Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Hey, I haven’t had a holiday for a week!

How many holidays do you have a year? One? Two? What about 26? If you’d like to have a week’s holiday every two weeks get a job with the BBC.

I’m currently translating two programmes for BBC Radio: they’re being entered in a competition in Spain, in November. I’ve done this job for 18 years. I used to have two months to do the work; this year, they’ve given me 11 days (I managed to get a two-day extension , but still… it’s crazy).

So I was already going to slap the BBC for drastically reducing my deadline every year. It’s not like those competitions land on the BBC unannounced. They take place every single year, at more or less the same period. It’s like when British Rail comes to a standstill if a flake of snow or a leaf falls on a railway track: it’s winter, for G-d’s sake!; couldn’t you prepare for it? BBC producers have a whole year to select programmes to enter and what do they do? – they wait until the very last minute.

Anyway, I got the scripts, but I also have to translate synopses and biographies for those programmes. Last Friday, I asked the person in charge of supplying me with them to get his ass off his chair and get them for me asap (oh, I so wish I could actually say that!). Rephrase: I left a polite message on his voicemail. He obviously wasn’t there (why should anyone work on a Friday: it’s gonna be the weekend in a minute). There was still no sign of anything yesterday so I left another message and sent him an email. Silence. Today I called his boss. Within fifteen minutes, I got an email from the guy, saying “Sorry, I have been on leave for a week.”

What sort of excuse is that?! I’ve been working for a week – for you! You knew I needed that stuff; why couldn’t you get it for me before you went away? Years ago, I practically stopped going on holiday: I worked in a publishing house, where no one else could do my job, which meant I had to think of everything that might need to be done while I was away and do it before I left. It was incredibly stressful.

The BBC guy is never stressed. When he has a week’s holiday coming, he just takes off. I know someone else who works for the BBC. He too has multiple holidays all through the year. I’m telling you: that’s the kind of employer you want.

But you don’t just need to choose the right employer; you also need to work full-time, because, as a freelance, you lose on all counts. When you go away on holiday, not only are you not earning but also you’re using your savings. As for getting paid to have fun, forget it.

Actually, come to think of it, it’s my money they’re using (through the licence).



  1. Oh J this is sad! Slap slap to those people (that guy) with an attitude of administrative clerks - except that these clerks cannot get so many holidays.

    I know that they tend to have a less cutting edge approach to their work than say Sky etc.

    Slaps to this guy for making you wait and making the tough deadline even more challenging.

    Still I do love the BBC though. :(
    During the past days I never tuned to CNN for info about the US but BBC World - they have such brilliant discussions that go way deeper than CNN can ever dream of....


  2. I wonder if it's because it's funded with public money that it's like that. Probably. But then, of course, not being publicly funded, and relying on advertising, is why the other channels do crappy things like dropping Six Feet Under (grr, still furious) and showing The West Wing at either midnight or 7pm on a Friday. Still, that doesn't help you. Big slap! There, he's reeling now.

    gmchmobb: what we will set on all the people who treat freelancers badly!!!!

  3. It has eaten my 'I' again! Every time I start a comment with 'I think' or 'I wonder', Blogger eats my I! New challenge: to always avoid starting with I.

  4. I love the BBC, N, and I'm rather flattered to be working for them. They've been very good to me over the years: they've paid me a normal rate, unlike some agencies. But, as L says, they behave like civil servants. They more or less have secure jobs and they get a lot of help with their careers. Apart from the "I was on leave", the excuse I usually get for someone's absence is "I was on attachment with such and such department". They're constantly sent on courses, etc.

    That young holidaying man is probably a future BBC Chairman (actually, I don't think he has the brains, but who knows....).

    I don't understand what's happening with your "I"s, L. Indeed it is a challenge, like writing a novel without the letter "e" (Georges Perec).

    nccwj: my new radio station's logo

  5. We're freelancers - we're constantly on holiday, don't you know. GSE wonders therefore why clients ring her at 10 in the evening.

    Now I'm not keen on this word verification thingy - I find them worryingly hard to read but xcvblcp sounds good - it's something that afflicts me when I'm staring at my cv and thinking about whether to generate more revenue or just sit here and footle on the Internet.

  6. Hi, I was hoping you'd read this: I know you can relate.

    I used to work for this particular agency (I've slapped them already): I had deadlines every two or three days, which meant that I had to work all the time; not only that, they expected me to be there during their working hours. They would call me with queries about other people's translations when they were unavailable.

    I'm sorry about the word verification thingy: it's the only way I can stop spammers while allowing people who are not bloggers to comment.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.