TATTON SPILLER

This week in the hot seat you'll find the wonderful Tatton Spiller.


Despite having a name fit for a rock god, Tatton chose a different path in life - he is an author and the Founder of Simple Politics, where he is on a mission to help the UK have better, more informed and tolerant conversations about politics.


If ever there was a time for such a man, right?!


A sane voice in a emotionally-charged, fast-paced and often confusing world. If you have ever felt ill-equiped to establish a point of view on the big issues of the day - check out SP's instagram feed or Tattons book, The Breakdown.


I've recommended it many times since devouring it last year. A real eye opener.


What kind of man goes out of his way to improve the discourse of an angry nation?


Let's find out together, shall we!


David



What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during lockdown?

The extent of things I can fit into a day.


In the past, with Brexit and two General Elections, there has been a timetable. Scheduled votes in Parliament, TV debates, all the rest of it. Even campaigning started and stopped from Today on Radio 4 to Newsnight on the BBC.


This pandemic has been permanently chaotic all the time. Every day. Announcements and developments have come all through the night. All without leaving the house. So time at my desk has become incredibly intense. I've also had to juggle home schooling. I only have my children a few hours each afternoon, but even that takes a huge chunk out my day.


And yet, somehow, SP stays on the road and I occasionally get some sleep.


Favourite fictional character?

Batman. The graphic novels and (most of) the films. He's not the perfect super hero. He's so flawed. He's got no super powers. He chooses to fight for a city, a dream and hope for the people of Gotham.


What gets you out of bed on a morning?

Coffee and a compulsive need to find out what's going on in the world.


Best gift you’ve ever received?

My girlfriend made me a whale that she's carved from driftwood. It's pretty amazing.


Have you ever read a book that’s completely changed your outlook or opened your eyes to something?

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry stays with me a decade after I finished reading it.


The main characters through such pain and horror, as well as good times. They take everything and move on, find a new way, shift. They always gets back up against overwhelming odds. It's not a story of hope and joy. The ending isn't quite what you'd hope for anyone. I think about them every day.


You visit your ten-year-old self and tell them about your life. What do they think?

I think they'd be pleased. I had a total breakdown a few years ago. I quit teaching (where I had built my entire career), my marriage fell apart, I moved to a tiny little flat... things were pretty grim. Now, though, I'm back on my feet, I run a successful organisation, I see my children every day, I'm in a loving relationship. I think ten year old me would be pretty pleased with that.


What are your three tips for doing your best work?

I don't think I'm in a position to offer tips. I flirt with burn out and breakdown almost permanently. I'm bipolar and that really doesn't help.


What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Argos was mostly pretty dull, but at least at the end of the day I walked out the shop and that was the day done. No, I think a teaching job in a school that I fundamentally disliked was the worst. I simply didn't agree with so many of the decisions that the leadership team made. That feeling of hopelessness and helplessness is pretty hard to deal with.


What do you spend way too much money on?

Coffee. I have a good coffee machine and it gets me through a lot.


Best piece of advice you ever received?

One step at a time. An iterative approach to running things is the only way to go.

Be prepared to drop stuff that isn't working, even if you really, really thought that it would work. Run with things that seem to be doing OK, even if you thought they were very much a side thing. Drop them, too, if they stop working.


My colleague was very keen to launch SP on Instagram, but we were already up on Facebook and twitter and I didn't think the extra platform would work. Eventually I agreed, reluctantly, but only if she did all the Instagram stuff. It's now what SP is known for and has transformed the organisation.


What is something that I could learn right now, that will be useful for the rest of my life?

Love, talking and medication. Always those three things. They can get through anything in this world.


There are 5 empty seats at your table, who are your dream dinner party guests?

Honestly, I'd leave 4 seats empty and just have a lovely meal with my partner. Right now that's all I really want. I don't deal well with lots of people I don't know.

What would I cook?


MAIN SCREEN

This is where all the actual work happens. My book was written here. Twenty posts a week are written here. My email is written here. It sees a lot of action.


RESEARCH SCREEN

Live action from the House of Commons, Daily Briefings, News articles, whatever... I never type over here on the left. That would, clearly, be very wrong. I'm not a total monster.


COFFEE

This desk is driven by hot drinks. I live on my own and work on my own, so making sure I've got a hot drink gets me out this chair and downstairs every half hour / 45 minutes.


MICROPHONE

As with everyone right now, it all happens at my desk, so this good quality microphone takes me where I need to be. Radio, TV, meetings, therapy, I'm even having PE lessons on here.


LABEL PRINTER

I love my label printer. I used to write addresses for card games / books by hand. I thought it was a lovely personal touch, but then demand ramped up and I couldn't do it any more. Instead, this wonderful machine prints them for me.



My book, The Breakdown, is available pretty much everywhere, but you can buy it signed from me (should be back in stock v shortly). The card game Policy Odyssey is a lot of fun at the same shop (again, back in stock shortly).

  • Simple Politics is on twitter and Facebook, Instagram and I write a weekly email that goes out every Friday morning

  • We have a podcast with a new episode every Monday

  • I do free weekly education sessions for KS2 on a Thursday morning

  • If you really appreciate what SP does, you can also donate.


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OFF TOPIC

2020