Thursday, September 27, 2007


It was a Monday in 1993, just before my birthday, that I got the call that my mother, Glenda, was in the hospital. I was in Glasgow, she in Santa Cruz. Her ex-husband Bill had waited a week to tell me (or anyone) that she’d gone in. As it was the height of Summer, the flights were all booked and by the time I got home to California they had “pulled the plug” on her life. I never got to say “goodbye”. At the time she died, she had Cancer -- and not just one type but three types eating her away from the inside.

I have been lucky to effectively have two mums though. That one who actually gave birth to me, and one I like to call my adoptive or "surrogate mum". I met Heather in the summer of 1987. Well I’d met her husband Gerry and son David at Wembley Stadium (the weekend before) whilst we all stood and watched U2. I was alone. They had binoculars, which I coveted, so in my infinite wisdom, I struck up a conversation with them. Twenty years on and they are the closest thing to a family I’ve ever had. Heather has always been more of a mother than my own mother was.

Born one day (and many years) apart, we are both sensitive, home-loving, nurturing crabs. We speak on the phone often and she is the main person who knows all of my dating peaks and valleys. In fact, when anything of any significance happens, Heather is the first person I want to call to share it with.

Some months ago Heather was diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer and already being diabetic, the treatment has been getting harder and worse and this weekend she was hospitalised. On Sunday I found out she went in to hospital and the prognosis is grim.

I spoke to her husband, Gerry, yesterday and now she has a tumour on her brain. It’s so unfair but then life isn’t fair. All this and one year away from celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Heather and Gerry are the best example I have in my life of a happy marriage. Maybe the only example, I really don’t know.

In any event I am truly the saddest I’ve been in years. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s history repeating itself, and I am set to lose another mum to Cancer (possibly without being able to say goodbye). There are actually a few, close people in my life who either have cancer or a parent with it.

Last night, I needed some air. I was restless and sad beyond belief, and so I took a walk to river side to shoot some photographs. It gave me a few hour’s reprieve before the sadness washed over me once more. Thankfully I’ve had one or two friends who’ve been very supportive (thanks guys). I have many people, particularly on SYBD encouraging me to make the trip south, but I wait to hear whether or not she will even see me (I’m told she’s seeing no one). If I am being honest, I know full-well she won’t want me to go to the expense of travelling down to Bedfordshire, not that I care about the money. It’s only money. Love, people, family and friends are all what matter, right?

But maybe it's better to remember them smiling as they once were? (As pictured above - just last year) Well that's what Gerry said yesterday. I am not sure what to do if I am being honest?

But what I do know is that Heather is truly the mother I never had. Though my own mother was a good person who did the best she could, mothering skills were not something Glenda was blessed with. Heather, on the other hand is warm, kind-hearted, loving, sensitive, maternal and she's someone who's made me a better person by simply having her in my life for twenty years. I am so grateful to have her and to have been loved by her. Though it's truly a painful time for me right now, I'd not trade it for not knowing her for anything in the world.

If you have a mother, mom, mum - who's still around then pick up the phone and call her now. And remember you're lucky. If your mum has passed, then call anyone who's been like a mum to you. An aunt, a step-mom, a mentor - whoever. Let them know how grateful you are to know and love them. Let them know while you can.

On that cheery note, I am off to a comedy club, can you believe it? It's actually the last place I feel like going but as Stef just said in a text: "We have to live life as much as we can. Out of respect to those who are denied the chance". What a beautiful sentiment, you can tell he's a writer, eh? But truer words never spoken.

Take care and be well all you out there. I hope for cheery news in my next entry.

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Friday, September 21, 2007



Well it was suggested, in a meeting with one of my London colleagues, that I put Google Analytics on SYBD and start getting a better understanding of where my hits are coming from and about their viewing habits.

So taking his advice, I did, and I watched it eagerly for the first few days. Then, I thought it'd be more fun to leave it for a while to see how the stats changed.

Well, it's been less than a month (but close to it anyway) and so I checked today and I found out some interesting things.

First that SYBD has had:

13,830 visits, from 108 countries/territories and across in 2,031 cities.(Not bad for a website that's never sent out a single press release...dontcha think?)


So breaking it down further let's look at the countries we reach...First of all, not a ton of surprises there, as I'd always considered UK, North America and Oz to comprise my biggest audience and by and large it does.

United States (6,630). United Kingdom (3,776), Canada (1,151) Australia (655). Ireland (275). New Zealand (122) Venezuela (119), Philippines (117) India (84)

So yeah USA and UK are my top two. Venezuela was a bit of a surprise as was the Phillipines...

Breaking it down further again by cities was interesting (even due to the fact that there a few cities on the top 40 cities that I've never heard of!)


The top cities by visit are: London, New York, Sydney, Sheffield, Dublin, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Birmingham, Manchester, Mississauga, Melbourne, Caracas, Thames Ditton, Houston, Toronto, Montreal, Cambridge, Brentford, Atlanta,...and several hundred more!

Interesting stuff. Am a bit surprised Glasgow wasn't higher on the list. (It came in at number 76 incidentally.) But half the fun is that a mere mention on the radio, or in the press in general will have a totally different city rise up the list.

It's been fun looking at these stats and how they have coincided with the people who have offered to come forward to be in my film.


The film, all being well, should take me across the UK (this side of Christmas) then early next year over to North America. Then, possibly to South America and Australia too (if enough people come forward to warrant the journey).

Though everything is moving at painfully-slow speeds (for my liking), a little bit of progress is being made each week! We're inching ever closer to picking our production team (which is awesome!), funding is in place (at least verbally), and I sit here like a race car driver at the starting block all revved up and ready for that light to turn green!


In addition to the film project, I am now in the process of incorporating. Whoah I feel like a business student, I really do. It's been a crash course in life experience since July - each day I am learning something new. It's overwhelming but ultimately exciting and rewarding. It's so great that my baby of seven years is now turning into an (UN)Limited Company. I say "unlimited" because it's so many great things - the site, the film, the soundtracks,...the world is next! When it comes to my baby, I just don't think in terms of limits.

The sky's the limit!!

...Or as I used to hear Casey Kasem say each week, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars".

Well time to get on the bike and pedal my way around the West End...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BBC RADIO SCOTLAND:- Thursday 20 Sept


Well I've just had a call from the Fred Mac staff and I will be appearing on his show tomorrow morning. The topic this week is how Americans perceive Scots. I love doing Fred's show. It's always a good laugh.

And anyone who knows me, knows just how much I miss doing radio this is as close as it gets for me.


From there - it's a fast trip to see the new JOY DIVISION film CONTROL. I was hoping to be done with the biography on IAN CURTIS I'd picked up recently but then remembered I forgot to enroll in that speed-reading class. I may officially be the slowest reader on the planet. Well, ok, I am not sure on that, but I know I am not that's just not gonna happen. Incidentally, IAN and I are one day apart birthday wise. Spooky. No suicidal tendencies here kids.


Tell you what's not joyous - setting up a limited company. It's actually a total nightmare. People keep saying "You can set one up using an 'off the shelf' package" which makes it sound like I can just nip to TESCO or ASDA and pick one up...Thankfully two of my closest friends are lawyers. (Handy people to know.) But seriously, I am looking at these ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION documents and they may as well be written in Swahili for all I can tell. Oh well - I'll just crank TOM MORTON'S show and get on with it...

Until next time....

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007



Well things are ticking along slowly but surely. I have a pile of interviewees lined up from South America, North America, Australia, and of course the UK. Tentatively, I aim to be hitting the road before the holidays across England and Wales and will leave North America and Oz until next year.

Stefan and I have been narrowing our prospective producing partners down to a tiny shortlist. All the candidates have been giving me examples of their previous documentaries. Between you and me, each one has been equally excellent. Frankly, as I've said before, I absolutely love everyone I've met thus far, but I have to pick someone I feel I can work closely with, and who gets what Stef and I are trying to achieve with this film of ours...


More meetings in London are on the horizon, so I have gone in search of a proper bag for them. I am always going to them with a backpack. I look like a perpetual, "mature", student...So I thought better of it, and earlier today I went in search of a briefcase. I found the perfect one (for now), and well, while I was out there anyway, I decided to get a few handbags too. It's so unlike me to buy, what we Americans call "purses". I think I blame hanging with Hannah so much of late as she is a real shopping enthusiast, and now, clearly, it's rubbed off on me. Hmmm, and while I am at it, I shall blame her for last week's random shopping spree on Thursday...when I picked up new trousers, a shirt, three jumpers and some vixen red lipstick....just for good measure (or for an upcoming first date, one or the other). ;)


I've seen a number of films over the past week - the most decent of which was the new Angelina Jolie film A MIGHTY HEART. It was well acted and shot. It was not a story I was familiar with but it was incredibly sad and moving. At one point, Jolie is caterwauling tears, and I'd defy anyone not to be moved by her agony. I traced back through my life, mentally, and came to the conclusion that I'd never experienced any pain on the level her character did at that moment (and I've had some pretty painful things happen to me over the years...)


I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary film about five Englishmen who are free-styling football lovers, that make a journey to South America to meet their hero, DIEGO MARADONA. It was an excellent film, even if, like me, you're not a fan of the footie!

SUPER BAD lived up to its name. I know, I know, you probably liked it. I realise I am not the target demographic, but come on. It was about high school kids wanting to get drunk and laid. Even when I was IN high school, I'd not have related to that film.

Besides I didn't have sex until my 20s (and I've still never been drunk). I did actually find one scene really funny...when one of the two geek guys tries to speak on his cell phone to the girl he has a major crush on....and when it keeps cutting out he starts swearing (like a sailor on leave) and doesn't realise that she can actually hear everything he's saying. That, I thought was pretty damn funny.


...And over the past week I've picked up some commercial DVDs - like 2 WEEKS NOTICE, THE COMMITMENTS, UNCLE BUCK and most excitingly AMELIE which I've been wanting for ages.

And as I flick the dial - I come across NOTTING HILL - one of the DVDs on my wish list. I know, know, it's schmaltzy, but I like it. Of course it's utterly unrealistic that two people from completely different worlds can overcome their differences (and backgrounds) and work it out. How often does that happen? Must be hard for Hugh (his character) to go and see his ex on the big screen...Ha,...Only one-time have I had what could be classified as a "Hollywood Ending"...(and clearly even that didn't work out).

Oh well I remain, as ever, a hopeful romantic...


Well as we are on the verge of CONTROL being released (not to mention my friend Jacqui's documentary film JOY DIVISION) - I decided it might be a good time to read the Ian Curtis biography as written by his widow Debra Curtis. It's a slow read but fairly interesting thus far. Doubt that I'll be done with it before I see the press show of CONTROL on Thursday, sadly...I'm quite excited to see it though - given how well it did at Edinburgh this year...


Earlier today, I've taken on the voluntary role of an events co-ordinator for SHOOTING PEOPLE here in Scotland. As a fan of social networking already, it will be my aim to bring the film makers across Scotland together for meetings and events up here. I am very excited. I've made some great friends and contacts through SP. I hope to make more!


And not to be too boring, but hasn't the weather in Scotland taken a turn for the worst? I am on the verge of having to put on the heating. These candles aren't quite cutting it...

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Monday, September 10, 2007


And so another week begins...

I had a super weekend...which started off on Friday evening with a phone call from my young friend TEDDY LEIFER (on right), of WE ARE TOGETHER fame. He has offered me some good advice and promised to be there to offer even more support/advice on the SO YOU'VE BEEN DUMPED movie project (24/7). My kinda fella that...He also promised to send me along their latest press release which he did and I've pasted bits of below (in red). So pleased for him and Paul, they're going from strength-to-strength and it's constantly inspiring me!

After that mood-turning conversation, I made my way up to Dunfermline so that the roller skate could get valeted. The weather was nice, I blasted MATT NATHANSON the whole way and I had a great (spontaneous) night up there. Let's just say I came home smiling (and am still doing so). I should be going back up to get the car later, and I can't wait to see its transformation...

Yesterday was spent at the BBC FILM FESTIVAL on Glasgow Green. I just stayed in the MEET THE FILM MAKERS tent (naturally).

There were talks hosted by KIRSTY WARK. First was with LLOYD PRICE who works with 'WALLACE & GROMIT'. I am not a W&G fan, but I did appreciate his talk and to hear about his experiences in animation.

The next session with Kirsty was with actors - IAIN ROBERTSON (Small Faces), ATTA YAQUB (Ae Fond Kiss), KATHLEEN MCDERMOTT (Wedding Belles). Their talk was particularly good and intersting. Kathleen was literally plucked from obscurity whilst walking down Glasgow's Sauchiehall (pronounced: socky-hall) Street... :)

Then KIRSTY was replaced by BBC Creative Director ALAN YENTOB, who then chatted with the directors: STEPHEN FREARS (The Queen), RICHARD EYRE (Notes on a Scandal), ANTONIA BIRD(The Meat Trade).

Always cool to hear people talk about their experiences. I can't get enough of these seminars, talks and so forth - at the moment.

The final talk I hung around for was ANDREW COLLINS when he met the writers: JEREMY BROCK (The Last King of Scotland), KEVIN HOOD (Becoming Jane), GILLIES MACKINNON (Small Faces).

'Loved seeing Andrew in the flesh as it were as I used to love listening to his 6Music radio show on Thursday nights when he hosted the "Round Table". Don't seem to catch it much anymore. Between you and me, STEPHEN FREARS seemed a bit of an arse but I can't help thinking he's a little God-like having directed my favourite JOHN CUSACK film HIGH FIDELITY.



Audiences vote inspirational feature documentary as their favourite in this year's festival.

Inspirational feature documentary WE ARE TOGETHER has scooped the coveted Standard Life Audience Award at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. WE ARE TOGETHER - which follows the journey of a group of orphaned children in South Africa who use their incredible singing voices to overcome tragedy - was chosen as the winner by audience votes, beating both fiction and non-fiction titles to be named festival-goers' favourite film. The film saw off tough competition to take the prize, triumphing over this year's other hotly-tipped titles RATATOUILLE, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, CONTROL and and Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering, DEATH PROOF. It is only the second time in 10 years that a documentary has won the award, the last being Oscar-nominated BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB in 1999.

The EIFF award adds to the prizes the film has been accumulating on the festival circuit this year since its premiere at IDFA, where it took the Audience Award and First Appearance Award. This was followed by the prestigious Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and a Special
Jury Prize, and further awards at Amnesty International Film festival and One World International Film Festival.

British director Paul Taylor was also named as one of this year's festival Trailblazers, an accolade given by EIFF and Skillset to new talents to look out for. On winning the EIFF award Taylor said, "The reaction the film has been getting from audiences worldwide is a fitting testament to the inspirational children of the Agape orphanage. Their spirit, courage and incredible voices cannot fail to have an impact on those who meet them, and I'm proud to be able to share that with cinema audiences worldwide."

WE ARE TOGETHER will have its UK theatrical release at the end of November through EMI and Shooting People Films - with all proceeds donated to an education program for the children of Agape and children affected by HIV/AIDS through the RISE foundation, set up by Paul Taylor
and producer Teddy Leifer.

How cool is that my friends? Wait until you see it! I am praying for Oscar on this one!


It's a "Beautiful Day" - so much so - that I woke up with THE LEVELLERS running through my head. So I had to pull it out and play it successively a few times. Then, I decided to try to find other songs of the same vein and created a happy/sunny playlist to mirror the mood I'm in. Eoghan's "Sunny Days", U2's "Beautiful Day", and we can't forget the "Happy Day" version done by the WE ARE TOGETHER Agape orphan kids. Any others you can think of...? 16,652 songs in iTunes, I ought to come up with a few more cheery numbers eh?

Well, I have a smile on my face, a spring in my step and just a whiff of romance in the air about me. Yep, life is good again...the happy girl's back so look out!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


The final meeting in London was with BRITDOC'S's (and SHOOTING PEOPLE'S) JESS SEARCH. At half-nine, we met at Shoreditch House in East London. It's always fun to see how the other half lives. This has to be the most exciting and impressive business meeting I've ever attended. Clearly I'm moving up in the world ;) The meeting was on the rooftop where there were stacks of seats, sofas, a bar and a pool.

The view was stunning (despite it being a decidedly-dull day). Many good points and suggestions were provided in the meeting and it's given both Stefan and myself much food for thought. To be honest, I felt deeply humbled that such an esteemed documentary film maker / producer - type person was spending so much of her time giving me some serious advice. I am fully aware that many people would have killed for a morning to spend several hours with Jess Search. This experience of making a film is definitely bucking the trend. Everyone is being so incredibly helpful and supportive it's so overwelming and so appreciated.

Jess has even recommended someone else that she thinks that I should talk to (arguably the number 1 Documentary film producer here in the UK). Not only that, she sent him a quick email on my behalf right there and then. Again - I am so grateful. Lord knows I need all the help I can get. Neither Stefan nor I comes from a documentary film making background and yet we have lofty ambitions for this little lo-fi film of ours...We're shooting for the stars and why not? Speaking of stars...

After an hour, he dashed off for a meeting just as our friend, WE ARE TOGETHER's Teddy Leifer (R), arrived to chat - potentially with a view to working on the project. More importantly just now though I caught up on the latest W.A.T. news since Edinburgh. I am praying Teddy and Paul get the Oscar for their worthy film. I can't wait until the rest of you get to see this film - but you'll need to wait until Christmas time to see it here in the UK and next year for you stateside folks...I love this shot of Paul, Stefan and Teddy (that I took at BritDoc). These boys are beautiful inside and out. All three of them. I feel lucky to even know them!


At least some decisions have been made now and I know more about what we're doing than I did before I flew down on Sunday so that's progress at least. I do suspect it will only be a matter of days before I am back down again.


Gradually more people are coming forward saying they'd like to take part in the film - which is awesome! It's high time I wrote all the benefactors and possibly the whole database of SYBD members to see if they'll come forward for the film. Then we need to decide just how many stories actually make the film. That will in part be decided once the production crew is on board and more likely so in the edit suite. It will be my aim to interview as many as possible. It will be the editor's job to select the best ones!


With each passing day we're getting a better idea of what we're doing, how we are going about it and assembling the dream team. I am on the verge of setting up a company which will house the website, the film production company and the new record label. The idea of partnerships is a little daunting if I am being honest, but at some point, I am gonna have to jump into bed with someone. I just hope I choose right. My choices in the past have clearly not always worked out well. Let's hope I've learned from them and choose better next time. (Hannah, pictured here) and I will run a production company...


Meanwhile I am exhausted. Even short trips like that take a fair bit out of me. So much so, I slept 10 hours last night.

Woke up and had a KRISPY KREME donut and marveled how much "life is good" at the moment.


Then it was a quick dash to Byres Road for mail and supplies. Dad had sent me a package which arrived in my absence - which included some random DVDs and MATT NATHANSON's new CD SOME MAD HOPE - which I am excited to get to know. I do find it incredibly odd that a SF-based musician is wearing a "classic" Radio Clyde shirt (which Grant tells me is from the '90s). My personal favorite is still "Come On Get Higher". A horny and sensual choon if ever there was one...On that note, I shall do something productive before I end up lost in a reverie...sigh.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Sunday I arrived at Luton and was picked up by my lovely, long-time friend and confidante Hannah. We made our way through the mild Sunday traffic to her village north of London where we picked up the rest of the family and went to a lovely meal in a place called Newgate Street (ironically that's the name of the area in Hertfordshire and not a simple road). The Coach and Horses does a mean Sunday roast, so it was a leisurely way to arrive here before a bunch of meetings.

Upon arriving down here I hear about the three-day tube strike which screws up a fair bit of my tentative plans.


On Monday Hannah and I made our way to EMI for a 2 PM meeting. Due to the eminent chaos, which shouldn't really kick in until nearer 6 PM, but of course throughout the afternoon they were slowly tapering off services - so by the time our meeting was finished, the tube was packed, warm, sweaty and as bad as riding them at peak times - even though it was only three (or half three).

The meeting between Hannah and Stefan was a good one. They are easily the two busiest people I know (and the loveliest) so thankfully they got on well, (I think). Upon leaving the meeting and making our way back to Barons Court, Hannah jokes of leaving the Bar (in the legal sense of the word) in order to be my manager. Chance, my friends, would be a fine thing.

Tuesday morning I worry how I am gonna make it back to EMI for another meeting, again at 2PM, but as luck would have it - Han's friend Sean was going that way and actually, came here, picked me up and drove me right to Brook Green. Oh how I love it when the Universe provides. (All that worrying the night before had been utterly unnecessary, as usual).

When we got to Brook Green, I accompanied Sean to the Olympia where an "Alternative Fashion Trade Show" was taking place. Sean is in the biz. While entering the Olympia - I turned to my newfound friend and said "you know what I love about my life?" He shook his head, and I answered "that no two days are ever the same". I mean when I got up in the morning I had no idea how I'd get to EMI and miraculously this guy was going there and took me along. Not only that, he smuggled me into the trade show for free. it was quite an experience. The people walking around were all in similar attire to him (black naturally). I was wearing black too, but somehow I was a whole lot less "funky" than these people - not that I cared much. I actually found it kind of comical over all. That said, I did admire some of the odd 'skinny jeans' and creeper shoes.


I was looking forward to this afternoon's meeting because I'd been in touch with Jacqui a few times since BritDoc where she'd seen my pitch. Jac has just finished what I suspect will be an amazing Joy Division documentary which I can't wait to see. She brought along Ed and Tom and the five of us piled into an EMI office to discuss the way forward for the SYBD film...or rather how Jac saw it going. It's so interesting to be meeting all these people to see their vision and hear their thoughts.

Everyone I've met (since BritDoc) has been wonderful, talented and creative. Honestly, I've liked them all. I wish I could choose them all to work on it, but that's just not going to happen. Eventually the hard decision of picking my SYBD Documentary Dream Team is going to be upon us. (Us being Stef and I). These are exciting times indeed.


After the meeting, four of us piled into Tom's rollerskate of a car. It's thee smallest car I've ever been in - ever! Environmentally-friendly the car is electric. It can't go over 35 MPH nor can it do more than thirty-five miles before it needs to be charged again (which takes six hours). I think that's particularly hilarious. That means you can't even drive it from Glasgow to Edinburgh. But on the plus side, you pay no congestion charge in London and it's FREE to park everywhere - not to mention it's so easy as it's so tiny. So it could be worth it.


As we zipped past Holland Park, Hyde Park, toward Camden, we blasted the new Athlete CD, Beyond the Neighbourhood, which Stef gave to all of us as parting gifts of today's meeting. Stef and I had blasted his advance copy it on the way to BritDoc in July and it was great to finally get a copy of it. The song "Second Hand Stores" will always remind me of my Oxford-bound journey with Stefan in July - but also, today, I've created a new memory for it...namely zipping through London like the modern day equivalent of Clowns crammed into a VW BUG. Oh the looks and smiles we got. We laughed the whole way across town. What a great ride. I filmed the experience but before I knew it I was being dropped back off in Finsbury Park and heading north once more.


This tube strike has really screwed up plans to meet people this trip. Of the half-dozen of people I'd hoped we'd be meeting - we've only managed one. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be back down again soon to complete the process. But for the next trip I'll have to wait to see what the result of this 72-hour strike is...I think there's another strike planned for next week.

Well Stef has rung to say we're meeting Jess Search - BritDoc's lovely founder - for breakfast. I am looking forward to that, but it's going to be an early morning for me (much to my chagrin).

If time permits, I may manage some time with the lovely Teddy Leifer where I can catch up on the latest of his fabulous WE ARE TOGETHER film and I can congratulate him in person for winning the Audience Award at Edinburgh last week. That's all I've managed out of this trip, I guess.

Och well, better than a slap around the face with a wet fish, I guess.

Guess I better get some shut eye so I am full of pep, vim and vigor tomorrow morning.

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