The Bush of Goats

Marc Williams, writer & designer: 'Life's too short for empty slog ans'



There is something peculiarly English about Bletchley Park.

As you can probably tell from the image above (taken in the ‘car park’) it’s in some state of disrepair.

And right now there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of where it’s headed. But right now, Bletchley Park is stood at a cross roads: it’s very close to being awarded a substantial grant from English Heritage.

But at the minute, It’s teeming with builders doing something to the roof of the original house whose scaffold is elaborately navigated by parties of the old (led by equally elderly tour guides). Tellingly, in half term week, there are very few kids. I counted less than a dozen, and they all looked like they were in the school chess club – no offence.

The part of me which is always thinking about promotion was horrified.

This isn’t some second rate stately home – this is Bletchley Park, ferchrissakes! It could claim to be the birthplace of modern cryptography and had one of the first ever digital computers installed there. It should be a geek shrine, stuffed to the gunnels with interactive stuff, not wasting away, because lazy tourists don’t understand what was achieved here.

Shouldn’t it?

See, another part of me likes the quaint, incompetent modesty of the place, and cannot imagine anything worse than Bletchley being turned into a modern attraction.

The work carried out at Bletchley during the war was intensely complex and dull and repetitive and required great fortitude and discipline to complete. Churchill said of the Bletchley team, “My geese that laid the golden eggs and never cackled.”

So, is their memory and achievement better served by the hard won discovery of a small, engaged minority, or by trumpeted convenience and a MacDonald’s?

Whatever its fate, hats off to they g33s3s.


Filed under: Noticing

‘What seemed like a kick in the Shins…’

I had a good meeting at the BBC yesterday and was travelling back from there, when shuffle (‘oh how I love thee managed randomness!’) threw up something by The Shins.
When it came out, ‘Chutes Too Narrow’ was on constant repeat on my iPod and was on the way to becoming one of my all time best favourite albums of the last few years ever – mostly because of James Mercer’s exquisite lyrics (‘Gold teeth and a curse for this town,’ is one of my all time favourite opening lines). But I had stopped listening to them.
Why? The drumming :(.
Now, I am hopelessly inept at drumming as I find the flight control required to keep all four limbs on separate trajectories virtually impossible. But I can recognise talent when I hear it (There should be a kinetic statue in space to Jon Bonham; the guy who plays for Franz Ferdinand is a genius) but the Shins skins man is not a particularly adventurous thwacker, and I”ve always found the sound a bit flat and lacklustre. I used to tut. ‘they should get another drummer – they could be huge’.
But listening now, from a different perspective, what I realise is the importance of the team: he might not be the greatest drummer, but how is it possible to calculate his value to the other members of The Shins? Maybe he acts as a moderating force, or an orchestrator. Maybe he has an ear for a musical phrase; maybe James would be lost for words if it wasn’t for his Lemon drizzle cake (I’m just speculating here: I have no idea whether he makes cakes, Lemon or otherwise). But you get the jist.
In a way, this connects back to that Tom Taylor thing I mentioned about creating software (in this case, music) and seeing how it works, then building it again with the benefits of experience: There is no one music; there is not even only one Shins album.
Hmm, *beard*.

Go find out about The Shins

Filed under: Noticing


February 2009


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