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Candid about the glories and benefits of his status but allowing glimpses into his treacherous and tormented past, Paul Abbott spoke at Coventry Conversations this past Tuesday.

Paul Abbott has a stunner of a life story to tell

The event began with Paul showing clippings of his work, a stellar compilation. Coronation Street, Cracker, Shameless, State of Play, Touching Evil and Clocking Off – these are all hugely inspiring and award winning television spectacles. These shows have allowed this writer to build a mini-empire of his own work.

Abbott admits he has become a brand. “J.J. Abrams said to me the other day, I’ll make anything you want to write”, this news excited and flattered the writer from Burnley “but I don’t want him to make just anything I write”.

Each programme may never have been written.

“You got beaten up in my family if you could write your name.” This is the first crack in the door of a closet that holds many skeletons. In a personal interview following the public lecture Abbott opens up even more. “We have a husband and wife in our family tree that were brother and sister so my brother rung me up one day saying ‘How do you sue someone, I want to sue ancestry.com’. He then began threatening to release it to the public to bring shame on me”.

The support his family provided him when learning how to write is no different to the support his family give him today. This is evident when Paul’s children receive birthday cards from their Aunts and Uncles, and their names are incorrect.

Earlier in the lecture theatre, the writer explains his own view on supporting writers. “It’s pointless mentoring writers if the first thing you do when they make a mistake is throw them out”. His shows have become so big that he now employs writers to do much of his work; all the while he keeps a close eye on their output.

It may seem unfair that the world gets to benefit from the creations of Paul Abbott when the inspirations for his ghastly characters and bizarre storylines are so close to home. His imagination however, is still there “You’re never lonely when you have an imagination… tapping back in the child in you is important because everything is achievable when you are 15” – no matter what your background.

The writer’s childhood largely inspired the ideas behind Shameless “…and when my Dad found out, the only thing he said was ‘when did I have long hair like Frank? He didn’t care about the character of him, he wanted to know why I gave him long hair”.

Shameless has 2nd season beginning soon in the US

Abbott sees his name as synonymous with the black hole he clawed his way out of, with the Burnley estate his family keep tying him to. His children however, love the name, because to them it represents him.

His 19 year-old son has just had a script bought by the same Red Production Company Paul has worked with for so many years. “I had no idea, I knew he was writing, I’m waiting for him to tell me so we can talk about it.”

“I’ve always believed your children can grow up to be 2 and a ½ times better than you and they already are.”

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This is a short piece I wrote at the start of the NBA lockout during which time I was applying for the course I am currently on – this article supported my application. Due to this some of the relevance and facts are out of date.

 

Boston, San Antonio and Los Angeles have all been swept aside (in some cases literally) from this year’s title chase. Many have begun professing that this is the year we say our final farewell to all the ‘elderly’ teams, and with good merit, but they are forgetting one major principle in how next year’s championship race will play out.

The Lockout.

If the NBA has a repeat of the 1998/1999 lockout season each team will have a regular season of just 50 games. The teams that feature more 30 year old’s than twentysomethings will have benefitted from the extended rest-bite and their bodies and games will be in their peak midseason form by the time the playoffs arrive.

Even if every playoff round goes to a deciding game 7, the final two teams battling it out in June will have played 78 games when a victor is crowned. This is 4 less than they will have had to endure during a regular, regular season.

Of the top 4 teams in each conference 1999; 7 of them featured in the ten oldest teams for that season. 6 of them were in the final 8, 3 of them in the final four and the two left standing were the 3rd (San Antonio) and 6th (New York) oldest teams in the league.

When you compare that to the regular season leaders of this past season from each conference, 6 of the teams are amongst the ten eldest, proving that age an experience still counts for a lot in an 82-game run.

By the time 100 games starts rolling around, that is when the bodies started giving up on the aging teams.

San Antonio are surprisingly young at the moment and only just creep into this year’s ten oldest teams. It’s the starting five, and main receiver of minutes that log in at 33.2 years old. On the other side of the argument, Miami are the oldest team in the league, but their starting unit is an athletic 29.6.

The slightly fresher legs have kept Miami in the heat of the championship run mainly because their slightly fresher legs can still run.

Of course every team needs a mix of wily veterans and youthful energy to throw at competitors. Boston, LA and San Antonio have this mix but the knees of Garnett, Bryant and Duncan hold out for long enough. The main difference will be that in the potentially shorter, partly locked out season of 2011/2012, the wily veterans will still have some youthful energy stored up of their own and will look to take back the crown from the young pups for one more year at least.

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Better than North Korean propaganda?

“The North Korean’s couldn’t come up with better propaganda than the Murdoch’s.”

Nicholas Jones, famous for his previous political reporting at the BBC, described one of the Sun’s many iconic front pages. May 5th 2005 sees Tony Blair and Gordon Brown spliced in to two Manchester United football tops featuring the headline “Come on you Reds!”

When looking at how loyal Murdoch’s signature paper was to the Labour party during Blair’s run as Prime Minister, its tough to imagine that this is the same paper David Cameron occasionally wrote for and stands by to this day, despite the incredulous fall from grace the Murdoch family is currently undergoing.

It illustrates the point that Jones made earlier in today’s Coventry Conversation; for years the Prime Minister was so fearful of Rupert Murdoch and his army of media that they would dance to whatever music the fallen media baron played.

This is the effect that Andy Coulson had, or even has on the current Prime Minister. His link with Rupert Murdoch helped secure British public support of the Conservative party leader. The effect the ‘Red Tops’ have had on the country is undeniable; their persistent campaigns have changed laws – the campaign for ridding the country of plastic bags was a success within 3 days; they topple high-level officials – the Baby P debacle cost the jobs of at least five Haringey Council Staff; and they win and lose elections for Prime Ministers – Neil Kinnock never did get a chance to turn out the lights.

The former BBC political correspondent explained that when New Labour was being formed “Blair was desperate to get Murdoch on his side… Cameron was as desperate to get Murdoch on his side as Tony Blair was many years earlier.”

It has been argued that Rupert Murdoch’s support can make or break a Prime Minister, but some believe his media organisations have simply aligned themselves with the right people at the right time to ensure his business ventures are secure. Either way Murdoch and whoever he pledged allegiance to have always been very happy people, that is, until Prince William and Prince Harry discovered their phones had been hacked.

The Guardian persisted with this story, or as some may call it – a campaign, until it was revealed that the young schoolgirl Milly Dowler had her phone hacked while she was reported missing. This information caused public outrage and Murdoch’s Empire now finds itself in the spiralling scandal his papers were once famous for unveiling.

Nicholas Jones speaks in a series discussing Phone Hacking

“The Murdoch’s are finished… if anyone can prove Cameron knew about Hackgate, it will finish him as well.”

Nicholas Jones is no lightweight, he was political correspondent for the BBC for 30 years, examining and picking apart the art of the spin-doctor. He still writes on his website and released a book last year titled Campaign 2010 – The Making of a Prime Minister. This was later followed by a publication in March this year – The Lost Tribe of Fleet Street.

When asked if he has ever used such underhand methods to exploit a story Jones was frank, “At the start of my career I used to peek through people’s back windows for a story… but phone hacking… Even if I though it was in the public interest, I hope… I hope I wouldn’t go fishing.” One thing he was certain about however “Phone hacking has changed journalism forever.”

You can view Nicholas Jones’ current work online at www.nicholasjones.org.uk and catch up on the latest and future Coventry Conversations at http://wwwm.coventry.ac.uk/cuevents/Pages/CoventryConversations.aspx

Nicholas Jones spoke to Huw Hopkins outside Coventry University

Photos by Simon – check out his blog

Image copyright and courtesy of The Sun, News Group Newspapers

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It was a coincidence of timing that one day previous to Steve Jobs untimely passing that Rachel Mann, a prolific twitter user and an outspoken musician/theologian/poet and journalist stated that “given the reaction of some to any announcement by the company it should be on the census form as a religion” about Apple.

Despite this being a flippant comment with no real intention of anger or hate, it does warrant merit. On previous census forms large enough groups have written in the word ‘Jedi’ under religion, so much so that it was then incorporated on to later census.

Not every person who buys an Apple Mac laptop or iPhone will consider themselves a member of The Church of Apple, but who will deem another person’s right to create a religious sect dedicated to the teachings, and the lifetime’s success of Steve Jobs?

A fan or not Jobs has seemingly changed the world. The business world will now have a large amount of top level staff owning and using an iPad for professional purposes, the lower-middle class can comfortably afford arguably the greatest smart phone ever created, even people living off benefits will use that money for an iPod touch instead of a new music system.

Steve Jobs has left his mark on the world and a tag-line that will be repeated on many news stations and in many commentaries. It is in fact a farewell message from a magazine in the mid-1970’s called The Whole Earth Catalog. “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” – maybe that’s why there was only one bite taken out of that famous Apple logo. Steven Paul Jobs was staying hungry, and the world should thank him.

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