top of page

Schools Speaking Tour 2024

UK Speaking Tour Road Trip: Feb-March and June-July
FREE to schools – just give me coffee
Prius in the desert.jpg

No deserts this time, I expect  – just the green and pleasant fields of Britain.

… Imran … examines who he really is in a series of compelling stories that, taken together, demonstrate how it is possible to change attitudes and beliefs even when one is adult. It leaves one with a feeling of Hope for humanity, so needed in the dark times we are living through.’ 

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE

Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute

UN Messenger of Peace

 

‘Imran held schools workshops in which the children and teachers alike were engaged, spellbound, and deeply moved.  His uplifting and inspirational message has universal resonance – regardless of background, culture or ethnicity.  He's also very, very funny.’

Paula Truman

Schools Workshop Organiser, Morley, Leeds

 

‘Imran gave a tremendous speech ... He speaks from the heart, is entertaining and engaging – and is a first-rate public speaker.’

Barbara Herts

Former CEO YoungMinds, London

12-20.jpg

My presentation is usually a very lively, passionate ‘narrative performance’ (interactive workshop for school audiences) – combining: reading of passages from the book; insights into the extraordinary social evolution of the United Kingdom in the late 20th Century; anecdotes from the amazing publishing journey; and self-deprecating humour.  The laughter of my audience energises me to remain upbeat and engaging (I’m very grateful to everyone for showing up). (I’m not afraid of speaking to large audiences – it’s when there’s only two people that I get nervous.)  Years 9/10/11 and teachers as well they all find this fascinating, entertaining, riveting.  

To provide a venue for a speaking event (no fee, except corporates), please get in touch by e-mail (contact @ unimagined .co .uk)
Please include EVENT in the Subject header to clear the spam filter.

SCHOOLS:

(Reserve your date and see also 'Notes for Schools' below).

My events are 100% FREE (no speaking fee, or travelling/hotel expenses, or submission of receipts for sandwiches purchased en route). I require only: a parking space; black coffee (no sugar). 

Typically, I would be at your school for one entire day and deliver a lively narrative performance/workshop in the morning, and another in the afternoon.  It may be possible to do three sessions in one day, if that's required.  Book signing (if desired) potentially can be during lunchtime and at the end of the day. 

 

Generally, I do not discuss: Religion or specific religions, God or specific gods, current world conflicts, politics, etc.  My focus is on: emotional intelligence; our common humanity (there is no 'Other'); some positive 'Rules' for Life

 

The book is quoted to demonstrate the extraordinary evolution of British society over the last 50-60 years.  This is a lively narrative performance, with age-appropriate humour. 

See 'Notes for Schools' under the tour schedule below.

Reserve your date!  Send me an email

Weekdays – Schools have priority
Evenings and weekends – available for Bookshops

 

UK SPEAKING TOUR Road Trip details will be updated here:

PHASE ONE:  FEBRUARY - APRIL 2024

PHASE TWO:  JUNE - JULY 2024

 

PHASE ONE

FEBRUARY

Scotland, esp Borders, Edinburgh, Glasgow

Sunday 18     

Monday 19     Private event

Tuesday  20     Private event

Wednesday  21     Reserved

Borders, Glasgow, North of England, inc Carlisle, Newcastle

Thursday  22   Reserved

Friday  23     Available for Glasgow

Saturday  24

North Yorkshire & Yorkshire, inc York, Leeds, Bradford

Sunday  25

Monday  26     Available for Leeds area

Tuesday  27     Available for Leeds area

Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield areas

Wednesday 28     Blackburn -- St Wilfrid's C of E Academy

Thursday  29

MARCH

Friday  1

Stoke-on-Trent, Nottingham, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Birmingham areas

Saturday  2

Sunday  3

Monday  4

Tuesday  5       

Wednesday  6     Nantwich  6:30pm  Nantwich Bookshop      

Wales, inc Cardiff, Swansea

Thursday  7

Friday  8

Saturday  9

Sunday  10

Southeast, inc London, Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, Banbury ...

Monday  11     Essex -- Reserved pending date confirmation

Tuesday  12

Wednesday  13     Peterborough -- Reserved pending date confirmation

Thursday  14     Ilford -- The Ursuline Academy

Friday  15

Saturday  16

Sunday  17

Monday  18

Tuesday  19

Wednesday  20

Thursday  21

Friday  22

Saturday  23

Sunday  24

Southwest, inc Exeter, Bristol, Gloucester (stretching SW a bit!)

Monday  25

Tuesday  26

Wednesday  27

Thursday  28     Hampshire -- Reserved pending date confirmation 

Friday  29   Good Friday

Saturday  30

Sunday  31

 

PHASE TWO

Northern Ireland, especially Belfast

JUNE

Monday  3

Tuesday  4

Wednesday  5

Thursday  6

Friday  7

PHASE TWO will continue in England/Wales/Scotland to mid-July

(dates/areas to be published in due course)

NOTES FOR SCHOOLS

(My events are completely FREE for schools – no speaking fee or expenses.)

Life Lessons

Despite the title of the book, for school audiences I steer clear of talking about: Religion or specific religions, God or specific gods, politics, current world conflicts, etc.  

 

My focus is on: emotional intelligence; our common humanity; some positive 'Rules' for Life.  The book is quoted to demonstrate the extraordinary evolution of British society over the last 50-60 years.  I also talk about my publishing journey, the lessons I learned and am still learning.  This is a very lively narrative performance, with age-appropriate humour.  

  Unity, Diversity, Equality: there is no 'Other'.  Our common humanity is greater than all of our perceived or imagined differences.  It is a mistake to base our personal identity on not being one of them.  

  Don’t make assumptions about anyone if you don’t know them or haven’t met them in person.

  Anything which happens to you, or which anyone does to you – don’t take it personally.  If you can avoid taking things personally, it can significantly improve your entire life.  This is very, very difficult – but if you can put it into practice, you can sail through life a much happier person.

  Always do your best.  Whatever you are doing, whatever the task in hand (even if it’s a chore like washing up or sweeping leaves), give it your best effort and your full attention.  The Buddhists call this ‘mindfulness’ (oops ... I mentioned a religion, but only in passing).  Doing your best at everything you do can have wonderful outcomes in your life which you can’t imagine. 

Visualise your Dream ... but you must take the first steps and do the necessary work

 

Disappointments line the route to success

Don’t be afraid to try something new … something outside your experience and comfort zone.

Some of these lessons (but not the real-life examples) are derived from The Four Agreements, an inspiring book by Don Miguel Ruiz – this is acknowledged during the narrative performance. 

I talk about my personal ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ – in which both my corporate career and my writing career were at rock bottom – but change and transformation came from a most unexpected direction (does not involve drugs or religion – this is a secular and ‘clean’ talk).  I had to be willing to step out of my old established patterns and try something new which came my way.  

Book:

The Perfect Gentleman – a Muslim boy meets the West  by  Imran Ahmad 

(Originally published in the UK/Australia as Unimagined  but renamed when my American publisher took global rights.)

I quote from my book and also talk about my extraordinary experiences (and lessons learned) from the amazing publishing journey.  The book narrates in poignant and immersive detail the evolution of Britain and the extraordinary social changes which have taken place over the last 50-60 years.  Today's young people are incredulous about how life used to be – but the narrative timeframe is less than one lifetime! 

With all the current preoccupation with colonial wrongdoing and historical injustices, my opinion is that no one alive today is responsible for what their ancestors may (or may not) have done to my ancestors (and vice versa).  Instead, let us focus on where we are today – we must strive for: social justice, equality of rights and opportunities for all, unity, humanity, compassion, respect, integrity ... and, by the way, our precious Earth (the only home we have) is seriously unwell and we must together do everything we humanly can to help her to heal (for all our sakes).  

I am happy to inscribe and sign books after each event, but I do not carry any copies for sale – therefore, I would appreciate it if pupils are advised of the website (www.unimagined.org) in good time before the event, to source their own copies.  The book is orderable from all local independent bookshops (as well as the usual corporates), and independent bookshops are being given a discount which allows them to be competitive with Amazon.  Your school could also negotiate a favourably discounted bulk order from a local independent bookshop. 

Technology

I do have very interesting visuals, to illustrate the narrative, so a screen/projector is required.  (I can potentially deliver the narrative performance without visuals, but it would be less engaging.)  I have the visuals on a memory stick, so if I can use your computer, that’s even better.

The Evolution of British Society in the Last 50-60 Years

I quote from the book generally to demonstrate how much the United Kingdom has changed in just in one lifetime.  Contemporary pupils find some of these observations jaw-dropping. 

Examples of passages I read aloud as part of the overall storyline

1964-65

Age: 2

England at that time had a very defined class system.  I think that it could be analysed in great detail, worthy of a doctoral thesis, but a broad representation would be as follows:

 

1. Royalty

2. Aristocracy

3. Upper classes

4. Middle classes

5. White working classes

6. Irish

7. Coloureds

 

In this society, my parents, who were from the educated middle classes in Karachi, found themselves in a very hostile environment, at the mercy of uneducated, uncouth people in terms of jobs and accommodation.  The latter, in the earliest days, was a series of bed-sits. A bed-sit, for the benefit of my American readers, is a part of a house that is rented out, consisting of a bedroom and living room (which may be the same room), and use of a bathroom and kitchen (which may be shared with other bed-sits).  The term ‘apartment’ is therefore too grand for this accommodation.  If the bed-sit consisted of two proper rooms, then Pakistanis invariably ended up sub-letting one of the rooms to other Pakistanis.

 

This wasn’t always due entirely just to lack of money. Accommodation was hard to come by for Pakistanis. Although many people in London were renting out rooms, some had signs which read ‘No Irish or Coloureds’.  The more progressive-minded ones had signs which read ‘No Coloureds’.

1972-73

Age: 9

Every Saturday I watch an amazing television programme called UFO.  It is set in the distant future – the 1980s.  Aliens keep attacking Earth and a secret organisation called SHADO is set up to defend us.  SHADO has a hidden underground headquarters; a moonbase; fleets of spacecraft, aircraft, submarines and armoured vehicles.  And cool cars which have doors that swing open upwards.  What I really like is that lots of coloured people work for SHADO.  The chief space pilot is a black man, and a young woman who looks Pakistani works at the headquarters.  (She never says much, but she wears a big medallion and a very tight uniform.)  It’s the same in Star Trek.  It means that, one day in the future, coloured people won’t be second class – we’ll just be normal.

1974-75

Age: 12

There are a few racist lowlifes even in my school.  It’s amazing that they could have passed the exam.  They are racially abusive and bullying towards me, for being a Paki, the only one in the school at this time (there are a couple of Indians and one black boy).  There is too much talk in the media and the gutter press about immigrants, who come over here and take people’s jobs, or get unemployment benefits (or both).  The lowlifes need to focus on the threat of immigrants in order to give themselves a feeling of superiority.  So, they focus on me.  The funny thing is, I can understand their point of view.  From their perspective, why wouldn’t they resent immigrants?  They even have their own political party, the National Front, whose key policy is that all coloured immigrants should be repatriated, sent back home.  This causes me great concern.  I imagine having to live in Pakistan, not just visit there.  I can’t read or write Urdu and I speak it clumsily, with an English accent.  I don’t see such an outcome as impossible.  Something much worse happened in Germany not so long ago, so why couldn’t such events happen here?  And we brown people stick out a lot more than European Jews.

 

The worst example of the lowlifes is Peldman.  He is in the year above me.  He has long, untidy hair, and a sullen face with an ugly black mole.  He wears his school uniform in a deliberately shabby way, the tie knotted carelessly, not reaching the bottom of his shirt.  Normally, I would have no interaction with a pupil in the year above.  But Peldman decides to insert himself, uninvited, into my life.  To him, I am a Paki who is not welcome in his country.  I can never pass him in the corridors or the cloisters without him making this point and subjecting me to verbal abuse.  This causes me always to have an element of tension as I walk around the school, and actual fear if I see him coming the other way.  On one occasion he spits at me and a huge glob of his repulsive saliva lands on my head.  I tamely wipe it off.  I don’t seem to have any other options.  There’s no question of complaining to a teacher; that would be pathetic.  I assume that racial abuse is a normal part of life, as I am a foreigner and I am different.

 

This is the only thing that clouds my experience of this school.

1977-78

Age: 15

There is still much talk of immigration; coloured people are flooding into the country, apparently, and many white people are angry and afraid about it.  A lot of people on television say that they will vote for the National Front and there is much concern that this party will actually get somewhere.  The spectre of being ‘repatriated’ still haunts me.  Mrs Thatcher very cleverly harvests those frightened votes.  I watch her in an interview one evening on World in Action saying: ‘… people are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.’  Those words get played over and over again, on every news programme.  Swamped.  Some people say that she’s racist, but it’s very clever really – she gets the votes away from the National Front.  I think it would be a lot better if the Conservative Party gets in and just stops further immigration, than if the National Front gets in and sends us all ‘home’.  

 

Strangely enough, there’s a black man reading the television news these days. It seems unbelievable. His voice sounds very English and so does his name: Trevor McDonald.  Well, Scottish, I suppose.  But I doubt if anyone with a funny Asian name will ever read the news.  I can’t imagine that.

20-3.jpg
7-25.jpg
8-3.jpg
12-14.jpg
12-12.jpg
Baljit.jpg
6-1.jpg
glasgow herald.jpg
Good - Jill Sevelow.jpg
8-12.jpg
catherine lockerbie.jpg
7-36.jpg
the Hindu.jpg
13-3.jpg
7-18.jpg
12-17.jpg
9-8.jpg
lieut greg b.jpg
Academic 1.jpg
Julia Gillard 2.jpg
13-1.jpg
guardian.jpg
daily mail.jpg
12-19.jpg
Julia Gillard 3.jpg
Bruce Cline with highlighter.jpg
Dave with yellow highlighter.jpg

Email me to reserve your date, as per the tour plan above.  I am sorry if the dates in your area 'sell out'.

Please share this page with other staff and schools that might be interested.  Thank you.   
contact @ unimagined .co .uk

Most of my slides are purely visual – however, this one demonstrates an important point:

Shakespeare slide.jpg

Imran speaking:  “When people are outraged by something terrible (for example, an act of terrorism), they often seek revenge.  If they cannot get to the actual guilty party, they may take revenge against anyone that they can associate with the actual guilty party – for example by race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, etc.  Shakespeare demonstrates this brilliantly and very poignantly in his play, Julius Caesar.  Caesar has been murdered by a group of conspirators, including Brutus and Cinna.  Caesar was very popular with the people, so angry crowds went on the rampage, seeking revenge.  They couldn’t find Cinna the Conspirator, but they came upon someone with the same name, Cinna the Poet.  They knew he wasn’t Cinna the Conspirator – but they killed him anyway, because they were so hungry for revenge.  Of course, this is completely irrational, but we humans have been behaving like this for thousands of years.  We will take revenge on anyone we can associate with the actual guilty party – even if they had nothing to do with it.  We must break this cycle.  Please don’t fall into this insanity – what I call the Tribal Trap.”

bottom of page