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Thoughts on Internet Radio Broadcasting

Hi everyone

Apart from L's journey to the global Voice internet radio station which I wrote about last time, I didn't comment upon my own status in terms of internet broadcasting. That lack of comment resulted in a few e-mail and Twitter messages from people asking if the Music Machine, (my own show), was coming back. So I thought it would be a cool idea to write about my progress in that regard and hope someone finds it interesting, smile.

First, thank you so very much for asking about it and it is nice to know that quite a number of people would like it to be broadcast again. Certainly I've enjoyed producing it over the years irrespective of which network it has been on.

It struck me however that, before I even think about the logistics of getting it on the air, I need to find somewhere to host the show. In looking around for a station where it could be broadcast, I was simply appalled at how few stations use visual appeal and social media integration to attract listeners, hence this blog post. Certainly I could promote the show as much as I was able to, but this is of little value if an effective mechanism of promotion is not available to the broadcaster offered by the station itself.

Producing high quality audio programming is surely only part of what today's internet broadcasting is about. With on demand music services so readily available (where you select the genre of music preferred), or the ease by which one can download music to a portable player or phone, attracting listeners to a station has to be much much more than a host playing songs and injecting his or her personality into the show. I feel the station has to have a vibrant internet presence which attracts the mainstream listening audience worldwide. There has to be something to attract a web surfer from the get go.

I've been involved with several internet radio projects now and I've found there are two recurring topics of discussion among staff, namely, "how can we attract more listeners", and, "how can we best appeal to sighted listeners", baring in mind that the operators predominantly comprise visually impaired people. So, lets talk about both of those things.

Being visually impaired should in itself have no baring on the audio output because, after all, you cannot see the broadcaster! So noone need know the host or hostess of a show is blind unless that fact is communicated to the audience. But the visual appeal of the website is critical, and there are some stations which appear to be shouting at the world, "we are blind". How is that done? Because there are no graphics on the site, no photographs of presenters, in many cases not even a logo. It is plain text. The layout of the text often is better than others but there is nothing particularly eye-catching about the pages.

But turning to the subject of promotion, the mainstream audience surely will not know of the existence of a station until they are told about it. I was frankly shocked at how few stations in "the visual impairment internet radio community" (please forgive the expression) use social media to good effect. Social media and frequently updated websites are so important today as many people have Twitter and Facebook accounts, even if they do not have a computer or compatible phone available to them. There are 750 million active Facebook users for example. That's a hell of a lot of people to tap into, and doubtless Twitter has a similar number, if not more.

Some of the sites I viewed belonging to stations in this group had not sent a tweet using Twitter for over a month, some did not display their Twitter presence on their home page at all, some web pages hadn't been updated for seven years and the Facebook presence is minimal. By far the clear leader in this field that I've seen is Mushroom FM which has an extremely active Twitter and blog presence at least and does a fine job in that regard. What is impressive about this station is the way they have tightly integrated their social media tools (using the service IFTTT).

But with many of these stations there still appears to be some way to go. This is not a blog post to slate or criticise any station in this community, far from it, but rather to give food for thought about promotional tools or services which could be used to enhance web presence. Everyone without exception would want more people to listen to them. So here are a few things which (if you are running such a station) you may care to consider.
1. Try not to shout to your web browsing audience: "we are a group of blind people". Think about how your site could be made more visually attractive. Visual appeal and accessibility can go hand in hand.
2. Frequently update your web pages to include upcoming shows, new content and station promotions.
3. Consider having a Flash Player on the site. Activating a link on a page (or having a station included in an internet radio directory is fine), but perhaps make it easy for people to hear how fantastic your shows are directly from the site itself.
4. Embed a player for your radio station into your Facebook main page or use a viral distribution tool to place it on the station's wall, friends' walls or any groups created. Once a player is shared with the station's friends, their friends will see it and be curious and may listen to you!
5. Design the theme of the player to match the station's brand and colours.
6. Use services which Facebook offer to its users. Some Facebook sites of stations simply relay the Twitter feed which is fine, but Facebook as a lot more to offer such as chat, the ability to post photos, the creation of groups, and more.
7. Use services such as AudioBoo to readily promote what is being offered. If you have a team of broadcasters then presumably they like producing audio! It makes sense then to use AudioBoo as a promotion tool and encourage people to follow the station that way. AudioBoo is obviously very popular so it is worth using.

Clearly, the above will take some degree of implementation and maintenance. Maintenance is the key word here. After all, there is no point in implementing the tools only for them to lie dormant. But it seems to me that no harm can be done by implementing these or similar techniques and it is only through such channels that a bridge between visually impaired and sighted broadcasters may be constructed.

OK, that is my little blog entry almost over for the moment. Let me end with my usual section on things I am looking forward to, and, because we are in an internet radio context, I'll try and keep it all related to that subject.

Things I am looking forward to.
1. Bringing my show, "The Music Machine", back at some stage on internet radio. That's a long-term goal I think, OK, scrap that, these are all long-term goals.
2. Broadcasting in an environment in which I feel relaxed and comfortable. OK, I have that one, L's home, although she doesn't know it yet.
3. Modifying the equipment I have so I can use a sound mixer and good quality microphone.
4. Finding a station to host it who are good at promotion. As I've said, that is a tough one! Maybe I need to go outside this community to find it.

Bye for now everyone!

30 March 2012

Hi, everyone, welcome to my blog. I have had several blogs in several places, but it's lovely to have this nice new one, right here on the domain. In it you will read not only day-to-day goings on, but also details about upcoming shows which I will be doing on The Global Voice.

Yes, really. The Bear's Lair is coming back to the airwaves. In the painful aftermath of the collapse of Team-Fm, I thought, in fact I could say we both did, that Internet radio was behind me, that I'd never broadcast again. Those were some dark days, I can tell you. I have been helped through them by B, who has just been such a rock for me.

Anyway, last weekend I got an Email from a dear friend who asked why I'd stopped broadcasting. He said if I did that, I'd be giving in, and I needed to get back to it at once. I said no, I didn't want to be part of that world anymore there was too much bad stuff going on in it. And then early last week I opened Station Playlist Studio to do something, and the thought came to me that the software was sitting there, as was all that good music I'd collected, and there was nothing to do with it. No! I'm not going back to all that, I thought! Anyway, where would I go? I don't want to go back to where I was, even assuming they'd have me, and I don't know anywhere else.

That Monday afternoon, I tuned into the show of the friend who'd Emailed me earlier. He works on The Global Voice. At one point, his stream went down. No dead air ensued, but an automated stream of promos and jingles cut in until he was back up again. Now that was impressive, I thought! And the quality of the promos I was hearing! I liked what I heard. And from all I've heard of TGV, they take things seriously, but they're not totally obsessive about it, they're a relaxed outfit.

So, I took a deep breath, had a think, had a talk with B to see what he knew about the station, and wrote to the managing director. She got back to me almost immediately, and an audition was set up: a live audition!

Now, I had never had to do a live audition before! I joined Mushroom Fm before they started their policy of live auditions, and of course, B and I were the managers of Team-Fm, so I didn't need to audition for that! So, Wednesday night saw a very scared L getting ready to go live on air to audition. I had some help from my dear lep, Bert. I was so, so glad to have him back again! More about Bert later, actually.

Anyway, I'd been told that the audition would go on for an hour, but I was stopped after half an hour, told I had passed, and sent an agreement which I had to accept, before I was subscribed to mailing lists etc. I am now waiting to see what will happen, with regard to show day and time. I'm excited about being back on air again. I will be doing a two-hour version of the lair, which is enough for now. If that goes down well, and they like what they hear, I might ask them about bringing Joyful Noise back. For now, I am just excited, and glad to be getting back to the thing I can do, and that people seem to enjoy me doing.

This may sound totally crazy, but one of the worst things about losing Team-Fm was losing Bert. I've worked with the character for nine months, thought about his life and his background, developed him from the two-dimensional cartoon character he used to be into a real person with thoughts and feelings, a history, a family, a whole life. I've written his words, been inside his head. Suddenly, it was all over, and I didn't have him anymore. Sounds silly I know, but it felt awful! I just couldn't deal with it.

And then B said to me: "A lot of people like Bert. He doesn't just have to promote radio shows. There is nothing to stop us making his audioboos, his life can go on, even if he isn't working on the radio." That's B for you, so sensible. So, now we have Bert's Place on the domain, which is a treat for fans of our lovable lep, and not only contains all the original Bert Files, plus the Bert and Hinky files, but there are two new pieces of audio. One is a fill in, a piece of Bert's story that we missed telling at the time, so it is now told. One is something that happened recently. I hope you like them! As well as that, there's quite a lot of written material, which will be regularly updated. Don't tel Bert, but you're going to get to see his journal, because I know where he keeps it. And if that wasn't enough, now that I'm working again, I have Bert to help me on The Bear's Lair, pouring the drinks and finding the requests, so I'm one very happy L!

Well, as I write it's ridiculous O'clock, I have got up to make B breakfast, as he is leaving early to travel to Woking. Luckily he won't be away overnight. I have had him here all this week, which has just been heaven. Next week will be different, he will be away for the early part of it. Yukksville! Sundays when he has to leave are awful, they never get easier.

Well, I think I have written enough for now. I'll end with the books I'm reading and things I'm looking forward to.

Book I'm reading: Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince.

Things I'm looking forward to: B's wireless headset getting here, the long Easter break, being back on air, B coming home tonight.

Thanks for reading, and see you again soon.

March 30 2012

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my first blog entry. People have been blogging for years about all manner of subjects, but I have never had a blog and so, when I decided to recreate my website (of which more later), I thought it was high time I had one. So, here it is.

If you continue to read this blog when there are new entries posted to it, what kinds of things will you be reading about?

Frankly, it could be anything. It may be related to some technology news, what I have been doing day to day, about good food my partner Lulu (or L) and I have eaten, iPhone apps we like to use, books we are reading, absolutely anything at all. We'll just see what comes along and I won't do too much in the way of editing my thoughts.

If you want to comment on any of my posts, it is really easy. All you need do is register yourself as a user from my blog page, and, once the registration has been accepted, you can post comments. It's very simple and accessible, the way blogs should be.

I won't post a blog entry every day. I don't think it would be very interesting. But every few days there will hopefully be something good to write about.

I'll start then with a summary of some of the high points of this week beginning 26 March.

This week, I have been staying with L which has been lovely. I am extremely lucky to have her. When I am working, she takes very good care of me, making sure I have enough to eat and drink and making the home lovely and quiet for me to work in when I need to do that.

One of the things I have done during the evenings this week is to redesign my website. It seriously needed doing and I thought now was a good time to do so as there are some features over the months I would very much like to add to it. So, I made a good start and this item is the first blog entry.

So, on the site we have an area for the various JAWS screen-reader script files I have created, a page where my recent posts to Twitter and Facebook can be seen, this blog, and that was about all to start with. But then I thought it would be a great idea if L had an area on the site as well. So I broadened it out to include things that we both enjoy together with some pictures of us.

So now, we have an area I created to promote L's new internet radio show, "The Bear's Lair", and also a section devoted to Bert, a leprechaun I conceived originally to help create radio promos with but who has now developed into a full character where his adventures are posted to sites such as this one and AudioBoo. He also has a family he writes about in his private journal (which apparently you are going to get to see) and also a blog.

So, I ported Bert's blog and audio adventures over from the team-FM site to the domain. I rewrote the site using Drupal which gives me a lot of nice features to play with. I also researched how to add pictures and a podcast feed to the site, so there's quite a lot going for it right now.

OK, now let me bring you up-to-date with activities from the past couple of days or so.

So to Wednesday.

When I had finished work around 5, we set about pre-recording some material for L's audition for the internet radio station, The Global Voice. When our station Team-FM closed, L was extremely devastated. I think it hit her harder than it did me in some ways. But we closed it down, both got completely smashed out of our brains, and moved on. That is what you do.

Anyway, after a while, L felt that she did miss producing internet radio shows. She enjoys a lot of the preparation for, and the promotion of, each programme, (and I must admit so do I), but she felt she wanted to give internet radio another try. Brave lady.

She was listening to the Global Voice earlier in the week and she enjoyed listening to some of their output. So she decided to audition.

L was, I have to say, very nervous about this and I've absolutely no idea why. She could do the audition in her sleep but she was quite anxious about it. Nevertheless, we settled down and did some audio work, using the character Bert to produce a sketch which I tightly edited together. I also grabbed some podcasts from their website and edited out some of the promos and jingles so she had some items to work with.

So, she did the audition and it went really well. She didn't make a single mistake which is exactly what I expected. She learned fairly early on that she would be broadcasting there.

Quite what happens in that regard now, I don't know, as in, when she will be broadcasting, what day, what time, etc. Obviously I'll support her all I can, if she wants me to. You never know, occasionally she may want a little help from me.

Fairly soon after L had been accepted onto the station, I put a page together on my website so that at least she has a platform where she can promote it with plenty of detail. I also added her most recent Ttwitter posts to the appropriate page and that makes the site almost complete, for the time being.

I think because of the stress of the day for L, she had a very bad Asthma attack about 11.30, to the extent that the paramedics had to be called out to put her on a nebuliser. I have to say the guy came out to the flat very quickly and soon things were under control.

I think we got to bed about 1 in the morning when L had settled down. But it has taken its toll, and today L has not been too well at all. The aftereffects of the medication had resulted in a severe migraine. She seems now to be on the mend which is all to the good.

Before I leave this entry, there are two things I want to try and frequently publish in these writings, books we are reading and things I am looking forward to.

We are both very very avid audio book readers. With L, I am reading "Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince" by J K Rowling. We've both read it so many times but we are re-reading it as we have done with a number of the HP series recently. We both love this particular book.

When I am on my own, I am reading "Whiphand" by Dick Francis, another author L and I are reading quite a lot of at the moment.

Things I am looking forward to.

Updating the website on Saturday.
The arrival of the new wireless headset/microphone L has kindly bought for me.
The long Easter break with L which will start when I get back here this coming Wednesday evening.
Meeting L's sister which I will do during the easter break when I visit her family.

I think this blog entry has gone on for long enough. We've just decided that we are going to post quite a lot to the site on Saturday including this first blog entry. So I will stop writing now and write another entry in a few days. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

From Bert: Feeling Good

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! No blog entry last week, tut tut tut! Well, to tell the truth, the weeks when we stay on Merseyside for the weekend are apt to be a bit dull. Nothing much happens at all. Brian works, I run the house and help him with anything he needs help with, and we just count the days till we can go on our travels again, so there really is not that much to say.

However, tomorrow we are off to Wales, so we are both of us going about with an extra spring in our step. I was thinking to myself just now, as I packed up my backpack, I like working here, I always have, I was always contented, I am optemistic by nature, you know. Well, then life got complicated, shall we say, and then I had that fight with the car, and there was all the bother of recovering from that, but now, well everything is so good. Everything is more than good, it is totally brilliant! It is nice to wake up in the morning and think Yay! something nice will happen today, it is a good day!

So, tomorrow is going to be hectic, I have to get everything organized for a very early start, Brian has a full work day, and we will hopefully get to L's between 7:30 and 8:30. I cannot wait to get back into my lovely comfy closet again! L says she has a surprise for us, she will not tell us anymore, I cannot wait to find out what it is!

And, something else good is happening this weekend! Down for Double is back! Gosh, I have missed helping with that show. We are going to be talking about songs that make you feel good, and do you know, I gave Brian the idea for it, how about that! He even let me call L and tell her about the idea! That was amazing, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he lets me call L! I expect they, I mean Brian and L, will be putting a proper blog entry up about it at some stage, but if you want your feel good song played on the show, all you have to do is write to and tell them what it is. Ha! Got that one in first, let us see what they make of that!

I had better go now, the housework is not going to do itself, and I want this place all spick and span before I leave tomorrow. Thank you, as ever, for reading this, and I hope you are all having a great week.

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: Careful What you Wish For

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! I bet you thought I had dropped entirely out of sight. No blog entry at all last week, sorry about that, I was terribly busy with work, and could not think of anything exciting to write about, so left it alone. Of course, if I had waited just one more day, I would have had all the excitement I could have wanted!

Gosh! I do not think I will ever forget the moment on Friday morning, when Brian came into the kitchen, sat at the table, and told me to leave the dishes I was washing, he had something to tell me. I was very puzzled, but I grabbed a cup of coffee, poured one for him and sat down. He then proceeded to make my jaw hit the floor when he told me that he and L would be spending time together at weekends, and when he got time off work, and that I could come to the Lair too, and live in what used to be Hinky's closet and take care of them both.

At first I did not know what I thought about this. The words "Snake-in-the-grass" slithered unpleasantly through my mind, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to see that this was the absolutely perfect solution to all my problems, and oh gosh, was I one happy lep or what?

So that very evening, I met Brian at the station, and off we set for the Lair. It is a lovely place, I have always loved it here, but I was never able to stay for more than a few hours. Now we have been here for almost a week, and to be honest, in lots of ways I never want to leave.

For one thing I have Hinky's closet all to myself. That is pretty special! It looks, to most people, like an ordinary storage and coat closet, but when I go in there it is a big room with everything I could possibly want. I have a lovely comfortable bed, a sofa, a desk and chair, even a huge tv on one wall, which I never watch, but I could if I wanted to.

For another thing, it is lovely and peaceful and quiet here. no ringing phones, no Emails to answer. Brian is not working so he is completely relaxed, which improves his temper I have to say! If life gets fraught then L plays her celtic harp on her phone, or turns on soft music or nature sounds, and things get calm again.

And of course, being with L is just... well I had better not say too much, as ever. I did always so hate the colour green! Giggling here. But seriously, she has been, and still is very poorly, and so has needed to be taken care of, and we have both helped in this.

So why the subject header then? My Mother always used to say that to me. She would say "Careful what you wish for, it may come true and you might not like it." Well, I do like it but, oh, it's like this. I have started to feel a tiny bit worried. Maybe I will talk to Brian and L about it some day soon. This is all lovely and idyllic, but do they not always say something about three being a crowd? I would really hate to be a spare part and get in the way here. Mind you, nobody has said I am, Brian and L are always really nice to me, so maybe I am working the whole thing up in my head. But I dreamed for so long about living at the lair, and taking care of L for always and always. I do not think I could bear it if it all goes wrong now. Oh, I do hope it is all ok!

Oh come on, Bert, get a grip! Brian and I need to eat, and I want to see if I can get some soup into L. It will be ok. I will write again as soon as I have any news. I hope you are all having a great week. Thanks as ever for reading.

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: With a Little Help From my Hand

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! Until today, anyone would think I had dropped off the planet, I have sent so few tweets this week! Well, the truth is, when I am at home, at work, busy and happy, I have not that much to tweet about, my life becomes pleasantly humdrum, and I do not like to bore people.

This has been rather a nice week, in which I have been working myself back into my usual place, getting everything back how I like it, and of course, doing the exercises I was given, so that the last of the wonkiness and weakness goes away.

A couple of sad things happened. Firstly, I heard about the departure of my best friend Hinky for the States. I had a phone call from a completely broken-hearted Tealy who, it seems, had been unceremoniously dumped. I am really sorry to say goodbye to Hinky, I will miss him, he was a lot of fun to be around, and he was a good friend to me, especially while I was in hospital. I really hope he is happy in the States.

The second thing is, Neville, Brian's broadcasting computer, got taken very poorly, which meant no Down for Double, which meant I did not get to see L. I have to say, this did not make me a happy lep. I tried my best to mend it, but this one was beyond my skills.

You may be thinking, he is a lep! Why does he not snap his fingers, or say, "abracadabra!" and pow! it is fixed, or a new computer just appears?

Well, the answer is, I am a lep, not a wizard. this is the real world, not Harry Potter! Giggling here. Anyway, they did not have computers, broken or otherwise, in Harry Potter. Well, the muggles had them but oh never mind, where was I?

Ah yes, um, things. What I can and cannot do. WE do not use the M word for some reason, everyone is really reticent about it, we just usually say things, or the helping hand, whatever. And here is the thing. WE cannot do it for ourselves. That is part of the lep code. Some of the things we do and say are just lep traddition, you might say, like not using the M word, I do not know why we do that. But this thing is serious lep code stuff. I learned it at Shana-sherin. The helping hand is just that, to be used to help the person I work with, or their friends or family. So, I could use it to get to L's when I was helping with the Lair, and if she had needed me to help her with it in any way, I could have. But as for using it to get out of the way of that oncoming car? Nope. Even if I had had time to, which I did not, unless I wanted serious trouble, I could not have done it.

But, you may be thinking, you, Bert, my long-winded friend, could have used the helping hand to fix Brian's computer! He is your boss! Well yes, I could, if it would work like that, but the helping hand only can do so much. Ok, if you want Neville lifted up into the air, sure I can use it! How high do you want me to lift it? Where shall I drop it? Giggling! Where shall I put all the pieces it breaks into! Giggling even more! See? I can do simple things. Lift things, move things, move myself about, I can do the apparate thing, and I do not need to remember the three Dees, desperation, deterioration and detonation probably if a human tried that! But I cannot conjure things that were never meant to be out of thin air, I cannot fix what is broken, I do wish I could! What I have is just a simple little thing, when it is called the helping hand, it is well named, because that is exactly what it is.

I was glad to have it this week, I can tell you. My just-mended arm is still weak, and I am finding that picking heavy things up still hurts me. So, I used a little help to pick up things like food from the oven, and heavy pans from the hob, and it all worked beautifully. Molly what's her face would have been proud of me, she would! There I was on Sunday, a plump sizzling chicken just out of the oven, hovering towards the kitchen counter, and a tray of crispy roast potatoes following behind it. The thing is, you must not get distracted, or the whole lot will hit the floor. I was guiding them down, when I saw the sprouts were ready, so I thought, I will grab them too, while I am at it. Up they came, as sweet as a daisy, and headed for the sink.

At which point, the kitchen door opened, and Brian came wandering in to ask me something. I turned my head to warn him to watch out, turned back, just in time to see the whole lot heading gracefully for the floor! Yikes in a box, as L would say! Luckily, the hand was still holding everything, so it was making a slow descent, but going down it was! I managed to get it all back in the air again, and got it to where it needed to be, but poor Brian as near as darn it got the boiling sprouts on his head! Using that much help takes it out of you. I was exhausted for hours after that and could not enjoy my dinner very much. Ah well. Never mind.

Talking of dinner, I had better stop boring all your ears off, and go and see about ours. It is lamb steaks with mint sauce, new potatoes and peas today. I will write more soon. Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a great week.

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: Going Home is Such a Long Long Ride

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! I've been a quiet lep on the Twitter front this week! Well, it is because I have been mostly asleep. That bout of chestiness and high temperature really took it out of me, so I was content to read, listen to music, and sleep a lot, and I do mean a lot!

Now, here I am in a car, would you believe, on my way home to Merseyside. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be heading there.

I say I am grateful, and that is true, but gosh! I actually hate riding in cars! I mean, how do you humans put up with it? It takes so long to get anywhere! I suppose you have no choice really. L says the train takes even longer. Goodness, what a terrible thought! One thing though: riding in acar gives you time to think things over.

You might say that getting hit by a car, being in a coma for the best part of a week, and having a broken arm, broken ribs and seriously cut, bruised and mangled legs wasn't exactly at the top of my Christmas list! But they do say it is an ill wind that blows no one any good, which means that, although what happened was seriously unpleasant, some good has come out of it.

The first, most important thing, is that while I was in hospital I got to see a person every single day, which was pretty amazing. In fact everything to do with that person is amazing, but we'll just leave that alone, I do not want this car to run off the road due to the appearance of another lep in it, in a swirl of green stars! I would like to get home in one piece, if that is ok?

The next good thing is that you really appreciate how many friends you have at this kind of time. I have really come to see how much I like where I work, and how many great friends I have.

I suppose the next thing is that a brush with the big lep colony in the sky makes you appreciate that it is rather nice right where you are. So I do not suppose I will go capering across anymore busy roads for a while! Giggle.

Once I am back at home, all I want to do is to get really well and strong as fast as I can, and get back to work! Gosh! I never thought I would mis work, but I do! I would give a lot now for about three hours of audio to edit, something really really tricky!

Gosh this car ride is so! Boring! L is listening to a book on her new IPhone, gosh! I nearly died when I heard she had got one, and Brian is working, surprise surprise! I am bored to death! I wonder what would happen if I just went on ahead. Hmmm. No, I had better not. I cannot, anyway, Brian has the keys. Bother! Oh well. I spy, anyone?

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: Home Thoughts from the Bored

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! It's been an up and down week! As you might know, I have completely ignored the advice I gave myself in my last entry, and behaved dreadfully badly. My temper has been horendous for most of the time! The only slight excuse I have is that I have felt ill for a lot of the week, and that with every day that passes for me in this hospital, I want more and more to be at home.

It seems strange, thinking about it, that home to me should not be Shana-Shirin, where I spent so many years, learning all I needed to know for my work. That was only ever a transient place, I was never comfortable, usually in trouble, contented, maybe, but not at home.

Nor do I really think of the place where I grew up as home. That was, as I have said before, not Ireland. Do I sound Irish to you? Giggling here. Nor was it in some cute cottage in a forest somewhere. Sorry to disappoint you. I grew up in a very crowded lep colony in an abandoned warehouse in the east end of London. No, I'm not going to tell you exactly where, and which one, and anyway it would not do you any good. We do not go around advertising our presence, you know! Giggling again.

We leps usually come from big families, but mine was bigger than most, and how my parents found enough food for us all is a mystery to me still. I suppose one lepling is much like another, but as I grew older, and you could distinguish me from the rest, I became aware that I did not fit in. My fourteen rowdy brothers were mostly interested in fighting, food, female company, and forgetting to do anything they were asked to do as fast as possible. My fifteen scatterbrained sisters were interested in one thing for as long as I can remember: boys.

I was different. In a fight you could knock me over with one hand tied behind your back, and I would run away before you had the chance anyway. Female company? Far too shy! Food? You eat it, then you get on with the next thing. I would do, with alacrity, anything I was told to do, I have always been eager to please, and my mad brothers seemed to inhabit another planet to the one on which I lived. I liked books, and I wanted to learn. I was fascinated with the kind of work we leps can do, if we are chosen. I read all the special study books I could get hold of, and began to learn about the secret and complex Leprechaun Code, the rules by which we must be governed, especially if we live and work in the outside world.

I do not know what my parents made of me, I think, as I was the quiet one in a very noisy family, I mostly escaped their notice, until, on my thirteenth birthday, the head of Shana-Sherin appeared at our dinner table, in a swirl of green stars, told my stunned family I had been chosen to work with humans, and must come with her forthwith, and, before I had time to say more than a slightly tearful goodbye to my parents, I had been whisked away to that rain-swept green place, with its haphazard seeming clusters of low white buildings, and I have never had time to go back to London since.

Good heavens! I have not thought of those times in years! So where is home now? Home is the house where I have worked for over two years. Warm and friendly, comforting and familiar. I miss it so much! I had really hoped that I would be able to go home today, but I have caught an infection, and although I am much better than I was, I am told I may have to stay here at least another week. I am determined to be patient at the delay, and not to complain about it. The fact that I am running a temperature and feeling rotten is not helping me, but hearing a recent recording of myself has made me realize that I will have to try and improve my temper, especially with those who have been so good to me. I will go on listening to the wonderful Team-Fm, reading, playing with Nia, my netbook, and doing whatever I can so as not to get bored, and hoping very much that this time next week I will be on my way home.

I hope you have all had a nice week, and are having a good day. I will try and write again next week. In the meantime, thanks, as ever, for reading.

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: Wanting it Now

Hi, Everyone.

Goodness me! This week seems to have gone on forever, but, looking back through my tweets, I can see that I have made progress.

For one thing, my Twitter followers went up dramatically this week, and to all who choose to read my tweets, not to mention my blog ramblings, I am so grateful. For another, I have been allowed to get out of bed and sit in my chair most days, and even to take short walks now and then, although my legs are still very bruised and cut, and still feel very wobbly. Also I have been taken off completely soft food, and been allowed to progress to more solid things. This is really wonderful, as you can imagine. I am getting a little better, and a little stronger every day.

I have times when it is hard to remember, but I know that I am one lucky, lucky lep, for all kinds of reasons. Lucky to have a great place to work, and a great person to work for, lucky to have someone incredibly special, I cannot say more, or it is green stars all around, lucky to have the best of best friends, lucky to have amazing people who want to know about me, lucky most of all, to be alive. So why, for a few days now, have I found it very hard to remember this?

Well, having a wonky head and mangled ribs does not help, oh, and an arm in plaster, it makes me very grumpy. But mostly it is plain old impatience. I want to be well now. I want to go home now. I want to get back to working on the Music Machine and Down for Double, and especially helping at the Lair, right now! and you can be sure I will not go running across anymore busy roads! Giggling here! Oh, and one more thing! I want a large, juicy steak, a big pile of chips, and about twenty onion rings. right. now!

My friend Lulu, L as I call her, says that good things come to those who wait. She is right too. I remember when I was at Shana-Sherin. OH, you wouldn't know, of course. That's where we do our training, when we have been chosen to work with humans. Gosh, it seemed as if that time would never, never end! It always seemed to be raining, there was always something I had to do by a certain time, and if not, as I said before, green stars all around! OH, green stars means a visit from someone at the top. If you are a lep, and you see green stars it means find somewhere to hide, because you are in deep, deep, very deep trouble!

Anyway, I got into my fair share of scrapes while I was doing human studies, Human History, Good Housekeeping, Cordon Bleu Cookery (Like I really use that a lot in this job), and a heap of other subjects I do not have time to write down here. Most of them were caused by me trying to cut corners. But in the end I learned that doing things properly and waiting got me the best results.

So I suppose I will go on having my grumpy days, but I will really try and remember, when my head aches, and I feel like nothing on earth, that this is only temporary, and if I wait patiently I will soon be home, and back at work again. Of course, if I forget, now I will be able to look at this blog entry to remind myself, won't I? Giggling again.

Gosh, I have gone on for long enough, it will be tea time soon. there had better be something nice. I hope you are all having a great day. Thanks for reading, and I will write again soon.

Big smiles from Bert.

From Bert: Christmas Surprises

Hi, Everyone!

Goodness me! I really will have to get myself hit by a car more often, I can see! Ok, getting hit was pretty nasty, but wow! the amazing things which have happened since!

Of course, the most amazing of all, I cannot ever talk about, unless I want to get myself into serious trouble with the lep top brass. In fact I am not even sure it is safe to think about it! But I know it was not a dream, and I will never forget it. Gosh, enough said about that.

What I can talk about are my amazing Christmas presents! Now I have a bluetooth headset, a present from L, so I can listen to Team-Fm on my IPhone whenever I like without bothering anyone, and believe me, in this place it has proved a useful gift. I also have a mini bluetooth keyboard from Brian, for sending texts and tweets. This has proved a real boon, as at the moment I am doing most things one-handed, so using the touch screen is not easy for me.

From Hinky I got a bottle of Champagne. This surprised me rather, but I gather he was looking at pictures on my phone while I was, well, shall we call it elsewhere, and found one of us at that rather nice restaurant, and he was reminded of how much I like “That weird Fizzy Wine” As he calls it. I am saving that for when I am better, of course, if I dared to drink it now, several people would not be happy! From Tealy I got rather a neat nightcap, which is stretchy, and covers up all these bandages, so I look presentable when people come to see me. She said being ill is no excuse to let myself go! That is just typical Tealy! I think if this had happened to her, and she had been conscious, she would have been doing her makeup in the ambulance driving mirror, bless her!

The best present of all came from Brian and L together, and I can still hardly believe it. They gave me a netbook of my own! Now I will never need to borrow Brian's computer again.

This is one of those presents that is so amazing you are scared to look away from it in case it disappears. But it is still here. It is a really cool Netbook, and of course, Brian set it all up for me days ago, but I have not been wel enough to play with it until today.

Once I had got it booted up I did not know what to do first, I felt like I had been let loose in a sweetshop. But once I had checked my Email and done a few things, I thought I would go and take a peek at my web page, and I got another surprise! I have been given a blog!

I am not really sure what has got into Brian! Anyone would think he was the one that got the bang on the head! I have been asking for my own web page and my own blog for over a year, and the answer has always been no. Oh well, I am definitely not complaining!.

What I am doing is yawning. This really has gone on long enough, my hand is getting tired, And anyway if I ramble too much you will all get bored stiff. So I will stop now, I want a nap before Down for Double. I am really looking forward to this one, I have always loved Children’s music, even if they did not have such a thing as Junior Choice where I grew up! I might enlarge on that one of these days, you never know.

I will write again when I have some news to tell, in the meantime, thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Big smiles from Bert.