Sunday 25 August 2013 Woke up at 8am. I suppose because of interview. After breakfast I decided to dance and did so for an hour to work off any nerves. I felt that it had probably worked, but did it? Pam drove listening to satnav instructions which are a bit odd. Driving along the wessex way in which you drive straight across roundabouts the satnav says, “Leave the road at the first exit” which I find misleading. It then took us past the entrance to the stadium and requested a U-turn and then told to turn at roundabout which it had not mentioned earlier, but it did get us there and was probably better than most passengers with a crumpled map. “I hesitate to ask, but are you nervous?” Pam asked. “Not yet,” I replied. She told me that she had been interviewed at the time of the world trade centre attack because her flight had been cancelled and that she had been very nervous and was very concious of her own voice. I walked into the building and asked, “Is Hot Radio here?”
“No, this is a shop.”
It was the footballl club’s sports shop, but they directed me to where the ‘red bricks are’ which wasn’t very helpful as there were a lot of red bricks out there. I walked around to the side of the stadium looking for “Hot Radio” but nothing to be seen. I walked back and found “Main Entrance” and on entering that I asked the receptionist is “Hot Radio here? I am a guest.”
“Yes, I will let them know, who should I say?”
“Gregory, better say the beachdancer.”
“Is that what you do? Dance on beaches?”
Interestingly I believe that she informed the presenter by sending a text from her mobile telephone.
“And do you get crowds of people watching?”
“Yes, sometimes hundreds, and sometimes I am dancing in front of thousands.” (Technically true, I believe, but of course they don’t form around me, they are already sitting there when I get in front of them, but let’s not quibble.) We chat for a while, she seems amused and I mention clips on youtube and she says, “What should I search for, I ‘ll look now.”
So we start watching video of my dancing in Javea and then —ooops I am not sure if we did this before or after the interview, it has gone a bit blurry. Chris Mower, the presenter of the programme comes down the stairs and says, “Hello Gregory,” we shake hands (I think) and he takes up the stairs and through some doors. This is an integral office part of the football stadium, we pass football memorabilia and the banquet room and then enter the ‘radio’ part which has a collage of rock star pictures and RadioHot plastered around and then we go into the subdued lighting of the studio. As we start to chat he offers me water and warns me not to bring it near any equipment saying that they warned not to get anything wet and I reply, “In that case I will try not to wet myself.” He asked me if I had been in a studio before and then gave me a ‘tour’ of the software that they use to run the music, the ads and the chat. He explained that they had strict rules about always going to news at exactly the right time and if he fails on that he receives offensive messages from the other presenters. Also they have a limit on how much they can talk per hour. He warned me not to speak when he is speaking and that we would have 3 minute speach sections and please don’t speak for the whole 3 mins. He wants to ask questions, get less than 1 minute answers so he can ask more. Also he tells me not to move my head when I speak and always speak direct into the mic. I ask if he wants to do a voice check. “Yes, just talk about what you had for breakfast.” But instead I… can’t remeber what I spoke about but it was calm, clear and eloquent. NOT A TRACE OF NERVES. He said, “You have a great voice. I can hear with the headphones just what you will sound like on air.” He then thanked me for all the advance info I had sent him, “I wish other guests would do this.” and then outlined the questions he wanted to ask which were to explain what I do and to talk about my background. “Are you happy with that?”
I screwed up my face and said, “Not really.”
He recalled what I had told him down at the beach about my business background and I said that it was irrelevant. “No,” he replied it is very interesting, remember no one listening knows anything about you.” In the 15 mins or so that we were pre-interview he teased on air with comments about his next guest being the incredible beachdancer and other comments that I can’t remember. He shuts me up saying that he has to concentrate, he plays a track by Pink and then Dire Straits as we chat then he gets stressed and shuts me up again because it is time that he connects to the news. “Done it perfectly on time, good. Next I will read the weather forcast which looks good, I comment that it was nasty when I came in so when he reads it he includes my comment, Beachdancer tells me…” Then we are on.
He starts with an intro that I wrote which was something like: He has been called stupid and a blot on the landscape, but also an inspiration and a bringer of joy, but he just calls himself the Beachdancer.”
He asks me something GOD KNOWS WHAT it was because what I say to him is something like, “You’ve told me not to move because of the microphone and then you go and play this lovely music and I just want to get up and dance. You should have chained me down.”
(He is smiling. He has a real guest at last?)
He says something and I reply, “It just occurred to me that this is the first time you have seen me with my clothes on.” (His mouth is contorting and I think he is happy, but you never know.)
He asks me what sort of thing happens when I dance on the beach and I tell him the DOG story and then I say, “This being a sunday I want to tell you… and I tell the ‘you are an inspiration’ and ‘closer to god’.
Maybe something else… oh it is all so foggy now.
We go to music.
He looks at me and says, “That was great.” He goes on to say, “Now I am going to ask you about your background, you can say as much or as little as you like.”
“So beachdancer what is your background?”
“My background is lost in the mists of the past I believe I was something in business, but I can barely remember and now when I dance, the background is the deep blue sea.” “Let’s face it beachdancer you are completely balmy.”
“When you say ‘balmy’ I presume you mean in the sense that a tropical island is balmy.”
“Yes, of course.” Off air he says, “Are you a politician? You ignore what I ask and go on to say whatever you wanted to say. I would let you know what I will ask next, but you’re not going to take the blindess bit of notice of me.” I cannot remember what else may have been said and cannot distinguish between on air and off air. In total I had spoken for about 9 mins on air and maybe 15 off air. At the end he twisted my arm by announcing that I would be down at Branksome Chine that evening at 4 and that everyone should come down to watch me dance. – Oh I think he said Canford Cliffs (which were someone he knows has a beach hut.) I reluctantly agreed and he thanked me for being there and I said , “Thank you, it has been a pleasure” Off air he said something about how good it had been. Can’t remember the words and I held up my single sheet of paper, “Here’s a list of the funny events I could talk about, we did about a tenth.”
“Well, you’ll have to come back,” he said. Then he told me that he had received 4 or 5 text messages saying that the interview had been very good. (My guess is that is the entire audience.) “Now I have to figure how to get home.”
“If you are willing to wait 30 minutes in reception to the end of the show I will give you a lift.”
(I had planned to ask him.)
He showed me out of the immediate area and I made my way back down to the receptionist with whom I sort of flirted for 30 mins as we watched videos of my dancing. I did get the impression that she was looking at me in a way that is different to how I am looked at by check out girls. The half hour flew by, Chris came down and it was a pleasant trime in a jaguar. We chatted, he told me that my idea for a Beachdancer Hour was a good one- Oh my mistake this took place in the studio and he said that it would depened on my being there to organize it, and my reply of, “In the last 4 months I have had two appointments, one for a blood test and this interview,” sort of spoiled the idea a touch. I pitched him the idea that I could record a weekly beachdancer report of amusing incidents and send it to him to use or not as he liked. He agreed to the idea. I may pitch something else when I think about it more. It was too short a time. It was a breeze. It was fun. I was in my element. It was so easy to be a good guest. Back at the flat I buzzed Pam to tell her that I was back and that she could relax as I wouldn’t be calling to beg her to collect me. She had been unable to find the channel and so just asked how it went. I phoned Ann because I knew that she had planned to listen to the broadcast. She told me that I sounded professional, an old hand at interviews and that I had seemed to be in control of the show. She told me that she had recorded the piece so I will be able to find out what I said next week. She suggested that there would be hundreds down at the beach and that I should take a pen. I doubted that they have much of an audience. When I headed towards the beach I did wonder if there could be some people there and whether I might become nervous or more exactly incapable of detaching sufficiently. There were quite a few people on the promenade, but I have no idea if they came from the radio invite. Some people in the beah huts waved to me and a guy lying on the beach said, “You’re the man.” I don’t know if that was radio related, but was a little unusual. Unfortunately I still had a small umbrella and snacks in my backpack which weighed me down and bounced around. I was distracted by the possibility of peaople there specially to see me and meeting expectations while fiddling with a heavy awkward backpack. I reached sandbanks where two teenage girls followed me. I turned to them, they looked apprehensive. “Would you like to dance?”
“YES!” they enthusiastically reply with smiles.
Their friends join and I am dancing with a chorus of 5 girls. This brings a new level of attention. We head back towards canford cliffs with the girls calling out to everyone to join-in, 1 boy timidly does so and seems to hit it off with the girls as they swap facebook page names. We dance together a LONG way, (too long. They crimp my style, but it is amusing as men watch with the kind of attention that I usually only get from women.) I say goodbye to them, giving them the flyer after explaining about ‘Beachdancer Hour’ “Oh, that’s a great idea, you must tell us when.” So I tell them to follow me on twitter. Back near Branksome Chine a woman I recognise comes down with her two year old (Birthday boy) son in arms. “Hello, it is his birthday today and he’s been asking when the dancing man will be coming, he’s been waiting for you since this morning.”
This is a family I had spoken with a couple of days ago. “We are sisters, bu the way, and here’ our mum.”
Mum explains there are three grandchildren and then says to me, “I love your dancing. I always look forward to seeing you here, it is the highlight of my day.”
“Oh, that is lovely to be told that, it is the highlight of my day too.”
“How did your interview go?” she asks.
I chat about it for a while, perhaps too long, and then explain the idea of ‘Beachdancer Day’ and the two moms say, “That is a great idea, I never understand why we don’t have more things happening on the beach. You should definately do that.”
As she talks about the benefits of dancing her eyes drop from my face as she checks out my body she says, “You are SO fit.” I take my leave to do my exercises and then go to near the restaurant for my en-core. I dance one song and to my surprise I think I can hear a smattering of applause. I look around, see the two or three applauding and so I bow to them and bugger me this sets off appluase from all the people seated in the terrace of the restaurant. I did a lot of bowing and waving and they waved back. Is this Radio or is this just random variation? A guy who was with his family came over to sit next to me when I stopped dancing. He talks to me about dancing and how it is good for the spirit. I agree with him and talk about a sense of harmony and calm. He tells me that his son and wife are good dancers. His son says, “Mum? NOT!”
We chat a while longer, I tell him about the radio. He clearly did not know about it. When he left, we shook hands and he said, (This statement comes with an egotism warning) “What a wonderful man” Oh, just remembered one of the teenage girls said “You are an inspiration.” (So that is the 3rd time I have inspired.)
“Why?” I ask. —-strap yourself into your chair, because no one could predict this—- “Because you love life.”
This man looks like me, but he isn’t me. Invasion of the body snatchers. I have been replaced by an alien with balls of steel who can banter with radio presenters, flirt with receptionists, dance in front of thousands of strangers, inspire others, spread joy, do what he wants without fear of social rebuke, is so happy as to engender envy and who loves life. All I can say, and would be banned if I said it on radio is, “Fuck Me!”