The illness of Yasser Arafat has touched us in Newcastle. Huttonian was asked by BBC Norn Iron to do a live interview
to coincide with the Good Morning Ulster programme-at 8am or so. The BBC have a thing about using ordinary phones-the sound geeks don’t think the quality is good enough so a radio car was sent down complete with a young lady technician. It parked beside the sea and after some difficulty hooked on to the Satellite for the 30-mile transmission to Belfast. The transmission broke every time the car door was closed and I got quite wet from the penetrating rain blown in by a strong Nor’ Easterly. I am not sure about the sound quality when we got going-what with the roar of the waves, the passing traffic, the drumming rain and the howling wind. Anyhow Kate theTechnician seemed happy although she was a bit nervous after I had told her that the place we were parked was under water at the past two high tides.
Better than a previous away fixture of about two years ago. I was then sent a taxi by the BBC to go to their studio in Downpatrick-in a tourist complex apparently. I had to direct the driver who had never been so south before and not surprisingly the ‘ST Patrick Centre’ was closed at 7-15am. A sleepy janitor asked aggressively who had told me that the BBC had a studio in his building. ‘The BBC’ I replied! He reluctantly let me in and took me upstairs to a room, which was said to contain the BBC telephone. The door was locked and the combination lock jammed. So I had to use his phone and could have stayed at home after all. I left the centre overhearing the janitor, on his phone, making an outrageously inflated claim for the use of his phone and for his services as an intermediary.
Since then and especially at the time of the Iraq War I have had a number of telephone interviews in Hutton-no suggestion of a radio car or a lift to the nearest BBC studio. On those occasions the BBC, in their introduction on air implied that they were talking to me in Norn Iron. In their philosophy Norn Iron ‘experts’ have no credibility unless they are speaking from within the physical confines of the Six Counties’ and to hell with the sound quality.