How To Survive...Small Talk - The M Word

How To Survive…Small Talk

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As a presenter on breakfast radio people always say two things to me. The first is “how do you get up so early?”. The second is “you must love to talk”. The answer to the former is I actually have no idea how I do it…a combination of loving my job and having to I suppose.

When I was younger, in fact pretty much all of my life before I had kids, I was never seen or heard from before 12 pm. So much so that one of my best friends tells a story about phoning me during the very early stages of our relationship at 10 am to discuss an event that I had said I’d help her organise the previous evening. After reluctantly answering and growling down the phone at her she said I begrudgingly engaged in what could loosely be called conversation before saying “just one thing, if you are calling again please make sure it’s after 12”. We still laugh about that now but when she heard that I was doing a breakfast show with a 5 am start, she was the first one to call to say “WTF, breakfast show?! You won’t last a week!”.

Ten odd years later and it turns out that she was wrong, but it still never gets easier when the alarm goes off at 5 am…NEVER!

My routine is to snooze 3 times (more if there’s wine involved the night before), while the transition from bed to car takes 10 minutes. I have the drive to the studio perfected to a fine art and can make it in a mere 12 minutes. My husband jokes that I’m a minger because I shower the night before and never in the morning, but I’ll take that over having to get up one snooze earlier!

The children are never awake so I don’t get to see them in the mornings Mon-Fri when I think they tend to be in their best form (although my husband would argue differently). That does often make me a bit sad but come Monday morning after getting up with them at the weekends (well one of the mornings anyway), I’m happy enough to be going to work to be honest. On the plus side I get to hang out with them from lunchtime which is great (after my compulsory 40 minute no more, no less nap of course).

Now though to the second question “you must like to talk?”.

Anyone that knows me will attest to ‘Yes’ being the answer to that question, but as much as I like to talk I abhor small talk almost as much as the word ‘moist’. I think part of the problem is that that my brain is ‘on’ during the four hour show, constantly talking or thinking about what I’m saying next, so when the show is finished the last thing that I want to do is have conversations with anyone.

The thought of going into the supermarket or local coffee shop fills me with dread.

And when I do meet someone (like in a lift earlier today) I am so uncomfortable with the cringe-worthy ramblings that I always awkwardly babble absolute shite and give way more information than is required of me to the point that the person is usually trying to pry open the door of said lift or pretend they were getting their coffee to go.

If I’m on public transport my method is to put earphones on, even if I’m not listening to anything, but I can’t do this in shops or cafe’s so maybe it’s about time we had a red/green small talk badge system so that we could happily smile/nod at each other without entering the horrible world of inane babble.

Then again, when it comes to the litany of complaints we could make as parents of young children, I suppose a breakfast show host grumbling about the injustice of having to get up early AND make small talk is fairly far down the list…

Laura Wood
Laura Wood
Mother of three young children (well two and a reprobate). Lover of all things bad for her. Station Voice Newstalk 106-108 and Co-Presenter of East Coast FM's Breakfast Show 'Freshly Squeezed'.