Set in the chilly, echoy school Conway Hall, The Story was a paper-cup and brown coat conference celebrating the art of story telling. Russell Davis wrangled the audience, and some chap (sporting the good lord’s finest example of ginger hairiness) ran the techy stuff from small wooden table at the side of the stage. Patchy 3G coverage made tweeting & email checking difficult, and the projector was plonked right next to a guy on the 4th row who occasionally knocked the base with his foot.
And so the story of the day unfolded….
Cory Doctorow opened the morning to that chair-squeaky, whispery buzz of late arrivals. I nervously realise I can’t get my work emails to download. My mind is busy and Cory is already reading his story. People are still fumbling with newspapers and my chair is uncomfortable. Who is Cory, anyway? Does it matter I’m lost already? I wonder if we’ll go for a drink after. There’s way more men than women here. I wish I’d brought a jumper. Where’s the running order in this paper… who is Cory? Oh, shit. I really really should know him.
What I found most interesting was how long it took me to focus on listening. Sadly, I haven’t a clue what Cory talked about. I only remember the word exoskeleton. But, over the rest of the morning, my mind settles, my thoughts find their rhythm, and I can concentrate on some of the most engaging, inspiring and reflective performances I’ve seen.
Dr Aleks Krotoski’s talk is best summed up by this tweet from @WiredUK ‘Aleks Krotoski just made the room jealous by showing her journeys to i/v every web hero for her BBC2 series’. And her doctorate. And she’s sitting next to Alice Taylor. (who it turns out is married to Cory…)
Jon Spooner discusses neutrinos and the path to madness, leaving us to reflect on this romantic musing: ‘I’m looking forward to finding out at the end of the day what slightly different colour the world might be.’
Then, Tim Etchells wanders on. I’m immediately judging him – he looks bored. His voice sounds bored. But the pace, interrupted only by some well timed slugs on his Evian bottle, is so perfectly meditative, I slowly drift into his story world – filled with detached shadows, napkin art and celebrity. Silence in the hall.
After salty mushroom soup followed by pour-it-yourself complimentary coffee, the gathering is hustled back for more. A quiet buzz is radiating now, and Sydney Padua warms the room with her quiet nerves, and peels back the layers behind comic strip Loveless and Babbage.
Interestingly, Tony White’s talk features a backdrop of extra information, but because my multitasking mind has totally shut down, it’s difficult to follow his slides and his talk at the same time.
More sessions follow, then we break and lunches are eaten, cigarettes are smoked, water is drunk from plastic shot glasses (seriously) and the afternoon commences with a chocolate scramble – creme eggs, kinder surprizes and red delicious apples (!) are tossed into the audience. (evidence care of @willsh)
Tim Wright steals the day with an April fools gag on crack – the attempted deceit of his co-worker in the legendary tale of Harrison Fraud. Hilarious, indulgent, delightful.
Sam Conniff, self-professed marketing wanker (yet not in the slightest) from Livity, told someone else’s tale. The story of Jody Mcintyre a south london journalist & cerebral palsy sufferer who’s climbed Machu Picchu and moved to Gaza to fight for freedom and write hip hop. I get that weird form of inspiration that sits somewhere close to ashamed of myself. (note: Jody has just messaged me to let me know he doesn’t consider himself a ‘sufferer’. Please read his story, my words will never do it justice)
Some sessions break the ‘no theory’ rule of the day, and some sessions were storytelling proper – like David Hepworth’s tale of coincidence and patriarchal legacy and the search for the perfect suit.
When I’d finished cleaning away everyone’s coffee cups and half finished sandwiches, I made my way to the Square Pig for a drink feeling totally inspired. I never did check my work email. High-five Matt Locke.
The Story reminded me that in my area of media – cross-platform production – the most engaging way to grow a story is to keep telling it. Never sell the tale, as they say, tell the tale.
I’m extreemly jetlagged as I write this, so please forgive me if the re are errors or bad links.