Sep 12, 2006
Fatbelt: notch 4
You've had notches 1, 2 and 3 of my Greenbelt Festival shennanigans. It seems appropriate to follow that with a fourth notch.
It's Saturday, our first full day of broadcast. Greenbelt FM is in full swing, with presenters, producers, editors, reporters, techies and groupies working ten to the dozen to keep the thing on the air. Lee (of Penguins' fame) has been working since 4am, when he staggered out of the organic beer tent smelling of stale beer and pie juice. That is a lie, but it's a fair assumption that he worked as hard as he drank that weekend.
I roll in at 11am, an hour before my first presenting slot, to discover that Lee is live-producing my lunchtime show. This is good because I am his radio bitch. We have good intuitive sense of how the other works, although nothing prepared us for complete flabble that lay ahead.
The two hour lunch show is designed to have a live feel, so there's a lot of spontonaeity, stacks of special guests, and only one chance for me to impress the BBC with my interviewing skills.
We glance at the running order, I get a thirty second training session on how to use the desk, and we're off. We have live links to a roaming reporter around the site, who at one point seems to be interviewing a barman from Eastenders. Guests are scratching on the door desperate for their moment on radio, and Lee is frantically organising them into orderly queues as well as writing cues and prompts for me so I don't dry up on air.
The guests take their place in the interviewee chairs, one after the other like speed-job-interviewing. A woman with fire in her eyes tells me how Israel sucks. A bunch of Daniel Bedingfield fans answer inane questions about their hero, although it amounts to me filling in airspace while they um and ah and blush. A man gets killed in Africa (not part of the show) and I speak to his widow about her quest for justice.
Bands litter the studio with flyers and CDs, gasping for fifteen minutes of non-fame. Some I interview, others are turned away. I remain calm, keeping my voice level and professional; I am the calm air hostess to co-ordinated Lee's pilot, while all around us is turbulence.
And then it gets really strange.
Who the hell are you? In the chair in front of me is a straggly man in a leather hat and beads for clothes. He is staring at me through a hairy face and we're about to go live. I didn't even see him sit down, as though he entered the room through his own special trap door. Behind him is a circle of musicians, a rag bag mixture of middle-class hobos - I can imagine them playing the Bridgewater Hall then nicking your wallet on the way out.
Lee passes me a blurb they have written about themselves. I think of questions to ask while scanning the blurb, as well as trying to maintain eye contact to keep them at ease. I learn this is a folk band comprising Greenbelt vets, but what I didn't know is they invaded the studio demanding half an hour air time. They get about two minutes, and then I feel guilty because they were very nice about it.
I felt relaxed behind the desk. Presenting is definitely for me. Greenbelt FM ask me to co-commentate on tomorrow morning's communion service. It is the prime presenting spot, like the BBC covering the Queen Mother's funeral.
I say yes and then wonder how you commentate for two whole hours on Greenbelt's biggest event of the weekend. What do I say? And why do I keep thinking back to the pub the other night when I declared: "I'm not going to that bloody communion service, this year."
I begin to stress. And this is where things start to go horribly wrong...
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