It’s been pointed out to me in no uncertain terms (as they say) that not everyone is going to be as fascinated by Project 60/60 as I am. One man’s list of 60 things to do - or start doing - while he’s 60 is hardly the riveting raw material of cliffhangers and bated breath being, as it is, of direct interest and consequence mainly to the man whose list it is; the man who dreamed it up. Namely (of course) - me.
But I don’t agree. In my opinion, to draw that kind of conclusion is to miss the point. The idea here, in describing the success or otherwise of The Project, is to tell a story of One Man’s ‘Special’ Year; one man’s journey through a period he has deliberately designed to be challenging, sentimental and unknowable by turns. And the not very well hidden agenda is the hope that it may inspire bystanders, helpers, listeners, readers, blogsters and those directly or indirectly involved to transfer some of the impetus to their own lives, to absorb some of the ‘action’ and its consequences and to concoct projects and ideas of their own. If my plan works there’ll be a lot more than one story to tell when the year is up in December 2009.
I’ve dreamed up 60 items to go on the list. I’ve hoyed them all into a ragbag and drawn them out at random to draw up the final order of the list. So, in genuinely random order, the list starts like this...
Take a photograph every day at 1300....
This peculiar idea isn’t original; it’s part of the basic plot of one of my favourite films: Smoke. If you haven't seen it, you’re missing out bigtime! One of the protagonists - the owner of a small, street-corner tobacconist shop in Manhattan - takes a picture of his shop every morning at about 0800 just before he opens for business. He’s the first to admit that there’s no real reason why he does it - except that, since he started, he has a running record of New York street-life spanning all the seasons through many years of local change. Most of what his photographs show is insignificant and utterly unimportant in the Great Scheme of Things. But it becomes of more than passing interest to him and, through him, to his customers, all of whom are ‘ordinary’ people leading ‘ordinary’ lives. In fact, one of the purposes of the movie seems to be to show us that the ordinary lives of ordinary people can be wholly and totally extraordinary.
At first, I decided not to fix a time for my daily photo. I quickly realised, though, that I would find the temptation to ‘contrive’ my photo would become irresistible; that I would end up doing whatever it was I was photographing because I was photographing it. Whereas the idea, of course, is that the photo is an ‘extra’; that whatever is happening each day at 1300 would be happening whether I photographed it or not.
So be prepared for a pictorial narrative of the mundane and the predictable mixed - I hope - with the surprising and the unexpected. I’d be genuinely delighted - and fascinated - if you could see your way clear to join me for a while. Try it yourself, if only for a week or so, and we’ll compare notes.
I’ll be taking the first picture in this series of 365 at 1300 on Thursday 4 December. If you do the same - and it’s a digital picture, of course - send it to me and let’s see what we can make of 60/1.
I mentioned on The Nightshift a few months ago that an ex-colleague had ‘donated’ a brand-new unused aquarium kit to me. I have no idea how he came to possess it or why, possessing it, he had never actually taken it out of its box, filled it with water and put some fish in it, thus fulfilling the ultimate destiny of all aquariums. Er...aquaria?
Anyway, for whatever reason, he gave it to me. And now, it’s 60/2 of my Project.
As I’ve said on-air, I’ve always had a hankering to keep a small fish tank but, for one reason or another, I’ve never got round to it. Well I now have no excuses. 'I’ve got a little list' and the aquarium is on it. New skills and techniques to learn, new animal-keeping pleasures to experience. Grist - as it were - to the Project mill.
I know that, as far as exciting new adventures go, starting up a small fish tank isn’t in the same league as, say, taking the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. But everything’s relative; if you’ve never kept fish before, Macchu Picchu can wait.
Make a ‘pilgrimage’ to Beverley...
Three of the 60 items on my little list are ‘pilgrimages’ to some of my favourite places in England, discovered over 60 years of getting to know my native country. Beverley is one of the three. It’s not just a splendid little East Yorkshire town; it also has the very great good fortune to possess two of England’s most notable mediaeval churches - St Mary’s and the sumptuous Beverley Minster....
With the first three random items on the list I have an element of the ongoing ‘present’ (the daily photo), a challenge for the future (the fish tank) and a lifetime favourite from the past (Beverley).
Watch this space....
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text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN
Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.