Deborah Alexander writes: Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks (and no offence to those who have chosen a cave as their abode….I’m sure it has its advantages. Please don’t feel that you have to email me a list of them), you have probably already seen the video clip of Dr Robert E Kelly’s interview by Skype on the BBC World News. It’s a video clip that has apparently been viewed 11 million times.
Dr Kelly is an associate professor of International Relations at Pusan National University in Korea and was called upon to give his views on the political situation in Korea, when his children decided to get in on the act. It’s really a case of look behind you as first his three-year-old daughter marches in, followed soon after by her baby brother, steering his baby-walker through the door like a drunk driver. We then see his wife, Kim Yung-a, attempting to withdraw the children and close the door…er…discreetly.
The team at Girls Do Coffee know all about trying to Skype under a range of demanding circumstances. Gwen has the bubbles in her bath to contend with, obviously, but she has also trekked off abroad with her trusty laptop under her arm, ready and willing to Skype the show from whatever spare room she can find. Our very own foreign correspondent.
Liz not only owns chickens but also has a family so she does well to keep them all at bay while on air….we all know the risks of mixing broadcasting with children and animals!
I clearly recall attempting to hold a serious conversation over the phone with the planning officer of the local council while my two young sons squabbled loudly in the background. Failing dismally to get their attention, I finally removed my slipper and threw it at them. Not in an attempt to knock them conveniently unconscious while I completed the call but simply to draw their attention so that I could mouth ‘Be quiet! I’m on the phone!’ Ever tried to mouth something in a cross voice? The result is not pretty. Gurning, I think best describes it. All the time talking in a sensible and unflustered manner to the planning officer. I’m confident he didn’t notice a thing.
Chez moi and several years on, not only family calls but also teaching sessions and radio broadcasts all take place by Skype. And it’s still a case of look behind you! I hadn’t really thought about the background overmuch, until the day one of my students remarked on how I had changed my furniture around. I guess I could have come over all ‘strict teacher’ and reminded her that actually we were there to work on our English. But that might have tempted her to reply that listening to me was so boring that she had started to look round my room and make judgements about my décor. Not sure if I wanted to go down that road. I know the rug doesn’t match the sofa but it was all I could afford at the time, OK? Now can we get back to conjugating those verbs, please?
Believe it or not, when we do Girls Do Coffee, I have to really concentrate on our erudite conversations (stop laughing) so I try my best to eliminate any background distractions before we start. This doesn’t always work. I have had a lively Jack Russell jumping up and wanting to play while I’m trying to pose a pertinent question to a guest, my phone ringing (a friend asking what time the show starts…er, ten minutes ago) and a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on the door. Maybe they heard my appeals to the Almighty for some peace and quiet. Phew. Bet Jenny Murray doesn’t have this trouble.
Dave has recently mooted the idea of setting up a camera so that the Ex-Pat Radio listeners could see us in operation as we present the show. He obviously doesn’t think that our trusty group of listeners have enough laughter in their lives. That would mean I’d definitely have to update my furniture. Do the washing up. Clean the windows. And change out of my pyjamas. No chance, Dave.
Deborah Alexander – www.reflective-writing-group.org