Facetiming (?) the kids from St Pancras Station, and David Cameron walks into the back of the shot. I say ‘Good morning’, he says it right back. Nice enough chap, but a series of giveaway policies aren’t what we need, I think.
His right to buy policy takes us back to the eighties. Thatcher sorted out manufacturing, but only by wrecking it. We need people who can make things: take materials and add value through creativity, design and manufacture.
I spent a pleasant hour (once everyone had gone home) sketching a workshop in the excellent Smiths of Derby. Their bespoke clock making and restoring business is highly specialist but the skills needed are fantastically diverse, and hence there’s diversity in the people employed too. Smiths would get my vote.
Earlier in the week I ran 10 miles around Edinburgh and watched a motorcyclist with less interesting work to do than either Smiths or Dave are faced with.
The kids being chased round the garden of Grays Court hotel by Henry the resident dog. Our slightly rowdy bunch spent a warm and sunny afternoon in their elegant, calm garden.
Back in Edinburgh we are inside waiting for the hailstones to stop and the icy winds to die down.
Luckily some of the excellent Dr Seuss books are being made into films. We stayed in and watched ‘The Lorax’.
Admiring the Britannia on the last day of the Easter holiday. It’s an interesting tour: a glimpse into a world where hierarchy must be emphasised in everything from crockery to wall panelling to drink, otherwise the illusion might slip.
We’d spent some time in York, having fun and looking at trains.
This might look like boys activities, but we all enjoyed it. Back home, the Stockbridge Arts Club had it’s first meeting. It’s a foil to our partner’s “Book Group” and might take a little while to find it’s core purpose…
Waiting for a train in Dundee, thinking about what the new station might be.
The Cock is a pub designed by HTA about thirty years ago.At that time HTA were specialists in what people called ‘Public Housing’ so when someone called looking for a ‘Public House’, the entrepreneurial partners got right down to it. They did another twenty pubs after that, of which this is one. Just off Portland Place, this one’s a cheap place for a pint in an expensive part of town. I’m across the street for breakfast, reflecting on talking about sketching last night in Camden.
You meet more interesting people on the train.
With youthful energy he told us about building landing strips for Spitfires on Gold Beach after the Normandy landings. He’ll have told the stories before, obviously, but the way he told them made them sound fresh and gripping, none more so than his recollections of listening to Churchill’s ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ speech in a bombed out West Ham. Too young, but filled with hate, he signed up and went to war.
He got off at Berwick, his new home. It all sounds serious but he was mostly a man for joke filled tales of adventures and scrapes. A pleasure and privilege to have met him.
At last, the spring equinox. I like the dark, but on balance, we’re now in the better half of the year.
Sunnier, brighter and a bit more colourful: we’re all quite excited. F & I have a birthday…
… and I have a talk to do:
Just in case you’d like to talk about drawing in Camden on a Tuesday evening.
In Cannes for MIPIM. It’s our market, condensed. When I headed out I thought it might be about pitching, but it’s not. It’s a chance to talk to the people who’s needs will shape our business. But we can’t do everything for everyone so the trick, I think, is to work out who to listen most closely to amongst the 20,000 voices. Getting to do this on a beach in the south of France is nice, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Some of this information gets delivered quite formally.
Statistics on places: design, value, people, quality, crisis etc. I imagined I might be sketching the beach and the boats, but there isn’t any time.
Most of the time it’s less formal discussion: breakfasts, lunches, afternoon beers, dinners, late night pints. I’m not sure copious coffee and alcohol consumption helps with clarity but it was my first time, so I went along with it.On the plane home, I see I’m not alone in finding it exhausting.
F&I engrossed by the family’s toy tablet.
They can work it effectively, better than their dad on his new Microsoft Surface. The Surface is a classic compromise: unimpressive as a tablet, not that great as a laptop, handier than carrying both around on a push bike.
Some waiting room fish.
Sitting in the lobby of Manchester’s Beetham Tower talking PRS with the nice guys who manage the residential half of the building. The Beetham is a little short of 50 storeys, and half an hour later we concluded our tour on the windy roof. I’d have done a sketch but I needed both hands to hold on and my eyes were shut.
When the ‘quine’ wobbled through reception at 5.00pm, belly hanging out over her pyjama bottoms, leather bomber jacket, no shoes, trailing a toilet roll, I sensed this was going to be a little different from my normal night in a Travelodge.
The next morning, checking out, I mentioned to reception that I couldn’t hear the rowdy night in the street outside for the party going on in the corridor. “Aberdeen at the weekend sir, I can only apologise.”
We spent the day recovering in a beautiful, if unfinished, family house on a farm.
“Which way’s the countryside?” said Innes (he’s a city boy, like me) so we went for a walk to show him.
The next day was back to normal life between London and Edinburgh.
For one and a half hours I had a shot at being a nursery school teacher. They knew I was coming so made it like the day job: we drew what we wanted, then we built it.
Two castles and a treasure map, then some dragons. Then, like actual lunchtime CPD, they watched a programme about bricks: grow you’re own clients. Great fun, and thanks to the kids who chose not to bully me at all.