I've got two tickets for interesting2008 going spare. It's on 21 June at Conway Hall in London. Tickets cost £20 each. If anyone's interested drop me a line or leave a comment. In the event of more than two applications there will be a prize draw on Sunday night. interesting2007 was a blast and this year's line up looks smashing. It's sold out so speak now. Does anyone know what time it starts, btw? I'm probably not going but was wondering if I can make it down in the morning.

Update: Tickets gone.

Cellardyke Bathing Pool

Signposted on Nothing To See Here, the old bathing pool in Cellardyke. We end up there a lot at the end of a day-trip to the East Neuk of Fife, without ever setting out to go there. The pool was all the rage in the 1930s with a diving board and rows of changing huts, now it's still there, but only just. There are more tidal salt-water pools on the lidos website and the Guardian guide to the best places to swim outside. If you have somewhere similar, that you're inexplicably drawn to please send it in.


New, from the makers of Little People: a tiny street art project which photographs miniscule people on the streets of London comes Inner City Snail: a slow street art project. I love Little People - so tiny and animated. There's a book due out in September. Not so keen on snails but nice to see them doing something useful for a change.

France's Eurovision entry, Sebastian Tellier singing Divine was clearly too good to get anywhere in the competition. Obviously an eccentric man singing a lovely slice of breezy pop with nonsense lyrics just doesn't work anymore. It has to be all overblown and Russian to win. What a disappointment. Must be bad if Terry Wogan is thinking of throwing in the towel.


Legend Feel Co are specialists in Australian nostalgia. This sort of thing got a bit overdone in the UK with endless TV rehashes of Z-list celebs going on about Clackers and Spangles, but what caught my eye was I really had been thinking "Whatever happened to Splaydes?".

Splayds were a cross between a knife and a fork, with a little bit of spoon thrown in. Not to be confused with a spork. They were an Australian invention from the 1950s, designed to cope with the culture shift in eating habits that was the cocktail era. They were a big part of my childhood, 2 decades later. If we were having a meal of a particular consistency my mum would issue the command "Jim, get the Splayds" and my dad would unearth them from their box in the sideboard. I bet to this day they're still there, too good to be in with the everyday riff raff of the cutlery drawer.

So while not essential, there are often times when I wish I had one. When a knife is overkill and a fork isn't scoopy enough - eating canneloni for example. I wondered why they didn't catch on and it turns out they have something of a cult following, and their own website with hints at a Splayd resurgence. There is obviously a Splayd-shaped gap in the array of eating implements.

And what struck me was there's a clear trajectory of cutlery innovation in the post-war years running through the Little Fork to the Splayd and beyond (more on the beyond later) but it all seems to be back to basics now. Like any other everyday object cutlery is commonplace but fascinating once you start to dig into its history. If you look at the history of cutlery you'll also be looking at the history of everything else.

[Note: I wrote this a year ago and my inner censor decided not to publish it (too whimsical? Is there such a thing?) but Russell's tweet about sporks got me thinking again. Time for a cutlery revolution, obviously.]

Going to see Play Time (which was wonderful) got me thinking about which films I'd choose to show if I got the run of a cinema for a day. Alphaville was on the shortlist and a bit of rooting around on the internet found it in its entirety on Google video. It was put up by a fan of the other "Big in Japan" Alphaville, for reference presumably.

For anyone that hasn't seen it, it's Jean-Luc Godard's futuristic sci-fi film noir with modern (mid 1960s) Paris playing the part of Alphaville, the city that's lost its soul. There's a good review here that describes it as "Humphrey Bogart Through the Looking Glass". It's simple and complex, beautiful and strange. I'm not a big Godard fan but could watch this over and over. It's weird, but not too weird and staggeringly beautiful in parts. Anna Karina looks foxy throughout. I started watching it yesterday afternoon but it's really the kind of film you need to watch with the lights out and a bottle of wine.

What would you pick if you could show one film at the pictures?

I heard some sad news at the weekend - Hitherto, the lovely shop at the back of Tinderbox on Ingram Street is closing down. The full story is on their website. Hopefully it's just temporary but at the moment the future is uncertain and they need everyone's help. The last time I was in there it was jam packed with fantastic stuff that you can't get anywhere else (paper Moomins!) and what's even better is a lot of it comes from local artists, particularly students. They've also been kind enough to stock my postcards and badges and sell quite a pile. So get in there while you still can, snap up some goodies and help Hitherto bounce back soon.

Jacques Tati's wonderful 1967 film Play Time is showing at the GFT this Sunday at 3.40 pm. It's a staggering film, set on a gigantic scale but made up of small, beautiful moments. The trailer (above) sums up its jazzy nature, but I remember it being full of stillness. It took 3 years to film, on a specially created set called "Tativille" that was so big it needed its own power plant. Shot on 70mm film only the cinema really does it justice. It's being shown as part of the Monorail Film Club fittingly introduced by artist Toby Paterson who takes a lot of his inspiration from modernist architecture. Supporting feature is kh-4 which features a young Bill Forsyth. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! What a Sunday afternoon that's going to be. Booking recommended.

I've been on the verge of writing an "I'm bored with the internet" post for a while now. Sometimes blogging is fun. Sometimes it's like a millstone round your neck. Feeling obliged to come up with something new when it feels like the same old stuff swillling around the interweb. But I never write the grumpy post because I know it always passes and it did today when the internet came alive again. It was all "wow" and no "meh".

So all in all, I feel a bit bad for badmouthing the internet. It's come up trumps today.

This TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson called "Do schools kill creativity?" is almost 2 years old but it was new to me when I saw it today at work. I was in an "inspiration session" organised by Ewan McIntosh and Mike Coulter (thanks both) which was designed to get staff thinking and talking and blogging. So here I am. It's a lovely, and very funny, rumination on education and creativity and how sometimes they can be at odds with each another.

I often think that my kids are the most interesting people I know, which is no slight to the grown-ups. The way they have of being fantastically inventive and also cutting through the layers of crap that somehow come to scale your eyes as you get older is great to be around sometimes. It's so important that schools harness that rather than crushing it, something which does seem to be happening in Scotland with Curriculum for Excellence. Anyway, it's well worth a watch if you haven't seen it before.

Modern typeface

davidthedesigner's alphabetical guide to 52 fonts you could use instead of Helvetica is now half way through. It's been very interesting so far. Thanks david!

This is where England most truly excels: in all the characterful shabbiness of its drizzled parks, soiled launderettes, frayed tailors, abject chemists, sparse barbers, bare foyers, dun pubs, weary Legion halls... and cowed solitary cafes. - Classic Cafes

It's a pleasure to flick through Derelict London by Paul Talling, the book of the website. I thought it might be a bit depressing but it turns out to be the opposite. These forlorn spaces, so easily overlooked in real life often have unexpected stories behind them. For all the ones overcome by the wrecker's ball there are other like Soho's Marshall Street Baths (above) being reused and regenerated. Recommended reading.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Glasgow School of Art 2nd year study day. I was surprised and delighted to be asked to do it last year, and even more surprised to be invited back. In some ways the Art School is the last place I expect to feel welcome as so many of the things I hold dear are well outside the traditional boundaries of "proper" art and design. But that's why I got the gig. The theme for the day was "Dynamic Glasgow" so I tried to focus on what you can learn from wandering around Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.

This is more or less what I was saying, with links to more information. The photos are all on Flickr.

It's tricky to organise all these random thoughts into a vaguely linear sequence and make some salient points but hopefully there was something useful in there. It was a great day out for me as I got to hear some of the other speakers and there was a lot to think about. Thanks to everyone who came to listen, and to Bruce and Patsy for looking after me so well.

This road is not suitable for charabancs

The road sign that time forgot, found near Wookey Hole in deepest darkest Somerset. Strangely, I Googled charabancs as I'm never totally sure what they are*, hit on the Wikipedia entry and found that it mentions this sign as a rare remnant of the "charabancs' era". Quirky and significant. Result.

* Rickety-looking open top buses used for sightseeing.

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