- Reason One: a thought process about generations, not just the immediate.
- Reason Two: the beauty of patience in a world that often demands speed.
- Reason Three: the richness that comes from the pursuit of a craft.
- Reason Four: a desire to find out more. For example, I didn’t know that 99% of the wasabi consumed in the world is not actually wasabi — it’s horseradish + green food colouring. Real wasabi is difficult to grow.
- Reason Five: authenticity.
I’m doing the final prep’ for the next Paradox Sketches event. Ipswich is calling tonight.
Sketches is in its third month, and I'm still learning the ropes. Each event is different. On purpose. Trying new ‘lines.’ Adjusting each section; seeing what works or needs a little more attention.
But one thing has not altered.
This tour has been one of the most affirming spaces I’ve occupied. Not because of sales or reviews, but the awareness that this Dickensian narrative really does connect to the present.
For those who haven’t heard my ‘dulcet tones?’ Or dared venture into my ‘imagination on the page.’ My Paradox book (and tour) is suggesting that the Dickensian landscape of poverty and social injustice is still around today... just with a different language. At face value, you could think it’s a fully negative statement. But Dickens had a twist with his observations. His deliberate ‘pounding of the streets’ (where he placed himself in situations that forced him to observe what was happening around) turned his gaze to another side of that injustice.
I’m not going to give away any more of that twist... I still want to sell the book and do the tour!
The date and location is set: May 18th in Brighton & Hove for the Swirl Day and Film Premiere.
There will be maker workshops from videographers and photographers on the beach and in the hills during the day, a veggie bowl dinner and the main event - the Swirl Film Premiere.
Tickets for the premiere is now live - £10 for evening premiere or £20 for whole day including lunch and dinner!
In a totally, unapologetic biased opinion, George Holliday has done an awesome job on the film (search him out on Insta and YTube). Tom Copson gets to serenade you and Dave Erasmus is not looking too bad in the film as well. For added bonus, you occasionally get hear the dulcet tones of yours truly rambling on about ‘who knows what?’
Language is not about defining things but the reminder that the world is bigger than ‘my’ world.
Once upon a time these travelling dreamers somehow found themselves walking the same path. Over the next five, ten, fifteen and twenty years, they lent into the whispers of adventure, exploring landscapes beyond imagination. They laughed and cried, celebrated and mourned. Occasionally fell out. But they never stopped dreaming. And they never stopped watching each other’s back.
But as with all tales, there is a time when stories need to end. This week marked the moment when this ragamuffin group said their goodbyes.
Endings are important.
How else can a sequel and spin-off occur?
Dear Detroit, it’s been an adventure into a wonderland of imagination and creativity. A ‘curiouser and curiouser’ adventure of planting trees, hanging out with friends in derelict homes, and... visiting a tiger. Thank you for turning the page on a new chapter and revealing the magic of the unknown.
There is a legendary clip from the 1971 ‘Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971’, where the frustrated conductor, André Previn, tells Eric that he’s playing “all the wrong notes.” Morecambe’s response remains one of the top punchlines in comedy.
"I'm playing all the right notes—but not necessarily in the right order."
But this audio clip below, has all the right notes… in the right order… but different.
I first came across the composer and artist Isaac Schankler through a talk about music perception (how listeners can hear and experience different things with the same piece of music). His reworking of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata blows my imagination.
Enjoy listening to this famous piece of music, with the bass a bar late and the melody a bar early.
The smallest adjustment can change everything.
It’s been a busy few weeks with The Paradox Sketches Tour. Not that it’s a toil. I get to enjoy food. Drink wine. And meet new friends. Makes up for this introvert having to take centre stage!
The thing about being an introvert is that when I do venture into the public realm, the world seems full of questions. Did I come across ok? Was my content strong enough? Did people enjoy it? But here’s the funny thing about stepping out of my comfort zone. This adventure has been one of the most affirming things I have ever done.
“...Yesterday I was lucky enough to be a part of Andy Smithyman's Paradox Sketches Tour - I hosted a book club with a group of friends. Andy gave us an insightful presentation followed by a captivating reading. We discussed the book around the dinner table, over wine and food. What better way to spend a Sunday evening?
I would highly recommend anyone to take part and host a book club - it is a special experience and enables layers of interesting conversation around important topics.
My two main takeaways from the discussion are:
The idea of provocation; popping our own bubble of ignorance and the importance of continually working on this. This deeply resonated with everyone around the table, leaving us all considering our ignorance and hypocrisies.
The other is the idea of seeing and observing. We see, but do we really observe? We talked about this considering the world (and its injustices) around us...
The evening led me to thinking about this idea in relation to books. With an insight into the mind and thoughts of the author, I feel I have a deeper understanding of the intricate and multi-layered nature of Paradox. It's left me wanting to pay extra attention to the words and hidden messages. Which has me wondering, how many books have I read where I've seen the words, but I haven't really observed what's beneath them?
Thanks Andy for a special and thought-provoking evening.”
It’s one thing writing a book. Another, talking about it with a gap between stage and audience. But when this gap is removed... it’s an adventure I wouldn’t want any other way.
“The things you get fired for when you're young are the exact same things you win lifetime achievement awards for when you're old. Which is to say the things that run against the grain, that are not common, are not logical, that don't fit in to the standard approach… if you do survive and get that across--remember that the things that get you in trouble are the same things that are later remembered as being exceptional."
I love this quote from Francis Ford Coppola in his 2011 interview with HBR. A wonderful reminder for us all to trust that inner voice of creativity.
I faced a new challenge heading towards my second event.
How do I transport my books via train and tube during rush hour?
For some reason during my tour planning stage, I always had the picture of Paradox safely packaged away in the boot of my car. ‘Safely packaged’ being the key phrase.
The Iris Cloth front cover was chosen to amplify the sense of touch for the reader, complimenting the storyline of Paradox. It was my attempt at producing a fictional tale in the style of a coffee-table keepsake. And I think it worked, but this also brought with it a complication.
As with all cloth covers, the material can get damaged during transportation.
Since the launch of Paradox, I’ve navigated through this challenge in many ways; from placement of stock and postage, to wrapping an individual book in a tea-towel if I needed to show someone a copy. But transporting a stack of books, alone, on public transport? That’s a whole new dimension.
One idea was to individually package them up, just like how they are posted out. But how would I personalise the message inside if I didn’t know who would be purchasing the book? I tried using a suitcase, but even a bedsheet around the edges didn’t stop the books from moving around. The compromise was cardboard and bubble wrap - in a weekend bag. And needless to say, my attempt didn’t entirely succeed. 20% damaged bag stock.
But this is nothing to feel down about. It’s all part of the adventure. I love trying to figure all this out. What matters is that the second event went well. I met wonderful people. The host did amazing with their greeting and ‘spread of snacks.’ And most of all, I came away believing in the possibilities for this approach.
I now have a week off from the Paradox Sketches — another challenge, mixing childcare with touring.