Jerry Marshall, chair of Agahst, describes a day of interviews during the launch of the HS2 consultation.
Monday: the consultation launch. I’d spent much of Sunday afternoon getting transport and a team together for the White Elephant. I’d given up, until I was told it was expected by the media. Then I spent the evening preparing for media interviews. I hardly slept. To be able to talk about the substantive issues to Today programme’s 6.6m viewers is a great opportunity and a weight of responsibility.
I didn’t need the two alarms. Got up at 5.30, realising I hadn’t printed a beacons list. When the BBC car arrived early at 6.20 I was ready for it.
The first interview was Radio London at 7.20 and I was elated at how it went. I’d worked on three leads ins and got them all in one interview: Thousands of jobs? You’re all NIMBYs? Costs £33 billion, benefits £44 billion? My responses were ready.
Straight onto the Today programme. Stumbled a bit to start with but got into my stride. Afterwards I just let myself out of my lonely little studio. Three messages: My sister – ‘bloody brilliant’; my daughter ‘you owned her’ (teen talk I gather); a friend – ‘you won’. I was quite choked.
Walked down the canals to the ICC, called the elephant team, found a drop off point and a small but determined crowd of protestors. Amazingly there was parking there for a car and horse box. Walking an elephant across Broad St raised a few eyebrows.
I did three maybe four interviews, ITV, BBC, PA, I lost track. They only used snippets of course. But the shots of the elephant were used, so worth the effort to make a very clear point.
I joined the argument outside the hall but Department for Transport Events Manager Bridget Taylor was determined not to let us in even if there was space. I had hoped to walk in but there were two doors to get through, well covered by burly security guards.
Back at my office it was hard to get my head round normal work things. More media opportunities arose starting with 5 Live at lunch time. Mental note: must remember to present things differently for different audiences
Next a BBC network news opportunity came up against Jim Steer of Greengauge; and the possibility of a C4 studio debate in London. But they couldn’t find a Minister to speak against me. Could that be a compliment? So back home to change, get the latest from other Hilary and Bruce and await another BBC car at 3.30pm.
This time I was in a TV studio all hooked up and looking at myself on a monitor with a Birmingham Skyline in the background. It was all a bit surreal, alone, responding to a voice in my ear, talking to a bright circle of lights. Then out again and on the train home. More encouraging messages. I feel privileged and even slightly awkward to be in the limelight when others are working so hard in the background.
Back just in time for the beacons, a welcome hot dog and hot spiced cider. A good day.