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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time and motion

I was talking to Tom Whitwell yesterday. Tom runs the community sites for The Times now but he used to be in magazines. He reckons he couldn't do magazines anymore because they're not instant enough. Certainly you're struck by the fact that in magazines you spend much of your time processing material that you're not actually going to use. They don't call it editing for nothing. However the other day I was reminded that when it comes to time spent unproductively, nothing can compare with television. Particularly prime time television.

I took part in an item about LP covers for BBC's "The One Show" which involved me turning up at Sister Ray in Soho to deliver the so-called expert's view of the development of album art from the 50s to the present day. My old pal Clare Grogan, to whom I am legally married in Memphis, Tennessee but that's another story, was fronting the item. The people doing the job were very professional but what with cutaways, noddies, different angles, close-ups of hands flicking through the racks and the rest of the palaver that inevitably accompanies even the simplest filming, there was no time to talk about the fifties, the eighties or the nineties. And that wasn't because I was talking too much. I avoided that because the director told me that the finished item was expected to run just two and half minutes. Because I was keen to avoid that conversationus interruptus that afflicts most TV nowadays, in which nobody is allowed to actually finish a sentence, I kept it snappy, believe me.

Nowadays there seems something rather old fashioned about an activity which takes days of people's time and is then gone in 150 seconds - never to return.