I plucked up the courage to ask Jon Snow for a quick ten minute interview for my blog during my train journey from Glasgow to Warrington. I had my fingers crossed that he wouldn’t tell me to “go away”; however, he was very charming and left me completely star struck.
Jon Snow is a British journalist and presenter best known for presenting Channel 4 News. I grew up watching this man most nights on the T.V. as my Mum watches the C4 news. In 2011, Jon Snow presented the multiple award-winning investigative documentary; ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ which documented war crimes committed in the final days of the Sri Lankan conflict in 2009. After writing this article when searching for a picture I read that he declined an OBE because he believes working journalists shouldn’t take honours from those about whom they report.
I hope you enjoy my impromptu interview 🙂
I can see that you’re listening to music, do you enjoy classical music or opera at all and what type of music do you like to listen to the most?
Jon – I like classical music particularly choral music but my knowledge of opera is very limited. I’m listening to ‘St John Passion’, Bach at the moment, choral music.
I was a chorister and when I was seven years of age when I got a scholarship to Winchester Cathedral and that paid for my education. I remained there until I was 13.
What was your favourite repertoire that you remember from singing at that age?
Jon – I think it was Herbert Howells ‘Collegium Regale’. I did Desert Island Discs and it was one of my discs.
My mother was a student at the Royal College of Music in London she was very musical and played piano a lot, a lot of Brahms. I used to pick up harmonies and sing along with her when I was extremely young about 4 or 5 years of age, I showed a talent for singing and being able to comprehend the structure of music and she decided I ought to get put in for one of these scholarship, so that was that. She was taught composition by Howells.
Marvellous! Do you play a musical instrument?
Jon – Yes violin and piano.
What made you pick up violin and piano?
Jon – The violin I was told to because it was more use than the piano but in fact the piano has always been a fantastic instrument to learn. I have my mother’s Bluthner. A boudoir grand, a nice size ebony black.
What kind of music do you like to play on the piano?
Jon – I like to play mainly from ear, from the baroque period.
Do you miss having that musical environment around you from when you were younger?
Jon – I do but it’s difficult to recreate it and I do a day job that makes it difficult to arrange practise with a choir because I’m always working at 7:00 pm and that’s when they usually practise.
What University did you go to?
Jon – I went to Liverpool University. I got thrown out. I was involved in an anti-apartheid demonstration against investments in South Africa, we had a sit-in and eventually the ring leaders were thrown out and I was one of them. It was the best thing that happened to me because I was reading law and I would have been a terrible lawyer and I ended up a journalist.
Is that how you fell into journalism then?
Jon – Not really there was a bridge in-between I worked in a day centre for homeless and vulnerable people and after about three years I discovered I was better talking about it than doing it. I was based in Soho, London. I cared for 16 to 21 year old, lots of Scots!
Would you ever consider one of these T.V. programs such as joining a Gareth Malone choir for a one off series? Like the Military Wives Choir?
Jon – I did consider doing a BBC TV series about conducting called ‘The Maestro’, unfortunately it was the year of the American elections and I had a lot of work commitments over the Atlantic so I had to drop out which was really sad as I would have loved to have done it. You got really well trained. I would love to do something like that again if it ever came up again in the future.
Charlotte (in response) – one of our teachers was the deputy to the main teacher on that program so I watched that program, it was amazing. I hope you get the opportunity to take part in it.
Would you ever put your feet into something like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (Dancing with the Stars)?
Jon – No! My brains too far from the extremities of my limbs I would never crack it. You could make a real fool of yourself.
Do you think you’d enjoy the costumes? I ask because of all of the lovely ties you wear when presenting the news, they catch my eye.
Jon – Yes probably, I wouldn’t mind. It wouldn’t be my first choice.
On a different note, are you allowed to express your own opinions on the news or do you have to be completely impartial?
Jon – Well you are supposed to be balanced and objective, but there is no such thing as a neutral human being so the way in which you write, or express, or interview people will probably suggest some kind of position on something. I think it is impossible to disguise completely but I think you try to very hard to be objective about and to offset whatever prejudices you have. I don’t think you have time to hide your opinions, you have to sort of get on with it.
Serendipity strikes again, who would have thought such a chance meeting would generate such an interesting and informative chat. Jon, if you ever get the chance to do the BBC Maestro, I sincerely hope you do I’d love to watch it, and you need a young soprano to conduct you know who to call 🙂 I was kicking myself because my business cards were in my suitcase, however, I quickly jotted down my blog address and left but not before I was really cheeky and asked for a photo which Jon, being a fabulous sport, agreed to even though he was tired after a long day. I thanked Jon for his time and I returned to my seat, leaving Jon listening to the tracks on my blog. He was kind enough to send out a “Tweet” after listening 🙂
Jon told me to tell my teacher she was doing a great job so I sent a text to Kath and she was thrilled.
Whilst trying to put pictures together for this post I discovered Jon has a blog called the ‘Snowblog’
Recently Jon interviewed Sir Alex Ferguson on players, politics and the press. If you want to see how a real professional interviews it is worth a watch ( Link )
When I arrived at the station and excitedly explained to my Mum what had happened on the train she asked me if I had asked him about the HS2 high speed train link to Glasgow, his thoughts on student fees and what did he think about the Scottish Independence question ? I replied, “Oh Mum he deals with those sorts of questions at work every day” 🙂
What a great early birthday present this was, it’s my birthday tomorrow, two decades and out of my teens, I’m hoping to put a couple of my scrapbook photo’s together tomorrow for a birthday post. I’ve had a fabulous weekend of performances too. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.