In the olden days, when you bought a potato, you ate it.

Today, even the humble potato comes pre-loaded with a barrage of questions, Do you want to follow your potato on Twitter?  Join its mailing list? Download its App? Know where it was sourced? Would you like to send us your own potato portrait or spud-based creation?’

We live in a noisy world, where every man, woman and vegetable is clamouring for our attention. Every brand of potato has its own digital portfolio. So, let me ask you a different type of question: in such a chaotic cacophony…

How can a quiet voice be heard? 

The trick is, not to compete. Most of us aren’t cheesy salesman, Ted-talkers or attention-seeking celebrities. We’re regular people, with polite, quiet voices but that doesn’t mean we’re nothing to say. On the contrary, we are fascinated by life because we’re neck-deep in it. We know everyday life isn’t a fairy story, it’s a clumsy complex conundrum that throws up the myriad of challenges that we wrestle every day.

But once in a while, if we’re lucky, life reveals something so full of wonder that it can take our breath away. For me, one of those moments was seeing The Buxton Mermaid, a quirky little artefact in the local museum. It’s an astonishing piece, cobbled together from wire, hair, bone, molluscs and fish. It is so bizarre that it inspired me to create a story, a play and a festival. Click on this link to find out more…

The Buxton Mermaid website

The Buxton Mermaid has a quiet voice but an authentic one. It reveals something deep that’s impossible to quantify but I like that. It’s intriguing.

And my final question? What am I saying here? In my own quiet voice? Look at this! Isn’t it cool? Look at that bit there, hold it up to the light and see how it shimmers. Here’s a film and a photo, a story and play. Let’s look at them together. In life and online.

We always look to America to provide us with super-heroes and they do it very well – but tucked away in the Boyd Dawkins room of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is a super-hero of our own:

Half-woman, half-fish.

Look up Half Dot Fish.

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Part of the BM125 celebrations with support from Arts Council England. The Mermaid Festival runs from 30th May to 1st June at Buxton Art Gallery and Museum and the Green Man Gallery. The short story, D E E P, read by Sarah Day will premiere at the Green Man Gallery on March 31st. The event is free but booking, via the museum, is essential.