The microphone sits on the corner of my desk, always on the periphery of my vision. It’s both a constant reminder of the past and an itch waiting to be scratched.
As much as I find joy in writing, I’ve never thought of myself as articulate when it comes to speaking. I’m not a natural orator who can memorise key points and then verbalise them clearly and effortlessly. Instead my brain bounces around at breakneck speed and my verbal skills can’t keep up.
Consequently, I have a tendency to babble. I speak too quickly to try to keep pace with my thoughts. And when my brain can’t process the words fast enough, I stammer. It’s not a bad stammer by any means – but I am acutely conscious of it. And, of course, the more aware of it I am, the worse it gets.
Which is why I still surprise myself when I see the mic out of the corner of my eye. It reminds me that for five years I recorded podcasts most weeks – around 170 in total – first as a member of a cycling podcast, then hosting and producing my own parenting podcasts.
More recently, I’ve been writing and performing my own parody songs – 28 and counting so far.
It’s not that I think I would ever make a great talk show host or that I’m the next fairy-tale X Factor winner waiting to happen. Far from it. But I do enjoy the challenge of recording halfway presentable audio. Writing down my thoughts in blog form is very much my creative comfort zone. Speaking (or singing) them into a microphone? Not so much. Stepping up to the challenge is what makes it rewarding. If it was easy, I wouldn’t be half as proud of what I’ve done.
However, I reached a point at the end of last year when I realised it was time to stop podcasting. The pressure to come up with new ideas every week was taking its toll. As was the fact that preparing, organising, recording, editing, publishing and publicising each episode was taking up four evenings a week.
I stopped recording my musical parodies at the same time. That wasn’t deliberate; I just paused for breath and then one month became two, then six. It coincided with a period when my confidence in my writing was at a low ebb. I needed some time to step away, think and wallow in one of those existential “what’s the point of it all?” crises that I described as my ‘blogging crossroads’. For a while I was *this* close to giving up altogether. Obviously I didn’t – but that’s a story for another time.
Then one day last week the microphone caught my eye again. It was a couple of days before Harry and Meghan’s wedding and I was at home on my own with the kids asleep upstairs. On a whim, I started to type out some new lyrics to the tune of Billy Idol’s White Wedding. (For future reference, this is my second-choice karaoke song after the Psychedelic Furs’ Pretty in Pink.) Before I knew it, I had a complete version written, recorded and published: Royal Wedding.
I loved doing it. And it reminded me that, as much as I had needed to take a break, I really missed the mic. The proverbial itch waiting to be scratched.
So where do I go from here? I don’t know, really. Maybe nowhere, maybe somewhere completely new.
Before Christmas, I had been giving serious thought to starting up a comedy podcast. Again, not because I think I’m side-splittingly hilarious. I most certainly am not, although I’m told I have a good line in dry, sarcastic wit. (Someone once compared me to Jimmy Carr. To this day I’m still not sure if it was a compliment or an insult.) I had even tapped up some collaborators to work with. But, for whatever reason – okay, laziness and a bit of fear – it never got off the ground.
Maybe I’ll do a father-and-son podcast with Isaac if he’s interested. We’ve done it once before and he enjoyed both the recording and the production side of it too. I’m in no rush, though. Having only recently ended one long-term relationship with podcasting, I’m not sure I’m ready for another one on the rebound just yet. We’ll see where this particular road leads, in its own time.