Archive for November, 2013

November 19, 2013

dead dogs

Today, the last of the Zaltzman dogs died.

The first of the Zaltzman dogs died early in the morning on 13th November 1997 (yes, I remember the date, shuddup). All over the lawn there were dark patches in the grey frost, one for each time she had lain down to die. And each time my mother had brought her inside, anxious to keep her alive through the night lest we thought she’d deliberately killed the dog whilst we slept.

The vet committed the final dispatch, invoiced for the service with dispassionate efficiency, and I went to work.

“I’ve buried both of my parents,” said one of the customers, “but you never get over a dog.” He was a retired policeman and WW2 POW, so he’d seen some things; but you never get over a dog.

Later that day my boyfriend was punched in the face and mugged, but everyone continued to be more concerned about the dog.

The second of the Zaltzman dogs died in January 2002 while I was away at university. To raise my spirits, I bought the best sandwich from the best sandwich shop and took it to the best bench in the best park.

An alive dog approached.
It gently lifted the sandwich from my hands.
It jogged off with my sandwich.


Today, the third Zaltzman dog died after living far longer than expected. For a long time my parents have insisted that she will be the last Zaltzman dog. They want the freedom to travel, they say, but I wonder whether it’s just too much of a risk to allow that emotional attachment again when every 12-15 years the dog dies.

Perhaps they will waver, because for the first time since 1984 there won’t be a dark furry shape standing blocking the television screen, standing in the doorway refusing to budge, standing under the dining table waiting for food to fall. There’ll be no reason to do a lap of the garden in the midnight rain, waiting for the dog to urinate; nor to maintain a collection of chewed tennis balls on the living room floor. Nobody will headbutt the newspaper I’m reading to get attention; nobody will hide cushions in the garden; nobody will continue digging the mysterious pit in the flowerbed by the front door; nobody will fart on my hand while I try to prune the dreadlocks from their back legs (add ‘hopefully’ to all these, because I can’t predict what turns life will take). There’ll be no benign snuffling presence allowing me to pretend that I’m not alone in the room, because today the last of the Zaltzman dogs died.

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November 14, 2013

Little Atoms, and GBA live

wiggly sculpture

Congratulations to fellow podcaster and all-round good egg Neil Denny on reaching the 300th episode of the excellent Little Atoms. He commemorated this milestone by interviewing John Lloyd, but also by letting me talk about growing up with a sculptor, my dad Zack Zaltzman. Here’s the show. The picture above is of one of the huge plaster casts from dad’s gelatine-carving phase.

I’m very excited to be appearing on another of my favourite podcasts, Getting Better Acquainted. We’re recording live as part of the Writeidea Festival Fringe at the Ideas Factory this Sunday, 17th November. We’ll be on around 4.30pm, but come along for the afternoon because Wil Hodgson will be performing, and there’s a panel discussion about comics featuring Tom Humberstone, who makes Solipsistic Pop. One night a couple of years ago, my husband and I were sitting on the East London Line indulging in a little light bickering, when a gentlemen walked past, handed us a copy of a beautiful comic, then hopped off the train. This was an exciting mystery, and after some Twitter detective work, we discovered it was Tom himself. So I’m well disposed towards him. Altogether it’ll be a worthwhile use of your afternoon, I’m sure.

Also! This week I went along to the Houses of Parliament to attend the Rewind and Reframe panel discussion, about music videos being sexist and racist, and reported back to the Guardian’s Media Talk about it. Click here to hear.

November 1, 2013

Sound Women podcast 7

Perhaps because even my body thinks I should shut the hell up occasionally, I lost my voice this week. This is a bit problematic when your job involves talking, and I had to cancel a couple of things; but the Sound Women podcast soldiers on, albeit with links that sound a like a creaking gate. Happily, alongside my rusty voice is the Voice of An Angel: I spoke to none other than Charlotte Church after she delivered the BBC 6 Music John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival. It’s well worth listening to her lecture about the music industry’s sexualisation of young female artists – you can download it here.

I also caught up with Louisa Compton who is, er, my boss at Saturday Edition, as well as the formidable editor of 5 Live’s daytime content including Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Richard Bacon. And self-confessed radio anorak Andrea Day told me all about what goes into radio traffic reports: A LOT OF WORK.

Also, this week’s Answer Me This! was a bit of a novelty, as we recorded in Olly‘s new house in the country, which just happens to be close to a dinosaur-themed adventure golf course. Now I understand why he moved out of London.