But I'm getting an insider view of a process which demands loads of patience and persistence, and LOTS of time
not to mention a degree in bureaucracy. As one of the producers said of the endless discussions, "We must look like goldfish swimming round and round in a bowl, with our mouths opening and shutting." Or, (I thought) like being caught in a particularly tangled wood....
I've spent a lot of time one way and another observing the BBC from not-quite-inside and not-quite-outside. T. worked on BBC staff for years in London, and also spent three years at a BBC local radio station in his early days. My contribution wasn't important but they were such a nice group of people and I was very grateful to tag along.
They had some lovely reporters at this station. One, John, specialised at turning up at the very last moment for his reports. He was always doing something more interesting or enjoyable that didn't involve rushing around....
It was sometimes my job to haul him away and into the studio to deliver his spiel.
But I remember him very fondly, and with enormous gratitude, becauselong ago he saved my life, and the life of my baby. In fact, I still get the creeps
when I think of that incident, and how easily it could have gone the other way.
All of a sudden, I noticed that the scenery outside the windows was moving, and John and his friends were disappearing from view. Yes, either they, or else the car, were just not staying in the same place.
Oh, it was the car that was moving! The handbrake had slipped and it had started to drive itself downhill - a steep hill with a busy traffic intersection at the bottom.
I tried to leap up, my brain racing across the possibility of steering with one hand and pulling the handbrake with the other. But my baby was screaming and flailing, and I couldn't reach over the front seat or stand up anyhow.
The car was picking up speed. Before I could think any further, John had hurled himself into the front seat, slammed on the brakes, grabbed the wheel and steered us to safety. He had spotted what was happening, amd raced across the street (at risk to his own life) to save the situation.
I often think of that, and wonder what would have happened if he had not reacted so fast. He was no spring chicken even then, but maybe his quick wits were the reason he only turned up for live broadcasts till the last minute. He just liked living that way.
We lost touch for many years after we moved back to London, but I found this clip of him on Youtube, performing at his 75th birthday party. He had still not completely retired.
So here's the man who almost certainly saved me and my daughter from something terrible. Sadly he's died now, but I am glad I'd got back in touch before and told him how grateful I will always be to him.
When you read this I'll be on my way back from Paris.. In honour of it, I've illustrated this post with pictures from my last trip to Paris, a couple of years ago. This wonderful Parisian mural below is by Raoul Dufy, who is an underrated painter these days, I think. Do you agree it might be time for Dufy to have a comeback?