The most important book you’ll read this year

Many of you will have heard of Hans Rosling. He was an eminent Swedish public health physician and lecturer who came to public attention through a number of TED talks he gave, explaining how little most of us (in the Western world, anyway) really know about the world.

Sadly, Rosling died in February 2017, but his legacy lives on in his book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World, co-written with his son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna.

As a book, its aim is very simple. To explain why the world is in a better place than you think and to emphasise that most of what you know is wrong. Rosling achieves this by asking a series of multiple-choice questions, most of which you fail miserably on. Continue reading “The most important book you’ll read this year”

The sad truth of why charities need influencers

Baroness Tessa Jowell

The news of the death of Tessa Jowell on Saturday from a brain tumour was greeted by an outpouring of affection. The tributes were to a woman who – above all – was thoroughly decent, warm, friendly and principled and who had gained respect and admiration from all sides of the political spectrum.

Her career saw many notable moments, including advancing equal pay for women, the SureStart programme for children and, of course, bringing the Olympics to London in 2012.

But her lasting achievement may turn out to be what she managed to achieve in the final months of her life, influencing the government to speed up and change its course on the treatment and research into brain tumours.

As someone who works for The Brain Tumour Charity I am inevitably biassed, but we have been astonished at the speed at which things changed as a result of Tessa Jowell’s intervention into this area.

Many of the decisions that have been and are being taken by the UK Government are on things that we – as a charity – have been advocating for a considerable time.

Continue reading “The sad truth of why charities need influencers”

It Kind of Blue me away

From the recording of Kind of Blue

When was the last time you actually sat and listened to an album? When I say ‘listened’, I mean stopped doing other things and really paid attention to the music.

Today, I went to a gig as part of the Brighton Festival called Played Twice: Miles Davis Kind of Blue, where – for the first half of the show – an audience of more than 400 sat and listened in rapt silence to a vinyl recording of what has been called the greatest jazz album ever.

The atmosphere was electric. It was a communal experience – so many people all sitting quietly concentrating on the music and nothing else – no phones, no chatting, nothing.

I’ve been to gigs before. I’ve been to jazz concerts before. But to sit with so many people and listen to a ‘record’ – not a live performance – was something quite special.

If you want to experience something similar, Played Twice happens regularly in London.