I’m still in the groove of wanting ambient sounds to keep me company without draining away concentration. I can’t remember who clued me in about BBC Radio’s Listening Project (thank you), but it’s perfect for knitting and light email-answering.
The Listening Project is a vast collection of audio recordings of conversations between ordinary people in contemporary Britain. The conversations are edited into listenable chunks, so you don’t get bogged down in throat-clearing or going off on tangents. Anyone can listen in, and get a glimpse of the lives of others, in their own voices. The recordings are archived for posterity at the British Library. What a treasure. (Fi Glover writes about the project here.)
One of the things I loved about the recently-released documentary film, They Shall Not Grow Old, is that the narration consisted entirely of audio recordings of surviving soldiers of World War I. Their telling of what they experienced has an immediacy and poignancy that could never be matched by the detachment of a narrator reading a script. The Listening Project is a bit like that. You get so much of a person from hearing their voice and tone.
The bits of the Listening Project I’ve listened to so far are affectionate conversations between friends. I started here, with a 14-minute omnibus on the value of friendship. And here’s one for us fiber people: Lindsey and Isabel—Weavers and Dyers. Other conversations get intimate and even heavy. It’s extraordinary that people are willing to share their lives so candidly.
Apparently I’m not good at working the BBC Radio website, so when a conversation ends I sometimes get plopped into daytime radio programming, with chat, news, and music interspersed. It’s like I’m sitting in Belinda’s kitchen. I don’t mind at all.
P.S. If you just want to listen to conversations, you can download them here.