Being on the radio is fun.

I say ‘fun’, providing you are able to block out the ridiculous ramblings you come out with when asked perfectly straight forward questions; can forget the fact that you said “ambiguous” approx. 56 times and are able to move past using the phrase “as’twere”. Yup, “as’twere” … not “as it were” like a normal person, but “as frickin ’twere”. Who do I think I am, a bargain-basement Russell Brand with my Victoriana English? As soon as the hideous phrase fell out my mouth I wanted to immediately recall it and/or have the ground swallow me up, but of course the conversation carried on and it’s forever recorded – now only at the mercy of the Editor. Please God let her cut it out.  

In case you’re lagging behind here, I was in that there London this week recording a slot on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. I was delighted to be invited on the programme and excited to meet the other guests – an eclectic mix of cellist Steven Isslerlis, novelist David Vann and storyteller Rachel Rose Reid. Most of all, though, I was terrified of saying something stupid. Like “as’twere”. I kept telling myself over and over that it wasn’t live so, really, what was the worst that could happen? (*hollow laughter*) But then, Editors can only work with what they’ve got – and if all you give them are endless “ambiguouses” then they are limited in what they can achieve.

On the plus, the reading of Yackety Yak seemed to go well. And really, that is what I was there for. I’m all about the work, dah-ling. At first I was so nervous (all the guests recorded together and I was last – ie, plenty of time to get panicked) that I kept tripping over the words and having to stop and go back a few lines. But I warmed in to it, and Ian, David and Rachel Rose were very generous in their laughter which really helped. (Please don’t think Steven just sat there stony faced, he had left by this point for another appointment).

Going into BBC Broadcasting House was ever so slightly thrill-tastic. I walked round the building twice before venturing inside. I am not quite sure why given you don’t have to be a guest on a BBC radio programme to walk round the building, but I did. And I took some photos outside. I got issued with a Visitor Pass which I was going to try and steal but the security guard looked like he didn’t take no messing, so I dutifully returned it on leaving. I wanted to take a photo in the Studio but thought that might seem a bit tragic, like I don’t spend every day recording my play for national radio, so my camera stayed in my bag. The show’s presenter is Ian McMillan – a lovely man who put everyone at their ease in seconds – and all the team were welcoming. And there were sandwiches, and brownies. And fruit. (I had a banana to look vaguely healthy, but rest assured my eyes never left the brownies.)

I haven’t heard the final programme. It is on tonight, 9.15pm on BBC Radio 3 and then available on iPlayer until Fri 4 Feb … click [here] to listen. I am not sure what to do for the best – listen to it as broadcast or wait. Maybe I won’t listen to it at all (disclaimer: I will). I’ll see how my nerves are holding up as the evening progresses. As’twere.

7 thoughts on ““as’twere”

  1. Gwyn Seymour says:

    Don’t get your hopes too high for Pick of The Week as their Website said they get hundreds of suggestions, and they have never taken up a suggestion from me in the past, but I thought it was worth a try!
    You really should think about putting the five minute monologue out in a more permanent form. If the Beeb would allow you to do so, you could put the Verb monologue on Youtube with some visual stills giving details of Yackety Yak and other plays —–Alternatively, what about a “talking head” version al la Alan Bennett.

  2. Sally says:

    Excellent reading last night Ali. I could just picture your facial expressions! First time listening to The Verb but shall tune in again. Interesting mixture of guests and topics. You should perform your own monologues more often!!

  3. Gwyn Seymour says:

    Your monologue on The Verb that went in the last 5 minutes of the programme on 28/1/11(about a man who was diagnosed as having only a million words left to say, as told by his wife, who had lots of words to spare) was simultaneously hilarious and poignant.
    I have suggested to Radio 4’s “Pick of the Week” that they broadcast it again and I recommend to anyone who didn’t hear it that they catch it on i-player over the next week.
    Is it, or any other similar material, available on CD or some other media that isn’t going to disappear in 7 days. Failing that, why don’t you put it on Youtube?

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