CBC in Canada and SRF in Switzerland (Hansruedi Schoch, Director of Programmes) ; the second a jolly affair with Seb Royce, Diane Glynn and Toby L during which we reinvented the likes of Top of the Pops, Thriller and Cheers for the 21st century of interactivity and brands. Before leaving for City Airport I managed to get the next layer of raw material into the Ginsberg chapter ready for integration into the text. I am daunted to some degree by the act of marshalling so many strands of thought and have a sense it will get messy and out of control before it comes back together.  I’ll start Week 3 with another big writing push to conquer my anxiousness by absorbing more material. The rest of Day 8 was devoted to the strange pair that were Stein & Toklas, getting a good grounding in their dynamics of creative co-dependency but not about Stein’s relationship with Picasso and that circle of visual artists, the core of this story if there is one to be extracted.

Bottom line, I need to be patient with myself, no guilt, just plough on consistently with writing and research, and follow my old friend Carol Muskoron’s adage:

Don’t Get It Right, Get It Written.


Here’s the words of wisdom WordPress threw up on posting this piece:

I do not like to write – I like to have written.

Gloria Steinem

Giving me excitations

Girl with a one-track mind - abby leeGirl with a one-track mind - abby lee

What an exciting day! I get in to work this morning and this plops on the electronic doormat:

“Dear Adam,
I’m delighted to inform you that your entry ‘Big Art Mob‘ has been short-listed in the Community Engagement category of the inaugural MediaGuardian Innovation Awards. The shortlist will be formerly announced in MediaGuardian on 28 January and the winner at the awards ceremony and dinner on 6 March at Indigo2, O2, Greenwich. The debate at the judging day was lively and hard fought, so congratulations on reaching the shortlist stage of an event which we hope will become a benchmark for innovation in media in the UK.”

Next up a message from the fellas at LG15 that they’re coming a’visitin’.

Then a note from the boys at Preloaded that Picture This has 11.4% of its audience staying for over 30 minutes at a time and 4.7% over an hour.

Then the gorgeous Slugger O’Toole over in Beal Feirste points his dedicated audience in the direction of the excellent ‘3 Minute Wonder’ tomorrow night on Channel4 (at 19.55) complementing the Picture This series. It looks at the disappearance of the fortified RUC police stations in Northern Ireland. As someone who got married in Derry, I’ve a certain familiarity with these particular architectural fantasias. I remember sitting in a pub in Forkhill in South Armagh and admiring the painting on the wall of the locality from which the police station had already been disappeared, years before the Good Friday Agreement.

Finally a lovely young laydee comes up to introduce herself at the climax of the Cultural and Creative Leadership Mentoring Programme at the ICA (on which I have been mentoring Caroline Bottomley of the Radar Festival). Said laydee is none other than Zoe Margolis aka Abby Lee, the Girl with the One-track Mind, in the flesh.

Now that’s a good day by anyone’s standards.

But not as good as yesterday when I found out my mum’s cancer had not come back. Now there’s really good vibrations.

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