Thursday 10 November 2016

A Rose by Any Other Name

The determined blood-red poinsettia on our kitchen windowsill from last Christmas is still thriving. I gather that's unusual. 

Its success owes everything to the pampering from my ever-caring other half, and nothing to me.

Given my lack of horticultural prowess, it can only have been a Day Nurse overdose which drove me to cultivate an elaborate gardening allegory when I was invited to address the BBC local radio managing editors conference this week in a freezing cold Newcastle. 

'Finding Talent', said the Sans-serif heading on the PowerPoint slide. The lovely Gareth Roberts moderated and affable agent Chris North was alongside me.

I see the talent journey beginning with the right seed. A seed which promises something special. You're comforted by the picture on the packet - and you feel it'd really brighten up your garden.

You plant that seed in a small pot and tend to it carefully. 

At just the right stage, you transfer it carefully to a larger pot which you put in the right place.

You then water it. Feed it.  Let it see the sunlight.  Give it time to grow roots. Talk to it.

When it becomes a tad unwieldy, you prop it up with a bamboo stick or two and hope it chooses to lean vaguely in that direction. 

It has the odd season without flowers, but you stick with it.  
If all goes to plan, you end up with a great plant. You didn't design it. It chose its own direction. But you like it. And most people who visit quite like it too. Some don't, but they still never forget the day they walked around your garden.

There is another route.

Take that seed. Bung it straight into the big pot in the wrong soil. Place the pot in the shade. Feed it the wrong food. Forget to water it. Shout at it. As it grows, keep clipping it back so it doesn't risk becoming unmanageable. 

It'll be fine. It might even survive for some time until you find something better. It won't look bad. But no-one who ever comes into your garden will ever notice or remember it.

Finding great talent isn't simply discovery. It's about nurture too.  Every great performer was once not very good. 

As we despair about the lack of distinctive, original radio talent, should we despair too of a lack of expertise in the potting shed?

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