Monday, May 21, 2018

It’s Good News Week.

Two of my favourite projects, Blackpool Museum and Lake District Tourism have just received £7.3 million from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Blackpool Museum.  Due to open in 2020, the Museum will display artefacts, music and performances from within Blackpool and partners including the V&A, EMI Group Archive Trust and the British Music Hall Society. The Museum - the biggest new museum development in the North West - is expected to attract almost 300,000 visitors a year and will be developed on the world-famous Golden Mile.  It will aim to engage younger audiences in the history of Blackpool and further strengthen the town’s tourism offer.  It will be creative, interactive, fun and funny!

Lake District. £3.29 million will be invested in a project to strengthen the visitor experience at Windermere Jetty, Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum.  The money will be used to enhance the visitor experience at these attractions, increase accessibility and improve exhibition spaces.  The regeneration project aims to attract nearly 150,000 additional visitors, create 150 permanent jobs and boost cultural tourism to the newly designated World Heritage Site.

The projects will build on the impact of the Great Exhibition of the North, which launches in Newcastle-Gateshead on June 22.  The event is set to be the biggest in England this year and will showcase the best of Northern art, culture and innovation.

Bloody Brilliant!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

12 Records in One Season.

For those of us who were there (1.8 million over the season), we may never see the like again.

Manchester City 2017/2018.  The Record Breakers.
·       Most Premier League points -100.  Beating Liverpool in ’78/’79 (98) and Chelsea in ’04/’05 (95).
·       Most wins – 32.  Spurs 31 in 1960/’61 and Chelsea 30 in 2016/’17.
·       Most goals – 106.  Chelsea in 2009/’10, 103.
·       Least amount of time trailing – 153 minutes.
·       Most away wins – 16.  Chelsea 15 in 2004/’05.
·       Most away points – 50.  Chelsea 48 in 2004/’05.
·       Best goal difference - +79.  Chelsea 2009/’10, +71.
·       Most consecutive wins - +18.  Arsenal +14, 2002.
·       Biggest point gaps to second – 19.  Man Utd +18 in 1999/2000.
·       Most passes attempted in a match – 1,015.  Man City 976 V Everton and Chelsea 2017/18.
·       Most passes completed in a match – 942, 92.8%.  Man City 905 V Everton, 92.7%.
·       Most possession in a game – 82.95%.  Man City 82.28% in 2012 Vs QPR.

Smashed it.

Superbia in Proelio.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Modest Proposal – Part Two.

John Wareham worked with Kenny Johnson – career criminal, career inmate.  Until he met John at Rikers Island where he joined John’s Taking Wings programme.  Five years of classes and Kenny turned into a teacher and guide.  He was tragically felled by a heart attack at age 49.

Crazy for Conspiracies
Excerpt from a poem by Kenny Johnson, which he delivered at protest rally on the steps of the New York State Capitol building, shortly before he died.

You might not agree with me,
say I’m crazy for conspiracies,
but if education’s the key
to what a person needs to be,
why aren’t we building schools
instead of penitentiaries?
Yeah—those concrete cookers breeding villains;
kids come home with stigmatisms,
short on skills and stoicism,
left to cope, with little hope,
and in their palms a wad of rope
to hang themselves,
as tucked into society’s unforgiving shelves
shamed and lost and left to delve
into what they know best
—and you or I could guess, more or less—
what that might be;
drugs and crime and the old paradigm,
of doing time to end up doing more time.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Finding Leonard.

On September 27 1960, Leonard Cohen bought a house in Hydra for $1,500 using a bequest from his grandmother.  The three-storey, 200-year-old whitewashed building had 5 rooms, a large outdoor terrace, no electricity, no plumbing, no running water.  Leonard lived here for more than 10 years and never sold the house.  It was a place of tranquility, donkeys (even today no cars are allowed on Hydra, voted the most beautiful island in Greece and the 11th most beautiful in the world), the Aegean, wine, songs and creativity.  ‘Bird on the Wire’ and ‘So Long Marianne’ were written here.

I grew up with the legend of Leonard in Hydra, and earlier this week I finally got to experience it at first hand.  His favourite haunts are still there, Roloi Café where his first ‘concert’ took place with only a dozen friends in the audience, and The Pirate Bar (O Peiratis) in the Port.

We trekked up to his house.  (Son Adam just recorded an album there.)  It’s unmarked.  Unspoiled.  And the telegraph pole/wire that inspired ‘Bird on the Wire’ stands tall in the April sunshine.
         “Greece is a good place
         to look at the moon, isn’t it?
         You can read by moonlight
         You can read on the terrace
         You can see a face
         As you saw it when you were young”

Muse Marianne died in Summer 2016 from leukemia, 81 years old.  Leonard wrote her as she lay dying:
         “Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon.  Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.  And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that.  But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey.  Goodbye old friend.  Endless love, see you down the road.”

Leonard joined his love less than 100 days later, on November 7, 2016.

His spirit lives on.

Especially in Hydra.
         “Like a bird on the wire,
         Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
         I have tried, in my way, to be free.”


Monday, April 30, 2018

Inspiration from The Past (Part II).

On Happiness:
·       Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.  (Aristotle)
·       Happiness depends upon ourselves.  (Aristotle)
·       The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage.  (Thucydides)
·       There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.  (Epictetus)
·       Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.  (Epicurus)

On Leadership:
·       Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.  (Euripides)
·       He that always gives way to others will end up having no principles of his own.  (Aesop)
·       What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.  (Pericles)

On Peak Performance:
·       Well begun is half done.  (Aristotle)
·       First, have a definite, clear, practical idea; a goal, an objective.  Second have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials and methods.  Third adjust all your means to that end.  (Aristotle)
·       The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory in surmounting it.  (Epicurus)
·       You will never do anything in this world without courage.  It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.  (Aristotle)
·       Success is dependent on effort.  (Sophocles)
·       To find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult.  (Plutarch)

On Listening:
·       Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.  (Plutarch)
·       Wise men speak because they have something to say.  Fools because they have to say something.  (Plato)

On Life:
·       An honest man is always a child.  (Socrates)
·       Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.  (Theophrastus)
·       Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds.  (Democritus)
·       Raising children is an uncertain thing, success is reached only after a lifetime of battle and worry.  (Democritus)
·       All religions must be tolerated for every man must get to heaven in his own way.  (Epictetus)
·       One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.  (Plato)
·       Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.  (Diogenes)


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Inspiration from The Past (Part I).

Am writing this from Porto Heli in the Peloponnese, listening to Leonard Cohen (more on that next week) and studying a wonderful set of photographs of The Acropolis by Marina Vernicos on behalf of CreAid – a non-profit with a humanitarian purpose served through Creativity and Art – and populated by dynamic creative, imaginative, passionate entrepreneurs.

The project MY ACROPOLIS comes complete with many quotes from the Greek Philosophers – which I last visited aged 14 as a Lancaster Royal Grammar School student.  Rereading them, it became obvious that many of my principles and beliefs were based on these philosophies – much to my surprise.  Osmosis is a wonderful concept.  A sampler of these teachings from 496BC to 119AD …

On Love:
·       Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.  (Euripides)
·       At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.  (Plato)  For Robin.

On Friendship:
·       Of all the things that wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.  (Epicurus)
·       Be slow to fall into friendship, but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.  (Socrates)
·       I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.  (Plutarch)
·       It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.  (Epicurus)

On Wisdom:
·       Wisdom begins in wonder.  (Socrates)
·       As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.  (Socrates)
·       Men should strive to think much and know little.  (Democritus)
·       To make no mistakes is not in the power of man, but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.  (Plutarch)
·       Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.  (Socrates)
·       The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. (Antisthenes)
·       It takes a wise man to recognise a wise man.  (Xenophanes)

Thank you Jim Bates (LRGS Teacher, RIP April 2018) for opening a young boy’s eyes to the Classics.