26 noticeboard

Here’s the place where you find out all the news from 26 from new projects in Canada and Oxford and a chance to spend a day as a hostage.


postboxSurvey, so good

We’d like to say a big thank you to the 100 people who clicked and tippety-tapped and shared their views on 26. We now know a heck of a lot more about around a third of our membership than we did before – things like where you are, why you joined, what you do, what you think makes 26 good, and how we can get better. Our challenge now is to use this wealth of information well.

So yes, ve haf plans. We’re thinking about how best to satisfy your appetite for more varied events, and more activity beyond the M25. We’re planning a website revamp, which will make it much easier for you to find your way around, keep tabs on what’s up, and get more involved.

Those are just a few of the irons in the fire. And the conversation doesn’t have to stop here. If you have views on what you’d like to see happen or would like to help organise something in your area, throw it out on the forum or drop us a line at membership@26.org.uk .


ideaYour most brilliant ideas

Roll up! Roll up!

We’re looking for your brilliant ideas.

In the recent 26 survey many of you said you’d like to get more involved with 26. Well, now is your chance. We are organizing more and more each year and we need you! We’re interested in your ideas for both projects and events (both in London and beyond) and we need your help putting those suggestions into practice. If you’d like to get involved please let us know at membership@26.org.uk and we’ll soon have you rolling up your sleeves.


wordstockWordstock Guru Required

For the last three years our one-day festival Wordstock has been a staple of the 26 calendar. Each year the programme has been organized by a guest curator. We’re recruiting now for Wordstock 2014. Would you like to be our Guru? We’re not going to lie – it’s a lot of work but our previous curators will clue you in, and the programme genuinely is down to you. We’d love to hear from you – if you’re interested, get in touch (membership@26.org.uk), and the board will make a decision at its next meeting in April.

Are you listening? Really?

At Wordstock 2013, we sat on the edges of our seats and listened to Richard Mullender, crisis and hostage negotiator. He had a lot to say about sub-text. Language, explicit and implicit. Putting all the truisms of active listening in the bin. He was, er, very persuasive.

An hour or so of this man’s practical wisdom was not enough for me. So we met up and talked about a 4-day scary course in a hotel with hostages and life and death and everything. (Watch this space. It will happen.)

And we also talked about a Listening and Persuasion 1-day course. Which is happening soon. On Friday, 2nd May in central London.

The what and wherefore:

There is a popular myth that the ability to ask questions correlates with the ability to be a great communicator; in fact the opposite is often true. The ability to ask the right question at the right time and then simply listen is the true skill of the great communicator. The less you say the more they give, the more you ask the more you give away. Every question is a clue as to what the person asking wants.

These communication skills have been developed, tried and tested in the most sensitive situations that the police and hostage negotiating worlds offer. A police investigator and hostage negotiator for over twenty-five years, Richard Mullender has extensive experience in these situations.

This unique course is designed to bring the techniques of witness/suspect interviewing and hostage negotiation into the business world and provide you with keys to communicate more effectively. The course will improve your interpersonal relationships, enabling you to truly understand your clients’ needs, provide greater customer satisfaction, get the right result from every negotiation, make all meetings more productive and efficient, and successfully manage any situation that life throws at you.

The day will cover:

  • Active listening skills
  • Communication and conversation rules
  • Preparation, planning and impression management
  • Building rapport, gaining trust and exercising influence
  • How to obtain information by using questions effectively
  • How to listen, what to listen for and how to interpret what you hear
  • Uncovering and identifying values and beliefs
  • Practical scenarios.

The call to action:

Date: Friday, 2nd May

Venue*: The Storytellers, 5 Cromwell Place, London SW7 2JE

*Big thanks to Martin Clarkson of The Storytellers for supporting 26 with the space.

Course fee: £200 per person for the day (9am–5pm). Places are limited to 12 participants. First come (ie first pay), first serve.

Please email: rachel.marshall@26.org.uk asap to register your interest, wait to receive confirmation that you are one of the twelve, then transfer the full course fee to 26. (Rachel will let you know what to do.) This course is going to be popular, so we will keep a waiting list, just in case.

Elise Valmorbida

twinsWant a buddy?

We know what it feels like meeting a whole load of new people and after all, lots of writers are shy (we’re not saying we don’t get out much, but…) so if you’d like a buddy to introduce you around at any 26 event then please let us know (membership@26.org.uk) and we’ll make sure you aren’t stuck on the fringes like Johnny No Mates. Writers love writers, after all.

canada26 Goes to Canada

Your chance to join our new 26 project.

26 have been invited to work with 26 Canadian artists to bring an international interest to the Prince Edward County Studio Tour in September 2014.

You need know nothing about art or Canada. It’s your chance to find out about a group of talented and interesting painters, sculptors, potters, fabric artists, a blacksmith, a wood turner and a glass blower – and a small corner of a very big country.

If you want to take part let Faye Sharpe know by Friday 7th March. The pairings will be made the following week. We’ll give preference to members who have not participated in a project before. But if you’re an old hand and dead keen, do put yourself forward.


catinthehat26 Characters at the Story Museum

The Story Museum in Oxford has teamed up with 26 writers from 26 to celebrate childhood story heroes. Award winning portrait photographer Cambridge Jones (the Annie Leibowitz of Britain) has photographed 26 of Britain’s best-loved children’s authors and storytellers transformed into their favourite childhood story characters. 26ers were then randomly paired with a letter from the alphabet and one of the 26 character portraits. Each 26er has written a sestude (‘26’ in reflection, exactly 62 words) inspired by that portrait. And that’s just the beginning of this fun, whacky project.

Now 26ers are producing a second piece of writing about their favourite childhood character, as well as a photograph of each 26er holding a chosen book – or for the braver ones, dressed in character. Below is a list of whom 26ers nominated as their childhood story champion.

26 Characters will be accompanied by a varied programme of authors and story-related events for all ages, plus a fully illustrated book. Participating 26ers are invited to a reception on Saturday 31st May. 26 Characters opens to the public on 5th April so please come along and bring your family.

A = Alya Al-Khatib – Grandmamma from The Witches by Roald Dahl

B = Chris Bird – The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

C = Sara Sheridan – Heidi by Johanna Spyri

D = Beverley Moore – Kizzy from The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden

E = Sue Evans – The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

F = Justina Hart – Bee from Ant and Bee by Angela Banner

G = Rebecca Dowman – Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

H = Michelle Nicol – Aravis from The Horse and his Boy by CS Lewis

I = Jo Wigley – Sophie by Dick King Smith

J = Faye Sharpe – Prince Caspian from Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

K = Pip Trentham – Miffy by Dick Bruna

L = Suzie Cunliffe – Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

M = Elise Valmorbida – The Cheshire Cat from Alice by Lewis Carroll

N = Elen Lewis – Ellie from The Waterbabies by Charles Kingsley

O = Elena Bowes – Ramona the Pest by Beverly Clearly

P = Philippa Cowley-Thwaites – Fatty (Frederick Algernon Trotville) by Enid Blyton

Q = Julie Batty – the Dragon from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

R = Sophie Gordon – The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

S = Tessa Sheridan – the Clanger in a musical boat by Peter Firmin & Oliver Postgate

T = Daniel Headey – Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

U = Laura Hunter – Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson

V = Neil Baker – Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

W = Gillian Colhoun – Magwitch from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

X = Kirsten Irving – Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Y = Lin Sagovsky – Puddlegum the Marshwiggle from The Silver Chair by CS Lewis

Z = Chris Martin – The BFG by Roald Dahl

26 March drinks

Winter’s drawing to a close, so it’s about time we met up for a few drinks. So, let’s pick an easy date to remember – 26th March, and a pub we all know – The Betsey Trotwood. We’ll be there from 6.30 pm, I hope you can join us for beer, wine and over-priced artisan crisps. And if you’re not based in and around London, why not organise your own local gathering. The 26 Message Board is a good place to start.

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