Girl/Dolphin/Bridge, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.
I hope you've had a great Christmas. I have.
And here's to a wonderful 2010.
There's much more information at DaveGorman.com
DON'T DROP LITTER. DO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU. SIMPLE, REALLY.
DON'T DROP LITTER. DO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU. SIMPLE, REALLY.
I hope you've had a great Christmas. I have.
And here's to a wonderful 2010.
This is the first really Christmassy thing I've done so far this year.
I think I ought to start my Christmas shopping now. Eek.
A photo from January... seems like an appropriate image for the Copenhagen Climate Summit...
You know how sometimes you're at a party and it's okay but not great and you decide to leave. And then the next day, everyone says, "Oh! You should have stayed! It ended up being Amazing!"
And you regret leaving the party. And the next time you're at a party and it's okay but not great you don't want to leave because you don't want to miss the bit when it suddenly kicks off and becomes amazing.
Well that's what it's like trying to work knowing the internet is just there. The internet isn't thrilling me right now. I know I have some work to do. But I worry about what I'm going to miss if I start ignoring it.
So can you all turn your internet off during office hours? That'd be great. Stop enjoying it at least. Some of us have work to do.
I was sitting on the the tube the other day, reading a newspaper, minding my own business, when a woman got on the train accompanied by two impossibly cute daughters. I'd guess they were 7 and 8 years of age.
The woman sat down and instantly started reading a very well thumbed copy of the bible. Her two daughters tugged at her sleeves a couple of times and tried to engage "Mummy" in conversation but she didn't look up from her book. So the kids decided to entertain themselves. They achieved this by taking a pile of leaflets from their Mum and walking up and down the carriage handing them to the other passengers.
The leaflets were advertising a church and looked to be full of quotations from the bible. I really don't know how I feel about this sort of thing. Actually, that's not true. I do know. I don't like it. I don't really think a parent should sit back and tacitly encourage their kids to engage in that kind of activity.
Faith - like politics - is contentious. People are entitled to their opinions and those opinions are often strongly felt. A grown up handing out such leaflets is, presumably, prepared for either rejection or debate - in a way an eight year old girl simply isn't.
A few people accepted the leaflets while others rejected them politely but there was a real sense of discomfort in the carriage. I certainly felt compromised when they thrust a leaflet my way. You look down at two eager, smiling, cute kids and you naturally want to make them happy. But I didn't want to give my tacit approval for the leaflet. I also figured that if a parent is going to encourage their kids to hand out that kind of literature, they have to have prepared them for the idea that not everyone would want them. So I smiled, gestured to my newspaper, in a look-I'm-reading-something way and said, "No, thanks."
They smiled, walked off and continued trying to hand out the leaflets to other people. I reckon about a third of people declined politely. Of the two thirds who took the leaflets... the vast majority just glanced at them before shoving them in a jacket pocket or leaving them on the seats. I think I saw one person actually reading the whole of it.
When the girls had approached everyone in the carriage, the younger of the two suggested to the other that they should go back to the people who hadn't taken the leaflets. The older girl thought about it for a moment and wasn't sure what to do, but just then the train arrived at a station where a couple of people left and four or five people joined the train. Fresh quarry... the girls were off.
It didn't take long. Two people accepted the leaflets. Three didn't. And once again the girls had nothing to do. Once again they discussed the merits of whether or not to approach those of us who'd declined their literature but this time they decided not to on the grounds that those were "bad people."
Now, for the sake of clarity, I'll make it clear that I wasn't straining to listen in to their conversation. They were propping themselves up against the two seats directly opposite me and they were talking in loud, un-self-conscious voices so that anyone within five yards of them could hear every word. Including their mother... who was still reading her bible.
So now I'm sitting there, hearing two young girls tell each other that I - and a third of the other passengers on the train - are bad people. It got worse. They continued by deciding that we were all going to go to hell. Proper hell. With lots of flames and things because the devil was going to punish us because we weren't interested in the good message that God wanted them to share with the world.
Along with a few other people I was being loudly condemned to hell by a pair of sisters, a few years shy of their tenth birthday... and their mother was sat there hearing them say it and doing nothing about it.
Now, as I don't believe in hell I think it's an empty threat... but even so, I think it's a hateful way to behave and wildly inappropriate for a parent to sit there allowing their kids to do so. If you want to bring your kids up with faith that's one thing... but the minute you want them to go out into the world on a recruitment drive you have a duty to explain to them that there are other views in the world and that people who hold them don't necessarily take kindly to being called evil. But what do you do?
I certainly wasn't going to try and remonstrate with two kids. I have no idea how much of what they were saying they understood let alone really believed. More than anything, I felt sorry for those kids. With an upbringing like that, I don't know how they have a chance of growing up as reasonable, balanced adults. Of course they're going to believe strange, hateful things if that's how they're raised. No, the person I had a problem with was obviously the mother. Whether or not the kids understood how much hate was contained in their words I couldn't tell you... but their mother sure should have done and in saying nothing to counter it she was sending out a strong message of approval.
I know I probably should have done nothing. I know I should have just got off the train and gone about my business, dismissing it as just another bit of eccentricity in the world, but I figured I had as much right to hand out literature expressing my point of view as they did. So I did.
We were approaching my stop so I hastily scribbled a few words on a scrap of paper and then, trying to do so in a way that her kids wouldn't notice, I handed it to the mother. I know it will have achieved nothing. I know the chances of that woman seeing any fault in her behaviour or that of her offspring is zero... but it still made me feel better to have done something. At least I didn't sit by and give their behaviour my tacit approval.
The words on my note were: "I find being condemned to hell by your children upsetting. They are learning to hate."
Like I say, it won't have made a jot of difference to anything or anyone but me. The children? You have to forgive them, they know not what they do. But their Mum does. And it's horrible.
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.
So goes the NATO phonetic alphabet. But ever since I started making plans with my friends Charlie, Juliet and her papa, Oscar to spend November in India where a company called Alpha Travel were offering us a great deal on a two week holiday learning to foxtrot and tango with some golf on the side and a free kilo of whiskey for everyone who books early it's been causing us no end of confusion. Especially when the crackly phone line between me in London and them in Quebec means I have to keep spelling things out to them.
So I've decided to come up with a new phonetic alphabet. I think there's much less room for confusion with mine. I expect it'll soon become the international standard.
Don't thank me.
I'm enjoying the Sunday morning radio show immensely. I think we clicked pretty quickly as a team on air and off but even over the space of three shows I think we've gelled more, which means that while we've increased the amount of content to each show they've also sounded increasingly relaxed.
To my mind the podcast is worth listening to just to hear Martin's musical contribution at the end. To have all your e-mails and texts summed up in song by the end of the show seems like a remarkable gift to me. I don't know how he does it. To really ram home how musical he is, he's performed the song on a different instrument each week so far. That's just silly.
I can never remember all the e-mails and texts we've received during the show so there's always a moment during his song where I suddenly think - "oh yeah... there was that one too!"
I'm pretty sure he's actually getting them all in.
In the last couple of shows I've done some (silly) found poetry (what's that?)... the first was constructed using the opening lines and subject headers from spam e-mails found in my junk folder and the second was made up of sentences found on the profiles of girls advertising on a couple of Russian Bride websites. I doubt we'll do Poetry Corner every week but it's been an enjoyable part of the show so I'm pretty sure we'll do more. If you have any suggestions for good, unwittingly funny, source material, let me know. (You can find out the sort of thing I mean by listening to the last couple of shows and hearing the previous examples.)
Of course that's only one of the ways you can get involved in the show. Some of the jingles we've been sent in have been superb. There seems to be a nice steady trickle of them now - but do keep them coming. Of course there are loads of other ways you can get involved in the show. For instance, there's always a talking point that we encourage you to contact us about. The story we heard this week - from a man who'd been going out with a girl for 5 years without knowing she wore false teeth was a classic.
Oh... and if you don't listen live but do get the podcast don't go assuming that you can't join in. If you're listening and thinking, "Oh... I would have told them about the time when I...." then send us an e-mail. We'd like the podcast listeners to feel involved too.
Here's the link to the podcast on AbsoluteRadio.co.uk And of course, it's also available on iTunes.
I took part in a recording of two episodes of Radio 4's Just A Minute yesterday at Derby University.
That's the third time I've done the show - having done two episodes a while ago in London and a single episode at Hay on Wye last year - and it remains as damnedly difficult a game to play.
It felt like I spent the whole of the first show pressing my buzzer and trying to challenge only to discover that I was pipped to the post by my fellow contestants.
Early on there were plenty of times when I'd be sitting there thinking, 'oh good... I know exactly how I'll handle this subject' - but every time that was the case, I'd be unable to mount a fast enough challenge. After a while I stopped trying to think about what I would say if I got in and suddenly, I found myself faster on the buzzer and occasionally able to steal the subject. Next time I play - if there is a next time - I'll do no thinking at all and just let my thumb buzz when it wants to.
It was a hugely enjoyable evening with a lovely, fun audience. Tony Hawks, Josie Lawrence and Justin Moorhouse were all on fine form... you only have to add the remarkable presence of Nicholas Parsons to the mix and it transforms into something quite special.
So... as I said a few days ago, I start presenting on Absolute Radio on Sunday morning. (10 til 12 since you ask.) The only thing is that while I encouraged people to get in touch with us about the show by visiting the show's page on the Absolute website, that was before we discovered some technical fault meant that your e-mails weren't actually getting through. There's an alternative suggestion coming up...
We'd really like the show to be as interactive as possible... and we thought one way of getting people involved would be to invite our listeners to contribute jingles. I really like the idea of having some homemade jingles and it would mean the show's tone of voice would - in a way - be set by the people who listen to it. We haven't got any particular purpose in mind, just a generic show jingle... so anything that works for an Absolute Radio show presented by, um, me would be dandy.
Now this may be a longshot - and we might get nothing out of it - but at the same time, there must be some musically minded people out there who'd enjoy the idea of writing and recording something nice and short and, um, jingle-y.
I've already mentioned this to my mailing list and I encouraged them to visit the show's page and get in touch that way. Oops. That doesn't work... so if you've got a jingle for us - or anything else for that matter -
send us an email instead.
(mp3's are the best format, ta)
It's taking me a while to adjust to life after the bike ride. My body was shocked for the first week and a bit of intense exercise and now it seems equally shocked by the fact that it's ended.
I have to be careful - I'm still eating like a man who's cycling 50 miles a day. I could undo all the good work I've just done in a very short space of time.
I was concerned that going straight into a new project wasn't going to be a good idea but as it goes, our first meeting about the new show on Absolute Radio really helped to draw a line under the tour and the cycling. Finding myself being all excited about what I'm about to throw myself into was actually the best way of throwing off the shadow of what I've just experienced.
I'm going to be presenting a show on Absolute on Sunday mornings (10 til 12) starting this week and it's really exciting starting with a blank piece of paper and building from there. I say, 'we' because the first thing we've added to the mix is a couple of co-presenters in the shape of Danielle Ward and Martin White - both of whom are excellent and funny and - most importantly - highly distinctive and definitely not cookie-cutter you-know-what-you're-going-to-get kind of stand-ups. I'm really looking forward to it.
We'd like to make the shows as interactive as possible so do pop along to the show's page on the Absolute site and get in touch - especially when we're on air.