Paris has changed!

View from room in Paris

Paris has changed. Not for the better. Not for the worse. Just different. For example, I was standing outside Telegraphe Metro trying to match the Google Map print out to the intersecting roads surrounding me. When the old man started talking to me loudly, I immediately thought he was berating me for being a foreigner in his city. For that would have been the Parisienne way, although in my experience they would have talked loudly about you, not to you.

This man was offering to help me find my way. My French was barely better than his non-existent English. I said that I was cherching for Rue Saint Fargeau, pronouncing with a hard G like the Coen brothers film. “Fargeau” he gently corrected replacing the harg G with a soft G like Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe. I had learned more French. They are right, this total immersion method really works.

English has become a bridge language. The conference I had been at was hosted by French people. There were delegates from Holland, Turkey, Egypt, and more. I’m lucky I speak English almost as well as all of the others. In French I’m not so good. I do have a small collection of useful phrases where I can “Vous avez”, and “Où est”, like the best of them. Then there the agreeable expletives which I sprinkle through other people’s answers; ah oui, c’est bon, d’accord. I might not quite understabnd what people are saying, but I do sound polite.

Other things that have changed, I hear you ask. Well quite frankly the strong smell of stale piss on the steps up to Sacre Coure on a Sunday morning is not something to be savoured.

Then there is the wedding ring street scam. As I was walking along Avenue de New York – a fairly touristy place between Eiffel Tour and Pont De L’Alma – a lady bent down in front of me and lifted from the ground what was at first site a large man’s wedding ring. The woman was fortunate to be fluent in 6 words of English. “Gold”, as she handed be the ring. “Mark”, as she showed me the inside. “Not fit” as she demonstrated that her fingers were too small for the ring. And “for you”. Now, I had been sprinkling the “ouis” and “c’est ças” to be polite and added, “give to police”. Some poor chap had lost this ring. He should get it back. But I don’t want to spend my only free afternoon getting wrapped up in French red tape. And anyway, gold isn’t quite that colour, and gold rings are not quite that light and … shit, that’s not a hallmark. And I realised how the conversation would spin out.
She would insist I take the ring.
She would discover fluency in four More words, as in “How much for me?”
I would be forced to pay up to take the ring.
“Non, police la bas!” I pointed.

40 minutes later a young man tried the same trick on the Champs Élysées. “Do ya think I’m a feckin’ edjit?” I replied. I couldn’t think of a translation.



Davy and Dawn’s Big Adventure

Lake Bled

Lake Bled Slovenia

A few days ago I told the team I work with at WIMPS ( that I am leaving Public Achievement. It was neither an easy nor snap decision. I have been with PA since January 2011.

Next Monday (31 March), they will be in Stormont at the launch of the evaluation report of the project. To my enormous disappointment I won’t be with them, but I will be in Dublin presenting at a conference on ICT and Youth Work and talking about some of the findings in the evaluation. The team should be very proud of their achievements. Such talent, commitment, innovation and support for each other is rare. I have said many times to them and publically that they are the best team I have ever worked with.

This is not a professional decision. This is a personal decision. And I am not leaving go to a new job. I am leaving to spend more time with Dawn and both of us are going to spend more time somewhere far from Northern Ireland.

Anyone who knows me will know I love visiting Slovenia, something Dawn and I share. There is a short story about this – but that is for another time.

One of the most beautiful places on this planet is Lake Bled and from June, Dawn and I will be living 100 meters from its shore.This is an adult gap year (but not actually a whole year). Adam and Owen are grown up and have left home. Both Dawn and I have worked for close on 40 years and, well, we deserve a break. It is our time now.

In the meantime, I will stay with the board of Belfast FM, Argyle Business Centre and Achieve Enterprises (if they will have me) and attend meetings via Skype from the balcony of Vila Marija. Cesta Gorenjskega odreda, Bled. Do drop by for a Laško sometime.



Davy’s on the road again – again

I’m about to get busy, again. Today and tomorrow producing a live webcast from the Confidence in Policing conference at Titanic Belfast for Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Then to Paris from Thursday to Sunday for a conference “Using Traditional and New Media For Campaigns Against Prejudice, Xenophobia and Discrimination“.

Then Marino College Dublin until Wednesday presenting at a conference on ICT and Youth Work.

Socila media policy – how to deal with comments

I have been trying to write a guide for organisations who want to use socila media, or are using it, but have not got a social media policy. I will publish the guide in due course. But there will need to be a section on the toughest of subjects. How to deal with comments, particularly the most difficult.

The abiding theory has been to engage, draw people out, find a reasonable conversation. Worst is the marketing crapety crap “Make your critics your ambassadors”. Much advice assumes that people are as reasonable as the social media theorists. They are not. Some people are jerks/wankers/arses and some times just plain stupid/bigoted/rude.

there is an interesting discussion here on Facebook <> which I am watching with interest.