The Cancellation Station.
At 6am I cancel my flight from City Airport to Belfast because it was leaving at 10.10am and I had an important meeting at 9am and 11am where Pete Moser and I was pitching the project The Long Walk at The South Bank. I cancelled and booked a flightfor 4.30pm and took a the one hundred and fifty pound hit on the nose.
The meeting: The Long Walk has played in Morcambe Gateshead and Liverpoolso far and has just been booked in Hong Kong. Pete Moser the producer andcomposer did his presentation to South Bank Workers. I helped devise the concept and dwrite some script. We finish at about 12.30pm and I rushto Liverpool street and then to stanstead airport where the Easyjet flight is delayed by two hours at least. My flight might not even get to Northern Ireland in time. I am on stage at McHughs bar in Belfast at 8pm.
As I am sat at the airport, panicking slightly, I receive a telephone call from Maria Williams Executive Producer of Saturday Live Fi Glover can not do the introductions at the poets event at The South Bank on Saturday. I am not sure I heard Maria. Last night I was working ‘till ten oclock writing draft scripts for Fi. I had already conceeded that Fi could introduce the first half and that we could record the second half intro so that Fi couldleave straight after the first.
It’s Thursday, less than forty eight hours before The Saturday Live poets edition at The South Bank an event I had curated. And I was about to leave the country. And the event on Saturday – Saturday Live the poets edition - was selling out, and it’s summer. And I was less than two hours from being on stage in one of my most favourite countries in the world – Northern Ireland – and the bottom had just dropped out of mine.
There is no way Fi could do the event. She is carrying another life and primary purpose ofa pregnant woman is to protect both herself and the child she is carrying. Trying to think creatively I plundered the possibility that Fi could read and record script on the Saturday morning - as she would be in the studio in the morning - and the introductions could be delivered through the speakers at the event on the Saturday evening. And then, hold on aminute, why am I trying to sort this out. Shouldn’t the exec producer have somefantastic person lined up as a suggested replacement.
The suggestion was that the poets could quite easily introduce each other. It was a bruising suggestion. Yes they could introduce each other if this was a pub reading in Camden. It’s the South Bank. I’d already suggested Mark Dammazer. Unavailable. What about one of the many Saturday Live guest presenters, Muriel Gray. Unavailable. Hardeep Singh Koli I could call and ask him myself. No. I had to get off the phone and think moreseriously about what was occurring. I was three hours from being on stage in Belfastand I hadn’t left the the airport yet. .
What I hadn't taken into consideration was that this (bieng thursday) was probably the most tense day of The Saturday Live production schedule, regardless of the Saturday Evening performance.
I called The Journalist first who as a point of genius suggested Paddy O’Connell. Inthis blog my partner is known only as The Journalist. Paddy interviewed TheJournalist some time ago on his radio Four Show Broadcasting House. I then called Rachel Holmes head of literature and programming at The South Bank andsuggested Paddy O’Connell and gave her Paddy’s details through The Journalist.
I was leaving the country and couldn’t practically deal with this. Rachel at thesouth bank immediately took up the reigns and reared up her horse and gallopedonwards. Martin Colthorpe head of programming ran alongside and dived on theback. Within hours of getting the news in England as my plane skidded off thetarmac at Gatwick Paddy had said yes! We had sorted it. Go team! We neededan authorative and warm radio four personality on the same level as Fi and we could not have got better than Paddy O’Connell..
Minutes before the plane leaves I receive a call from BBC Ulster, a request for an interview when I arrive but I couldn't cause the plane was so late. I arrive at my hotel at7.30pm.