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April 08, 2018

Persona Non Grata – The Fine Art of Living

OMG. OMG. OMG. Got into work this morning, plugged in my laptop and whilst I was scanning down through my emails I spotted the following first line “Yes, I remember you…” Oh the excitement! One of my favourite musical artists of all time had replied to my email request to use one of his recordings for the TED talk. Not only am I a university researcher and poet (see Creative Writing Workshop 20.10.2017 )…I am a musical director, emailing the great and the good directly AND getting replies. I sense that all this blue skies thinking, as regards dissemination of our results, has completely gone to my head. Is there no specialism I won’t tackle? No role I don’t believe I can fulfil? Well perhaps yes…just a few…fashion model, diplomat, make-up artist, chef. But I digress.

There we will be, towards the end of our TEDx talk, the audience pale with horror at the grim state of things currently for young mental health service users…and then this catchy, uplifting music starts, an earworm of hope, grabbing us from this low place and raising us up until we soar! (Yes I truly do believe that this beautiful piece of music will help empower us to try to change the world)

Persona non Grata

PS: The song that we will be using is called "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger" from an album called The Fine Art of Living by Persona Non Grata (Bruce Soord and Neil Randall). You probably won't of heard of it, or them...but perhaps you should investigate?


It shouldn't happen to a university research team…Part I

Jane and HelenaI have to be honest and admit that when I got an email inviting me to a public engagement and dissemination meeting re one of our clinical trials my heart sank. Why on earth would I be needed at something like that? And how on earth might I contribute?

Feeling distinctly like a spare part, a distant cousin invited to the wedding out of completeness, I made moves to wriggle out of it…but the senior researcher was having none of it. My presence was required and it was left to me to imagine how my magical aura, my alleged gravitas, was going to positively influence things (and yes, I am being sarcastic here!). 

And so, I arrived at the meeting, relieved to find tea, coffee and biscuits (if nothing else, at least it’s a tea break!). I sat at the end of the desk furthest away from where I expected the action to be, expecting to be a placid bystander.

Our colleagues from External Affairs ran through the options. There was a definite age divide in our knowledge and habits…with the young ones enthusing about TED talks (which I’d never even heard of) and highly dismissive of newspapers (which explains why circulation figures are still falling). It was surprisingly easy, however, to narrow down the options to essentially a TED talk and a play. (Yes, you did read that right…this bunch of academics and their young advisors are going to write a play!!! I mean, we write for journals all the time so this is the obvious next step…just a little stretch…not a leap of faith into the darkness armed only with a sprinkling of self-belief and a modicum of talent.)

This is one of the reasons I so enjoy working with this team. It is young, vibrant, unschooled, open to new ideas and free of shackles. There is no clinging to old ways because there are none…we are frontier pioneers setting out on our next adventure. The MILESTONE team are going to script a TED talk and write a play.


May 2022

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