Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Media madness

February 16th, 2012

I’d joked with my escort of young riders that the pull up to the village cricket ground was my very last hill. What I’d been training for. But, in truth, there was one more gradient, a gentle slow curving gracefully along the tall boundary wall of the manor house. A barely perceptible climb now.

Beyond the bend I quickly saw first the finishing tape drawn across the road beneath my own cottage. And then, beyond it, the very sizeable crowd of family and friends, well-wishers who’d taken the trouble to come and welcome me back. Loud cheers. Glimpsing familiar faces.

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A lengthy address wouldn’t have been right. Instead a few words of thanks. Simple and heartfelt. Someone pushed a glass of Champagne into my hand. A couple of quick chats with friends, then drawn to the cameras. Interviews to be given. Local TV and radio. Photographs to be taken. I felt confident, buoyed up by the sheer excitement of having made it. And the warm welcome home.

Fortuitously I’d taken the right road from Halse. Eventually passing a familiar turn to nearby Milverton. Relief. This was not the day to be adrift. Soon at the small grassy knoll. On it sat a bench placed under a fairly mature tree. I might ordinarily have been tempted to rest my steed there, but with less than a mile left I didn’t want to risk an unfortunate encounter with a thorn perhaps hidden amongst the grass.

Ten minutes to two. The appointed hour for a triumphal entry back into the village. Quick call to confirm I was in position. Agreeing I’d set off a minute or two before the hour. Better to be a few moments late than risk arriving before everyone else had finished arriving. Not that I was entirely sure who’d be there. Been very focused on simply getting myself there in unexpectedly challenging conditions.

There’d been a piece to camera for ITV South West. But I found myself most absorbed by an interview with Barry from the local community radio station. I liked his questions and felt our dialogue flowed. Slow to notice my Mum trying desperately to attract my attention. There was cake to be cut. I was quietly pleased.

I’d been unsure how much media coverage there might be. Always the risk of a last minute dead donkey diverting them away. But what had really mattered was whether I could deal with it with the same adeptness my brother had shown during a major offshore rescue some years earlier. I’d admired him immensely for that.

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Adventure Travel magazine

December 5th, 2011

at 96 cover small

If you prefer to read of my antics in a more conventional, printed form, take a look at the forthcoming January / February edition of the UK’s prestigious Adventure Travel magazine. Due out in selected newsagents 19 December 2011. Or order online at www.adventuretravelmagazine.co.uk. Must confess I haven’t seen the finished piece so full of festive excitement – not least curious to see which of my photos have made it into the page and a half spread!

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In the news…

August 27th, 2011

Cycling Plus September issue 253 Ken Roberts feature

Article from a recent edition of the UK’s Cycling Plus magazine. I’ll let you guess what "bad house guest" means. Whilst I drop a line to fellow cyclist Myles to let him know he’s got a mention in dispatches!

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Who’s watching who?

March 25th, 2011

Reassuring face. "Locco". Host of 4CA’s morning show I’d met a few days earlier. And keen cyclist. Ten am. MuzzBuzz drive-thu coffee bar. He’d been up since four. Suspected he needed caffeine more than I did. Felt honoured he’d dropped in on his way home from the studio. Casting an experienced eye over Emma, my trusty steed, and all the kit.

Our conversation brought to a close a little too abruptly than I’d have liked. Arrival of the first of two local TV news crews. Interview. Then riding footage. On the road. Loop after loop. Different angles. Close-ups. The cameraman running alongside for a while. Doing my best to keep the speed to a minimum. Just enough to avoid looking unsteady.

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Second news team. Subtly different style. More close-ups on my trusty steed. Choosing to place the coffee bar in the background. Pulling up for a beverage on the bike would have been a great touch. But, no doubt, perceived as too promotional. Relying, instead, on proprietor Ian to shoot the scene for the website.

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(In)decent proposals

January 24th, 2011

Nil. The number of marriage proposals. I’d been asked to provide a few statistics for some cycling magazine websites. Offered the usual favourites. Punctures. Tyres. Brake pads. But couldn’t resist sneaking in a few less conventional ones. Bribes paid. Bizarre places slept. And offers to become my next wife.

Beginning to feel a bit nervous that my humour might come back to haunt me. Good job I’d not mentioned some of my more tongue-in-cheek criteria. Like no beards. Bit picky I know. Life on the road does strange things to you.

Suppose I’d better head off now. Stake out. Cairns Public Library. Dusk. Darkening skies. Mustn’t forget the umbrella. And it’s not to shield me from rain or sun. No. Something far more unpleasant. Meanwhile, you can always take a look at the latest online article at Road.cc magazine.

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Bit of an airing…

January 24th, 2011

Back in China I’d written a piece about a young chap who’d decided to join me on the road. Laudable enough. But I’d felt uncomfortable. For one thing, how old was he? Late teens perhaps. And very persistent. In the end I’d had to be a little cunning. Eventually shaking him off. Cruel to be kind.

Intriguingly, it was this very story that an online cycle magazine – www.Bikemagic.com – has picked up. A further airing. Perhaps one day I’ll actually find out who the young rider was. You can see the full article at Round-the-world-cyclist celebrates 500th day

[Please note that Ken isn’t responsible for the content of other websites]

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Perceptions

January 15th, 2011

I’m sure his words were heartfelt. The offer of condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones quite genuine. Sincere. But as a reflection on how the Queensland floods are perceived around the world. Intriguing.

I’d been catching up on BBC coverage of the disaster. Watching an interview with a well known British public figure. Bit heavy on the crocodiles, although, to be fair, not that many of them around Balmoral so you could see how they might grab the attention. In all probability, if you do encounter one in Brisbane, chances are it’ll be somewhere between the elephants and the orangutans. In the zoo.

A much more credible threat is waterborne diseases. Waterlogged ground ideal breeding ground for mosquitos. Which accounts for quite a bit of Queensland. Fortunately, this is one of the few parts of the Tropics free of malaria. But no one would be surprised if Dengue Fever put in an appearance.

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Propaganda or spin

December 28th, 2010

CD  montage - web

Chinese State controlled media is overwhelmingly positive in its portrayal of issues. Analysis is rarely critical, television presenters and journalists invariably carefully leading those being interviewed. Commentators who do offer negative opinions normally do so indirectly, avoiding criticism of what has happened, instead suggesting how things might be done differently in the future.

That is not to say that English language media like the "China Daily" newspaper doesn’t carry fundamentally negative stories, accounts of illegal "black" jails for example. But the focus is invariably on the positive. Resolution of the issue, punishment of offenders, as befits the matter. Stories which, incidentally, have often already featured in foreign news media.

To be fair, the boundary between propaganda and spin is a blurred one. The choice dependent on both the country in question, and the reader’s own political agenda. And selective reporting, especially that self-imposed by journalists, may as much reflect the media’s owners as the political climate of the country. It’s just that the former is rarely described as censorship.

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Daleks, Democracy and Diplomacy

December 19th, 2010

Catching up with news on the web. Finally found an internet broadband connection that doesn’t ressemble dial-up on a go slow. Or a flight out of Heathrow. Not quite good enough for Skype mind. Could hear my parents loud and clear, but gather I sounded like a Dalek. Must pick up some throat lozenges in the morning. Admittedly, I’ve an aversion to stairs. But that’s solely down to being wedded to Emma, my trusty steed.

Alas, found the news a little disappointing. Few flakes of snow and the UK grinds to a halt. Actually, I gather so has much of Europe. But I bet the Swiss railways still run on time.. Then there’s the Democratic Republic of North Korea. Which is the real let-down. It is still there.

Just like Wikileaks. Individuals aside, a story with just about everything. Conspiracy theories. Evading sustained efforts to close it down. Claim and counter-claim as to risk publication of the diplomatic cables poses. Well nigh impossible to establish their release has resulted in loss of life. But actually damaging rather than just embarrassing? Surely anything that’s likely to deter candour behind "closed" diplomatic doors is a bad thing? And with only about one percent out there so far, looks like being a saga that’ll run for longer than it took Iraq to form a coalition Government…

But, with Christmas approaching rapidly, Season of Goodwill and all that, time to finish on a lighter note….so click on Somerset County Gazette article

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