Monday, 28 February 2011

Check out my solution for Lambeth Council to prevent cuts to the vulnerable & sick in @MarkBennett blog comments

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Whilst Lambeth Council & Social Services do everything to prevent me making a full recovery & being a good parent, they're not going to win.

Friday, 25 February 2011

As a thank you for his week in London, my son Charles Atherton-Laurie is cooking me lunch. Spiced lamb with Mango, Apple & Cucumber salad.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Son Charles Atherton-Laurie, visits National Gallery and completes the detective tour & helps Matt Smith in Doctor Who Experience at Olympia

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Son Charles Atherton-Laurie, surpasses himself by spelling antidisestablishmentarianism at "The Spelling Bee Musical" in the Donmar Theatre

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Son, Charles Atherton-Laurie, meets publicist Max Clifford at The Connaught Rooms and dines on Burgers at Haché.
Science day for my son Charles Atherton-Laurie, the history of surgery at The Hunterian Museum & study of viruses at The Centre of The Cell.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Son Charles Atherton-Laurie is down for his half-term visit in London. Here's what happened at Christmas 2011
Thanks Anne & Malcolm Williams for assisting in accommodating my son Charles in Wales & for brother Andrew Toy for checking his teeth in car

Friday, 18 February 2011

Made guest appearance sitting behind PM David Cameron on Charlie Brookers TV, Big Society piece on @10oClockLive

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Extremely disappointed not to have made @CarolineHeatlie's Birthday Party at Pasha due to CFS. Hope she had an amazing time & a good crowd.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Editing David Selves "The London Press Club Grill" internet trailer, interviews with Apprentice winner Tim Campbell & former MP Martin Bell.
Disappointment of the Broadcast Video Exhibition at Earls Court, was removed by celebrating Amanda Baker's Birthday at London Cocktail Club.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Trademark hat helps me to stand out, even when the Prime Minister is in the same room, according to The Telegraph
Thanks to @SteveMoore for the invitation to @thebigsociety today. Prime Minister, David Cameron, should read this
The film "Don't Let Me Go" @RitzyCinema is definitely not a Valentines Day treat unless you want to end your relationship! Way to depressing

The Prime Minister, The Big Society & Me.

As I watched Prime Minister, David Cameron, answer questions on The Big Society as a member of a select audience in Somerset House, London this morning, I couldn't help thinking there was an obvious flaw in his plan.

Put simply Cameron wants to give people the power to take control of their lives. But he's devolving Big Government power to small Government Power. That means placing the hands of all the power to Local Government.

He acknowledges that Local Government is one of the major stumbling blocks for people to improve their lot, so why do this?

Surely, to give the power to the people, means giving them the power to immediately hold Local Government to account. Not at elections but in the moment when it's needed.

If you've been following my plight over the past 18 months you'll know that currently this is not possible.

My experiences with Lambeth Council taught me three things.

Firstly, that inertia is encouraged and forms the first part of defense for the council not doing anything (layers of complaints system that are designed to achieve absolutely nothing).

Secondly, that nobody in the council has overall responsibility, no one person can make a decision and enforce it. Not, it would seem, even the leader of the council (in my case Steve Reed).

Thirdly and most importantly, nobody has a clue how local government is run.

For example It would be reasonable, as a voter to assume your local MP would have more sway when trying to sort out constituents problems than local Councillors, but you'd be wrong.

When David Cameron was asked to intervene on Riven Vincent's behalf (the woman threatening to put her disabled child into care because her council were reducing her respite care), the best he could offer was to write to the Council and hope they did the right thing.

If the Prime Minister of the UK can only write and ask? What the hell can the people do then?

And there it is, the core problem with The Big Society. If you want to give the people the power you have to remove the inertia of local government.

Cameron believes that transparency will help to achieve this. Forcing the councils to publish online, everything from salaries to expenditure. Whilst knowing how much your local council is spending on bonding days and team building trips to the Bahamas is important. It all becomes meaningless if you can't do anything about it.

Ask most people who their local MP is, they'll probably have some notion, but ask them for the names of their local councillors and most will give you the look of a bemused bulldog.

Which councillor did you last vote for in the local elections? Did you meet them? Did they have a manifesto? Are they any good?

Nobody knows.

We all deal with Big Government, we know who they are and should know what they represent.

But local Government is a world unknown to most and one that now, under Cameron, is being given more power.

But without being able to take your Council to account, not through a long winded complaints procedure but through simple common sense, nothings going to be achieved.

Take Riven Vincent for example, it is blindingly obvious to everybody if her child is taken into care, it will cost the council considerably more than the cost of increasing her respite care. So why weren't we, as the people, able to enforce that?

Trying to get British society to buy into real change and take on the responsibility of governing our own destinies under the banner of The Big Society will be lost unless we are truly given the power.

And I for one, want to be one of the driving forces for accomplishing that goal.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Incredibly sweet day with Tamara Thomas in Notting Hill, Portobello Rd - Hot chocolate at Dri Dri & Red Velvet Cupcakes, Humming Bird Bakery

Friday, 11 February 2011

Over the moon to hear friend & performance poet @ZenaEdwards on Radio 4's Wondermentalist Cabaret on BBC iPlayer
There's a new hope for The Big Society in the form of Contented Ltd. Check out my experience of the consortium at

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


In an office in Birmingham, in the grey light of a winters afternoon, a miracle was performed.

A meeting with the Third Sector, that not only had a purpose, but actually proved one of the most productive meetings of my life.

No agendas, no minutes, no tick-boxes.

I've worked in the Private Sector most of my life and in the last 10 years have attempted to be supportive to numerous Third Sector organisations all to no avail (fund-raising events let down by the Charity to whom funds were going, donations refused by charities who claimed to desperately need them ( and donations of my time, wasted by pointless meetings and inadequate action).

So, it was with serious trepidation, that I returned to the grounds of my worst enemy, a group of Third sector people and travelled the 3 hour journey from London to Birmingham to meet the core members of a consortium called Contented Limited

Contented is the exact opposite of everything I despise about the Third Sector. Firstly, it doesn't exist in anyway comprehensible to most who work in it. A group of people from all walks of life, from the Private, Public and Third Sectors who up until now, have organised meetings at their own expense both in terms of travel and time, to, well... just chat.

I met it's Managing Director, Gerard Davies, some years ago, when the idea was just a spark, but when he explained it, it was underpinned by an incredibly strong ethos. And it is that ethos that gives Contented its strength. Every member believes in the same values wherever they come from or whatever they do (myself included):

That bureaucracy and regulation gets in the way of delivering quality training and opportunities whilst draining scarce resources.

That generations of children have been cheated out of a real education by being duped into the belief that a useless University degree is the only way to progress in British society.

That knowledge in itself has a huge intrinsic value to society as a whole.

The active members include A professional business coach, a TV & Film Producer, a fundraiser, an outdoor pursuits manager, a professor, an ex Journalist, an animation teacher and training providers, who all sat around a table discussing how they could add to the betterment of society.

So what? you may ask.

Well, to start with, this is “The Big Society” in action. A group of people whose primary reason for getting together is to help others, even at great expense to themselves.
But more than that, this is changing how things can be achieved. Private companies who would normally run away from the ludicrous paper filling and lead times to get funding or clearances that plagues the Third Sector, will in the environment of Contented, seriously look at participating in it.

Third Sector organisations who have become reliant on Government funding now looking at totally different ways of raising money and delivering their services with Private Sector thinking.

This was truly exciting for all concerned but the real magic lay in the way the meeting was handled.

It starts with each individual in the group having a two-minute opportunity to explain why they were there, what they brought to the table and what assistance they would like from the other members (a standard networking approach).

And it was through that sharing that I met Harvinder Olikh a Training Provider (Train2success) and Nouman Prevez an Animation Course Provider.

Nouman was setting up a 3 month Animation Course for 16 – 21 year olds which would give them the specific qualifications to start working as Junior Animators in film, television or 3D modelling houses on starting salaries of £25,000 and was looking for where to get students from and work placements.

I'm currently making a Feature Film being written by Rhianna Prathcett which needs animation, Harvinder knows the head of schools at Dagenham & Barking and so all Noamin's need for students and placements were met in one fowl swoop.

From my perspective, I can offer placements to students who want to learn a craft as part of my industry, without all the paperwork worries and costly bureaucratic barriers that often prevent me from doing so.

Harvinder is able to offer his students an exciting course that will lead directly onto highly paid work.

Nouman saved hours of writing pointless and unanswered e-mails to Film Production Companies and struggling to think how to get the students on the course.

Swift instant decisions that benefited everyone involved.

And that's truly the power of Contented – Diversity & Instant Action.

As Harvinder said:
“I've spent too long around people in the same sector, we all think in the same way and speak in the same language. I would have never had the opportunity to speak to the likes of Paul Atherton (Film Producer) or Noamin Prevez (Animation), there would just never been a point in my life where we would have ever crossed paths. With so many differing view points and life experiences presented today, I've learnt more in the past few hours than I have in the past year. It's a Masterclass in understanding”

And if you're next question is “understanding what?” you've missed the point of Contented entirely.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

An amazing and moving performance by the stunning voice of Estrella Morente @Sadlers_Wells Theatre to open the Flamenco Season in London.
Monday night Madness at Maxwell's Bar & Grill Covent Garden, one of those secret's Londoners don't normally share
Another day working on feature film Vigilia, this time looking at Human Behviour via Stanford University lectures

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Thanks Charles Wahab for excellent meeting re "A Thousand Voices" at Boisdale, Belgravia on the Cigar Terrace -
Darren Aronofsky's latest film "Black Swan" Vue, Leicester Square, left me contemplating pursuit of perfection in the creative industries.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

In the Natwest Tower, Rhodes 24 bar doesn't give the same great views as the Vertigo bar, but a good alternative if you are unable to get in
Working with apprenticeship program & animation trainer, to deliver work placements for NEETS to work on Vigilia, under Contented Ltd banner

Friday, 4 February 2011

More research for our feature film Vigilia, watching classic films Brief Encounter & Now, Voyager, examined for their view of romance & duty
Play Greenland (about climate change) at The Lyttelton,National Theatre with Vicki Peaple had one saving grace, the puppetry of a Polar Bear

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Fortnum & Mason's bar 1707 has one of the best cheese boards in London and you can purchase champagne for off licence prices - very special.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Working on Vigilia with Amanda Baker - studying Greek Mythology, Female Warriors and Great Women (e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt & Katharine Graham)