My Harkive – 9th July 2013

I start at 8:00 when my alarm forces me awake and I immediately turn on the radio.

I won’t lie – this is almost permanently tuned to Radio 1, although the track (that even Nick Grimshaw comments as sounding like a ‘rubbish Cotton Eye Joe’) makes me wince (I later find out that this is called Ring A Ling by Sneakbo. This morning it’s mostly chat though – I’m an out and proud Grimshaw fan so this is fine by me. Plus, I’m 24 so I’m still within the Radio 1 target audience. (I know you’re judging me!)

As I head out the door to the district line, I have a listen to a mix of a song I’m working on on my iPod. It might sound odd to some, but I find it useful to listen to my own music (sometimes I find it quite hard) on various devices so I can see if the listening experience changes – for example, my macbook speakers are pretty poor so an iPod is far more preferable. The track in question is called Twelve Feet Under and I’ve put it on Soundcloud and shared it with friends to try and get their thoughts:

Often I listen to a podcast or something from the BBC Radio Comedy output on the tube to work – this morning it’s The Show What You Wrote, which is being podcasted as the BBC Comedy of the Week. However, as it finishes before I arrive, I pop my iPod on song shuffle and on comes the Sufjan Stevens song John Wayne Gacey Jnr.

Later, at my desk, I notice a blog post on Twitter about The Rumble Strips by This is Fake DIY. It includes a Youtube video of their song Alarm Clock, so I give that a listen. I was never a big fan so I listen more out of curiosity than nostalgia. It’s ok, but I prefer the upbeat (but slightly similar) sounds of the dearly departed Larrikin Love.

After lunch I have a major hayfever attack and run out to Boots to get some eyedrops. Trying to take my mind of my swelling, itchy eyes, I take my iPod with me. As before, it’s still on shuffle. The tracks it treats me to are Magic Touch by Golden Silvers, Four Kicks by the Kings of Leon, Night Terror by Laura Marling and Live Wire by Fyfe Dangerfield. I do have some current stuff on my iPod, including Bastille, Lianne La Havas, Bastille, Daughter and Kate Nash’s underrated third LP, Girl Talk – oh and Yeezus by Kanye West, but I also have plenty of older stuff I can’t imagine not taking on the go with me.

After work I hop tubes between Great Portland Street and Angel. My iPod is still in an eclectic mood and plays A New Found Land from Villagers’ (brilliant) second album Awayland, The Look of Love (Nina Simone version), Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) by Florence & the Machine, The View from the Afternoon from The Arctic Monkeys (who I have never stopped loving in the past nine years), Isobel by Bjork and She’s Lost Control by Joy Division. Naturally the latter sets me perfectly in the mood to see comedians John Robbins and Joe Lycett test out their Edinburgh shows… or maybe not.

Post comedy, it’s back to dashing between underground lines. Impressively I manage Angel to Bromley-by-Bow in three different lines and four songs… although I do chat to my friend Doug from Angel to Bank so technically I only listen to my iPod for the second two lines. These songs are Landfill from Daughter’s Wild Youth EP, Old Stone by Laura Marling, New by No Doubt and, rather perfectly, With You Now by my friend Jake Flowers’ band Oaken Lee. I say perfectly because I’ve just received a message from Jake about Twelve Feet Under.

Don’t forget, you can still submit your listening habits from the 9th July over at Harkive.org now!

Creating a film about creating The News Quiz

On Thursday I published a short film I made for BBC Radio 4 called Creating The News Quiz.

I was very lucky to have the chance to visit the QI offices (they’re just as cool as you’d imagine – they have a collection knitted QI bobble hats and a wall of fake moustaches) earlier this year to meet with producer, presenter and broadcasting legend, John Lloyd.

John is one of those people who you meet because of one thing – be it because of his role as the founder of QI (so much more than a TV show), producing the radio series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with his late best friend Douglas Adams or presenting The Museum of Curiosity for Radio 4 – and then go away discovering he’s responsible for more than you could ever have imagined. Occasionally you’ll see him as a talking head on a BBC Two programme talking about some epic advert he made in the eighties, or a classic telly show such as Not the 9 O’Clock News.

John himself isn’t a name dropper, or someone who’d ever assume people would know who he was or what he’s done. He’s just a really brilliant person, basically, so I was dead chuffed that he agreed to chat to me about the early days of his time in BBC Radio. I don’t want to say too much because it’d be great if you watch the film above and see for yourself, but the story involves Nicholas Parsons, former Film [insert date here] presenter Barry Norman and a 13 hour turnaround – from reading the morning papers to broadcast.

The News Quiz airs at 18:30 Fridays and 12:30 Saturdays on BBC Radio 4.

Equal marriage

Firstly, let me start by saying I don’t think I have anything original to say on this subject. I just want to show my support.

Now that the Marriage (same-sex couples) Bill has been backed at a second reading, they’ll doubtless be thousands of similar blogs across the UK publishing their joy – and their relief. And thank goodness for that! It’s really important that people – no matter their sexuality – get behind the bill because it says so much about the country we live in, our friends, our rights and our future.

As many have commented, one day the generations that follow ours will wonder what all the fuss was about – they might stumble across blogs far superior to this and experience it as an alienating kind of history. And to be perfectly honest, the generations that have issues will have probably gone to the grave by then, their bigoted views dying with them.

There’s a (frankly) disturbing video of Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale claiming that he was ensured that the Civil Partnership Bill wouldn’t lead to equal marriage. He now wants to scrap civil partnership in favour of ‘civil union’, entirely missing the point.

MP David Burrowes was quoted in the same BBC article; “marriage is a great way of celebrating the difference between a man and a woman”. Now, if I ever were to marry, it wouldn’t be because I wanted to celebrate lacking a penis. I’m a massive fan of Don’t Tell the Bride, and I swear there’s never been a vow which involves a description of differing anatomies or hormones. Therefore, this quote concerns me even more than Gale’s as it appears to affirm Burrowes’ belief in breadwinner/housewife stereotypes.

More refreshing is MP David Lammy’s more emotive response in support of the bill; David Lammy, Labour;

“There are still those who say this is all unnecessary. Why do we need gay marriage when we already have civil partnership, they say. They are the same – separate but equal – they claim. Let me speak frankly – separate but equal is a fraud. Separate but equal is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus…. Separate is not equal so let us be rid of it.”

Marriage is not exclusively a religious institution. It is a sacrament in many religions, therefore being part of their institutional structure, but these religions do not have ownership – and nor should they have control – of the definition. It’s the legal, social (and hopefully in most cases, emotional) union of two people.

Next Tuesday at 11pm on Radio 4, equal marriage supporter (and one half of a happy civil partnership) Susan Calman will be explaining why she calls her ‘civil partner’ her wife and how she can’t wait to have the term legally recognised. I did a video interview with her ahead of the broadcast, which you can watch here.

BBC New Comedy Award 2012 hits Birmingham

Tonight I’m returning to Birmingham for the next heat of the BBC New Comedy Award 2012.

We’ll be at the Glee Club from 7.30pm with ten more comics looking to earn themselves a place in one of our semi-finals.

So far the standard has been ridiculously high and I’ve had great fun meeting everyone and filming the shows. Here’s the films I’ve produced so far:

I’ve got to run and catch a train very shortly, but I hope to see some of you there. We’re also heading to Cardiff, London and Brighton on our first round tour – tickets for these shows as well as tonight’s Brummie barrel o’laughs can be found here.

Find out more information about the BBC New Comedy Award here.