MAGAZINE

The characters of tomorrow

This issue is punctuated, sadly, by reports of the passing of both Dave Graebel and Gethin Dalton. They were two influential and much-admired characters, the kind in which our industry glories.  I confess not to have known either of them well, just a respectful nod from me at conference or the occasional e-mail or call from them on a matter of industry importance. My loss. And looking back over the last few years we have, of course, lost many such characters, too numerous to list here.  You know who they are.

Sometimes people say to me, “Where are all the characters going to come from in the future?”  They seem to think that their generation has some kind of monopoly on charisma.  It doesn’t.  My job in this industry puts me in contact with many people across the generations.  I am very lucky in that respect.  And as I observe, usually from a respectful distance, I can see the characters of the future developing: finding their audiences, perfecting their craft, discovering who they are and revelling in the approbation they receive and even the notoriety they sometimes create. This industry has no shortage of characters, just as strong as those of the past. 

But I do think there is a difference.  In the past I feel the world was more accepting of eccentricity.  Not that I am suggesting Messrs Graebel or Dalton were eccentric.  Certainly not. But I do think people were more free in years gone by to allow their characters to show without so much fear of being shouted down for being something-ist.  I am not saying that’s wrong.  Regular readers will know that I have become something of an accidental champion of good manners, equal opportunities and, well, just being decent to people.  But it does make it harder for those strong characters to mature and rise above the rest. Of course it also stops those who just don’t quite have their charm, causing untold havoc in their quest for stardom.  Every cloud …

So yes, we should always mourn those when they leave us.  When they do, the exceptional will always create more seismic activity than the rest. But there are plenty hovering in the wings waiting to wear their crowns.  For the rest of us, maybe we should practice cutting them a little slack to allow those personalities we so much admire, to flourish and beguile.

Steve Jordan, Editor, The Mover