The third research trip for my novel started and ended with snow. My flight from Cardiff to Belfast was delayed by 23 inches of it near the airport and by another fall on the return but I encountered nothing other than warmth from the people I met in Northern Ireland.
It was a pleasure to spend time with teachers, schoolchildren, community workers, experts in Irish and Ulster Scots, journalists, farmers and agricultural experts. I also enjoyed two great reading gigs and came home with a prize certificate.
Research Trip 2 for my novel, from 21st January to 2nd February in Northern Ireland, gave me access to generously shared experience and expertise from writers, sociologists, historians, academics, journalists, teachers and an educationalist, former civil servants, librarians, language activists, clergy, lawyers, a farmer, a statistician, a youth worker and many who shared from the cutting edge of their painfully gained experience.
I was struck too by the kindness with which I was treated.
I cannot do justice to the events and individuals who gave me their time. I will, however, single out, among the public events I attended, the conference organised by the Ulster University Faculty of Health and Life Sciences: Addressing the Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma and Mental Illness in Northern Ireland.
I had noticed something of a narrative about Northern Ireland along the lines of: the effect of the Troubles is exaggerated; it’s all behind us now and I wanted to get beyond personal opinion to some facts about ‘legacy’ and ‘impact’.
The BBC’s Review of its Religion and Ethics output and programme-making practice has important immediate and long-term implications. I want to focus not so much on what programmes will get made as a result of its findings but on the change to media culture that I believe will follow from the implementation of its decisions.
This change will be seen in:
*the training of journalists of the future;
*the rising prominence of religious literacy as a concept, as a skill worth cultivating and an essential tool of self-understanding and of any claim to be an interpreter of the times;
*the development of a type of ‘belief literacy’, beyond religious literacy and well beyond the BBC.
The Review has launched a set of new norms, along with a raft of new means of consolidating and progressing them.
Don’t miss ‘The Chimes’ in its London run from 19th – 30th December. This staging of Charles Dickens’ second ‘Christmas Book’ as musical theatre is strikingly confident in its mix of professional actors and ‘an ensemble of men and women who have been homeless and are re-building their lives’.
The high quality of the songs by Conor Linehan with musical direction by Cathal Synnott plus their excellent delivery by a well-drilled cast make this a real treat.
The Hidden Story: universities & knowledge exchange in the creative industries published its report on 4th December. There are many implications for Wales. As the report states:
‘The Creative Industries are a significant sector for the success of the UK economy contributing £87.4bn GVA in 2015 (DCMS). It is therefore important that we use the research funds allocated to university support for this sector (over £46 million in 2015) as effectively as possible. To do this, we must understand the distinctive nature of knowledge exchange relationships between universities and enterprises within this sector. ‘
For decades I have, without knowing it, been walking past the place where Broadcasting in Wales began. It launched on 13th February 1923 in the building that’s now a NISA store, opposite Cardiff Castle. I spotted the commemorative plaque only recently.
In unexpectedly warm sunshine outside the Bundestag in Berlin plangent bells rang across the park… and rang… and rang.
This tolling was so protracted that I realised something our of the ordinary was happening but even when I’d walked right up to the bell tower that’s visible above the trees near the Tiergarten I still didn’t grasp what I was hearing. Continue reading Seen in Berlin 3: Bell Power and Cake→