02/09/2018

Update - Sept 2018



Hello. For a variety of reasons, I’ve been offline for a while. Often, in the summer, there is - as a friend once said to me - “a period when you stop talking”. All that I can say right now is a heartfelt sorry and if you witness such a period in the future, please don’t be afraid in asking what’s up. I’m quiet-loud-quiet: a great strategy for the Pixies, not so great for an approach to personal communication.

Firstly, the silence has been due, in part, to not having a working computer (yes, really). I’ve resorted to a 6-year-old Android tablet with a gradually-imploding screen to get things done - slowly. I have saved up and bought a computer, so am returning in that regard also.

Secondly, there are some new things in the works.

  • Imperica is returning, back in its old form of arts/tech/marketing/media. I really miss being part of the intersection of creative, tech and marketing, so - once again - it’s coming back from hiatus. (No prizes for making the connection between the behaviour of the magazine and the behaviour of its publisher.) Matt is remaining on Fridays and I’ll be writing an op-ed every Thursday. I’d like to strip the week - maybe, Monday = art, Tuesday = crypto, Wednesday = something else? Thoughts welcome.
  • I’m learning German and want to absolutely immerse myself in it. I’m going to diarise my learnings every day, so if you want to read my experiences alongside hints, tips and opinions (and some non-learning-related stuff) follow me at @lerntagebuch.
  • Perera is open once again for copywriting commissions. Email hello@pereramedia.com if you’re looking for content production and editorial direction. (There’s no website at the moment - it’s back soon).


Thirdly, I’m considering offering one-to-one coaching on a commercial basis. I have been a coach and a coachee, and consider that my own experiences have given me something of a unique outlook.

Finally, I’ve struggled to gain traction with my personal thoughts and writings, so have summarised my position on a number of topics, below. Some of them will make for Imperica articles in the future.

Brexit / EU

  • Economically, difficult. Symbolically, a disaster, moving the UK out of the space of being a modern liberal democracy.
  • This and previous governments could have reconciled the UK’s relationship with the world in terms of our people, culture, history, our place in the world and our role in the world, but didn’t. The UK is generally poor at political leadership.
  • The UK is being torn apart by the Conservatives in this decade as it was in the 1980s.
  • Our culture hasn’t moved on from being backward (as it were). It is hinged on two events: the Second World War - which isn’t taught as well as it should be, giving the feeling that “we” supposedly won it single-handedly; and England’s winning of the 1966 World Cup, which was referenced even this year in the Screwfix World Cup sponsorship bumpers on ITV. Where is our future? What is our future? 
  • I am all in for the EU. Schengen is a force for good, enabling people from across Europe to travel for business or pleasure with no fuss. Similarly, the Euro makes trade and commerce easy and standardised. We should have gone into both. Instead, we can’t even get over imperial measurements, for fuck’s sake.


UK politics

  • The time is coming for the Conservatives and Labour to split. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
  • Vince Cable needs to quit as Liberal Democrat leader. The party should become part of future centrist politics, but not in its current form.
  • Every party is taking the wrong approach to housebuilding, which is to build more housing on greenfield, rather than replace existing housing with multi-storey low-level apartments, on brownfield.
  • We skew towards one city unlike most other countries. Our economy, politics, and media are all massively focussed in and towards London. This reliance is hugely problematic, as is the lack of a standard and consistent approach to regional / local government.


Media

  • The BBC seems very tired in its current form. It needs a higher quality product across fewer channels, stop being so self-promotional, and needs to stop flogging formats to death (Strictly etc) for the benefit of global TV markets.
  • The volume and depth of news and political analysis is appalling in the UK - probably the worst that I have seen in Europe.
  • We have a very peculiar attitude to foreign-language TV, of which the best should move to mainstream channels as is the case in most non-English-speaking countries.


Public transport

  • Mostly terrible everywhere.
  • Little impetus for modal switching (ie from cars).
  • Get on and build HS2, HS3, Crossrail, Crossrail 2, and HS4.


That's it for now. Sorry, and sorry again for the quiet-loud-quiet.

31/03/2018

Barrie Kosky's "Carmen": eine schöne weimar Inszenierung


Dies ist das schöne Glas-Observatorium im Royal Opera House. Ich sah eine Aufführung von Bizets Carmen, Regie führte Barrie Kosky.
Die Szenen haben eine glatte französische Frauenstimme.
Es gibt außergewöhnliche Szenen, wie auf dem Foto unten.



Die Richtung ist stark und glatt. Künstlerisch ist es wie in Weimar.
Ich kann verstehen, warum es die Meinung geteilt hat. Ich kann verstehen, warum es die Meinung geteilt hat.
Ich hatte gehofft, Gaelle Arquez zu sehen. Ich habe sie letzten Sommer in einem österreichischen TV-Profil gesehen. Anna Goryachova war sehr, sehr gut; ein starker, fähiger Darsteller und Sänger.



Hier ist Carmen in der Oper Frankfurt, von wo sie ursprünglich aufgeführt wurde.



Carmen wird im November 2018 zur ROH zurückkehren.

02/01/2018

Why I'm learning German

"Guten tag, 1R."
"Guten tag, Fraulein Walters."

There are only two things that I am grateful for, from that horrible, run-down hell of a secondary school. It started a life-long love of German and Germany.

In my first year, German class was taken by Ms Walters. In the 80s, jokes about WW2 were still in the air - Germans in the grass, Hitler only having one ball, and so on - proving that even though the UK thinks that it has moved on from that awful period, it hasn't, as is evidenced in some of the rhetoric around Brexit and the EU.
I entered my first foreign language class with the same view: that all Germans were Nazis, all French people wore berets and onion necklaces, and so on. I was 13 and had no idea of the world outside of a small patch of land in east London. The north of England was a foreign country of supposed flat caps and whippets, so anything further beyond was almost off the scale.
It was Ms Walters who changed that. She was a tall, young, black teacher with a voice of pure dripping honey. I didn't have a schoolboy sexual attraction towards her as such, but my God, she was beautiful. She was cool and funky and could speak this really interesting language and had the entire class under an effortless control. It was Ms Walters and her two years of German class which absolutely ignited a love of the German language, to the extent that I am now - after 30 years - taking German classes again.
My love of the language grew into a love of the country itself. Of course, the fall of the Berlin Wall happened shortly after the end of my German classes at school, and in itself (that is, the Cold War and subsequent reunificiation of the country) it has become a major interest of mine. As of a few days ago, the Wall has been down longer since its demolition than it was up, which is a remarkable achievement. For Europe, peace is indeed in our time - and if you want to remind yourself of that tremendous period in history, I recommend The Collapse by Mary Elise Sarotte.
A subsequent catalyst for my love of German and Germany was my joining E.ON for five years. It gave me the chance to frequently visit some of the country's biggest cities (notably Düsseldorf and Munich) and to simply soak up the culture and customs a little more. I regret, however, not restarting my German language education sooner, and using it during my time there. In many meetings with my German colleagues, their conversation switched from German to English once I entered the room. That was polite for them but embarrassing for me, and I definitely don't want to be the quintessential "Four beers por favore" English tourist, albeit one in a suit.
So, I have started German class and am loving it. I want to soak it all up. I am fascinated by the language, the culture, the country, its people, its customs, its traditions, its history, its crazy compound words... everything. Thank you Ms Walters.
The upshot is that I am going to try to tweet and blog more and more in German. Perhaps the most important reason of my writing this post is to warn you about that. I'm going to get a lot of my German sentences wrong. They will have grammatical inaccuracies or will simply be nonsense. For that, I apologise. I am still learning and am nowhere near being fluent.
But, please allow me that. I will keep trying. I will try and try and try to speak and write and finally achieve a dream of speaking a second language. All I ask is for your patience. If you see bad German, please just let me know... politely. That's all. And, in doing so, I hope that you'll see my German get better next time.
Frohes neues jahr!

03/01/2017

The Resistance

Remember the people who said that they were anti-establishment?

The ones who said that they were against "establishment politics"?

Well, they won.

That means one thing.

They're the establishment now.

Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Paul Nuttall, Steve Bannon... congratulations. You are the people in power.

And, again, that means one thing.

If you don't like what they do, or seek to do, then challenge it.

But... Brexit is a done deal, right?

We mustn't challenge it?

UKIP and the Conservative right challenged the EU referendum of 1975. They didn't have a problem with challenging the orthodoxy. Not only did they force the hand of the government (the "establishment", remember), but, this year, they brought it down.

So, now, the tables have turned.

It's entirely within your remit to challenge them.

They hate being called the "establishment". But, that's now what they are.

If you want to resist it, then you have to be passionate and be organised.

They have the share of voice.

In people like Arron Banks, they have the money.

They can command the labels. "Alt-right" is this year's rebrand of fascism.

However, this all can be challenged. Remember, even UKIP started somewhere. They just had some very clever, highly emotive people.

I don't think that 48% of the population are not as clever or as emotive.

But they do need to do something about it.

The permission to have their voice heard.

The permission to challenge Brexit if they don't want it.

The permission to resist.

People and organisations have, in the past, successfully challenged a national referendum that they didn't agree with.

Now it's your turn.

05/07/2016

Signs

The aftershock of the EU referendum result will be felt in the days, weeks, months, years to come. That's a given. While we are currently experiencing the shock in a political context, the socio-economic context will be much more drawn out and, perhaps, painful for many.
But, as shocking as it is, the signs were there.
This is Nigel Farage, embarrassing the UK with his post-referendum speech.



Farage is one of a long line of frankly appalling people that we have sent to the European Parliament.
Paul Nuttall. Roger Helmer. Robert Kilroy-Silk. Godfrey Bloom. We have even sent Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party for fuck's sake, to Brussels as an MEP. On a stage with significant geopolitical importance, we have sent some of the worst of our country's supposed politicans. And there they are, waving their British flag while shouting, foamy-mouthed, about the very institution in which they have been elected.
So, if you think that the referendum is the blowing-open of the far right, think again. They have been in the Europen Parliament for years. And, if you didn't vote when they were standing for European elections, then you are indirectly complicit in their victory, both in Brussels and on June 23 in the UK.
The only way to legally remove the far right from office is to vote against them. Don't make them become councillors, MPs, MEPs, AMs, MSPs, or whatever. If you don't vote then you are increasing their chances of office.
Similarly, the Brexit aftershock confirms the worst of the selective gatekeeping inherent in UK media. I can't ever remember seeing any column in any newspaper which simply reports on the ongoings in the European Parliament. They are talking about you, your rights, and your future. Instead of reading material on why a bunch of MEPs has co-operated in a way to put pressue on corporate tax avoidance, we consume nonsense on bendy bananas and "unelected Brussels bureaucrats". There has never been a space for objective European political reporting in any newspaper, TV news channel, or news website. The discussions in Brussels affect all of us and there is zero carriage of any of them.
This is a massive, massive failing on the part of UK media and it is simply depressing that the selective agenda of right-wing press barons has squeezed all of the oxygen out of the chance to report on something which affects everyone's lives. A few years ago, Radio 4 Today listeners voted José Manuel Barroso the most powerful person in the UK; an acknowledgment not followed up by a chance of proper reportage from the European Parliament. In summary, what you think you know about "Brussels" is shaped because you have never been given a chance to know any different.
Brexit is the result of a toxic political discourse that we have failed to acknowledge for years, even decades. Everyone has the right to an open mind. How they choose to exercise that right has, in these examples, been taken from them in a depressingly covert and subjective fashion.

04/01/2016

This is why the UK will leave the European Union

<p>First of all, I don't believe for a second that the UK <em>should</em> leave the EU. We are more prosperous, more internationalist, more diverse, and have more opportunities because of it.</p>
<p>However, there remains a clear and present danger that the UK will leave. Polls put the chance of a Brexit as being between 35 and 45%, with yesterday's <em>Sunday Times</em> poll putting Brexit a whisker ahead of the UK remaining in the union.</p>
<p>It seems to be the case that the "remain" vote is not shifting, but the "leave" vote is buoyant - and possibly growing.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<h3>Complacency</h3>
<p>I believe that a key factor of Brexit gaining ground is, put simply, the "remain" campaigns being so lazy as to be almost contemptous of the situation. Stronger In, British Influence and the European Movement are all very good at periodically blasting out facts but they simply don't resonate. The campaigns are not getting into public discourse precisely because their nature is of one-way, macro communications. It shouldn't just be "Widget makers receive &pound;100m of grants per year" - so what? What does this mean to me?</p>
<p>The "leave" camp is leapfrogging the stayers with their rapid responsiveness and agility. Conversely, I recently contacted Stronger In to ask them to make their website SSL-enabled, particularly because they have a signup form on the first page. No response.</p>
<p>The communication strategies of the stayers are lazy, ineffective, and based on thinking that doesn't appear to have advanced beyond the last EU referendum in 1975.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<h3>Elite</h3>
<p>Stronger In launched with a bunch of white, middle-aged executives in suits who were whisked away before journalist could ask a question. That is <em>totally unacceptable</em>.</p>
<p>It has damaged the stayers by portraying those who want to stay in the union as representing those who, it is perceived, are physically in the union itself - the pale/stale/male bureucrats in the (fictitious) ivory tower in the centre of Brussels.</p>
<p>The "stay" campaign needs to take its cues from people like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/01/eu-vote-westminster-grassroots-europe">Mike Galsworthy</a> and grassroots political campaigns like Momentum, and build support with boots on the ground and powerful, strong, encouraging voices across the country. For Stronger In's Will Straw not to see what his own political party is doing with Momentum (however unappetising he may find it) and apply it to this campaign is both lazy and centrist. Actually, no: it stinks.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<h3>Time</h3>
<p>By January 2017, we might be out of the union. There appears to be no rocket, no impetus for the stayers to move as if the referendum is tomorrow rather than in, say 5 years from now. The volume needs to be turned up. The frequency needs to be turned up. Get people out. Get them campaigning. Plan for sooner, rather than later. Build the effort and consolidate it. Currently, the "leave" narrative is about <em>"We are so angry, that we want to get out tomorrow, and the referendum can't come around soon enough"</em> and the "stay" is about <em>"Here are some facts that you might want to consider when the referendum happens, but hey, no pressure."</em> Get a grip.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>Overall, and it depresses me to say this, the strategies of the "stay" campaigns are far too slow to build a consensus and far too centralising to build a community of empassioned voices. If the UK votes to leave then, right now, it will be as much to do with what the stayers are <em>not</em> doing, as what the leavers are.</p>

30/08/2015

Sense on immigration and Europe - from, of all places, the Daily Telegraph

An absolutely brilliant piece from one of the most unlikely of places. By Jeremy Warner, 03/08/15

 Few government policies have failed quite as spectacularly as David Cameron’s “no ifs, no buts” commitment to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands.

Not only has the target been missed by a country mile, futile attempts to meet it have deprived British business of the overseas skills necessary to thrive.

It’s profoundly damaged Britain’s reputation abroad as the open, tolerant economy it pretends to be, and given how obviously unworkable the policy was in the first place – a net target is as much dependent on the numbers leaving as arriving – it’s not clear it even succeeded in winning any votes.

I can’t claim to have the answers to what is politically an intractable issue, but four points seem worth making.

One is that Britain has to get much better at training its own people for the abundant job opportunities now available. More has to be done to incentivise the natives to fill them.

Another is that the genie is out of the bottle on immigration. Even countries that operate points-based systems struggle to control their borders.

The belief that leaving the European Union would solve the problem is for the birds. Even Switzerland, which has a far higher proportion of foreign born residents than Britain, is forced to agree free movement as the quid pro-quo for access to the single market.

A third, related point is that relatively high levels of immigration are part of the price you pay for a successful economy.

Unlike much of the rest of Europe, Britain is growing strongly, and is therefore a magnet for the dispossessed and the go-getters. If we were to run up the draw bridge, the economy would suffer. It’s a simple choice – pure and poor, or diverse and rich. Forget the anti-corporatism that tends to go with the fortress Britain ticket; it would be small businesses that would suffer most.

Finally, if we want to prevent the sort of humanitarian crisis we see at Europe’s borders, we should stop pointless and destabilising overseas adventurism of the type practiced in Iraq and Libya. Too late now.