Category Archives: Uncategorized

Day 25 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: the final countdown

Over the last few years, I’ve been supporting The Mighty Creatives’ annual ‘Be Mighty, Be Creatives’ fundraising campaigns.  Whether this be through a Rock’n’Roll extravaganza In a Nottingham Church, a 24 hour Bring-Your-Own-Vinyl-A-thon in a Nottingham pub,  an exploration of Nottinghamshire by bike, or exploring the physical exertions required to net a basketball from a stationery position in the pouring Lincolnshire rain, the campaigns have been fun and firmly directed to supporting a mighty cause: fighting for the creative voices of children and young people in the East Midlands.

This year is no exception.  Called The Mighty (Un)Mute, we’re aiming to raise £5,000 to support the artistic creation for one of ten Globe Sculptures in The World Reimagined art trail across Leicester, one of the most multicultural cities in the UK. 

Our Globe has been created by local young people and supporting artists, responding to the theme of Still We Rise. The purpose? To recognise and honour those most impacted by the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans through the centuries to the present day.

The TMC staff team are going to support the campaign by taking part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on the 5th October. We’re going to put ourselves ‘on mute’ to turn up the volume of young people’s voices, especially those who identify as part of the Global Majority… those young people who so often go unheard. We won’t be communicating with anyone throughout the day verbally, electronically or in written form.

Over the last 25 days I’ve contributed 25 blog posts on the topic of shutting up, silence and being silenced. There’s been lot to consider and lots to discuss. And this is my final request to you to support our campaign.

If this isn’t possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcome and appreciated.

So… come and encourage me to shut up, once and for all. You know you want to.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-owenmum

The pressing question for the Modern City: how to deal with Urination Hot Spots?

Deeply woven into the psyche of our cities planners are many challenges of great significance: traffic lights, pedestrianisation and the night time economy to name but three. The third member of this triumvirate of city signifiers  brings many benefits but has also led to the emergence of a rather peculiar and problematic cityscape feature: the urination hot spot.

 That’s right: those places in the city which quietly and unassumingly attract hundreds upon hundreds of visitors nightly to relieve themselves before they gleefully hop back up the street to join their fellow cavorters in fuelling themselves up before visiting the next urination hot spot. No need for a tourist guide, website or city ambassador  here: urination hotspots apparently announce themselves with the minimum of fanfare but with the maximum of impact. 

Now there’s nothing odd about having a piss outside: it’s something that is as natural as eating kebab and chips in windy bus stops. No, what’s remarkable is that our collective pissing has generated places which are like magnets to urine: places which call to our bladders, ‘Piss here, please piss here! Not over there but just right here!’  Just as our architects have dreamt up fabulous new city vistas, so our collective bladders have replied to those dreams with their own unmistakeable response to city living: the urination hot spot.

Now what’s that all about? Intuitively you might imagine that the pattern of piss over a city centre in one night would be randomly spread: people pissing wherever the fancy takes them, whenever it takes them. But apparently not: the phenomenon of the urination hot spot suggests that certain spaces in cities are privileged with being pissed on more than others; and that there is something magnetic about those spaces where, like in all good capitalist morality tales, wealth attracts wealth and piss attracts piss. 

We might ask ourselves: is there something in the architecture of the city which attracts piss heads to piss where others have pissed before them? Or is there something  hormonal about piss which biologically communicates with other people’s bladders over the ectoplasmic equivalent of wifi and which urges passing strangers to “piss here! Not there but here!”  Or is it a cultural phenomenon? A kind of “I pissed there cos my dad pissed there and his dad pissed there before him?”

Whatever the reason, you’ve soon got a urination hot spot on your hands (if you’re very unlucky). And if you’re a city planner  you’ve got an even bigger problem in your face (or nose) if your job is to improve the quality of living in your city: how are you going to get rid of such urination hot spots?

Given the managerialist culture those planners work within, there’s only one thing you can do first of all: measure them and implement interventions  which are intended to reduce or remove them altogether. And this is where it gets tricky. How do you baseline a urination hot spot?

Presumably you would need to measure the volume of piss poured into the hot spot over night and compare measurements both before and after your intervention strategy.  But before that happened, you’d have to have a definition of what constituted a urination hot spot in the first place. How would 15 rugby players emptying their bladders over half an hour register on the UHS scale? (See, there’s an acronym already – a sure sign we’re working in a genuine managerialist culture). And how would them drinking Guiness compare with a gaggle of estate agents drinking litres of Pino Grigio over the same period of time?

The managerial challenges are endless but one thing is certain: the Urination Hot Spot is, along with pigeons, McDonalds and inexplicable public art, here to adorn our streets and boulevards for many years to come.  

Reasons to (start up your) Biz cheerful (part 3)

Reasons to (start up your) biz cheerful (Part 3)

Why don’t you get right out of bed?,

Why don’t you get right out of bed? (x5)

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)

Son of Richard Branson

Looking rather handsome

Never ending dreaming

Liverpool visioning,

driving up your missioning

Scribble out your plans

Partnerships sole traders

putting on your waders

Ignoring all the fakers

Blue chips on the rich list

Internet top lists

with your SEOs

Printing all your t shirts, stopping where it hurts

Dressing up in suits, office flirts

Dressing to impress, dining to invest

Investing your time, paying no fines

Designing handsome logos, customers going loco

dance an office pogo

Cash flow and income,

spending all you’ve got

Fascinating knots,

balancing the sheets

Reasons to biz Cheerful (Part 3) x 3

Reasons to be Cheerful – one, two, three

Reasons to biz Cheerful (Part 3)

Martha Lane fox, Changing your socks

Mending the locks, Calling the shots

A bit of grin and bear it a bit of come and share it

You’re welcome, do come again, red reminders

Too small for VAT, PAYE

Going all legit, no nasty shocks

The never ending day, emails all the way,

Working in your car, driving afar

thrashing your laptop, Sit down take a break?

you’re having a laugh!

Looking for investors, all other tasters

Splitting the difference, taking lots of punts,

spotting opportunities,

Facing up to dragons

Duncan Bannatyne, Hilary Devey,

Theo Paphitis, Deborah Meaden,

Peter Jones

Reasons to biz Cheerful (Part 3) x 3

Reasons to be Cheerful – one, two, three

Immense thanks of course to Ian Dury.

What kind of cheese is your organisation?

Organisations look pretty imposing from the outside: pictures of corporate serenity, coherent matching wall paper and carpet, an organism at one with itself and its surroundings. A well sorted business entity.

However, you’ll soon realise after working with organisations for a while, that this appearance of solidity and uniformity, is in actual fact a mirage and that all your average organisation actually is, is a large piece of cheese: smooth and daunting on the outside, but full of holes in the inside.

An organisations’ holes become apparent when messages get lost, staff don’t return calls, emails get unanswered and letters get returned to sender. Things fall down the cracks in the middle of departments, never to be seen again.

Apparently,, the cheese industry calls holes in cheese “eyes”. This is particularly ironic for those organisations whose infrastructure is so shot to pieces, they resemble slabs of Emmenthaler or Appenzell – the cheeses with the largest holes in them. If one thing a holey organisation doesn’t have, is eyes: or ears too for that matter.

And most times its digestive system doesn’t function properly either, from one end of the organisation to the other. the organisation which resembles a chunky piece of Emmenthaler tends to leak from both ends, often simultaneously.  You just have to look at the recent track record of the British Government to see a piece of Swiss Cheese in action and see integrity, intelligence, truth and vision draining away by the day.

Scientists say that the reason Swiss cheese is so holey is not due to hungry mice or over exuberant bacteria but due to the buckets being used when the milk is collected from the Swiss cow being contaminated with hay. Scientists are yet to establish why the UK government is leaking so profusely from all pores and both ends, but chances are it has very little to do with mice, bugs or hay.

Poetry on the Hoof: The (rail) road to Barra

ALL TOGETHER NOW LADS!

Wind farm blade, wind farm blade,
Everything you want from a
Wind farm blade.

We’re all going on a beer hunt lads!
From hanging town, brief encounters,
To Holke hang out, submariner sheds,
We’re getting our names up in those causeway lights!

HEYSHAM HIGH HOPES

Spot the jogging bishop with a mitre on a Sunday!
We’re talking rhubarb triangle with legs to spare,
A mammoth onion off the old green road.

They’ll split the atom here Bob in the years to come,
There’ll be lock downs, sirens,
Ever Ready for us, the pervasive threat.

Heysham 1, Heysham 2
It’ll be a football score Bob
In the years to come, when we get home.

One goes down, the other goes up
Two little boys Bob, that’s what they’re like,
Seismically protected to Gas Mark 7.

But there’s no more time for:
Haff netting salmon
in the skinny dipping Lune;

No more time for:
Sticking toffee pud
Up the old girls duff.

Cos we’re heading out to Barra,
Prepping for the Somme,
And all her sail in her.

Wind farm blade, wind farm blade,
Everything you need from a
Wind farm blade.

ARNSIDE’S HUNTER GATHERERS

It’s a long way to Tipperary,
A very long way indeed Bob,
You’ll be needing your khaki trousers ,
and a hat to shield you from the blaze.

Hats with fascinators fascinating,
Travel hunters hunting and
Heath and safety instructing:
Don’t forget your shorts.

Don’t forget your sun cream.
Don’t forget to write son,
We’ve got your Grand-dad round at Christmas
He’ll want to see you standing

Arnsider,
Tamesider,
Wearsider,
Humbersider;

Bloody Merseysiders, Scouse not English?
(Always kicking off in their socks and shades,
A disgrace to king and country,
Just who are they trying to kid Brian?)

Scouse lads! Manx lads!
We’re all in this together lads
Cockney lads! Toon lads!
Even Maccam lads can walk on the Kents Bank waters!

Climbing over ledges,
Diving down in gorges,
Geo-physical, geo-logical,
Geo-temporal, neo-natal.

Head line shock,
Culture block.
Road up ahead,
Detour to the Humphrey Head.

Wind farm blade, wind farm blade,
Everything you earn from a
Wind farm blade.

FURNESS FEARS

Grange over the sands,
Wind over the waters,
Steam over the causeway,
Fog on the time and we lose our way;
Lights up ahead and we shield our eyes
From the light on the horizon.

Don’t be daft Bob,
It’s just the moon on the river,
No need to stress, no need to sweat,
It’s just another brick in a wall.
No dark lions in the wardrobe,
No more air girls on the dole.

Ulverston oh Ulverston,
I still see your home fires burning,
I still see your water wheels turning,
I still hear your sea winds blowin’,
I still see the dark coal glowin’,
I was 21 when I left Ulverston.

Last wolf in England,
First turn on the left,
Water catches fire,
The air stops breathing,
But we dig deep down for leading lights
Tractors turning, gas flame burning, submarine yearning.

Wind farm blade, wind farm blade,
Everything you covet ‘bout a
Wind farm blade.

BARROW IN FURNACE

Cor strike a light!
Blow me down!
If ever I cross this side of town
I’m dead, I’m gone,
A shadow of my former self.

The nuclear dump,
The ever present hump,
Of the guy in the trench,
Standing doubled over the stench
Of the lads in the earth
And the girls in the air,
Waving, waving farewell, adieu, auf wiedersehen,
To their boys on a train sliding into town.

Pink Shap granite, Pink Shap granite
Archaeological dig in bullet rich sand;
Turbine, turbine,
Slicing up the seas in a frenzied fit of
Fission, fusion,
Grasping the cushion of a nuclear safety net of
Caste iron furnace, caste iron furnace,
Grenades to launch ten thousand ships to pieces.

It’s just a rumor that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding,
Well I ask you
The boy said “Dad they’re going to take me to task, but I’ll be back by Christmas”
We’re all in this together Bob,
It was like this way back when Bob,
Digging our trenches into the heat of the night.

Guiding lights in Barrow lands.
Trig towers point to trig points in the ground.
Landing lights in the estuary guide boats by.
Staging posts act as half way stops mid river.
Help us navigate this wilderness.

Wind farm blade, wind farm blade
Everything you ever loved ‘bout a
Wind farm blade.

Help me fight young people’s homelessness with the CEO Sleepout

Following on from my last ‘CEO Sleepout’ at Notts County FC 2 years ago, I’m repeating the experience on 11 October this year to raise funds for not only Emmanuel House and The Friary, but also now for The Mighty Creatives (TMC) too.

I’m doing it through JustGiving:  you can visit my page here.  

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

The Sleepout involves spending a night out on the football pitch of the club, armed with not much more than a sleeping bag, a pillow and a piece of cardboard.  Whilst it doesn’t come close to emulating what homeless people go through, the group I was in 2 years ago raised over £50,000 which went to Emmanuel House and The Friary and so had a direct impact on the services they could provide their service users.

Homelessness has also been an issue that I’ve been particularly exercised by in the last year or so too: this article in the Nottingham Post was a particular eye opening experience for me.

This year, CEO Sleepout – the organisation who run the sleepouts – have agreed to allocate 32% of my fundraising directly to TMC.   If you can help the cause, anything you can give would be hugely welcome. And if this isn’t possible for you now, please feel free to spread the word to your family, friends and colleagues too.

Thanks in advance for your help!

 

Poetry on the Hoof: Soz.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry,
I’m very, very sorry,
For the delays, the disruption, the chaos, we’ve brought
To your daily routine.

We’re sorry the tram stopped running,
We’re sorry the bus driver forgot to turn up for work,
We’re sorry the road’s been dug up over night,
We’re all sorry, sorry, very very sorry.

Sorry your tickets out of date,
Sorry your life style made you late,
Sorry you look the way you do,
Sorry your dog demanded a poo
On the high street before your very eyes,
Sorry you forgot to clean it up,
Sorry you have to listen to this.
It’s nothing to do with us, sorry.

Sorry for having to apologise.
Sorry we’ve got to listen to this.
Sorry for being sorry.
We apologise. We really do. Soz.

Do charities do more harm than good? Take more than they give?

Why do we have charities?

I’ve some great thought provoking responses from colleagues about the CEO SleepOut campaign I’m involved in which have got to the heart of the matter.

Such as, why don’t the organisers invite some homeless people along to the evening and enable them to talk directly with participants? And isn’t what homeless people need is to be given respect rather than been seeing as beneficiaries of charity? I’ve raised these questions with the organisers so we’ll see what they say about that.

But more fundamentally, these questions ask some important questions about why we have charities at all, what the relationship is between donors, charitable organisations and beneficiaries, and whether the act of ‘doing good’ or ‘just giving’ actually does more harm than good (in that it just provides short term, superficial Elastoplast solutions to things which require more systematic, substantial solutions to deep rooted social issues): or actually takes more than it gives (in that campaigning takes the focus of the problem away from the root cause of that problem and ‘gives’ the focus to those people who are on the receiving end of the charitable ‘give’.

One obvious answer is that if charities didn’t do what they do, no-one else (e.g. The State) is going to step up to the mark to address the short term pressures that people face here and now, rather than in some distant future when the state might have stepped up. So if a charity’s purpose can only be short term – then that’s because the long term is too distant a proposition for those who need solutions, right here, right now.

But there’s lot to think about here so many thanks for your responses!

But in the meantime, if you can contribute to the campaign, it would be great to hear from you just here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Nick-Owen8

Campaign against homelessness

I’m taking part in ‘CEO SleepOut in Nottingham on 13 October and are looking for sponsors who might be able to contribute to reaching my target of £1,000 which will go to local charities who are working on the front line with homeless people.

I am raising funds through a Just Giving site: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Nick-Owen8 so just wanted to let you know about it, in case you are able to help out in any way you can.

Your help will of course be hugely appreciate – not just by me but the many homeless people which this campaign is supporting.