Yesterday at around 4.20 pm I was reflecting on the second cancellation of my minor dental op at the local hospital. Inconvenient but otherwise I can live quite happily with a wait for any dental procedure. I had had a quiet day, been round the local village and took some photos but nothing remarkable in the day. The following 18 hours has proved to be a bit of a diverting rollercoaster, not without its fun but also quite exhausting. I was rung by BBC Breakfast TV asking if I would do their programme on the next day. This was on the latest developments around the probation service. I had not done TV for a long time and not much radio since I retired. I had done a lot of radio at one time, as someone pointed out, I had a good face for radio! The great thing about radio is that you can do the interviews, wearing what you want, with notes in front of you and even these days from your home or the local studios. I have been to BBC Radio Sheffield many times.
I think my best memory was a BBC Wales interview that they wanted to do around 7 am. We were going to do it on skype, though just audio. Anyway I set my alarm for 6.45 am, staggered to the bathroom to freshen my face and wake me up and then sat on the edge of the bed with very little on! At the end of the interview I was thanked by the interviewer and he commented that he hoped I could afford a less creaky chair for future interviews. I said goodbye, turned over and went back to sleep.
This was going to be much more hardcore. They wanted me in the studio in Salford and to be on air by 7.10am. I said yes as they said they would taxi me over and back and they then went off to confirm arrangements. Before they had rung back BBC Radio 5 Live had rung asking to do a similar interview, this time at 6.40 am. They could do it by FaceTime but were in the same building as the TV show so she went off to liaise. Back came the TV person suggesting they taxi me over but without realising how early this would need to be if I was on radio too. Radio came back with a 6.40 time so the taxi was getting ever earlier. TV then suggested they could get me over by train, in an hotel overnight and as their building was just round the corner arrive there by 6.15 for make up, radio then TV. So this was agreed. 9.42 pm train out of Doncaster.
All goes quiet and you are left with some frantic activities. Pack an overnight bag with all the survival kit in it. Iron a shirt as TV can see you. Check on some facts about the issue to be prepared. Tell people I was being whisked away overnight and what I was doing. Record the TV show so you can grinch tomorrow. Check bag again. Download stuff in case no Wi-fi on train or hotel. Have some light tea. Check bag. Leave really early so you don’t miss the train.
The train journey should have been very easy. Just a few stops and no changes, gettting to Manchester where a pre-arranged taxi would whisk me to the hotel and bed around 11 ish. It started ok, no Wi-fi but I read what I had downloaded. As we got into Sheffield it was clear we were running late. No movement for too long and then the dreaded announcement. Due to someone being caught by a train ahead the line was closed. We were now still headed for Manchester but a new and slow route was devised via Wakefield, Huddersfield, Guide Bridge and lost of small places I did not recognise in the dark. We would be late the morose announcer intoned and then said it would be midnight before getting to Manchester. I was not the worst off, we were not going to Stockport at all and those heading for the airport were going to be on a new train from Manchester. We chugged along, I became too tired to read any more and reflected on the receding sleep time I would get.
Picked up taxi and made it my bed by 12.45. Setting the alarm for 5.45 so I could shower and be at the studios by 6.15 for make up. It was good not to have to do my own make up for once. Of course strange room, strange bed, a temperature approaching tropical and I could not sleep. I got up and messed about on computer until 2.30 am. I then managed some sleep, waking in the dark to go to the bathroom and hoping I had a couple of hours more. No just five minutes, so that was it and so decided to shower.
When I got downstairs I felt awake but not ready for eating, my stomach could not deal with such an early start. So I agreed with the hotel I would return for breakfast after the shows and at 6.10 set off in the darkness for the studios. I was met by my minder who took me through screening, made me a drink, took me through make up and to 5 Live in time for 6.40 am. In a flash that interview came and went and now I was edging nearer to the Breakfast couch with Dan Walker and Louise Minchin. A welcome cup of tea sustained me as mikes were fitted and I was shown to the couch. A perfunctory hello from the presenters who when on air clicked into gear than rushed through their papers inbetween to tee up the next item. 6 minutes and it was all over. A shake of the hand from Dan and a pleasant farewell from the producer, a tweet of the sunrise in Salford Quays and all that preparation over 13 previous frantic hours was over in a flash. What a palaver for just 10 minutes media output. And who will have heard it?
A very welcome breakfast followed and a taxi to the station and a more conventional train journey back to Doncaster. Considering they must be ferrying people in all morning the costs of the show must be staggering. It was good for our organisation to get the exposure and overall I managed to last the experience and I think did ok but that is for others to judge. I slept this afternoon very deeply indeed.