Thursday, 21 July 2011

South Today, 1994

In response to my May blog article on Suede, it has been pointed out to me that, thanks to the glorious and slightly terrifying phenomenon of the internet, the 1994 local TV news interview I alluded briefly to in that piece is already up on youtube!

Apparently it kicked around for years on a bootleg Suede VHS compilation called ‘Unscene’ until some kind soul uploaded it. It’s embarrassing, but enough time has passed that I also find it weird and funny too. You can view it here, although my bit doesn’t start til 4mins 45 seconds in.

My memories of it are thus. Thursday was, for sixth formers, sports afternoon. Those school barrel-scrapings like me who were too pathetic or unmotivated to be members of a main sports team were binned to the sports centre in Poole town centre to play badminton, aka ‘mucking about for two hours’.

On this particular Thursday, mid muck-about, a tannoy announcement requested Peter Field to reception. Sensing danger, I ignored this several times. Eventually a class-mate called Simon came on court to inform me that, as one of Richard Oakes’ friends, I was needed back at school to give a brief reaction interview on South Today – or else.

“I’m bloody well not!” came my reaction.

There ensued a full-on row on court, as Simon cajoled and finally bodily dragged me to the changing rooms, assuring me that the head of year (parked just outside) would make my life hell if I didn’t haul my sorry carcass back to school.

A miserable car journey later, myself, Simon and another friend of Richard’s called Russell were lined up, firing squad style, against the wall outside the main entrance of the school.

A BBC South Today cameraman was waiting, and a crowd was gathering behind him. Two dozen fellow sixth formers (many of whom had made my life a misery in the preceding years) were assembling for the gladiatorial fun of watching a classmate endure a completely public, rewindable humiliation on camera.

The smiling cameraman assured me, as I was at great pains to ask, that the taping would consist of a rehearsal take, followed by a ‘real’ interview. This rehearsal thingy would help them get their sound levels right, and help us just get over our nerves and relax into the whole thing. For the rehearsal take, the deputy head demanded silence from the spectating crowd – they acquiesced but descended into a glorious mime show that would have made Marcel Marceau weep. Pointing to their asses, pretending to vomit, miming fellatio - you name it, anything to put us off our stride. I giggled through all my answers and said nothing in particular.

Next thing I knew, the South Today bloke was rolling up his flex and packing up!

“Thanks” he said to us with a grin.

“But what about the proper main take?” we pleaded. “That was a complete piss-take, please let us go again!”

“It’s fine” he beamed, devoid of compassion “we’ve got more than enough!”

I was gobsmacked. And that was that. To this day I think it’s a miracle that they were able to find a usable sentence of reaction amid all my weird nervous teen giggling.

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