Sunday, February 28, 2021
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Saturday, February 06, 2021
Modern Love (Prime) - slightly quirky, but brilliantly well acted crop of New York-based single act stories. The one with Anne Hathaway utterly broke me. But mostly they were beautifully packaged, wonderful immersions.
The Serpent (BBC) - there was something creepy and unsettling about the BBC’s drama based on the true story of Charles Sobhraj; and at times it was unbearably tense just waiting for him to kill another hapless victim lured into his lair of evil. But the BBC adaptation of the true story hangs together really well and manages to pull it off with enough panache without you still feeling anything but revulsion for him and his pathetic sidekicks. Going down the rabbit hole of research on Sobhraj was quite an eye opener, the consistently excellent Andrew Anthony, who has met him twice, is particularly good in GQ here. Good use of music in the series too.
Lupin (Netflix) - really enjoyed this stylish and slick French thriller with a deeply moral core.
Tuesday, February 02, 2021
I've known Vikas Shah for about ten years. I first noticed him as he was doing a blog where he interviewed incredible people that you wouldn't expect a textiles trader from Manchester to be accessing, never mind uploading to a very basic looking blog called Thought Economics. In that time I've seen him grow in confidence, but never diminish in either energy or ambition. I've seen him fall in love and get married, get an MBE and deliver an incredibly powerful TEDx talk. This book then marks just another milestone in his fascinating life. In it he tries to do justice to the access he's gained by virtue of his own raw audacity and package the insights gained into a useful bundle, curated under such headings as identity, culture, leadership and entrepreneurship. The interviews include Maya Angelou, Marina Abramovich, Bertie Ahern and Carlo Ancelotti. And that's just the As.
There's a lot of insight and some remarkably candid reveals, which I won't spoil, but having gone through them all, I still found myself being genuinely more stimulated and impressed by the interpretations of those insights that Vikas himself shares. Maybe that's a bias of my own pride in what he's achieved, but I rather think he's earned the right.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
We've all crawled towards the finish line of the end of January. It feels like the 51st, never mind the 31st. It's always a bit of a grind, even in normal times, but the routine of my life has always been the happy promise of a family get together and a party for my Dad's birthday at the end of this month. This year it's been a card and a phone call, not steak and chips in the Toll House. Like so many things, making do and staying safe is no substitute. Last week I tried to make an effort and caught up with a few good friends over the phone and Zoom and whatever else. It's not the same as breaking bread with them, or the free flowing conversation that comes from a walk on the hills, or on an awayday to the match, or just time well spent doing nothing much at all. My stock response to friendly enquiries is that I'm OK. But I worry, constantly, about how everyone is. And I find my self saying it's OK not to be OK, like I know what I'm talking about. Instead I stop and talk to this object in a field, above, that I pass on my morning walk. I don't know what it is, what it does, or why it's there. And then it speaks back to me saying pretty much the same thing of me. We seem to have been in close proximity to heartbreak and real grief recently, the net result being we hold our own ever closer, literally and metaphorically, depending on distance. I'm relieved our parents have had the vaccine, it gives us the hope that this is edging towards something better, that there will be birthday get togethers again, that we will enjoy life as it is meant to be lived. Until then we can only say what I say at the end of our radio show each week - look after each other out there.
Friday, January 29, 2021
I said I wanted to 'up my podcast game' a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, on that theme two recordings I did this month have landed today, rather proving the point that the production, marketing, social and framing of podcasts generally has been through quite the evolution.
First up, two of my hiking friends Mitch and Richard asked me to carry on a conversation that probably started at Kinder Downfall earlier in the year, just as we came out of lockdown one. They have an amazing podcast series about the world of work and it was so good to speak with them.
Then the Higher Education policy platform and news hub WonkHE invited me on to the WonkHE Show pick through the week's news. Hope you enjoy it.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
One of my New Year resolutions is to up my podcast game. I want to do more of it, I want to get better at it, and I want to have a bit more production control over an end product.
I'm getting some better gear to complement a top quality microphone (currently without a cable), and have got the youngest son on the case for a mixer and the best software.
But that's enough about me. The reason is down to the absolute game changing quality of podcast output over the last year. The ones I'm involved in have got really good, so a big shout to Ian from the BRFCS podcast for nailing the tech and the production. Obviously doing a show with a proper radio station with broadcasting professionals means we have raised our game too.
Even in a global pandemic with travel restrictions, the dramatic quality of podcasts keeps getting better. My mate Macca casually asked me this week if I could recommend a few and that's focused my mind.
Here they are:Nonce hunting with John Sweeney (above).