Saturday, 5 February 2011

Day 132

While finally breaking in my Oyster Card I went to the “Assistance” booth, where the guy behind the desk was pacifying a queue of customers by singing “Que sara sara, whatever will be will be”. None of us seemed to have a problem with this.

It took nine hours to get through the Tate Modern Sunflower Seeds exhibition, some pubs, some banoffi pudding and some exploration of the South Bank, because I was in the company of the two Directors of the Ragged University. The world’s full of bad ideas that need charming people to persuade you that it’s a good idea, but the Ragged University is already a good idea to such an extent that it needs (or rather, has) charming people to persuade you it’s not too good to be true. Ragged University is both good and true. All noble-like and happy. It puts entertaining education on a silver platter beermat and offers it to you, completely free of charge. You sit with other friendly people in a pub or café and listen to a speaker who cares deeply about their subject. There’s no restrictions like curriculum or qualifications; it’s unified, face-to-face, interactive, and you can sip on things. Or invite other people. Or get up and leave. Or eat toast.

The Ragged Press, in the meantime, gives unknown authors the chance to see publication and profit. It takes neither copyright nor money -- the author gets to keep both. In return, Ragged Press gets to discover untapped potential while bigger publishing houses bin unread manuscripts just because they don't recognise the author from Celebrity Love Island.

At the moment there’s Ragged University events in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow. It's everyone, taught by everyone, entertained by everyone. Free knowledge flying all over the place; you might get some in the eye. Could sting for a bit. But never mind, pop on an eyepatch and do a talk on pirates.

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