Co-Director of That Really Cool Company Ltd (www.thatreallycool.com)
Pre-Arhatic Yoga Pranic Healing practioner
In the first week of January we were asked to pitch for the entertainment on a virtual awards evening for a massive multi-national conglomerate (& their clients), which we did, and won over 3 other pitches. We were fore-warned that the budget wasn’t going to be big at all so we needed to factor that in when coming up with realisable ideas, CHECK. We also knew that we weren’t the only ones asked to pitch for this so needed to: 1. Think outside of the box ideas-wise yet make the event look a million buck$£€¥ (despite the budget), CHECK, and 2. with so many cultures & demographics involved a certain sensitivity would be required, CHECK. Oh, and 3. include the host company’s mission in the pitch, CHECK. Without wanting to blow our own trumpets the client said we blew everyone else out of the water. Yay, happy! The event is scheduled for mid-February so well-scheduled project management is in order. Once the ideas have been accepted by the client it should just be a standard case of planning: checking to see where, or if, we need to outsource and who we might need to contract into the event/confirm availability, risk assessment bla bla bla. A good amount of work done within days (not including the time taken to come up with the pitch). Several days later, we're informed the budget has been lessened somewhat and could we “adjust our ideas to suit”? We figure we can squeeze a couple of things a little without altering the scope too much, so Yes. Client again “thrilled”. Jump ahead several more days, negotiations with third parties confirmed, virtual backgrounds being worked on, artists narrowed down to a select high-end few and the client comes back to us once more, someone new in their team (new to us, anyway) and tells us that the budget is to be cut again. Literally to approximately 60% of the original, already very tight figure. At that point we freeze everything and take a step back to assess the situation. Adaptability is a non-negotiable quality in the events industry. There are a hundred & one things out of a hundred that might need to be changed at some point so if you’re not able to adapt, even at the last minute, you’re in the wrong business. That’s not saying that with careful planning, clear communication & management you might not have the smoothest ride, but everyone in the events industry, especially the bespoke end, knows that clients are notorious for spraying on your ideas like a dog marking it’s territory around the neighbourhood - my event, my way. And that’s fine. It truly is. They’re paying, after all. And sometimes their ideas are great! But when they insist that your compromise becomes sacrifice, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth doing at all. Invitees at the event won’t know, nor care, that you’ve jumped through hoops, they’ll just see the end result and assess for themselves if it worked, or not. And if it doesn’t, your hoop jumping accounts for nothing. In fact, it only adds to your failure as clearly you weren’t, what? Adaptable. Or creative enough. Or, let’s face it, good. All of this, of course, is the ultimate risk assessment. Weighing everything up, it was very clear that any results from such a pitiful budget would only damage our own image. We let them know immediately that we were stepping away, within the hour, actually. We notified all the third parties we’d engaged and let the artists know they can now free up those dates.
We’d been at the hospital all day. Dad’s dizzy spells had been diagnosed as 4 or 5 brain tumours (the doctors weren’t sure if one of the shadows on the scans was one large tumour or 2 smaller ones), inoperable. The “experimental” laser treatment had proven its exact predicted worth: “It won’t cure your father, but it may give him an extra couple of months”. That was 6 months prior, and those extra couple of months were well & truly up. We’d been told not to upset him at any cost as that could cause haemorrhaging on the brain and at worst/best instant death. And so began our journey of walking on eggshells, navigating his constant mood swings and his demanding of our time, patience and unconditional love. We’d tell ourselves that despite how unfair he may have been in any moment there’s always someone else worse off and we weren’t the ones having to face that “terminal” diagnosis.
We’re now basking in the “joy” of our another lockdown here in London. The first one, once we’d all realised it wasn’t the end of the world, wasn’t too bad. Well, I say that now, but at the time I was too afraid to tell anyone we were having a lovely time not having to face the human rapids of central London, it was the sunniest Spring on record (the washing actually dried in one day!) and there were finally enough hours in the day to work on our own projects. But some friends & colleagues weren’t coping too well with the isolation and constantly present fears. While some of us were glued to screens for productive purposes, others couldn’t tear themselves away from bigger screens and those ever-addictive formulas that make good TV binge-worthy. There were clearly people who were running for the first time ever (“heavers” they were affectionately labelled and our masks were donned as they huffed & huffed toward us). Marathon TV or YouTube sessions don’t get the blood flowing, nor the mind cleared, and so consequently there were a good number of us who felt less & less comfortable as that first lockdown progressed.
Before we knew it, 2 years had flown by since we lost our two 18 year old cats. They were, and still are in our hearts & minds, family. The temptation to get another one was huge, but there was a part of us that actually wanted to feel the loss. Well, wanted isn’t exactly correct, but it kind of is, too. Almost like grieving for them really proved how much they meant to us. So we didn’t (get another one) and we did (feel the loss rather keenly).