Monday, November 24, 2014

The price of fame

On Saturday evening, as I sat at the front of the London-bound plane, a chant went up from the crowd of passengers behind me. “Chriiisss Kamaaara! There’s only one Chris Kamara!!” 

I looked up, and saw the Sky Sports reporter, smiling sheepishly at the baying mob down the plane as he took his place at the end of my row. The barracking continued for most of the flight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How do you solve a problem like the licence fee?

This is a transcript of a speech I made today at the Salford International Media Festival, part of a discussion about the future of the BBC. It includes a suggestion that the licence fee should be reduced to £10 per annum.

On 15th October 1973, wearing a crisp white shirt newly ironed by my mother, I nervously pushed open the big brass doors into Broadcasting House and signed into reception to start my career as a BBC News Trainee. 

As we sat in our classroom on the second floor, our instructor greeted us with these words: 

“Congratulations!” he said. 

“You are the chosen ones. We expect all of you to rise through the ranks to become the next generation of BBC leaders. 

“Unless,” and here he glowered at us, “unless you commit one of two heinous crimes – bounce a cheque at BBC Cashiers, or forget to pay your licence fee”. 

There were six of us trainees in total, and later on in the first term our instructor made us take part in a competition – to find which of us was most likely to become Director General. The winner was Tony Hall.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lynda's letter

I’ve decided to write Izzy a letter. 

I suspect it will be too long and rambling. I am pretty sure it will make her cry, though that isn’t my intention. I also hope she won’t read it for many years. There are things I want to say to Izzy that I can’t tell a 5-year-old. Things I won’t be able to say to her face, because I won’t be here. 

Being an older parent – no, a very old parent – I know that even if I live to be as old as my mother, who’s nearly 94, I’m unlikely to see Izzy into marriage, children, and total independence. So I’m going to write her a letter, and tell her what I know about life. Before it’s too late.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Virgin Galactic: a child's dream

Izzy is obsessed with Virgin Galactic. She has bookmarked its website on my computer, and loves sitting on my lap as we watch the company’s showreel together. 

“When can we go on it, Daddy?” the 5-year-old pleads excitedly, as we watch SpaceShipTwo, a pretty little craft about the size of a small private jet with a rotating body, separate from WhiteKnightTwo, the launch vehicle that looks like two big planes stuck together. 

I admit it’s an awesome sight. But I would hate to have to tell her the blindingly obvious: this plane will never reach space. So far the only thing Virgin Galactic has managed to launch above the stratosphere is Branson’s monstrous ego.