Saturday, 25 May 2013

V is for Vitae and Vera

V is for Vitae

Which means ‘Life’.  So this is my C.V.

How do you write curriculum vitae when you’ve been self-employed since you were nineteen?  I shall attempt a potted history instead.
Education:  Private school for girls where I spent most of my time writing, ‘I must not talk after the silence bell’ very quickly and very often.  I also spent quite a lot of time in detention for either talking after the silence bell or making people laugh.  I now earn a meagre living talking and making people laugh.
Further Education: I had to support myself from seventeen years old as my parents left home! (No, honestly).  Completed a two-year secretarial course in one year, graduating with R.S.A Stage 3 in Shorthand (150 wpm) and Typing (90 wpm).
Work Experience:  Aha.  This is ridiculously varied due to my low boredom threshold.  I did have a proper job for two years as a Private Secretary but I really didn’t like it. Having been brought up with horses and dogs, I managed to gain a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor qualification and I also possess a Diploma in Horse Psychology.  I had a business training young or unruly horses, and I also had a riding school.  When the bottom fell out of the horse market in the 70s, I retrained as a Canine Beautician in London.  I had a very successful dog grooming (and dog products) business for 13 years.
     Then the baby came along.
I realise at this point that I forgot to mention music!  I was classically trained and have Grade 8 piano and Grade 8 theory.  BUT I love blues/jazz/folk rock, etc., and song writing.  I have been a performer (part time and full time) for (at the time of writing) nearly 40 years.
BBC:  I was actually discovered by my local radio station in 1989 and invited to become a specialist music producer/presenter.  There followed 18 years as a freelance (I turned down the offer of a BBC staff contract) producer and presenter of news, magazine, arts, and ‘alternative’ programmes.  In addition, 300 applicants applied to present a short series of early morning Radio 2 shows. Peartree Productions asked me to be their presenter and we were successful in our bid. The 4-6am show was a great success.  I have also had features on Radio 4, and Radio 5 (as it was then).
WRITING: I love it. As a full-time musician and entertainer, I have time to tap away at the computer during the day.  I love people and I love words. 

V is for Vera

I use the term ‘legend in their own life-time’ sparingly.  I use it with confidence here.  Having spent 18 years working for the BBC, I have interviewed some icons and legends.  If I was asked for only one that stood out, I would immediately say Vera Lynn.  In the early 90s, I was a weekend radio-car reporter and I’d been sent to cover the celebrity appearance of Vera (before she became Dame Vera) who was opening a garden centre on our patch.  You had to book your interview slot in advance.  Mine was 11.55am!  The only place I could get a decent signal was on a small hill overlooking the grounds.  From my vantage point, I could plot her progress.  She was surrounded by her publicity team/producers/photographers, etc.  As I saw her approaching my hillock, I became increasingly nervous.  I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh – I’m about to interview flipping Vera Lynn’.  I had to do a report into a programme that was going out ‘live’ back at base which made my heart beat even faster.  When she was within a few feet of me, I screamed down the off air ‘talkback’ to the presenter at the station to say that I was ready for the interview!  Her opening words were ‘Oh my dear.  I’m so sorry.  I’m two minutes late’.  I said ‘You’re Vera Lynn.   You can be as late as you like’.  Sounds an odd thing to say, but I was struck by her beautiful skin.
     Interview was wonderful – and then she was off with her entourage to the next interview.  The presenter back at base appeared in my headphones and said ‘Good one, Nonny.  Well done’.  I think that’s what he said.  I was on another planet!  What a wonderful woman.  What a star.  What a total professional – apologising to a nobody that she was two minutes late for her interview.

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