How consumers can obtain a voice in the regulatory system

March 21st, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This week, I gave a presentation to a course on “Economic Regulation Of Utilities” for regulators from five countries: Bulgaria, Botswana, Malaysia, Singapore and Afghanistan.

My presentation was entitled “How consumers can obtain a voice in the regulatory system“. After discussing the purpose of regulation, I looked at different models for an institutional consumer voice and different methodologies to discover consumer views.

If you would be interested in having a copy of the presentation, e-mail me.

Posted in Consumer matters | Comments (0)

A review of the new movie “Tomb Raider”

March 20th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I’m not sure that the world needed another Tomb Raider movie, following the Angelina Jolie outings of 2001 and 2003, but I suppose that there are too few films with women in leading action roles and I’m a big fan of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander who has now taken over the Lara Croft role and took four months to beef up her abs for the part.

Vikander is a fine actress and gives a more serious and sensitive version of the video game heroine than Jolie, but plot and script do not serve her well. This re-boot of the franchise is a origins story with Croft sporting bow and arrows like a kind of Katniss Everdeen and it would appear from the conclusion that the next movie will bring on the guns.

Meanwhile we have a lame story about an ancient Japanese Queen Himiko who seemingly threatens the world and an unconvincing villain who meets a predictable end.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

Congratulations to Andria Zafirakou, the best teacher in the world

March 19th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I am delighted by the news that Andria Zafirakou has become the first British winner of the Global Teacher Prize, beating teachers nominated from more than 170 countries.

The prize of $1million (£720,000), launched in 2015 by an education charity, the Varkey Foundation, was created to give more status to the teaching profession, with an Oscars-style awards ceremony in Dubai.

Mrs Zafirakou is a teacher not just from my country (United Kingdom), not just from my city (London), not just from my borough (Brent), but at a school in Alperton which is literally just down the road from where I live. Her success will be a huge inspiration to all teachers and pupils in my locality.

Posted in World current affairs | Comments (0)

It’s been a long time since I went to the ballet …

March 18th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

… but this weekend I had the opportunity to spend an evening at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden viewing three short modern ballets. I found the experience magical and mesmerising.

Each dance was performed by the Royal Ballet and set to a piece of music by the American composer Leonard Bertsein and the whole event is a celebration of the centenary of his birth.

The three pieces – choreographed very differently indeed – are called respectively “Yugen”, “The Age Of Anxiety” and “Corybantic Games” (my favourite).

I have never come across the word “corybantic” before. Having looked it up, I find that it has nothing to do with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – it means “frenzied”.

I write book reviews and films review, but I can’t do theatre reviews so, if you’d like to know more, please read this review from the “Guardian”.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

How to read a film

March 17th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I spent this cold Saturday in London attending a course at the City Literary Institute. It was called “How to read a film”and delivered by Nick Scudamore.

He introduced us to the term “mise-en-scene” which essential,y is everything the director chooses to put in the scene or shot on the day of shooting as contrasted with the script, casting or music. He highlighted seven particular elements and showed us film clips – which we then discussed – introducing these elements collectively and then one by one as follows:

  • Introduction: “Imitation Of Life” (1959)
  • Lighting: “The Godfather” (1972)
  • Colour: “Mean Streets” (1971)
  • Costume: “Rebel Without A Cause” (1955)
  • Props: “Home From The Hill” (1960)
  • Setting: “Underground” (1928)
  • Actor position & gesture: “To Have And To Have Not” (1944)
  • Framing of image & camera movement: “The Lusty Men” (1952)

Having set the scene (sorry about the pun) with examination of a series of mainstream movies, the lecturer then invited us to look for all these elements in a series of clips from a number of non-mainstream films: “L’Atalante” (France 1934), “Early Summer” (Japan 1951), “Le Mepris” (France/Italy 1963), “One + One” (France 1968), “Annie Hall” (USA 1977), and “Chocolat” (France 1988).

I have only seen one of the films featured in the course: “The Godfather”. So, as well as learning about cinematic concepts, I was introduced to some new movies.

Normally, when one sees a film, one is simply carried along from scene to scene and shot to shot with no time or opportunity to think about the scene or analyse it, so it was good to be able to deconstruct and dissect movie scenes in a structured manner and I really enjoyed the course.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

It’s World Consumer Rights Day

March 15th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

For the last 16 years, I’ve worked part-time with an portfolio of appointments to various consumer bodies operating in regulated sectors like communications, water, energy and financial services.

So I’d like to highlight that today is World Consumer Rights Day, an event promoted by Consumers International.

Each year has a theme and this year it is : “Making Digital Markets Fairer”. There is a background paper on e-commerce which you can access here.

Posted in Consumer matters | Comments (0)

The death of Stephen Hawking

March 14th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I am saddened by the news of the death of the British scientist Stephen Hawking, although pleased that he managed to live such a long and productive life in spite of the diagnosis in his early 20s of a wasting disease that was expected to kill him in years.

I once attended a lecture he gave in the Royal Albert Hall in London. The only scientist previously to fill this huge venue was Albert Einstein.

I read several of his books: “A Brief History Of Time”, “The Universe In A Nutshell” [my review here], and “A Briefer History Of Time” [my review here].

Also I read a 1992 biography and saw the film “The Theory Of Everything” [my review here].

The world has lost an exceptional scientist and a brave man. Sadly, even he could only postpone death for so long.

Posted in Science & technology | Comments (0)

What would really help consumers of essential services?

March 13th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This week, I chaired a day-long conference at the iconic BT Tower in central London on behalf of the Essential Services Access Network (ESAN).

The theme of the event was “What would really help consumer of essential services?” and we focused particularly on the water, energy, communications and financial services sectors. We had 10 excellent speakers and over 90 attended from a wide variety of organisations.

You can check out the programme here. Shortly we will upload videos of the presentations and a short written report on the ESAN web site.

Posted in Consumer matters | Comments (0)

The raid on Entebbe: a story you probably don’t know

March 12th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I remember vividly the raid on Entebbe when Israeli special forces freed the hijacked passengers of an Air France flight in 1976. Indeed I remember subsequently seeing two films about the audacious episode.

Now a new film, entitled simply “Entebbe”, is about to hit our screens in April and this has prompted “Guardian” columnist Hadley Freeman to write about one particular hero of that event.

Michel Cojot-Goldberg was one of the oldest friends of the father of Freeman and she has written a fascinating piece on his vital role in the raid. You can read the story here.

Posted in History | Comments (0)

A review of the new super-hero movie “Black Panther”

March 11th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

A mainstream American movie with a black director, a black writer and a largely black cast is a rarity. Last year (2017), we had “Moonlight” which won the Academy Award for Best Film.

This year, we have “Black Panther” with Ryan Coogler as director and co-writer and an amazing array of black thespian talent from old hands like Angela Basset and Forest Whitaker to fresh faces like Chadwick Boseman (as T’Challa/Black Panther) and Michael B. Jordan (as the rival Erik Killmonger) with their leading roles and like Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira with their strong female roles. The only white boys in the cast are Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis, both British actors but here affecting American and South African accents respectively.

“Black Panther” provides the back story to a new super-hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the eponymous leader of the fictional African state of Wakanda which, counter-culturally, has more advanced technology than any country in the West though the good fortune of possesing a powerful element called vibranium.

But this does not look like a super-hero movie: there is lots colour and plenty of noise but the settings are rural rather than metropolitan (except for a foray to Busan in South Korea) and the fighting is more hand-to-hand than super weaponry. It lacks the drama and punch of some other super-hero movies, but it is satisfyingly entertaining.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)