There is some debate over the exact meaning of the mystical word Abracadabra. Hundreds of years ago people believed it was a magic spell, others a charm to ward off illness but my personal favourite is that it originates from an ancient Aramaic phrase meaning ‘I create as I speak.’
If that’s true, and even if it isn’t, it makes it a perfect title for my blog and the launch of my new business Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications. It’s not my intention to set up another PR company or to compete with well-established agencies who are already doing a brilliant job and then some.
What I hope to establish is an artisan, boutique, highly specialised events and communications service for private and corporate clients who want to stand out from the crowd and inspire, inform and entertain their special guests and stakeholders in an aspirational way. Everything is in the detail.
Carlin Creative is different because it combines my own particular set of skills and experiences working in media relations and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC for over twenty years with a very real and life-long passion for creativity, production and the process of transformation.
I am the type of person, weirdly or not, who likes nothing better than to take a recipe, a dining table, an empty restaurant or a corporate venue and turn it into something remarkable. It’s less a mantra, more a way of life and it applies to almost everything I do.
Whether it is writing a press release, running an event or giving someone a gift, there is joy to be had from taking the standard and elevating it into something unique and the pleasure doubles when it is to someone else’s benefit. There’s nothing quite like seeing the smiles on faces only a truly special occasion can bring.
Putting on the Ritz
Everyone has their limitations and I for one can’t add, can’t sing, can’t dance but what I can do is put on a really good show and then publicise it! I’ve been doing it for years.
My career didn’t start after university. It began at primary school with my debut as the Pied Piper of Hamelin, progressed through performances in my parents’ garage, to an ‘I’ve made it to the big time’ trumpeter role in a sixth form rendition of Hamlet until Mr Hamill told me ‘to get down off my trumpet stand’. I was only a first year!
I went on to produce, direct and act in many plays culminating in an overall win for Queen’s University, Belfast for Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Irish Student Drama Festival at Trinity College Dublin. Many who starred in it went on to form the Tinderbox Theatre Company.
It was around that time I probably appointed myself as Queen’s Drama Society spokesperson and to my shame remember giving out stink to Seamus McKee on BBC Radio Ulster about how we had won the ISD Festival on no money and borrowed tea chests!
Looking back I now identify that time as being the period when performance, production and publicity merged setting the direction of travel for the rest of my career.
It’s no surprise I eventually gravitated towards the creative industries and ended up working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC in Northern Ireland and the English Regions. Getting in to risk taking Channel 4 was the proudest moment of my life and is still the highlight of my career. Thank you Peter Grimsdale.
They hired me because I had briefly worked in a PR capacity for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board chaperoning foreign and UK national journalists around this beautiful place during the ceasefire, just before the Good Friday Agreement.
Back then, I had the cheek to ask Roy Greenslade for a reference which he happily provided despite getting food poisoning during a visit to sample Ulster’s gourmet delights.
Channel 4 thought Belfast was Beirut and if I could sell NI as a tourist destination I could sell snow to the Eskimos. I told them it was a tough job but somebody had to do it and never let on that all you had to do was drive out of the Port of Larne and let ‘Our Time Our Place’ speak for itself!
Bucket of Blood
ITV allowed my creative side to come out during the promotion and launch of Alan Bleasdale’s dramatization of Oliver Twist with an all-star cast including, Robert Lindsay (Fagan), Oliver (Sam Smith) alongside Keira Knightley, Julie Walters and Michael Kitchen.
Following a VIP cast, crew and opinion former screening in the Strand Cinema in London, guests sojourned to the Lamb & Flag pub I had found hidden in Covent Garden down a cobbled stoned alley on Rose Street. Charles Dickens used to drink there but back in the day it was better known as the Bucket of Blood.
I loved every minute putting that event together from the vendor in period costume selling roasted chestnuts outside to the mulled wine and cider served as a reception drink. Every single element was customised to delight and surprise guests and make them feel as if they were fully immersed in a Charles Dickens novel.
Five Minutes of Heaven
I have the BBC to thank for the finest editorial standards in the world, rigorous compliance processes and principles of fairness, balance and impartiality that are gold standard bearers for any organisation wanting to get out of a scrape.
Great things really did happen at the BBC when we worked together to promote and protect its reputation, as Northern Ireland emerged out of the Troubles, as it recorded and reflected upon contemporary, and historical life in brilliant, high quality network dramas and programmes including Holy Cross, Sinners (the Magdalene Laundries) and Five Minutes of Heaven with Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt.
My overall experience working in broadcasting and with top creative talent has developed a passion for excellence, the ability to produce at the highest level and to be responsive and adaptive to changing, challenging and often controversial situations and environments. It has also laid the foundations for the next exciting chapter.
A New Age
This is a new age, an entrepreneur economy, where people are free to earn while they explore. Their personal breakthroughs, their journey of self-discovery and their expression of creativity releases them from the routine and emancipates from the daily grind.
American journalist, novelist, producer, screenwriter, director and blogger, Nora Ephron once wrote: “You get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter.
“And you can’t put things off, thinking you’ll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. So I’m very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so that you can do a great deal of it.”
I very much hope you will join and support me in making a success of my new Carlin Creative venture and Abracadabra, creating as I speak, making magic and enjoying every second of it along the way.
Please Sir. Can I have some more?