Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Dave Raval’

Dr Pack’s Instant Remedy

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 4th September, 2011

Hackney Liberal Democrats must be unique in London in having organised four garden parties this summer. The latest, this afternoon, was a bit unusual, in that both the host, Dave Raval, and the booked speaker, Andy May, were unable to attend because of pressing family concerns. But the show must go on and organiser Geoff Payne had quickly found a replacement attraction in the new media guru Dr Mark Pack, who gave an interesting, discursive presentation taking as its starting point the Guardian correspondent Nick Davies’s book Flat Earth News, about media distortion and malpractice. There was a lot of discussion about where ultimate responsibility lies: the journalist, the editor, senior management or the owner? Media ownership has shrunk in this country, in the sense that independent newspaper companies (often run by families) have almost all been bought out by great enterprises, like Archant vis-a-vis local newspapers. But Mark raised the interesting point that many ordinary people, including LibDem voters, without realising it often have a stake in newspapers or broadcasting outfits through direct or indirect shareholding. A third of us, he estimated, probably have a stake in the Daily Mail, if only through the holdings of pension funds etc. One area in which I dd disagree somewhat with him was over the effect of modern media diversity and new media on the variety of people’s sources of information. I tend to think that as more and more specialised TV channels and websites get created, people narrow down their range of input, for example relating to political bias, whereas Mark believes that through Twitter, Facebook etc one gets to interact with a cross-section of viewpoints. While this may be true of people like him and me, who deliberately find out about what others think, and have ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ from all political parties, I’m not persuaded that this is the case for most people, who tend to keep linked in with people with views like their own. Anyway, this afternoon’s event was a provocative introduction to a massive subject that is currently going through a state of flux.

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Pride and Poetry

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 4th July, 2009

London Pride 2009This year’s London Pride was certainly the most enjoyable I remember: perfect weather for the march, excellent stewarding and a really great atmosphere amongst both the participants and the crowds. The Liberal Democrats made a bigger splash than ever before, with a striking banner, a balloon-festooned, disco-music blaring, Union Flag-topped Mini driven by Hackney South and Shoreditch PPC Dave Raval and borough-specific placards for other LibDem participants to hold aloft as they walked. Very positive response from the punters. I don’t know what the speeches and entertainment in Trafalgar Square were like afterwards, as along with many of the other marchers, I retired to a local hostelry to rehydrate.

Gawain Douglas FortunaIn the evening, I went to Jeremy Trafford’s literary salon in Earls’ Court to hear Lord Gawain Douglas give a reading with interlocking textual commentary of his book of poetry, Fortuna (Alma Books, £9.99). I first met Gawain many years ago at an Oscar Wilde Society dinner, but unlike the Irish playwright, who followed the then traditional path of writing poetry in the spingtime of his life, Gawain came to the ‘highest art’ in the late summer of his. The result is not just mature but finely honed and some of his generally short poems are as pregnant with suggested meaning as a Zen-inspired Japanese haiku. I far prefer his work (as well as his personality) to that of his great uncle, Oscar Wilde’s nemesis Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. Most poets are rubbish at reading their own work and usually should not be let within a million miles of it. But Gawain, as I discovered this evening, is an exception: his performance was brilliant, giving added value to the text and much for one to ponder on a still almost midsummer’s night.

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