An eye for detail

I’m delighted to be mixing with like-minded eagle-eyes having joined the Society for Editing and Proofing (SfEP) at the back end of 2016. A friendly local group in Edinburgh has welcomed me and it’s fascinating to learn of the wide variety of work undertaken by members. Lots of ideas and links to build on in 2017.

The new year has also brought more of a rhythm to the way I work now that I’m based for part of each week at The Loft in Edinburgh, a co-working space close to The Meadows (green space – luncthime walks!). It’s a great space, housing a mix of web designers and software specialists, an artist, a spa designer and a fellow editor and proofer. A diverse bunch we are. (With desk space still to spare if you’re interested – just get in touch.)

Building progress

The Edinburgh Festival may be in full swing, but the summer is already tearing away, with a range of projects bouncing along happily.

Church on the Bridge cover

The Heritage Lottery funded communications project for Augustine United Church is making good progress. It’s great to be coordinating such a great team of creatives – and to see one key piece in the jigsaw, the 32-page booklet, just about to come to beautiful fruition courtesy of Jane Darroch Riley (designer), Simon Jones (photographer), and input from exhibition designer Lindsay Sneddon. They’ve taken my words and made something that tells the AUC story and reflects its ethos in a vibrant, contemporary way.

PSW July 2016Meanwhile, the next edition of Professional Social Worker beckons (copy editing for the British Association of Social Workers); plus there are discussions for new work on the back of a booklet I edited on the theme of Sanctuary for this year’s Solas Festival in Perth.

Project management for AUC

Finding hidden stories on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge

Finding hidden stories on Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge

I’m delighted to have been contracted to project manage a Heritage Lottery funded research and communications project for an inner city Edinburgh church. Augustine United Church is situated on the historic George IV Bridge (opposite the almost-as-historic Elephant House, “the birthplace of Harry Potter”!).

Our task is to produce print and audio-visual resources, including a DVD, that will express the congregation’s contributions to the communities around it since its foundation in nearby Chambers Street in the early 1800s. In addition, members of “AUC” will be trained in the communication of their story and the church’s place within the city’s evolving heritage.

Book of the Week – Philip Glass memoir

Philip Glass bookBeginning today, 27 April, another Book of the Week abridgement – and, following on from December’s Schubert-themed series, another book about music and musicians. This time, the unique master of minimalism, Philip Glass. It’s a big, wide-ranging book, part memoir, part social history, part musical theory. It ranges from New York to Paris and the sub-continent; from David Bowie to Mahatma Ghandi. Though, for Bowie worshippers, that isn’t very far at all.

Google images

Dear Google,

just for the record, 2nd from the right isn’t me. Not even in the morning. 🙂

Thank you.

Google images 28-11-14
(Find out who it is here.)

Ian Bostridge Book of the Week abridgement

Winter JourneyVery excited to have been asked to abridge Ian Bostridge’s forthcoming book, Schubert’s Winter Journey, for Radio 4’s Book of the Week slot.

Subtitled “Anatomy of an Obsession”, this is an exploration of Schubert’s song-cycle Winterreise by one of it’s finest interpreters. I imagine there’ll be a lot of interest in it when it is published at the turn of the year.

Provisionally, this Book of the Week will go out on Radio 4 in the week beginning 22 December.

Media training with Richard Ayoade

The perfect introduction to media training.

Dear Krishnan Guru-Murthy gets his comeuppance from two clever individuals who know just how interviews work: Richard Ayoade and the redoubtable Quentin Tarantino.

Welcoming BASW work

Professional Social Work magazine coverDelighted to be asked to do some work for BASW (the British Association of Social Workers), publisher of Professional Social Work magazine.

Getting social with small groups

Am pleased to have made a proper start today on a contract for a pilot project with a UK-wide charitable organisation.

facebook-logoA website and related social media will be developed to encourage and suport a wide variety of small groups (existing and new) across the UK to connect and share. This is about:

  • facilitating conversation
  • offering validation
  • establishing group networking

So I’ll be getting familiar with new CMS software, further exploring the strengths and weaknesses of different social media, and managing another Facebook page.

Good to be developing new skills and making a difference.

The Land Where Lemons Grow – Radio 4 Book of the Week

Helena Attlee uncovers the Italian passion for all things citrus

Helena Attlee uncovers the Italian passion for all things citrus

Who knew that the Mafia was so interested in lemon growing, or that limes are not nearly so effective for combatting scurvy as lemons, or that one oddly-shaped citron is known as a “Buddha’s hand”? I’m busy adapting The Land Where Lemons Grow by Italian gardens specialist Helena Attlee for Radio 4’s Book of the Week slot. Due to be broadcast during the week beginning 21 April.

Read more about Helena Attlee.

So far in 2014…

  • proofing a new book, Reflections on Eldership, due out from Saint Andrew Press in April
  • articles, site management and moderation for Methodist website, Singing the Faith Plus
  • a couple of DVD resource proposals; a book proposal
  • editing study booklet
  • article about my trip to harvest olives in Palestine in October last year
    One by one - harvesting olives in Palestine, October 2013

    One by one – harvesting olives in Palestine, October 2013

  • planning audio and web production for the 2014 Church of Scotland General Assembly in May
  • oh – and got my tax return in on time

That feels OK – the year has got a bit of momentum about it!

Book off to the printers

Reflections on Eldership2014 has brought, amongst other things, the proofing of a book I was working on during the back end of last year : Reflections on Eldership: insights from practising elders. Initiatially using a questionnaire, but increasingly via face to face and phone interviews, I spent many hours encouraging elders to articulate their thoughts about, and experiences of, the multi-faceted role of elder in the Church of Scotland. A little to my surprise, the resulting book has evolved into quite a personal, ‘human’ document. Women and men, many of them older in years but some in their twenties, spoke with honesty, pride, frustration, wisdom, and occasionally diffidence – but always with a sense of great commitment. And the result is a kind of conversation between people who, for the most part, have never met each other.

As I write in the introduction:

“By and large, elders tend not to talk at length about their role. They will discuss matters at hand – the business of the kirk session, perhaps, or the life of the congregation in general – but talking about themselves is a different matter…

Yet, might it not be helpful, for a short while, to step back and ask elders the question: Why did you accept the invitation to become an elder and what does it mean to you to carry on in this role? Might it be helpful to them, as well to others (including potential elders), to articulate their understanding of the role and to compare and contrast their experiences of it?”

Due for publication in April by Saint Andrew Press, hopefully the book will be helpful. We’ll see.

Deep Sea and Foreign Going ‘Book of the Week’

Have just finished abridging Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George for Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’ slot. Broadcasting week beginning 9 September 2013.

One of those books that, in honesty, I probably wouldn’t pick up in a book shop but which has proved to be absolutely fascinating. The subtitle is a neat summary: “Inside shipping, the invisible industry that brings you 90% of everything”. (The book has already been published in the States as Ninety per cent of Everything.)

George takes a five-week, 9,288 nautical mile trip to Singapore on the frieght-carrying Maersk Kendal. She not only reveals the global industry behind the ship; she covers modern day piracy, underwater noise pollution, missions to seamen, and the terrible reality of search and rescue operations. Quite an eye opener!

Go for it! Stories worth telling

Hot Chocolate - a creative space for young people in Dundee

Hot Chocolate – a creative space for young people in Dundee

A little over a year ago I was commissioned to edit these stories about community-based projects run by or involving local churches. We told the stories in order to publicise a new Church of Scotland fund that is providing grants for other, equally inspired, initiatives. The Go For It! Fund is up, running and doing really good work in supporting local communities meet the needs of old and young around in their midst.

More about the Go For It! Fund here.

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas for R4 Extra

David Almond's delightful novel - to be abridged for BBC R4 Extra

David Almond’s delightful novel – to be abridged for BBC R4 Extra

With our new DVD making an initial favourable impression with the client, it’s now straight on to new projects. An abridgement for The 4, o’clock show (BBC R4 Extra) of David Almond’s delightful novel for younger readers (and their parents!), The Boy Who Swam for Piranhas. First task: remember how to spell “piranhas”. Sorted.

Plus starting the compilation work for a book for Saint Andrew Press about the lives and experiences of Church of Scotland Elders. And the small matter of media work for the Church of Scotland Assembly in a couple of weeks time.

So plenty of desk-bound work to be getting on with. And NOW the sun decides to come out!

Stories without words

Creativity in the edit suite

Creativity in the edit suite

Just out of the edit suite where I’ve been producing a promotional video for an Edinburgh charity. They want to be able to show the piece on large screens in their newly refurbished cafe area. And, in order to be unobtrusive, the video is to be shown without sound.

A real challenge to come up with an 6-8 minute piece that tells a story and reflects an ethos and values without resorting to narration, interviews or any other background sound. In so many ways I’m a words man, but I love imagery and am inspired by it. So working with image maker Simon Jones has made this process both fulfilling and a lot more fun.

And you know what? I think we’ve done it! And it’s beautiful. Let’s hope the client agrees…

View church in the square

Update 30 July 2013

… They did!

Herald publishes affordable housing article

Hidden behind Arran's natural attractions lies a crying need for affordable social housing.

Hidden behind Arran’s natural attractions lies a crying need for affordable social housing.

Had an article published in The Herald today. It highlights a unique affordable housing initiative on the Isle of Arran and is driven by Scottish Churches Housing Action. Whitebeam Housing aims to purchase empty housing for sale on island and then rent it out at below market rates to those who can’t afford private rents but won’t score high points for social housing.

Children, not trams

Interviewed Chris McNaught, the retiring Director of Children and Families Services for the Church of Scotland’s Social Care Council (which operates as CrossReach), and have produced a couple of audio releases for distribution to local radio stations across Scotland.

In the piece I’ve called Children, not trams, Chris calls for government to reprioritise the way it develops legislation in order to provide more support for Scotland’s children. If government coordinated policy in favour of children, would there be trams in Edinburgh, he asks.

Chris also believes that the Church (especially a “national” Church, though that attribute is questionable nowadays) is in a good position to show the way at local level. He argues that social care is a vital function of the Church’s role in society.

Looking for Mrs Livingstone – new Radio 4 Book of the Week

“… this beautifully crafted, moving and insightful African adventure” (Herald review of my abridgement for BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week)

Have just completed a new abridgment for Radio 4 –  Looking for Mrs Livingstone by Scottish journalist Julie Davidson. It’s the story of David Livingstone’s wife, Mary – the first white woman to cross the Kalahari (twice, and both times pregnant) and to reach Lake Ngami.

Her story has been overshadowed by the towering reputation of her missionary-explorer husband.  Inspired by a desire to visit her grave, in the heart of modern-day Mozambique, Davidson re-tells the ups and many downs of Mary’s life alongside an account of her various journeys in the steps of this unsung Victorian heroine.

Broadcast dates: Monday – Friday, 10 – 14 December 2012

Read an interview with Julie Davidson in The Blantyre Telegraph.

Methodist resource for small groups

Journeying Together – a three part DVD resource for the Methodist Church in Britain – is now available online. Subtitled “The how and why of small groups”, it was made with Simon Jones mainly in and around Newcastle and Dunblane.

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