This Is Your Captain Speaking . . .


An editor is to newspaper or website as a captain is to ship: Guardian Style Guide.

The only time I was ever in charge of any kind of vessel that actually floated it was a small, battered, baby blue thing with rotary paddles on Middleton Lake; I ended up dunking my little sister in the reeds and crashing into a Labrador that was fetching a stick. I got a severe talking to from the chap who sold the tickets (though I waited till I was safely in the woods before I started to blub) and was banned from ever sailing again.

So, all aboard then on HMS Culture Vulture …

But seriously, we are getting on for two thousand posts on Culture Vultures. More than a thousand in the last year, or about three a day, which is pretty good going in anyone’s book.

Not surprisingly we are getting a bit reflective, looking at what works – and trying to do more of it – and what doesn’t.

What works is fairly obvious. We manage to get all these great contributions from all over the North – lots of discussion, disagreement, and debate – and new people coming forward to write for the site all the time. We’ve done this through sheer enthusiasm, cheek, and the fact that Emma (@culturevultures) is never off Twitter. I’d like to think the quality is improving too.

What doesn’t work so well is the actual website. It’s creaky and tired and tricky to navigate. We’ve been working on a redesign for a while (far too long) and, with a bit of luck it’ll be sorted by late summer. That should help, a lot.

The other big change is that you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. Editing. Being Editor. Taking editorial decisions. Editorialising … I’m sure I’ll pick it up as I go along. Which is what this little ramble here is all about, just a little introduction to what I’ll be doing on this section of the site.

Firstly, I’m going to be posting once a day (though I may have Sunday off for good behaviour) at about 8am. Emma told me that if I made a public promise I was less likely to get lazy … so, there it is.

Secondly, I’m going to use my little soapbox to prompt new people to write for us, promote stuff I’ve noticed that looks interesting, and generally provoke discussion about whatever occurs to me … and that could be anything. Right now it’s just occurred to me that you don’t see people on telly, dressed in Karate gear, assaulting slabs of concrete with a bare hand or even unprotected forehead anymore. Those people were everywhere when I was a kid. A show wasn’t proper entertainment without some concrete got biffed. What’s happened to them? Where did they go? Has the pastime been forced underground into illegal, unsafe and unhealthy, clandestine concrete cracking clubs? I’d like to find out.

Thirdly, I’m going to have some fun. No point doing anything otherwise.

So, here goes.

My first little prompt is Cath Wallis (@DudessofYork) at lazycatfish. Go and read her blog and you’ll see why I can’t wait for her promised post.

And my promotions today are the Live Art Bistro – went there the other day to have a chat, it’s a great space, and I’m sure we’ll be featuring what they do there a lot more in the coming weeks – and the new Exhibition at Leeds Gallery. I went along to the opening the other day and was genuinely impressed by the quality of work. It’s by a local art group, quite exclusive apparently, and not at all what I was expecting. I’m hoping to get someone along to do a proper review, so any volunteers you know where I am.

And, well this one’s not actually a provocation – it’s too early on a Saturday morning, isn’t it! It’s just to say hello and good luck to Leeds List, the newest city guide in Leeds. Nice site, some good articles, and fabulous competitions.

Right, it’s 8am … Whoosh, there’s the deadline!


  1. The people of the north are very fortunate to have you as their cultural curator. In you we place our trust. You will lead us well I have no doubt. Full steam ahead.

    1. I’d invest in a life jacket, I know I shall.

      The phrases “up a creek without a paddle,” “all at sea,” and “Iceberg? . . . what iceberg?” keep springing to mind.

  2. Congrats Phil. Great work.

    On the Karate chops thing. Salad days. I miss them too. Though it always went a little far when they started using their foreheads.

    One of my favourite pub games (though it could easily scale to arena entertainment) is to go round the table and take it in turns to show the group your “Karate Chop”. You will not believe the different techniques and noises out there. No two are the same. And its not all about the medals, but there is always a clear winner.

    Im a “Hiyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeee-ah!” man myself, legs parallel, spread and bent at the knee, with a double handed diagonal chop action.

    1. More of a silent, inward gazing, gathering the Chi type myself … legs firmly planted, knees springy but straight …then the right harm lets fly straight out while the left pulls back and up towards the heart … short HUH, it’s lethal I tell you!

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