Remembering My Hat

27th June 2012

Sex in care homes: On the World Service

I got to put my media training to use yesterday, when I did a short piece on the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme at lunchtime.

They only rang me up 30 minutes beforehand, and their starting point was an article which I’d not read (because it was embargoed until that day – you can see the abstract now here). They wanted someone to provide an academic perspective on the issue of sex in later life and particularly in care homes for people with dementia, alongside Jilly Cooper and a non-famous older woman.

I remembered that my media training course had suggested not accepting things at very short notice if you didn’t feel prepared, but actually I felt that I could do this one – the topic felt safely within the domain of things I feel competent to talk about.

The trickiest thing proved to be installing Skype onto my work computer in the timeframe because my landline turned out not to be good quality enough to use. Because I was a little flustered, I couldn’t remember my Skype name, so couldn’t log on to install it. So my personal top tip would be ‘install Skype on any computer you might use, and keep a record somewhere safe of your name and password’.

The actual interview went fine. I didn’t manage to get in one of points I wanted to (that not all older people are heterosexual and that not all older people’s sexual activity is within marriage, as the other speakers were rather assuming) but I got in the others. I was getting some delayed feedback at the beginning – that thing where you hear your own words again about half a second later, which was really difficult to ignore and I presume that’s why my voice sounds rather peculiar at the beginning of the interview, and why I’m leaving oddly large gaps between my sentences. My other personal additional tip would be to take off any dangly earrings you might be wearing if you are going to use headphones – I got slightly distracted by mine scratching against my neck.

Listening to the recording, I’m struck by how much better is sounds when I was smiling and being mildly humourous. I heard a bit of a Radio 4 programme a few weeks ago about smiling, which included an interview with Jenni Murray where she said that she always smiles before she starts speaking and demonstrated the difference it makes. It was really striking. I didn’t remember that at the time, but I’m noting it here in the hope that I might in future.

But overall, a good experience that I’d be happy to repeat.

If you’d like to hear the interview, it’s here, at the beginning of the programme.



  1. I think you come across very well. Thanks for writing about the experience.

    Comment by sharon — 4th July 2012 @ 22:57 | Reply

    • Thanks! I am a bit frustrated that I didn’t manage to get across the point about not-all-older-people’s-sex-is-within-marriage-and/or-heterosexual. Also that I didn’t manage to challenge the assertion that dementia always leads to sexual dis-inhibition – it just doesn’t. But at least I’m happy with what I did manage to say. Sins of omission rather than commission…

      Comment by rememberingmyhat — 5th July 2012 @ 15:17 | Reply

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