Coales' Notes: Keeping a watchful eye on developments

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The Independent Culture
TUESDAY - As I feared, Di has practically taken over the organisation of the festival. She said today, rather to my relief, that she would not be back till next week. 'So I'm leaving things in your hands.'

But, as a parting shot, she pronounced our Festival Guide quite hopeless, and insisted I get some proper publicity together. She also warned me to keep an eye on Alan's behaviour. At the first suspicion, she said, of 'anything happening' - meaning, I imagine, with Fiona, or indeed Iz - she would be withdrawing Schlacht's sponsorship. Then, glancing out of the window at the Schlacht bottle, towering on the forecourt: 'Looks great, doesn't it?'

Fiona is now more or less point- blank refusing to co-operate. I can see it is all very difficult for her. She informed me, with some pleasure, that Alan is finding Iz impossible to work with. Perhaps this is just as well.

WEDNESDAY - Iz has made a 'formal complaint' about Alan. She said all the work she had devoted to building up 'the trust and the enthusiasm of the people of this city' was being deliberately wrecked. I said, I would take the opportunity to express my complete confidence in our community artist. But, when I had a free moment, I would have a word with him.

As for the publicity, I have decided I cannot possibly deal with this. So I rang up Rory, and asked him, for old time's sake, if Ars Longa could do something in a bit of a hurry. He said: 'Oh, great stuff.' I faxed him some of the highlights of our programme. I said, admittedly it didn't look very exciting, but to see what he could do.

THURSDAY - Last night the Schlacht bottle fell (or was pushed) over. I think it is best to treat this as an accident. I don't want anything that makes the festival into an issue. Spent most of the day trying to get it put up again.

FRIDAY - This afternoon, Iz and Alan presented themselves in my office. Alan said: 'Gordon, I feel I am the victim of a massive failure of communication.' I asked him his basic plan for the People Project.

He said he had become interested in the various neighbourhood watch schemes in operation, and 'the kind of ideas of surveillance and fortification that are involved there'. Iz interrupted: 'He wants to send out a mailshot to 20,000 addresses saying 'You Are Being Watched'. He wants to set up cameras in people's gardens.'

I asked if that was so. Alan said: 'I would hope to. And I am also interested in the figure of the vigilante.' Iz: 'He wants people to start arresting each other.' Alan: 'I haven't yet sorted out how that would work.' I despaired.

I said there had better be a radical rethink - towards something that emphasised the community in its more positive aspects. I reminded them how little time we had. Alan said: 'Mmm. A rethink.' Iz thanked me very coolly.

Then Fiona came in and silently placed Rory's press release on my desk. It was headed 'A Fortnight of Fear and Loathing'. It is an absolute travesty. I rang him immediately, and asked what on earth he thought he was doing. He replied: 'You said yourself it wasn't very exciting. We had to turn the knob up a bit.' I told him it was completely unacceptable, on no account was he to send it out in its present form. He said he already had. I am helpless.

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