Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I wrote a miserable post about the inevitability of losing my job (the Government is cutting all of the funding from my area, Humanities) and therefore my house at the age of Too Old To Get Another Job, then I hit a strange key and the whole lot vanished, which I took as a signal to live in the present, so here I am, not worrying about the future!
I've spent the evening multitasking, simultaneously cooking a stir-fry and listening to entries to a University-wide song competition that I am judging.
It's amazing how many entrants seem not to have read the rules. In fact, none of them would qualify at all if I did not think I could knock them into some sort of shape in the next couple of weeks.
Fifteen people entered, two people's CDs wouldn't play on anything (duh! first rule of sending music to people that you want to listen to it, is that the CD must work!), five of them were far too quiet, about seven of them had songs lasting up to five minutes (the time limit is 3 minutes and 45 seconds), several of them had sampled music (there is a rule that says no sampling) and so on, and so on.
Is it haste? Is it arrogance? Is it laziness?
The prize is £5000; surely it would be worth reading the rules and sticking to them!
Last year, the winner stood out a mile and she went on to win the national competition; this year, it's much harder to tell who should win our heat. Luckily there are more judges than just me; my initial job was to do some weeding out, and six songs have gone to the next person to listen to.
I love teaching song writing because it's so exciting helping people to make a song work. I did it for 10 years before going back to writing songs myself, and then it took me three years to apply the things I told other people to do, to my own songs.
I don't know why that was; maybe I didn't feel that my songs were proper songs that deserved the attention. Now, it's as much fun thinking of my own work as though it was someone else's and working on them in that way.
The shortest song that I've ever written is this one:
A song
Doesn't have to be long.

Offsprog One went on the march. It had all but finished when the trouble started, which makes me think that the trouble came from other people, not students. 
I remember going on marches years ago, and there were always bunches of excessively aggressive young men who seemed to be getting a buzz out of being violent and destructive and who totally ignored the other protesters around them who were peacefully demonstrating. I think they may be from the Socialist Workers Party, and they are dangerous and nasty and do quite the opposite of what a demonstration is supposed to do, which is to create a show of numbers to indicate how a section of the public feels about a Government action.
Luckily, in the news broadcasts that I saw, this was pointed out quite clearly, not least by the head of the Student's Union.


Vanessa said...

For what it is worth, in this fast paced, short attention span, media-driven society we live in, I don't think young people set the same store by "attention to detail" as our generation was taught to at school and in the workplace.

And I'll wager there's a bit of laziness in there too...

Vanessa said...

PS I wrote a song once - rubbish tune (you are at least spared that) and rubbish lyrics to go with it.

A robin sat upon a bush and pondered
A robin sat upon a bush and thought
A robin sat upon a bush and wished that it could have some hush
For thinking
And singing
For singing
A song

In my defence, I was quite small at the time.

frayedattheedge said...

Years ago, Malcolm did some interviewing of university students who had applied to work at BP. I remember looking through the application forms and saying to Malcolm I wouldn't interview the ones who couldn't even fill the form in correctly - how difficult is it to print in black ink!!

Anonymous said...

I like Vanessa's song!

Jane said...

helen you are extremely talented in so many ways, if you lose this job i am sure you will find another suitable one and it's never too late! All the students you have helped (like me) are always indebted and grateful to you
lots of love
jane xx