Thursday, 31 December 2015

Flat out - Wednesday 30th December 2015

I always give the Talking News teams Christmas and New Year off. I do those recordings myself, usually over two days. However, the main days have fallen awkwardly this year and I wanted all the listeners to get their recordings in a timely fashion. With Friday being a Bank Holiday, the chances were that people wouldn't get their memory sticks before Monday. So I decided that all four TNs would be recorded today, and posted today. That wouldn't have happened without Pauline's help.

I got straight up this morning, got a new loaf of bread underway and then began recording the Lichfield TN. When that was finished I did Gwent. Whilst those masters were being created I went to the Sorting Office and found five full sacks waiting for me. Eighteen months ago it would have been one.

We had lunch and then I recorded Scotland followed by Stevenage. Meanwhile Pauline was processing the returns, out in the garage. It's lucky the cold weather hasn't arrived yet (though it's on its way). I took the finished masters to the studio and duplicated. It took nearly two hours for all four TNs but I had everything at the Post Office for 5.15pm. Most of our listeners will get their talking news before New Year's Day.

Back home, Pauline was shattered, so I did dinner and then we settled down for a couple of hours watching Last Vegas, a cleverly written film with some very smart dialogue, if you listen carefully.

Today was full on and flat out, but it was also a good day. We've been discussing our daily routines and have both decided we need to start earlier, and do more, whilst we still can.

Even after 74 years I still try to learn something new every day. Some days I learn more than others. Today I read an entire magazine and the only thing I learned from it (and actually I already knew) was that the starling population in the UK is down by a staggering 84%.

I like starlings. They are much prettier close up than first perceived. They are also brave and can be quite entertaining. They can mimic a lot of sounds, even telephone rings. But the sight I miss are the murmurations. I used to be able to plot where the locals ones would take place. Every day the giant roost (up to 1 million birds) would break up and flocks would fly to the nearest towns and cities for the easy pickings. Every night these flocks would return and if you plotted the path of two or more and drew lines to see where they crossed, that would give the location of the roost. Then it was just a question of waiting until they performed their amazing displays.

Brighton old pier was a great place to see them because it was in full view of so many people. I was down there with Daniel in March 2003. I photographed the starlings for ages. The next morning we drove back down to the sea front to find the pier had burned down overnight, and that was the end of that spectacular.

a starling murmuration

Being a man, whenever I am driving I am never lost. Directionally challenged maybe, temporarily discombobulated perhaps, but never lost because wherever I happen to be, there I am. If only wives could understand that.

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