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Schools Speaking Tour 2024
Because of the detailed content, this page is best viewed on something larger than a mobile phone. 

 
 
Not affiliated with English Department Community private group
– but for generous feedback from this wonderful community, please see bottom of this page.
 
UK Speaking Tour Road Trips: Feb-March and June-July and Sept-Oct
FREE to schools & bookshops – just give me coffee.
The subject ENGLISH isn't just about Spelling and Grammar it's about LIFE.
60 Years of Life Lessons (not found in textbooks).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best UK school speaker you’ve never heard of …
... sorry ... I mean … of whom you’ve never heard …

FREE all day at your school.   

(There is only a nominal £240 contribution to overall expenses

– no other charges.)

Once you’ve heard of him, he won’t be free anymore.

 

Broadly two options (you can customise further):
Morning:      Narrative Performance/Q&A for an entire Year Group

Afternoon:   Narrative Performance/Q&A for an entire Year Group

or

Morning:      Narrative Performance/Q&A for (an) entire Year Group(s)

Afternoon:   Smaller classroom discussion groups/workshops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smaller, classroom session, after the main narrative performance. 

 

Some June-July dates still available.

ALL DETAILS (content, format, messaging, logistics, available dates)

are below:

Please select your preferred date and send an email to secure it.


UK Schools!  
Please read this page in its entirety to gain a comprehensive understanding  (in summary and detail) of what is being offered: format, content, delivery, message, teacher feedback, available dates.
Then select your preferred date from the schedule below and send an email to secure it.  
(The cost is only a nominal £240 contribution to expenses – no additional charges). 
 
I see that you are looking at this page!  
When choosing a date, please note if/where I am already booked the previous day and the next day, for logistic feasibility.  Within 100 miles of existing event is okay!

LOGISTICS
There are engaging visuals (on a USB stick), so I need a computer, projector, screen (I have a clicker). 
The rhythm established seems to be a morning and an afternoon talk/workshop, for Year 9
and above
(but this is flexible and customisable). 
Duration of the full session should be 80-90 minutes, which allows me one hour for the engaging narrative performance, and 20-30 minutes for a teacher-moderated Q&A discussion
(or these can be separated, as explained below).  
I’ve had wonderful and gushing 
feedback (staff and students) from schools where I have presented.  
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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 Ahmad’s book, The Perfect Gentleman, is a very enjoyable and pertinent book for Year 9 and above.  Many reviews talk about its “readability” – this is absolutely spot-on.  The steady evolution of the narrative voice as the first-person protagonist gets older ensures its accessibility to a range of ages and experiences.  The immersion into the details and texture of life at each age/year is vivid and extraordinary. 

Imran’s ‘narrative performance’ on stage is absolutely riveting and delivered with raw passion and energy.  From giving the students a jaw-dropping insight into late 20th Century Britain – encyclopedias, UHF televisions, endemic discrimination, Orientalism in the Narnia stories, women’s rights (or lack thereof) – to his pursuit of Belonging (“being British”) by adopting a 'James Bond' persona in his worldwide travels … and how this all changed after 9/11.

Imran weaves a narrative tapestry of his life and his challenging publishing journey, and from this he extracts brilliant life lessons which are absolutely pertinent to the student audience (and the teachers!).  As he says: “I wish that someone had told me these things when I was your age.”

The entire package of Book + Narrative Performance + Discussions has a sharp relevance far beyond Year 9 English – encompassing Religious Studies (very broadly), Sociology, Modern History, Citizenship, PSHE and so on – and being of interest all the way up through sixth form and teachers too! 

Going forward, what I think will work best for us is one full hour of the high-energy narrative performance in the morning for the widest audience, followed by smaller group discussion sessions/workshops for the rest of the day.  I hope that Imran will be able to make an annual visit to our school.’

Gemma Price​​​​ – Head of English & Media
The Thetford Academy, Thetford, Norfolk

‘I loved this book. I accidentally left the library's copy of the book at school and was so devastated that I paid $12 to download it onto my Nook so I could finish. This coming from someone who hasn't paid for a book in 2+ years.
The book is funny, honest, and discusses topics like racism and religion in ways that encourage the participation and critical thinking of the reader. For my ESL students, the beginning chapters are short enough to be manageable in one sitting. The book will also appeal to more reluctant readers and students, especially because the author himself admits to going through stages of academic reluctance himself.
I definitely plan to recommend this book to students for summer reading and use excerpts in class next year.’

Karen M – High School English and ESL Teacher (English as Second Language)
Boston, MA, United States


‘… one of the most interesting social commentaries in the guise of a memoir I’ve ever read … heavy material is explored within a mostly lightweight framework and it seamlessly flows in, out, and through more mundane and secular elements of everyday life. Refreshingly, Ahmad is effortlessly humorous, never breaking a sweat while revealing humor in everyday events and situations. … his observations are delightfully askew and above all insightful.  This is an amazingly easy read, yet is as thoughtful and provocative a book as I have read in recent memory.’ 
Bruce Cline – writer, military veteran
Denver, Colorado

'Imran held our audience in the palm of his hand for a full hour, entranced and amused by his literary journey.

Our customer Theo said: "I have attended over 40 Author events at Nantwich Bookshop over the years and Imran's talk was one of the very best!"

Get Imran to your shop, you and your customers will not regret it!'   (Event – March 2024)

Steve Lawson – Co-Owner, Nantwich Bookshop, Nantwich, Chesire
 

'Our customers who came to hear you talk thought that you were one of our best speakers yet.  One said: "Second only to Kate Mosse last year."  [Imran: 'The supermodel?']

I found your talk so interesting, entertaining and very funny.  Loved the references to James Bond.  Wish you all the very best in many sell out events.'   (Event – March 2024)

Denise Lawson – Co-Owner, Nantwich Bookshop, Nantwich, Chesire

 

‘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

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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 and life lessons from the amazing publishing journey; and self-deprecating humour.  

Year 9 and above, and teachers as well they all find this fascinating, entertaining, riveting.  

To book a speaking event, please get in touch by e-mail

(contact @ unimagined .co .uk)
Please include EVENT in the Subject header to clear the spam filter.

UK SCHOOLS:

(Reserve your date and see also 'Notes for Schools' below.)
(Non-UK schools: different terms apply
please email me.)

My events were 100% FREE in Phase One (no speaking fee, or travelling/hotel expenses, or submission of receipts for sandwiches purchased en route). I required only: a parking space; black coffee (no sugar). In Phase Two and Phase Three, I will be charging a nominal fee of £240 (full day, all inclusive, no additional charges) to contribute to all my expenses.  This fee is reduced to £200 if the school agrees to order ten copies of the book, The Perfect Gentleman (ISBN: 978-1789556759 preferably from a local bookshop).  This purchase does not need to be formally verified to me.  

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.  But we can configure the day however you like – although there should be at least one narrative performance, as most of the 'Rules for Life' emerge from the story of the publishing journey.  (For example: a morning narrative performance could be followed by smaller discussion groups later in the day.)  

This is not relevant solely for Year 9 English.  The story narrated/performed is absolutely pertinent to English, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Sociology,  PSHE, Modern History, Citizenship,  all Humanities in general – and the target audience is from Year 9 to sixth-form to adult (including the teachers, who look just as riveted as the students).  The story includes life's decisions about higher education and career etc.  

Book signing (if desired) potentially can be during lunchtime and at the end of the day.  I am happy to sit in the library (or wherever) at lunchtime and answer students' questions and chat with them informally.  

 

Generally, in my presentations, 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 Trips details will be updated here:

PHASE ONE:  FEBRUARY - MARCH 2024  

PHASE M (Malaysia): APRIL - MAY 2024  reserved dates shown below.

PHASE TWO:  JUNE - JULY 2024  plan now published below.

PHASE THREE:  SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2024  

Schools: this is the one that really works for you, isn't it?  I understand the pressure you're under concerning exam preparations!  Send me an email now to express your interest, and I will alert you by email when the tour plan is published online, so that you can leap in and secure your date.  Thank you!  

 

PHASE ONE (UK)  (remaining ...)

FEBRUARY

 .....

MARCH

Thursday  14     ILFORD -- The Ursuline Academy

Monday  18     I will be in BRISTOL area

Tuesday  19     Reserved     

Monday  25     LIVERPOOL -- Maghull High School

Tuesday  26     NORFOLK -- academic trust -- planning meeting

Wednesday  27   Reserved S.E. LONDON  

Friday  29   Good Friday   Thank God for the break!

 

PHASE M (Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR area

Dates available up to 29 May. 
Reserved dates will be posted here. 

Tuesday  23 April   Reserved

Wednesday  24 April   Reserved

Friday  26 April   Reserved

Monday  29 April   Reserved

Tuesday  30 April   Reserved

Friday  3 May   Reserved

Tuesday  7 May   Reserved

Monday  20 May   Reserved

Wednesday 29 May   Reserved

PHASE TWO (UK) 

(nominal fee applies, see 'SCHOOLS' above and 'NOTES FOR SCHOOLS' below)

JUNE

Sunday  2   HARROW -- Avanti House School:  englishteacher.co.uk

Monday  17   Reserved

Tuesday  18   Reserved

Wednesday  19  Available for Scotland

Thursday  20   Available for Scotland

Friday  21   Available for Scotland

Saturday  22

Sunday  23

Monday  24   HAMPTON, Middx -- Hampton School

Tuesday  25   

Wednesday  26   BLACKBURN, Lancs -- Pleckgate High School

Thursday  27   LEYLAND, Lancs -- Morden Academy  To be confirmed.  OPEN to query. 

Friday  28   STOKE-ON-TRENT -- Sporting Stars Academy

Saturday  29

Sunday  30

JULY

Monday  1

Tuesday  2

Wednesday  3

Thursday  4   STAINES, Surrey -- The Matthew Arnold School

Friday  5

Saturday  6

Sunday  7

Monday  8

Tuesday  9

Wednesday  10

Thursday  11

Friday 12

Saturday  13

Sunday  14

Monday  15     THETFORD, Norfolk -- The Thetford Academy

Tuesday  16

Wednesday  17

Thursday  18   Reserved

Friday  19   Reserved

PHASE THREE (UK)

(nominal fee applies, see 'SCHOOLS' above and 'NOTES FOR SCHOOLS' below)

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER

This should work best for schools (well before frenzied exam season).  Please send me an email now to express interest, and I will alert you by email when the tour schedule is published here, so that you can leap in and secure your date. 

Thank you.  

NOTES FOR UK SCHOOLS

(Different terms apply for non-UK schools – please email me.)

My events are completely FREE for schools in Phase One.  A nominal fee of £240 (full day, all inclusive, no additional charges) will be introduced for Phase Two and Phase Three, to contribute to all my expenses.   This fee is reduced to £200 if the school agrees to order ten copies of the book, The Perfect Gentleman (ISBN: 978-1789556759 – preferably from a local bookshop).  This purchase does not need to be formally verified to me.  

Life Lessons

Despite the subtitle 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.  If the school is a Church school (of whatever denomination), I will extend this (by several orders of magnitude) to mention: 'Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do' ... as the most powerful version of this attitude.  But only if appropriate for the school.  

  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.

 When your intentions are pure ... MAGIC happens … illustrated with amazing real life examples.

 'This, too, shall pass' … change is inevitable ... the dark night of the soul ... it cannot last for ever ... there are always possibilities ...  all illustrated with astonishing real life examples.

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 USB memory stick, so if I can use your computer, that is preferable.

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.

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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:

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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.”

Never a dull moment on stage!

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