The show must go on ...
Roger Short is a Radio 3 producer specialising in the network's World Music output; the Icelandic ash cloud crisis finds him stranded several thousand miles from home, and a BBC studio. But in the great showbiz tradition ...
I was booked on the BA flight from Toronto to London on Sunday night, and due to go to a meeting with a colleague, Carlos from London University, on Monday morning. By Sunday afternoon it was clear I wasn't going to make it. I texted Carlos to let him know I was stranded in Canada. 'Don't worry', he texted back, 'I'm stuck in Mexico'.
It was Thursday lunchtime when my Canadian mother-in-law told me excitedly about the news of the volcano, and that all flights were to going to be grounded. I assumed it was my mother-in-law's usual over-dramatics. No way would they ground all flights, surely, and if they did, it would certainly all be over by Saturday.
So there I was, and here I am, stranded like so many others, far from base, with a busy week's work to get done, including two programmes, two-and-three-quarter hours of transmission time, to be ready by the weekend. My trip to see the in-laws was actually tacked on to the end of a work trip to Cambridge Bay, a small town in the Canadian Arctic Circle - I was working with an Inuit throat singer, Tanya Tagaq, on a soundscape of Arctic life and Inuit culture. And that was fortunate, because that means I have a suitcase full of BBC recording equipment with me, including a full portable SADiE editing system ('And why do you need THREE laptops, Sir?' I was asked by the fourth security man...)
So, thanks to the wonders of the BBC's remote desktop system, I am able to do a fairly good impression of being back at my desk, sending emails, compiling Radio Times listings information, filling in compliance forms. And thanks to a proxy file transfer site and some very understanding colleagues back at Broadcasting House (Question: 'Why is a recording of Indian classical music in London called "Watford T58?" Answer: 'Well that was where the OB van was before our concert, and we didn't get round to changing the filenames...' ), I am able to receive the sound files for the weekend's edition of World Routes, edit them, and send back a finished programme, complete with full paperwork. All from my mother-in-law's sewing room.
Our hearts go out to those who have missed births, marriages and deaths in the past few days, and indeed to third-world farmers who can't export their perishable produce. There are certainly far worse places to be stranded than my mother-in-law's sewing room. But there are probably better places too... Mexico, perhaps!
- In response to an editorial question as to whether Roger's canine companion is a Portuguese Water Dog, he replies: 'She's a Black Russian Terrier, a fairly new breed that's got PWD in it, but is mostly Giant Schnauzer - she is only a puppy, will grow much bigger...'