Monday, June 22, 2009

Tulagi Hotel

I now have my new copy of Tulagi Hotel and I am looking forward to reading it again. One of my favourite holiday reads from last year I recommend it to you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mary Queen of nonsense

Okay - so I am probably the most infrequent blogger - note to self, must do better.

But......I have been moved to write! Maybe its just me but am I the only one who thinks Mary Porter "Queen of Charity Shops" has completely missed the point?

Here attempts to re position charity shops as some kind of rival to other high street fashion retailers are misguided and her attitude to the gentle people who volunteer their time to help at the outlets is nothing short of insulting. Charity shops - or Op shops as I knew them in Australia - are glorious institutions that are testament to our better nature. They thrive and rely on the good will and generosity of those who volunteer there, shop there, and offer very low rents to them. All of that is lost if you try to turn them into some kind of fashion emporium full of pushy sales assistants, and lacking in some of the kitsch and tatty bargains that are their stock in trade.

If you put them up against high street retailers you will be abandoning the things that they stand for and by attracting direct competition from those retailers who will win on their own patch - make no mistake.

Denigrating what people donate demonstrates Mary's limited views (take a look at yourself my dear before you criticise other peoples taste) and her demand for a more business like approach from staff is completely undermined when she demonstrates a complete lack of the basics of people management in the way she deals with people in the shop.

Sure they have their problems and maybe some people do use them as a dumping ground, but that is no excuse for such rude and misguided approaches. The idea that the average volunteer in a charity shop needs to recognise a Ferragamo bag and know its retail value is absurd. How many will they get – not many; how many people expect to find one in a charity shop - not many; and fortunately the people that generally underpin the down and dirty charity work are not the shallow brand seduced and obsessed people that Mary clearly is and seems to want to attract.

Sorry Mary you got it wrong wrong wrong, and shame on Save the Children for letting her do it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's in the Voice

The death of David Vine was announced last week and it was particularly sad - if not surprising- as it seems to come on the heels of losing another great voice that of Oliver Postgate who left us late last year.

The thing about both of these peole is that they are both very much part of my youth, and to me partners in shaping my world with me. The reason they feel that close, I think, is the magical power of their voices. In both cases the voices are distinctive, and in many ways not the classical BBC voice of their era. But each had a distinctive quality that was well matched with what they were doing. Postgate had that wonderfully grandfather like quality that spoke of comfort and friendship and whimsy, whilst Vine was able to invest even the most mundane sports with vigour vim and passion.

It took only the briefest snatch of listening to them to be transported away to nicer places. Happily recordings of the remain, so for me it is possible to experience that again, but importantly for me it is a reminder of how powerful the human voice is and why TESCAPE is so passionate about it.

We have also lost Tony Hart and I mourn his passing for entirely different reasons.....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

Well that was a pretty poor performance in terms of blogging last year so perhaps my new years resolution should be to blog more regularly. Either way here it is, the firs of 2009.

Alistair Cooke must be one of the shining jewels of the spoken word world. His passing deprived us of the continuing joy of tuning in on Sunday morning, at least that is when I did, to listen in to his musings on life on the other side of the pond. Point of View is fine and I can listen to the idiosyncratic delivery of Clive James with a good deal of pleasure, but Cook is still king.

One of the good things about 50 years of broadcasting though, particularly with an organisation of the quality of the BBC, is that a good deal of archive material still exists of Alistair Cooke speaking at different times on a variety of subjects. As a result, and in the absence of anything better, the BBC do periodically dust off Cooke broadcasts and share them again with the nation and this Christmas has been no different. So it is with pleasure that I recommend to you the festive Alistair Cooke broadcasts. Introduced by the rather limp Justin Webb - but you can quickly overcome that to wallow in the honeyed tones of the master.

Find the broadcasts here.