How not to work


My September has been big. I was worried about it before it started, then it just kept getting more and more busy and intense. It subsequently occurs to me that maybe most people/freelancers/artists live at this pace, most of the time and are reading this, like “What? Grow up.” But I am a simple sort, used to a more gentle setting on the treadmill of life. In a way, I suppose, it’s been a lesson in how one can do more than one thinks.

I stuck with it and have emerged the other side only very tired, and not yet dead. I have turned down a lot of work, chats with friends and speculative coffees from people who’ve got in touch with me out of the blue this month, and this may begin to explain why.

Here’s what went down.

First week in September: Richard Dawkins’ publishers email inviting me to interview him on stage at the Lowry on the 14th. They send his books and I started reading… and reading, and reading. I read everything, and watch everything. My life becomes memes and genes and phenotypes and watchmakers and atheism and Oxford. Over the next two weeks I will come to know more about Richard Dawkins than his own Twitter followers. I’m also desperately trying to sub the new issue and get my life extension stuff finished for the end of the week, because…

September 8th: James, Saul and I go to the British Science Festival for the ‘North Lanes after dark’, where I’d been commissioned to create a life extension experience for the punters passing through a small town centre boozer called Al’s Dime Bar. (It was ace, we tried out an early version of the Life Extension Booth and an early cut of the accompanying film, everyone was really good fun.)

September 11th: Deadline for print design on issue 8 of Hack Circus.

September 14th: I head to The Lowry to interview Richard Dawkins on stage in the theatre about his new memoir in front of about 450 of his biggest fans. It’s a beautiful theatre, and I had no idea what to expect, but it was a very enjoyable evening, interesting in all sorts of ways.

September 15th: Skype interview in the morning for a residency, then my videographer Zaid came over all day so we could do the final edits of How To Live Forever, together, assisted only by Percy Pigs and Brodie.

September 16th: Technically my day off; finalised stuff for the new issue, sent mag to print, planned the rest of the week because…

September 17th: Went to London for the day for another meeting at New Scientist, including lunch this time. Lovely. Caught Roo and Dan Catt afterwards for card games and chat, some of which we managed to capture on record. But only some.

September 18th: Went to Leeds to host a magic & creative tech toy making evening at the Playbox, with my utterly brilliant friends Duncan Gough and Steve Faulkner.

September 19th-20th: Weekend before Brighton. So much stuff to finish. Recorded loads of extra material for the booth, bought the kit for the ‘experiences’, tweaked, modified, added, tested, etc etc. Packed.

September 21-24: Went to Brighton with wonderful creative tech friend and Life Extension Booth-technologist Saul, where we stayed at his brother’s flat on the 22nd floor! Exhausting but fun few days manning my Life Extension installation & film at Lighthouse.

September 25th: Saul drives us back to Sheffield. Collapse.

September 26th: Can’t rest yet, though, today the new issue comes back from print, and they need to be posted out immediately. Today is all about packing and posting the new issue. But at least I can have a lie in tomorrow, right?

September 27th: Nice try. Today James drives us up to Scotland where I am speaking at Galloway Forest Park *the same evening*. Sanctuary is a highly beautiful event with a fascinating ethos, in an amazing location. We stay over in Galloway, afterwards.

September 28-October 1st: We drive up to Loch Goil for a few days of peace and hiking and red squirrels in the incredible Highlands.

October 2nd: Can’t stay too long though, I have to get back today for my talk at Hebden Bridge event, ‘Wuthering Bytes’.

October 3rd: Finally a conventional day off and a night in my own bed. But now guests are coming tomorrow. Housework and washing a-go-go. I prepare talk for the next day.

October 4th: It’s not over yet. I head to CADS ‘Fun Palaces’ to do a lunchtime talk before racing back to greet house guests.

October 5th: That’s today. It’s been a busy householdy day of trips to the tip and B&Q, but a nice change, a refocus on my house and garden and family, and I’ve finally made a dent in invoicing and emails.


Forgive the lack of links, I can’t face it, and I guess you can look up anything from the descriptions. This is more as a reminder for me of how not to plan a month, than for your interest, I guess, as I assume most people wouldn’t be interested in the full chronology of my life! But I’ve talked about most of it on Twitter, too, if you’re after more links.

I extended lives in two different ways in two different cities, arranged a community magic show, finished, screened and uploaded a film, published an issue of Hack Circus, hung out at a top science mag, went hiking in Scotland, spoke at three different events in two different countries and chatted to a controversial scientist on stage in a fancy theatre.

That’ll do, pig.





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