WW = Wasn’t Watching

16Nov10

When people ask me why I blog I tend to refer them my inability to recall events from the distant, (and disappointingly not very distant), past. So the assertion that “the gathering of data is how people stay in the game” at Interesting North, (more of which later), this past weekend has supplied me with another, perhaps better, explanation still.

I do sometimes worry that the act of gathering data works against my ability to enjoy the moment rather than observe it but hey given that I worry about almost everything most of the time the fact that someone else makes this assertion does allow me a little comfort.

Which is all an introduction to the data I have gathered over the last couple of days whilst in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

We travelled up to Sheffield on Friday morning and parked at one of the very places I really wanted to see on our whistle stop tour – namely the car park located at Charles Street, also known as the ‘cheese grater’. I don’t know how long the car park had been open for however it’s existence had passed me by until recently, but thanks to some excellent pictures, (disappointingly much better than mine), from @typejunky, it does now appear on my radar.

We quickly decamped into the centre of the city via the Winter Gardens, housed in another recent arrival, to see what Sheffield City Centre had to offer. On first impressions I wasn’t sure what to make of it – a mix of the old and the new with neither really sure of what to make of the other – that said the appearance of the University seemed a good sign, and the iconic Park Hill flats in the distance are strangely reassuring, (despite the brightly coloured fascias on the re-developed blocks), and anywhere with trams surely deserves extra points. The city made more sense later in the day when we drove out of the centre to find our exotic lodgings for the evening, with the route taking us through the industrial remains of the area and a suburb going by the rather splendid name of Atlas.

Before venturing out of the city though I decided to wander back to the Millennium Gallery to look around the excellent Restless Times – Art in Britain 1914 – 1945 exhibition which I hadn’t planned to see but was really pleased to catch – there’s a short, rather good film about the exhibition on the Sheffield Museums YouTube channel which in itself is also worth a look.

And so an interesting day in the North to well, Interesting North.

My real concern about reporting on Interesting North is that I have no idea how to do it justice. I wrote copious notes on the day, many of which I can’t read, and I also took many photos, most of which aren’t terribly good – though I can at least partly blame that on the sun streaming into the hall, (not an inherently bad thing mind just not great for pointing and shooting). So given that I probably can’t do it justice I’m going to give ten quick reasons why you should, if nothing else, look out for next years event . . .

So to begin with – Cutler’s Hall eh ? What a venue ! Unassuming on the outside, wildly opulent on the inside, like a beautifully ornate TARDIS. Who’d have thought that the world of cutlery could be quite so glamorous ?

Then to Sheffield itself. Cutler’s Hall was a great venue and one not located in London – I’ve nothing against our dear capital city however it is always nice to expand my knowledge of the British Isles.

The Interesting North programme, was yet another excellent production from the Newspaper Club – who in turn were also behind the paper produced to support Matt Edgar’s talk on ‘green sand and subterfuge’.

Stefanie Posavec’s talk on ‘Baseball Score-keeping : Data for Data’s Sake’ was an early winner for me and I think embraced everything that Interesting is about. A favoured obsession, the admiration and understanding of baseball score-keeping, (“the gathering of data is how people keep in the game”), with an explanation of the subject for those of us less knowledgeable in the sport. She explained the intricacies of the art of score-keeping too with several examples of different styles – including her own father’s, but what I particularly loved was the story of a score-keeper questioned on his use of the mark “WW”, a mark unknown to the questioner, which it transpired, stood for the times the score-keeper’s attention had wandered and as a result was when he wasn’t watching.

The soup at lunchtime sponsored by Howies, which allowed the financial contributions made to go to the Cathedral Archer Project, (a local charity helping the homeless).

Frankie Roberto’s ‘Lessons From Lego’ was always going to be a favourite given that my love for Lego is well documented, and Frankie didn’t disappoint, especially given his ‘difficult’ post lunch slot. The lessons in question included the knowledge that (a) not everyone approves of the juniorization of Lego, (me included) (b) you shouldn’t mess with the colours (c) not all tie-ins work and (d) skin colour is a controversial subject even in the world of Lego.

Having seen James Wallis at a previous Interesting I knew he was going to be good and he was. His ‘Works of Fiction with Really Stupid Titles Involving the National Socialist Government of Germany 1933-1945’ presentation was wonderfully assured, and very funny, but hey you can’t beat a talk on “books about daft Nazis” can you ?

Suw Charman-Anderson’s talk on ‘Eyjafjallajokull, The Little Volcano Who Could (Close Airports Around Europe On A Whim)’ showed her to be both very knowledgeable and also, perhaps more importantly, able to  pronounce everyone’s favourite volcano. She also supplied all with a cut out and make cardboard model of the very same – which I have already take then trouble to construct, (pictures to follow when daylight returns).

Then a presentation whose title seemed both a challenge and a threat given the mid-afternoon timing of the slot. Oli Shaw’s ‘Catching Sleepers’ was a strange and really enjoyable talk about, well essentially catching, (and photographing), sleepers on the train into work, and in turn turning the art of catching them into a game.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, what I really really love about Interesting is that it makes me think. An activity that one needs to be reminded to do more often that you’d imagine.

So an enormous thanks to all those involved in Interesting – it was great – may the Northern franchise prosper and may the Southern instigators return.



3 Responses to “WW = Wasn’t Watching”

  1. This whole post made my heart jump. i still consider Sheffield my home despite only living there for 4 years of my 20 post-parents-home years so it was great to hear your views about the new city. And of course Interesting North sounds like it was totally excellent. but the thing that made me catch my breath was the reference to the archer project. As a uni student (and after) i used to get up at 6am twice a week (often after disco-ing [cough] until 2am) to do my turn in the cathedral refectory cooking breakfast and chatting with the visitors. I’d totally forgotten those amazing times.

    it’s like all my favourite things gathered together unexpectedly in one fab post. thanks 😉

  2. 2 danielweiresq

    Hey Dave, that’s great – I’m glad to have helped you remember past (and seemingly good) times.

    Of course what I failed to say was that the compere didn’t hold a candle to the last one at Interesting in London who was, (I think), a gent who moved to New Zealand – you may know him !

    DW x


  1. 1 Interesting. Interested ? « dig your fins

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