Tag Archives: radio

A good telling off

Kirsty Allison – photo by Stephanie Correll http://tinyurl.com/d3zqjp5

I’ve been caught out and given a good telling off by Ramana in India of the Loose Bloggers Consortium for not talking properly about epitaphs. Which was a bit silly of me given that I’ve written a book called The Obituarist.

I also used to make an obituary programme for radio called Brief Lives. It wasn’t musty and dusty. Dead people need not be boring. I had happy days whizzing around London trying to find the late Idi Amin’s widow or a couple who had conceived their child to the music of the late Barry White. It was enormous fun.

The problem with writing my own epitaph is that, like Robert Emmet, I’m not yet ready to dictate it. I hope that this will get me off the hook and appease Ramana instead –

It’s a link to a radio programme called Art Saves Lives that I took part in at the weekend. (I’ve mentioned Art Saves Live before – visual art and unexpected drama off stage.) This show was broadcast on London art radio station Resonance FM 104.4 – but you can also find it here. I recommend listening to it all – though I pop up near the end at 48’30-ish in.

But there are loads of other interesting people first – including playwright Mark Ravenhill, post-pop artist  Duggie Fields, Gemma Peppe from the Hepatitis C Trust, singer songwriter Aletia Upstairs (video below) from Cape Town and Nepalese poet Yuyutsu Sharma (who also translates Donegal Gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh into Nepali).

The presenters were the irrepressible impressario and playwright Dean Stalham, and poet and film producer Kirsty Allison who “combines the cerebral with the carnival” according to the Sunday Times.

You can even see photos of it all by Stephanie Tesse/Correll here.

Am I forgiven Ramana?

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Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, media, Obituarist

The oddest place I’ve ever slept…

It was pipe like this – except without the bed, the door, the electric light…

Top five oddest places I’ve slept in, on or under…

  1. In a pipe – at some construction site near Grenoble, France. (“Ce n’est pas un lit,” I thought to myself.) I woke and left before being hoisted up by a crane.
  2. Under a wardrobe (and some mattresses) – after a big night in Dublin. Took a while to be discovered and then extricated.
  3. At the edge of a cliff – by accident. It was dark. We had been trekking over some small mountains. We were tired. Luckily – so we didn’t walk any further forward. In the morning we discovered the tent was covered in snow. As was the land on either side. But not in front. That’s where the cliff was – and the sea.
  4. By petrol pumps near Karlsruhe, Germany. That’s where my last lift dropped me. I’d hitched from Poland. There was grass and undergrowth which looked more soft and inviting, but was rustling with quare fellas.* So a nap amidst the hard surfaces, flourescent lighting and idling engines seemed preferable.
  5. In the middle of a sentence while broadcasting live on the radio. One moment I was giving out some racing results, then next I was slurring… murmuring… silent. People checked the tuning on their radios. Then they heard snoring. How mortifying.** Continue reading

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Bye bye BBC Bush House

After 70-odd years, the BBC has begun to leave Bush House, home of BBC World Service radio. Some buildings have character. BBC Bush House has… had. This gives a flavour of it.
Video about Bush House and the World Service

For a while I worked, drank and watched the fish inside Bush House.

I was particularly fond of the Outlook programme – partly because they paid me for stories from Africa. But also because you could climb out a window from their office to a flat roof with satellite dishes. From there a metal ladder led up to another roof level. Then a second set of rungs provided a route to the very top and views over most of the rooftops between Bush House and the Thames.

I sometimes wandered past the rooftop water tanks to the front of the building and out onto the canopy over the grand entrance. In my mind’s eye we sat and contemplated our eyrie above the throng. I lay back and surveyed the clouds. Maybe one of us smoked. I remember the roof as curving – with the slight risk of sliding off to plummet to street level, but it looks more angular in the slide show. Memories can be tricky.

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Does this make me a snob?

I often pass this sign, but I never go inside. Does that make me a snob?

I’m aware of the value of sometimes tweaking the rules. That a market stall sign declaring Fresh Melon’s may attract attention and business, precisely because of its grammatical inaccuracy.

I’ve occasionally employed the deliberate mistake tactic myself. When a radio phone-in is slow to attract calls Continue reading

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Is this ethical journalism?

The Gabby Cabby in his New York cab.

Is this ethical journalism? Continue reading

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But I ordered the lobster

I was at the memorial service for former BBC broadcasting colleague Allan Robb today (9th November). Allan died earlier this year. The service at All Souls in London was lovingly well organised, poignant and joyous.

People spoke – very aptly. One, his old friend Nicky Campbell, told this story (apologies for any inaccuracies on my part): Nicky and Allan were out one day when Allan collapsed in the street. An ambulance arrived and after some effort, Nicky managed to chivvy Allan inside. Pleased to have a new audience for his stories, Allan entertained the ambulance crew en route to hospital. On arrival Allan was decanted and wheeled to a ward, whereupon some “four day old NHS mush” was presented to him.

Never failing to rise to the occasion, Allan immediately responded: “But I ordered the lobster.”

Thanks to the organisers – and Allan – for a great day. It was lovely to see old friends and remember.

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There are places my annoyances will never reach

When I compare me to the galaxy,

My troubled soul begins to see

I’m a grain of sand on the biggest beach

And there’s places my annoyances will never reach.  (Watercress – “Stars Shine On“)

OK everyone. So things did not go entirely to plan on Thursday. And by everyone I mean you, Cultural Snow. And by things I mean the UK general election. (And the BBC’s TV coverage too. And in that case for not entirely to plan read pointlessly expensive and confusing to the extent of undermining the case for the licence fee, and in the case of the online swing displays, simply wrong. If only Andrew Neil‘s boat, The Silver Sturgeon, had sprung a leak.) So calm down everyone. Including me.

And watch this… Continue reading

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