Category Archives: Interview

The girls from primary school

We all looked the same, if slightly more adult. Usually people have school reunions from the last year at school, whereas on Saturday night I attended a small, select meeting of eight primary school girls. Actually, no I didn’t. One of us had not been part of that school, but with people coming and going, it seemed as if everyone belonged. We all claimed to have been in the same class as each other, except we couldn’t have, and I was right. Obviously.

So, 47 years on, we are still very young. It was especially nice for us to see Lena Andersson, who is over from Phoenix to launch her new CD, and who’s appeared in every newspaper and magazine imaginable, as well as on television. I was intrigued when my stats shot up a week ago, but presumably all who saw her interview then googled her and found the CultureWitch interview (and in English) from a few years ago.

Our reunion happened at Heagård, which is a large farm owned by another ‘girl’ in the group. There was a Rock & Blues Festival on last night, so we retired indoors for our dinner, or we wouldn’t have been able to hear ourselves speak. But it was nice with all that music. Two nights earlier Lena had performed on the same stage, which I’d had to miss. Wish I hadn’t now.


But as I said, we haven’t changed a bit. We gossiped. Laughed at the same ridiculous boy, and that was even without my story of the drinks lorry. We remembered those who have died. The grandchildren were discussed (as the youngest I don’t have any). And just as people felt some boys should have been invited (why?), one turned up out of the blue.

As Mikael Rickfors, pop star from back when, started singing, we decided it was time to leave. We had enjoyed Andrea Dawson’s music earlier, but for primary school girls the time comes when they need their beds.


Happy with Larry?

I was pleased to find this, despite CBS telling me I’m in the wrong place. (I can never be in the wrong place. Where I am is the place to be.)

Better than average interview (I don’t know Larry King), and Mark Harmon was more fun than he usually is in interviews. Typical man, too. Didn’t get the age of his children right. And he has forgotten who he first kissed. Or he lied in another interview. (Btw, the polite thing would be not to call them frogs. Not the right woman, maybe, but certainly not frogs.)

And Larry King must be ancient! He’s been on television my whole life!

More than Feyn

Serendipity prevented me from reviewing the Challenger documentary a few weeks ago. It was so good and we enjoyed it so much, if those are the right words to use for a programme about something as tragic as the Challenger explosion. But I ran out of time.

William Hurt was the perfect Richard Feynman, or so I thought until Sunday night when the documentary was shown again, followed by an hour about the real Feynman, featuring interviews with friends and family as well as Feynman himself.

I’m glad we saw William Hurt’s Feynman first. That way we knew both about his work to find the reason for the Challenger tragedy, and we knew what the ‘fake’ Feynman was like. A very fine man, and an ill man. After the triumph of finding out that NASA had covered up certain facts, we had to face Feynman’s illness and subsequent death.

But fine as the actor was, Feynman was far better at being him. I was sad to know he died 25 years ago, making it impossible to meet him. That’s not just my fondness for Nobel prize winners, but my general liking for brilliant minds talking. It never ceases to amaze me how much some people are able to think and understand when it comes to really tricky stuff.

One thing I learned on Sunday was that ‘everything’ is electromagnetism, which is a subject we have come into closer contact with than we’d like in recent months. Feynman came up with the term quantum physics (or so I believe), which is another familiar subject. Unintelligible, but familiar.

I take some comfort in the letter Feynman wrote to the mother of a student, telling her not to worry about science, because love was more important. I’ll go for love any day.

It seems a little unfair that such a clever man should be good at more than physics. He played the drums. He could draw fantastically well. He was interested in a great variety of things, while still finding time to be a person, to spend time with his children, the way his own father had spent time teaching him about the world.

Feynman now means so much more to me than the name on the covers of those books certain people leave lying around the house. I am tempted to try reading one, but suspect I might come to regret such an impulse. Maybe I could watch his talks on YouTube?

For anyone who missed The Fantastic Mr Feynman on television, here is the iPlayer version. I can’t recommend it enough. Do watch.

(Lovely to learn that his little sister Joan is an astrophysicist. I wouldn’t mind a programme about her. And the fact that they grew up in Far Rockaway was a fun coincidence for me. I’d been half wondering if it’s a fictional place. Seems not.)

Magazine Mark

People - Mark Harmon

Is there anyone out there who needs a pile of magazines with Mark Harmon articles and interviews?

Not me, which is why I’m asking. Shall I just put them in the bin? Or do people still collect stuff like this?

It could be a zeitgeist thing. Either we all want something, or none of us do…

Lena – how she lives now

You know how it is. The girl who lived down the road and who sang the most beautiful songs as you skipped rope together is discovered and becomes a star almost overnight. Your lives go in different directions, and forty years later one of you (that would be me) thinks it’d be good to interview the other one (Lena Andersson, or Lena Hubbard as she is today), to find out what she did after stardom.

Lena Hubbard

Lena always had a fantastic voice, so it was more circumstance – like the birth of ABBA – than any lack of talent that had her career fade away some years later. But I’m never sure if teen fame is a good thing, so it might have been for the best.

Ten years ago Lena married Tobe Hubbard and moved to America with him. And a couple of years ago we met up again, online, and I had my idea of interviewing her. She rarely travels to Sweden these days, and I travel to the US even more rarely, so an email interview was inevitable. But it’s OK; we have our shared skipping background.

This is mainly about her present life. We – some of us, anyway – know about her famous past. It’s interesting to find out what Lena does now.

(For good measure I interviewed Lena twice. Once for each language, so here are two interviews for the price of one! English. Swedish.)

Pauley Perrette on the Jeff Probst Show

The invitation came just over two weeks ago. But even though I am a big (have they seen a photo of me?) fan of Abby and Pauley and NCIS, I generally can’t dash off to Los Angeles to sit in on chat shows at the drop of a hat. Not that I’d heard of Jeff Probst or his show, but if he wanted Pauley, that’s enough of a recommendation for me.

Now that I’ve seen the finished result, I’m reasonably sure they wouldn’t have wanted me. The audience looked very nice, with the prettiest and youngest at the front, and I doubt there would have been a seat far enough at the back to accommodate me.

Pauley Perrette

Watching it. Yes, that had its problems, just like getting to the show would have. The link is on Twitter, but I live in the wrong place to be allowed. (Don’t tell anyone, but I found it on YouTube.)

This being my Abby season, they couldn’t have timed the interview better (I suspect it was to coincide with the start of NCIS season 10, but Halloween is coming up fast, too.)

Thomas Arklie and Pauley Perrette

Pauley has always been big on crime. Solving it, rather than committing it, obviously. Playing Abby is all based on her dog. And if that leads to the highest Q-rating, why not? Elizabeth Taylor was a big fan, apparently. They talked on the phone. Good thing Pauley went to LA ‘for the pilot season’ just over ten years ago. Nothing to do with planes, however.

She works full time on NCIS. And then she works full time with her 30 charities, because you can never go wrong being kind to people.

Thomas Arklie and Pauley Perrette

Boyfriend Thomas Arklie was there, and he does seem like a very nice man. British. Ex-marine. Says it all, really. (Still trying to work out who he reminded me of, though.) They have fun together.

Thomas Arklie, Pauley Perrette and Jeff Probst

I have to admit to having found the Jeff Probst Show much better than I’d expected. Nice interview technique. And his Dad likes Pauley.

But the biggest surprise was to find that Pauley has curly hair. Who’d have thought?

Pauley Perrette

(All photos © the Jeff Probst Show.)

Noises off, maybe

What with me going on about lost customers and noisy restaurants, I was thinking of another angle on this. I should have done an interview with an author last week. (The fact that it had to be cancelled due to my inconvenient illness, is beside the point here.)

The author and I spent some time deciding where to meet. She, who was in Manchester only briefly, suggested a couple of chain bars/restaurants, just because she knew they existed. I said I’d prefer somewhere quiet enough, so that when I sat down to type out the recording, I’d actually be able to hear what we’d been saying. I’ve done countless interviews in noisy bars, where the listening afterwards was a real pain, bordering on me making stuff up, because I couldn’t hear properly.

Background music can be very nice, and sometimes useful. At quiet times it’s good with something preventing an embarrassing total silence. But no need for disco volume while eating. And once customer numbers are up, there is very little need for WWIII levels of entertainment in the background.

OK, maybe a little, just in case we all stop talking at the very same second. Although, how likely is that?

In the end, we settled on someone’s house for the interview. That’s what’s best. No muzak, and no infuriating coffee-making monstrosities. No irritating laughing woman at the next table.

As a family, we used to go out for an Italian meal on Christmas Eve at one of those lovely Scottish-Italian restaurants. But we gave up on that too in the end, as we all got older and some felt they could no longer take part in the conversation because of the music and other noise.

What strikes me is that – yet again – businesses are losing custom this way. If you’re not clubbing, you are unlikely to say ‘Let’s go to XYZ to eat/drink coffee! I love the way you can never hear what people are saying in there.’

It’d be useful to have a ‘noise card’ to hand over to anywhere you can’t make yourself heard in. A bit like those red and yellow cards in football.