A slow week of illness and reflection…

#weeknotes S03 W08 – week ending 14 April 2019

Working on

This week was mainly a write-off after I came down with a viral chest infection and spent most of the week in bed sleeping.

However, before succumbing Bronte-like to illness, I did head up to Manchester for my first time hosting Classic Album Sundays at 33 Oldham Street. I love the community building around this listening experience event and it was a beautiful thing to talk about Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and listen to the album in full.

There are a couple of things which struck me – first, those of us who fully give ourselves to music and specifically listen are probably among a minority now and music is far more often the background to another activity or at the very least to scrolling a screen; and secondly there is far more to Back To Black than the tragedy of Amy’s personal life.

Putting phones away and sitting in a room of strangers while an album plays can feel disconcerting at first – what do I do with my hands? Where do I look? – but it gives great rewards. The experience is the experience, not diluted or missed in the moment through sharing, and this gives us a chance to really notice things and to connect on a personal level afterwards. There’s a huge amount of creativity and connection which can come from these deep listening and single-focus moments and whether it’s listening to an album (while doing NOTHING else) or staring out the window building in time to let the mind wander is refreshing and more productive than you might first assume.

Vic Turnbull will host the next event on 5 May where she’ll be talking London Calling by The Clash and playing the album in full, before I’m back on 2 June with a very special album indeed (keep an eye out for the announcement soon). Classic Album Sundays is a worldwide network of listening experiences – delve into the website here

I’ve also been working on some new workshops with Dan Slee – somewhat crazily it’s ten years since I first met Dan at LocalGovCamp in 2009 and we enthusiastically looked over what the other was doing with our respective local authority employers as we lead the vanguard of introducing social media to the public sector. We’ve drawn on all that experience – and more as communicators – to put together a Vital Facebook Skills workshop.

Far from losing traction following data scandals Facebook is still proving a force to be reckoned with in communications and while lots of skills are transferable between platforms and channels this workshop focuses in on the things you need to know about content for posts and Pages, engagement in Groups, what Messenger means for your customer service and comms, and how to get the most bang for your buck through doing Ads right.

If you’re a public, or third sector organisation, and you’re using Facebook as part of your comms, marketing and engagement work you need to head along to this workshop and find how to maximise what you do on the platform. There’s four workshops happening in June in Manchester, London, Belfast and Edinburgh and you can find out more as well as get some great insight from Dan’s recent post here.


My professional reading is still focused online in short-form at the moment. I have a stack of books To Be Read but I’m finding the real gems in blogs, particularly from individuals working in and sharing their experience in certain areas.

Otherwise I fell deeply in love with Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and devoured the gorgeous prose of this novel and the bittersweet love it contained in just a few days.

At the start of the year I tentatively set my GoodReads reading challenge at a book a month but I’ve already hit that target and have upped my challenge to 20 books by the end of the year. It’s not about the number but the outcome – I’m so pleased I’m making time to read and explore the world’s created in other writer’s heads and through them find a better understanding of myself and of the work I have to do as an author. Find me on GoodReads here.

Listening to

As it was release week at Reckless Yes there wasn’t much else to listen to apart from the debut EP from Panic Pocket, Never Gonna Happen. I’ve said elsewhere that not only is this a great musical release from the band but they are really inspiring too. Two years ago neither Nat or Sophie had picked up instruments or been in a band and now, here they are, with some wonderful press and a CD run which will sell out during release week.

They encapsulate the spirit of Reckless Yes: of taking the challenge which sits just outside your comfort zone, of creating something from nothing, and not letting other’s ideas of what needs to be in place stop you doing the thing you want to do. You can check out the release here.

What’s next?

A quieter couple of weeks coming up as I recover from illness and spend time with the family while the children are on the Easter break.

This point in the year is also our major planning time for Reckless Yes where we look at how things have gone in the last 12 months and look ahead to make short, medium and longer term plans. As ever I’m really excited by the ideas we have and the journey we’ll be going on to get there but I’m also more confident than ever in our vision and our ability to build a label which fits the modern music scene and which operates ethically in favour of the artist.

Original source – Sarah Lay

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