Tuesday, 21 January 2014


It is a point of pride that I can conceal much of who I am on this blog if I want. Not for people who actually know me IRL, of course, but for the most part my style is sufficiently different that I can use plausible deniability. I am about to end that once and for all. Sorry.

If you prefer not to know, then don't click below.

Would you truly, truly, like to know more?

I was offered the chance at my new place of work to judge a singing competition. Small potatoes, I thought. Standard talent contest, I thought. No. I was wrong. Very wrong. Big potatoes. Huge great knobbly ones with fat areas and humongous amounts of eyes, beady little eyes that follow your every move. Big bada-boom. Bada-beg-boom.

I was privileged to sit and see some fantastic raw talent perform. Acts who were themselves and were not packaged, branded and sold back to us as something original but really pale copies of what has already been successful. I saw passion, I saw guts and I saw constancy. I saw people who didn't just 'try hard' but had also put in the work and the time and learned from mistakes. People who had messed up, who did mess up, but carried on. Who learned, who had failed and picked themselves up again. People who didn't just want to succeed, but people who wanted to grow, who wanted to share.

Where I came from had some talented people like this. No, it had the same amount of talent people as this. But they were constrained, repurposed, pushed in different ways and thus changed. Those I am used to dealing with needed to be re-ignited before they could shoot off into the night sky and cover it with colour and sound. I was lucky. My colleagues in our Department were witness to much of that spark and energy being ignited and firing off. There were other colleagues that were similarly blessed and who could do that job so well. What is different, and it is subtle, is that where I am now has managed to create and maintain a climate and ethos that nurtures and encourages people to never lose the fire in the first place. It isn't perfect, I am used to less low-level stupidity and less 'silly-challenge' (that is, the kind that no one expects to go anywhere and fizzles out at the appearance of actual consequence). I am used to more independence in some areas and less in others. I am used to creative students doing creative things more and engaging differently. But the overall creativity and drive is new. And I feel privileged to even see a small part of that.

Thank you, new place. Thank you, new students. Thank you.

Now I feel that I ought to be practicing my Placebo impersonation.

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