Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Apprentice

Updated 21 May...

A radio script idea based on the popular reality show.

Overview: Sir Alan assesses 3 apparently successful characters and finds them wanting, and a 4th who's less 'successful' but wins out on the character stakes.

(Intro music).

Receptionist: Sir Alan is ready for you now.

Clara (under her breath): Sir Alan is, like, God.

(ticking clock)

Alan Sugar (AS): Morning all of you.

All contestants: Morning Sir Alan.

AS: Clara, how did you feel the task went today?

C: I were really pleased Sir Alan. People call me ‘the Rottweiler’, and today, I literally – I think that’s the right word – I literally bit the heads off three of me team mates.

AS: I bet they loved you for that. Michael, what have you got to say for yourself?

Michael: Sir Alan, I would do absolutely anything to get this job. I would walk over hot coals backwards. In a nightie.

AS: Note that down Margaret. How about you Lucy?

Lucy: To be honest Sir Alan, I thought it was really difficult. In fact I think I fluffed it.

(scornful sounds from the others)

AS: Not very promising. However, today I’m gonna give you a slightly different take on things. (music up) Clara. You make Attila the Hun look like Little Bo Peep. Do you ever stop to think about people’s feelings?

C: Sir Alan, it’s dog eat dog out there.

AS: Oh is that right? Michael, what would you do to help someone else get a foot on the ladder?

M: Well Sir Alan, I can’t say I’ve really thought about it…

AS: (cuts in) Not very convincing. Lucy, you at least looked out for people; I like that. Clara, Michael. You’re very good at making a shed load of money. But what good’s a six figure salary if you’ve got to screw someone over to get it? I hate to disappoint you Clara: I’m not God. But maybe the man upstairs knows a thing or two when it comes to what really matters…. Lucy?

L: Sir Alan?

AS: The task was a bit of a shambles. But you took the flak. You cheered up your team mate when she was in pieces. Bottom line: you cared about someone else more than yourself. Lucy… you’re hired.

(Music fades out).

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Bradford in the mix

We all have perceptions, however vague, about places we know of but are on the fringes of our geographical awareness. Before moving to Bradford, what did my mental map read? Slightly edgy: 'Brad' has a brash, cocky ring, like Mr Pitt in his Stetson and boots in Thelma and Louise. Bradford City Football Club, Leeds-Bradford Airport... 2001 race riots brought awareness of its Asian population, and recent TV dramas have highlighted its associations with Islam and possible terrorist plots.

Living here, I've also tasted its distinctive Yorkshire flavour: York stone terraces and factories, earthy accent that remains at the attractive end of the regional scale. I've been moving between two distinct zones: Idle village, centuries old, hilly, quaint, barely a non-white face to be seen; and the city centre, slightly shambolic, bustling with multi-ethnic mix. The regal Midland Hotel overlooks a large cratered space that, having lain derelict for years, is now busily grazed by piston dinosaurs watched over by men in hard hats.

In the cluster of shopping streets, a scattering of black clad fully veiled figures move furtively, but most Asian girls wear happier attire, commonly loose bright-coloured trousers tight at the ankles, silver or gold heels and long silken scarves. A posse of three strolled down the street yesterday in almost identical blue white and black. And the stores where I hunted out a running top sported a noticeable contingent of Asian staff: red-T-shirted assistants, hefty crew-cut security guard.

Religious and ethnic plurality lends an exciting buzz to a place like Bradford. But it's taken me a while to learn to relax and enjoy such pulsating diversity. Partly through being quite introverted in my younger years, my Christianity used to be too attached to a limited range of experience 'markers'. Big changes in environment and circumstances, like going to university, or to Korea to teach English, produced crises of faith. I've had to develop a broader conception and experience of the love and wisdom of God to weather such storms; a common experience I'm sure. And it's an ongoing process. Bradford's multi-ethnic, cultural mix reflects the world at large: plural, complex, diverse. It's a constant challenge to ponder how a faith like Christianity is not time and culture bound, a fragile ornament in an easily shattered box; but liquid and dynamic with the potential for life and influence in all times and circumstances.

But it's about time I had lunch :)