Friday, 26 September 2014

These kids can't read!

I woke up in Brighton rather too early this morning. I was drifting in and out of sleep, listening to the crashing of waves, which were eventually drowned out by the sound of a city waking up.

I hauled myself out of bed, and had breakfast at Tiffany's (genuinely - it's a lovely little vegetarian cafe just off the Lanes on the way to the station.)

The train journey back to London was somewhat marred by the arrival of a mother and child. As soon as they got on the carriage my heart sank, because I knew it meant that the calm and tranquility I so wanted was about to be destroyed.

She was one of those mothers who thinks a child will only understand if it's addressed in a loud, grating, high-pitched voice. Why do some mothers do this? I have never had a problem communicating with children in a normal voice and furthermore have many friends who don't speak to their children like Munchkins on acid.

The silly-voiced approach surely only encourages the child to learn to speak like Micky Mouse. I don't actually know if this particular child was a boy or a girl but it spoke in a stupidly high voice. Boy or girl, he'll need to learn to use a lower resonance. Mummy decided to read "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" to the carriage at a volume and pitch which can only be described as irritating beyond words.

I met Philippa in Shoreditch who tells me that children actually respond better to a high-pitched sing-song voice. My Grannie was the same!

It was good to see Philippa. We worked on our individual projects in a cafe, drinking pots of tea, sitting opposite one another. I'm now at a stage with the Fleet Singers commission where I'm just about ready to start composing.

I had a meeting at the new BBC Broadcasting House this afternoon. The plaza outside the building is just beginning to take on something of the old-school feeling of the beloved television centre. They were setting up for a One Show outside broadcast with a load of straw bales and a set of fibreglass cows. There was also a stream of freaky-looking children emerging from the building with fluffy dogs. All very Blue Peter.

They were doing tours of the building for young people, which involved an opportunity for some of them to sit in front of a camera and have a bash at reading autocue. I say reading. I was astonished by how bad their reading was. These were maybe 17-year old A-level students, and not a single one could read a sentence without badly faltering! I'm pretty sure that my own geography A-level group would have coped much better, and believe me, we were nothing to write home about. I'm actually wondering whether this new plague of dyslexia, ADHD and whatever other diagnoses we're offering as excuses for not taking studies seriously, is beginning to have a really negative effect. The kids were all from ethnic backgrounds and are exactly the sort of people the BBC want to engage, but if they can't read autocue, what hope do they have? Cut to the BBC ticking their boxes by scrambling to employ ethnic minorities from hideously wealthy backgrounds who went to public schools. All this, on the day when the Evening Standard is patting itself on the back about the success of its get London reading campaign. Honestly, people whinge about the wealth of London compared to other places in the UK, but try telling these kids they're not disadvantaged!

This evening we went to Wimbledon theatre to see our friend Chris working as the musical director on a musical version of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I'm pretty sure this particular story has had every treatment going, from film and telly adaptations to untold new musicals. I'm also pretty sure that this adaptation didn't manage to cast any new light on the story. What's definite, however, is that Chris did a wonderful job with a cast of very talented actor-musicians, so that was a relief.

On the way home we encountered all sorts of lunatics on the tubes from the man who sat next to me, fell asleep and dribbled all over his lap top screen to the 50 year-old glamorous Chinese woman who lost her balance and ended up sprawled all over the lap of a business man who didn't see the funny side.

Long day. Sleep please!

No comments:

Post a Comment