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Joie de vivre in BBC's Bush House

Susan Fraser of Coburg, Ontario heard Laura Lynch's essay on the Feb 3 program, and has her own memories of working at the BBC's World Service...  

 I listened with interest to Laura Lynch's essay regarding the BBC's World Service budget cuts.
While I don't have any specific memories of listening to the Service (having been born in Scotland and emigrating to Canada in 1971), her essay brought back fond memories of the two years I spent at Bush House, London.

My first full-time job was as a Programme Assistant to the Romanian Section in the Foreign Broadcasting department of the BBC in 1968. We were located in Bush House, and shared the floor with the Bulgarian and Russian sections. I seem to recall we were about 4-5 Brits, working with approx. a dozen Romanians. Heading up the department was another Scot - George Campbell - who had a flair for languages and spoke many. Unfortunately I can't recall many names of the Romanians with whom I worked, but a couple, Larry Galia and Bogdanescu do spring to mind.

I recall also there was a very vivacious tall, stately, woman who, amongst her other duties, hosted a regular pop programme. My memories of the Romanians are that they were a proud people, and full of joie de vivre. They were dedicated to their jobs of bringing the rest of the world to their countrymen and women. Two of the 'stars' on our show I remember were Ilie Nastase and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.
I, too, recall the different 'smells' each morning as I took the lift up to my floor - the lifts were huge and packed full of all different nationalities, all of whom had had a different spice for breakfast, and by the time I got off, I felt I had travelled through many countries! Obviously the cafeteria has changed - in my day there were no walls of microwaves, but an incredible buffet at subsidized prices which, I'm sure, was probably most peoples' main meal of the day.

I don't believe in those days there was a bar in the cafeteria - the bar was just down the road off the Strand (I think) and was for Bush House employees (maybe it was for all BBC employees, I can't recall). I remember gathering in the bar on many different occasions at the close of day and hearing multiple languages being spoken - it was truly a feeling of how small the world was even back then.
I'm sure the decision to make the cuts was a very difficult one, but it will be a hard one to bear, not only for those who will lose their jobs, but also for those countries who will no longer have the BBC World Service broadcasts in their living rooms.
Thanks to the CBC and Laura for bringing back some great memories!
Susan Fraser is with Collector Grade Publications, publisher of fine gun books.

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