TV interview with a difference

Yesterday morning, I was visited by two youngsters from a television company, who had arranged to interview me about what it was like to live through The Great Smog. I said yes, because I had lived through the great smog and remembered it vividly, but what a paraphernalia it turned out to be!

The only other time I’ve been interviewed by a television company was when it was the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS and the company was the BBC and there were three people in the small group who interviewed me, all of whom were very, very professional. A producer, an interviewer and a cameraman who arrived with his camera on his shoulders, filmed whatever he was asked to film and left with his camera still on his shoulders. It was a very impressive interview.

Yesterday’s group were two in number, a cameraman and an interviewer, both young and friendly, which I found delightful but they chose to interview me in my study, planted me in the armchair and decided to film in the space by the entry. Then they began to make preparations. I have never seen so many pieces of equipment gathered together in one small space in my life. One tripod after another were set up and planted in whatever place were available. The cameraman squeezed between bits of complicated equipment bearing in one piece after another. I fully expected him to get his long legs entangled in the tripod’s legs and fall to the ground and it seemed to take him an interminably long time. Even the cat took off and left us to it!

But the questioning did finally begin and it revealed a gulf of understanding between us that I hadn’t expected.

For a start neither of my interviewers had the faintest idea of how humans and clothes were washed in 1952. The girl asked me whether I’d had a bath and washed my clothes when I got home from my day out in the smog, fully expecting the answer ‘yes’. And when I said ‘of course not,’ she looked surprised, so I told her how baths were rationed and we were only allowed one a week and only 9 inches of water in the bathtub and how clothes were only washed on washday, which was always a Monday and involved boiling everything in a copper. I think she found it a bit shocking, but I didn’t comment because we were historic lightyears away from one another. I sat in my chair remembering what hard work it was to run all the washing through the mangle and how the walls in the scullery were running with water by the time the job was all done.

But the final and extraordinary question was when she pressed me to tell her that I’d been frightened during the smog and when I said ‘no of course not, there was nothing to be frightened of,’ she looked so disappointed that I thought I better tell her something really frightening. I pointed out that in 1940 those of us who lived in London during the Blitz, had been bombed every night for ten months and that, that was something to be frightened of and she was surprised and shocked, but I think she took it on board.

It will be interesting to see what they make of it when it is finally released. But I have to say I have never felt the generation gap so keenly as I did yesterday morning.

Life is very peculiar sometimes.

3 thoughts on “TV interview with a difference

  1. Really Beryl, you deserve a medal for patience. As your friend Lesley said, who thought of sending interviewers out with no idea what they were talking about? Our little Granddad taught us to count the lampposts from house to school. Clever idea, but not understood by our daughter, aged 39.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done for not letting your patience wear very thin… But of course that WAS their education, bless ’em. Infuriating, but they wouldn’t have gleaned much of that from books (or Google). Sometimes it takes a living witness to make things real and understandable.

    Liked by 1 person

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