London Playground

Was  on the loose in London last week with Dave Stewart and Mark Simmons to promote their new book, The Business Playground, published, of course, by FTPH. It’s very cool – a path-breaking new kind of business book. It’s very Dave: that man is a veritable whirlpool of ideas, with his quite understated manner just a thin veneer of calm over a fizzing gale of creativity. It’s exhilarating to spend time with him and observe how he forges connections – ‘joins the dots’ as he said during his Radio 2 interview with the vibrant Jonathan Ross – and what’s even more impressive, watch how he makes things happen. Of course, his level of musical genius in itself is rare (and Dave says he’s never experienced writers’ block), but what may be even more unusual is his fusion of both creative and commercial dynamism.

During their brief visit from LA, he and Mark, Dave’s co-author on the book, also a British exile in LA, and a very hip branding expert who writes in a smooth tone with enough bite to keep your brain on edge, managed to squeeze in time to set up a pilot TV show as a spin-off from the book. I’m very pleased they also found time to fit in dinner at the Wolseley with me and the rest of the FTPH team. In between Grey Goose vodka martinis, a sharp Chardonnay and a soothing Tokaji dessert wine, we chewed on tales of celebrity along with a delicious meal. The exchange of ideas, the joking gossip and the flow of alcohol made this a very buzzy evening indeed. Far more entertaining than the grindingly dull election that was going on outside the chandelier-studded dome of the Wolseley.

Coasting along to a couple of media appearances with Dave and Mark this week was an eye-opening experience for me. I’m lucky enough to spend time with many interesting people through my job, but this was something else. The world of TV and radio wasn’t always as glamorous as I’d expected – while we waited in the Sky industrial park in the distinctly grimy Osterley for Dave to be interviewed on Studio Five Live we nibbled on Maltesers and sipped diet Coke rather than champagne and canapes and Western House, before Dave’s BBC2 radio chat with Wossy, didn’t stretch beyond cardboard cups of coffee from a machine. Yet the pace that things happen – even when it’s not a live show, it will go out in the next day or so – was astonishing for someone from the book world as I am, where it takes 5 or 6 months to publish a book, even once it’s written. And the mysterious appearance of autograph hunters with an array of memorabilia for Dave to sign outside the BBC studies was a tiny glimpse into a parallel world of fame, with die-hard fans hanging on every twist of your diary. One of the most entertaining points of the week was a fascinating return journey from Sky with Dave. As Tomasz, our driver, skilfully wove his Mercedes through the tangled early-evening traffic of west London, Dave revealed a few fascinating titbits of his rock star lifestyle, complete with photos on his Mac. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you …

At the end of the week, interviews done, meals at the Wolseley feasted on, crisp-smelling copies of the book signed, I found myself on Oxford Street with Dave and Mark in search of a shot of coffee and a new belt. Two sales girls approached us in The Plaza and asked if we had ‘Sky’. ‘I’ve got Sky, I’ve got everything,’ said Dave, enigmatic and very cool in a sharp jacket, hat and the ubiquitous shades. As the girls looked quizzically at him, recognising he was not an ordinary guy but not quite able to place him, it struck me just how true that was.

For more on The Business Playground, see:

The book’s amazon page

Dave Stewart on Jonathan Ross’s Radio 2 show

Dave Stewart interviewed in The Independent on Sunday
Dave Stewart on Simon Mayo’s Drivetime
Dave Stewart on Working Lunch


One thought on “London Playground

  1. Wow! Liz, you are the one. What a fantastic occasion to return to the office for (what’s the opposite of swan song? cygnet tweet??). I must disagree with you about the election, though – hardly dull. See you soon, E xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s