Oct 13, 2006

Fatbelt: notch 5

Candles have only one end for a reason. If you burn both ends, you not only get covered in wax, but you find yourself wading in a horribly overused metaphor.

The saga continues (finally). After DJing at a Sanctus 1 event at Cheltenham's Greenbelt Festival, I scuttle back to my tent in the early hours of Sunday morning. After a smidgeon of sleep, I am woken up by a phone call.

"We need you in the studio by 9am. At the latest."


It takes a few moments for me to remember I am in a tent and I'm working with the BBC on Greenbelt FM, the festival's on-site radio station. You can see previous posts on this here. I carry my groggy body to the studio and within moments I am miked up ready to co-present a broadcast of the festival's two-hour communion service.

It was a bit like commentating on the Queen Mother's funeral. I've never actually done that, so I could be guessing. There was the sense of fevered anticipation, bolstered by my lucid descriptions of people gathering in a field doing exciting things like sitting down and looking at grass and thinking.

When the event was underway, it was all hushed tones and snipped descriptions ("And that was Reverend Randy Bottoms and his flashing cassock. And now, the prayers...").


It was immense fun. You had to know when to speak, and you had to watch the tone of your voice, depending on how sombre the mood of the communion service was. And yes, 'sombre' is the right word; it is the best word to describe most church services I have sat through.

I have always been waiting to put on a serious 'radio voice'. At times I was just seconds away from lapsing into Mitchell and Webb's languorous snooker commentators.


The afternoon was fraught with activity, what with having lunch in the rain and interviewing peacenik pensioner and former Iraqi hostage Norman Kember. Well, 'fraught' wasn't quite the word. But I did get stressed when I was bellowed at by a colleague for no reason at all. And with stress, long hours, tiredness and tight deadlines comes only one thing.


By early evening, I looked like death. I worried a few people. I felt like crap. My throat was a war zone, and I passed from dizziness to muzziness with all the finesse of Alton Towers' Pirate Ship ride. I could hardly walk without feeling like that scene in Trainspotting where the ground swallows up that druggie bloke. My dulcet timbre and positively dashing vocal chords were evicted without notice. A tight, wheezy cough had moved in, shacked up with his squatter mates Captain Phlegm and Major Aching Shivery-Bones.


I don't know exactly when my immune system collapsed that night. But I nearly cried when I realised that I was heading towards my last day on Greenbelt FM. My final chance to impress the BBC and follow this crazy dream of being the next Brand / Moyles / Radcliffe / Peel (delete as inappropriate) could be a complete wash out.

It was a few hours before bed and I could only see myself getting worse.

This is the cliffhanger bit, when you post comments like "oooh, how exciting" and "do tell me more" and "hey Fats here's my photo hows about a date do you mind if my grandfather comes along". See you on the next post.

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