Pecha Kucha Sheffield #9

It’s ages since I blogged, but after such an enjoyable night out I just had to tell people about it.

Pecha Kucha is the Japanese for ‘chit chat’ and essentially that is what it is.  People come in and talk about something they are interested in or on which they have a particular knowledge (see the Pecha Kucha website or Wikipedia for more).  The 20×20 format is how it’s run and it’s very simple.  A series of people have 20 slides that are shown on a big screen and they talk to them with each slide shown for no more than 20 seconds.  It was invented by architects with the intention that it would limit how long they can talk for and is particularly popular with design and arty types, but I think I’d sum it up by saying if you’re just interested in stuff, stuff that happens around where you live and the people who do this stuff then it’s for you.

There were a number of speakers but a few particularly stick in my mind.  The one that everyone who attended is bound to remember for some time was the very emotional talk by Julia O’Dwyer whose son Richard O’Dwyer is currently up for extradition to the USA for running a website which provided links to websites which allowed you to do illegal downloading.  I can’t do justice to what she said and so I’ll just provide a link to her website if you want to know more.

Another great speaker was Erica Packington on Roller Derbys.  A subject in which I would have never expected to have any interest but it was actually informative and thought provoking.

I also particularly enjoyed the two urban explorers as it covered two things I find fascinating –  photography and interesting derelict buildings around Sheffield.  Urban exploration isn’t something I’d have the guts to do, although I do occasionally stick my camera through broken windows in derelict buildings just to see what’s inside.

Other speakers included Rob Lee on perspective art (I knew I recognised him couldn’t place him and then found he works at the Showroom, which explains it), Dave Carlson on the Burton Street Foundation where the event was hosted and a building that I was probably last in about about 20 years ago when it was the Langsett Music Centre (for those who don’t know Sheffield it was where the job centre scene was filmed in The Full Monty and the outside was used as the school which is what it was originally anyway), Jonny Douglas on Sheffield specially to celebrate the Pecha Kucha Global Cities Week (since becoming a councillor I keep seeing these presentations both amateur and professional on the city and I keep thinking how great it would be to collect them all together in one place as they are all different), and Nynke Wierda on photography of the dead (strangely fascinating)!

I must also give a mention to The Mother Folkers who played music in the break halfway through.  Very good musicians to the point where I bought their CD and I’ll definitely make the effort to see them perform again.  Another mid-event event was showing two amusing and interesting videos from YouTube, including this one that whilst getting across a message is also interesting to any Sheffielder who is a fan of Tinsley Cooling Towers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the night.  I found about things that I knew nothing about before, (or would have expected I’d want to know about), I met people I’d never met before and I just wish I’d heard about it before.  I’ll definitely be back.  This is exactly the sort of thing I find fascinating and I just wish I’d found  out about it before.

Keep an eye on the Pecha Kucha Sheffield website for details of the next event in April.

Photos from Sheffield “Chance to Dance 2010″

As anyone who knows me well will confirm, I am not exactly the world’s greatest dancer.  Despite this I love watching people dancing and if I’m in the right mood (which happens rarely these days) I will enjoy dancing despite my complete inability to do it properly.

Today was the 10th Chance to Dance event in Sheffield.  The atmosphere in the city centre was amazing with music, dancing and smiling people.  If this what we will get regularly if Sheffield wins the City of Culture 2013 bid, then I want us to win it even more than I already did, (apologies to anyone I know from Norwich, Birmingham and Derry/Londonderry, who are also shortlisted).

This seemed like a good opportunity to take some photos and so these are my favourites.  If anyone who appears on one of these photos would like me to remove the photo or alternatively wants a copy then let me know.

More to come…

Summer in the city

The wet weather has put a real dampener on this summer’s outdoor events (not withstanding the success of last weekend’s Sheffield Music City), as shown with this sorry sight that greated me as I walked up The Moor in Sheffield earlier today:

Summer in SheffieldCoupled with the indoor sand pit the usual summer activities in the city look pretty washed out compared to usual.  This guy was doing his best with his singing to brighten things up, but in the pouring rain huddled under an empty shop canopy he wasn’t getting much interest.

One of the benefits of being off work during the week is finding out about things that I didn’t know happen because I am usually at work.  Yesterday it was seeing the open-air bingo (it hadn’t started raining at that point) in the middle of The Moor!  Four hours later when I walked past again it was still going strong.

Barclays invent road name for their new Sheffield branch

Barclays are currently converting the former Gap store in Sheffield City Centre in to a new branch to replace the one at the bottom of Fargate, and which from the appearance of the building must be nearly ready to open.  But I was surprised, when I noticed on the side of the building the name they have picked for the new branch:


Put simply.  City Hall Square doesn’t exist.  There is a City Hall in Sheffield, and it isn’t far from the branch, but the square in front of it is called Barker’s Pool (named after the pool that supplied the city’s first drinking water which was once on the site).

Perhaps instead Barclays were thinking of the Town Hall, which is more logical as it is on the opposite side of the road from the branch.  But that’s the Town Hall rather than the City Hall, and although I have heard the area in front of it described as the Town Hall square, you don’t hear it very often and it certainly isn’t called that officially.

Perhaps with the banking industry under so much pressure these days, they can’t afford to employ anyone to check the address of their new branch (which should be 1 Barker’s Pool).

Tories propose city mayors

I really don’t understand this obsession with having directly-elected mayors for big cities.  Labour have been trying to persuade big cities to have a referendum on them for years, and when they failed to do that they mulled over the idea of forcing them to have referenda.  Despite the fact that the majority of referenda that there have been so far have actually voted against them.  Now the Tories are at it as well.

Superficially I understand the attraction.  Create a big figurehead that is well known by the electorate and they will be more accountable and able to get more done.  But it isn’t a lack of accountability that is holding back councils, it is the fact that they don’t always have the power or the resources to do the things that they would like to do.  Far too many things are dictated by central government and councils aren’t given the freedom to provide the services they want, in the way that they want and to be able to raise the funds in the way that they think is most appropriate.

In last year’s local elections in Sheffield for example, the voters in Sheffield decided to opt for a change and to elect a Liberal Democrat council.  That council is headed up by the very competent and determined council leader Paul Scriven, but it isn’t just about Paul.  It is about the team that surrounds him, and the party is putting in to practice a lot of good stuff simply because they are clear on what they want to do and are trying to make it happen.  If Sheffield had a directly elected mayor (who in an election that revolves more around personality and fame, rather than who is better at the job and who has the vision to make a difference, could be from any party in the city or none) I just think you would create a figurehead without the people around him or her to provide that support.  Certainly, many of the cabinet members in Sheffield are as crucial to making a difference as the leader himself.

I am sure there are many other cities that are in a similar situation to Sheffield.  So I am not trying to make a party political point about how great the Lib Dems in Sheffield are.  Instead I am trying to show that it is not just the leader that is important, it is the team around them that makes the difference.  I would hate to see the decision making in Sheffield being about one person, who is elected because he or she is likeable rather than competent.  It also flies in the face of Lib Dem plans to push more decision making down to communities.  If Sheffield had a mayor would that mean that power would have to be centralised again?

I can only hope that this idea of the Tories is one idea that they drop if they get in to power at the next General Election.

Shock as Bertie Bassett commits bigamy

It’s not often I spread news of a big celebrity scandal, but this one I felt needed a bigger audience.  Bertie Bassett – popular figurehead of Sheffield confectionary giants Bassetts – is in trouble for bigamy.

The scandal has emerged as Bassett’s announced a new lady in Bertie Bassett’s life with their wedding scheduled for this Thursday.  However, yesterday’s Sheffield Star runs the news that Bertie Bassett married previously back in the 1970s and as far as anyone knows they never officially separated.

Before you decide I am completely mad, the full story is here.

Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare hits Sheffield

Friday night’s Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare proved interesting as one of the restaurants he visited was just around the corner from my old flat.  Living nearby and reading the local press did give away some of the changes that Gordon Ramsay instigated, as the programme was filmed sometime last Autumn.

The restaurant in question was Runaway Girl on Arundel Street.  I have never understood why it has such an odd name either.  What is perhaps significant is that all the time I lived round the corner I never realised that it was a tapas bar.  In fact for a long time I didn’t even realise it was there at all as it was sort of hidden amongst offices and university buildings (a problem it will always have as it is not on a main road right in the centre).  From the adverts I’d seen in local listings magazines I always thought it was just a bar with music.  I had only been in once and the only reason for that was because it was one of the few places in the area that was open after 11 on a weekday.

What struck me the first time I went there was the terrible decor, so it was amusing that it was the first thing Gordon Ramsay noticed when he went.  It just goes to show that half of what he does is just point out what is obvious to everyone else except the owners.  Whereas Gordon Ramsay described it as looking like a strip club, my description had always been an 80s singles bar.  The other thing that was always strange was that it only sold drinks in bottles and they were pretty pricey.  It did seem an odd place to do live music (and I understand it did poetry readings too), especially as Sheffield is full of places that do live music that don’t serve food too.

Runaway Girl is now Silversmiths.  I don’t know anyone who has been, but I hear it’s popular, it certainly looks better from the outside and from what I saw tonight of the food I would love to go sometime.