The day I’ve had.

Friday 23 October 2015 was one of those days that was busy to begin with.

And then just got better and better.

The School

5:30 start because I need to catch a bus at 7:00 to Prestwich to speak to teachers at Parrenthorn High School. Early morning and my inability to intake caffeine without having some pretty adverse cardio-related side effects doesn’t help the early morning.

The fact that I am a morning person, however, does.

Fear me, for I am chipper!

Get there and what I assumed was going to be a few hours of working with teachers from that school turned out to be 3 hours of leading 10 minute workshops with over 70 teachers from schools all over Bury!

A bit of context: the People’s History Museum (where I work PT) are working on developing relationships with schools by helping them become aware of our collections as an alternative curriculum resource. Great stuff! It’s added value for the students and gets our collections to places that otherwise would be tricky to penetrate.

I started off talking with one teacher in 2014, then doing a workshop with about 20 in Spring 2015 and now I was chatting with around 75 educators on a sort of heritage speed-dating network carousel.

Aside: If anyone knows of any actual heritage speed-dating events, drop them my way please 🙂

My thanks will forever be extended to Liz from the museum’s Learning Team who was suddenly available last minute and offered to come and help me.

The teachers went away happy with their packs of free archive facsimiles to use in class and we went away in total confidence that we’ll be hearing from at least some of them about curriculum resources.

So, after SatNav decided to take us into the Land of Prestwitch Potholes, Liz drops me off in town (seriously, the woman is a star).  I go to grab something decaf from Starbucks and relax in the window.

Only there are police.


Including Starbucks!

I know this is likely to reflect badly on my moral compass but I was genuinely concerned about the likelihood of getting in Starbucks. So sad.

Turns out all the police were there to stand by and watch the Chinese President’s entourage go past. That’s it. Anti-climatic.

The Phone Call

Relaxing in the window until it’s time for a meeting about some potential freelance work. I get a call at about 14:45 that my other PT job, the Royal Northern College of Music, is trying to get a hold of me pretty urgently.

Thoughts that go through an archivist’s brain when you get a message like that:

  1. Fire
  2. Flood
  3. Otherwise maimed archives
  4. Stolen archives
  5. Was I supposed to be at the work today?

After a ‘phone call to the College, I call a chap called Barnaby. Barnaby works on radio and would like to set up an interview with me that afternoon about the anniversary of Sir Charles Halle’s death.

A bit of context: Sir Charles Halle died 120 years ago today. He was an internationally renowned conductor, pianist and educator as well as being the founder of the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music) in 1893. So, myself, the archivist for the Halle Concerts Society and the librarian at the Henry Watson Music Library at Manchester Central Library decided to do a little celebration.

That started off as just a blog and some tweeting #Halle120. By a very fortunate turn of events, one of the large display cases in Manchester Central Library’s famous Wolfson Reading Room could be made available. So, we each brought items from our collections together for a display.

It was great. We were really chuffed with the results and gave some information to Central Library’s press officer for a press release about the anniversary.

So how does this relate to radio? Turns out the show that Barnaby was working on (which I didn’t catch the name of), was doing a special selection of Halle-related material and had 5 minutes available for a chat. Can I get to Media City for 4:30?

Why yes, yes I can. After my meeting at 15:15. Hopefully. As long as the Chinese President hasn’t blocked off all the roads. And rush hour isn’t bad. And Mancunian Way doesn’t disappear into a giant sink hole.

Not to worry, they’d send a car for me and it will be waiting outside the library for me.


The Meeting

Was actually the easiest part of my day. The Race Relations Resource Centre in Central Library want an archivist to be able to dip in and out when they’re available to do short cataloguing projects. Do I want the job?

Why yes, yes I do.


A bit of context: the Race Relations Resource Centre are awesome. They are a library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. They’re starting to branch out into archive projects within their other heritage project such as oral history and racial identity through generations. Very cool. They can’t at the moment justify archivist in post so they want someone able to do come in as needed.

Sounds brilliant! I’m really looking forward to learning more about different cultures and working with some very cool people.

The Car

I get out at 15:50 and head over to await my chariot to whisk me off for radio glory (still don’t know which radio station).

At 16:08 it hasn’t come. Plan, plan, think of plan! BLACK CAB! Jump in a black cab and do not blink or relax my neck and shoulders until I’m throwing a tenner at the guy and jumping out at Costa in Media City and bounding over to a stranger who I hope is Barnaby.

Thank God. It’s Barnaby.

The Interview

I go in, sit in the radio control booths in one of the BBC buildings (Hey, maybe it’s BBC Radio Manchester, I think to myself) and see through the glass Sean Rafferty.

Seriously, Sean Rafferty.

This must be BBC Radio 3. This must be BBC Radio 3. This must be BBC Ra-

“Welcome back to In Tune with Sean Rafferty on BBC Radio 3-”

Holy crap, it’s BBC Radio 3.


A bit of context: I just started at the RNCM in January of this year and I’m really trying to rally together some good impact outreach programmes and initiatives. I love outreach and I think it is so important, especially for small niche collections like this one. So, to find myself suddenly on BBC Radio 3 on the rush hour 4PM-6PM slot is AMAZING! Thousands of people are likely listening, potentially every single one of them has never heard of our collections before, or the Halle Archive or the Henry Watson Music Library.

I cannot screw this up.

And I didn’t! I am so pleased with the way it went and I’m hoping for a little interest in the RNCM Archives because of it.

I thank Sean and everyone, say bye-bye and promptly fist pump the air the second I’m out of the building.

I know I look like an idiot but you’ve not just had the day I’ve had.

The End


Information on PHM’s work with schools

Press release for Halle’s anniversary exhibition  Also see #Halle120 on Twitter

Race Relations Resource Library

My interview on BBC Radio 3  Available until about 20th November. I’m about 10 minutes in. Be in awe of my Radio Voice 😉


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