Expert VS Enthusiast...

Yes, my stool is floating...

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a TV producer, asking if I'd like to appear as the 'Sewing and Crafts Expert' on a chat show... the result of that conversation will follow in another blog post (!) but before I go into that, I wanted to discuss with you the question of what it takes to be considered 'An Expert'... 

You may or may not know, I make a living from talking. I know, weird considering I haven't got the most soothing, tuneful, feminine of tones (!) - but I just so happen to have been lucky enough to find a niche as a 'northern, character' voice... I started voicing foreign-accent radio ads while I was at University, moved into presenting traffic and travel reports, learned the ropes of presenting through hospital radio, and then got my first 'proper' radio gig on a kids' radio station... currently I'm lucky enough to work as an announcer on TV (you never know how long you'll have a job in this industry, hence why, as I write this, I'm lucky enough to say this is true...). So does this make me an expert in voice work?
Here's my suggested blog post soundtrack for today, Money Talks... apart from being loosely tied to my career (ha ha!), it's also one of my fave tracks of all time from the nineties! Reminds me of skating around in circles at my local YMCA...

...and talking of exercise!

Many moons ago, I was made redundant from a job, and with the (small) payout I received, I paid for a course to qualify as an aerobics instructor. Did I qualify? Yes. Do I consider myself an expert in aerobics? No. But that doesn't mean I couldn't still teach it, if I went into a gym and showed my certificate... To me, when it comes to teaching fitness, there's an invisible line I haven't yet crossed (and may never), that comes with the passing of time, and experience. But! That doesn't stop some people from calling themselves 'An Expert' when they have a qualification, in any given field...

And sew how to cross that invisible line of expertise..?

I find it interesting that TV shows have the potential to transform 'normal' people into working TV professionals... whether it's being a contestant on a cookery show, leading to a book deal... or just the very action of being in a fly-on-the-wall documentary, like the Kardashians... what we're looking at is the phenomenon of reality TV shows being a rite of passage. We - as the viewer - take a participant to be 'more' than they were before... Isn't it a strange thought, that people are paid an appearance fee 'post broadcast', to be themselves; the same person they were before they went on screen..? We perceive them to be a celebrity, or have an area of expertise, as a consequence of being on a show - hence why, even though a singer may arguably lose some sort of credence by going on a show like X Factor, it will undeniably give them an audience, and therefore fans, which in turn means revenue... They may well have been a busker before - but now they are a recording artist. Again, I'm saying they were the same person before - just as talented, only lacking that TV Factor.

And then there's Katie Hopkins... 

Most people are of the frame of mind that she is... difficult, argumentative even. It's my personal feeling that she has engineered a career out of being the pantomime baddie, in other words, if a TV show wants a guest to play devil's advocate, she is more than willing. And, moreover, she is not afraid of playing that role for a living (in other words, she doesn't break into a smile at any point to reassure us that it's all an act). She is not the first to carve a career out of being critical; the eighties had Nina Myskow (who went on to write for The Sun as 'The Bitch on The Box'), the first ever Big Brother had Nasty Nick (who went on to write a book called 'Nasty Nick: How to be a Right Bastard'), and Simon Cowell took that hard-to-please act to a global audience... although it's quite funny to read his thoughts on being compared to Anne Robinson (another TV personality known for her sharp tongue); "I hate her and I hate her show because it's just an act..,". (say what Simon?!)

SO, although no-one truly wants to be disliked, it appears that, if you can be 'a bit of a git' on TV, then you've got a job for life...

Too saccharine sweet for TV..?
I've long-since wondered if I'm on my own when I ponder upon expertise... In the past I've been quick to dismiss myself as 'an expert', which sometimes has meant I've not got a job... Or, if I have, I haven't asked for enough money. Or any at all! This is all a very long-winded way of me explaining to you that, (getting back to the very beginning of this post!!) in spite of me saying to the TV producer who called and asked me to appear as The Expert "I'd LOVE to come on the show for a chat!" - I did so with reservations, after all, I've only been blogging on the subject of sewing and crafting since last April... I told myself that going on the show would just prove that I'm an avid enthusiast, that I'm sharing my Passion for Refashioning with people, who may - as an aside - take something away with them. Even if the viewer knows much more than I do on the subject, that shouldn't dissuade me from talking about something I enjoy with enthusiasm... should it?

Have you ever had qualms about taking the role of expert, advisor, or teacher, in any given setting, because you were wary of being less-qualified than someone else in the forum you're addressing..? Is it inevitable that you will be more experienced than some people, and less than others? Maybe the only qualifying factor that really matters is the person employing you to deliver that 'lesson' - if they think you're fit to do it, you are. And with that thought, I'll continue to be an enthusiastic amateur until someone deems fit to pay me for my services... and then? Who knows...


In other news...

  • My Mum, (who refuses to call herself an expert in knitting, but is, naturally), knitted a sausage dog draught excluder for me as a surprise, that Rod has taken quite a shine to. And when I say 'shine', I mean 'turn your back for two minutes and he's nibbling at the stitches'... 
    I would like, some time in the near future, to have a guest blog post to share with you, written by my Mum. Apart from being a great knitter, she's also a talented writer (and has been for many years) - here's an example of her work, from my earlier post on running in the London Marathon. 
  • I'm hoping to enter the current Zinnia Sewalong competition, being held by The Stitchery Studio... if you're up for the challenge, why not do it too - and I can include your efforts in a future post? I say I'm 'hoping' to enter, as the deadline is next week, and there's an important project I need to finish first, in time for Mother's Day (which I can't go into detail about right now, for obvious reasons... ahem...). I hope you'll be making your Mum feel special this Sunday coming - yes, even more than usual! :)


  1. Great blog, Gem! An interesting topic but don't sell yourself short, I read your blogs, have no clue about sewing but you convince me enough to know you're an 'expert' to me. Like you say, we all know more about any given topic than someone so that has to be enough to 'tutor' them. I often watch news items & see so called 'experts' interviewed & find myself asking "What qualifies them to be an expert?" when their interview does not really provide me with more knowledge about the subject than prior to the interview. In fact most of what they say is common sense. For me, an 'expert' is someone who knows everything about a certain topic & does such a person exist? I very much doubt it so by definition there is no such thing as an 'expert'! :)

    1. Thanks Mark! As always, very flattering :) You know that fella from Karate Kid? He seems to know everything... but apart from him, yes - I agree with you ;)

  2. How exciting! And how cute are your two doggies!?

    1. Thank-you Josie! And yes, just wish they got on a little better ;)

    2. you so pretty you look like carrie fisher:).


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