Richard Oliff: The day the tables were turned on me

Paddy O'Connell and Richard Oliff
Paddy O'Connell and Richard Oliff

Last Friday I found myself sitting at Market Harborough railway station waiting for someone I’d never met before: Paddy O’Connell.

Paddy is the presenter of the BBC radio 4 Sunday morning magazine programme Broadcasting House and he was headed to Harborough to interview me.

His producer, Louise ‘Lou’ Birt, had read a Northants Telegraph column I’d written a few weeks ago posing the question, why don’t we hear people whistling any more?

To paraphrase her initial contact with me she said she’d been reading my piece and had got very animated.

Apparently she’d been trying to initiate a broadcast on why no-one whistles any longer on Broadcasting House for a long time, and saw this as the opportunity to get things rolling.

The tables had been turned – after all it was usually my job to interview people – and, as I waited for the train from St Pancras, I found myself becoming nervous.

Perhaps all interviewers should experience this sensation from time to time, just to remind one of the trepidation that one feels when faced with the unknown.

Paddy arrived on time, bringing with him his young well-behaved little dog Bob.

This is a broadcaster of some pedigree and I must confess to being a tad flattered that he’d travelled from London on a Friday afternoon to ‘chat’ with me.

Off we meandered on to Fernie Road, the location of HFM radio, my broadcasting home for eight years, a set-up that appeared to suitably impress Paddy, given his extensive knowledge and background in local radio.

For atmosphere Paddy decided to record the interview near a small patch of grass outside.

As soon as it began it was over, after which we said goodbye as Paddy headed to Harborough to chat with its population about the demise of whistling. This Sunday morning will be interesting.