The place to start – nice to meet youThe news – catch up on the latest stories, shows and projectsThe blog – indulge a few personal blatherings on various dead creative topicsThe press gubbins – grab the contact details, the bio and some goofy showbiz picsThe moving pictures – watch a selection of behind the scenes and music videosThe commissions – discover Momo's soundtrack workThe music – explore a little world of splendidly tuneful electro-beat tomfoolery
New Dorset safety initiative Coastwise encourages younger explorers to enjoy the Jurassic beaches more safely, thanks to an invitation from Love Love Films to local songwriting character Timo Peach.
If there’s one thing that leaps to mind when visitors and locals alike think of Dorset, it is the coast line – the county’s portion of the famous ‘Jurassic Coast’. But such a dramatic stretch of beaches, cliffs, marine life and geological history can harbour its hazzards for careless visitors. So, as avid champions of local creative and social life, when the team at Bournemouth production company Love Love were approached by Dorset Coast Forum about creating a new film to help children remember the essentials of coastal play, they jumped at the chance to get involved.
Bridget Betts, Dorset Coast Forum Coordinator explained “The Dorset coast is a fantastic place to visit and explore but unfortunately there can be dangers at the beach and along our coastline. We see news headlines where parts of the Jurassic coast have come down, people have got stuck by avoiding signs or children have been taken out to sea on inflatables. We therefore decided to produce an animated film that would deliver safety messages together in a fun and different way”
The team’s response was to design a cast of characters to lead youngsters around the points to remember.
Lead animator Sunny Clarke states: “It was really fun creating the different characters. They all have their own personalities and individuality. Creating different animations for them all was really interesting – so the lobster moves differently to the dog and the seagull is always getting into scrapes before finding a way out of trouble by following the advice of the song, we really hope the children enjoy the characters as much as we enjoyed creating them”
STRIKING THE RIGHT NOTE, FINDING A RIGHT SILLY SONGWRITER
To bring this to life musically, the team thought of Momo:tempo, and the voice characterisations of Mr Peach.
“As a Dorset boy, I felt I couldn’t turn down the chance to be involved,” says Timo. “Working with the Love Love gang is always super fun and they invited me in at an early stage to consider first the 20 key messages to get across in the songwriting and also the key characters who would be singing it, as it were. Probably not something all composers and producers would expect to be asked to do, but it didn’t seem an odd request between Love Love and Momo” he grins.
From a panama-sporting posh octopus to a starfish that sounds like one of the Mitchell brothers, the bloke from Momo created voices to help differenciate the colourful characters on screen that the creative team had come up with. And that was before getting to the music itself.
“Sitting around in the writers room working out scenarios from the team’s initial character designs and storyboard was immense fun. How we managed to keep in the starfish farting is still a marvel of creative conviction I feel” laughs Timo, “but then I had to go away and come up with an actual tune. And one that could somehow carry twenty different safety messages.”
Timo’s inspiration came from a week on a Dorset beach of his own.
“The lovely first lady of Momo and I were celebrating a rather special anniversary with a week in a beach hut at Christchurch last year, and the weather happened to be glorious. So I sat on the sand in the twinkling sunshine and tried to picture these marine characters communicating something of the life all around me there that summer. Once I’d come up with a basic hook I couldn’t stop humming, and an idea of something inclusive to the songwriting approach, I just had to craft in all the information as rhythmically and entertainingly as possible. Before going back to the studio and working out how the production and voices would really sound all together.”
“It was just the sort of three minute colourfully daft challenge I can’t resist” he adds.
The full results of his and the team’s work were unveiled to key partners and schoolchildren at a launch event in June 2017. The children were tested on the safety messages and the song seemed to help cement the key safety messages to remember when visiting the coat and seaside. The animation will be shown in coastal visitor centers around the UK, schools and numerous educational training platforms and programmes.
Rhiannon Jones from the Dorset Coast Forum said: “We LOVE it!!! It’s sooooo good – really brilliant work. It’s so catchy and the animation is really funny. I can’t wait to get it out there.”
And if you’d like to learn the song, to be ready for a test on coastal safety at a moment’s notice, here are the lyrics:
Let’s go! (let’s go)
And be (and be)
Where the squiggly line of the land
Meets the sea.
We’ll be your hosts
In this environment we like to call The Coast!
Wonderful life we can see
If we share it safely.
We leave (we leave)
We always check to see just what
The weather will be.
Sunscreen and shoes (and food!)
And a hat, a mac, a rucksack…
What we choose will
Help us prepare for a great day, in every way.
There may be rockpools,
There may be sand,
Between the shoreline and the land.
So here’s what to make sure you understand
Before we rush out and explore:
If you have eyes, then look!
Look where you tread –
Don’t touch anything dead!
Look at the cliffs and rocks –
Don’t go having your nosh
Where you’ll likely get squashed.
Look at the waves and tide –
If it’s blowing a gale,
Jumping in is a fail!
Look at the whole world a while –
And in an emergency,
999’s what you dial.
It’s always what you dial.
Stay sun safe (sun safe!)
Enjoy the surf, but
Always swim with a mate
In sight of the lifegaurd.
And don’t fight a rip current,
That’s, like, way too hard.
A world of adventure there’ll be
If we explore it safely.
Wear a lifevest; watch for drift.
Don’t follow stray pets off a cliff.
In your wellies or on a skiff,
Don’t ignore what you need to explore:
If you have eyes, then look!
Fossils and history –
Look for the landscape clues –
Don’t sink like lead
And don’t dig over your head.
Watch how the wildlife lives –
But don’t get a jellyfish caught
In your hair or your shorts…
Look for the safety signs!
And in an emergency,
999’s what you dial –
Always dial 999.
Written, performed and produced by Timo Peach, the bloke from Momo:tempo
And if you’d like to download the track for free, to drive your family mad in the car on the way to the beach, you can find it right here:
A dose of reality. That’s what it felt like. Even though it obviously wasn’t. Because what it was, was vacation. The kind of blue skies not easily found at home, one always imagines – but especially at the moment. A time of liberals wondering if their grand dreams have gone up in smoke, and everyone desperate for anything at all to lift the spirits.
I am a fan of the road trip. Driving the miles, provided you’re not trying to cover too stupidly many in the same pair of pants, shows you the landscape between your own front door and your hotel’s reception. Blasting along an autoroute at a hundred miles an hour is so much more natural than teleporting into Palma international by Airbus via the luggage carousel, don’t you think? Ah, modern life.
Actually this road trip was a lot more ‘natural’, as it turns out, as our old Audi’s aircon broke some years ago, and we were traveling in Europe’s June 2017 heatwave. Yeah. Breathe in the ‘natural’ after five hours of that. But nature and, well, health seemed to be the motifs of our little escape from the small-seeming shores of the UK, because being back on terra europa proper felt oddly like coming up for air. And even crevice sweat-spiked air tasted sweet compared to the toxic atmosphere of home this summer.
Choking on fumes.
I’m not sure what to say of the UK’s snap general election. Where, in the end, did it get us? Once again I felt I should carefully engage with the conversations about it all, as I’m not sure we’ve ever had so much facing us as a country worth talking through together. The country’s felt under seige since the farcical-seeming referendum result in 2016. At least to many of us. And so the rise of a much more human sounding Jeremy Corbyn and his engagement of young people at last really was hard to not cheer on with gusto for an old lazy progressive like me. But it prompted a bizarre hollowing out of the centre ground of old politics in the UK, with Prime Minister May’s manefesto and entire demeanor lurching to the right in ever more sickening turns. Her sheer ineptness at canvassing and, well, talking to fellow humans, was beyond reality and would have been incredulisingly hilarious if it didn’t represent such national weakness and desparing lack of political and humanitarian vision in the face of what I feel unable to put unpartisanly as a braying, mindless Tory right.
And while the vote in the end shook up the bitter empasse of the UK a little hearteningly, the Dickensian injustice and utter shame of the Grenfell Towers deaths heating the heels of the result so shockingly just underlined how much political and economic culture we have allowed to grow in the UK that is dehumanised. Sickeningly detached from a reflexive sense of shared values. Add two terror-inspired murder rampages and it’s no wonder my country feels weary and a little lost when it thinks about its place in the world today.
To wake up in leafy France, and then Germany and then Luxembourg, and watch their public spaces casually thrum with bicycles and trams and pedestrians, and different languages and different faces, while Macron charmed the G7 and Merkel finally allowed a free vote on gay marriage, and Bettel was… – wait, what was Xavier Bettel doing? Who cares, Luxembourg is charming. He was doing something to help Luxembourg be charming, presumably – was like like a reawakening.
All of which shows what a twitkopf I am when it comes to recognising reality. Because I was on a supposedly more-sustainable-than-flying driving holiday to visit some Green City design in a thirteen year-old diesel with the specific intention of visiting a museum dedicated to the history of flight. And all politicans eventually become saggy old gas bags, whatever their first language.
Lighter than air.
Freiburg is suspiciously healthy. But Freidrichshafen shows it’s scars. Both places had us thinking about the world some more.
Freiburg is well known in sustainability circles for its efforts in designing green ways of living. Its two districts of Vauban and Rieselfeld, nestled in the crook of the hills of the southern Black Forest, were planned at different stages to tackle better ways of running and living in residential quarters. A must on the list of visits for the lovely first lady of Momo, and I tend to need no persuading to swan around interesting modernist architecture and throughful public realmism. But then, I am subjectively a bit of a Europhile, as you know. And Freiburg looks exceptionally European. As does Freidrichshafen, glittering on the Bodensee, Lake Constance.
In both cities, lifestyle seems purposefully and duh-obviously built in. Like no one needed health and wellbeing and art and public good to be explained to them when they developed their buildings and public spaces. People bicycle relentlessly in Freiburg, to the point where I realised I was having to adopt a battle-hardened London-driving mental resilience on two wheels. Pinging my little glocke defiantly. And all along the route of the river bed that bisects the city north and south, young people are gathering in healthy looking groups of outdoor socialising, as many girls as boys playing basketball or football in the various courts and pitches along its length, and teens and lovers and youngsters all enjoying the long summer evenings backdropped by the forested mountains. No one looking overweight. Or impractically dressed. Or like they’d understand the concept of wanting to sit up late at night writing hate bollocks on message boards.
Lord knows what of this was any kind of real. But it was intoxicating to watch. Like we had awoken from a bad dream of bad air and bad language and dark expediency and explosively bad chemistry of so many political public figures clamouring to seize the fleeting title of Most Noxious Barrage Balloon of Britain. Like a gaggle of bulbous-headed Gerald Scarfe grotesques barking at the search lights as they loom above us in the night. Being away from the UK buoyed us above the Murdocks and Dacres and puppet Mays and Johnsons of little England’s current spell of terrible social weather.
Traveling from our few nights in the black forest, bicycling and hiking and watching sparrows fledge in the trees around our tent and attempting not to weep and hug every sensible German we saw as the week went on, our subsequent couple of nights in Friedrichshafen would provide more gentle lift to the spirits. Like Freiburg, it too was bombed heavily in the second world war but Freidrichshafen makes a point of it in the museum that was the point of our, well my, pilgrimage to the place. The Zeppelin museum.
Oh you know. Been an airship tit for many years. Said it before. There’s just something so otherworldly about those giant silver fish. And if ever you doubted that, you should step aboard a recreation of a section of the Hindenberg to appreciate just what a vast other world it was. A vision of grandeur and positivity that is, apparently, gone. Like a beautiful dream. Not a bad one.
For, yes, in the end the story of Baron Von Zeppelin’s determination to develop a large lifting lighter than air platform for mass transport does look like a thing out of time. An unrealism. A confidence too far. A hope blown to ashes. From testing his giant floating sausages to scare the Willhelmian children of the Bodensee, the eccentric Baron and his champion Hugo Eckener eventually lost their fight for a more dignified type of flight. Airships just couldn’t compete with fixed wing aeroplanes by the second world war and new economies took over.
Ahead of the times.
But. Finally visiting the lovely Bauerhaus museum on the waterfront there, after years of reading about the Graf Zeppelin and all the LZs and the vaguely ridiculous attempts at building airship fleets by the British and Americans during the 20s and 30s, I did wonder. Is it not so much that these enormous vehicles have had their day and are relics of another, more daring but more naiive time, but more that they are seeds of promise? Ideas whose time has not, in fact, yet come.
For these epic machines really did sow seeds in people’s imaginations. How often does the familiar alien shape of the large rigid airship hove like a truly hoveable object – perhaps the ultimate hoving thing – into the stories of alternate reality science fiction and fantasy? All the ruddy time these days, is the answer. What is it about them that makes us look up in a way that out-inspires the airplane or the rotary wing contraption? Is it simply that there is just something in the only thing that could put a grand piano in the sky with an entire cocktail lounge around it?
The Zeppelin was essentially a failure at war. I mean, no kidding. What a ridiculous thing. Although it’s true that it took a lot more tenacity and weapons R&D on the part of the Royal Flying Corps to shoot a baby killer out of the British skies during the first world war than you might imagine, bobbing along hugely and slowly and full-of-hydrogenly as they did, it’s also true that their potency for fear was never strategically quite enough to justify the risks to their German crews at the time. And while the legendary Hindenburg herself was only lifted from the drawing board into unearthily big cross section cradles because the National Socialist boss himself felt that potency for awe she could have with swastikas on her rudder fins, in the end, the Zeppelins never proved their worth even as supply platforms. The German-built bohemoths of the American 30s, the Macon and the Acron, were kind of ridiculous as aerial aircraft carriers – watching the flyboys trying to get on and off their dangling davits at 10,000ft is as frightening as it is funny. But the idea of them sounded cool to the American navy, that was the point. Cool enough to get actually commissioned and built. Both airships fell to bits in storms, I seem to remember.
What the Zeppelins did with aplomb was wow people. Just like those navy commissioners. And Hitler. And Hugo Eckener himself, turning up at Von Zeppelin’s house one summer day in his twentieth year to find out ‘what the hell the old man is up to up there’ for the local paper. They wowed people enough to build them, work on them in weird, hard and downright terrifying conditions in various measure, and pay a fortune to travel on them. The Graf Zeppelin clocked thousands of perfect service operation miles before she was, kind of unbelievably now, simply scrapped in 1940. After the newsreeled humanity of 1937, the market for airships lost all buoyancy and they vanished. From everywhere except our imaginations.
Could a blatantly peacetime role one day recur for them?
The question has long been, why would anyone bother? In a post-Concorde world, however, I wonder. Because it’s also a Space-X, Virgin Galactic world now. And a world with unrelenting cruiseship holiday ads, giving Rob Brydon apparently endless opportunities to enact new fake family lives. And, dare I suggest it, a world looking for new senses of wonder, and different ways of viewing the world.
While Google founder Sergey Brin is reportedly building an eccentric vanity project in the shape of a large airship in the Macon’s old hangers, the British Airlander project is putting some serious sounding effort into developing a new heavy lifting lighter than air platform. The hybrid airship design manages to harness a little old-fashioned lift into it’s fuselage shape, to aid the buoyancy system, an idea explored by Lockheed Martin to test stage already also. So there are people taking the idea seriously again today. Though, if I’m honest, it’s hard from a distance not to still wonder how excited a truly mass audience could get about a ponderous squidgy aircraft called ‘the flying bum’ by bystanders. They look like wallowing blobby turds sooner than sleek silver fish. Perhaps, sadly, a grand new vision of new human dominance just isn’t ready. We’re not ready. For that kind of positive symbolism.
Still, I will admit that the Airlander’s presence in the sky with that low hrum of fans triggers the ol’ awe reflex as ever anything of its kind did. And that may still be the idea’s promise – something about it feels like it should be just the sort of thing we’d all be doing. If only we had the real vision to get it off the ground properly.
Over the rainbow.
Perhaps the airship represents where we are right now. Something that has both had its time and not yet reached its potential. Like the green movement of the 1970s. It held such promise, yet faultered in the face of boom money and easy finance taking over government. The airship foundered on politics and war. Too fragile, in the end, to survive either at the time. Freiburg and Friedrichshafen both grew into their modern lifestyles partly out of the destruction of war. As did all of Germany, really. Destruction at the hands of my countrymen, I might have thought, standing in front of the large images of bomb damage in the Zeppelin museum. Destruction brought on its own head, you might say, looking at the pictures alongside of Hitler’s slave labour in the same town.
Destruction wrought by competing storms of power, in fact, internal and external. Not unlike the squall of Brexit.
The unexpected thing we walked away with from the Zeppelin museum was a sense of humanity. Not simply of all the individuals it tried to pay respect to in the long story of a bonkers vision, but of redemption from suffering. For the Zeppelin Company’s post-war, post-reparations role in the second half of the twentieth century emerged to be as boringly disappointing sounding as it was actually brilliant for a battered, scarred town – an asset management company, bequeathed to the town by the late, crazy Baron. A man who found his true vocation only when forceably retired from the military in later life. The profits from the company’s management over the years have been ploughed into the arts and education and social care.
You never know what might fall into the ground as a seed when even your dreams appear to die.
But, seeds of a bonkers new way of doing things might yet be sprouting through the dry earth again. And if the airship is anything, as all it’s fans and investors always felt, it is a symbol. Perhaps even a floating weathervane pointing towards a better future, head to wind. I will often vote for an inspiring symbol; I voted Green in my general election in the end, not because I thought they could stop the war between corporate and social needs today, but because they were the only party on my ballot paper pointing towards a true vision of the future. A vision that has helped to plant a seed in me of a world beyond the bullshit of now in a fundamental way. Not high above it on a silver cloud, but fingers in the soil. A vision that might yet have me myself work out how to come down from my fanciful highs and one day kneel in the vegetable bed.
Because it is, I have never been surer, the truly human-shaped ways of doing things that will change the world for the sustainably doable better. And one of the symbols of that may just happen to appear in the sky one day, kind of sausage shaped.
Not every encouraging thing may be primarily practical, y’know. Or profoundly green. Or significantly more profitable. The things humans most prize tend to be symbolic – perhaps of higher ways of doing things. Because such things infect our imaginations and lodge in our outlooks. Our motivations. They make us feel better. Healthier. More naturally us.
You can call it unrealistic. I call it real hope. Something we can’t afford a vacation from.
Hosting Jazz By The Sea Festival’s celebration of global musical influences for his second year, the bloke from Momo got to meet five acts across one swealtering day in June, in Lighthouse Poole’s Sherling Studio. But, getting more involved with the festival this year, Mr Peach admits that at one point the finale show demanded a little extra creative thinking – producing a few additional sweats.
A week of music across Bournemouth and Poole in the heart of the south coast. That was the aim of the third year of the Bournemouth Jazz Festival – rebranding in 2017 to Jazz By The Sea. And what a week it was, with some forty venues hosting all manner of bands and music, exploring the broad spectrum of jazz. From headline names and spaces, such as James Taylor Quartet at Mr Kyps, Incognito at Canvas and Radio 2’s Clare Teal in Lighthouse Poole’s concert hall, to a wealth of talent from the area popping up in music venues, bars and cafés almost everywhere, it seemed. Swing, blues, beats and bebop and consumate improv chops on display at every turn. Tom Gwyther even spent five days driving a jazzmobile around town, stopping for regular lunchtime recitals at Bournemouth University and showcasing musical skills from the branded back of a truck.
And as a bit of a finale to the sunshine-filled week, Timo Peach was invited to host this year’s selection of names to bring musical flavours and heritage together from around the world, The World Jazz Jamboree. And it signalled a deeper involvement in the festival for him this year.
“I really enjoyed meeting new names to me at last year’s Jambo,” he says, “and I felt drawn to accept the team’s kind invitation to join them in putting together the 2017 festival. It just seemed like a natural thing for Momo to help encourage.”
JAZZ BIG BRAND, BABY
Although public duties would take Mr Peach to the stage as host, creative energies for this year he restricted to brand developmental, rather than musical, with Momo:typo shaping the new logo, messaging and outline campaign for Jazz By The Sea.
“I’d love to bring the Momo:tempo Electro Pops Orchestra’s new line-up to the festival, ” he grins, ” but this year didn’t seem like the right moment for this, for me. You can spread yourself too thin with excitement. Or I certainly can. With other work in development in the studio, I’ve yet to put the wheels back on the live shebang for Momo, and it felt more the thing to help shape a new visual chapter for the festival – a fun opportunity to help the team take the vibe of the week up a notch. A great invitation to make a new name for itself with, well, a new name! Building nicely on the success of the first two years. It was an invitation I couldn’t resist from Gerry.”
Founder Gerry Clarke spearheaded the formulation of the third year, drawing on a rich network of south coast based musical talent and unearthing some gems from out of town, Timo reflects.
“Gerry is the engine of the festival and brings a lifetime of entrepreneurial energy to it. And this year really tapped into the network of venues and musicians to bring a growing sense of shared party across town.”
The visual vibe drew deliberately on the most obvious references – Blue Note-style LP covers. And for the press launch in March, the team produced 12″ folders and content.
“Well, press launches should be fun. And I had a hunch everyone would love the big record format,” says Timo. “And this is a still fairly new jazz festival. I felt the thing to nail clearly was that tone – a classy but graphic sense of jazz. It helps to place people unambiguously and build a basic sense of qualification to build on and play with in coming years. Not unlike writing a score – help people feel just what’s going on before you begin to subvert the story. And what’s going on, is jazz, baby.”
WORLD ARTISTS, MAN
“And then there is the World Jazz Jamboree – and once again, I got to be a kid in a sweet shop. ..And also, for a little while there, a grown-up in a sweat box.”
Moving to Lighthouse Poole for 2017, the Jamboree took place in a setting that all musicians subsequently loved playing. Although one of the artists in particular did earn a bit of a story out of the experience, as Timo explains.
“In the heatwave of this week’s weather, we not only tested the comfort of the wonderful but un-airconned Sherling Studio, we had traffic challenges before folk even arrived” he grimmaces,” which for a host could be a worrying development. The M3 motorway was allegedly closed for some of the morning and then… well, then our early evening name had his band half marooned by buckled train tracks.”
Cuban Violinist and composer Omar Puente was due to bring songs from his ecclectic and deeply personal new LP, Best Foot Forward. Due to open the two evening sessions, following the infectious township grooves of incredibly local band Thokazile Collective, the lyrically summery Brazillian perfection of Mônica Vasconcelos and the almost Morriconesque interpretations of Gianni Berengo Gardin’s beautiful photography from Tommaso Starace, who opened the Jamboree at lunchtime, the 7.00pm artist arrived with two of his bandmates, but missing three others.
“‘They are stuck in a tunnel’ Omar said to me,” recalls Timo.
“‘Where?’ I asked. ‘Southampton’ he replied. ‘This is an hour away at least from Poole’ I rejoined blithely ‘and you’re on in an hour.’ He looked at me just as calmly and said: ‘We’ll make something work.'”
Making something work meant opening the session a little late and then creatively filling while Mssrs Peach and Clarke fielded telephoned assurances that the rest of the lineup were on their way.
“We had keen audiences for the five shows of the Jambo,” says Timo, “and they were queuing in the hallway ready for the doors to open. So I had to jovially inform them of progress periodically before we committed to admission and Omar went on with just lead singer Caroline and very well furnished percussionist Flava. But I introduced them as a live example of ‘building a band’ and made a sort of thing out of it. They then made showmanship pluckily until I could swan in and theatrically introduce the bassist, drummer and guitarist, fresh from the taxi. By the end of their set, the crowd were on their feet and stomping along.”
“I never broke a sweat about it” Mr Peach concludes.
With the much loved global dub of Soothsayers finishing the day with tight brass and vocals highlighting thoughtful global worldview over their big summer grooves, the World Jazz Jamboree was a fitting send off to the Jazz By The Sea Festival 2017. And responses across social media and the press resound it as a success to build on again next year.
“I loved being part of the set up of the festival and getting to meet who I did was wonderful. Idris and the Sooths were as impressive to finally hear live as I’d heard they’d be – they arrange such a strong but interesting sound with sax, horn and three-part vocals over the big backline talents, but it’s their commitment to challenging perceptions of the world that really elevates their skills beyond the party. And Monica’s sound was a creative delight for a summer afternoon. We ran out of her CDs – best pal Julian nobly gave his up for an audience member having travelled internationally to join me for the music. While Omar was a true showman across his creative versitility and meeting Caroline and Flava from his group was, like everyone in the Sherling that sweaty summer day, an inspiration of professionalism.”
“Dropping into some of my favourite venues during the week where I could was great also, like Sixty Million Postcards for a little homecoming set from the mighty talent Mutant Vinyl and the joyfull cabaret fun of Bomo Swing at Chaplins Cellar Bar. To say nothing of bobbing about on the jazz boat in a dazzling summer afternoon in Poole Harbour on the final Sunday afternoon, so my sincere thanks must go to Gerry and to all of my team mates at the fest for making such super musical memories for me and many.”
“And I deliberately took Tommaso’s Italian Short Stories and a couple of Soothsayers LPs with me with me to embed into my holiday memories around Europe the week after. In a summer full of grim stories in the UK, I am reminded of the power of inclusive creative events and music to lift the soul. A pleasure to be a part of it. And I think what it reminded me most of all was the sheer wealth of musical skill and heart in my home town – there is a live jazz night somewhere almost every day of every week here, and it showed during Jazz By The Sea again. Just think of a band like Dan Somogy’s Thokazile Collective – it’s a bit of a supergroup of folk from musical life locally, but they sound like they are from the whole world.”
“We were even approached by local jazz supermind Bob Hill from The Illicit Grooves Radio Show to run his own Grooves On The Fringe fest all week concurrently, warming up for Incognito at Canvas and DJing whole nights elsewhere each evening. Imagine if we could book some of his favourite artists live for next year? Here’s to the 2018 party, I say.”
WATCH MOMO MEET TOMMASO STARACE AT THE WORLD JAZZ JAMBOREE:
WATCH MOMO MEET MONICA VASCONCELOS AT THE WORLD JAZZ JAMBOREE:
It’s a good question. Especially in the last days before a very tangled seeming general election, here in the UK. To untangle the clamouring claims and rebuffs, journalistic frameworks and fake news, our vote surely boils down to what is most important to us – what we value most. Who comes closest to representing that? Or to working in the direction of whatever this is. They will warrant our tick in the booth, no? We should talk about this.
A secondary question worth holding in the other hand, I would suggest, is: If we value something, how do we value it?
ATTACK, AND COUNTER ATTACK.
Our third indiscriminately murderous terrorist co-ordinated act since the spring. Shut down in a staggeringly impressive eight minutes flat by the capital’s security teams, but claiming eight lives so far, with nearly fifty other random individuals injured. The murmering social sound of Saturday night in the world’s most relaxedly cosmopolitan city shreiked apart by cry, gunshot and siren. For eight minutes, at least. Makes us ask, how do we value this way of life that is, we tell ourselves, ‘essentially part of what it means to be British’. Free. Colourful. Open.
What is it worth to us? And what is the currency of freedom?
Two attacks from apparent Islamist fascistas in one election. This is surely likely to divert the flow of the nation’s considerations, isn’t it? And yet, this was supposed to be the general election about >gah!< Brexit. Yet barely anyone has talked at length about that. And not a single leader has proposed any details about what they will be offering the nation as our negotiators with Europe during the next parliamentary term – because, how could they? We’ll be in the hands of beaurocrats slogging out the technicals for most of the time, not politicians. And it is Europe who will ultimately decide how we leave our agreements of partnership with them. What politicians will do is set the tone of the conversation. The relationship.
The way we talk is a pretty good indication of how we value something. Or someone. Tone. Friend or enemy. Indifferent or interested. Closed or open. Engaged or disconnected. Diplomacy is all about such theatre. The reality of how humans work, far from the spreadsheets and legal precidents. While singing from a hymn sheet, a speaker’s body language can broadcast the real story. Which is why a world leader will likely stand rigidly behind a podium when responding to national tragedy, to attempt to make the careful words the only signal. Theresa May did this on Sunday morning, outside number ten.
Her words were in line with how she has spoken on official occasions as PM before. She declared she was being clear and unambiguous. And she deployed some of the language of Britishness – refering to “Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights” and “pluralistic British values”, urging us to “continue to function in accordance with our values” and to “live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom”.
But the PM’s speech also included this: “Enough is enough” she said, “something has to change.” Reflecting a horrifying loss of life in the last fortnight alone, it’s a phrase that any Brit might say today. Children cut down at a concert in Manchester, visitors mown down on London Bridge. Something has to change. But what? It is ‘our shared values’ that are being targeted by terror movements linked to Islamist fanaticism. What is to be the cost of them to us?
In an election in which the middle political ground has collapsed in the national conversation, and the media stories pose hard-right against hard-left, invoking old ideologies, old demons and old comfort blankets of thought, the leader of the Conservative party has fared increasingly badly. Theresa May has abjectly avoided all confrontation. No debates on the media. Policed questions from any public appearances, which have been weirdly few. Brittle rehearsed lines in interviews. She is not someone at ease talking about ideas, and she has looked increasingly uncomfortable with direct challenges on anything. While Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has begun to redefine an electorate’s expectations of how candid – how human – its politicans could appear to be.
So Mrs May tried to come out fighting. There at the podium in front of Number Ten. Because, with one phrase, she may have declared war.
“We have been far too tolerant of extremism.”
What does this mean? And who the hell is “we”?
COST AND REAL COST.
This election, I have postulated elsewhere, is about the story we each think we are in. Every election is. What narrative are you wanting to help write? A disaster mitigation movie, or an old utopian dream? Are there any of those left? I don’t think anyone in this UK General Election feels filled with encouragement about the feel of it. Everyone I talk to feels torn. Lots of people are undecided. And while Corbyn has been outclassing May as a human being conversing with other human beings, the reactionary anti-socialist story has been dug out of mothballs and thrown at the Labour leader so much, friends of mine – friends of mine, alive now, caring, thoughtful humans – are throwing around memes about anti-patriotism and the ‘terrifying’ prospect of this genial elbow-patched polytechnic tutor leading ‘our nation’. Add to that, the debate histrionics about whether he would push the nuke button or not, and we have good folk being moved away from rational consideration. Stories buried in our souls are being tapped into here, and it’s releasing stored drama. And all while none of the main parties are actually outlining any kind of plot for the future.
The story is that, with backs against the wall, the English will vote Tory. And it seems always true. With Scotland lost to Labour now, the main opposition party in the UK is really looking only at denting the government’s majority in the commons. But it’s a tighter race than many expected. And this is undoubtedly because we all feel torn – between wanting a more human future and wanting a more certain economically secure one.
But if the Conservatives are always the damage limitation party at least, when we consider security and economy, how are they earning this vote default today? How is Theresa May convincing you with her manifesto? And with her body language.
How do we break down the way Theresa May’s work in government values our British values. What does her statement mean?
Firstly, have you been tollerant of extremism? Because, you are clearly a villain if you have. Tacitly supporting a jihad on children. You. Always thought your eyes were too close together. What the hell does this mean? Is the Tory leader blaming British people for our indifference? I hardly think the outpouring of charity, courage and clear-headed help have looked like that. All that has looked like British values to me.
So have the British systems been tollerant of extremism? Who ran those for the last six years or so? Theresa May, as Home Secretary. Has she admitted failure? Nothing like this kind of language used, of course. Wouldn’t sound strong or stable. But if something has to change, as she says, what of the policies over the last decade were wrong? Immigration was the key issue in Brexit and she had the keys to this, officially. Intelligence is always believed to be the key to counter terrorism. She had the keys to this as well. And she locked up much of the police service’s effectiveness by cutting numbers of officers on the ground. The police themselves, in Manchester and London, are saying it is cuts that have led directly to failures of security. A simple line in a complex situation that is still chillingly relevant to policy planning. Would the Conservatives change any of this?
And would they like to change the idea of being the world’s second largest arms exporter? Are jobs of any kind more valuable than what they are paid for by?
And who we sell those arms to. Would Theresa May’s strength and stability ever enbolden her to have the difficult conversations with our largest single ally in the middle east for the sake of the British values of justice, charity and children? Could she ever be a leader of a party that thinks more commitedly about ways to need the economic relationship with Saudi Arabia to quite such the same degree, weening our own economy off oil supplies? I doubt it.
Why did the Conservatives cut police numbers? Because of the story they told us we are in. One of profligate spending by New Labour that demanded cutbacks to bring down the repayment deficit on our national debt, and maybe even the debt itself one day. We have to ‘spend within our means’ they said, and cut social wellfare costs and public services. Nurses, police, emergency services, immigration staff, local authority budgets – all reduced. To be fair and sensible with the way we spend as a nation.
Why did we balloon the national debt? The banking crisis, put simply. Our entire economic system was under threat, and we had to print money to save it. Britian PLC bailed out the banks to the tune of more money than you or I will ever practically understand. All western nations did it, in a panic, with the IMF and the EU and the US praying feverishly. It just about worked. But it pushed nations like Greece into penury, for fareness. And why? Because for a generation, our economic system has not just been built on labour units and wages, scarcity and supply, but on financialisg debt. Betting on people’s failure. Easy, talentless money – and we all got addicted to it in our exchequers. The Conservatives depleted the UK’s manufacturing base in favour of a service economy, including finance. New Labour surfed it, but Margaret Thatcher helped force it into the national identity. Demolishing communities that relied on coal as fast as she could. Valuing the economic shift more than who we took with us or lost in the process.
What is the probem with the UK economy now? One word will cover much of it – productivity. The measure of ‘what goes in and what comes out’ for the UK is now lagging behind Europe by nearly 20%, and behind the US by rather more. The cost of making stuff and how fast we can do it has all but flatlined since the banking crisis. And living standards tend to reflect such patterns. It’s not a virtuous circle we are in here. And it’s very free-market addiction issues that can be pointed to for causing this lack of productivity – crumbling under-investment in infrastructure, the growth of unskilled, cheap labour, and an over-dependence on the financial sector, rocked and diminished as it was by the crisis. Which means…
The shape of the challenge is the tax base. An ever-breathing source of oxygenation of a nation’s financial lifeblood. The Conservatives value financial wealth and the rich, aspiring to help everyone work to get it in their shared ideals, and not wishing to put off large investors and job creators with burdensome seeming demands from the exchequer. Low tax on business, incentives for large employers to base themselves here. So if they don’t want to increase taxation on anyone high up, lest we ‘scare off big players’ that leaves… cutting spending. And who does this hurt?
The poor. The young and aspiring. Those looking for education and skills training. The vulnerable. And, by degrees, this must inevitably diminish the general economic viability of our society. The more we are socially divided, the less productive and cohesive we will be. If we have to squabble about basics, the big vision stuff gets pulled out of our national conversation. If everywhere we go, fresh homeless are asking for money and help, our collective sense will increasingly be of failure, despair, gloom, resignation, embarrasment. Fear. And the answer isn’t to retreat inside a gated community like the super rich – for this timidly avoids the problem.
How do these emotional states impact the human mind? Individually, but also collectively. It’s not going to be good, is it. It’s not going to be… oh, what’s the word… inspiring.
What DO we value – and why? If we regularly hold up the NHS and its staff, service people in the armed forces, and police and security personnel as professionals and heroes of service, how do we value them? What do our values really mean? Will we spend on them? Or are they less valuable than some other things? Honestly. Things like a new nuclear deterrant to point at foreigners. Things like new nuclear powerstations to be built and owned by foreigners.
These are our values, are they? Weapons of mass destruction and offshore profits.
And is this sustainable?
PRODUCTIVITY – AND REAL CONTEXT.
We surely value our national service personal so highly, having NHS staff dance to fill a stadium at our olympic opening ceremony, because they remind us of how humanitarian the UK can be. We are similarly proud of our arts and culture in this country. Music, festivals, literature, theatre, film, radio, the visual arts. The work of vision. The work of looking at ourselves. The work of developing the tools to design the future – of innovation and engineering. So can we build a future that works for who we really are.
Context is everything. We each work and live in one. And it shapes who we are and what we do. What we are not, is robots. So much so that the coming immediate future will see millions of jobs lost to them – outsourced to automation. So for what good are humans? What are we useful for – meant to do? And how do we do things to the best of our ability?
We value things in more ways than we think. Economists boil down all our comings and goings into theoretical values of cash and it can look like witchcraft, such analyses. Insights of patterns that can make politicans feel like Gandalf. But humans instinctively value things in other ways. Time, being the main one. How do you most spend that?
Add up the time you spend doing things. It will give you an instant bar chart of what you’ve invested your life in. And, as someone once said, where a person’s treasure it, there too is their heart.
Where is your heart?
Where is mine?
Where is the UK’s?
Because enthusiasm for something spends time without even noticing. Is productive without even considering it so. Generates energy. Sports, family, creativity, nature, travel. All things that can cost money but fill the heart with gold. A different kind of currency in play with the supposed certainties of old money. Interesting, no?
The Conservatives have abjectly failed at boosting productivity. What is missing is… inspiration. Real investment. Investment in ideas. In what it means to be human. We are not excited about cuts. But we cannot keep building growth on a collapsing financial system. So what do we do?
We must surely begin to recognise – SEE – what we are already valuing differently.
The three bottom lines. Heard of them? Three things that the lovely first lady of Momo mentions often in her work as principles she has always looked to balance correctly for the best human outcomes in anything to do with the public realm. But really, for anything to do with humans. Social, environmental, economic. The three measures we must meet together when we attempt anything.
There is an entire essay in exploring these. But who of our politicians is planning around them? Properly. Using these measures as wise metrics for what might work for our nation. For people across the world. How all three elements of what we are are bound together – there is no economic benefit with environmental and social knock on. There is no social benefit without economic and environemental knock-on. Balance is what is needed. To make everything flow – grow – much more healthily.
Who is telling that story? The Greens. I’ve only just begun to glimpse it myself, the sheer scale of the realty opening up around us now. Far outscaling the tiny mean measure of story we are caught up in in our bitter, bonkers, grimply inevitable and strangely surprising 2017 General Election. We have to pick out battles, and there are points in time, moments in the game of progress, when you have to take a stand, defend a corner, attempt a little win in the right direction. For this reason, I have engaged in debate on line, attempting to understand other points of view as best I can as a passionate humanitarian and pompous arse. As will become apparent when I launch some of what I have been up to in the background soon, I believe in a future that can only happen if we include everyone. If we plan to be radically inclusive.
It is a weird measure of our society that what is most natural for us to do is often villified as too radical. Like living within our ecological means. Not endlessly digging resources out of one planet and burning them once only with toxic waste, and manufacturing unbinnable rubbish we don’t really need by the mountain load. This is radical. And our old economic story is living within our means.
And our values are backwards.
Except, are they? I doubt yours are. We just have to recognise them.
What would happen if we recognised them together? And truly shared them.
A revolution in wellbeing – in human being – might be sewn.
Sauntering from Churchill to Ghandi without even noticing. What a bleeding heart I am, eh?
From Parliament Square, a week before the 2017 UK General Election, I find myself asking: What happened to progress? And what is the tale we tell ourselves we are part of? What story are we tacitly voting to write into history?
For me, the only vote that feels pointing in the right direction is for The Green Party. Only they are joining up the subplots and fables into the arc we are really all part of. The human-planet story. Everything else is distraction. Cartoons. By facing the fearsome reality we none of us want to look in the eye, we will also be unlocking the future’s possibilities. And voting for who we think we are.
It’s made easier by the impressive performances of the party’s two leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. They’ve looked like statesmen compared to almost everyone else. But theatre and personality aside, it’s about what we can keep doing or not, and how honestly a political movement dares to articulate this. Sustainability. Not unicorn promises. The Greens have some of the most fantastical sounding – four-day weeks, Universal Basic Income – but they’re based on realistic ideas of what makes us us – human. The old economic story is collapsing. And this election has been one of the most backwards-looking, unprogressive, isolationary, fiction-peddling, gloomy national conversations in living memory. An abject lack of vision. Leadership. Reality.
On the morning the world is discussing the Tump presidency officially recanting the Paris Climate Accord, our country is choosing whether to hold his hand or not. As though the challenges of a planet shifting its relationship with us can be ignored in favour of ‘safe’ seeming arcane narratives. Who will these stories comfort at bedtime, in the end? And who will have a rude awakening?
Well, I know this. The bigger our fears, the more we must face them – or the deeper they will bury our confidence. The job of leadership is to encourage the confidence of vision. The hope, dare I say it, of a new dawn. Light breaking over the horizon, if only we’ll remove the eye mask to see it.
Here in the potential nightmare of now, I hear a lot of desperate noise and smell a lot of smoke. To deal with the drama and avert a real crisis, I think it’s time we turned the lights on. And looked honestly at how to keep them on.
For a few more thoughts on this sort of thing, watch Momo’s considerations on the morning Article 50 was triggered by the UK government: Resonance >
How to respond. A week on, it feels as if the people of Manchester, in the wake of the horrifyingly pointless tragedy of the Arena, have taken the country’s politicians to school. Miles away in the south, I am just another helpless watcher. As I am of yesterday’s news of the latest massive bomb in Kabul. Helpless. Useless. But watching my fellow humans in the UK manage themselves immediately after Ariana Grande’s concert in a city renowned the world over for the music it has filled people’s hearts with simply felt like a defiant, common sense dose of hope in dark times.
To all still reeling through a tunnel of shadows, my heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine. Yet your humanity, offered in your moment of shocking loss, is doing more for us than you know.
Those taken by this are suddenly gone. But they are not lost.
From my personal Facebook page, this is my post from the day after the event.
“I am so tired. Of all the bullshit. It all depends who is farting down your particular news tube to cloud your view of the world, I know. And to imagine we haven’t always lived in a steadily bobbing sea of bullshit is to admit you had it easy for a time. Which is to be grateful for, mercifully. Today, the no-BS, instinctive getting-on-and-helping of everyone in Manchester reminds us that the story of us sharing the British Isles, like the story of us sharing the planet, is no simple tale of cartoon villains and heroes, but much much more complicated and gradingly lit and shaded. Between my little helpless weeps here and there today, ordinary folk in Manchester have reminded me that humans thrive not on soul-dead disconnection from one another, but on helping each other. They have simply behaved like they see straight through the bullshit and have gotten on with what matters in the real moment. Bitching, sniping and cheating for your tiny corner of the pie feels like a deadening fight. Making a society of this, an economic system of this, slowly kills us all. Helping a stranger, holding a little one in a nightmare, feels like a life affirming triumph. Like real riches. It feels like hope up close. And it glitters from afar.
Make that who we are in all things, UK. Make it that. ”
A comforting figure from my childhood died this week. An out of the blue comment alerted me to a blog post from eight years ago that I had quite forgotten on the subject. And the commenter in question has a rather pertinent relation to the post, it turns out.
John Noakes. A wonderful broadcaster, when children’s TV didn’t have to shout to be heard.
A brand new chapter, a brand new visual brand language. Much of the old mucking about – but all of it pointing forward for new times with Momo.
Is it finally time? The bloke from Momo seems to think so. “Time to begin revealing what I and others have been up to with Momo – though this is just a beginning,” he says. “The beginning of the future.”
Transforming the visual of an idiosyncratic music project like Momo:tempo might afford lots of room for play, you might think. But as Bournemouth creative Timo Peach says, you’ve always got to stay true to your identity.
“Momo’s previous style was a truthful expression of this daft creative musical world I live in. Momo:tempo in the Thespionage years sounded especially spy-caper somewhere in the mix, and it was a fab little world to inhabit. But since then, I’ve been turning my attention forward – and working on a project that may be an even more truthful expression of all that I love” he says.
“We won’t be revealing the project itself for a month or so yet, but much has been happening behind the scenes,” he explains “and the new look unveiled today is the first expression of its tone and attitude. We’re heading towards the future with Momo in all manner of ways – and there’s an awful lot to come.”
But keeping the right tone is still a balancing act?
“For sure. Momo is playful, and I’m a slightly goofy Englishman abroad as a character in the middle of it,” he says, “and broadly this will never change. So all that we developed here has to still keep a good twinkle in its eye. But Momo is perhaps as much an art project as it is a musical one, and all my wider creative work seems to be bleeding past its borders more and more as I go on.”
“I love the idea of exploring the space between the dancefloor, the cabaret theatre and the gallery. And this is where we start.”
Support and development.
Developing and building beneath the surface is long time friends and Createful art director, Toby Pestridge. “And he’s developed a lovely set of tools under the bonnet to use. I’m really looking forward to using it more” says Timo.
“We’re about to roll out a new Mercato shop – built as we speak but being shaken down. Which is going to be so super to build up things – have loads of ideas for posters and tees, over time. But I suppose the thing I’m most looking forward to is developing my relationship with my family of amigos, and seeing it grow. I think we can have some adventures together with the new work and I think it’s going to get them ALMOST as excited as I am about it.”
“For now, this is just the beginning. Of an adventure bigger than I’ve dared try before. I’m a long way from shore in my little ship this year, redirecting everything that Momo is. But I’m loving the direction we’re heading, at least. Let me know when the water biscuits run out and we’re all at sea for real, won’t you…”
The popular south coast creative scene podcast opened its second season with the bloke from Momo, asking him what on earth he thought art was. At least, they got an answer to this question, whatever it was they asked.
When Nabil and Viraj asked Timo to join Life’s A Pitch, our man was chuffed – for he would be joining some real alumni from the central south agency landscape, most of whom know what they’re talking about to inspiring degree, while Mr Peach is ‘just a bloke in a shed’. Thankfully, the boys are interested in all manner of creative experiences as their developing series explores what it means in the twenty teens to be working as a professional maker and communicator.
The results here are a glimpse into the wider creative world of Momo and you can judge for youself if you get any more out of it than Bob the alien.
When Momo was invited to close the inaugural Open Sauce in October last year, he decided to hint at things to come, addressing some ideas that are driving his next big project.
It involved, uncharacteristically for him, writing and learning word-for-word a very exact performance – for the successful south coast ideas networking event formats its speakers into Pecha Kucha-style delivery – twenty slides of twenty seconds each, timed.
The result was something special, though as the accompanying article below, written for the Open Sauce magazine on the night, sets out, Timo Peach himself hardly considers himself an obvious hero for change.
Living on the edge of tomorrow.
Music artist, wordist and creative, Timo Peach – the bloke from Momo:tempo – has been thinking about the shape of the future. And is trying to work out how to cope with it.
“I think, for me, this is a start. Nothing more impressive. Certainly not a conclusion of any kind. Just a dim awareness of a beginning in a restless fug. Much like the end of Farming Today when my radio alarm first goes off. It makes no sense, but I’m pretty sure something’s going on in a field somewhere, so frighteningly early the stars are still out.
I thought I had thought about the future a fair bit since being in the present. Grew up drawing spaceships as instinctively as drawing at all, and I know I speak for a chorus of other nerds when I say that all our spaceship fantasies are long overdue now, thanks. I think this has something to do with expectations. The sort that come from stories I grew up with. We all grew up with. That came from the culture their writers were also born into – a sort of industrious confidence, even questionable arrogance, that still has the power to make me say “OOooh…” at the news that our nearest foreign star, Proxima Centauri, has an Earth-like planet in it’s ‘Goldilocks zone’, a tantilising mere 40trillion kilometres away. I mean, surely that’s not so far if we really put our minds to it?
Last summer, the first glimmer of an idea dawned on me. As this idea for my next grand artistic endeavour began to take shape on scribbled layout pads around the studio, I began to really think about the future. And quickly began to realise that I’d never really thought it through properly before. Because, if I had, I might not want to think about it ever again.
STAR TREK, OR ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK?
I don’t mean thinking about how I really should have done something about a pension by now. I mean that futurey future – trying to predict exactly when my robot manservant will be clever enough to do the hoovering and the dishes and cheap enough so that an indolent chump like me can afford one but still stoopid enough not to suddenly twig its life would be much more logically efficient with me efficiently dead. Oh, wait. ..Isn’t that right now?
The future is a minefield. With numbers and concepts to boggle the mind. Think about bots and bio engineering for too long and you begin to wonder where our humanity will be, not long from now.
But, hang on, you might say – where is our humanity now? Doesn’t today have enough worries of its own? Tomorrow will take care of itself. And it’s true, you wise sausage, we don’t need to fret about the impending singularity to break out in a cold sweat and wrap our hazmat suits in duck tape. Who can understand all we are connected to already, like a human flood over Cornflakes? Who could ever do emotional justice to each single news item in one day, today? At what swipe count am I officially a bad person? And will it be obvious on Facebook?
Coping with the present, with more than empty bad language, is challenge enough. I tend to feel a bit useless every day, in some way. But tomorrow is being shaped by the echoes of today. Which means we all need to think about the story we are collectively writing already. ..Awkward silence.
This is, in fact, the point I’ve come to – that we sort of already are in that conversation, at least in the background radiation of our culture. Because those fearsome concepts of the future aren’t, well, alien to us any more. Creative imagineers have long started our collective therapy, helping us prepare for various frankly terrifying possibilities that those sickos have dreamt up and we are probably now developing. So now we’re all armed with at least a basic understanding of some fairly far-out concepts. Soon to be all too close to home.
It surely means that you and I, plugged into the future as we are right now in such an unprecedented way, can properly start talking about the practical roadmap for tomorrow. You and me. So that we can as clear-headedly as possible work out where the hell we ought to have been starting from by now in the first place.
SILENT RUNNING OR THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY?
Exploring a creative business life remarkably loose at the defining boundaries, Momo has taught me one thing if anything: I’m no data pin-up. I can’t exactly boast of numbers or names. No grand figures on the CV in any respect. Nothing to light up a spreadsheet or a Wiki page. Which could even mean that in the digital future of right now, I don’t even properly exist. Round-downable to zero, you might say. I’m behind you.
If only my ‘green footprint’ were so insignificant. At the ‘sensible’ end of my business spectrum, Momo:Typo, working as designer, copywriter and art director in various brand development projects in one or two nice spots around the planet over the years, I’ve found myself alongside clients that, if I stood up and listed them as sectors and businesses at Radical Progressives Club, it might sound like a confessional. A bit of a rogues’ gallery. Property developers. Estate agents. Financial advisors. Plastics companies. Military test equipment engineers. And, y’know. Advertising agencies.
However. What this has instilled in me, as a reasonably hapless jobbing arty type, is that there’s no simple template to change the world. When I think of those sectors, I can’t simply write them off from some lofty idealised distance. Because I don’t just think of my new kitchen. I think of particular people.
The financial firm founder who’s quick wit drives a successful business as much as it drives his encouragement of humanity in the numbers. The friends in the Gulf who make me want to pull up my own socks in my attitude to professionalism and a certain reverent responsibility in their work. All the estate agents I know who found a local spot and committed to its community over decades. And all the ad men and women who also count among my most inspiring and clever chums, daily making business and art work together. Whatever the real world challenges and indeed compromises of doing what they all do, they’re individuals doing their best. Adding something. Making stuff. Alongside me. Here on Earth now.
It’s no good being asked for directions and replying: “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.” We can’t secretly hope to be the people of Golgafrincham, devising a plan for losing the less worthy sounding jobs to a giant space ark. Our only pragmatic future is an inclusive one.
EX MACHINA OR AVATAR?
What we do next will come down to two motivators, as ever. Context and consciousness: What we’re born into, and what inborn instincts keep pulsing up inside each of us. Us floppy, saggy, squelchy bags of fluids and bones who are native apes to the planet Earth and whose damn-fool ideas change things. Damn-fool ideas put in our heads by one thing: stories.
None of these complex factors did you or I have a jot of say in. We were just teleported into the mix of it. What we do with that mix, however… perhaps that’s where we have a jot of say. ..And how we share what we do. Now that might be how we get more than a jot of say in the shape of a highly network-ised future.
Is everything in the fearsome cauldron of Now really just our species trying to come to terms with who and what it really is? That we’re not the machines or holy statues we always thought we should be. In the future, our sense of identity may be the only true wealth we’ll be left with – or need. We might even be okay. If we face the future not with a daft, pyrotechnic fantasy of flying away but on something honest. On what we are. On our humanity.
Standing up for that is going to define the next chapter of our evolution, and the shape of our planet and our natural environment. And for me, trying to help it – while still staring out at the stars – might just finally feel like a start. The fuggy, very beginning, of an awakening. That’s only possibly rude.”
Timo Peach’s Open Sauce talk: ”CURSING THE FUTURE: Coping with Now in 20 C-words.
Bournemouth music artist, wordist and creative Timo Peach is a little peeved at the whole end of the world thing – even though it might be a great time for some creative language.”