Tag Archive | creativity

Turn up and tune in

I went along to a conversation event today about the the Medway and Swale Creative People and Places bid.  One of the discussions was about engaging people in the local creative opportunities outside of the usual suspects, those already interested or involved.  This is a familiar problem.  I’ve been working as a youth and community worker for the past 11 years, there are always groups of people willing and ready to get involved, whilst some who might benefit the most can need a bit more encouragement.  Some people will always complain about poor publicity or lack of information, but I think this is sometimes a distraction.  Another problem can be geography, lack of transport or that some places seem to have a monopoly on things like creative activities, whilst others have little going on.  Some places have more resources to attract activity and others might have acquired a reputation that puts people off.  Some people will travel quite far from where they live to get to something interesting, but ignore things closer to their doorstep.  This can seem a bit like a tube map, where some journeys are connected by a direct route, but may take longer than a quick walk and others can seem complicated, but save loads of time.  Maybe tracing the routes people think and move around a place could help understand how to better communicate opportunities and involve more people in fun stuff.  Rather than sending out blanket publicity or creating endless directories of resources, it might be better to look at existing ways people find out or get involved with other things.  Most of my time as a youth work was spent as a detached worker (working with young people in parks, bus shelters, shopping centres and other places they already chose to meet).  Some wouldn’t have come to a purpose built youth club and others would have liked to, but due to where they lived, didn’t have the opportunity.  My role was to develop projects with young people, where they met and based on their ideas, needs and situation.  A few would tell us where to go, but the majority spent time with us, getting involved to a varied degree and working with us regularly.  Perhaps some creative opportunities could be happen in places where people already meet or pass through, involving people in everyday creative experiences, rather than expecting them to attend an event or show.  Poetry workshops outside of Tescos or pottery classes at the pub might seem unusual, but they might be one way of involving people who wouldn’t normally get involved.

Those who are confident and interested will usually seek out activities that interest them or create them for themselves.  Some might lack this confidence or have had bad experiences of being part of something or joining in.  In the case of creative activities, people may feel they lack ability or that an activity is only for a privileged or gifted few.  Like many, they may have simply got out of the habit of joining in to taking part in something.

Through youth work, I have noticed young people stepping back from activities or things they have previously enjoyed due to the judgement or peers and worrying too much about what people think about them.  I really wanted to learn how to play the guitar when I was 12, but the same stupid concerns about the reaction of others (not helped by watching them visiting that reaction on plenty of others) put me off until much later.  I learnt to hide any sign of interest, excitement or effort for fear of judgement and social isolation.  By the end of secondary school, I had almost blended in with the rest of the drones.  Ironically, a big part of fitting in with other people was developing a resistance to joining in or getting involved.  Of course, most of the drones were hiding something more interesting, and a few had the confidence to stand up and be themselves, whilst others were so unpopular that it didn’t matter either way.  Fortunately, I snapped out of it, but I wonder what it would have been like not to have had to?  I wonder how many people never snap out of it, either choosing not to or lacking the choice?  At the meeting, one person said the great thing about the arts is that people can switch on at any time.

A bit about GEEK2013, Margate and social gaming…

GhostI’ve always had a soft spot for playing games, whether board, computer gaming or a bit of D&D in my teens.  They can bring people together, get your brain working or slow it down.  They can give a sense of achievement or maybe just help you relax.

Saturday I was down in Margate for the Geek2013 (Game Expo East Kent) reliving some retro (electronic) gaming nostalgia.  I even started to think I was a bit good at Street Fighter 2, until I realised the cabinet’s seriously rubbish player one joystick was giving me a massive advantage.  It was great to see a whole set up of BBC Micros, playing a bit of POD and Granny’s Garden.  A guy in his late teens walked past me whilst I was playing the brilliant Elite, commenting to a friend, with what may have been awe: ‘wow, he knows how to play it – thats one of the most important games ever made.’  I agree with him about Elite, one of my earliest gaming memories, but sadly my control of the ship was limited to moving around erratically and being shot to pieces by space pirates.


Other highlights were a comfy session of N64 Goldeneye,  playing on a wooden 1950s pinball machine and rediscovering Micro Machines on the Mega Drive.  During a much needed VDU break, me and Nikki took part in brilliant ‘Mission Unmentionable’.  A mixture of live role play, treasure hunt and exploration.  Sadly, only a few people found the game this year, perhaps making this an even more exclusive experience.  We followed a variety of clues, meeting some very suspicious characters spread across the town.  The actors really drew us into the fantastically silly plot, making for an immersive and satisfying experience.  Taking us from some lesser known parts of town, to out of the way landmarks, such as the Shell Grotto, the game was a hidden gem in the Geek Fringe.  After braving the freezing weather to save Margate from the menace of Honey Dew and the Melon Heads (a great band name BTW) we got a chance to meet up with its creator @elliemjones and one of the actors @sometallactor in the Lighthouse Bar.  This came a as a slight shock, as the last time we had seen @sometallactor had been after his dramatic collapse in an old prison cell, allowing us time to prise a combination locked suitcase from his cold dead hands.  Fortunately revived, we chatted enthusiastically about the day and the fun of social gaming.  I couldn’t help thinking about how something similar might work in Rochester, and may well have a go at putting something together for Summer (anyone interested let me know!).  I think the low number of participants may have been down to a combination of cold weather and slightly lost publicity (there was so much going on that many may have missed Mission Unmentionable in the programme, or possible not understood enough to make a decision about taking part.  It may have benefited from a bit more web presence, blog, SNS links or a dedicate web page, offering a bit more explanation and promotion.  Either way, we had a great time and hope to see more of this type of thing.

Nikki found the Melon Art

I was sad to have missed the RootExperience’s Play Series who were running workshops on using smart phones every day applications to play and create digital games and treasure hunts.  Think this might be a good mix, and I hope to book a place on one of their spring workshops.  Think the mix of live acting and social media could help create some really fun games.

Anyway, back to work in a bit, after my second early Monday session at coFWD.  The idea is loosely based on a blog I read about the habits of writers, which suggested that some of us do better in the early mornings.  That never having been true for me, I decided to give it a go.  I have always had a problem fitting in all the things I want to do, so hope by dragging myself out of bed and down to Rochester for 6 or 7am, on Monday mornings, I’ll carve out extra time and get more writing done.   Last week, I got here for 6am, but by going to bed early on Sunday, I failed entirely to sleep and felt like crap.  This week I tried a little less, had some sleep and got here for 7pm.  Feeling a lot better today and think I’ve done a little better for it.  I was only slightly disturbed by the strange noises from the basement.  If I keep it up, I might get some more short stories done!  Let me know if you are interested in joining me for early morning coworking, the odd noises might be a little less worrying if there were two or three of us ;->

Scared of the ghosts...

Seasonally Effected – A cultural open mic

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc

Join or contribute to a new cultural open mic – The first event will be at the Dot Cafe in Rochester on 27th February 2013. Let us know your coming here: http://goo.gl/SSgYY

Poetry, philosophy, music, short-stories, painting, plays, history, short-films, photography, stand-up comedy and anything else that I may have forgotten, are all welcome at Seasonally Effected.

Following the Short Encounter’s event last October, I thought it’d be fun to put together a much broader event. Seasonally Effected will give 5-10 minute slots to anyone who would like to respond to the theme. The theme being right now, February, the end of winter, early 2013 or anything related to it, however tangentially.

If you would like to book a slot, whether to sing a song, show and talk about a painting, read a poem, show a short film or make us laugh, then send me an email at:

book soon, as places are limited.

Please include a brief description of what you would like to do and how it relates to the theme, along with a short bio.

If your stuck for an idea, apparently the 27th is International Polar Bear Day.

(Please note that there will be limited technical equipment, so most performances will be unplugged – if let me know what sort of set up you need, I will try and accommodate as best I can)

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc

Bank holiday drawl – Some imagachology

Sometimes I can write anything but what I am supposed to.  At the moment there are a few things I’ve got to do, but I keep getting distracted by ideas that seem far more interesting at any given time.  It’s part of the whole procrastination thing, but there is more going on.  It’s partly that of course, but maybe the need to do a specific task sparks my general creativity.  I know how bullshit that sounds – and don’t expect much on the musing inspiration thing, this is about psychology.  Alright, not quite scientifically researched theory either (I have even less time for that) but maybe some self reflective, introspection into how I work, which is what this blog is about.  I suppose that won’t always make it good reading, but my aim is more about writing and any enjoyment is purely accidental.  So there will be side tracks.  So…

In my psymaginary / imagochology, I reckon that some centre in my brain is stimulated by a pressure to create / write / do – it leads to a work ethic, but one that lacks any systematic organisations.  I love mind maps, but think that even with their non-hierachical bursts of idea are a little too neat sometimes.  An idea would look more like Mr Messy caught up on a wild rose bush.  When that need to create is triggered, at whatever point it comes, tendrils of electricity fire off in all directions, uncontrollable, powerful, and so incredibly beautiful.   Many of the sparks fade into nothing, but others germinate, grow, travel round and through some unusual places.  Some get lodged and stuck for years and others fight to get out immediately.  Chavelle got stuck and battled for quite some time and nearly shut me down (perhaps firing all that electricity is dangerous in such an inclosed spaces) even though I abandoned the project ideas still echo about and come in useful from time to time.  Maybe the side track projects, the procrastojections are the ones that really matter and it doesn’t really matter how I end up getting to them.

A list (really a list[a cheesy list {for people who like lists(I like lists)}])

  • Pursue everything
  • Be interested
  • Talk…(lots)
  • Listen (and hear)
  • Never throw away a bad idea
  • Distraction is good
  • Make notes
  • Have fun
  • See, hear and do new things
  • Don’t agree with yourself
  • Get some sleep (insomnia isn’t romantic, its a pain in the arse)
  • Aim high, but enjoy the low
  • Don’t stop
  • Do
  • …and don’t worry about being cheesy, bad, similar to your heroes, false, sincere, funny, foolish, serious…just don’t be dull…


I’ve never been that sure about grammar. It wasn’t really taught in school, not in any meaningful way. There were bits and pieces, the odd rule like don’t start a sentence with an and or always have a comma before a but. But later I challenged some of these. Perhaps, the teaching of grammar by rules was the problem, if it were taught as knitting or building a wall I might have developed better habits at an earlier age, and yet I fear it may be to late. I am growing a weed, my style of penmanship. Tweaking and changing it’s nature and hoping it pleases, makes sense and steers close enough to the legality of English rules to avoid offending those guardians who would run red pen through it.

Early on I fell for romantic visions, my teenage self obsessing over death and magic, depressive indulgence in all things dark and mysterious. My prose had flowers bigger than chrysanthemums and sentences that went on forever with little sign of punctuation or understandable structure. The love of adjectives, adverbs and all such pretties abound throughout, leaving most readers frustrated despite my mother’s continued praise. Indulging in this honey was fun for a while, but soured as time went on. The discovery of modernism. Of brevity. Clipped sentences, every word mattering. Led me down another path, one requiring the destruction of all that went before. My key discoveries were Hammett and Chandler, as previously discussed, but by way of Pound and Eliot. In a station…alongside the Wasteland at war with Shelley and Keats, so easy to dismiss, but loved of my late teens. That I read Shelley on the Darland banks, with no sense of the ridiculous, sun beating down and full of wonder, seems puzzling to my post cynical, current thirty something incarnation, but was hated in my jaded twenties self when I rejected all that went before. Sadly, the result of my rejection was not the super cool clipped prose of the PI masters. I exchanged decoration for a Neanderthal grunt. Writing short. Keeping it pithy. Usually meant staccato phrases. Interrupted rhythms leading nowhere. When I read it, I feel abbreviated. Chavelle was of this grit, plagued by machine gun descriptions; a lack of commas and my tenuous use of semi colons in some desperation to resurrect a flow into what had become fragmented words, less embarrassing than earlier, but hardly what I had hoped. These polar obsessions were destructive allies and disrupted me for ages. But I hope I’ve learnt to ignore the rules enough to flow without excess, weaving if with a splintered loom, to produce some semblance of pleasant readability. I still have to watch for bold stock phrases, check my indulgences and hope to hell my words pass okay, but no longer worry quite as much and use my faults to illustrate, where possible, whatever it is that I want to say.