Glyndebourne

Lucky enough to get an interview with Gus Christie who is executive chairman at Glyndebourne, which will appear in Southern ON TRACK shortly. And a very nice man he was too.

I’d never been to Glyndebourne before, and it is in a beautiful area that made me think of Ralph Vaughan Williams and skylarks. We did the interview near a window, and swallows swooping through the courtyard kept catching my eye.

It turns out that Gus has a passion for wildlife, based on having studied Zoology at university, and having made wildlife documentaries for ten years. And our interview was largely about his efforts to make Glyndebourne a good deal more energy efficient using a wind turbine. He had a really unusual childhood, being brought up by the downs, with internationally famous artists from all over the world staying with his family. Glyndebourne was established by his grandparents, and was continued by his father. A real family business.

For me just being at Glyndebourne made me want to go to the opera again. I no opera buff, but have always enjoyed the experience. Something about the removed nature of Glyndebourne makes a perfect setting for sumptuous Operas.

I will post a link to the article here when it is published.

One little booth, one giant leap for sustainability

There are some ideas which when viewed retrospectively sound obvious. For example, when Percy Shaw invented cats eyes in 1934 to help people drive in foggy conditions, nobody seemed much interested, till future Prime Minister Jim Callaghan took them up for British roads in 1947 – and they became ubiquitous.

What On Track and Southern Railways are doing seems simple. In fact it’s a forehead slapping no-brainer. It’s the idea of linking the way you get to a place – the railway – with what you are going to do there, i.e visit The Brighton Festival. This, after all, is a festival with a growing reputation internationally and a flagship event for Brighton. And the modest booth pictured at Brighton Station is the first step in making this link explicit. It the beginning of an attempt to join the dots between travel, sustainability and your destination.

On Track are trying to promote the fact that simply by choosing to board a train rather than drive, you are actually doing something good for the planet. You can zoom down from London to Brighton knowing that you’ve a mouse’s carbon footprint. Crucially, you are already making a difference.

This is important. There is nothing more paralysing than guilt and hopelessness. Show people the everyday things they can do to make a difference, and pow! you have begun to nudge people towards a tipping point in their behavior.

And Brighton, of course, is one of the most sustainably minded cities in the UK, (don’t take my word for it, have a look at this interview I did with Thurstan Crockett Brighton’s sustainability guru). The Festival is part of the Brighton sustainability mix.

Watch this space.

the vanity of hacks

A text from my friend Spooner: Are you a journo-whore now? alerted me to the fact that Southern On Track mag was now out. So on my way to work picked up a copy. I’ve got three photos (although nowhere near my best ones) in it too. It’s also online, and here are my interviews with Andrew Comben and Thurstan Crockett (as well as the bit on the wood slick).

Something lurks in the heart of most writers: the familiar little glow, and the vain pleasure of seeing your name in print. It’s happened many times over the years, and each time it feels good. I like it best when it’s by a printed poem or story. One thing about working for an agency is that, despite my stuff being seen by literally millions of people, you almost never get your name printed.

As I write, I have one more week to go helping out at my old agency – and after groundhog day feelings abated, and I find I’ve enjoyed being invited back to familiar surroundings. But I am champing at the bit to get on with lots of new projects as soon as the week’s up.