Diary - ACfE off air with a hiccup

4th September 2009 at 01:00

A text message. It was BBC Scotland. They wanted me to appear on Newsnight Scotland that evening to discuss A Curriculum for Excellence with a panel of MSPs. Me? Why me? Apparently everyone else they wanted was still on holiday or "unavailable".

Having raided my sister's wardrobe and bought a few sundries, I headed off to the studios. I was greeted like a long-lost friend by the researcher, who looked all of 17. She offered a refreshment "to steady the nerves" - I enjoyed it.

Soon the politicians arrived, joking, teasing and guffawing in a totally insincere manner. I was introduced, ignored and shunned all in one movement as the charlatans continued their mutual admiration. Names were dropped as one-upmanship assumed new proportions. The Chardonnay was being seriously attacked, no doubt to be claimed on expenses in due course.

"What's it tonight?" asked the smarmy one, unaware of tonight's debate. "Search me," said the preening peacock, combing over the remaining strands of his hair.

Enter the token female politician, stinking of peppermints and rapidly checking the hemline and cleavage of yours truly to assess my potential for scene-stealing. A second bottle of Chardonnay arrived. I declined, accepting mineral water instead. The token female was equally unaware of the subject and I began to think that this was a new version of You've Been Framed. A Curriculum for Excessiveness?

The permatanned anchor man came in. I've missed out the "w" on purpose. He greeted me as Brenda. There's nothing like a good researcher. The politicians were extremely amicable and I realised I was the only one who could say "curriculum", never mind discuss it.

The anchor man said he would turn to me first for an overview of the initiative from a director's perspective and then turn the debate over to the politicians. The nation waited. The politicians were starting to become friendlier. "Look, hen, no offence, but I'm going to rubbish this from the off," said one. "It'll take this country forward," said another. Where? The third one stared into space, hiccupped and started to yawn.

I heard the countdown to broadcast. Five minutes. Last touches from make- up. Lights went up. It was very hot. I was ready for my big moment, ready for my close-up. I heard snoring from my left. The music started. Someone broke wind. A Curriculum for Flatulence?

Suddenly, the London presenter, just as he was about to hand over to Glasgow, announced: "We interrupt this programme to go to the United Nations building where a hostage situation has been reported . ". We were off air. My moment was gone. The politicians hadn't heard the announcement and went into yah-boo mode anyway. A Curriculum for Avoidance anyone?

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