It's pretty cold in London right now and I don't like it. It might be something to do with my half-Cypriot blood but I don't deal particularly well with colder weather and right now I have a strong urge to make a run for the equator. In fact, I spend most of winter looking forward to the summer or daydreaming about beach holidays and boat trips from years gone by.
It was during one of these reflective, house music-fuelled moments that I discovered that the notorious Voile Rouge beach club in St. Tropez had closed down. In truth, it is a place that I had known little about until 2010 when a friend returned to London with stories about a wild party on Pampelonne beach. I had been to a few of the St Tropez beach clubs over the years, including a memorable lunch at the legendary Le Club 55
, better known as "cinquante-cinq". If my friend was to be believed, the parties at Voile Rouge were on a different level.During the summer of 2011 I was due to drive through France as part of my One Careful Owner road trip. I didn't have specific dates in mind but an invitation to party with some friends at Voile Rouge in late August gave me something to plan around. I was told that it would likely be the last big party of the season, falling as it did on the Sunday of a holiday weekend that marked the end of the French summer break. Now I know that it was one of the last parties that would ever be held at Voile Rouge.
Apparently the owners of Voile Rouge had requests for a lease extension turned down due to complaints about excessive noise and by October 2011 work to dismantle the club and its buildings had started. As there are plenty of other noisy clubs in the area I can only imagine that there was something more to Voile Rouge's downfall than complaints from local residents.The discovery of the closure of Voile Rouge didn't bother me as such but I'm glad I got to experience it and get a feel for what drew so many rich and famous people there every summer. I'm quite sure that some of the other clubs on Pampelonne will take advantage of its demise and gladly welcome the champagne-spraying millionaires. For now, here is a passage from One Careful Owner that might give you some understanding of the experience.
My last visit to the beach here had taken place a few years earlier when I had come for a slightly more reserved lunch at Club 55 (“cinquante-cinq”), the original St Tropez beach club. Cinquante-cinq came into being when Brigitte Bardot and her director-husband Roger Vadim came to this near deserted stretch of beach outside St Tropez to film And God Created Woman. It was 1955 and a local family supported the production by serving the crew food and drink from their beachfront property, something that has continued ever since as more and more people have flooded to this now iconic spot on the French Riviera.
It must have been idyllic back then. Visit now during peak season and you will see how commercialised it has become. People come from all over to visit, the open spaces between the numerous beach clubs being taken up by bronzed families sprawling over colourful beach towels. Emerging from the car parks and gridlocked roads that come to an end behind the beach, you are greeted by a bay filled with luxury yachts, tenders delivering their wealthy owners to their favourite beach clubs, tables most likely booked well in advance or last minute with sufficient palm-greasing. Walk along the shoreline and you will find yourself dodging bat-and-ball players and evading crumbling sandcastles as children try to rescue their fragile constructions from the ravages of the tide. Every now and again a helicopter will touch down behind the beach, off-loading the serious high-rollers.
As I sipped on my first beer of the day and looked around, feeling the swelling beat of the sound-systems somewhere nearby, I had no doubt that this was the place to be and to be seen.
Having been huddled around the bar getting a feel for things our sizeable group was shown to a table that could just about fit us all around. Over the next hour or so numerous jeroboams of rosé wine came and went. Platters of food were delivered and grazed on lightly by most. The sensible ones amongst us tucked in heartily so as to hold on to the fading remnants of sobriety for a few moments longer. Conversations began to flow more freely, well-known businessmen and celebrities were pointed out, and the music got louder and louder. We spotted crates of champagne being unloaded onto nearby tables and the next thing I knew a very jovial Swiss guy was spraying champagne in my face. Then everything really went wild.
It would be impossible to describe the exact moments of transition from seated dining to dancing on tables, swigging wine and being showered by champagne. It was a bit surreal and we quickly lost all sense of time. I have a blurred memory of Jelley being told off for taking champagne bottles from one of our neighbours for spraying purposes and also of hearing the song Welcome to St Tropez being played repeatedly at high volume. Then the party seemed to come to an abrupt end, and it wasn’t even dark yet. There is often a tidal feeling about beach clubs like this; the way that people seep in slowly and then disappear again leaving you to question if it was ever as busy as you thought. It is the same at Voile Rouge.
The rest of the night remains a blur. We ended up on a huge yacht, drank more, socialised, sang and danced. The amount of fun that we had that day must only have been countered by the experiences of our driver on the way back to Antibes, where we all ended up staying for the night. He had to deal with chauffeuring a bunch of very drunk guys who were intent on listening to ‘gangsta rap’ at high volume despite struggling to maintain consciousness. He was probably hoping that we would pay for it with killer hangovers. All I will say is that building two days recovery time into our itinerary for returning to the UK was a stroke of genius on my part.
Excerpt from One Careful Owner by Alex Christou. Available in print and ebook from Sloane Books
.Thanks to James Muirhead for the photos. He assures me that the really interesting ones are under lock and key.
If you have been putting off going to the Designing 007 exhibition, perhaps waiting for things to quieten down after the Olympics, you had better get a move on. Tomorrow is the last day of the two-month installation at the Barbican and it is a must-see for any self-respecting Bond fan.
Next month will see the 23rd outing for James Bond on the big screen, with Daniel Craig taking up the role of 007 once more in Skyfall
. If that wasn't reason enough for celebration, it just happens to be 50 years since the first Bond movie, Dr No
, was released. In that time, James Bond has become a global cultural icon; a character dripping with style and charm. As the saying goes, "men want to be him and women want to be with him".
James Bond's Aston Martin DB5
The Designing 007 exhibition
at the Barbican
celebrates "fifty years of Bond style". It shows visitors the vast amount of work that goes into producing one of these iconic movies, looking at everything from set design to fashion. Here you will learn the intricacies of your favourite props, get to see the detailed sketches that became villain's lairs, and get to inspect the outfits of your favourite Bond girls. Those hoping to see all the cars are better off heading to the Bond in Motion exhibition
but there is plenty of action here to satisfy.
Sketch of Fort Knox for Goldfinger set design
It is a very well thought out and dynamic exhibition which blends props and outfit displays with photos and videos of the films in which they appeared. The sheer number of props is impressive and the detailed descriptions that go along with many of them help you to understand the challenges that were faced by the teams that made the films.
From Oddjob's steel-brimmed hat to Scaramanga's golden gun, it is all here. There is even a nice section that explores the life of Bond creator Ian Fleming, including a reproduction of the gold-plated typewriter he used. The exhibition is spread over two floors and a total of three rooms and it is worth giving yourself time to explore fully, particularly if you want to enjoy some of the many video clips that are being played, bringing to life the props and costumes around you.
Francisco Scaramanga's golden gun
For many fans of the films much of the material on display will be greeted with a nod of familiarity rather than being viewed in awe. It is fun, interesting and impressive. Perhaps most tellingly, you will leave the Barbican with an urge to watch all the Bond films again, so effective is this exhibition at reminding you just how enjoyable and detailed a world the film-makers and designers have created. It is unlikely that such a collection will be amassed again any time soon and, for that reason alone, it is definitely worth a visit if you are a Bond fan.
Gun feature from Bond's DB5
The term "legend" seems to be thrown around pretty freely these days but sometimes it is perfectly fitting. Composer, singer and musician Roy Ayers
is certainly a legend. The influence of his music has been far-reaching, affecting many jazz, soul, funk and hip hop artists over the decades. He is seen as one of the founding fathers of neo-soul, of acid jazz, and presumably other derivative genres that have followed his own boundary-crossing music.
Those that don't know him will certainly have heard some of his music, even if just a sample loop on a hip hop record. I had picked up a pre-owned copy of one of his many greatest hits albums some years ago after hearing one or two of his songs on compilation albums and specialist radio shows. It became one of those CDs that I took everywhere with me and I regularly looked to it for some crowd-pleasing sounds when I was DJing in bars in Edinburgh.
It seemed that the crowd in Ronnie Scott's
last night knew just what they were in for. The house band had done a good job of warming the audience up and there was a tangible buzz of excitement as Roy's band began setting up for the main event. Every seat was filled. A few people even perched on bar stools at the back of the softly-lit room. The club was refurbished some six years ago and is perfectly laid out for an intimate gig of this sort. It's the kind of place that encourages quiet appreciation of the music. Even so, I was a little surprised at the warnings being given over the PA system and by waiting staff that conversation should be kept to a minimum.
It became clear within seconds of Roy and his band starting their performance that there would be little in the way of quiet appreciation during this performance. The real problem would be the lack of space to dance. Roy's music is irresistibly funky, leaving people no choice but to tap their feet, clap their hands or slap the table in time to the beat. I would have loved to get up and dance but that was not an option. Like everyone else, I expressed my enjoyment through taps, claps and cheers as Roy and the band ran through all the classics.
Roy switched between singing - which he did with expressive arm movements and hand gestures - and playing the vibraphone
. This is the instrument that has come to characterise much of his music. The way that he moves the mallets over the bars is almost hypnotic, particularly when he uses four of them at once. His backing band was no less impressive. The young British drummer and the American keyboard player were solid, supporting the others perfectly. Next to Roy stood his backing singer, a particularly stylish and entertaining gentleman who took Roy's arm gestures to another level as he sang. He was essentially the hype man, often moving from one side of the stage to the other, clapping his hands in the air and encouraging the crowd to join in.
There was one more band member, one who the crowd warmed to more than any other. He sat at a keyboard off to one side of the stage and would switch between saxophone, clarinet, keyboard and vocals as was required. He was clearly a very accomplished musician, something he proved by playing the keyboard and the saxophone at the same time, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. When it was time for Roy to take a breather, it was this musician that took the lead, playing a song he had written. This was the only low point of the show, the song let down by his limited vocal talents and not saved by Roy's support on the microphone. It was a relief to get back to business, the crowd joining in on Everybody Loves the Sunshine
before those that could clambered to their feet and danced through the last couple of songs.
Roy Ayers is 72 next month and still an energetic, charismatic and professional performer. In front of a knowledgeable Ronnie Scott's audience he didn't put a foot wrong. He drew from his impressive catalogue of songs, playing all the crowd favourites and charming everyone with his good humour. It seems that a legendary musician performing at a legendary venue equates to a very enjoyable evening.
Tuesday night saw the last of five sold out concerts at London's O2 arena
for Jay-Z and Kanye West, part of their Watch The Throne tour
that will be making its way to Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield over the coming weeks. These are undoubtedly two of the biggest stars in the world right now and reports from earlier shows had suggested that it would be a great show. Clearly Jay-Z and Kanye were keen to promote this viewpoint, reportedly telling audiences that it would be the best concert they ever saw. We had one such moment last night.
Jay-Z was taking a breather while Kanye ran through some of his solo hits. Undoubtedly the more energetic of the two performers, he was sweating profusely by this point, presumably not helped by his decision to dress entirely in leather. The concert production was slick, meaning a full two hours of hits that had the crowd going wild. Taking a rare pause between songs, Kanye told the audience that he had seen a newspaper article proclaiming Watch The Throne to be the best rap concert ever. The crowd started to clap and cheer but Kanye wasn't finished. "Rap concert?" he said, letting the question hang in the air for a moment so that no one was in any doubt as to his thoughts on the subject. "Why do they have to put us in a box?"
Rappers are renowned for their confidence, many appearing to be driven by little more than ego. It goes with the territory and sits perfectly with the competitive undertone that has always characterised this art form. But Kanye had made a good point. This was a fabulous concert regardless of genre. With the rising stages, video screens, flames and incredible use of lasers, it was also a real spectacle.
I hadn't been bowled over by the Watch The Throne album as many seemingly had. The 2011 album was the first full-length collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye but it somehow fell short of their two most recent solo efforts, Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3
and Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
. Even so, it was good to see them working together on a shared project. Kanye began producing for Jay-Z around the time of the 2001 album The Blueprint
and since then he has become a global star as a result of his strong production skills and heart-on-the-sleeve raps. Watch The Throne
was a chance for master and apprentice to shine together. As it turned out, there was some slick production and some great back-and-forth rapping, some excellent individual verses and even a few heartfelt moments. It showed that, even if the material wasn't their strongest, the dynamic on stage should be very enjoyable.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that this was their one and only night in London as both artists seemed so fired-up, so hungry. They came out to the track H.A.M., the two rappers appearing on individual stages which rose upwards to expose visuals of dogs barking and then sharks swimming beneath them. After a couple of tracks together Jay-Z disappeared for a while, allowing Kanye to run through his back catalogue and setting the scene for the rest of the concert. They would take it in turns, overlapping with collaborations such as the Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix or more songs from Watch The Throne. Occasionally they would set up their songs to work against each other, Jay-Z retorting to Kanye's Gold Digger with his 99 Problems.
Kanye is a much more dynamic presence on the big stage, always moving, dancing and running around. Jay-Z is a different type of character. He is more controlled and almost shamanic, particularly when he delivers his more complex verses. It's easy to forget that his first album came out way back in 1996. He has a vast catalogue of hits and it was a pleasure to hear him run through classics such as Big Pimpin'. He has continually developed as an artist since then and his newer material was just as welcome. In a much shorter time Kanye has also become a formidable lyricist himself, no doubt helped by working with some of the most accomplished rappers in the game. It meant that the concert was never less than engaging, the thousands of fans eagerly following instructions to wave their arms in the air or to chant along with choruses.
Is this the best live rap concert ever? Quite probably. If you didn't make it to one of the London shows and you can find tickets for Manchester, Birmingham or Sheffield, then I strongly advise you to go. Is it the best concert of any genre you will ever see, just as Jay-Z and Kanye would have you believe? All I can say is that it is the best concert I have been to yet and I will jump at any opportunity to see these two perform again.
If you're signed up to Spotify
, you can listen to the set list from this concert here
There are some people that make an impact on you quickly and somehow maintain a degree of longevity in your field of vision. Rodney Lucas, aka F. Stokes, is one such person. He is charming, a true gentleman and, above all, an emerging talent on the hip hop scene. That is not to say he is in any way new to the 'game'. Rather he has been working hard for many years and is slowly getting the recognition he deserves.
Stokes and I first met in a bar in New York some years ago; early January about four years ago I guess. He was a friend of a friend of a friend, and we all hung out and had some beers and talked about music, as music lovers are prone to do. At the time I was producing and presenting and online radio show via the University of Edinburgh's "Fresh Air" station and lined-up a phone interview with Stokes for when I got home. It wasn't the best phone line, and maybe the production side of things wasn't as good as it could be if I'm honest, but it was a good interview. Here was a US rapper on an Edinburgh-based online radio show, discussing how he was working with an Australian music producer/DJ. It was very global, very digital, and reflected how a new generation of artist would start using social media to develop their fan-base. We played some of Stokes' tracks (or Flukie Stokes as he was then known), including a rap over an instrumental of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley - the first track to go to number one on the UK charts predominantly through digital sales and one of the drivers for Stokes to choose that track.
Some years later, during a period of personal boredom and a frustration at the fact that I was no longer producing and presenting a radio show, no longer DJing, and no longer promoting any events, I found myself looking Stokes up online and discovering that he had a new album available to own via iTunes. "Death of a Handsome Bride" blew me away. The production was amazing (courtesy of Lazerbeak), and the rapping was far more honed than it had been a few years earlier. I found myself making comparisons to Kanye and Jay-Z as I listened and I maintain a belief in those similarities to this day. I got in touch with Stokes shortly afterwards and expressed admiration for his album and an eagerness to put on a show or two when he finally came to the UK. It turned out he'd been very busy touring around the States and Scandinavia. In fact, he is fairly relentless in terms of his work, constantly touring, making videos and fresh songs. In recent months he has opened for acts such as Del the Funky Homosapien and Talib Kweli, and has just returned from a trip to Paris where he opened for The Clipse.
Now I'll confess to having failed to find the funding to get him over to the UK for a series of tours and, quite frankly, can't afford to put on more than one or two from my own pocket. However, I hope he'll get to these shores soon and I hope to be able to get involved. A quick YouTube search will show you just how good a performer
he is and I strongly recommend you check out his album
In the meantime, you can see an interview with him
on web-based YRB TV.
Tapas restaurants, in my experience, are terribly hit or miss. Perhaps that is what makes it so satisfying when you find a good one.
One of my best tapas experiences in London must have been two or more years ago when I went to Salt Yard, the Fitzrovia-based “charcuterie bar and restaurant”. Myself and a group of friends enjoyed a boozy evening of good wine and plentiful tapas. My prior experience of tapas hadn’t been great, often comprising a sparsely populated platter of average quality, overpriced meats along with some token olives. Salt Yard was in another league as far as I was concerned, with excellent food and helpful, positive staff that knew exactly what dishes they were selling. Its sister restaurant Dehesa on Ganton Street has a similarly strong reputation, though I have yet to try it for myself.
When I was alerted to the fact that a third restaurant in the group was opening in the Covent Garden area, I immediately made a reservation. Thankfully, like its sister restaurants, Opera Tavern leaves a strong, positive impression from the moment you enter, something that is as much to do with the attentive and knowledgeable service as it is with the excellent food and wine.
The restaurant itself is pleasantly set up, comprising a ground floor with tables and a bar section and an upstairs with further tables. We were seated upstairs where the candle-lit ambience doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re in a cave, whilst the exposed brickwork, deep terracotta paint, chandelier and unimposing artwork all help to create a relaxing and warm atmosphere.
Despite the similar focus on Spanish and Italian tapas I was told that only a two items on the menu (aside from some of the charcuterie meats), were shared with either of the other two restaurants in the group. Luckily one of those things is the courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese which I had remembered so fondly from Salt Yard. The smoky, molten goat’s cheese that oozes out of the crisp flower is wonderfully offset by the slightly bitter-sweet taste of the courgette itself.
The menu is vast but thankfully the staff know their stuff and will happily walk you through the options which, when ready, are delivered to the table bit by bit so that you’re never overwhelmed. Expect to pay an average of £7 per dish. There is also a strong wine list, primarily sourced from Italy, Sicily and Spain in keeping with the food. Again, the waiting staff can provide guidance here and we were very happy with our wine.
I don’t think you can go far wrong with what you order and you can easily stick to flavours and ingredients that you like, or be more experimental should you prefer. Truffle pecorino cheese served with honey is excellent, the two contrasting flavours working amazingly well. The gorgonzola and date croquettes manage a similarly successful blend of flavours, with the breadcrumbs being crisp but not greasy. The crispy squid was tender, cooked perfectly in a light tempura batter and served with a not-too-spicy chilli aioli.
Our waiter had strongly recommended that we try the Iberico pork and fois gras burger which is good but I have certainly had better. It did not help that the fried onion served with it was so overpowering. By contrast, I strongly recommend the grilled Iberico presa which I am told is pork shoulder. The meat was char-grilled so tender but still a little pink in the middle, with the caper, shallot and lemon gravy providing warm yet slightly vinegary flavours that complement the meat.
Should you fancy dessert, the panacotta with clementine sorbet and blood orange granita is spectacular. The way that the icy fruit flavours melt on your tongue first, leaving you with the fresh and creamy taste of the panacotta shows a level of consideration that many so-called celebrity chefs would be envious of. The date and walnut tart is good but nowhere near as impressive, whilst the dessert wine (one recommended by each dish on the menu) might be too tempting for you, as it was for us.
The cost of the meal will build up if you get carried away and if you are looking for a low-budget tapas restaurant, this isn’t it. However, if food quality and service are priorities for you then I can thoroughly recommend Opera Tavern. I will certainly be heading back soon, though I might check out Dehesa first for good measure.
There’s something very alluring about plays that feature actors from television shows or movies. You have the chance to see someone familiar, someone that you might associate with a specific role performing live, up close and possibly out of their comfort zone. Neil LaBute’s In a Forest Dark and Deep, recently opened at the Vaudeville Theatre, is such a production. It features two well-known actors in Matthew Fox (Lost, Party of Five) and Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer, Rushmore).
The play is set in a cabin in which Betty, played by Williams, is attempting to get everything packed up and moved out before morning. Her brother Bobby, played by Fox, soon arrives and it immediately becomes clear that their relationship is not a simple one. Bobby seems only too eager to drag up the past and leaves no doubt about how little he thinks of his big sister and the decisions she has made. As Bobby pushes and antagonises Betty, lie upon lie is revealed and it becomes increasingly clear why she has called her hateful brother to help her as opposed to anyone else.
The marketing material for this production describes it as a “dark comedy of sibling rivalry” which “escalates into a psychological thriller”. In practice, it doesn’t seem to achieve one or other of these genres with great success. It is true to say that there are a few moments where Bobby’s cutting comments cause a guilty smile but the fact that a few people were giggling up until the end of the play suggests that the shift to something more unnerving and tense was unsuccessful.
Fox played his role smoothly and it was hard to tell whether he was coasting or if he had nailed the role. Perhaps that is the sign of a good actor. Williams was a little disappointing by contrast though she had a tough role that required numerous emotional shifts and outbursts whilst putting on an American accent. It was only the third day of its twelve-week run when I attended and so I am sure that the performance as a whole will become much slicker.
However, the storyline and script could do with some work and I fear that might not be something that can be achieved at this late stage. Whilst I enjoyed parts of it, I fear that I may have left early had I been alone as it felt there was nothing more to take from the story. Perhaps that is the biggest indication that I can give that the production failed to build any tension or maintain interest levels in the way that a “psychological thriller” should. It’s a shame really as the characters themselves are well conceived and the actors do manage to convey the strained and complex nature of the relationship between them with assurance.
My friend Mark Jennings this morning invited me to read the guest post on his Click to exit
blog, written by Hugh Wallace. Whilst Hugh sets up the post as though it is going to be a mad rant, he brings up some really interesting points around the changes he has witnessed working 'in digital' over the past fifteen years, culminating with where we are now and whether we are on the cusp of change, "something akin to the dot-com bust".
I recommend looking at the original post here
, but you can see my response below. Feel free to get involved with the discussion over on Mark's blog too.
Having worked in-house for the past two and a half years myself, and witnessed the increasing number of social media services delivered by so-called 'specialists', I have feared that perhaps I am a bit cynical about the potential of social media. In practice, I believe that social media has great potential but, as mentioned above by Simon, people forget to question themselves - "what are we trying to achieve?".
Listening to the vast army of social media evangelists you would be forgiven for believing that the likes of Twitter can act as some kind of Holy Grail for businesses and for individuals without consideration for their specific aims and objectives. Many of these people tend to forget that they are, in practice, early adopters. Most people still "don't get" many of these platforms and I regularly find myself trying to explain it to them. It's clear, in those situations, that the people who then "get it" can see an application for the technology in their own professional, cultural or personal lives and that is the key.
I think some of the most interesting comments I have heard with regard to social media come from those agencies that have actively decided not to engage with the likes of Twitter because they don't have the time or resources to do it properly. Whilst some people might turn their noses up at that, perhaps thinking every organisation simply must have a comprehensive presence across social media platforms, in practice it shows a strong understanding of both reputation and the expectation to maintain a flow of communication in line with the needs of the audience.
For me, audience is key. On a personal level I communicate in different ways, using different messages via different social media platforms. That is because I have different audiences with different expectations. Whilst I think that many organisations understand that, they don't necessarily go through the process of positioning social media strategy within their broader communications strategy which, in turn, should be designed to achieve overall objectives and aims.
Right now there is a lot of "noise" out there and I think there will be an increasing number of people turning away from things like Twitter. They will become disillusioned with the quality and quantity of information coming from those that they follow but, for the sake of not wanting to alienate people or offend them by unfollowing them, they will just withdraw slowly. The challenge here perhaps, for organisations and individuals alike, is to understand the participation habits of their followers. If, for example, your followers are fairly active on any given social media platform and are likely to catch most of your messages (tweets for example), then why repost the same message over and over again? You are just going to annoy people and they will begin to question whether there is any benefit in following you at all.
Perhaps we are approaching a tipping point, both in terms of a realisation that social media doesn't hold all the answers to eternal (commercial) life for all organisations, and in terms of individuals questioning more critically what's in it for them. For sure, ROI will remain part of the mix for organisations and communication and digital agencies will continue to work to promote things that are sometimes tough to measure, sometimes seen as intangible. The challenge that these agencies have in legitimising their offerings is to position social media much more closely in line with broader corporate objectives. There is also a need to be honest, in that every company will not benefit from throwing itself into using each social media platform that comes along. Agencies must be willing to take the moral high road if they are to maintain long-term credibility.
And for individuals? Well, I wonder if there is a dawning of an era of the more discerning social media user. Whilst I suggested above that some people might turn away from the "noise", I believe others will see this as part of trial and error in emerging technologies and will instead start to better tailor their use of these platforms to their own needs, picking and choosing what they use and who they follow to best ensure satisfaction at the level and quality of information they receive.
While the issue of climate change is an issue regularly making its way into the media as a point of discussion (or contention), the next week will see the international press, broadcast and web-based media reporting incessantly on the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen
Naturally, the reported leaking of emails which suggested that climate change statistics had been manipulated (something which will now apparently receive an independent review
) adds more fuel to the fire. It seems particularly bad timing that this comes out now, which may well suggest that some organisations opposed to stricter controls on emissions, or perhaps those organisations that make their money from fossil fuels, are seeking to discredit next week's discussions. If that is the case, then their PR people deserve a bonus for the amount of coverage this issue is getting!
Anyway, my good friend Iain Keith arrived there last night as a Global Campaigner for the Avaaz
organisation. Although Iain could explain better than myself, Avaaz seems to utilise the internet to connect people on political issues, such as human rights or the environment. It then uses its members to help build campaigns which are targeted at political leaders around the world.
Iain and I chatted briefly on some of the issues earlier and came to agreement, which I will try and get down in words...
Climate change activists should stop focusing on convincing people that climate change is 'real' and that humans play a role in this change. That is not to say that these messages aren't important, rather perhaps it is now time for the scientific community to discuss and validate these 'claims'. Instead, the focus should be put on the economic benefits that a shift to researching and developing renewable fuels and general 'green' living would enable.
We are in (or coming out of, depending on your views) a recession that will continue to impact the 'average man on the street' long into next year. There are millions of people without jobs in the UK alone and things are likely to get harder for our graduates (all those that couldn't get jobs after graduating in the summer will be joined by thousands more in 7-8 months).
Now, I don't claim to be an economist and I am sure many of my friends could join the dots a bit better than me but, if you can harness an argument that says to world leaders:
"Guys, there is now a latent industry that has sprung up around climate change. You see those guys outside with petitions?They all have jobs because of this issue.Have you heard of a Toyota Prius?Now that clearly wasn't made because it is fast or sexy. People spend thousands on that junk because they care about the environment. More than that... they care what people think and that they should care about the environment!Have you seen all those wind farms popping up everywhere?I'm guessing someone had to design those, build them, put them up and somehow capture the power and sell it. And it hasn't exactly had a negative affect on the oil price has it?!Have you ever read a CSR report?Companies are bending over backwards to show everyone how environmentally responsible they are. There are even organisations that consult on how you should best do that and other organisations trying to develop generic assessment and reporting mechanisms. That means there are jobs there that simply didn't exist a few years back.Do you get it?Climate change is real! Whatever the science says, there is an industry there to support the widely held belief that this stuff matters. We can't take away from the fact that people will keep investing in this stuff at a personal or corporate level so, instead, let's jump on the bandwagon.Let's stop arguing about bottom line emission targets in isolation and ascertain what these targets might mean for positive growth and employment if managed effectively."
I'm guessing I wouldn't be described as cynical if I was to say that, if there's money to be made, people will get behind a shift to developing new technologies, alternative fuels, and sustainable living. It's just about finding the argument that spells out to key decision makers how they can capitalise on this stuff. Then it won't just be publicly listed companies that are expected to put out CSR reports but perhaps countries too.