Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1988: Trying to get away

Comic Relief is 25 years old. I can hardly believe where the time has gone.

At this time I was living in Shepherd's Bush. BBCland. You'd often see the odd familiar face - and when I say odd, I mean odd: Simon Potter lived in the flat above my flatmate's sister. Remember him? Thought not. But it was the home of TV and I lived there.

Everyday on my way home I'd get off the bus outside the theatre where Wogan was playing (now the Shepherd's Bush Empire), past Lime Grove and up the Uxbridge Road to my flat.

On the day Comic Relief was born, I'd been into work to clear my desk and on my way back through the Bush I saw two policeman being filmed wearing red noses. Of course, it was Comic Relief day! What enormous fun. And there's a TV camera. Wow. I'm right in the thick of it.

If only.

My job was finishing, the office as being shut down. I was glad, as I hated it (see 1987: We were watching TV and 1987: Counting down to judgment day for more info should be interested). What I was going to do now was anyone's guess, but it was the perfect opportunity to watch Open Air and Sons & Daughters and get up late, not answer the phone to my parents who'd inevitably badger me regularly to get another job - had I been round the shops asking for work, or what about that friend of theirs who worked in accounts at American Express?

I had no intention of following any of these up, though I half-heartedly did just to get them off my back. I wanted to do something interesting. I'd have to wait another eight years for that to actually happen, but in the meantime here I was in Shepherd's Bush, the hub of the British TV industry. Surely the job of my dreams is just around the corner. I quite wanted to be on the telly, but I really wanted to work in the proper media. I scoured the media Guardian for TV-related jobs, bought Broadcast magazine, Media Week and other magazines way out of my ambit containing jobs I was totally unqualified for. Look! Thames need a weatherman. And oh, I don't know what that job at the BBC entails but I'll go for it.

Back then, when you applied to the Beeb, there was a very long and complicated series of forms you had to fill in - by hand of course. If you applied a lot, you got your own reference number. I eventually got this and it meant you didn't have to worry about filling in all the personal bits and pieces as they already had them of file. But it was to no avail. I never worked for the BBC. I now know that's a good thing, having had enough dealings with them over the past 18 years. I've satisfied my cravings for the soon to be no more BBC TV Centre and I'm utterly relieved that also realised early on that being on TV was not for me. But that's another story, coming soon.

So Comic Relief day, a chance to be a part of something fun and exciting. At least, that's how I felt in those days. Today, I won't watch. It's all in a good cause of course, but I don't like being browbeaten by celebrities into giving generously. I make my own arrangements that side of life, and I also can't bear the forced fun. Newsreaders doing a routine to Sheila Take A Bow is no longer a novelty. Same goes for mixing up the casts of EastEnders and Corrie and having them do I Don't Know How To Love Him dressed as musical hall cockneys. We expect the unexpected so much it's actually rather predictable. There'll never be another Frank Bough and Eddie Waring doing There's Nothing Like A Dame. Still, you've got to admire all the good work they've done and the sentiment behind it.

So what was playing this day at my flat? Why Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, of course. What a corker. This would soundtrack the next month or so when before I actually did get a new job. In a shop. Roll on, 1995.


  1. God, I remember the first Red Nose Day too. I was a Press Officer, and the Chief Exec of the organisation thought he was showing how down with the commoners he was by wandering round the building with a red nose on. We all hated him as he'd sacked his secretary (who was well liked) for getting back from her lunch break fifteen minutes late, a few days before Christmas. Takes more than a blob of plastic to restore good feeling after that one.

    So I've always rather felt that Comic Relief Day (or at least, the TV part of it) was something of a refuge for self-glorifying narcissistic phonies. Is that hard of me?

    Sounds like your life was just about to become quite exciting, anyway. Good for you for not taking that Amex job.

  2. Having done two years as a photographer, I applied to the BBC for camera man vacancy. The interview was at Broadcasting House. A bloody dreadful day - the interviewer, a cartoon Wing Commander, huffed and puffed his way through questions about F stops, depth of field, and apeture settings.

    I knew it was over, as soon I was out of the door. But there were some snatched treats: in those security free days - I managed a quick wander around the corridors. That, and stopping off at HMV to buy Guns 'N' Roses self pressed Live Like a Suicide for £7. Later sold on Ebay for £250…

  3. I remember those BBC application forms. I filled in several over the years, but I never got my own reference number. Or a job.

    Good use of the word 'ambit', btw. I used to have a Saturday job in a hardware/household goods shop called Hardy's Ambit. He must have regretted calling it that after the 1,000th customer asked him what the name meant.

    The highlight of my time there was the day we closed for stocktaking and Mr Hardy's friend came along to help - who turned out to be the actor who played Bergerac's boss. A very nice man he was, too.

  4. Bergerac's boss - Sean Arnold? He lives in Jersey now.

    Not that a job was offered, KK, but Dad knew someone whom he thought I should write to. The embrarrassment factor! Writing after jobs you had no interest in. What on earth was the point of that?

  5. nice picture. http://outonbluesix.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/hits-5-revisited-robert-palmer-addicted-to-love/#comment-1067