Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dear Diary, today I...

I've given myself the time it takes for my purple-brown hair colour to develop to write up the fun I had yesterday with an ABC TV film crew, otherwise I'll be here all day.

Those of you who read regularly will know that one of my work-hats is helping out my very special Aged Poetess once a week with anything from shopping to editing. (I must work out what each of my work-hats looks like. This one might be a very nice 1920s felt number, in an ashes-of-roses hue.)

Yesterday the AP had a date with the ABC Sunday Arts crew, for a special feature to be aired later in the year or early next year. We expected a busy day, but I didn't really appreciate how much busy-ness!

A bit of context: AP's house is an oasis of peace and order. She doesn't like clutter and is such a dignified, gentle, mild person that everyone acts beautifully around her, including me. If she could read the list below of my most frequent ejaculations (hello Google searchers!), she would be utterly shocked and think it was a different person, because of course I am on Best Behaviour around her.

In fact, on that topic, here is what Barbara Hanrahan(one of my favorite artists, and I own a print of the top image on the right link) wrote in her diary about meeting her:

Very reserved. Proper people. When I sit there signing [prints] at the table with the rug on it I feel like giggling, saying something coarse. But we are ladies and gentlemen. They are classical. ... R. is a very beautiful woman -- that sounds queer written -- as set as a jelly. Hair piled up grey, a little girl smile, shy. Tall... A snag of white cotton on her leg.

It's a great description. AP is not tall any more, she's shrunk with age, but still smiles like a shy young girl. Anyway, I'm digressing, and in real time my hair is way done and I've been shopping and I've babysat Sage while Zoe went oot and aboot, and I'm still writing. So much for discipline.

Here is what a tv crew in a quiet oasis looks like:

They just take over. Mind you, they did a wonderful job, taking lots of time to make AP very comfortable, making the lighting just right, adjusting the sound to her nervous soft voice. My job for the day was poet-wrangling, making sure that she wasn't too stressed, keeping her fed and rested, and not tripping over wires.

Everyone was on best behaviour. They said to me that they were treating the occasion as if it were an interview with the Queen Mum, and that was exactly the right attitude. She is, after all, 85, and very old-world. I noticed that when the camera started stuffing up and making loud whirry noises, that the cameraman and sound dude were very careful not to swear. And when it happened for the third time, we all bit our tongues.

Then we moved outside. garden
Here we are waiting for a break between traffic so that AP could read poems amongst the birds and minor suburban noises. AP lives beside a mainish road through her suburb. It has a few stretches of quiet, but not many. Unfortunately it was around 3pm, so everyone in the world was rushing about trying to pick up their kids, and eventually we had to move around the back to a less picturesque but much quieter spot. AP was amazing. She read beautifully, never making a mistake, and all of us felt privileged to have such a wonderful private reading. (Well, you'll have the chance to see it on TV, but it won't be the same!)

The best bit of the experience was connecting with Shelley, the researcher/editor/general all-round hep chick, who was a lot of fun, and who used to have a blog called Shelley-on-the-Telly until her TV-industry-related posts ruffled a few feathers and she had to delete her blog earlier this year. I wish I'd read them! It's so nice to meet someone and mention blogging and not have their eyes glaze over or look at you funny. I'd just finished reading John Birmingham's The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, and noticed Shelley's name in the acknowledgements, so it was a fun coincidence to mention this to her when we met the day before filming. Then she happened to talk to JB that night and mentioned that I'd mentioned it, and ohmigod, my name was mentioned to JB! Oh, enough namedropping, but let's just say that I'm chuffed.

So hopefully Shelley and her excellent team got enough quality footage to make something special for the show. It'll be shown on either the last episode for this year's series or the first episode of next year's Sunday Arts. You won't see me, but you'll know I was there! I've got to start putting this sort of stuff down on paper, my grandkids will never believe me.

Postscript: I forgot to mention the bit where AP read a really moving poem about her late husband -- as always happens when I hear/read that particular poem, my eyes filled with tears. I glanced at Shelley, and she was having a soggy mascara moment too. Later on we laughed that such a hard, seasoned journo like her, who has been a crime reporter in Melbourne among other things, could be such a softie. But it was a bloody touching moment. I defy anyone to see that bit and not feel choked up. It'll be right at the end of the segment.

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