Monday, 31 December 2012
Happy New Year and here's hoping we continue to live our dreams and dance to our own beat in 2013. You never know, the way we see it, however extreme, simple, or downright inane, might just be the interpretation or style that takes off....
Thursday, 6 December 2012
However my husband, Peter, had other ideas. He had always made it clear that two children, an heir and a spare, was plenty. This conviction was only reinforced by the hard and never ending grind of parenting. I mean, God love 'em, but THREE would surely have tipped us over the edge?
In the end, the decision was made for us; this being the age of austerity. With deeper cuts and Britain's elongated recovery from financial crisis, we have certainly been feeling the pinch. In truth, since "becoming" a poet, it's felt more like an enormous chinese burn. Not the most lucrative of career choices it has to be said.
The average cost of raising a child in the UK from birth to their 21st birthday is now 218,000 quid. Bearing in mind we have two, we are about 400,000 quid short. And when a minister announced that University tution fees were to rise to up to nine grand per year, it was game over. My husband's bollocks had to go.....
"The Snip" by Ruth E Dixon & Peter Dixon
Thursday, 29 November 2012
"Oh ha ha ha ha" I would say "no, really, you are very very funny; yes I do look just like her". It hurt a little though (only a smidgen) coz I'm a journalist too but I never did nothin bad bro and when I left my job I didn't get a seven million pounds pay off. I got a recipe for soup (delish).
Then I thought to myself "Ruth E Dixon, I is having a cunning plan. Why don't you buy into your image issit and make sweet poetry". And then I got the idea to take it one stage further and write a rap. And then my lush gangsta (Annabel) who hangs in my hood just around the corner filmed it.
Me and Annabel thought we'd try to get the rap to "go viral" today; on the day Lord Leveson published his report into the culture and ethics of the press. But I've only got 80 followers on Twitter and Annabel's been in meetings and she's been eating cheese; and I fell asleep watching Leveson on the telly, and now I need to help my son with his homework.
Ah well. Consider yourself the exclusive audience. Keep it real bro.
Not Far Enough - The Rebekah Brooks Rap - Leveson Remix
Thank you to my buddy and wondrous filmmaker Annabel McCourt:- http://annabelmccourt.com/
Monday, 26 November 2012
You're getting an education today reader.
I really like music, I enjoy listening to it and I also tinkle the ivories every now and again. When I was a youngster I got my grade two piano and since then me and Chopsticks have never looked back. I even write the odd tune, Camping & Vaginas being my most popular to date.
The thing is, and please don't tell anyone, but in my head I'm hearing Mozart and Chopin. Alas, when it comes out, my compositions amount to little more than Knees Up Mother Brown and variations thereof. That's NOT what I meant to say fingers. Camping & Vaginas for example was supposed to be Ruth E Dixon's Prelude Number 3 "Sunshine Summers" in C major. It's fair to say that, as it turned out, the two do not blend. The one I'm currently writing has a working title of Rainbows Sonata in E Minor. Unfortunately the emerging combination of the "Have A Banana" musical notation and the lyric "He's having me Shirley's salamied" renders the original thinking meaningless. There's no getting away from it, I am a cockney poet not an Austrian piano genius. I'm not even Elton flippin John.
In order to up my game, I've enrolled the help of Peter (my husband) to aid me with my music making. I have to say, I'm really pleased with his honky tonk. The kids are enjoying it too because the rhythmn appears to prompt the need, several times, to jump off the sofa and walk around the living room with bandy legs. Not quite the Royal Albert Hall experience I had hoped for, but "a happening" nonetheless. The one thing I have had to ban though is Peter naturally falling into playing Radiohead's song Codex after our practice (apparently it's in the same key as my tune). Hearing the two back-to-back, well....salt, wounds, rubbing into etc etc.
The truth is though that I am in awe of, and hugely grateful to, that rare breed who feed your soul with their gift of music. I've just finished reading a biography of the Cellist Jacqueline du Pre. I can only sit back and let her beautiful language soak me up.
Jacqueline Du Pre - Elgar Concerto
A link to my Camping and Vaginas song off the back of Jacqueline Du Pre would require so much self harm and salt that an agonising death would be imminent (and, reader, I still have too much music "to give"). So for those who are interested, might I suggest you go to my website:-
Not Even Elton Flippin John
Friday, 16 November 2012
So I googled it and I realised, hell no, it's not a problem at all. If anything, it's my duty.
Virtual Museum of Offensive Art - A virtual museum where you will find art works that have caused social turmoil in the past, present and possibly in the future.
Do We Have The Right To Offend? - Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner argues that many of our most important social freedoms and advances have been brought about by people who caused great offence in their time such as Galileo and Charles Darwin.
It's Your Democratic Duty To Be Offensive - Germaine Greer argues that freedom of speech cannot be maintained in a society where nobody ever says anything subversive or inflammatory. Agitated though we might feel by some of the things people say, we have got to go on defending their right to say them.
In conclusion to my own mini cruise of self discovery:- When I perform my poem "A Weather Girl's Got To Have Tits" please read between the lines. To be fair, most of you do. I campaign for equal rights for female broadcasters. Gender, age and the way we look should not matter. BUT, and as a completely separate issue, aesthetics and/or aesthetic beauty is truth (see "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats).
The truth is boobs have been, are and always will be absolutely lovely jubbly.
Tim Minchin's Confessions
Current Buns - A website for up and coming female broadcast journalists.
Friday, 9 November 2012
So, here we are.
How do you write yours and where do you draw your inspiration?
Ummmm....I've just been in the shed to look for a bike lock. I found it but I couldn't find a key to fit. Then I washed down my panniers. Not many people can say they've done that today; or ever.
I saw the brilliant Fascinating Aida at Hull New Theatre this week. OMG, where have I been for the past thirty years? In the shed?
Oh and I drove to Milton Keynes, spent the night in a bedroom on a roundabout and found the perfect dog to buy.
I guess in future I could use this time to walk the dog...or, instead of blogging....
Friday, 2 November 2012
Two points here reader; firstly, when I worked in local radio I avoided meetings like the plague. In my experience they were a complete waste of time and got in the way of my job; making radio. Secondly, the irony that managers of a broadcasting corporation seem to lack the ability to communicate with their staff.
When I finally faced the "semi-chop" (I couldn't present the show on my own anymore, a man needed to come in and help me), it was done with such a farcical display of colourful graphs purporting to illustrate "where I'd gone wrong" with my listeners, that it was hard to take seriously. But semi-chopped I was. I only wish when I did finally quit I had had the balls to leave in style like this DJ from Alabama...
Saturday, 27 October 2012
I'm having one of those "Poet" days today. Maybe that's how I really know a Poet is who I am, who I have become. I'm feeling flat and, when I get like this, the way through is with the written form. And when I even struggle with sentences like this one for example, poetry is the only path.
In trying to detangle my feelings, I've come to the conclusion that hope is a wonderful thing. False hope, however, is a complete arse pain:-
I Will Not Dance
Bugger off hope,
I can just about cope with you,
Not being around anymore,
Now deep deep down my inner core,
Has finally accepted you were false.
And yet you slip back in,
You try to sing the old tunes,
You spin my soul into oblivion,
With only a few notes,
It's not Fair, No.
I will not dance, I will not dance,
Leave me to know my new beats,
For these are real,
And these I am learning to move with.
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
On last night's Newsnight radio broadcaster, Liz Kershaw, talked of the "endemic sexism" back in the 70's and 80's in BBC radio. She described how being groped was part of the culture and if you were a woman, it was a way to " keep you in your place". The investigation into all this will perhaps go some way into establishing how Savile - amongst others - was able to get away with what he did so easily and for so long.
No less pressing I feel is the fact that sexism is ongoing in the corporation. As Liz Kershaw said, although the culture has changed, sexism continues to be a problem in BBC radio. Only 17% of output on the "Big Three" BBC music stations is female presentation and, as she also quoted, there isn't a single BBC local radio Breakfast Show in England currently being presented by a solo female. Reassuring again to hear that Director General George Entwistle will be looking into the treatment of women in radio.
Which leads me to my final point. Whilst the issue of trust in the BBC is on tenterhooks and the editorial decisions, defences, inaccurate blog, and managerial procedures brought into question, one thing is clear: the integrity and professionalism of Newsnight journalist Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones. Their goal was to bring an exclusive and extremely strong story about "Jimmy Savile the paedophile" to broadcast. They almost managed it but at the eleventh hour, the system worked against them. The irony being that the best the BBC has to offer; first-rate journalism, which in my view is the best in the world, is thwarted by the worst the BBC has to offer; bureaucracy and bosses saying "no".
The outcome of all this, as Rodd Liddle from the Spectator predicts, is that in future it may be much harder to do the sort of investigative journalism of the Newsnight ilk because the corporation will be much more cautious as a consequence. More bosses saying "no"? It was something as a BBC employee I was familiar with. For as long as I could I tried to get on with the job without involving the layers of management. Unfortunately the Sachsgate affair and increased "compliance" in BBC broadcasting killed any freedom of spirit or decision taking, for me at least. Becoming a robot radio star was not my idea of fun and, frankly, my gender was catching up with me too. But for those with some freedom still left the final lesson is, as Jeremy Paxman nodded to last night; never ever refer up.
Is this blog entry good to go Ruth E Dixon?
Monday, 22 October 2012
Alec was hit by a bus. He was crossing a busy road in London near his office, the same one he had crossed for the past thirty years. On this occasion, as usual, he walked on the pelican crossing. I gather that CCTV footage shows when he stepped out it was a green man.
I'm not here to apportion blame. Today, like his wife, children, brother, sister, nephew and nieces, I'm just reminded of the sadness of our huge loss and remembering a lovely man. We used to walk by the River Humber together.
The Man from Uncle Poem
Monday, 15 October 2012
Sometimes I just don't have the answers, but I do keep asking the questions. Toby Miller had picked up on the email I sent to the Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, a few weeks ago which had raised the issue of sexism within local radio broadcasting (see earlier blog entry). I think it would be a claim too grandiose to say that that email "went viral". But it certainly got "a bit ill" for a moment out there on the world wide web. I'm delighted that people picked up on it and the issues raised connected with a wider audience. My email is now going to feature at the first meeting of Harriet Harman's new Commission on Ageism and Sexism. I'm not sure of the date, but I have offered to bring the mushy peas.
Toby's website:- http://www.tobymiller.org/
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
One. And I think that was probably me. Oh the irony.
Of course one might summise that people peel away because what you have to say is, for want of a better word, shite. Fair enough. But you see, now I'm a dead radio star and a living Poet, I just don't buy into that anymore. Something's changed and, without getting all born again; I believe. Believe in me. Just like I believe in you. As neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl said, there is no greater gift; belief enables us to become what we ought to be and could be.
Going against the crowd though isn't always easy. I feel, for example, that I'm building up to a right corker at my debut gig of new material on Saturday night. But will it stop me? I've just come back from a rehearsal with my trusted fellow poets. They think I should do it but say "the people" will think I'm mad. It's not like I don't even know what I'm letting myself in for. And still I choose to turn. Today is World Mental Health Day. My Mum has bipolar and is currently on a psychiatric ward in hospital. She's been facing the right way all her life, though few would see it like that. If anyone drives me, she does.
In his book, How I Escaped my Certain Fate, Stewart Lee talks about the mistake of publishing unhoned thoughts and half-baked ideas in the form of a blog. Captured in cyberspace for the rest of time.
Have it x
Friday, 5 October 2012
Friday, 28 September 2012
Then, in celebration of my redundancy, Dicko and I drove to Scunthorpe and bought a bog seat. Reader, it's blue. A radical move I think you'll agree for a bathroom that, up until now, has only experienced yellow and cerise. But, it was time for a change. Finally, I went to Hull Truck Theatre where I saw Blackout; the first full-length play of fellow Hull poet, Joe Hakim. A post-apocalyptic comedy drama, it tells the story of two men holed up in a bunker amid the ruins of the world. Buckaroo comes between them; one seeing it as a metaphor for life (pile it all on until you buckle), the other seeing it merely as a board game with lots of plastic bits. How different one's approach to life - and death - can be.
Friday, 21 September 2012
I am a Broadcast Journalist at BBC Radio Humberside, at least I am for the next few hours. Today I leave after nearly eleven years as a BBC local radio presenter. I have been wanting to email you before I go but I was not quite sure how to phrase it and now time is running out and I realise this is my chance to just tell it like it is.
George, I am a 39 year old local radio presenter and there is no place for female broadcasters like me at the BBC right now. When I started out in 2001, I was the co-presenter of the Breakfast Show and programming at Radio Humberside was balanced with female and male presenters. Over time this has changed and for the past year the weekday output between 6am and 10pm has been entirely male presentation. Four other BBC local radio stations also now have an all male presenter line up between these hours; Nottingham, Tees, Cumbria & Merseyside.
What I find worse is, as you take up the mantle, there is not a single BBC local radio Breakfast Show that is solo presented by a woman. The last remaining female broadcaster to lose her Breakfast presenting post was Helen Legh. Her Milton Keynes Breakfast opt (part of Three Counties Radio) came to an end over the summer as a result of Delivering Quality First. As you know George there are 40 BBC local radio Breakfast Shows; 34 presented by a solo man and 6 co-presented; but no solo women. Why not?
It is an absolute travesty that female broadcasters are being discriminated against in local radio. It is something I have taken up with my Station Editor, the Regional HR manager, the BBC Head of Diversity, Sound Women and even Jenni Murray. All agree but nothing has changed; in fact there are even fewer women on-air in 2012 compared to 2011.
I know diversity has already been on your agenda this week and following your visit to Radio 4's Woman's Hour you indicated that you expected the corporation to do better in getting more women on air. This is reassuring indeed. There is certainly also an issue with ageism which, in my experience, female broadcasters have to grapple with too.
For a while I fought to keep my options open here and I really struggled to come to terms with my own demise. However, the funny thing is that my experience in local radio has probably been the making of me. I have been forced to get myself out there, re-invent myself and engineer a whole new career. Life might have been steadier and safer if, like most of my male counterparts, I could have seen out my years here. Thankfully, it was not to be. I am taking voluntary redundancy, I leave at 2pm and I plan a future in stand-up poetry no less!
I agree George, the BBC is the best broadcasting corporation in the world but my drive to be creative means I must walk away. I absolutely love radio and will never give it up. I have set up my own little studio at home, have bought my own recording equipment and will no doubt be fiddling with sound waves for the rest time.
I feel like I have saved myself but as I leave I urge you to think of my female friends, colleagues and brilliant presenting talent who would give anything to have the opportunity to get on-air. It starts here at the grassroots, local radio. The rest will follow.
Very best of luck with your new role as DG and all good wishes for the future,