Our first issue each year is this one we produce in March so although it’s a little late, may I wish you all the best for the remainder of 2019. Here at Barbican Life base camp, as your new editor, I am in at the deep end and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve made a few tweaks this issue; feedback greatly appreciated either way. Fortunately, Lawrence (who is looking healthier than ever) is also watching over me. I tell myself that I’m keeping him active by requesting that he continues with a couple of the regular parts of the magazine for now, but really I’m using him because I know he doesn’t mind and he’s finding it hard to fill the gap in his life after 15 years at the helm! In the background, we’re also working on changes to a few of the regular sections, so it’s all go here.
I’m trying to remember if I ever read this intro when I was younger and not yet so involved in the Estate’s Battenburg of committees and volunteer groups. To be honest, I probably just looked at the estate agent adverts (because I’ve always been nosey) and the pictures; you’re never too old to let the pictures do the talking when you’re in a mad rush. Celebrating our photogenic Estate, our front cover is from a recent O2 photography project; O2 Sessions is a photography masterclass that teaches aspiring photographers the ins and outs of smartphone photography. Staying with our beautiful buildings, one of our articles this month focuses on a very talented local author and artist, Jane Northcote, whose work was on display in February in the Barbican Library.
We are having a very interesting year (in the diplomatic sense) when it comes to politics, locally on the Estate (girls’ school expansion, tube noise etc.), country-wide (the B word et al) and also internationally (walls, Trump, Putin, take your pick) and it is increasingly difficult to stay fair, calm and rational when those aren’t the attitudes we expect from the folk we should be able to respect in decision-making roles. Saying that, progress and change can hardly ever be made using simple binary choices and the devil is always in the detail so there must always be debate and discussion. I confess that I am a BBC Parliament addict. While I rant and rave at MPs bickering and their partisan pontificating, I keep having to remind myself that at least we live in a society where we are allowed to discuss and debate. It thus follows that because the seemingly simplest of issues never is quite that, we need to discuss the hell out of something to make sure we don’t miss anything important. To this end, I’ve included a slot for one of our residents to give opinions about the Culture Mile in this issue. Agree or disagree with the analysis, debate is vital so I hope you enjoy the Alternative Voice.
There was lots of friendly feedback on my article on Livery Companies in the last issue (thank you for that) and I’m grateful that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know much about them. How fortunate, then, to be in Morzine in the French Alps at the very moment the inter-Livery Company ski competition was in full downhill flow there. I planned to take photos at 2pm on one of their competition days and thought I’d have a quick drink at the bar at the top of the mountain. The restaurant was heaving so we didn’t get our drink, but I did snap some of the teams fortifying themselves ahead of the challenge. They were easy to spot because each team has helmet covers with their colour and branding, and they were all a chipper lot full of group-think camaraderie. It felt like the pre-shift fist pump ahead of a TGI Fridays shift.
At the bottom was a mulling vat of vin chaud prepped by the ever-helpful organisers from the Morzine tourism team and I met Sara Bastin (one of the original creators and organisers) where we wondered why the Worshipful Company of Barrel Makers were not delegated to the task! Enjoying the best viewing spot (and most comfortable, resplendently laid back on a mini popup deckchair) was the new Tallow Chandler Master, John Baxter. If I had known about this ski holiday every year when I was working in the City, for sure I would have joined; it seems like a great opportunity to meet new friends and avoid a lonely workaholic City lifestyle and they have a fantastic time of it (and negotiate discount lift passes) with just the right amount of events to allow you your own time on the break to chill and do your own things too.
I celebrate a more mature age in my own personal way by annually referring to my next birthday as the ‘big one’ in the vague hope that I can get away with 49 forever, my eyes have long given up the ghost and I have to carry reading glasses everywhere. We’ve included an article on eye-health in this issue to forearm the younger among you of what to watch out for (sorry about that); you only miss it when it starts to go (the day you realise you are squinting to read your screen) so take care of it.