Saturday, July 21, 2007

Just another frantic Friday

Sooo, let’s see. I had to get out of bed at seven o’clock in the morning to get showered and dressed before Nick arrived to film my every movement. He got here about ten minutes earlier than promised, at 7:35, while I was still eating my bacon butty, and we discussed the fun-filled day ahead.

Caught the train to Nottingham at 8:39, where Nick got told off for filming on the station and the train without permission, arrived to find that the Bentinck hotel and pub next to the station was all cordoned off by police barrier tape. No time to really gawp at it, because I wanted to find the place I was going for an interview before having to talk about it for the cameras – it turns out that the New College offices are in a great location, right near the city centre and all the good shops. Nick wanted to film the interview, but I refused to let him anywhere within sight of the place, so as not to jeapordise my chances, and packed him off to a coffee shop.

The interview was fun – they had a half-hour written test first, giving me some paperwork and asking me to put together a month’s accounts, like an exam question. I haven’t done an exam for years, but I think I picked up on the bits you were supposed to pick up on, and provided a halfway decent set of answers. More companies should do this kind of thing, I’ve always felt interviews are a pretty rubbish way of picking an accountant. But we did have a conventional kind of interview afterwards, which also went well. I judged that professional-hardworking-type would go over better than eccentric-genius, so I didn’t mention the memory stuff except once in passing, and didn’t tell them I was on the local news that evening.

Interview done, and it took rather longer than planned, we then got the bus out to Chilwell to visit Grandma. She, of course, turned out to be a natural in front of the camera, and we got a heck of a lot of entertaining footage in the can (I think that’s the technical term). We went into Beeston for lunch, and came back to find my Central TV taxi waiting for me already. By this time, the constant filming of everything was starting to get on my wick, and it was pouring with rain again. Nick kept us standing outside while he filmed establishing shots of Grandma’s place, but eventually we got in the taxi and set off for Birmingham.

“It’ll be about 40 minutes,” said the taxi driver, inaccurately as it turned out. “How long do you want me to wait for you there?”

“Wait for us?” I said, surprised. It was about quarter to four, and the show didn’t start till six. The driver wasn’t at all happy to find that he’d been hired to wait around in Birmingham for anything up to three hours. He moaned that he wouldn’t have taken the job if he’d known that, because he had an important birthday party to go to and he’d have to miss it. He phoned his boss and complained to him too. Meanwhile, it was raining very heavily and there were roadworks and traffic jams all over the place. A tree had come down over the main entrance to the Central TV studios, so we had to drive around the back to try to find a way in.

When we arrived, I decided to perform my random act of kindness for the day, and told the driver to go. We were just down the road from the train station, so taking a taxi back to Derby offended my sensibilities on several levels – as a working class hero, I don’t like taxis anyway, and as an accountant I was appalled that Central were paying a taxi to sit outside the studio for hours, whereas as someone who appreciates the importance of this birthday party, I would have hated to be responsible for keeping him sitting around.

So, having saved the big TV company a bit of money and put a dent in the profits of a small taxi firm, possibly getting the driver in trouble for it, we went into the studio, which was a very cool place. Just about as soon as we got inside, someone mentioned in passing that the train station had closed down because of the weather, but I decided to cross that bridge when we came to it.

Probably worth mentioning at this point that it was in fact Central Tonight yesterday, and East Midlands Today on Tuesday. I had got them mixed up and told everyone it was the other way around, so I do apologise to anyone who wanted to watch it and missed it. If you did, you can see my performance here, if you select Central East, and evening bulletins, and Friday July 20th. My bit starts around the 22nd minute, if you don’t really want to watch the rest of the latest news in the east midlands.

It’s a lot of fun to see what goes into the making of a live local news show. The studio set is a lot smaller than you’d think, and it’s weird to see it all brightly lit, with cameras and autocues lurking in the darkness around it. And my bit went very smoothly – they gave me a pack of cards and thirty seconds or so to memorise it during a montage of people on the streets of Nottingham trying to remember cards too, then I recalled it afterwards. I knew we wouldn’t have the time to recite the whole pack, so I just concentrated on getting the first few flawless – I would probably have struggled if we’d got past halfway through the deck. Still, it looked great on the telly.

And I got to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff, like the story they had to drop when a breaking-news thing came up (it was just about the fact that it had been raining rather a lot, so not really news as such), and the story behind the Bentinck Hotel (someone threw a firebomb into it, apparently).

Then it was just a case of getting home, which promised to be an adventure. Strangely enough, though, I was feeling extremely cheerful by that point, after having been in an irritable kind of mood most of the afternoon, what with the constant filming and being rushed from place to place. I was quite looking forward to a lengthy rail-replacement bus ride in the still pouring rain. But it turned out that half the trains were still running from New Street station, which will teach me to believe any gossip I hear in a newsroom.

There was a lot of confusion at the station, of course, with half the trains being cancelled, and we eventually got on one that we were assured went to Derby, even though the electronic displays all said Weston-super-Mare. Fortunately enough, it did go to Derby, and we got away without buying tickets too.

So today I was planning to spend the whole day in bed, apart from Nick coming round for yet more filming for a couple of hours. But I also found that I’d got the job – starting Monday, for three months with the possibility of applying for the permanent job there afterwards, assuming I like it. I think I probably will, although I’m a bit concerned by the fact that they apparently requested that I should wear a more boring tie to the office than my playing-cards one…

As for tomorrow, a bit of final practice for Germany! I need to keep reminding myself that it’s Sunday tomorrow, because I was thinking all day yesterday that it was Saturday.


Mike Carroll said...

For anyone who doesn't reside in the UK (The Central News site requires the IP to be from the UK), or for anyone that would rather be linked to the cut version of the video, here you go =)



P.S. Great job Ben!

Anonymous said...

Big thanks Mike.

Mike Carroll said...

you're welcome, Anonymous.

P.S. I love the mobile phone comment.