There is a fine line between fame and infamy and oh how easy it is to cross that line and achieve infamy by mistake.
It was with a bit of trepidation that I approached the idea of speaking to the nation, or at least the part of it that listens to radio four and has not tuned out for an evening of Netflix. Who wouldn’t tune out given the choice, when the viewing is as tempting as some of the steamy period drama that have graced our screens over recent weeks.
“The Duck is delicious,” the BF reported in a well-appointed slip of the finger in a recent text, as she commented on the delights of Rege-Jean Pages’ performance in Bridgerton. “Yum”.
Undaunted by the competition I pressed on. I have the looks for radio and in this regard no one could fault my less than steamy contribution.
I knew I would be nervous. The last time I “bumped into” #Peter White, he offered me a lift home. This time I wasn’t expecting any favours and I didn’t get any. It wasn’t the fastest 19 minutes of my life.
It’s an odd thing that however well prepared you are for a grilling, few of us don’t have moments of panic as we burn in public. Level one panic sounds like this in my head; “Oh how I wish I had memorised what came after the decimal point and given a better reply.” Level two goes a bit like this: “Did I say what I meant to say?” Out of control panic is a car crash. “Will anyone in the office ever speak to me again?”
I was lurking somewhere between level one and level two when the line went dead. I waited. I waited some more, then a voice in my ear said, “this is the operator at Broadcasting House Mr Benn. We’re going live in…”
“I’m not Mr Benn, “ I blurted out as I thought about that cartoon character from the seventies. The possibility of popping into a nearby changing room and altering my appearance before disappearing off for an adventure was not without its appeal. If someone somewhere was addressing #Hilary Benn as me, I wonder what he was thinking about. Not much I imagine.
“You’re not Mr Benn,” the voice said. “Then I’ll drop the call.”
“Don’t do that,” I protested. “I’m half way through an interview with #Peter White in Salford.”
“You’re supposed to be Hilary Benn,” he said betraying his irritation.
Hungry for the resumption of my torture I begged for reconnection. “You’re supposed to be Hilary Benn.”
“can you reconnect me?” I asked. The line went dead.
It’s not that hard to stand your ground when no one is listening to you. I planned to hang about just long enough to be able to truthfully say that I’d tried. The best laid plans and all that.
“Just top and tail it,” I heard Peter say. “I think we’ve got what we need.”
“Peter,” I burbled, wondering if I was now betraying the first signs of some kind of media based Stockholm syndrome.
He only had one more question, so I needn’t have worried.
Amazingly enough, not everyone was drewling over the Duke of Hastings. Someone on my Whattsapp lockdown group heard the interview. A couple of colleagues sent texts to say it had gone alright. I confided my discomfort to the Sister who said “it was pretty bad,” and offered a bit of feedback as part of my learning. I’ve had enough feedback to last a lifetime.
The BF didn’t declare my performance delicious but then again, she never said it was a duck. I’ll settle for that