Various happenings have been afoot recently.
As well as working for the small newspaper, (where I sadly finished last week), I also write the occasional report for a small, mostly volunteer run ethnic-type newspaper based nearby. They have a slightly cosier newsroom where I drop by when writing said reports so that I can use their phone to ring and beg comments from various report-related people and avoid the wrath of the figure of doom that is my father with the phone bill. I usually ignore the kind enquiries of the regular staff about whether I'm aware that I can work from home, no really, however long it takes. They love me really.
The people I have to beg, demand and cajoule appropriate comments out of on the phone are usually long-winded and middle aged men. They are usually long-winded and middle aged men because the only people likely to get in a national newspaper who don't own an email account are long-winded middle aged men. Yesterday, I got to speak to the king
of long-winded middle aged men.
He had issued a press release which was very relevant to the Islamic religious side of the report, for which I already had excellent sources for the Jewish and Christian viewpoints, (these three being, for a change, the only religions to contest the issue). He was also backed up by at least three fairly weighty organisations, and everyone more reliable seemed to be out of the country for Easter. And I had a deadline.
He was an exception to the usual rule, because he owned a hotmail account. Unfortunately, his hotmail account first decided not to work, and then did, and then it turned out it had been working all along only he'd deleted my email accidentally the first time, and then he asked me to ring anyway because he didn't want to write everything out. I, like a goldfish frolicking innocently towards the jaws of a long-winded middle aged crocodile, dialled the number, questions at the ready. We jumped right in, I, grateful for my recorder (which meant I could decipher the more technical terms he used and his heavy Egyptian accent later on), and he for a fresh victim.
Ro: The first question was about the use of alternative research methods, could you give me any specific examp -
Dr LWaMA: Yes yes, but first let me give you a bit of background. It all began back in the sixties with ...
*fifteen minutes later*
Dr LWaMA: ...because you see all the cells in our body contain -
Ro: DNA, yes Dr LWaMA, you've already said. A few times. Just to come back to the question
Dr LWaMA: - yes, DNA, exactly. And so you see, there are in each organ in the body a few examples of what we call -
Ro: Mother cells, yes, you've said
. But what I'm really asking is -
Dr LWaMA: You must wait, I am trying to give you some background. You're a very impatient girl.
Ro: ...It's just that I do need -
Dr LWaMA: What nationality are you?
Ro: *after a second of frigid silence* Excuse me?
Dr LWaMA: Where were you born, where are you from?
Ro: Here? I'm, um, British?
Dr LWaMA: No no, but you know what I mean, where are your parents from?
Ro: *icily* I'd really rather not answer that question. I'm really just trying to ask about -
Dr LWaMA: I see. You're the first person I've spoken to who's had a problem with answering that question, but that's fine. To get back to the background...
It was at this point that I began to beat my head against my computer keyboard.
*ten minutes later*
Dr LWaMA: ...and so, I hope in that, I have answered your question. Am I boring you?
Ro: *stifling a hysterical laugh* No. Not at all. Well, maybe a -
Dr LWaMA: That is very good to hear. Shall we move on?
Ro: Right, well, about the issue of the proposed free vote on -
Dr LWaMA: But you've missed out question 2. I have your email up here. It is a very relevant question about the ethics of the situation.
is when you decide to discover how to read your emails?
Dr LWaMA: Excuse me?
Ro: Er, I said 'How
would you decide to answer question 2 from my email?'
*five minutes later*
Dr LWaMA: And so, although the vast majority do indeed believe that...
Ro: *carefully placing the phone down* You all have to stop staring at me. It's very disconcerting.
Funky Hat Colleague: But this is much more entertaining than our articles or the news. You're just trying so hard
to get him to answer the question.
Aspiring Poet Colleague: It's like watching a bee that keeps flying into a window, trying to get out. You keep hitting a glass wall again, and again, and again. It breaks my heart.
Hawaian Shirt Colleague: It's also quite funny to watch you trying to interrupt with 'Wha-', or 'But -', or 'I -' every minute. You start to get this demented sheep look - yes, exactly like that!
Editor: They are all, also, waiting for the use of the phone. You do
know that you can work from home, don't you?
Funky Hat Colleague: You might want to pick up the phone again, what if he stopped talking at last and you were too busy chatting to us? No, don't start beating your head on the keyboard again.
*ten minutes later*
Dr LWaMA: ...It is, as you say, officially permissable to perform an abortion when the mother's life is in danger, but honestly I would find that ruling a little shaky and would advise, well, that is to say, unless we know, say, that she is 95% likely to die -
Ro: I beg
your pardon? Are you suggesting that if there's even a 40% probability of death the woman should take the risk?
Dr LWaMA: Well, you see if she was up to six months along I would suggest that we remove the infant, incubate -
Ro: But what if she isn't? As I asked in the original question
Dr LWaMA: I suppose, in that case - but really what I wanted to say is that your argument about existing life having more value than unborn life doesn't really...
Funky Hat Colleague: I'm beginning to be able to see the shape of the keys imprinted on your forehead. We can play boggle on it at the next staff meeting.
The phone conversation eventually ended over an hour after I had first called him. In revenge, (oh, such sweet revenge), I gave him less than a line in my final article. He has, however, been splashed over several news programmes to comment on this very important issue recently, thanks to the three 'weighty' organisations backing his press release, (one of which he heads, all of which are fairly amateur - none of them have websites, significant numbers of full time staff, or, (apparently), experts). Dr LWaMA who has no religious credentials whatsoever is having a lot of self-righteous fun on TV giving the Islamic perspective with a slight raving loony slant.
I'm not bitter that he kept me on the phone for over an hour. Not at all. :)
I will also be on my way to France at the very-end-of-this-week-beginning-of-next-w
eek-ish. (Je serai sur mon chemin a France a la fin-de-cette-semaine-debut-de-la-semaine-p
rochaine-ish.) I'm still veering between excitement and terror. (Je devie encore entre etant enthousiaste et terrifie.) I will no doubt manage to find an internet cafe at some point whilst I am there, and write a long and obnoxious post about Paris. (Je vais trouver sans dout un cybercafe tandis que je y suis.)
Et j'ai du utiliser un dictionnaire quatre fois pendant que j'ecrivais ces phrases, mais je pense que je faisais des erreurs quand même. :S Si quelqu'un a des corrections...