Shut up ‘n’ play yer guitar

The title of this post is taken directly from the first of a series of three Frank Zappa albums released in 1981 consisting almost entirely of guitar solos. A Zappa-obsessed friend of mine told me that it was in response to critics considering that his axemanship was being undermined by his perpetual warbling. It was recorded in his new home studio, the unsurprisingly flared Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. He did of course manage to sneak in a few comments between tracks. Like tweeting when you’re not posting.

Tired of trying to Cnut the tides of unsupported piffle posing as truth, I stood the blog down in March to focus on completing a workplace project that has been three years in the making. In this time I’ve made a sub-profession out of politely declining invitations, and positioned my default to not being available to attend anything. The workplace is a building of some 45,000 square metres and is set to house 3,500 colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds and functions. The moves take place over the next five weekends. In this instance even the small moves are massive moves. It’s both daunting and spine-tingling.

You’ll see and hear enough about the workspace in coming months, I’m not going to start describing it here. I’m not going to be defined by it either. In the “old days” – whenever they were – we would carefully release information about a completed project with a considered media strategy. As we saw with a recently completed project in Leeds, it will be instagrammed and tweeted to within an inch of life itself in a matter of days, if not sooner. My colleagues will tell you all about it as it appears and feels to them, which in this age of accountability instinctively feels right. Sure, we’ll take some professional pictures (with the building occupied) and talk about our intentions, design approach, curation, delivery – and be honest about our experiences (not just “what we might have done differently”). But the occupants of the space will tell everyone they know whether we nailed it.

As this particular project completes, others that might once have been all-consuming in themselves are accelerating. I can see as far as Easter for the immediate, and then a raft that spin off into years hence, like an ergonomic milky way.

Meanwhile there’s tumbleweed blowing down Workplace Avenue, a pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete, the screech of brakes and a lamplight blinking. Even the two lovers kissing in the tranquility of solitude have gone home. So the research kitchen is closing, the blog is returning. Bloody hell, someone has to start talking out there.

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