Give Us This Day: a Toast to Miracles.

Ambling through the back streets of a market in Port of Spain, Trinidad, you come across a church – modestly rebranding itself as the Jesus Miracle Centre – with the claim that should you wish to visit it, you can ‘come expect a miracle’ no less.

Expecting a miracle is perhaps something we’ve gotten out of the habit in recent years, depending as we do on rational, positivistic ways of thinking that persuade us that without ‘x’ input, then ‘y’ output is impossible: that the imagination and dream land are concepts best left in the hinterlands of the Australian outback and that everything in this world is determinable and forecastable, if only we had enough clean data available at our disposal.

We don’t talk often enough about miracles and we certainly are encouraged not to expect them – and perhaps we should. Expecting a daily miracle might just help us deal with the imminent threat of economic melt down, global warming up and Liverpool failing to win the Premier League for one more season.

My Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen and Members of the Jury, please raise a toast to Miracles.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Toast: read all about toasting here

A Waiting Story: the border guard, coach driver and me

I’m in a brief queue which has decanted from the decrepit coach we’re travelling in from Niš to Sofia. The coach has seen better days and an eerie green luminiscent light which won’t be switched off has accompanied us for the past 2 hours all the way up to the border.

The penultimate guy in the queue – a Japanese backpacker – is called forward by the burley Balkan guard. He looks hard at him, hard at the passport and then back to the backpacker. ‘Is this you?’ he sneers and the traveller confirms it is. There’s a pause. He’s waved through and he calls me upto the desk.

He takes a lot of interest in my passport. He opens it, looks at the photo, flicks through the pages, looks at me, at the photo, at the text above it. He gets up and goes off to find a friend. A few minutes later he returns with friend who goes through the same routine; looks at me, at picture, flick through the passport, look at me, look at the photo. They now bend the passport back and look at the stitching of the paperwork.

I feel pretty relaxed through all this. They’re doing this because this is their job. They do it all the time. There is nothing untoward about my passport. I’ve had it in my possession all week long. Hang on – that’s not true. It was in the desk of the concierge all week. Maybe… Maybe someone had taken it out and done something to it. Photocopied it? Graffitied all over it? Replaced the picture? I start momentarily to get slightly nervous. And this probably shows.

‘Is this yours?‘ The friend stares hard at me.
Yes‘, I reply. ‘It is.’
Ok.’ Pause.
You can go.’ Just like that. That’s a bit more unnerving. No further examination or questioning. Just go. Now.

The problem is now that I’m last out of the shack and I can’t see my coach anywhere. I walk over to another border guard in a cabin and ask where the coach is and he just says go go go and I have no idea where he means. There’s someone next to him who looks like my driver. ‘Are you my driver?’ I ask him and he has no idea what I’ve said and so shrugs, mutters something and walks off.

I walk back to the pathway which leads out of the border control and through some passengers from what I think is another bus and up a slope to where I think my bus might have gone. But there’s nothing at the top of the slope apart from a garage and a couple of long distance German trucks. It’s gotten foggy. There’s no cafe nearby which might have been a site for a coach to have stopped in. There’s nothing now anywhere – apart from an impending sense that the coach has left the border station complete with my baggage, laptop, credit cards and eerie green light. All I have is a mobile phone with a dwindling battery. And a growing sense of impending panic.

There’s a brief foghorn call at the bottom of the slope. It sounds like it could have been a coach horn. But I’m not sure so walk towards what looks like a coach, but it’s nothing like the coach I was travelling in. I walk up to its front and check its destination: Sofia. This is my coach, but it can’t be. Where has it been all this time? I get on and see the same passengers that I left Niš with. Where did they get to? How did I miss them? Why are they looking so irritated?

One of them says ‘chauffeur’ and I repeat back at him ‘chauffeur’? And straight away stumbling up the steps comes the driver – the same one who drove us all here, in that eerie green light, the same one who muttered at me at the border cabin only this time he’s not muttering but shouting loudly, abusively with ‘ingleski‘ somewhere in the mix accompanied by other words which probably resemble words such as ‘tosser‘ or worse. I speak loudly back at him in my best restrained Englishman aboard mode but he just says something which resembles a verbal spit. One of the passengers says something to him but I can’t figure out whether he’s on my side or not.

Either way, the driver starts the coach, we drive off at pace and I slouch back in my seat. It is at least my bus, eerie green light and all.

AspireAustralia – welcome to our arts, education and regeneration programmes

Greetings to the AspireAustralia blog, a one shop blog spot with information, offers, proposals, hunches and ideas about our forthcoming arts and creative education programmes across Australia. We’ve been working in Tasmania since 2012, and are building relationships with schools, artists and educators across the country.

Our work in Tasmania started here:

And carries on here:

Watch this space for further action!

AspireBalkans – MISIM ZNAŠ, TAJ RAD; BRATE!

Greetings to the AspireBalkans blog, a one shop blog spot with information, offers, proposals, hunches and ideas about our forthcoming arts and creative education programmes across the Balkans. We’ve been working in Serbia since 2010, are building relationships in Macedonia, and looking forward to making new friends and colleagues in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Slovenia and across the region in the years to come.

Our work in Obrenovac, Serbia started here:

https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/poetry-on-the-serbian-hoof/

And carries on here:

http://pascotd.weebly.com/index.html

Watch this space for further action!

Aspire Trust е организација за уметност од Велика Британија, посветена на трансформирање на животните приказни на луѓето на креативен начин.

Aspire Trust е организација за уметност од Велика Британија, посветена на трансформирање на животните приказни на луѓето на креативен начин. Ни причинува задоволство да објавиме дека после неодамнешните значителни инвестиции од Советот за уметност на Англија, во моментов планираме да го создадеме „Скапоцени“: врвен културен и образовен настан во англиканската катедрала во Ливерпул, во октомври 2012 година.

„Скапоцени“ ќе претставува инспиративна, мултимедијална театарска продукција со висок квалитет, направена врз основа на приказните од Титаник. Настанот ќе вклучува продукција на настани во живо, медиумски, дигитални и образовни настани, и општествени настани низ Велика Британија и во светот, и ќе се одржи првата недела во октомври 2012-та година.

Продукцијата ќе опфати приказни, филмски снимки, звучни пејзажи, изворна музика и театар во живо, со цел да се оживее патувањето на Титаник и да се истражат приказните на луѓето погодени од трагедијата. Поставена во навистина импресивната театарска сцена на англиканската катедрала, продукцијата ќе биде едно од највизионерските и неодоливите театарски искуства на годината.

Ние развиваме врвна стратегија за интернет-технологија и технологија на игри („Digi-Treasured“) којашто гарантира изненадувачка, иновациска и врвна форма на развој на публиката и нејзино учество, какви што нема во светот. Digi-Treasured ќе им овозможи на потенцијалните учесници да нурнат не само во продукцијата, туку и да учествуваат заедно со уметниците и публиката пред, за време на настанот и по самиот настан, преку уред за виртуелна реалност на интернет. Ова ќе биде од посебен интерес за луѓето кои не се во состојба да присуствуваат на самиот настан поради географските или временските разлики.

Во потрага сме по 12 (дванаесет) меѓународни партнери коишто се заинтересирани за можноста да работат заедно. Партнери може да бидат невладини организации, организации за уметност, училишта, претпријатија за информатичка и комуникациска технологија од приватниот сектор, универзитети: секој што е заинтересиран да учествува виртуелно во еден од најголемите настани за јавен настап во Велика Британија годинава.

A Waiting Story: Little Red Riding Hood in the Macedonian Forest

In the time before Red Riding Hood got betrayed by a Wolf in Grandma’s clothing, the young girl would quiz her elderly relative about her habits and whereabouts. Some would say that this was the cause of her early demise but others dispute this telling of the fable.

Why do you cook toffee apples granny? Why is your house made of gingerbread? Why do you go walking in a forest? Is it for the peace and quiet?
Hardly, dear, you can hear trains and cars and city bustle. A call to prayers from a nearby mosque sounds like a wolf weeping but that’s no reason to walk in the forest.

Is it for the Fresh air and invigorating atmosphere?
Upto a point my dear: until the logging trucks drive by and the fumes wash over as you sit by the roadside, slightly blackened from the sooty deposits. So that’s no reason to walk in the forest.

Is it for exercise and maintaining a healthy body?
That may be fine dear, as long as you haven’t got knees which give you grief and buckle every step of the way. That’s no reason to walk in the forest.

Do you commune with nature, then? asked Little riding Hood impatiently. Or perhaps even yourself?

If you stood still long enough, it might be possible to commune with anything, but to walk in the forest you have to keep on walking: stumbling cursing sweating breathing so much, there’s not a lot of communing to be done. That’s no reason to walk in the forest.

Is it to get around the next corner then? asked Little Red Riding Hood sarcastically.

Ah, smiled her elderley relative, that is an answer. There’s always another next corner, another bend to get around, a hillock to navigate, there’s just another view to catch before you turn around and do the same journey but in reverse order.

So that’s why you go for a walk in the forest, Granny? she asked with a faux impression of relief.

Yes, my dear, that’s the reason to walk in the forest: to retrace your steps. I walk in the forest in order to go around in circles.

And enough of the prying questions! True to her word, Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother – who had her own genetic stock of impatience – stepped back, sprung the latch from the pantry and out leapt a huge brown wolf, scantily dressed in grandma’s clothing who proceeded to devour her then and there, lock stock and barrel. And that, dear reader, was the end of Little Red Riding Hood and her inquisitive questions.

Looking out of the window is more than just looking out of the window

In the railway carriage, you see everything pass you by through the windows -trees skylines funny little matchstick wind farm figures – perhaps even the faces of your wife kids and family traversing the windscreen in slow motion but passing you by nevertheless.

The windows are like oversize 35mm film frames which shape the action, provide depth and layers and tell flowing endless stories. The clouds remain a constant but everything else enters screen right and leaves screen left – those things closest to you enter and leave the screen the quickest.

You can hold your gaze on the things in the mid distance just long enough to recognise and name them but they too eventually pass by in good speed. Here come the synchronous smoke stacks all inverted smoky beard smearing into the lower atmosphere.

The stuff next to the window is just that – stuff, Indiscernible, unrecognisable, immaterial stuff.  The very near stuff – other people that are on your side of the glass pane are fixed in the screen along with yourself.

This isn’t just looking out the window – this is looking through the window frame out the window – with the consequent cinematic urgency propelling the narratives along at a relentless pace. Until at least we stop or until it gets dark and all you can see are the static stories of your and others reflections. Film has turned back to photography – and back again when light outside sheds some light on proceedings. The light outside generates film again and we metamorphose to silhouettes in the windscreen again.

Does your school need an international cultural attache? Here’s how…

Could your school benefit from international links with teachers, pupils and families? Are you interested in exploring some unique professional development opportunities with teachers and other educators on the other side of the world?

Over the last two years, the Aspire Trust has organised international conferences for Principals and Head teachers from India, Nigeria and the UAE to visit UK schools. We ran the All Our Futures conference in Liverpool and Wallasey this summer for Indian, Nigerian and other international head teachers and educators. The success of that and similar events has led me to being invited by the University of Tasmania with a view to establishing a similar event there in either 2012 or 2013. The first step in that process will be between 25 November and 13 December this year when I will travel there to make initial contacts with the University and schools across Tasmania.

If you would like me to represent your school with a view to establishing some active, realistic links then I am able to offer you a number of services:

1. Taking promotional material to schools in Tasmania, complete with contact details, so that schools could contact you directly. I will be doing this for 12 English schools so your information would be viewed in this context. I would take 10 copies of your promotional pack which should be no more than 2 sides of A4 paper and one CD / DVD. Materials should be clearly labeled and packaged.

2. or, I could take a more active role in promoting your school by coming to see you, developing an action plan with you, and taking a more proactive role in promoting your school to the schools I visit. In this option, you could supply me with additional promotional material and I would aim to identify a specific named partner school for you as a result of the trip. As this option would require a heavier investment from me in my time promoting your school, I would be looking for a sponsorship from you of £300 towards the costs of my time in this promotional activity. On my return to the UK, I would then revisit your school with an activity report which would specify who I had met, details of your potential partner school(s) and other information as specified in the action plan.

If this is of interest to you, please feel free to get in touch with me at nowen.aspire@btconnect.com

Poetry on the Hoof: Serbian kids past present and future, tense.

Serbian kids
Listen to turbofolk,
And Californian surfing pop,
riding your pentatonic scales and beatbox bullets
With ease.

You gas gobble up the guezler with the guzzler,
The soviet command with the Yankee demand,
The eastern promise and western demise,
With aplomb and the lead free sonic shrapnel
ricochet of NATO bombing.

Economising where you can,
With the diphthongs and glottal stops,
Preferring instead Cyrillic imperatives of Ч, Ђ, Џ, Љ, Њ and Ћ.
Your present itch is our future tense.

you go
looking to Paris
looking to Boston
looking to Moscow
looking to Rome
looking to Istanbul
looking to Athens
looking to Budapest
looking to Home
looking to Belgrade
looking to Zagreb
looking to Skopje
to Sarajevo
Ljubljana
And Podgorica
Check out Pristina
wondering wtf lol SOS.
Past Perfect or imperfect?
Provisional or conditional?
But what a future it is.
We would be wised-up
to memorise it.
Hvala!