Friday, August 20, 2010

When Your Mind Goes Blank

Nicky Campbell has written the Spectator Diary this week. In it, he tells how he is organising a memorial service for Allan Robb, the 5 Live presenter who died earlier this year. He recounts an anecdote which sent a knowing shiver down my spine...

Allan told stories with great comic precision. One of his best was how, when
interviewing John Major during the 1992 general election, his mind went blank.
In a panic, he remembered the Spitting Image portrayal of the PM as a grey man
obsessed with eating peas. 'And do you like peas?' asked Allan. Major didn't
have the faintest notion what he was on about. 'I like a variety of vegetables
but peas I am relatively neutral about,' he answered after a bewildered pause.

Your mind going blank is an interviewer's or presenter's worst nightmare. It happened to me once doing a Sky News paper review, about five years ago. I had worked out my next sentence, but when I came to speak it my mind went completely blank. I just looked at the presenter mentally shouting 'help'! At the end I profusely apologised but she reassured me it had happened to her the previous week when she was interviewing Jack Straw.

I had another episode last night on LBC. At the end of the second hour I started to explain that in the next hour we'd be discussing the catholic church and gay adoption. But the words just wouldn't come out in the right order. In the end I just said, 'this is a bit rubbish isn't it?' I know people always say listeners or viewers love it when something goes wrong, but at the time, the presenter feels a sense of total humiliation. The key is to recover quickly and move on.

Tonight is the last night of my four week stint covering for Petrie Hosken on the LBC evening show. As you have probably noticed, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I know quite a few of you have tuned in and some have even phoned in to the programme. So thanks for joining me and hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future.

I still have three other programmes before the end of the month. For the next two Sundays I am covering for Andrew Pierce from 10am-1pm and then for James O'Brien on Bank Holiday Monday from 10am-1pm, when Chris Mullin will be a guest on the programme, talking about the seconf volume of his diaries.

If you enjoy my shows, do join the I LISTEN TO IAIN DALE ON LBC 97.3 Facebook Group HERE.


Unsworth said...

Fortunately what passes for my 'mind' is blank for most of the time. Let's face it reality is grim enough - having some sort of connection with it is even worse....

But in my experience it's always better simply to admit and ask for indulgence, rather than to make even more of a prat of ones' self.

Ed said...

Please get your new Executive Assistant to get you to you stand in for that chap who is married to Jackie Ashley. Sunday mornings starting at 9 am needs a bit of livening up.

Or does one have to be a card carrying BBC apparatchik to host a BBC TV show these days?

Osama the Nazarene said...

Excellent listening when time permitted BUT I was amazed at how impartial you sounded at times. Impartiality is a BBC fixation even though the bulk of their presenters are without doubt left wing.

A clearly partizan style of radio (and TV) presentation would provide interesting listneing and is definitely missed.

Sean said...

A few years ago the Chairman of my council asked my to say a prayer at his annual formal dinner. The prayer went fine right up to the point where I asked those present to remember "our Chairman, Councillor ..." and then I just couldn't remember his name.

There was a deathly hush as I strained my feeble brain until a someone nearby "whispered" it to me. As I fervently added "Amen" and opened my eyes I was very relieved to see the Chairman was smiling.

The Purpleline said...

Iain- have to admit I loved listening to your show and I have given LBC a go over the last month. I do love Jimmy the Whale and Nick Ferrari.

I was listening daytime to Gaunty on Suntalk, I thought the station would be a big hit, but alas it never took off.

LBC i must say really does feel like you are talking direct to the listener and it means a lot to listeners to have that bond.

Well done and I will miss you after finding your show when I was caught on the M25 en-route to GATWICK A NIGHTMARE JOURNEY made bearable by your dulcet tones.

John said...

Next time your mind goes blank, why don't you ask the person sitting opposite you about their sexuality. You seem to do that whenever you interview someone who is gay.

Hamish said...


"rather than to make even more of a prat of ones' self".

as bernard shaw pointed out, apostrophes are redundant since they have no correlate in spoken language (like capital letters).

you may have meant:
make a prat of oneself
make a prat of ones self
make a prat of ones elf.

but if you have to use apostrophes, please put them in the right place.

Unsworth said...

@ Hamish.

I'm so very glad you have been able to tell me where to place my apostrophes. It must've taken you ages to decide how best to approach the problem. Congratulations on your resounding success.

Have you much else to do with your time?

And one has to recognise that Shaw was a puffed-up, obsessive, pretentious, Irish prig - but I'm sure you knew that already. He was no Grammarian - as his 'writings' clearly demonstrate.