Home » Posts tagged 'England'

Tag Archives: England

Advertisements

Agony in art

Fig. 1. Betthany Hughes – The ideas that make us. BBC Radio 4.

The volume of ‘educational’ content I gather from BBC Radio 4 is remarkable – there is so much of it. Much of it recalled here over the last three years.

Here is a 15 minutes piece that might make you the fiction writer you have always wanted to be.

She derives the word from ancient Greek and its use in Himer’s Illiad then interviews an eloquent Aussie Cricket commentator during the Ashes and the author Kate Mosse at her publisher’s.

Agony helps us to empathise with another’s struggle.

‘Struggle, in the form of philosophy of ideas, is at the heart of a good novel’, says author Kate Mosse, ‘otherwise there is no story to tell’. 

Jeopardy and contest is central to what makes us human.

And when it comes to the effort of writing:

‘Try again, fail again, never mind, fail better’, said Sam Beckett.

Advertisements

31 Years Ago – Oxford 1982 on video

Fig.1. The author/auteur with his Sony Betamax out. My study, Staircase 11, Balliol College, Trinity Term 1982

31 years ago I was an undergraduate at Oxford University.

In my second year, eager to develop my interest in TV production I managed to get myself a Sony Betamax Camera. It was semi-portable – a backpack and cable. I’ve had the 20 tapes digitized. The pleasure for me and for those featured will be to see themselves and their friends in a way that will have quite escaped them. You are faced with the spatial disjointedness of seeing and hearing yourself as others presumably saw you and the temporal disjointedness of seeing a 19 or 20 year old from the perspective of a fifty-something. There’s some 17 hours of content. I got through it at x18 in a few hours yesterday afternoon.

Fig.2. Rehearsing in the Oxford University Drama Society (OUDS) production of Taming of the Shrew. I played Baptista.

These are the obvious observations:

  • How young we looked. Look at the fashion (hair, clothes) and the cars.
  • Did I really look like and talk like that?
  • Even an idiot could see that I couldn’t grow a beard, so why did I try!
  • Why did I buy that shirt?

The more nuanced thoughts and realisations are:

Fig.3. The Oxford Lightweights Crew, Henley. My purpose had been to video them in training.

How amazing it is that watching a blurry clip of a team of rowers an image no bigger than a pea tells me quite quickly that I know one of these people, a few moments more and I have their name. The ability of the human brain to identify faces is remarkable. (The above is far closer and clearer than the silhouette tat initially gave me the location, purpose and person).

There are events I covered, even moments where I appear, that I simply cannot recollect at all.

Being behind the camera can do this … you’re cut-off from the moment slightly in any case as you should be tending to the camera (on a tripod), lighting and sound. There’s a good deal that I didn’t cover – the camera often went out with others.

Then I see a person, and it does ‘come flooding back’ – this personal emotional tie to a person or event is vital.

Just a few seconds of a person and I feel warmth and longing for a lost love. I know the name, when we met and the times we spent together. But what unintended hurt might I cause even these decades later? Or others who had no inkling of my interest? Or is this just part of being who and what we are at that age? And we have, of course, move on … so far beyond that the past really is a different country. And we are not those people who populated it.

Getting myself back into the head of a 20 year old feels like a kind of lobotomy – it had might as well empty my head of everything that has happened since. The perspective makes you realise just how naive and inexperienced you are even at that age.

There are inevitable technical issues:

  • The tapes, stored for three decades, are damaged.
  • The lighting, anything in doors or when it was dreary, is atrocious.
  • The sound, through the directional mic on the camera is pretty dreadful too.

Fig. 4. In conversation somewhere, with someone – but I don’t know with whom, and can’t even tell what was on our minds.

What next?

Just a screen grab shared with a handful of the participants has produced glee. It is a reminder of how friendships are formed, a bond and trust that slips into place between strangers after they’ve got to know each other and then spend more time together doing things and making fond memories. This is its value if nothing else. None of the video will go online. I’m even reluctant at this stage to store content online and offer a password to people. I know that it is too easy for content to ‘leak’ which at this stage I feel is too unfair to those concerned. I’ll start just by sharing the moments with them.

  • How much do we need or want to remember?
  • Doesn’t the brain, for those of us who are and remain physically and mentally well, do a perfectly adequate job of forgetting?
  • Is it not better to see the past through the prism of narrative, anecdotes and recollections. To feel, either good or bad about people and moments rather than getting this ‘in your face’ absolute?
  • Twice I spotted people who were lovers.
  • Twice I spotted people I ‘fancied’.

Is it not healthier and correct to reinforce my marriage of twenty years with memories of equal strength of her and our children?

Wherein a wedding and some holiday video footage may have served a purpose. On graduation I never, or very rarely, have ‘gathered’ amateur footage like this. Perhaps understandably I want to work with a team of professional broadcasters and filmmakers.

There are fictionalised stories I want to tell about this age group.

This content is an invaluable record and reminder of all that we are at that age. It is also noticeable, even in the streets of Oxford on May Morning, how the student population dominate, while of course cast and audiences of students productions are for the most part students too. For a period, or for some weeks, you live away from your family, without a family – most people around you are your age and possibly, its weakness in the 1980s, amongst those from a white caucasian middle class background. This too would reflect the bias of whoever was behind the camera, and the events covered.

Fig.5. Oxford Theatre Group (OTG) rehearsals for the Oxford Review. I have several hours of footage of setting up, the hall and rehearsals for three out of the five productions: Titus Alone, Edward II and the Review.

Best of all, and the fullest record, is the Oxford Theatre Group on the Edinburgh Fringe in August and early September 1982. As well as our edited highlights from this, behind the scenes, rehearsals and productions, there are several hours of ‘rushes’. There is also coverage of an Eight’s Week (College Rowing Event), the Oxford & Cambridge Ski Trip to Wengen, one May Morning (May 1st, 1982 I presume) and Lightweights and Woman’s Eights at Henley … and some ‘Student News’ from a single edition of ‘Oxford Television News’. I didn’t need three tapes of rushes for an English Language School for Japanese Students.

In a world where such images are so easily gathered are we even more inclined to bin or wipe them?

Do most young people live in a world of image overload where the recording and broadcast of content is instantaneous so little thought needs to be given to what is recorded, how it is stored, how it is shared and who sees it? In thirty years time will my children be able to look at content the way I can?

At my mother’s funeral my God Father presented me with a couple of DVDs containing digitized 16mm footage of my mothers age 17 from the late 1940s. Would this have lasted sixty years on tape? In sixty years time will people want to or need to see clips of themselves in their youth? Isn’t it too easy, even expected to dip back and forth through your timeline?

Fig. 6 I know the people in the line and the person who recorded the footage – rain damage put the camera out of action for several months, perhaps worth it for several minutes of frivolity during May Day celebrations, May 1st 1983 (or 82?)

How will people change if they cannot forget and are not allowed to forget?

I’m sure we’ll become more accepting of the human condition – that politicians who ‘had a life’ may be preferred over those who did not? That we will be accepting of a good deal more of what we do and how we were and how we change, that we have different personas in different settings and at different times.

Fig. 7 My study – second year, a study with separate bedroom. In College. The key to this era, should I wish to explore it, is the diary on the shelf in the background. Whilst the video record is selective and patchy, the daily journal is complete.

What though the value of keeping a diary? I understand the academic value of reflection, but a record of what you did, what you read and maybe who you saw and most especially what you thought back then? Digitised, a process I started patchily two decades ago, others insights – some best left in the past. Devices that capture your day, sensecams and wearable devices … how much more are these a record if the data they provide can be analysed for you or does a memory need and deserve the filter and effort of being recorded as you experienced  and felt it?

Several edits into the above I realise I have failed to sate the obvious – after a part-time Masters Degree in Distance and E-Learning (MAODE) I am now applying to undertake doctoral research. The youth of these images didn’t have postgraduate study on his mind largely because he didn’t understand who he was – deeply curious about people and learning. If an education is wasted on youth, then I’d say this is even more the case with postgraduate study.

Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.

It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.

The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock – a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.

It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We’re rather good at it:

  • Christenings
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduation

I’m down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn’t feel like moving on. I hadn’t felt I’d had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn’t why I’ll remember my undergraduate years.

I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.

For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.

My Mind Bursts

From time to time I’ll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it’ll be from June.

My moving on.

By May, I’ll also know if the next few years have been set up. We’ll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather

 

My interactive, web-based, online, offline, inline, e-learning journey to date

I entered this field in 1999/2000 and have migrated rich content from DVD to the web, and for the last three years have been studying with the OU on their MAODE while keeping up some professional activity – working in Brighton companies have a short shelf life as ideas, people, projects, software and platforms get picked up or crushed, spun around then spat out.

There’s constant agitation – on the one hand careful evolution, on the other, a desire by some to be the first with a revolution.

It all goes into the mix.

My view is that we need to feed content to tablets and smartphones and look beyond these to a headset and ear-piece.

Personally I’d like to have chips in my teeth so that I can activate a device without having to use fingers or voice 🙂

M-learning stands for mouth learning?!

Drawing

 

Fig.1. Copse – Lewes – Snowfall January 2010

I did a dozen of these and still mean to complete a Triptych on a grand scale with Lewes Castle above the tree tops. Who is going to give me the space and three months to do it?

I’ll keep posting drawings until someone remembers I could draw before I could write or read.

But Mum would put 6B pencils into our hands and even age 4 we had a drawing board and cartridge paper.

 

 

Here’s your 2013 reading list – one a week for the year.

 

The Agency Review

Please see our latest post – On-Fire – and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any of our new subscriber-only content!
 




 

View original post

Gardeners learn most in a badger

Fig.1. It might have been a bad year for badger‘s but that’s not the point.

Thick with cold and in the car unwillingly I wondered what badgers had to do with the state of the economy.

It is true, that you learn from disaster, from economic downturn, from making ends meet … from a death in the family, from making mistakes. Indeed, in many things you learn a good deal in a bad year.

It was a bad year for gardeners

I had a bad year in 1985. The love of my life and I were parting company. I was young. I let it fester. This has been a bad year – my mum died.

I’ll think of 2012 therefore as the year of the Badger.

At least this’ll put a smile on my face.

Do we really learn from our mistakes?

It rather suggests that our personalities are like plasticine rather than alabaster – that we can and do with ease adjust to the circumstances.

BBC Radio 4’s Bad Year for Gardener’s

Where in the world have I not been heard? And why not?

Fig. 1. Where My Mind Bursts is read – the last 90 days

Over a decade ago I blogged in Diaryland and responded to the constant feed of analytics to the point that 200+ views an hour was a reasonable goal, until ‘cheats’ who didn’t follow the rules we set as bloggers back then failed to publish either every day, or 1000 words an hour or whatever criteria we set.

Over a decade on consistency of theme is the key.

My consistent theme for the last three years, if not the last three decades, is learning and now e-learning.

E-learning and creativty are the themes that get me noticed.

Perhaps this is why I am yet to be read in Greenland?

Or is that never possible?

I thought that  China was a closed country for blogs like this until I found readers from China had started to register.

I have no stance, I just share stuff and offer a point of view.

Must I appeal to a community on Greenland or have a reader from Denmark?

Just a game of course.

What is far, far more revealing and relevant and the gaps of central Africa,  central Eurasia and Mongolia.

Kazakstan is an odd absence as I have written about entrepreneurs and people from the country I meet here, locally, from Kazakstan.

Zimbabwe is off my readership. There are plenty of people I know from Zimbabwe living here on England‘s South Coast. Who are they? Second or third generation Brits or Europeans who were getting nowhere and had a way ‘home’.

I’m not about to hop on a plane to Bolivia.

However, were I to blog my way around the world I dare so I could tick off every country on the planet,  just as a boy I pencilled in every county in England, then most of Wales and Scotland and in my teens and twenties covered ALL of France  (helped enormously being a part of an international TV agency team covering news in France and being commissioned to make a documentary on … every far flung corner of life in France).

A recurring thought, as 25 years ago I had suggested to a potential backer that I take a team off round the world to gather in tasty video footage of everywhere that mattered.

Of course, the where is of far less value than the who.

 

500 years of Lewes Old Grammar School, so what do they do? Close the High Street and march around town in costume

A school parade through Lewes. This is Lewes. This is normal.

I’ve been marching around in fancy dress for 12 years either as a Confederate Soldier or an early 18th Century Pirate.

Does Lewes produce more historians per head of population than other towns in the UK?

I wonder because all this activity must have an impact, especially on the younger participants. I took over 200 photos this afternoon, and spent a lot of time getting close ups of the 3d ‘Banners’ that were paraded through town.

The detail and craftsmanship impressed.

The entire set could be used as multiple pegs into the 500 year history of England … and beyond, this is afterall the town of Tom Paine.

This on the day Scotland starts its yes campaign for independence and I happened to be reading the chapter in the Norman Davies book ‘The Isles’ on the extraordinary mishaps that resulted in the union of England and Scotland in the first place.

Scotland had gone bust financing an attempt at empire building in central America. I favour independence. Of the 62 ancestors I can trace back to the 18th century one was Irish, and some 50 from Scotland, the rest from the North East or North West of England.

%d bloggers like this: