Diary - Fi Glover
Michael Portillo came in for a chat. I wish one of our guests would wear such a bright red shirt eve
Once in a while a PR invite that you really can't ignore drops into the in-tray. The last time was in 1995, and involved a Britpop band and a lot of booze. Last Monday it involved dog food and Kensington Palace. An equally heady combination. So forgive me that I said "yes" and let me welcome you to the world of canine nutrigenomics - "a whole new adventure in pet care", said the man on the podium. And what an adventure. In the luscious surroundings of the Orangery, we were treated to a slide show that had such headings as "Degradation of aggrecan in canine arthritis". People had been flown in from all over the world; some were wearing headphones. It was like being at the UN.
"But what about humans?" hissed my companion rather too loudly. He was somewhat out of sorts at having to wear a badge that said "Guest of Fi Glover"- for the whole evening. It will take a lot of stroking and petting to alleviate that pain. Two professors, three doctors and the owner of Hector later, we learned that dogs which have problems with walking benefit greatly from a diet rich in omega-3 oils. If I were a dog I would be extremely excited. If I were a mackerel I would be very scared. We were then treated to a tour of the state apartments and a sit-down dinner, where the menu informed us we were eating a healthy array of food, including something that had been described as "nature's Botox" - possibly the enormous fruit salad.
I have eaten nothing but papaya since. "But it's like Live 8 having no African artists," howled the Guest of Fi Glover - "all very nice, but where are the dogs?"
By Wednesday, it was time to leave London and embark on a journey, to be filed in the box marked "Great Moments in History Spent in a Hotel Room". This is not as exciting a box as you might be imagining. As I was moaning about watching Live 8 from a hotel room, Mark - this week's editor of Broadcasting House - informed me that he had spent Millennium Eve at a roadside hotel in Dover. We were having this chat as we zoomed along the M27 heading for Portsmouth, where BH had been despatched to smell the sea air and work out how many people were leaving Portsmouth on the Sail 8 flotilla. The findings of this expedition appeared to be fresh and five, respectively.
It turned out to be a fun trip, though. Michael Portillo kindly zoomed down to Portsmouth on Sunday morning, too, to take part in a chat about post-colonial guilt towards Africa. I wish that one of our guests would wear such a bright red shirt every Sunday morning: it helps enormously with the circadian rhythms. Admiral Sir Jock Slater, former first sea lord, paired up with the campaigning actor Pete Postlethwaite for the papers.
And the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club made us the best bacon sarnies ever - good for early-morning radio, probably not great for wrinkles. Will someone please bring me more papaya?
Outdoor broadcasts are never easy. We did one once in Glasgow for Radio 5 Live where we had no desk, no chairs, and no respite from the northern winds. No one could hear output from London or had thought to bring a digital clock, so the junctions at the top of the hour were more like haphazard roundabouts of guesswork than pointers to any true time. The worst thing was that no one had booked enough guests.
At one stage, a friend of the producer came along to say hello to his old mate. The friend was Lawrence Donegan, journalist and sometime member of the Commotions, fronted by Lloyd Cole.
That was a good enough reason to put him on air for 22 minutes. Thankfully, his has been quite an action-packed life, and I can highly recommend his books to you. Buy them just because he was kind to us.
I fell over in the street at the end, through sheer adrenalin overdosing and stiff joints from standing in the same spot for three hours. Readers of the BH newsletter will know that this falling-over thing is becoming a bit of a habit. I have the grazed knees of a five-year-old after a pre-lunch incident only last week. Maybe some dog food would help . . .
Fi Glover presents BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House