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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Archive for January 2009

The Power of the Platinum Minds

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There is a real buzz in the air at the London-based Platinum Mind productions.  They are entering 2009 with a sense of giddy excitement and anticipation more akin to a small child on Christmas eve, than the rest of us in the current economic gloom.

The brainchild of Derek Owusu, Platinum has built up a portfolio of artistic talent including music, film, design and dance. The main players of the team are Sarah Butler (Graphics and art) and Earl Williamson (Film and web design).


To meet Derek, or Del, is to come face to face with an enigma.  On one hand a polite mannered, well spoken Londoner, on the other hand a force of nature whose energetic and passionate enthusiasm is as contagious as bird flu in a branch of Nando’s.  Platinum Minds are not his only project, he also works with East End Gospel choir, Charisma Fire.

He had reasonable success with the band London Calling in the Orange Unsigned try-outs.  This in turn led to a recording with RAK studios.

What did you aim to achieve when you created Platinum Minds?

Well, the idea was to be able to put together a self sufficient team. Music production, film, video, photography the full Monty. And to be able to have at least one major project a year, whether it be for internal and external purposes. Since its creation in 2002, I think we’ve managed that, everything from producing a hit underground music video in “Bibles, Bibles” (Earl Williamson was director of photography for this), corporate projects for Orange PCS (I have personally taken part in two major events performing for Orange), and Sarah has undertaken some impressive photography gigs). Our aim was to make services, and facilities that were previously unobtainable in the right hands and it looks like we have.

What are your plans for 2009?
Writing more material! And finding more talent to work with. It’s only the 2nd week in January and I’m still buzzing from meeting up with some talent at auditions last week, it’s a very exciting time, and I just want to get back to basics of writing a song, you know?
What were your musical influences when growing up?

Well, the Beatles first and foremost. Especially the “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be” albums as well as their very early stuff. That was from my Dad, my mum gave me Elvis and Lionel Ritchie, and my Uncle and Aunt gave me Bob Marley. In between all of that, mix in African rhythms and you have what you hear today… My musical taste has varied over the years, it’s hard to pin point what I really like more what doesn’t influence me!

Are you/did you have a party for Obama’s inaugeration?

No, I didn’t but I called my Uncle in America to sing “Here Comes The Sun”…. Very moving experience. When you’ve grown up hearing people say what’s not possible – the end of Apartheid, the Berlin Wall coming down, a black president in the US, it’s quite humbling to know that some things are possible. I’m very proud of what’s happened just because it’s happened in my generation. I’ll have a celebratory coke for him!

This man knows how to party.

To see more of Platinum Minds follow this link:


Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 15, 2009 at 2:07 am

Posted in The one to watch

The Dakar Rally

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Just popping out for a spin dear!

The Dakar Rally, now in it’s thirtieth year, started it’s throbbing V8 engines on 3 January this year. No less that 540 teams from 50 countries are competing this year, which is bucking the current decline in motor sports.

Strictly speaking it isn’t the Dakar Rally at all, this year it doesn’t go anywhere near Dakar, or Africa or even Europe. This year the continent of South America plays host to this festival of revs, reaction time, and very real danger.


The current rally is divided into catagories. Bikes, Cars, All-Terrain Vehicles and Trucks all run their own stages.

The Dakar Rally is one of the most dangerous races in the world, claiming one dead and two seriously injured in this race alone (and we are only half way through!). The dead man was named as Pascal Terry (49) and the cause of death is unclear at this time. Terry was a Frenchman who was riding for the Gasgas Desert Team.

The big players at the minute are Marc Coma, current leader, who is riding for KTM Motorbikes. He is a previous winner of the Rally with his team Repsol KTM.



Meanwhile, on four wheels, Pole Position is held by Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Tina Thorner. They drive for BMW. Nasser is an interesting character, not only does he drive in the Production World Rally Championship, but he is also an Olympic class Clay-Pidgeon Shot.


In the larger vehicles Marcel Vanliet, Herman Vaanholt, and Gerard van Veenendaal take the lead in their GINAF Dutch truck. You can see their video footage here. Sorry, it’s in Dutch but you get the idea of what they are about.

Etappe 2 – MyVideo Nederland

The Dakar Rally has been going for over thirty years. It started it’s life as the Paris-Dakar rally in 1978, managed by the Amaury Sports Organisation. The rally has changed the route more times than a dodgy GPS, taking in Algiers, Tunis, Granada, and the middle east. The changes were necessary because the rally has raised many objections.

The Rally has taken in some of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the developing world. Some have accused it of parading wealth before the world’s poor. Others have condemned the harm it has done to the environment.


In spite of the risks the race has only ever been cancelled once, in 2008, sue to fears of attack by terrorists.
One famous incident involved Mark Thatcher (son of the former Prime Minister), who got separated from a convoy. He and his team were later found unharmed by the Algerian air force.

The fatalities have been never ending. A ten year old Malian girl, Baye Sibi, was killed under the wheels of a turch as she crossed the road. A mother and daughter were killed by a film crew truck on the last day of the race in 1988. The safety of non-participants in developing countries does not appear to be high priority to the organisers.

But the show does go on, and seems more popular and better organised every year.

For further information check out:

Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Posted in in the news

The Economic Downturn

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This is the blog I wasn’t going to write.

I believe that the media isn’t helping the current financial crisis, they are talking us into a deeper hole. But they are just reporting what they see happening, as always. And I feel the need to add my voice to the growing choir of discontent.


My little town in Oxfordshire is starting to look like a Sunday everyday. We have lost Woolworths, Adams, Halfords, endless small traders. Our pubs started closing last year, one at a time. One proud hostelries now are boarded up, barren and imposing.


Nearly two million people are now out of work. For a few brief hours, I was one of them. But I was one of the lucky ones. It has been called the white-collar recession, but in truth there has been an equal number of blue collars on the dole queue, as the recession filters down.

The statistics are mind boggling, absolutely stunning. Millions lost, millions more pumped into the economy to prop up failing industries.


The only people who are doing well out of all this are receivers and administrators such as Deloitte. They now hold the keys to most of the recently liquidated businesses. They are worth 27.4 billion dollars.

So what do we do now?

We learn. We work. We save and we invest.

We have to put an end to the financial frivolity of the last decade. No more decks of credit cards in our wallets. No more store cards. No more buy now pay later.

We will learn the hard lessons our Grand parents and Great grand parents learned in the 1930s and 40s. There is no magic wand that can fix all this, it will be down the the individual and the lifestyle changes that they adapt.

In the wider world of politics it seems America will be losing it’s eighteen year reign as top dog of the world’s countries. I feel it will serve out another ten years before China or a revitalized Russia take the lead.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Posted in in the news