400 words #008: Olympic connections

I was doing so well! And then I missed a week. Because, life, and pandemic and stuff, y’know?

The lovely Kathy Hubbard left a comment on my last post reminding me that this time 8 years ago I was taking part in the Hansel of Film, which was part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

I’ve written before about participating in this project, which was “a UK wide relay of screenings of short films made by the public as part of the London 2012 Festival“.

Basically it comprised of a series of screenings of short films (made by – mostly – amateur film-makers) organised across the country, from Shetland to Southampton (and back) with ‘runners’ ferrying the films from one venue to the next (although as I soon discovered, I was the only idiot who actually ran).

At a time when live culture that involves people gathering together is at a low ebb it was wonderful to reminisce about this beautiful, simple idea and the small part I got to play in it. And also to feel sad that this sort of thing isn’t happening, in any real form, at the moment.

The memories, even 8 years on, still stand out.

Wonderful people, terrible weather, some brilliant films, and an overriding sense of being involved in something that was being made to happen by not much more than goodwill, its own internal momentum and sheer force of determination of those involved.

It was great fun.

I got involved simply because I was going through a ‘say yes to more things’ phase. Which is a, probably overdue, reminder to me that that attitude, an attitude of curiosity, open-heartedness and optimism, is where most of life’s best experiences come from.

400 words #007: Fast and slow

The other day I saw this tweet:

I’m always curious about what people think makes up a ‘good’ interview so I duly had a read through this list of 34 questions.

The first thoughts that struck me were; who is running interviews that are long enough to a) ask all of these questions and b) expect coherent responses to anything beyond the first few.

Interviews are stressful enough for the applicant at the best of times, being put in a situation where you have 34 heavy-duty and, to me, slightly odd questions fired at you isn’t going to be a useful or enjoyable use of anyone’s time.

Add in the fact that there is research that shows (some) interviews are almost totally useless.

Putting that to on side for a second I tried to understand what these questions are trying to identify – which seems to be, on the face of it, an ability to ‘think fast’.

Presumably this is because of an assumption that the ‘move fast and break things’ mantra is something to be embraced (fwiw I don’t think it is).

This obsession with speed, with rapid progress, with immediacy isn’t new. And it isn’t just confined to startups.

It has becoming one of the defining features of our lives.

Immediacy. Impatience.

But, along with hundreds of other things, it feels like this set of expectations has perhaps been tempered slightly by lockdown and all the changes that have come with that.

Increasingly we are having to become more comfortable with remote working, and that means we need to become comfortable with better and clearer, but also asynchronous, communication.

Which means being comfortable with a slower pace. It also forces us all to think more deeply about how and why we are communicating things, along with what we are communicating.

And that is no bad thing.

If the post-lockdown world is a slower, more considered place to be then I think we’ll all be thankful.

400 words #006: Adventures postponed

This week I should’ve been heading out to the Swiss Alps to run half of the Via Valais.

Unsurprisingly that’s not possible at the moment. So instead I’m sat at home watching a documentary about the Dragon’s Back race.

I don’t think it’d be particularly interesting watching for anyone who doesn’t enjoy running in the mountains.

It’s a brutal race and the film has quite a lot of time dedicated to folks talking about the strange and painful experience of spending lots of time running up and over lots and lots of very big hills for 5 days in a row.

And it’s that experience (in all its discomfort and oddness) that I’m missing right now. Running in the mountains is the thing I enjoy more than anything else in the world, and I can’t wait to do it again.