I was honoured to be invited by Creative Dundee to speak at their Pecha Kucha event last week. Although I must admit, I didn't know what I was letting myself in for, and apart from a few funeral eulogies, it was the most difficult speaking engagement I've ever done.
Pecha Kucha is public speaking in a storytelling format, where the presenter chooses a topic relating to their life, work, or on a subject they are passionate about. So far, so good. But the presenter must do so showing 20 slides, with commentary for 20 seconds per slide (six minutes and 40 seconds in total) – no more, no less. It proved not
to be an easy brief, especially for a non-professional speaker.
I wondered why this international format – so popular that it now takes place in hundreds of cities – was devised and by whom. It was designed in Tokyo in 2003 by two architects as a way to attract people to their experimental event space, and to attract young designers to do a kind of 'show and tell' of their ideas, quickly and effectively. It certainly puts the kibosh on wandering, lengthy and tedious presentations. Anyway, this quickfire, constantly moving format spread rapidly around the creative world.
My presentation was about my dad's (Jimmy Reid) famous rectorial address, 'Alienation', delivered in 1972. The idea was to use the few extant video clips (the full recording is lost), edit them to 20 seconds, and wrap parts of his speech around the clips to give a flavour of his oratory. A couple of seconds over the stringent 20 seconds and dad would be talking over me; a few seconds under and I'd be left silent on the platform in front of 800 people in the magnificent Caird Hall. A coughing fit, or more likely a bout of nerves, could lose the thread and would down the whole thing. In the end, after hours of rehearsing with a stopwatch, I pulled it off. It was a proud moment, especially as I'd introduced Jimmy to scores of young people who had never heard of him, on a topic as relevant now as it was back in the day. Thank you, Dundee.
Up the Whangie
With Trump's arrival in the UK, it's time for a news break: I can't stand the sight of him or his Brexit sycophants. A news junkie for most of my life, fuelled by the advent of rolling news, my addiction is now cured, thank goodness. I'm looking forward to the relief this week from the daily fluctuations of blood pressure and anxiety incurred by the state of the world – regular breaks are beneficial for physical and mental health. So, what to do? I've decided to embark upon yet another health kick, but this time – with a view to permanent change – I'm not setting my sights too high.
First up, exercise. For those who are recovering from cancer, or to be more precise the often brutal treatment of cancer, the advice is to exercise regularly, hard as that can often be for people weakened by this blasted illness. I have the utmost admiration for patients who take on momentous trials such as climbing mountains for cancer research and similar charities. A couch potato most of the time, going up the Whangie would be a trial for me. Anyway, I found a fantastic app from NHS England called 'Couch to 5K'. It's just fabulous, and is doable for recovering cancer patients, the elderly, or anyone really who is generally unfit. It's well worth a try.
Attending to diet, as we all know, is a must when trying to improve general health and fitness. I've found a rather spiffing cookbook cheerily titled 'The Happy Kitchen' by Rachel Kelly. Actually, it's a cookbook for depressives, which suits me fine. Chapters with headings such as, 'Hormone Peace', 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Mental Clarity' include recipes and advice that are generally uplifting whether you make a mess of the final result or not. Last night's recipe from 'Beating the Blues', although a blend of nutritious ingredients, resulted in beating a path to the nearest bin. Anyway, persistence is all in this fitness lark.
This is summer in the West of Scotland, so it is predicted to be cloudy, windy and pouring rain all week, which is not exactly conducive to good physical or mental health. It's all very well to be told 'there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing', but I'm not convinced by the wise adage. So, I'm going to step up the Vitamin D3 and crucially, get in front of the light lamp for a half hour in the morning. These fabulous wonder bulbs mimic a sunrise and sunlight, without the dangerous rays. Light therapy works – at least for me – and is well worth a try if you need a boost to your immune system and improve your general well-being.
Finally, message to myself, friends and readers: for the love of God stop smoking. Of the hundreds of times I've stopped, please, let just one cessation last longer than three months…
A tale of two matches
The Champion's League final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid was unbelievably boring. That's all I have to say about it. Not so the other match last week at Hampden, between the women's teams, Scotland and Jamaica. Scotland, for the first time in its history, has gone through and will be playing in a World Cup final. I didn't see the match, sadly, but the reports and the highlights were exhilarating.
In comparison, it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that something has gone horribly wrong in men's football. Apart from the skills and talent of one or two players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it has become a testosterone-fuelled contact sport for the super-fast and fit. The days of the Netherland's balletic Johan Cruyff are a distant memory. Not so in the women's game. Some commentators – mostly men – say the women's game is poor and nowhere near the level of the men's game. But if enough women are encouraged and motivated to take up the sport – the talent pool is widened through time, generates much-needed investment and becomes widely watched – in a generation we could see the return of 'the beautiful game'. 'Mon, the women, 'mon the Scotland!
Photograph at top of page by Creative Dundee