Simon Pearson -

Black MIDI

November 27, 2013

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Is terrifying.

If only it could be used for good!


LASEK diary: one year on

April 9, 2013


This is the last in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Fourteen months after my LASEK surgery, I have mostly forgotten about it. Which is to say, my vision is at least as good as it was before the surgery (with glasses). It’s a great outcome – the one I’d hoped for but feared might not happen.

My last contact with the clinic at Moorfields was back in November for my 6-month check-up. They did a sight test and I could actually read slightly more of the chart than I had been able to with my glasses on previously. This is a major result for me, especially as my eyesight with contact lenses was never as good as with glasses.

If I had to sum up my experience in a tweet, I’d say this: the procedure is quick and totally painless, it look much longer than I thought to heal (acceptable detailed eyesight took about 3 months) but LASEK has been brilliant for me.

The Development Section

March 28, 2013

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Thanks to my parents who relented and gave in to my pleadings for piano lessons when I was six, I became quite familiar with Sonata form. Learning classical piano means playing a lot of sonatas. In Sonata form, the development section starts in the same key as the exposition (the first section), and uses the same themes (or subjects), but breaks them down and modulates them to different and sometimes surprising keys.

I rather like this description of Sonata form by Peter Madsen which also includes some examples in pop music:

“As you’ll remember, sonata form basically looks like this:

Exposition – Exposition – Development – Recapitulation

Or, using letters:

(A B C) – (A B C) – (OMG!!) – (A B C ish)”


I’m leaving BERG today, a place where the OMG!! development frequently happens, weaving together the themes and interests of the people in the room to make truly thought-provoking work.

During my two years in the studio I’ve shepherded a myriad of projects borne out of great minds, from web prototypes for BBC, to AR toys that communicate with each other, a comic book with an invisible ink subplot, always-on video connections to other places, projection technology combinations which turn any surface into an interface and, of course, a printer that creates personalised newspapers and prints its own face. And much more secret stuff besides.

To say I’ve learned a lot from BERG would be a gross understatement; working with some of the most creative and inquiring minds in the world has been a privilege (and at times a challenge). It’s demanded a form of project management that’s incredibly light touch during the research phase, or what BERG calls ‘material exploration’, and very hands-on during the delivery (often using new or emerging technology or processes). I’ve learned to appreciate what it means to really research the meaning of something in depth.

It’s a very satisfying place to work. It doesn’t leave my brain with many spare cycles of an evening.


Eleven years ago whilst studying my undergraduate degree I wrote this:

[Bells, 2002, performed by me and Catherine Lee, Recording by Ryan Searle]

Written as a homage to the Guildford Cathedral bells that I lived directly beneath, this piece was written before I’d listened to any Steve Reich or appreciated the depth and scale of minimalism and its context in the massive diversity explosion in twentieth century music. It is what it is, because deadlines were short and composition was worth 10 credits per year, out of 120. But I remember ideas would come regularly and with force and I didn’t get to let them all out.

A year or so later I wrote this:

[To Scale, 2003, Performed by members from Sax Collective, plus Erica Sprigge]

I have an itch to start writing music again, possibly since joining the Pink Singers last year. I need to see what happens when I put pen to paper again, now I’ve had a few more years of life and listening experience, plus the time to create something more substantial.

So I’m going to do that a bit more. And watch this space for evidence of that, because one of the things that Matt Jones taught me was that chatting is lying – and he’s right. It’s better [and harder and therefore more valuable] to make something than hypothesise about it.


I’m also available for contract project wrangling on a part-time basis too. If you have any projects lined up – let me know or keep me in mind! I’ll be working for some/most of my week with the mighty FutureLearn team for a few months starting in early April, helping build the future of education.

LASEK diary: three and a bit months in

May 12, 2012


This is the twelfth in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

It’s now three months post surgery and I was rather hoping that the last 10% of my eyesight would come into crisp focus, but it’s still not quite as good as it was before with glasses. I had my three-month follow up this week and my left eye is now +1.25 and my right eye is +1.00 (I was previously -7 in both). It means my distance vision is OK but my close-up vision is still a little bit poor (especially in my left eye).

I’ve been prescribed a cream and some drops which may well stimulate my eyes to completely heal, but it may take another six months or so according to the surgeon. For LASEK patients with severe myopia pre-op, it’s normal for the surgery to slightly overcorrect the problem as when the eyes settle the effect is to become more short sighted, apparently, so hopefully I’ll come back in to 0 or nearabouts in both eyes.

I’m not really having any problems apart from sometimes using my computer at night when my eyes are tired. Driving and normal day-to-day life is totally fine.

Will update again in a few months.

An email to Barclays Cycle Hire

April 28, 2012


And now for an even more boring post than usual: I’ve recently had a pretty crummy customer experience with Barclays Cycle Hire (often dubbed Boris Bikes). The TL;DR is that I used a bike for journey which they believe I did not complete, charged me £150 and have since been pretty useless through the process of me trying to resolve the situation.

Below is the record of my recent email of complaint to them, updates will be posted here for others in a similar situation (I’m sure there are plenty).


Saturday, April 28 2012, 7:27pm:

To: Contact @ Barclays Cycle hire, CC Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee


I’m writing to complain about an experience I’ve recently had with the Cycle Hire scheme.

I am a member of the scheme, however in February of this year my access fob became faulty so I made a couple of journeys on credit card whilst I waited for my new fob to arrive.

On February 23rd I took a journey from Macclesfield Road off City Road at about 9pm to Cartwright Gardens in Bloomsbury. I docked the bike and nothing untoward happened (I am a frequent user of the scheme so aware of the docking / undocking requirements). I happened to notice in March after looking at my credit card bill that I had been charged £150 by TFL on February 26th. I called the call centre in late March to request a refund. I was told I would be notified of the outcome within two weeks. I never received a phone call, so I spoke to the call centre again this week on Tuesday 24th April. I was told my refund request had been declined and that someone should have been in contact with me to explain. This had not happened, so I requested to speak to a team leader. I spoke with someone called Maria who was very polite and understanding, and told me she was investigating the case. She called back in the afternoon to say she didn’t have resolution but promised to call back on Wednesday.

I didn’t receive another phone call, so I phoned the call centre again on Friday 27th April and spoke with Mustafa, who informed me that whilst the journey had now been closed (by operator), the bike I used had not been registered on the system (the bike number he told me was 14544) and that my refund request had been declined.

Now I understand that when I hired the bike I agreed to the terms and conditions of the service, but I am 100% sure that I re-docked the bike. As I mentioned I am a regular user of the scheme so I know my way around the bikes & docks well. The problem we have here is that I cannot prove that I docked the bike (without trying to find CCTV footage or similar), and you cannot prove that I did not (there are well documented cases online of users who have docked their bike, received a green light and still been charged).

I’m upset for two reasons:

- firstly that this happened in the first case as I now fear using the scheme with my member fob in case I am charged an enormous amount of money – enough to buy a new bike, indeed – for using the scheme as intended. Surely this isn’t what you want for your customers.
- secondly the communication about my case has been extremely poor – despite leaving contact details each time I have called, I have had to chase and push constantly until the final admission that my refund claim has been declined by TFL for a second time.

Could you please advise how I can appeal this decision and get my money back, and also ask what steps you have taken to attempt to locate the missing bike (which I did not steal).

Simon Pearson”

Saturday 28 April, 2012, 7:33pm

From: Enquiries (Barclays Cycle hire)

“Thank you for your email. We will respond to your enquiry within five working days.


Barclays Cycle Hire”

Saturday 28 April, 2012, 7:49pm

From: Caroline Pidgeon


I’ll take this up on Monday

Best wishes

Caroline Pidgeon AM”

Monday 30 April, 2012, 4:49pm


“Our Ref: 101001156924/ KA

Dear Mr Pearson

Thank you for your enquiry dated 24 April 2011 [SP: was actually 2012], regarding a Refund Request of £150 for a Late Return Charge taken from your debit/credit card.

We have considered the points you had raised when contacting our centre regarding a cycle journey on the 23 April 2012 [SP: was actually 23 February 2012] from Macclesfield Rd, St Lukes.

Upon investigation we can confirm that the circumstances that you have described do not meet the required criteria for refunding a Late Return Charge in accordance with our Refund Policy.

However on this occasion as a gesture of goodwill TfL have used their discretion and are willing to provide a total refund of £150 for the Incurred Late Return Charge.

Please note that this is a gesture of goodwill and does not set precedence. Should these circumstances occur in the future we will not be liable to refund this charge in accordance with our Refund Policy and the Terms and Conditions for use of Barclays Cycle Hire.

All approved refunds should be processed within 5 working days, please check your online account during that time to see if the refund has gone through.

To avoid facing charges of a similar nature please check if you receive a green light when docking your cycle. If you do not please call us on 0845 026 3630 where one of our Customer Service Representatives will be able to check your cycle has been correctly docked.

Should you require information regarding any other scheme related matter, please refer to our website Alternatively, you may also contact us using the details below, where one of our Customer Service Representatives will be happy to assist you.

We hope you continue to enjoy using the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Kelly”

So it appears that I have success, though no more information on why my case does not meet their requirements for refund. I will keep an eye on my credit card to see if the refund actually gets processed. My recommendation to those in a similar situation is to go public with the correspondence as I have here.

Project: Paul A Young fine chocolates

March 31, 2012

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Late last month I teamed up with the very talented Katie Marcus to create a lovely new website for Paul A Young Fine Chocolates.

The site needed to allow for regular updates so shop staff could post events and notices on the blog. And obviously it needed to look as beautiful as the chocolates, which is no mean feat. Luckily I think it’s looking super.

Also, Erik Fors has created this totally gorgeous film about Paul and the magic that happens in the kitchens at each of the shops.

Paul.a.young from Erik Fors on Vimeo.

LASEK diary: two months in

March 31, 2012


This is the eleventh in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

It’s now eight weeks after my LASEK surgery and I can happily report things improved a lot since the last post. Around three weeks after surgery, my right eye became pretty clear, although my left eye was still experiencing some double vision. That is still ever so slightly true, but my overall vision is now probably about 90% of what it was with glasses before the procedure. That is to say: I am no longer struggling to see things at all, thankfully.  They may well continue to get a little better over the next few months.

I now regularly forget that I’ve had the procedure (apart from when I’m tired and think I need to take my contact lenses out, only to remember they aren’t in!). I’ve experienced absolutely no dry eye (but sometimes I put drops in late in the evening if I’ve had a long day). It’s great now that they have settled down enough for me to use my computer at full resolution again and I’ve started taking / editing pictures with my SLR again.

There’s one more check-up in late April at the three month point, but then I’m done. All in all I’d recommend the procedure. Aside from a few weeks of frustration whilst I was healing, I think it’s been a total success. If I were to go through it again, I’d have it done in a break between jobs to have a proper four week break to recover.

LASEK diary: three weeks in

March 11, 2012


This is the tenth in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Thursday 23rd February: at the beginning of this week I decided to take it as easy as I possibly could. I I was kindly allowed to take some extra holiday at short notice so worked half days this week in order to properly rest my eyes from the computer, I stopped cycling and running in order to give my body a chance to heal, and have been eating super-healthy and no boozing.

It seems to have paid off – suddenly my right eye is pretty clear, overnight. My left eye still has double vision but suddenly I’m able to read things close up much more easily, which is great.

I’m still finding that my eyesight is best in the morning or just after eye drops, but at this point I’d be confident enough to drive a short distance in the day time. By evening my night vision is still a bit rough and I’m getting flare and ghosting (only from the left eye now) around lights.

So – three weeks in, and getting there. Thankfully the eye drop regime has now dropped to just FML (like the hashtag) every four hours, which I have to take until six weeks have passed.

LASEK diary: two weeks in

March 3, 2012


This is the ninth in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Two full weeks in after surgery and things have improved a tiny bit this week, but I’m still getting headaches using a computer for long periods of time (which my job requires, unfortunately) and going back to my usual routine of cycling to work, doing a couple of runs per week and working full days doesn’t seem to have done me any favours.

I’m keeping going with the dexamethasone drops every other hour, and refresh at least once an hour. I suspect that the dexamethasone is making my skin more sensitive and scratchy than normal, which is odd, but these things happen.

Both eyes are still a bit blurry, and though eye drops bring some comfort and clarity it’s pretty short lived. If my eyes stay at this level I’ll be disappointed in the outcome.

I know I need to be patient and that this might take up to three months to be back to similar pre-op vision.

LASEK diary: day 10

February 27, 2012

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This is the eighth in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Monday 13th February: went back to work for the first time today, which I was nervous about. Yesterday I went along to rehearse with a choir I’m hoping to join and sight reading music was a challenge – my eyes got very tired very quickly and went from blurry to blurrier.

Unfortunately something similar happened at work. I need to use a screen for most of the day, so I battled through with my text size bumped up significantly (much to the amusement of my colleagues who could see every email I was writing from a distance of approximately five miles) but still my close up vision was quite doubled, although distance vision was OK. Determined to get back to my normal routine, I struggled on, cycling to and from work and going for a run (which my legs were pretty happy about after 10 days off) but by late evening I could barely see the television and my eyes were strained and I had a headache. This was the first time since the surgery that I’ve had any real pain. My vision at the end of the day was noticably worse than at the start of the day so I tried to spend the evening resting as much as possible.


My weekend ritual: eggs benedict. Always boil the eggs for about 12 seconds before cracking them into the waterPlaying with the new android lens blur ting.HeinousPhotoPhotoJames' dinnerLunchtime roofin'Bayleaf then cheese then pasta then meat then bechamel then pasta then meat then bechamel then pasta then meatThe ShiningThrowback SaturdayFriday afternoon = demos time!Ah London. Grey, colourful London.Excellent.Springtime doggit walkin'Erlend Øye at Islington Assembly HallA tiny birthday cake for an old person, on top of a bus shelter.Afternoon briefly interrupted by napping DaschundPrune and Armagnac millefeuilleKid consommé with wild garlic leavesRicotta and blood orange panzanella with mint and olives