Making life interesting

If you are a regular Gidday-er you’ll know that I’m the curious sort and love to explore. Lucky for me, this also spills into my career (I work in marketing and innovation for a global packaging company) where I have the remit to seek out, to question and to fill the virtual bucket in my head with new ideas. This can appear quite convoluted to those who have a more linear approach to information gathering and problem solving but I’m known for being able to let all of the stuff in my head ‘percolate’ to come up with new proposals and approaches…and sometimes even new problems!

My colleagues tease me for my [over?] use of the word interesting but I love it. And I’m always on the lookout for the new, the unusual, the fun and the fascinating so I thought I’d share three things with you that got me a bit excited this week.

Making life fun

A partnership between Hungarian Telecom, Isobar and the Budapest Festival Orchestra has brought music to the street – literally. Find one of their interactive posters and with a wave of your smartphone, you too can become the maestro and conduct the orchestra. Did I hear you say, ‘Wow’? Then click here to find out more.

Now wouldn’t that make getting from A to B a whole lot more fun? You could be like a flash mob…of one.

Making life safe(r)

Every day my commute to the office takes me beneath the towering clock face of Big Ben and past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. In the morning, we are all commuters, moving as one across the busy streets with smartphones in hand. In the afternoon, London’s many tourists have well and truly emerged to saunter all over the pavement, their heads swiveling and their eyes skywards, posing for selfie after selfie. As they absorb all of the magnificence around them, they are completely oblivious to anything else…including the traffic. Let me tell you I’ve seen a few near misses standing on the corner of Bridge Street and Parliament Square waiting to cross the road.

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Waiting to cross Bridge Street to Westminster Underground Station

This week Springwise.com reported that a new approach to pedestrian protection is being pioneered by Augsburg in Germany – traffic lights embedded into the road at tram stops. This means that all of the digital natives and the millennials – as well as those of us who are trying to keep up with the young, hip and cool – can monitor the red-green-amber of the situation without glancing away from the screen. ‘How interesting’, I hear you say – you can read more here.

Making life interesting

And finally, you might remember that in my February round-up, I mentioned attending a live stream of the opening session of this year’s TED conference. My favourite talk of the night was by Riccardo Sabatini about his passion for understanding the human genome and the power for personalised medicine that this represents. I was absolutely transfixed and since then, I have been waxing lyrical (or boring people senseless with my excited wittering) about this talk to pretty much anyone who’ll listen.

Well this week I am delighted to say that this talk has been made available on the TEDtalks website…just step this way peeps. If you want to be fascinated by what it really is that makes us human, you must click here.

So there you have it – my wows from the week just gone and I’d love to hear whether you’ve found a little spark of interesting in your week.

After all, I am the curious sort…

February: Firsts, facts and fine things

I know. It’s almost a week into March but I promised in January to review each month’s gadding about and February has been every bit as jam-packed as January. So hold on tight and here we go…

There have been a few firsts this month. I’ve already posted about my first filling and my first visit to the British Library. I also attended my first Monash University Alumni event. It’s only taken 24 years and a move across the world to do this and I did turn up wondering what this Global Leaders Network was all about. I had a great evening hearing about the university’s plans for alumni engagement around the world and sharing expat stories with like-minded Australians. How nice it was to enjoy some straight-talking Aussie banter, the room humming with that laconic Aussie twang.

Speaking of university, I have a psychology degree from Monash so I’m really interested in the mindfulness conversation that’s happening at the moment. I saw Ruby Wax interviewed on Sunday Brunch and so went to see her show, Sane New World. Not only is she a comedian but is qualified in psychotherapy and has recently completed a Masters in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at Oxford. Her show was a frank and funny look at our pace of life, mental illness and how our bodies – and in particular our hormones – are trying to cope. I really admire her philosophy in getting ‘off your a**e and doing the work’ – she’s set up free mental health walk-in sessions throughout the run of her shows with the aim of creating a network of walk-in centres across the UK.

February has also been a month for some of the finer things in life.

I attended a talk at the V&A Museum where Francesca Cartier Brickell, granddaughter of Jean-Jacques Cartier, took us on an enthralling journey through the Cartier family history introducing us to the three brothers – Louis, Pierre and Jacq – who started it all and their commitment to innovating whilst maintaining the essence of Cartier design. She also shared many personal anecdotes, one of these about finding the Cartier history in an old suitcase full of letters in her grandfather’s wine cellar. The many family moments she shared made this talk more intimate – less like a lecture and more like a lovely conversation albeit with more than a hundred of us in the room.

It also inspired me to visit The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery at the museum. We were herded briskly through this collection of stunning jewellery on the way to the auditorium and a couple of weeks later, I turned up early for a V&A book club evening to have a wander through. However, it transpired that the gallery was only open during the day so I killed the time I had by visiting the delightful stained glass gallery nearby and also enjoyed a meander through the just re-opened Europe galleries once book club was finished.

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The V&A Museum on a drizzly winter evening; killing time in stained glass

I also attended a book launch at the Institute of Directors. Peter Frankopan is director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford and over coffee and croissants he talked about his new book, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. His contention is that we are taught about history through the lens of a very small number of countries and believes that we have a lot to learn through the stories of other cultures and regions, particularly Russia and Iran, the latter having been the wellspring for language and religion more than a thousand years ago. I left unsure as to what these regions could offer but it did make me realise how uneducated I am about these areas of the world. I’m now waiting for the paperback version of the book to come out (ever tried to read a hardback on the tube?) so that I can broaden my historic horizons.

And speaking of fine things, I also saw Ralph Fiennes in Henrik Ibsen‘s The Master Builder at The Old Vic. Being able to see actors that I’ve loved on screen performing on stage is one of the absolute joys of living in London and despite being in the vertiginous cheap seats, the power of the performance still remained. It’s the second Ibsen play I’ve seen – the first being A Doll’s House which I studied at high school – and there is something fascinating about the way he explores the roles of women and how they use their personal power in a male-dominated society.

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The view from the cheap seats at the fabulously refurbished Old Vic theatre in London

Personal power also underpinned the speaker themes at the opening session of the TED2016 conference which was live-streamed into cinemas on February 16th. Whether it was 10-year-old Ishita Katyal’s opening talk, the performance from musical phenomenon AR Rahman or Riccardo Sabatini‘s vision for personalised medicine (my favourite talk of the night), it was an inspiring and thought-provoking evening and all for the price of a cinema ticket.

February also had me moved by music. My annual pilgrimage to the Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells was a testosterone-fuelled performance by brothers Farraquito and Farruco which had me on my feet at its conclusion. Over at Kings Place, the Brodsky Quartet’s performance of George Gershwin’s little-known Lullaby for Strings was exquisite.

And with all of that going on, I found some time to imbibe in a well-deserved drink

watering holes

A couple of new watering holes near Holborn Station to add to my ‘let’s meet up’ list. L: The Princess Louise  R: The Ship Tavern

So that was February, filled to the brim with firsts, facts and fine things.

Phew!

Now for March…