What I’ve learned

Its been tumultuous in Blackwatertown Towers lately. Normal service will soon be resumed. Once we establish just what the new normality will look like. But in the meantime, I’ll share with you some of what I’ve learned lately.

Yes, it looks like a roof slate because that's what it is. (You get a shiny medal for Sport Relief.) The glamorous person holding the slate/trophy is presenter Rachael Hodges, flanked by "the prestigious" Richard Bacon, and me. I didn't think the beer bottle would be in the picture. Missing from the line-up are top guru Louise Birt, indefatigable Garth Brameld, podcaster Harri Ritchie and inspirational listeners Jon Hillier and the Digger. The award was for the Special Half Hour - SHH.

  1. I haven’t completely lost it, thank God. I’ve just left the BBC after many years, but can proudly brandish two new awards. The first one is the highly prestigious Most Innovative Programme Award from the admittedly slightly obscure annual Audio and Music Awards. I shared it for a radio show I produced up until Christmas. The award-winning bit was the Special Half Hour – SHH – of which it was an honour and a privilege to be part. (Rule No. 1 You don’t talk about the Special Half Hour. But it’s been axed, so I dare to speak of it.)  The second is the also prestigious and much better known Sport Relief Mile. My running partner and I distinguished ourselves by completing the three mile (Count ’em! 3!) circuit before any of the six milers crossed the finish line. (Question: For which award did I contribute more to the sum of goodness in the world?)
  2. Whenever someone claims to be the first to ever do something, they’re wrong. (* See exception below.) A recent magazine article celebrated a BBC World News team for what was described as “the first live location broadcasts from the heart of Cuba”. What? No way! It fell to that giant of broadcasting, the Mighty Rhod Sharp to point out that in fact radio did it first – the BBC World Service Newshour show in 2008, and before them (yes, long before them all), BBC Radio 5 Live’s Global and Up All Night programmes in March 2001.  Which is why the phrase “And now, live from the roof of the Hotel Ambos Mundos in old Havana…” always sticks in my mind, and brings back memories of my trip there in March 2001 with the aforementioned Rhod, and producers Howard Benson and Beth Gibbs. (* Oh yes, the exception to the rule is this: Unless it’s me.)

    The bar on the roof of the Hotel Ambos Mundos, aka the studio. Rhod Sharp in cap interviews the excellent and charming Cuban writer Jose Latour (white shirt, pale skin), and some other guys whose names escape me.

  3. Enough of the self-congratulatory palaver. I’ve also learned that I need to get off my arse and finish the “damned book”. Thanks to Baino, Kerry View and others for reminding me.
  4. You need to believe in your brand. I’m setting up a new business. It will help charities and other bodies in the social care sector with their external and internal communication and offer training and self esteem boosting to their clients. With me in the social enterprise are some mates who have had personal experience of homelessness, prison, addiction, care, etc. So they know what they’re talking about. BUT – what to call the business? I received this good advice from Sharon Alcock of LimeGreen Media“Choosing a name is a personal thing isn’t it, so you need to like it. Nothing worse than networking with someone who is apologetic for their name.” Fair enough. I have one I like: Uplift Media, or Uplift Communications. Sounds positive, empowering, fine, right? “A bit undergarmenty,” was the politest response. Any thoughts from readers out there?
  5. DAB radio is doomed. The BBC’s proposed move to kill or significantly undermine 6 Music and the Asian Network must surely now signal the end of DAB radio’s future viability. The sets are expensive and environmentally unfriendly. The signal is often poorer than FM, and now internet radio with more choice and often better quality sound is becoming more popular. The end of the experiment looms.
  6. Good deeds sometimes do go unpunished. And may even be rewarded. Since I began preparing to leave my job, people who I helped years ago have begun to pop up and offer me assistance, opportunity or emotional support. I’m glad they remembered past good deeds of mine, because I certainly didn’t. It’s been wonderful and unexpected and lovely.

    Belfast playwright Sam Thompson

  7. am part of a famous literary family. Kind of. By marriage. One of my cousins – admittedly not a first cousin married the controversial Northern Irish playwright Sam Thompson. He caused a stir with his most celebrated stage play Over The Bridge, finally staged in 1960, which dealt with sectarianism and trade unionism in the Belfast shipyards. It was described then as “a brickbat hurled violently against bigotry”, and a new production is underway now. I saw a previous production. Worth going to see.
  8. I am part of a famous sporting dynasty. Kind of. Secretly. Another cousin used to play for Celtic. It was the more prestigious Belfast Celtic. Apparently he played under a pseudonym because his father didn’t approve and perhaps for fear that becoming widely known as a player for a football club associated with Irish nationalism could endanger him – he lived in the mainly Protestant east of Belfast. His playing career came to an end – or so I’m told – when rival fans and the police, the RUC, invaded the pitch on Boxing Day 1948, attacking Belfast Celtic players. He was injured. The club withdrew from the league and effectively closed down not long afterwards, never to reopen. (See pic below.)
  9. Next time – something completely different. A guest post from Matt Stuttard on getting married in China under the eye of Keith Richards.

Belfast Celtic on tour in the United States in 1949, after the team's withdrawal from domestic football. A letter of apology was quickly sent to Belfast newsapers after this photo was staged by American supporters. The families of some of Belfast Celtic's Protestant players had been threatened back home in Belfast. The photo has a John Hinde-esque quality, I think.



Filed under family history, history, life

9 responses to “What I’ve learned

  1. Hey, well done of the awards and various accolades – you’ve been busy! Whatever a return to normal service means (You seemed to be posting anyway), you’ve more than made up for lack of it with this post. Thanks again for stopping by the other day,

    Regarding the brand, my suggestion is use of the word empowering/ment (taken from your own description of your original idea)

    There’s a new post on me own blog by the way (1st proper one), but Oh! Really don’t worry about it – it’s just a little bit of whimsey, no pressure at all, anyone, no need to leave a comment or anything like that! Chat soon!

  2. T He Digger

    Wow Paul
    I had no idea you got an award for the SHH
    Well done mate! I must say it was a lot of fun but ran it’s course….
    Any ideas for the next innovation?



  3. Basil Dajani

    The more prestigious Belfast Celtic. Love it. Was there ever a Belfast Rangers. Or was that just an acronymn for the RUC? I know you’ve kissed the old Blarney Stone. Keep them coming. Soon you’ll have enough tales for a second book…

    • Basil Dajani

      Sorry, it’s been a hard day. I’m getting in a muddle with my acronymns, synonyms and euphemisms! The RUC may be the acronymn of the Royal Ulster Constabulary but ‘Belfast Rangers’ is definitely not an acronymn of the RUC!

  4. valerievans

    It’s always hard finishing a novel…I’m trying to focus on editing mine but I’m studying at the same time so having a life is a bit of a non event at the moment. Congrats on the awards as well.

    I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this novel.


  5. Congratulations . . that’s one for the slate! And you’re much younger than I thought. *beware middle aged stalkers from the antipodes* The beer is a distinctly Aussie touch, we wouldn’t be photographed without one!

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