There are lots of things you can do alone
though you may prefer to do them with somebody, what you want and what you get being two different matters. The magic of the programme about the relationship between songs in Scotland, Ulster and the States was that it featured songs travelling, being rewritten and reinvented, addressed and sung by people who had played instruments for so long that the instrument had become another arm, another tongue – an extra bit of the person. But you can still perform music alone. The ballad singers who began to move the music sang in the street. I’ve done that.
Last week I wrote on a wet Saturday, trying to make sense of the time but this Saturday is quite different. It took well over a year to persuade me that I could write what I call a column and other people call a blog. Column has the remnants of a professionalism I cherish, anybody can write a blog and I mutter to myself “I am not anybody.” That is not quite as conceited as it risks sounding. I am deeply convinced of individualism. Even when it is a wagtail
trying to cross the road (yes really, this morning – and of course I saw it through the traffic, making encouraging noises in the rain.)
But I didn’t know how long I could keep up the idea of a weekly blog to my standards. All sorts of people write columns, not all of them very good. To chose the subject(s), complete the form, select the pictures and turn up something I could put my name to every week was demanding. And yes I have before now written and put the copy aside only to look at it in the cold light of day and shake my head regretfully. Not good enough. And I have to be able to stand my ground to my own taste when I don’t get feedback. What I write is a closer to “op.ed” (opinion/editorial) than a popularity contest.
Although in these stages I am alone, and I enjoy them – I’d never have kept it up for ten years without you. No social media, old fashioned PR or any other kind of promotion – and I am shamelessly proud of that – It’s our tenth birthday,
yours and mine. The first annalog was 14 January 2013 and here we are. I wish you a dazzling self replenishing birthday cake, with candles and sparklers that never wear out. And thanks from the bottom of my heart for making a dream I did not realise I had come true.
We often hear about the power of the circle in the negative, but what goes around, comes around can be positive – and I have lived to be told what the radio programmes I fronted did for the people who derived something from them. They had one advantage – the magic component of voice.
We diminish this to our cost.
This week a woman wrote to me, about how something I had said had affected her life. She married and had children very young but pulled herself out of years of work as a carer, to go back into education where she became the first member of her family to go to university, continue to work and study and is now a research scientist. She wrote movingly about how she had stayed happily married, how her life’s journey had changed things for the better for her and her family. She thanked me for my wise words (her phrase) and how they had made all the difference to her family (her words). I was staring transfixed at the screen.
This was clearly an annalog birthday present.
If my voice is not present in annalog, then clearly the inference of it is. Whoever is reading is very real to me and it seems clear that I am equally real to you, hence the circle. And because you read me and I had ten years to do it in, I was able to learn a shape and pursue it into similarity and variance. Ginny once called me a wordsmith and I love the idea of me with small silver hammers making verbal shapes and learning all the time. Happy birthday.
I agree very much about the magic of the voice. I began listening o radio as a ten-year-old boy in 1964, running around the garden holding a transistor to my ear, captivated by the voices which included The World at One, Woman’s Hour and Test Match Special. That magic has never diminished as I’ve had life which continues as a broadcast journalist.
Happy Birthday to you and fellow readers