Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Today found me with a pair of headphones clamped almost permanently to my ears. I’ve been transcribing interviews with people from the White City Estate, and the process is driving me insane. It requires so much concentration. When dealing with personal memories, it’s important for me to transcribe what’s been said absolutely verbatim; with every nuance, repeated phrase, grammatical error, or badly-chosen word. Most transcribers will tidy up as they go along, or paraphrase so that a sentence appears to make better sense, but for me, the poetry is in the quirkiness of the language. One of the people I was transcribing today has a habit of repeating key phrases... sometimes as many as three times – peppered throughout everything else he’s saying. This obviously has wonderful musical potential, as, frankly, do all the stutters, and even the “ums” and “ahs” and non-sequiturs. I personally love a sentence that just ends without any form of conclusion. It’s something I do all the time. I tend to assume people will join up the dots and know instinctively which words I’ve opted to omit. Sometimes I feel a sentence just outstays its welcome. You get other people who seem to keep saying words until the sentence they’re saying fulfils some kind of crazy internal rhythm.   I often think we’re more aware of the shape and rhythm of the sentences we’re saying than we are the words we’re actually using.

I went out this evening to see Nathan’s show, Mile High, and promptly left the hat Nathan knitted for me on the tube. I was absolutely gutted. I got involved in some kind of major claustrophobic crush on the Victoria Line at Euston, took the hat off, and, well who knows where these blessed things go.

 We were joined in Vauxhall by the lovely Jim Zalles and were beautifully diverted by the show, which is silly and camp and exactly what a fringe musical about trolly dollies ought to be. On the way back to the tube, we stopped for a moment to stare at the blackened, scorched building which marks the spot where a helicopter recently hit a crane and plummeted to the ground, engulfing some poor passer-by in a fatal ball of fire. I can’t quite imagine how terrifying it must have been to see a helicopter hurtling from the sky and can only hope that the poor bloke who was killed knew nothing about what was happening.

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