Yes I know that probably makes me sound pretentious but for the Brits reading this, you know there is only one news service.
Here’s another game that both men and women like to play but only women admit to (honestly, minds out of the gutter please, we are still talking about the news).
The game is called “If you could be any one other than yourself, who would you be?” Most men will not admit to playing this game but they all want to be international footballers. I know this because after much cajoling and promises of confidentiality, my husband admitted that he would want to be Zinedine Zidane (before the head-butting incident).
I would want to be Mishal Husain from the BBC. I know you all think I would want to be Mrs Matt Damon, but you have to choose some one that you will never actually become.
Mishal Husain is brilliant, articulate, has a fascinating job and great hair. I met her once at a work event and she did that super-polite thing where she said “We’ve met before, haven’t we?”
I was torn in that split-second before I responded. I wanted to say “Yes, it was at the BBC’s 50 Most Powerful Asian Women in the Media/Britain/the World/the Universe. ” I would have added “You were number 2 after Shami Chakrabarti and I was number 37…” because if you are going to lie, it’s best not to exaggerate at the same time.
But before I could lie, it occurred to me that Mishal and I might one day become best friends and she might ask me to fill in for her, anchoring BBC World News or hosting Impact Asia. So I told the truth – or rather, the verbal dyslexia that happens in the presence of famous people took over (please see What would you say if you ran into…?), I could barely manage a sentence (let alone an elaborate lie) and I just shook my head and smiled stupidly.
Back to the BBC. In London I watched it daily but not religiously. My addiction began in Australia, shortly after the birth of Newborn (now aged 5 months). Long, frustrating days spent in my PJs, endlessly breastfeeding the baby. Long, lonely nights spent in my PJs, endlessly breastfeeding the baby. I rarely left the house in those early days and it seemed unlikely I would leave the state or country (ever again).
It was just me, the baby, the sofa and the television. BBC World was my connection to an increasingly distant external world, the memory of which was becoming increasingly dimmer as sleep deprivation set in like rot in what was left of my brain.
Mishal, George, Orla, Zeinab, Rico and the rest of the team were there, every minute of every day and every night, like old friends, reassuring me that they understood what was going on in the world and they could explain it to me in words that I could understand. And if I could not understand it the first time I could watch it on the loop and understand it the second or fifth time as I sat glued to my sofa and baby for hours.
When my parents are home we watch the news on the Australian commercial channels. And whilst I do care what happens in Kootamundra, Coonabarrabaran and Wollongong (these are real names of Australian cities, I didn’t make them up) I need to understand my place in the world and my country’s place in world history and politics. Without it, I feel stranded on an island, with my perimeter defined and patrolled by four, small, lovable guards.
Speaking of my personal border security detail, last Saturday morning I was making Star Wars pancakes for the children whilst watching BBC World. By 8am I had watched a documentary about the violation of women in the Congo, news of floods in Pakistan and the murder of medical aid workers in Afghanistan. Watching me cry into the batter, Secundo reassured me that the pancakes didn’t all have to look like the Millenium Falcon, I could make the Death Star if that was easier. Prima suggested we change channels and watch Playhouse Disney. I sat down with my four little ducklings, a plate of pancakes rolled into light sabers, and as we watched Ariel the Mermaid swim happily amongst a coral reef that had not been destroyed by BP, I felt better already. Sometimes you just need a little Disney.