MP3 and a nice cup of tea

Many years ago I worked in a relatively small office, where people were grouped into different teams. I was new to the role, keen, and eager to get on.

As part of our daily routine we’d each do a ‘tea’ run at certain times of the day for our team.

The word ‘tea’ was a generic term for hot drinks of some description – often including a trip via the vending machine to stock up on chocolate, sweets, and other health food.

The company was a huge – multi national concern, the kitchen was small and minimal – hence the need for the tea-runs.

In the tiny space there was a kettle, a microwave, some cups – and a water heater fixed to the wall which kept the water steaming, designed specifically for making the hot drinks.

One of the more senior members of the team used to eschew this device, saying that you “..didn’t get ‘proper’ tea unless the water was boiling…” and she insisted on making it using the kettle, and taking twice as long in the process.

Being a fervent worker, earnest, and wanting to avoid any distraction from being at my desk – I would dismiss her advice, make the tea as fast as possible with the ‘purpose built’ water heating device, deliver it out – and get back to the task in hand as quickly as I could.

I was also often the first person in the office – and one of the last ones out.

This work ethic has kept me successful – something which I am fiercely protective of.

However, being a little older and, hopefully, a little wiser now – I realise that having a strong work ethic may be important, but sometimes in life it’s the little things that actually make the difference.

Hilda was right (her name has been changed to protect the innocent) – of course you need to use fully boiling water to make a proper cup of tea, anyone who knows anything about tea knows that. You also need:

  • A teapot (which you warm first)
  • Proper tea (not bags)
  • China cups (warmed first)
  • Semi-skimmed milk (put in AFTER the tea)
  • Once-boiled water (boil it twice and it’s too oxygenated)

I learned over the years that if you’re going to do something important do it well, and to the highest standard you can, in the long run it’s what really makes a difference.

We can’t do EVERYTHING to perfection, but I learned that if you can do the little things well it massively enhances your ability to do the big things too.

You also have to make loads of mistakes, in order to find out what works and what doesn’t – no one learned anything from being perfect all the time.

But, when you’re working hard, and it’s time for a tea break – then you should have the NICEST cup of tea (coffee/Bovril/whiskey) you can, it makes the break all the more significant – even if it takes a little longer.

In the world of VoiceOver we fire stuff onto MP3 for convenience when we’re doing an audition, and we know why it’s inferior and why we need to do it. We also know that there’s a time for MP3 – and then there’s a time for allowing the effort you put into making a quality recording shine by using a ‘full format’ quality.

…the nicest cup of tea you can make…

With three young kids who are growing up in a world that believes that MP3 quality is the norm, and records/cd’s are old fashioned, I wonder where their time for ‘quality’ is going to come?

The triumph today of speed and convenience over quality does appear to me to be almost epidemic. I really hope things swing back a little the other way as we move through this world, and people will learn the importance of taking the time to do things well, in some capacity.

It’s what I want to teach my kids, and what I tell them when they’re moaning about it taking SOOOO long to make the tea.

Have a great day!

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One thought on “MP3 and a nice cup of tea

  1. Pingback: 10 Top Voiceover Blog PostsThis Week - April 5, 2014 | Derek Chappell's Voiceover Blog

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