Local Diversions & BBC Radio

Though I find it utterly unbelievable, both my day planner and local calendars seem to agree on the fact that we are now well into February. What’s more, if these sources are to be believed, today marks exactly one month since I first stepped off the plane.

To say that the days since have flown by would be a vast understatement.

However, though the weeks have passed very quickly – spent both adventuring and working through the motions of general ‘moving-in’ manoeuvres – I have already become far more comfortable, adjusted and at home here than when I first arrived.

Much of this change relates directly to the fact that I’ve started to integrate myself into the local community – for example, I am now a member of the Cambridge University Curling team, have started climbing again at the nearby climbing gym, and have even auditioned for a local high-brow fancy-pants choral group.

My admittance into the Cambridge Curling Club came as a bit of a surprise. I had become a fairly keen club curler back home (thanks completely to the fanatical urging of my friend Patrick, whom you can all visit here for tales of curling derring-do), and was worried I would have to give up the sport upon moving after discovering that, although the sport was invented in Scotland, there was only a single curling club in all of England. Seeking only general information on the state of curling in Cambridge, I contacted the University club. I was invited onto the team – which consisted of a total of three members at the time – almost immediately, my concerns of not being in any way affiliated with the University swept aside faster than the target of a hack-weight takeout stone (apologies).

I’ve been down to the Kent club once already, and have had a great time. Not only was I given a chance to test out my new shoes on what turned out to be some fantastic ice, but I even participated in a close game against a national-level Scottish women’s team – of which the Third turned out to be Ms. October from the now globally famous “Women of Curling” nude fundraising calendar.

So yes, I have already rubbed shoulders with the celebrities of the curling world.

In an effort to get back to my favourite hobbies as quickly as possible, I also recently auditioned for a high-profile local choir, “Cambridge Chorale”, a ~35 voice group focusing primarily on classical / spiritual works that has toured extensively (apparently making the rounds of Italy no less than six times), and has even been hired for recording sessions in the past.

Now, I’m no slouch in the music department, and credit myself as having a fair amount of both talent and experience as a singer. Still, this audition was no cakewalk. A multi-stage audition about twenty minutes in length, it consisted of a range test, ear and sight reading tests, and a prepared piece performance. Apparently, successful applicants are notified by mail, which seems both ridiculous and yet also incredibly cool. So now I wait.

The other big upcoming change in my day-to-day starts tomorrow, when I begin a week-long unpaid internship with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

During my last few years of work in Vancouver, I became more and more a fan of radio in general, and of public radio and the local CBC in particular. This was also around the time that Podcasting started to make waves in mainstream geekdom, and for me the combination was absolutely addictive. I was listening to CBC all day, every day – at home, at work, and on the walk in between. During the times I wasn’t tuned in directly, my attentions moved to my favourite podcasts and I began to consider more realistically the possibility of in some way working in the field as a means of combining my experience as an engineer with my interests in music, arts, theatre… and all that jazz.

I had contacted the CBC concerning their internship programs in an attempt to sneak myself into their ranks, but alas the Vancouver offices only accepted journalism students into their programs. So later on, when I applied to the BBC’s internship program on a whim, I did so with the same underlying expectation of refusal.

It therefore came as a complete shock to me when, some months later, I received a note back from the BBC inviting me into their local radio studios (a mere 5-minute walk from home, incidentally) for a week-long internship. So, I’m thrilled, and now only hope that I can make the most of the short time I’ll have “in-house”.

On to the next adventure!

On the topic of podcasts – if any of you are fans of radio dramas, in particular the old detective & spy dramas from the 40’s and 50’s, I strongly urge you to check out Soap Detectives. The guy who runs this site has been posting a fantastic mix of old spy and detective radio serials – everything from Marple to Nero Wolfe to The Avengers and Sam Spade – and it makes for fantastic listening.

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