Thursday, 21 May 2009

Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself?

It’s nine years today since I started working for Northern Arts, the precursor body to Arts Council England, North East – an anniversary I usually mark in my head at least. I was the new Head of Film, Media and Literature, slightly battered and bruised from a year working in the death throes of university adult education. I’m not going to run you through the highlights or the lowlights of the last nine years in the arts funding system, or how many reorganisations, jobs and project groups I’ve been through. (Oh, alright then, a lowlight would be the phrase ‘I don’t have to be in the region to feel a strangler’s hands around my neck…’ from someone I mistakenly tried to engage in rational debate.)

Highlights would include some of the great people I’ve worked with, of course. I’m now no. 10 in the North East Long-Service League table. Unlike her beloved Sunderland AFC, or indeed any North East team, Karen Bell is top of the league with 20 years under her belt and is the only person I’ve ever written a ‘staying poem’ for, as opposed to our traditional leaving poem. (Staying poems are harder as you can’t risk quite the same level of mickey-taking.) The others ahead of me are Gail Scott, Mark Mulqueen, Andrea Lowe, Matthew Jarratt, Ailsa Golding, Kathleen Fairley, Dianne Coaten, and James Bustard – stalwart servants to the arts, the region and the organisation everyone of them. I tried to find a photo of at least one when much younger, but photos in annual reviews seemed to die out before their time, so you've got one of reception instead! I can confirm beards were big and scary at Northern Arts in the 70’s/80's though...


Geoffrey Crayon said...

We've had a version of this strangler story before and I really can't see why ARTIST IS A BIT THEATRICAL is even worthy of note let alone dining out on as your darkest hour.

Unless of course you had a plague of frogs, a hostage crisis and man-flu at the same time. In which case my every sympathy. It must have been awful.

Mark Robinson said...

Well, pardon me for repeating myself. Put it down to age. It's all a blur, you know. We didn't have a hostage crisis, though I did hear people were talking of a march on the office at the time. I am a very sensitive man, it has to be admitted. Hello trees, hello sky etc etc.

I've probably also told you I used to edit a magazine called Scratch, partly in homage to Lee Perry. He did the original of Why are people grudgeful?