Free Coordinates…

For good communication…

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  • Published: Dec 4th, 2018
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The long why…

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In Japan, home to more centenarians than any other country, the island of Okinawa is known as “land of the immortals”. It’s where over 1,000 people aged over 100 live.

How come so many Okinawans live so long? Having a reason for living makes a big difference. According to longevity expert Dan Buettner, focusing on your purpose can add up to seven years to your life. So it’s no surprise that on Okinawa people set up friendship groups known as ‘moai’, which means ‘meeting for a common purpose’. Across Japan there’s a rather lovely word for this purposeful way of living: ‘ikigai’ – ‘the reason you get up in the morning’.

For people, and for companies, the secret of a long life is to have a strong why. So if you’re looking for a new year’s resolution as we head towards 2019, why not find and/or fine tune your ikigai. Here’s to a long and happy life for all.

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  • Published: Nov 2nd, 2018
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The noise words make…

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Sorting through various family papers, I came across a letter the poet P J Kavanagh had written to my mum back in 1980. In it he says that “what distinguishes verse from prose is a tune. Not necessarily an obvious one but some sort of pleasing noise nevertheless… If you re-read one of your favourite poems, with this in mind, you will discover that a large part of what makes you like it and remember it is the noise it makes.”

Robert Macfarlane picks up the theme while bringing prose into poetry’s soundworld: “We think a lot about rhythm in poetry but we don’t talk about it so much in prose. But I’ve always felt that rhythm in language speaks to the backbone, to the back of the scalp. It’s what makes the head tingle if you get it right, and it does a form of communication that propositional language doesn’t. And so when I’m writing prose, as much as I can I work on the rhythms. And the very last thing I do with any book, and I’ve just done it with 130,000 words of Underland, is I speak it back out to myself, on my own.”

So whether it’s 130,000 words or 130 – make your words not only ring true but sing, too.

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  • Published: Oct 7th, 2018
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And on the moon…

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Situated all too briefly in Trafalgar Square, Es Devlin’s brilliant Please Feed the Lions generated a crowd-sourced collective poem which now lives online here, care of Google Arts & Culture. It’s a rich source of lovable language that cries out to be explored, relished and indeed remixed. I encourage everyone to dive in and craft their own combinations. Here’s one I made earlier:

And on the moon

The sun and sun and night with bright array

Breathe the infinite worlds away

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  • Published: Jul 18th, 2018
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Emotional ways…

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“Once you have a language, it’s about using it and applying it in emotional ways. That’s what makes the difference.”

Wise words from brilliant musician Jacob Collier during the course of explaining the concept of harmony in five levels of increasing complexity.

Whether words on a page or melodies in the ear, lovable language is emotional language.

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  • Published: Apr 18th, 2018
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He’s no tiger…

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On a recent trip to LA I was struck by the sheer brilliance not only of the sunshine but also of much of the communication. Our American friends seem to revel in clear lively English. Whether that’s shedding light on age-old tar pits…

goo

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or discouraging cars from driving down dusty ol’ cowboy towns…

hoofs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a confidence and playfulness in words we can all enjoy and draw inspiration from.

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  • Published: Oct 2nd, 2017
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Eat sunshine…

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Eat Sunshine… read… have a point of view… fail at aioli… cook for days… eat for weeks… make something that can last…

Eat sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great opener in Dinner At The Long Table, a brilliant cookbook by Brooklyn restauranteurs and all-round food lovers Andrew Tarlow and Anna Dunn.

Sets the tone. Whets the appetite. Five stars.

 

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  • Published: Sep 7th, 2017
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Wild of tongue…

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In New York, an exhibition of work by one of my favourite illustrators, Maira Kalman. It includes the originals of the pictures she put to the words of one of my favourite books on writing, William Strunk Jr and EB White’s The Elements of Style.

After picking up a copy of the book in a yard sale, Maira was inspired to create a set of paintings illustrating various Strunk & White words of wisdom. Words such as “Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!”

Wild of tongue and wild of eye.

the best dancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, it’s a match made in heaven.

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  • Published: Jul 16th, 2017
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Between an electron and a star…

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I recently rediscovered one of the books that captivated me most as a youngster:

How big is big?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How big is big? combines simple words and images to take children on a journey from the very big to the very small. Along the way it gives them a clear and encouraging sense of where they fit in the world, at a time, as the first page puts it, when “everybody is always telling you how big you are”:

between and electron and a star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midway between an electron and a star – a mighty fine place to be, for young and old alike.

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  • Published: May 19th, 2017
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Love the words…

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Following gently on the heel’s of last Sunday’s International Dylan Thomas Day, a doff of my cap to the Love the Words competition.

Held each year on 14th May, the anniversary of the date when Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center, New York in 1953, Dylan Day is the mighty fine idea of the great poet’s grand-daughter Hannah Ellis. On that day back in 1953, Dylan urged the readers to “Love the words, love the words…” and this, in turn, inspired Hannah Ellis to create a competition for 7-25 year olds to create their own poems by cutting up the opening words of Under Milk Wood.

Here’s my favourite, by Gianina Dwek (20):

Love the Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant, Gianina. My cap doffeth over.

 

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  • Published: Apr 29th, 2017
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The donkeys gallop…

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Just in time for the long weekend, a treasure trove of words and images in the form of postcards from the past. Tom Jackson’s Twitter account and soon-to-be-published book, lets us glimpse myriad holiday stories of yesteryear. Stories such as these:

The donkeys gallop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The donkeys gallop and once I nearly fell off. I bet you wish you were here with me, don’t you?’

I suppose you heard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I suppose you heard about our plane catching fire?’

Filtered through the come-what-may sunny outlook of people on their hols, like all great stories they catch your attention. But it’s a bitter sweet experience – the stories are inevitably unfinished, leaving you hungry to find out more. Why didn’t you fall off the donkey? How fast do they gallop? How did the plane catch fire? Are you OK? Questions, questions. More postcards, please.

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