The unforgiving minute

First thing a big long walk and it felt good. A great start to the day. Then a shower, clean clothes and then Aldeburgh, in a bit of a rush now  because I’m not 100% clear on what I’m doing with these papers I’m delivering and I have to be somewhere else at half ten. The Lifeboat Party radio show goes out at noon and if I’m not on air it doesn’t go out. It concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Focus. Remember to breathe.

Get to Snape Maltings and get a text from the person I’m interviewing in the Britten Rooms. I’m in the Britten Rooms, she’s still ten minutes away in her car. Time, time, time. It’s ok. We get a quiet room, which would have been quieter if someone wasn’t knocking a wall down next door, by the sound of it. Do the interview unscripted and absolutely no time to edit, recording this on my iPhone. Yes, I’ve got a proper digital audio recorder. The iPhone gives a lot better sound quality. And it’s armoured, in case I drop it. Blitz through, thank my guest, mwah mwah and get in the car. I parked round the back because my car’s so old. Mildly amused to see her car’s even older.

Get to the station and Ray the station manager tells me I have a listener in China, so obviously Bowie’s Little China Girl has to be the first track on the playlist. He tells me I have a new Spanish listener too, but Spanish Eyes just doesn’t do it for me. I remember this from a time ten years ago when I was holed up in a hotel bedroom in Hong Kong, marvelling at the Merchant Ivory ferries on the water over to Kowloon, wondering if I’d ever see someone again. (Answer. Yes. And no. Can’t win them all. Husband issues. You know how it goes).

First guest, well ok, only guest on this week’s show was Naomi Jaffa who runs the Poetry Trust in Halesworth. She was fun. Poetry as a living art form. “I have no street credibility at all.”  Well, she sounded fine to me. I got her to read “Bike With No Hands.” Interviews are something I’ve done for the past fifteen years and that one was done half an hour before the show, no script, no editing, just straightforward old-fashioned getting people to talk about what they love. And it felt good. I didn’t know Snape was hosting Europe’s largest contemporary poetry festival. Such a small place for such a big event, powered by dedication. You really can move mountains if you try. As Kate Bush said, just saying it can even make it happen. Well, most of the time, anyway. The Kate Bush thing hasn’t quite happened outside my closed eyelids, but there’s still time.

A couple of songs then the Suffolk Metrosexuals story. Apparently more and more Suffolk men are slapping on the fake tan and getting their eye-brows done. Maybe it’s me but I think it takes a little more than that to qualify as a metrosexual. Like living in a metropolitan area, for a start. I couldn’t keep a straight face to even read it. Who makes this stuff up?

The song remains the same

A bit of Buzzcocks playing Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn’t Have Fallen In Love With)? Of course. Who hasn’t? I think the Fine Young Cannibals version just edges past this earlier version, but that could just be me. I’m old enough to remember them both. I certainly remember the energy of the Buzzcocks’ first version, and the oddness of the way the FYC version always sounded in 1989 as if the original was done in the 1960s.

Suffolk radio broadband was a good local news story and I think we covered it without it getting too technical. The idea is that it works via satellite, but I’m not sure where the signal comes from to begin with. It has to come from somewhere, surely. It can’t just be internet-ness. If that’s even a thing. A quick bit of Johnny Cougar, as he used to be called before he stuck the extra bit on his name (for tax reasons?), then into the serious story. I know one person switched off at that point. But it needs airing. Domestic abuse happens and if Radio Castle is going to be a proper community radio station with an OFCOM VHF broadcast licence then it needs to serve the community. I wish everything was like Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion (I wish I was more like Garrison Keillor, come to that), but I think I handled the theme passably. I didn’t sensationalise and above all, I got the contact numbers out where people can find them. I think I’m going to do that in every show in future. Domestic abuse happens. The victims often end up thinking it only happens to them. But it doesn’t. It was an upsetting story. I thought my voice was going to go at the end of it. Maybe John Lee Hooker’s I Want To Hug You wasn’t the best choice to close the story with, but better than Eye Of The Tiger or something.

Had to calm it down with a bit of John Martyn and somehow the hour’s gone and we’re into the closing blah. At the start of every show I don’t really know how I’m going to fill the time. At the end I can’t see how sixty minutes have gone. I hope it’s the same for the listeners.

The unforgiving minute comes from Kipling’s poem “If.”

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Mine is the Earth? Hmm. Or maybe I just won’t bore the pants off the listeners. I’ll settle for that.

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