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Call Centre drama takes the Office to new heights

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TV Watch with Dave O’Connell

Those who reckoned that The Office could only ever have been a figment of Ricky Gervais’ vivid imagination have obviously never heard of Nev Wilshire, peacock-proud CEO of the third biggest call centre in Swansea.

Nev makes David Brent look like a cartoon character, because he is the looniest, most lovable, un-PC boss on the face of the planet – and he has surrounded himself with a cast of similarly doolally staff.

The Call Centre started out as a fly-on-the-wall on BBC Three and is now getting a well earned re-run on BBC1 – and it wouldn’t be any funnier if it was scripted by the team from Father Ted.

Nev himself is a balding, podgy 53 year old proud Welshman, who bases his management style on Napoleon and makes it his business to know the ins and outs of the call centre workers’ professional and private lives.

Born and bred in Swansea, he’s a big fan of Swansea City – and of John Wayne, who was one of the good guys as he puts it.

Key to the drama is the fact that Nev believes only ‘happy people sell’ and he has developed a unique approach to managing his young workforce – keeping them smiling and the sales rolling in.

This stretches to organising blind dates for those on a barren spell, and being utterly politically incorrect almost every minute of the day.

And yet it would be hard to take offence to Big Nev, who only has the best interests of his workforce at heart – quite a job in itself as his call centre has gone from eight staff sharing three desks just three years ago. He now employs 700 people at 250 desks.

With all due respects to those who work in call centres, it’s not a career choice you’d make for yourself as a lifetime ambition – and yet the staff at Swansea’s third largest centre couldn’t be happier if they worked for Apple or Google.

Their actual work seems to involve cold-calling customers to try and sell them cavity wall insulation for their houses, but that’s almost a backdrop to their lives – because this is a hot-bed of hormones and high jinks, led from the front by Nev himself.

Call centres can provide rich pickings for inter-staff relationships – there are now over a million people working in UK call centres, with an average age of just 26.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 

Connacht Tribune

Joy and sadness as band reunite for charity concert

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The Kings of Connaught: The members were Transition Year at Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew, when they founded the band 10 years ago.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

The Kings of Connaught and some of their musical friends will be in Tuam’s Mall Theatre on Friday, December 23, for a special concert in aid of local charities, Pieta House and Jigsaw. The Moylough-based folk and ballad group began life in 2012 when its six members were in Transition Year at school.

And, beyond taking part in a school talent show at Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew, the teenagers had no long-term plans, according to Thomas Ryan who plays guitar and whistle with the band.

At least, initially – but then they began to attract fans.

From the beginning, they were inspired by artists such as Luke Kelly and The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers, The High Kings, and The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur. That grá for Irish music reflected the strong trad and folk tradition in the area, says Thomas.

Between them, they played a broad range of instruments, including banjo – five string, tenor and long-neck – guitar, mandolin, guitar and accordion – button and piano – with three of the six also on singing duties. These talented young lads soon developed their own style of instrumentation and ornamentation.

Their first ‘formal’ gig was at a community fundraising event, playing to some 50 people. After that, they began to perform in pubs and clubs around Galway and, as their reputation grew, they started playing larger venues, locally and countrywide.

Along the way, they collaborated and played with well-known figures on the Irish music scene, including the Wolfe Tones, Leo Moran of The Saw Doctors, Norman and Louise Morrissey, and Seán Keane.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Eb & Flow has Galway singer cresting a wave

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Tom Portman...second release in quick succession.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Singer-songwriter Tom Portman has had a high-yielding end to the year. His fifth studio album, Train to Nowhere, was released just over a month ago and it is already set to be succeeded. Though he has been performing regularly in various guises in the interim, these two offerings, arriving so close to each other, are the first projects Tom has put out in his own name for seven years.

Eb & Flow will reach Bandcamp and Spotify and December 16. It sees the multi-instrumentalist veer in another musical direction, leaving the country and folk ballad territory of Train to Nowhere in favour of an intricate, atmospheric instrumental LP that showcases his ability as a guitarist. The songs were collected through improvisations Tom worked on in his Menlo home.

“I was recording an album a few years ago,” he recalls.

“During the process of that, in the evenings or whenever the mood took me, I’d put on the microphone and just play. Paul Doyle, who is a luthier in Galway, had an apprentice making an instrument called a Weissenborn guitar and they’re kind of acoustic, Hawaiian guitars that people used back in the twenties.

“I got a loan of this, and I just got home and had an hour to record with it. I recorded a few tracks and that’s what ended up being on the album. Another good friend of mine lent me a National guitar which is like the Mark Knopfler cover but with an older design and three metal cones inside of it. It has a bell brass body and a beautiful resonance, so some of the tracks were recorded on that.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Reverberate – exploring migration and memories

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Joselle Ntumba of Éireann and I, the collective that is presenting the show at Galway Arts Centre, pictured with her family.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

A new exhibition, Reverberate, by Éireann and I, will open at the city’s Galway Arts Centre this Saturday, December 3, at 2pm, and will run until December 22.

Reverberate is an oral history project developed by Éireann and I, a black migrant community archive, in collaboration with members of Galway’s African diaspora.

The organisers invited Black migrants who have settled in Galway to recount their journeys to Ireland, their relationship with the city and county, and to reflect on whether they have developed a sense of belonging.

The testimonies in Reverberate come from eight people of varying age and from different places. The many subjects they deal with include parenting, politics, the effects of the asylum system on lives and the communities and organisations they have built.

Some of their shared background is immediately obvious, but there are deeper connections too and these demonstrate how all humans are affected by the global and local tensions that cause people to leave their homelands and build new lives elsewhere.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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