December 2005 Archives
December 31, 2005
That was weird. On Thursday/Friday I was in the Ri until about 3:15am, then I went back to the flat and cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. Got up, packed, left, was back in the RI for about 9:15.
We went out live at 7:15, came off air shortly before 8 (hit it on the nail -- the PA tells me it was more luck than judgement, but I still think there's an element of skill involved). Then the wrap party started (lots of speeches). I left at about 10:30, by which time the population counting machine in the lecture theatre was being used as a beer fountain.
At 11pm my train left London; at 6am I was in Glasgow. I just had lunch with friends up here, and now I'm off to Chester for New Year. Then it's Leeds, then...
I'm sorry, I have absolutely no idea what's happening with my life.
I rather like it.
December 26, 2005
It's ten o'clock at night, and I'm standing at the lecture theatre bench in the Royal Institution. A couple of hours ago, we recorded the second Christmas Lecture here, but now, there are just four of us.
I'm here partly because I'm photocopying scripts for tomorrow, but also because I'm trying to test an iChat connection out to the world (we're planning to use it tomorrow). It seems to work... but I don't actually know that. And since I don't really use instant messaging, I'm a bit scuppered, since I have a tiny tiny buddy list of chums. Only one is online... and he's somehow contrived to have left his Mac on but not be near his phone. Harrumph.
If anyone reading this can IM me on iChat or AIM as jjsanderson(at)mac.com, that would be fantastic. Preferably right now. If it's after, say, 2300GMT on 26th December then it's rather too late.
[update 00:13. Forget it. The router packed in just after I discovered it's doing some really weird NAT rubbish. Ugh. Came home to catch some sleep.]
December 24, 2005
This is, I fear, the closest I've got to Christmas cards this year... Merry Christmas, all! Have a lovely time.
I'm off to Richmond for a couple of days to see my chum Jack, but more importantly to sleep. I slept 10 hours straight last night, got up, had some food, then... fell asleep again. Bit pathetic, really. But hey, that's what an eighty hour week does to me. Apparently.
The Christmas Lectures will be fine, I think; it's largely out of my hands now. Certainly the transformation of the lecture theatre is gorgeous, and I'm hugely impressed with the director, David Coleman. He's using lots of handheld cameras, and is trading seeing cameras in shot for a greater sense of involvement -- it's much closer to 'being there' than is traditional, and all the better for it.
The first three lectures are going to be prerecords, not live, for a whole raft of reasons. But Lectures 4 and 5, on Thursday and Friday, will be live transmissions. Yay!
There's lots more to say about them, but... well, you'll have to collar me in person to hear the full story. Meanwhile, enjoy the shows -- they're on Five from Boxing Day, nightly at 7:15pm.
December 18, 2005
Word (Office 2004, Mac OS X) counts en-dashes as words, in the document word count. Hyphens aren't counted. So... correct typography evidently contributes to larger word counts. Idiots.
Yes, I'm still writing the lectures. We're in rehearsal all this coming week, with a safety pre-receord on Tuesday, then we're going out the week after Christmas. Damned scary right now, but I'm sure it'll be fine. I just wish it wasn't so (a.) late, (b.) sunny outside, and (c.) ruddy cold in the Royal Institution.
Meanwhile -- it's been a crazy hectic insane week, but a surprisingly social one, given that I've not been even vaguely coherent when not at a keyboard. I've seen Nikki and Anna and Jack, and Patrick, bumped into the not-seen-in-five-years Michelle, and Gareth and Violet took me to see Ben Moore's show Coelacanth, which was absolutely delightful.
Ah, London. Still looking for the gold-paved streets, but it's otherwise OK.
December 10, 2005
This afternoon, somebody mistook me for Jodie Marsh. Which was... unexpected.
It probably explains much if I say that the mistaken identity revolved around mobile phone numbers, and not actual physical appearance. And before you start tapping around variations on number -- no, you fools, it's not that simple. It involves a current colleague of mine who used to work with Jodie, a new mobile phone, and... you know what? It's just not as fun when you know what actually happened, OK?
I got mistaken for Jodie Marsh. Just leave it at that.
Since I haven't posted about work for a while, here's a quick update:
We've been so busy this week, I think the only time we were all in the same room at the same time was for the formal launch party on Wednesday evening. The exec, director and new series producer were rehearsing in various rooms around the Ri (mostly the exciting ping-pong room hidden away on the roof); James the AP was frantically trying to keep up with them with props; Giles the runner was usually... well, running; Tom the researcher was desperately trying to keep the DVD and website people happy, while simultaneously finding material to plug the gaps in the scripts.
That leaves me, wandering around the building trying to find somewhere to work. I spent most of the week folded into a corner of the kitchen -- where my PowerBook could just about find a wireless signal -- furiously typing redrafts and amendments and restructurings and all the rest. I think I wrote something like 3000-4000 words on each of Tuesday and Wednesday, which is rather a lot.
The new series producer, meanwhile, is none other than Charlie Courtauld, longtime political journo and now assistant editor of the Independent on Sunday (and their television critic). He's quite a character, and we like him very much -- partly because while it's always flattering to be told that one has 'an excellent writing style,' it means so much more when it comes from an editor of a national broadsheet. Though as somebody said rather rapidly, 'Calm down, it's only the Indy.'
OK, so we're busy. How's it actually going? Not badly, I think. Four of the scripts have now converged on stories (that is, we're tweaking and editing, but not tearing them down and rebuilding them), and the fifth is very close, and possibly already there. As a result the props lists are fairly static, and we've some more people on board to help out there too.
So it looks like we'll be OK. That said, it's a lovely clear Saturday afternoon in London, and I seem to be in the office. Dang. And I've a sneaking suspicion that I'll be making props next weekend...
December 9, 2005
James emailed me from the next desk to say:
I've never had a favourite duck before. Now I do.
Too right. That's one mighty fine duck.
December 7, 2005
One odd aspect of freelancing is that it's sometimes hard to keep straight who you've worked with and who you've simply heard of. One such person is Alom Shaha, with whom I'm fairly certain I've never made a show. I'm less sure about whether we ever shared an office, though I think that's unlikely also. But somehow I seem to have known him for years. As I say, odd.
Anyway, he's a science development chappie at interesting London indie Pioneer Productions, and he has some sort of swanky NESTA thing going on too. And as of a short while ago, he also has a blog. And mighty fine it is too, filled as it is with Alom's personal take on goings-on in the world of science communication. Do read: Alom's blog at Resonance TV.
Alom also plugs inkycircus, a blog by a bunch of London-based girl geeks who are aiming to start a magazine.
Ah, feel the linkbloggery love.
December 3, 2005
This is linked from NTK -- and if you're not reading NTK obsessively, then... oh, well, I suppose it doesn't make much sense, actually, but anyway -- but I've never been shy of blatant linkbloggery so:
Dave Green and his Snackspot were featured in the Independent the other week. Marvelous stuff. Also mentioned, albeit indirectly, was Cyber Candy, a sweet shop in Covent Garden that sells the most wonderfully eclectic range of stuff. Just beware of the Scandinavian salt sweets.
No, I didn't go. Wanted to, but was in the office writing scripts, unfortunately. A shame, I suspect, since the inaugural meeting of the Open Rights Group sounds like it didn't quite proceed as everybody expected. From Suw's brief write-up you might not guess, but it seems the event was at least mildly hijacked by the Trots.
The rant is well worth reading. Despite my having been in the room when the ORG PledgeBank thing was started, it's a matter of record that I didn't cough up the dough since I've never been remotely clear on what ORG would actually do. Nick's concerns may be rather deeper than my own -- and arguably deeper than necessary -- but it's likely a good thing to have some of this out.
Make sure you stick around for Danny's comments on Nick's blog post; also worth reading Nick's later post.
My tuppence-worth: Polite finger-wagging campaigning can work, can get results, and is worth the effort. It's not the only form of campaign that gets results, and arguably a more all-out approach is necessary to effect sweeping changes. But the latter is higher-risk -- it's not at all clear that any change will result.
It's not, of course, an either/or situation. While ORG, by its nature, background, membership and staff seems set along the finger-wagging-and-tutting course, in my humble that's a good thing not only in itself, but also because it leaves ample room for a more reactionary movement should one accrete support.
To cite an example of a finger-wagging-and-tutting organisation I admire: Amnesty International. Sure, it'd be far more effective overall to change the global mindset on fundamental human rights issues. But while you do that, we'll keep on writing letters about individual cases...
But meanwhile: dang. On a personal level, ORG is another of those ships that sailed without me, while I was too busy doing something else.