Belt up and keep your mouth shut

Helen Lannaghan, director of the LondonInternational Mime Festival, talks about her gadget habit
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The Independent Online

I am infamous for wearing black leathertrousers with a leather belt that's full of gadgets, and includes aMag-Lite, a Leather Man tool, which is a fantastic professional armyknife, a full set of pliers and, of course, a mobile phone.People make a joke of it, but I don't mind because the minute somethinggoes wrong they turn to me. So it has a practical use, I don't wearit to bed.

I am infamous for wearing black leathertrousers with a leather belt that's full of gadgets, and includes aMag-Lite, a Leather Man tool, which is a fantastic professional armyknife, a full set of pliers and, of course, a mobile phone.People make a joke of it, but I don't mind because the minute somethinggoes wrong they turn to me. So it has a practical use, I don't wearit to bed.

I find it hard to choose one particular piece of technology forthis interview because I am a gadget fiend. My favourite technical item atthe moment is a Canon Ixus L camera. It's a very cute silver camera,which is also sexy. It sits on my leather belt along with all of my othergadgets.

The camera is not at all threatening to be photographed with.Because it's small you can just pop it out and auto-focus means it'sdone in a second. The simpler the better, then less can go wrong andyou're not waiting for something that's tricky to operate. Andanyway, the quality is fantastic.

Its ease of use encourages you to bespontaneous and I've captured a lot of images this way. At thisyear's Lift [London International Festival of Theatre], forexample, a poster caught fire in the festival office and the London FireBrigade turned up to find 20 very embarrassed women out on the street. Itproduced a great set of photographs including one Lift director in a compromisingposition with a fireman. I don't see myself having been able to catchsuch images with a camera that takes time to frame and focus.

It's alsoa great source of fascination, and people like to lovingly finger it andimmediately want to go out and buy one. Although I initially bought it tophotograph artists at the mime festival - where the image speaks strongerthan words - the photographs were useful for publicity and I've had quitea few in Time Out, and so on. It's another string to your artisticbow, so to speak.

Otherwise, I also use a Palm Pilot as a dailyplanner, and especially like functions that remind you about dates, theaddress book and search facility. And how, like the camera, it'sa sexy-looking gadget. Certainly, I do think that there could be agreat market if technology was made more attractive to women.

I also findthat women aren't treated seriously if interested in technology. I'moften treated like a complete idiot in a gadget shop, for example, so Ithrow in technical things to let them know they are talking about something Iknow about. And although I buy technology magazines, I have to tear offthe cover of semi-clad women.

With my gadget belt, camera and PalmPilot, I would say that I am fairly replete with gadgets and technology,although one day there will be a computer on my belt and I would love to gete-mails sent to my mobile phone. Currently, I am helping to create awebsite for the festival, which is our first time online. It's almostlike learning another language, and it might as well be Russian, butit's a whole new world and very exciting.

It's particularlyappropriate for mime artists, as our work isn't reliant on speech sopeople from all over the world can visit our site, or internationalprogrammers can come and discover talent. It's all becoming so mucheasier for booking tickets, getting information on the artists posted. Ithas been a real revolution for us.

The London International Mime Festivalcontinues through 30 January at venues across London. For more information onevents and ticket booking, click here.

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