Stalking Fanny: the 'Interview'

For the Lemon People portrait project I started a little at a loss. Many Lemon People work visually, making a portrait less of a challenge, and I had also never met the subject of my portrait: Fanny

I wanted to turn this anonimity to a strength. I stalked her online, 'like's, different profiles, posted articles, comments - there's a large amount of information on the internet: TONS about you and I, and Fanny. 

Then I sent her fill in sheets and questions to her accounts. 
Here are some:

The other day, walking through _________, I felt _______. I never lie, but ________. The face had reminded me of someone else. Or, a _____. I heard what I hear in my head when I’m _______, ‘____________________________________________________________’. It was like another place. (Short description of any place here).

When I was _______ I knew I wanted to ________. When I was ______, I decided I really wanted to  ________. I _______ the reason was ____________________. My __________ whirls around __________. I’ve never ____________. I always ____________.

The cold makes me __________. The best climate is ________. My favourite film is __________. My favourite book is ___________. They are ___________. I am __________, sometimes. If I could put my work in only a few words, _____________________.  ____________ ?

I got distracted. This is ________ for me. As I was walking, I saw some litter up ahead. Leaning to pick it up, it was that image of that facial expression,

It’s funny how things happen. I started ________ in ________, never thought it would become ____________. Nothing makes me happier than _____________. Nothing makes me angrier than _____________.

 and, finally, this one:

The image curls into my pocket. I feel __________. The road ahead widens. I get to where I’m going. I get to _______________.

Fanny's answer's were fantastic. I kept each quote from Fanny pure, before rearranging and rewriting the story around them. It's neither true nor untrue that I physically stalked her, but I would like to meet her some day...

See the FULL PROJECT here

Stories of The New British; Snippets of work featured in TNB's 'LEGACY' app

Interviewing DJ, Promoter & Human Rights campaigner Harkirit Boparai

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Short Film Prelude to interview with Saffron, a girl using her traumatic experience to help others 

For full interviews, further articles and fuckloads of photography - all produced by a contributor list daubed in pixie dust - download The New British LEGACY app : appstore.com/thenewbritish (it's free)

Musical Therapy Direct to You: An Interview with Record label ‘Therapy’

‘If a track is ready to go now, we go now. ‘

 

 

 

‘The release is a part of the therapy as is the creation. The creation isn’t enough. We have to expose something of ourselves.‘

 

I’m talking to Sean CG, the head of new label ‘Therapy’. Therapy is not just one of a huge growth in independent labels. Therapy’s philosophy particularly interests me, as a story lover and a nerd, as it’s based in the dialogue of their output. They present this dialogue as it occurs. It’s personal, the artist’s relations are intimate, and it bares all through the immediacy of the Internet.

 

‘It’s not a new idea but it’s very liberating, away from the context of the traditional industry’

 

Working with Soundcloud, almost exclusively at the moment, they bring to mind a technological serial, akin to the metered out publication of books since Victorian times, such as ‘Middlemarch’. Our obsession with narrative hasn’t waned – This American Life’s ‘Serial’ has been extremely popular, and famous instagrams, pintrests, tumblr’s and blogs work around their own continuous narratives. These grow with their creators, as Therapy has begun to do  - releasing this narrative while it continues to develop.

 

‘ A large part of the ethos behind this label is narrative dialogue. The relationship between the artist and the audience and the artist and the label.’

 

This was the case in previous years, when a record could be pressed and released in less than a month due to a mass of independent producers. As giant labels have grown, and middlemen have multiplied, this direct conversation between artist and audience has lessened as the gap between has widened. Therapy are one of a handful of labels addressing this – either through their own vinyl production, or, for Therapy, and many independent artists, Soundcloud allows work to be released immediately.

 

‘There’s a kind of disparity between the work being produced and created and it’s release, or delivery to the public, to the extent of tracks held for years...It can damage the dialogue.‘

 

The dialogue itself? Therapy currently represents Participant, Ezra, S O F T L Y, and Dunlop, but as it grows more artists are sure to join the ranks. Their work grows in collaboration and reveals a new undercurrent for each artist as they experiment freely under the wing of ‘Therapy’. It’s fitting that their first – euphoric, a tad uncanny – release was NOT ENOUGH Feat. Tyson - collaboration between EZRA and Dunlop.

 

‘We talk, and we release work over time. No one ever releases something just once with the label’

 

It’s well known that creative output is therapeutic. For Sean ‘the music making process extends into the internet, and into sharing…a part of the therapy that we associate with the internal, being at home…the internet is the geographical artists space’

 

With artists playing in London, Amsterdam and New York, Therapy’s tight knit community crosses geographic boundaries. Having a cup of tea with some of Therapy’s artists is always an exploratory experience, and an educational one. I’ve been played ghetto house, soothing pop, psychadelia, soundtracks and German choral music - with a focus the perfectly crafted, whether obscure or hugely popular. Respect for a good beat, clean production, pioneering sound experiments and creamy vocals run through their work so far. This amounts to three releases – Therapy are in no rush to grow too quickly. There’s an element of suspense. Their intimacy comes through the output, and Sean’s word ‘exposed’ suits the feeling.

 

Will Therapy move past our screens into live events?
‘We’re very interested in having events – public spaces – where we get to premier the work, and the artists have a good time. Honestly, these things are more likely to take place unofficially organized by people peripheral to the label. Friends in France, Berlin, London, talking about hosting events…It’s got to take place from within.’

 

Labels like Therapy are taking control of their input, beyond mainstream avenues. This is partly thanks to new groups like Creative Commons. Creative Commons creates licenses for creative projects, such as SoundCloud, bandcamp and the Free Music Archive, which allow for a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. These labels engage directly with their audience, and while millions aren’t made when so many releases are free, the narrative between listener and creator is stronger.

 

Follow Therapy’s story here: https://soundcloud.com/thelabeltherapy

Confessions of a Coalition NHS Nurse

An NHS nurse, with over 25 years on the job, shares her experiences under the Coalition government, and her predictions for the future, over tea.

The NHS as an institution should make the U.K extremely proud. The ideas behind it, the people involved in making it run, and the work it does for the health of our country, are all facets of its beauty. The NHS in recent years has been lambasted. Reforms made in 2013 cost 1.4bn, with a large proportion of this spent on making more than 20,000 management and administration staff redundant from health authorities, Primary Care Trusts and the Department of Heath. PCT’s and strategic health authorities are phased out as the National Board and clinical commissioning groups now control NHS funding, replacing PCT’s and strategic health authorities. As funding changes hands, costs in the NHS are rising at a higher rate than inflation due to an aging population, costs of new treatments, and lifestyle factors. Coalition reforms were designed to encourage greater involvement from the private sector and charities. Out of every £20 spent in the NHS, £1 goes to non-NHS providers.

 

Complaints including MRSA scares, stories of malpractice and direct criticism of nurses care of patients, crop up in the papers more than ever before. It’s easy for this criticism to be directed towards nurses, administrators and doctors as we interact with them directly, but, as in any job, those at the top dictate their behaviour. After Cameron’s promise to ‘cut the deficit, not the NHS’, multiple NHS cuts and changes have been implemented, to the gain of private companies. As a short case study of this cause and effect, there’s MRSA. It’s spread and panic took place after the top-down decision to privatise cleaning staff. Privatised staff were less motivated due to low pay, long hours and lack of kinship with the greater NHS network. The timing of MRSA fears hints to a causal link.

 

The people that make up the NHS should be cherished as the thankless lifesavers they are. However, newspaper stories about nurses lacking bedside manner or sufficient care, have grown in frequency. The papers seem quick to forget that these nurses are overworked, underpaid, and undervalued. They are also without a voice. Unlike any other institution, NHS workers are forbidden from speaking out against certain policies. Surely these are the people it’s most important to hear from, people experienced in the intimate workings of NHS protocol? I spoke to a community nurse, whose name and hospital must remain private due to the law, about the changes she’s noticed having worked on the frontline of the NHS for 25 years.

 

‘In the last year, it’s changed quite dramatically.’

Up until 2013, N says many of the changes were manageable, and some positive, such as new equipment. Recently, however, there have been several major changes, to the detriment of NHS staff and patients.

 

Staff on the whole are not being replaced.’ When N changed to part-time care she noticed that no one was hired to replace her at the end of the week. ‘If someone goes on maternity leave, bank staff are not used to replace him or her’. These types of cuts are subtle and generally not discussed. To lower NHS spending to the level the government requires, without firing people or not replacing equipment, insidious tactics appear to be the least harmful. However, they are damaging hospitals, by increasing the workload for the rest of the staff. N notices this increased workload effecting NHS workers psychologically; she has seen increasing instances of work related stress. The Coalition’s decision to set lower targets for NHS spending forces hospitals to make these tough, short term, and often harmful, choices.

 

‘Out of a working day of 8 hours, I spend 3 hours on the computer.’ This is something, which N, as a more experienced nurse, has little experience of. Many nurses are in a similar situation, as experienced staff are in high demand, and are often older and less adept with computers. In addition, ‘very little’ training is provided, and the system itself is lengthy. N will write what she’s done for the patient in their notes, then give the same information for the GP’s on EMIS, and then write it out again for the NHS system. I asked if there was a way to sync these systems, given the £400m spent on IT and property after NHS reform. N resignedly replied, ‘apparently not’. N feels the information inputted also doesn’t give a ‘true picture’. Busy nurses often write the bare minimum to save some minutes, as the whole practice ‘wastes vast amounts of time’.

 

Claiming sick time has become ‘very aggressive and quite scary’. Sick time is now on a continuum, rather than resetting each year. ‘If you have more than 2 days on the sick you have to present yourself to your manager’ says N, and the employee will also receive a letter, which N describes as ‘threatening’. The letter mentions how the person in question is ‘letting their colleagues down’, which ‘puts people under a lot of pressure’. Instances involving cancer, or work related stress, are, according to N, the main exceptions to this. Particularly as work related stress has increased dramatically. This is partially specific to N’s hospital, but doesn’t bode well for nurses elsewhere.

 

The work has become harder. Not physically, mentally.’ N cites this as the main reason for a lot of senior staff leaving her hospital. ‘Until a year ago a good district nurse would not leave their job. It’s a good job: It’s autonomous, you make your own decisions, you’re with your patients till they die…you get to know people’. However, in the last 6 months, 3 senior district nurses have left N’s district for the private sector. Data inputting shortens the day with patients, and staff shortages add to the workload. 

‘Rather than planning and preparing for care, you’re doing far more crisis intervention. You’re now waiting for the problems to happen in order to solve them’

N is unaware of any counseling in place to counter this stress, and sees new car rules as a cause of undue anxiety. N, as a community nurse, drives roughly 30miles a day in town traffic. The amount of money per mile she’s paid has been decreased, and the £70 maintenance assistance, that used to be rewarded to those with their own car, has been scrapped. If a nurse gets a knock while driving, no matter where, at work, they’re now liable to pay the 1st £200 of damages. This used to be covered by the insurance company. N supposes ‘the NHS are looking for cheaper leasing companies’, which cover less. All these factors add towards stress, impacting efficiency. N was not notified about any of these changes before they were put in place.

 

‘They’re doing it by stealth, rather than in your face.’

‘our terms and conditions have changed slowly over the last 2 years’. Before reform, terms and conditions were set in stone, and unions had to be consulted before changing them. ‘Now you go in to work and another one has changed’ N has noticed. A nurse in a particular pay band used to be automatically put in a job of the same band when returning to work, but now it’s policy to automatically go down a band. N says this was put in place, with no announcement to staff, where she works.

 

With NHS staff being kept in the dark, and unable to speak out about the changes, the public are unable to access the necessary information that shows stress levels, redundancies, and inefficient systems. Instead, the NHS is either declared unworkable, opening the door to private enterprise encouraged by the Conservatives, or those who work for the NHS are blamed, leading to further difficulty for NHS employees.

 

The public are unaware of changes that NHS staff worry about. The scrapping of the Liverpool Care Pathway – a document compiled telling nurses and doctors how to keep an incurably ill person comfortable without treating them, allowing them to die peacefully – has ‘put care back 50 years’ according to N and many NHS workers. My grandfather was given this treatment, instead of facing a long stretch of discomfort before the inevitable, and I was grateful that this allowed him control over the end of his life. Without the LCP, nurses won’t have a reference for specific drug mixtures that keep dying people comfortable in their last weeks. My grandmother, who died after the change, wasn’t afforded the control, peace, and painless goodbye, that my grandfather was lucky to have. Many newspapers painted the LCP as euthanasia and therefore dangerous, and without NHS workers, or their unions, allowed to speak out, many people didn’t complain about it being discarded due to ignorance over what it was.

N identifies as a socialist, and is a huge supporter of the NHS as an institution. I asked her what she thought the NHS would look like in 50years.

N morosely concludes that if they go along this path, it will be a private enterprise’. N believes paperwork is not going to change the instances of infection…it’s just gathering statistics for the government, so push top NHS employees into private. NHS workers get less time with patients, and it all ‘makes the private sector look better’. As the private sector looks better, the public sector continues to lose resources and staff. Conservatives and Labour intend to stick to the current budget following the next election. Though Ed Milliband has critiscised NHS privatization, and claimed Labour will add more staff, where the funding for this change will come from remains unclear. Only the Greens intend spending to be ‘maintained at the average in the EU’, by introducing an NHS tax. Today's repot by the King Fund declared NHS reform a waste of billions - 

'Services are stretched to the limit. With financial problems also endemic among hospitals and staff morale a significant cause for concern, the situation is now critical' - John Appleby, Chief Economist on Kings Fund January 2015 Report

Reading the report, I find my conversation with N aligned with it eerily well. I only hope this is a wake up call for NHS reform, rather than a swan song.