Friday, 23 April 2010

On show

This week, I've had a tv set designer in picking out some stuff for a kids' science show. A week or two ago someone came to pick some minerals for an display about colour, dyes and pigments and a month back a museum phoned to ask if they could borrow a large piece for a temporary geology exhibition. Sometimes, designers come with very specific thoughts about what they're looking for and it's not always easy to find them something that'll fit the bill. It's all the stuff of nature. It's not like you're picking out a t-shirt - I'd like this belemnite, but do you have it in red? Anyway - on these occasions, the designers went away very happy, which is always satisfying. It'll be great to see some of my rocks on tv, even if they don't have speaking parts. Last time it happened, I went with them, for a live evening talk show on a regional station. I'm pretty camera shy in any case, but the thought of live television had me very nervous.

Had to get the train to the studio, along with a box of stuff to talk about. Got off at some station I didn't know was there, and walked up a hill to this huge semi-derelict mental hospital. It looked like half of the building was open to the elements, with tumbled walls and missing roofs. There were a few cars parked outside, which offered some reassurance, but wandering through the building to find the green room took me through corridors of ruined rooms and I couldn't find a single person. Eventually I found a bare-walled room with a formica table, some plastic chairs and a drinks machine. There was a guy sat playing guitar. He was to go on before me, and play out over the end credits. He was friendly, less nervous and we talked.

The host came in with some crew and we went over the questions he would ask me - a big help, and I felt a lot calmer. We were led to the studio area, and turning the corner from the green room, the building was transformed into modernity. Lights, carpets, plants, pictures and finally the studio itself - a simple talk show set with comfortable chairs around a low table. I watched the show until it was my turn, slipping into the seat while the singer did his turn. My go. After a brief introduction, the presenter led me in with a couple of the discussed questions and then veered wildly off course by asking me about the whale jawbone monument on top of Berwick Law. I know enough about the story of the bones, having grown up not far from there, but I was a taken a little off guard by this random diversion. Didn't really know where he was going with this, or how to reply. 'Must have got lost', I said. He stuck to his list.

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