Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Terminal 5

I've just been through the Terminal 5 experience at Heathrow airport. The place is a big soulless barn of a white elephant with teams of check in/bag drop counters, yet hardly any staff. My flight to Glasgow was delayed on the way there, and as the 45th minute of waiting on the runway ticked by, I thought to myself... next time I'll just get the train.

Gloria Taylor

I was beyond sad to hear about the death of Gloria Taylor. Gloria was the mother of 10 year old Damilola Taylor who was senselessly stabbed and left to die in a Peckham housing estate stairwell seven years ago.

Since her son's death, Gloria and her husband Richard had become tireless campaigners. They ran the Damilola Taylor Trust, whose work included providing medical scholarships children(Damiola dreamt of becoming a doctor) and opened the Damilola Taylor Centre, a sport and community hub in Peckham.

Watching Gloria on TV as she talked about her son and all he hoped to become, I was struck by her dignity.“We don’t want revenge, we want justice for our son,” she said, “Only after that can we forgive those who did this to Damilola.”

I doubt if I could have had the capacity to be so forgiving.

My thoughts are with the Taylor family in the UK and Nigeria. May Gloria rest in peace.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Out and About

Phew, its been a full on couple of weeks. It seems that event and launch season is now in full flow and I’m having trouble keeping up!

On Tuesday it was off to Millbank for the Channel 4 Spring/Summer press launch. (I wonder if I was the only person a tad surprised to see that they had alcohol on offer at 11am?)

The event kicked off with a man in a suit(he didn’t say who he was) bounding on to the stage announcing: “I told you last year that things were going to change” err…I wasn’t invited last year. Indeed, looking around the room, it seemed as if I was one of just two representatives from black or Asian media who had been invited this time round.

The event rolled on with a clip of some of highlights of the forthcoming spring/summer output. All the usual favourites were there, Charlotte Church back for a new show, actor Neil Morrissey starring in a new show about setting up a brewery with his mate (why?)...

During his speech, the man in the suit had proclaimed Channel 4 as the home of alternative TV. For me, as a professional black woman living in London, there was nothing alternative about this stuff. The only programme that featured more than one person of colour as the focal point was a season of programmes focusing on…you’ve guessed it…gun and knife crime. Channel 4, and indeed ITV, BBC et al, could be really alternative and feature a positive series of programmes about people of colour just going about their business. How about our contribution to UK plc as enterpreneurs? Or a series on the lives of a group of women working, living, loving, y'know like Sex and the City but with women of colour as the main rather than minor focus...

On Thursday evening I was at IBM, near the South Bank, for a reception to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEM). GEM is a worldwide initiative that aims to bring togther young people under the banner of entreprenurship. It was a good night and I met some fascinating people. Precious have signed up to be a partner for the week and we're looking forward to working with them on this years Precious Awards.

I also met up with fellow Make Your Mark Connector, Servane Mouazan who is founder of social leadership company Ogunte and we went for a couple of drinks after the event. Servane is one of the most positive people I know and a real force to be around. We’re talking about hosting a Precious/Ogunte networking event around September so keep your eyes peeled for info on that.

On Friday, it was off to the Institute of International Visual Arts,in Shoreditch for the end of decibel party. decibel was an arts council initiative to promote black and Asian artists. I’ve done some work for the National decibel team and have to say they are a truly great bunch of people who have worked their socks of doing some innovative and interesting work with this project.
So Terry Adams, Nike Jonah and Pat Palmer, I salute you, as you all go on to even bigger and better things!!

Saturday it was off to the Vitality Show over at Olympia. I always look forward to this yearly event, for me it’s a chance to discover some new health/lifestyle content features, and see what new products are about to be launched. Sadly, this was definitely the most lacklustre show I’ve been to. Things looked grim as soon as we entered the press room. Usually the press room is pretty buzzy, journalists flitting around eating the free yogurt (it’s sponsored by Muller) drinking water and trying to negotiate taking home another bulky press bag 'for a friend.' This year there was NO YOGHURT, no water, and the only free stuff available was the rather tired looking press releases lying in a corner of the room.

Vitality used to be about promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging people to look after themselves via mind, body and soul. On the day that my colleague and I attended, it seemed to be purely about the BIG SELL. There was no atmosphere, a downturn on visitors, and a strange mixture of exhibitors from credit cards to tarot cards(there have always been one or two tarot readers but this year there were an abundance) and every time we hit a corner we came across yet another stall flogging yet another 'new' type of coluoured, flavoured water!

The event has lost its soul and its edge. I have no dout that very soon someone will enter this market and do it bigger and better.

A new week, another round of events. Tomorrow, I am off to a Women in Technology (WIT) event which takes place at Microsoft. WIT events are usually good fun, informative and I’ve made some great contacts there! I’ll let you know how I get on!