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    Entries in George Orwell (1)


    Pub Talk


    So, ToMax talks are no longer given by great minds in the upstairs room, and once again occur between two old friends at the bar. Two - rather than three - points of view, more arguing and a whole lot more bullshit. No transport home for the speakers. Occasional fisticuffs in the street. 

    ToMax Talks as an enterprise is in hibernation for the near future, but the spirit isn't dead to us. We will be running the odd low-key night of ToMax as a hobby, so watch this space. In case you are our parents and are wondering what we're up to, we are working for a tech start-up called HitMeUp and currently organising a thwacking three day EatMeUp (Street Food/Christmas Market) near Old Street. More on this at a later date.

    Where we're working nowDespite a scheme to take a lorry on a ToMax tour of Britain interviewing local heroes – the side would slide up revealing an interview set (a sort of mobile, less staid version of Parkinson) – and despite talk of a bar or club hosting ToMax-type activities, we are both glad to be part of something with its own momentum, rather than having to generate momentum ourselves. At least for now.

    To keep the hoards of fans amused - and our own lyricism alive - I'm going to write a blog every three weeks or so. Over a year, we met some astonishing people and have a few stories - so I shall sneak in one or two of these, as well as the usual arm-chair philosophising and pointers to cool stuff in London. Some of the most impressive people we encountered were not the most famous or the crowd-pullers.

    One such person was Lea Minshull, our faithful photographer and a familiar face at almost every talk. Out of love for the project, he took superb photos week in, week out, for a fraction of his normal fee; going an extra mile, he also compiled the collaged posters which were on display at the events. A big thank you.

    I was recently watching some speeches and wondered how, if at all, ToMax differentiated itself. In a 1946 essay, George Orwell wrote “In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a "party line." Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.”

    I was proud that our talks evaded truisms and vague, 'imitative' rhetoric ("one nation party"?). We asked stupid questions of the great and the good and got straightforward clarification. No one (we hope) felt uncomfortable at our talks - they weren't pretentious. They combined argument with the personal. Neither was the speaker presented as a modern day priest, the context was humbling.

    So, with a massive pinch of salt, a tri-weekly gobbit - a whole outlook distilled into a single, pithy quote:

    Dr. Mark de Rond, Social Anthropologist on a happy working culture: 'Give people something greater than themselves to worry about.' Or something like that.