The (un)taped confessions of...
I’d been asked to interview someone today. This was ‘serious stuff.’ Although I’ve interviewed people with a view to get a quote or two to liven up a feature, this was going to form the basis of a 1500 word article. So I prepared. Constructed a list of probing questions that Andrew Marr himself would’ve been proud of. I’d borrowed a tape-recorder and performed a dry-run, eager to ensure that nothing would be missed and I would construct an article nothing short of Pulitzer prize winning.
Now, the questions I had asked people before have always been with a view to how quickly I could scratch down the answers. So short and sharp would be one way of describing my interview technique. But with the help of the tape recorder I was in full flow. I diverged from the questions on my sheet, thinking up new and insightful questions as the interview progressed.
‘This is great,’ I thought to myself as my interviewee proceeded to rattle off some very complicated statistics, and I realised just how quickly the old me would have to write in order to get this stuff down.
Then I looked at the tape recorder. The reels weren’t going around.
I’ve never been to the Artic, but I’m sure that the shiver that passed straight through me couldn’t have been colder.
I searched frantically for the nearest available pen. The nearest available pen belonged to my daughter; glitter barreled and topped with a tuft of feather boa, it was, of course, full of purple ink.
I began to scribble furiously along the eighth inch of blank paper at the edge of the A4 sheet of beautifully prepared questions. Did I wish that I could turn back time and tell that 17 year old bunking off those shorthand lessons that she really should go? You betcha.
The interview continued with me firing questions rapier-like at the poor man who must have wondered why I had changed so suddenly from the previously relaxed and friendly tone to Humphreys-on- speed. My notes continued on the back of a kit-kat wrapper, bus ticket and a postcard from the vet asking me if I’d wormed the dog recently.
Inspiration struck me at the end. ‘Can I email you if I’ve missed anything.’ I said. Just like that. Cool as a cucumber. Or perhaps an Artic cucumber – you’ve heard of them haven’t you? Ming’s favourite pop group?
It appears that the tape recorder ran out of batteries. That makes two of us then.
So what to do about those missing five minutes. Well, I considered regression therapy, but decided, in the end to see what old Google-eyes could come up with. Hopefully, I might just hack it.
So what have I learned?
1. It really isn’t the end of the world
I’m a mature student. That means I am learning – just like all the other people on my course. That means that if things go wrong it’s OK. I’m allowed to.
2. Always have auxillary back up
It is true that the only blackberry I use is the stuff I put into a crumble, so it is ironic that one of the few times I trust technology it lets me down. So I will always have pen and paper with me. And another pen, just in case.
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