Tag Archives: bbc

Listen Up. BBC at Best.

17 Oct

Me n’ mine have been asked to feature in the BBC’s ‘Listening Project’ on a few occasions. Thanks largely, to the matters that involve my family’s background, experiences, international work, kids and views on consumerism – and of course, our proclivities for nude rambling across the Trans-Pennine Trail … ok, ok – I’m joshing about the latter.


*DO* Listen.

But even before I ended up getting roped into recordings, I have to say that this small-but-mighty stakeholder project born of The Beeb has captured my imagination over the last few years – simply as a mere radio fan. But it also, always seems to stoke-up the fires of many others than I know, who have the sense to prefer the radio to the telly.

And yup – I love listening to the conversations of others. What writer/ person with a half-baked intelligent brain *doesn’t*? This is what the entire series is about. Ear-wigging. Nosey Norman Neighbours.

But every single episode is always so beautifully edited – that we always come away with a little nugget of summat or t’other. And today’s little clip? Well.  If there was ever a justification for paying for the existence of the Beeb (licence fee… cough … splutter…) today’s episode was the flagship for the entire thing.  A ‘Ruddy Dobber’ of a programme (as we say in Manchester.)

So my own wee friendies from all over the world – have a listen to this snippet of today  –  entitled “We’re Still Friends”. This conversation could have taken place in my kitchen. With various friends and family members.  All about Brexit. Why some of us wanted to get the hell out. And others of us felt horrified at such a prospect.

And I’m proud of the fact that I have pals in my life who have completely different views to me on the entire issue. So yes, it doesn’t bother me too much that I hang about with gorgeously-warm folk whose views sometimes make me want to, er, er …  reach for the Fizzy Andrews. (Hey – do they make *that stuff* anymore? I always think of it as cocaine – for 6 year olds.)

So, whatever your thoughts on Brexit, Europe, refugees, feminism etc. Just make it a priority to listen to this one clip only. (And MORE please, if you enjoyed the link here  – just have a perusal of the main website. Treasures for all!)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z3zfy

For me the key word on this particular broadcast is that of ‘Listening’. Backed up by ‘Friendship’. Closely followed by ‘Show Don’t Tell’. Listen to the emotions and the clarity in the voices of these two women from Donny (Doncaster) and how the real ‘listening’ and tolerance seems to be pointing towards a new direction for them as friends.

They’re listening and learning to and from one another. No sanctimonious attitudes or smart-arse-isms going on there. (I keep expecting to hear that Quakers are running this entire project  – but apparently not. Still. I’m biased.)

And – ooh yeah – let’s give a high-five to certain BBC Radio producers and journalistic-sorts.  The skill of recording and archiving oral testimony, and editing it for both needy and discerning listeners, is alive and well at the Beeb and at its regional stations – and on this particular long-running project – is showing right here and right now – at its top-notch best.


Bless the BBC and Radio. Especially this here Sheffield studio

Bless the BBC and Radio. Especially this ‘ere Sheffield studio


What TO Buy. (In the Name of Poor Wee Mickey.)

29 Feb

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m the kind of gal who hardly fits the stereotype of ‘possesses female biological bits. Must love shopping.’ Indeed no. Can’t abide the activity.

And yet when I heard that a good pal/colleague of mine; international coffee and barista expert, Paul Meikle Janney, had just appeared on a BBC 2 show entitled ‘What NOT To Buy’ I was somewhat intrigued.

Because at the same time that the programme was broadcast, my own little household were engaged in a war of words appertaining to a certain device that has featured in our house for some time. Such as… was this particular item useful? Deemed to be a successful buy? Or was it indeed, a total and utter pile of tosh. I began to wonder what readers and fellow bloggers might have to say about their own household Naughties and Nicies, in terms of gadgety-purchases.

So for this blog and for the next one, I’m going to attempt to address these issues and will also some of my own personal favourite ‘Must Haves.’

But to begin with, let’s go for the item that caused the minor domestic between us:

The Humane Mouse Trap

Saves heartache? Or causes hassle.

Saves heartache? Or causes hassle.

If you’re fortunate (or stupid) enough to live in a house that happens to be faced with a load of cows at the front of it and also has to contend with a flock of sheep at the back – you’re more than likely to have to entertain the odd mate of Mickey during the nippier months. The countryside is a bugger for that. Now, the smaller rodents don’t freak me out too much (I once caught a mouse with my bare hands actually. Well – I scooped the dratted thing up in my little lad’s Iron Man costume. Which he – rather ungratefully – refused to wear again afterwards, until I had washed it) but I’m not totally laissez-faire about living in a vermin ridden residence, so yeah. Mouse traps might well be required eh?

However, the man what lives with us happens to have some big issue with the thought of squishing the blood and smashing the guts out of the little blighters. And fair do’s. I mean, I wouldn’t have a problem with this stance on things *IF* the guy was a vegetarian or a pacifist or a Buddist or something. But no. He is in fact, the son of a butcher. Spent his youth chopping up limbs and the like during the 80’s with his father. And dietary wise, he also happens to worship his red meat. Will be developing gout any time soon, no doubt. And yet he wants to have mercy. He wants to give pardon to those filthy-dirty-nasty little mice that to scamper in and around our family home and that rip apart the clothes that I’ve stockpiled in the loft for the kiddies in dozens of carefully labelled-by-age-and-size boxes (‘just so you know dear – these boxes of stuff in the attic mean that … if I happen to get run over by a bus any time soon – you won’t ever have to buy clothes for the kids again. Not that you ever did anyway.’)

But I like to humour his little whims. So I purchased several ‘humane’ mouse traps. If you aren’t familiar with them, this is how it works; you place a yummmy snack in the bottom of the trap (peanut butter and chocolate combo works best) – and when the mouse enters the rectangular tube, the tunnel snaps shut on them. Harmlessly sealing them in there until you arrive. What you have to do then though, is to take them at least 1 mile away from your house in order to release them – as the little swines are clever at sniffing out the same preferred nooks and crannies again.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And perhaps it IS a wonderful little invention in the hands of some individuals. But not in the mitts of my other half; the man who has been charged with checking the traps. Because so far we have had the following issues:

        Mouse Incident No.1

– Caught 2 mice which husband duly drove away down a long country lane for release. But the 3rd rodent captured during this spate must have been Mighty Mouse. Because it actually managed to chew through hardcore plastic in order to liberate itself. (Impressive stuff. Perhaps indeed, this was the dude that later I had to catch whilst grabbing him with our Marvel superhero costume. Would make sense.) So I then went onto purchase trap number 2.

A clever mouse managed to chew through our trap...

A clever mouse managed to chew through our trap…

        Mouse Incident No.2

– Caught mouse in the trap. Fella drove it down the country lane. Arrived back home 5 minutes later with a look of abject horror on his face. He goes; “I … let it go free. Placed it at the back of the car next to the field. I had to reverse quickly as I was blocking the entrance to the road. But… I thought it would scamper away. They usually do. So I just assumed that it had done … And …”
I got the drift; “And… you reversed over it. Oh dear.”

He told me off for laughing. But I defy you not to.

        Mouse Incident No.3

– Caught mouse in trap. Fella drove it down the country lane. Arrived back home 5 minutes later with another look of abject horror on his face. “I … let it go. And this time it moved – but as I was pulling away in the car I saw a kestrel swoop down right on top of it.”

        Mouse Incident No. 4
dead mouse

My mummified mouse was in far worse condition than this one.

– As I mentioned above, I’m quite happy to catch mice with the aid of polyester dressing-up outfits. But inexplicably, I don’t like checking to see if they’re in the trap or not. So anyway, there I was adding some ‘Girl Aged 12-14 yrs’ clothes to the OCD-esque hoard in the loft and I noticed the trap nearby. I gave it a rattle to check there was no scrabbling inside. And took it downstairs to wash it out. Only to discover a mummified mouse.

Now as I said, I’m really not the squeamish sort – but this little revelation very nearly caused me to throw up onto the shag-pile. Not because of the smell or the shock or anything. But simply because of the look on it’s poor little face. What a way to die. Like some sort of Yorkshire version of an Edgar Allen Poe horror-story.

I mean, for God’s sake! If you’re going to insist on human traps – then at least bloody well check them every day. Or clean them and keep them out of the way of mice who want to experience the worst possible method of death. Or fix a little bell to the outside of the trap so that Missy Mouse can mimic the medieval practice of ringing for attention, should a corpse have unwittingly been buried alive.

Far, far better to have bludgeoned it with a rolling pin or summat, I’m beginning to think.

Anyway. I still haven’t learned my own lesson. I’m still pandering to his strange whims. The other day a friend told me all about these plug-in devices that send out high frequencies that rodents hate, thus deterring them from entering your home. So yeah, I bought one and yeah, so far so good.

Jury's still out on this one.

Jury’s still out on this one.

Although the kid’s hamster seems to have been acting even more like a bit of a lunatic recently. So perhaps I need to Go-Google why that might be.


If you’re interested, read more about Paul M-J, BBC 2 and what coffee brewing equipment you SHOULDN’T buy here:


A Flat Head? EJ Howard, writing and the waterways…

3 Jan ej howard

One of our local librarians managed to push aside the fear of her own redundancy in order to try and engage with me. There I was.  Wild eyed and raddled mother of second, newborn baby. Desperate for something both entertaining and intelligent to get me through the wee small hours of brain and boobie-overdrive boredom…

Without Anon Librarian-Lady, I would never have heard of Elizabeth Jane Howard.  Or the Cazalet chronicles. Without Unknown Kirklees Library-Lass, I would never have ended up corresponding with E J Howard herself.

All it took was a certain librarian making a certain recommendation (sans Amazon, sans Kindle estimates of previous-purchases help…) “Oh – judging from your returned books – I think that you will like EJ Howard and the Cazalet chronicles – we don’t lend them out enough these days. A real shame!”

And this was…what? Some FOUR years before BBC Radio 4 decided to credit Elizabeth J Howard for her societal, spiritual, humanitarian and yes – beautiful prose, dialogue and character-observation.

Oh, dearest BBC Radio 4 commissioners I hate to say this, but yes. I really want to say ‘I told you so.’ Elizabeth’s writing was and is amazing.  Tasty, profound, political – without being preachy. Even though many of her contemporaries – and especially the Literahti – perceive her to be ‘domestic, upper class. old fashioned commercial women’s fiction’

Cobblers, my fellas. Just read her stuff.

And yes, how I wish that Radio 4 had re-discovered her before the very recent time where her Cazalet Chronicles were snatched up as new fodder for a Radio 4 audience who had enjoyed ‘Downton Abbey’ etc… But hey. Better now, than never.

I was fortunate to have been able to correspond with her directly.  She was an exceptionally rare person. A woman able to disreguard the birth prejudices of all of us in terms of economic family of origin.  A fellow ‘starting writer in heart’ even though she soared above us all.  She adored books, grassroots, off-the-wall, boho society. She admired socialism, quakerism and pacifist thought. She venerated books and the ‘simple life’. Here was a woman who ‘way back when’ had braved the infamous Standedge Tunnel and who still admired those crazies of us, who still square ourselves up for that all too rare  200 years old tunnel experience right here and now on the waterways today.

And poignantly, she admired and priorised the extended family. She was a subtle reminder to us all that ‘love affairs’ of the heart can and do change but that actually ‘being a parent’ has nothing to do with whether you have actually given birth or not.That parenting per se goes far beyond biology, paperwork and gushing sentiment…

As for me, I will never forget her kind responses and encouragements to my yearning to write whilst being a mother to small children. And that particular encouragement as to how parking the mammoth Cazalet chronicles on the noggin of child number two might not simply lead to a ‘peculiarly shaped, flat-head’…. but also might lead to a life-long love of books and learning…

ej howard