Monday, 21 June 2010

The Mark Watson ipod Challenge - Northern Irish leg

The Northern Irish leg of the TYSIC ipod challenge had been a long time a-brewing, with flurries of emails for weeks and weeks. The window of opportunity was narrow but in the end we rose to the challenge, synchronised our watches and all managed to gather at the same place (the café in the Ulster Museum) at the same time (4.30pm on Sunday 20th June) and pass around an ipod, memory stick and booklet while posing for photos.

As Simon has previously reported, I had taken custody of the ipod from his fair hands (and Kate’s and Hannah’s) on Monday 7th June, becoming Link 7 of the ongoing chain. That same evening, I went straight from the ipod Hand-over to a comedy gig in aid of the charity
‘Reprieve’. The headline act was Tim Minchin and after the show I was fortunate enough to meet him at the stage door. I was therefore able to include Tim in the challenge, in a small way, by trying to explain what his friend Watson had set in motion and asking him to autograph the ipod’s accompanying booklet. Here I am with Tim - in the rain (sorry, but the ipod isn’t in the pic).

The choice of music for my addition to the memory stick was simple – obviously it had to be some Minchin-music, but which track? In the end I picked ‘If I didn’t have you’ …and also ‘Not Perfect’ (yes, cheekily I added two tracks – if I need an excuse, I’ll just say that one choice is for me and one is for Tim himself….even though he wasn’t ‘officially’ a link in the chain).

The next official link-up takes us across the Irish Sea. . I travelled over from London to Belfast on Friday evening to spend the week-end with my family - in honour of my father’s 80th birthday – so the ipod simply hitched a ride on an existing travel arrangement. I spent a lovely couple of days in Portaferry enjoying the glorious weather and beautiful scenery with my parents, one of my sons, my brother , his wife and their 3 children. My Dad thoroughly enjoyed our special week-end together and then very kindly brought me back from Portaferry an hour or so early on Sunday - just to let me carry out my TYSIC duties (he and the rest of my family found it all somewhat bemusing to be honest!)

As the ‘custodian’ linking person for this leg, I was keen not to be late for our get-together. Thanks to my Dad, I managed to get there a few minutes early and was the first to arrive. I stationed myself in the Museum café within clear sight of the front entrance.

Tara was the next to arrive, having only a short way to come, as luck would have it. We exchanged texts like radar signals ('I’m here – where are you?') and then finally we ‘locked-on’ and bingo! Link 8 successful made! Greetings, friendly chat and ipod business all underway within minutes.

Only a short while later Kathryn and her friend arrived, adding our 9th and final Northern Irish Link to the ipod chain. Kathryn had driven to Belfast from her home-town of Bangor specially for the link-up (with a friend to protect her from meeting strange, unknown people off the internet – wise girl!). Kathryn had had a very busy week-end already and had only just time to zoom up to Belfast for our meeting before heading straight back to Bangor again for a further commitment that evening! She had also kindly brought along her laptop (in the funkiest, shiniest, purplest laptop bag I have ever seen – I want one!) so music copying was soon underway. As the laptop fired up I was delighted to see Kathryn’s desktop pic – a very fine photo of herself with Mr Tim Minchin after his Belfast gig last year.

Tara had picked Arcade Fire’s Black Waves/Bad Vibrations and soon added her explanatory message to the notebook. Kathryn had several possible tracks in mind and only made her final decision once she’d had a glance at the choices already in the book, in conjunction with weighing up the importance of having a Northern Irish musician (or two) included as part of the TYSIC NI-leg choices. I’m delighted that her final decision was in favour of Duke Special and Neil Hammon’s rendition of ‘Our Love Goes Deeper’

And here we all are – the 3 Northern Irish ones.

By the way, Mark, you just HAVE TO add Belfast to your tour now! Tara is counting on you! (Meanwhile Kathryn is waiting for results to see where she will be at University before booking, whereas I am trying to decide which show I can travel to, since I can’t manage the one and only London date - grrr).

We only had about 30 minutes before the Museum closed and Kathryn had to get away. We all said our farewells, and I headed back to my parents house, just up the road, for a bite to eat before flying back to London later that evening. So, Mission Accomplished! The ipod now restlessly awaits its next adventure, and I await my instructions – who will be the next link, I wonder?


  1. Good blog. Do you know if anyone has put Frank Turner on the ipod?

  2. Oh Lord! What does my hair look like, lol! It's so fun to think I'm part of this now, amazing. So nice to have met you! Glad to see Ireland fully represented.

  3. I'm getting excited now! I have no idea when it'll be hitting the north west but I can't wait!