I must get out more
April 1st – I’m standing here at my uppy-downy desk in an endeavour to persuade my phalanges to fly across a wireless keyboard and write this first episode in a new series of blogs, telling tales, tall and true, of my 30 something years worth of experience in the broadcasting and, more specifically, voice-over industry.
Speaking of ‘episodes’, to coin a phrase used at the beginning of many instalments of the late 1960’s classic TV series “Lost In Space”, last time as you recall (which was actually back in 2014), when I was making my living voicing in Dubai, having not a lot to do between waiting for a call or taking the Metro Train or taxi to a pre-booked voice-over session (effectively hauling my backside into any one of a dozen studios in the usually 40º+ heat), I decided to start a series of humorous blogs to be proactive and to kill some of the acres of time I had, being alone in that opulent desert city where you really needed quite a lot of cash to be able to go out and ‘enjoy’ yourself.
I had no one to play with, and many of the people I encountered – fellow voice-overs, producers, engineers, directors and so on – worked long, hard hours, so they also had no time to play when their packed day came to an end.
I got as far as about a half dozen blogs and stopped – I have no idea why.
Maybe I’m just bone-idle or have the attention span of a tsetse-fly.
Cutting a ridiculously long and convoluted story short, having been living and working in the UK for the past 3 years, I’ve decided to re-group and re-blog, and one of the first things which occurred to me when my fingers hit the keys after the 5 year hiatus was, “Man, this voice-over biz can be one heck of a solitary occupation”.
No tears please, but I live alone, my family are all down-under (meaning, they’re in the land called Oz), and the few friends I have left in the UK from when I last lived here long-term (1992 to 2006) are mostly dispersed far and wide, have their own lives, partners, kids and families in general and are, therefore, not usually available for that coffee-and-cake I love so much.
So here’s the thing (if there is such a thing as “the thing”). I live in a city of over half a million people. Each day, I get up and, 10 paces later, I’m at work in the studio.
Primarily, my entire day from when I hit the mike (bar the occasional walk to get my much-needed coffee-and-cake slash provisions) is spent, standing up at this uppy-downy desk, waiting for the ‘ping’ of an arriving email, signalling that I’ll be able to afford coffee-and-cake for another day/week/month.
I’m not lamenting or moaning this fairly solitary existence.
Quite the contrary.
I almost marvel at, and am grateful for, being able to make a living by speaking words into a microphone in a [hopefully] interesting and engaging way, extolling the virtues and advantages of a client’s product or service and knowing I’m fortunate to be able to pay the rent by using something I was born with – a voice which people seem to like listening to!
That said, the tumbleweeds which blow into and through my solo corner of the world “between scripts” can sometimes be too many and too frequent for my liking and, whilst I realise and acknowledge that’s what being self employed is all about in the voice-over industry, the having to be available immediately requirement (if not ‘yesterday’) is one of the main factors contributing to a feeling of isolation and, yes, a smidge of loneliness.
But put those violins away!
Slightly more seriously, as you may well concur, this comes across as something of an oxymoron when considering the voice-over business is all about communication. That is, imparting information to potentially thousands of people across the planet. Explaining how things work to people who want/need to know. Selling. Promoting. Teaching. Entertaining.
As far as the “I must get out more” title of this here blog goes, I used to be in a band (many bands as a matter of fact) in a previous life, which was one of my great joys and privileges, singing with some amazing musicians and belting out everything from Led Zeppelin to Frank Sinatra. And, whilst it’s not a been-there-done-that kind of thing, when heading towards the age of a well known Beatle’s song (Sergeant Pepper, track 9), I couldn’t just go out and ‘join a band’ so much anymore.
Plus, I need to really start looking after the vocals if I’m going to continue doing what I do, almost every single day, to make a living.
I’m still amazed at the incongruity of the whole thing though – dwelling as I do in the heart of a fairly big city with thousands of people hearing (but not necessarily listening to) my voice on the radio, TV, internet, ‘phone line, planes, trains and automobiles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
I consider myself a fortunate person, slightly mad perhaps, but fortunate…