Interesting North (part one).

“Fish is brain food, and so is this.”

I stole that line from a song I like (Aaron T. Beck by Vegetables). It seemed as good a way as any for explaining what Interesting North was supposed to be.

Tim first mooted the idea of doing “an Interesting up north” sometime in March. I thought it sounded like something to do, possibly fun and that I could offer some of my event experience. It was about more than just transplanting Russell’s concept into Sheffield, it was about doing a Sheffield version of it.

Over the last few months there were other people, meetings at Gusto, a lazy Susan-based Chinese banquet, cups of tea, spreadsheets, favours and even Google Wave. People offered help, contacts, influence and time. There were no fluffers or egos. Maybe the occasional ego.

We settled on the TARDIS-like venue of Cutlers’ Hall. Its unassuming façade belied an opulent interior: on every surface historical cutlery, elephants and portraits of the giants of industry that laid the foundations of the city. We were steeped in antiquity, a heritage we often forget, but one that still runs through Sheffield. A DIY spirit with a creative drive carried from industrialisation to the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and into the present.

That ran into the wonderful identity that David Bailey devised. The only brief I really gave was to have fun and not use Helvetica. I think it worked. Based around an upturned robin reliant, it’s every bit a part of Sheffield’s recent history as fighting Thatcher and the student games, if a little bit more esoteric. Dave put in a shedload of time into making a bunch of great stuff:

Along the way, I met Liz Noble from Sheffield Hallam University who corralled some of her graphic design students into making the bunting for our event. Two-hundred metres of the stuff:

Bunting in situe (photograph by Dan Sumption)

Speakers came of their own accord, with fairly loose advice (“be interesting, don’t talk about your job, don’t tell us what we already know“). Talk content ranged wildly, with topics arcing from cake to failed visions of the future, unambitious sci-fi, lego, society as unreliable narrator, meaningful games, not being mad, baseball scorekeeping and tacky Nazi tie-in literature.

It was by and large, very good. I will write a separate post on this. Massive thanks to everyone who talked. Especially those who stuck to time, and those who were superb.

Tim has been overly humble over on his blogpost. He put in most of the work and made the whole thing happen. Lots of little bits ticking over, silly ideas coming to fruition and some tricky decisions made. He kept his bombastic intro a complete secret from me. I think he thought I would be a killjoy as it was not “on-brand”, but it was his day and he is more entitled to tit about than anyone else. It was a super way to shut people up and get things going. Well done, Tim.

Other big thanks go to Saul, Dan (see his photos), Fiona, Aden, Erica, Jag, Tony, Joel, Lorna and all sponsors.

For my input, I spent a lot of time building up a sort of community of people on twitter and sharing things that may have been interesting. I wrote some words for the website and talked to people who may have enjoyed it. I asked Kiosk to make it pretty, Samuel Cotterall to make a nice looking site, and crafted the content for the newspaper with Dave Bailey. I tried to keep people from talking too long on the day, but was often ignored. Those people are divvies.

Broadly, I just tried to keep Tim’s head from doing this:

I hope we do it again next year, but for now, I’m just happy it’s over.


3 thoughts on “Interesting North (part one).

  1. Hi Greg, Great write-up and lovely thought about the Cutlers’ Hall. I really enjoyed discovering a bit more of Sheffield at the weekend. I think you in turn were too modest about your own role. In particular, you and Saul looked after us speakers brilliantly on the day, including some firm but fair time-keeping. Thanks!

  2. Help: Helsing’s Fire. « Mount Analogue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s