On Sunday, I joined 143 hopefuls who were auditioning to be a presenter on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The advert for Be the One said the ideal candidate should be ‘full of energy, personality and have an authentic voice of Lincolnshire’. The audition process was simple; turn up, sign up, and be able to tell an interesting story that lasts 60 seconds. It sounded right up my street, and what did I have to lose?
It started off relatively smoothly, I had my story picked out from my backlog of interesting and quirky stories. I knew the Lincoln Drill Hall was accessible so that wasn’t going to be an issue. I was candidate number 139. When I arrived, they were calling number 69, so I had plenty of time to get my story straight. I went to watch some of the auditions so I could get the gist of the kind of tales people were telling the judges. Instantly, I got the sense that my audition piece wasn’t quite what they were looking for. But as the day went on, I realised the diversity of Lincoln had well and truly shown up to the event, and no one was 100% sure of the angle they had to take in order to make it through.
At some point around audition 90, I made a quick escape to the café to converse with my thoughts and ask them to pull themselves together. This was 60 seconds of my life that didn’t need to be added to the backlog of interesting and quirky stories. Although, the very fact that we’re sitting here, talking about it means there was at least one unfortunate event.
Chris Kirkwood, the lovely CEO of the Drill Hall, came to inform me that the stage wasn’t accessible in a conventional way, but there was a ramp in place, so all was well. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say; I was told the ramp was a tad on the steep side, but there would be plenty of people on hand to give me a shove if necessary. You wait for a bus and two come at once – Alex, a member of the management team, swiftly followed to reiterate my impending, ever so steady incline and assured me that he had everything under control.
A short time passed, and I went to check out the ramp. All I’ll say is that I’d have a better chance of climbing the Three Peaks with all four of my dysfunctional limbs than I would’ve had completing the hike onto the stage without resembling an upturned turtle on wheels. It was time for plan B.
Now, anyone who knows me will know that I’m generally as chilled as a cucumber; so as long as I get to do my thing in a random fashion then I’m all good. Therefore, the most obvious solution to the problem was to do my audition on level ground. All parties had tried their very best to make the stage wheelchair-friendly, and that’s what counts. But what’s so great about the Drill Hall is that as soon as I suggested such a thing, it got shot down with phrases like, ‘equal opportunities’ being fired in my direction. It was so refreshing and wonderful to hear. Sometimes accessibility issues don’t need to be solved with a ramp or a lift – sometimes willingness and determination do the trick.
So, there I was, being dragged up and over the threshold by my PA, who was lucky enough to be sailing through her first shift with yours truly. My chariot followed closely in our graceful tracks as it was lugged up onto the stage by four unsuspecting, yet marvellous crew members. Oh, to be a fly on the wall! Many apologies to the audience who bore witness to this unsightly scene. One thing’s for certain though, we’ll have either put a smile on your faces or made it so that you never want to return to the Drill Hall again. But please do because it’s an amazing place.
Having clumsily entered stage right, it was time to take to centre stage as magnificently as I could. Regardless of how inappropriate my story may have been, I was going to make my 60 seconds count. I began by telling the judges that at the age of seventeen, my mum put me on a train to London. As any frantic, slightly gin-infused mother would, she made the elderly couple who were sitting opposite me, keep an eye on me. As the journey went on, so did my need to pee…
Back on stage and I was well aware that thanks to my spazzy arm, the mic had dropped. Literally. If my crotch could’ve told them this tall tale, then I’d have been onto a winner. But never mind. The show must go on…
It got to the point when I had no choice but to ask the frail-looking, elderly couple to take me to the bathroom. They graciously agreed and off we went to the loo. With several awkwardly precarious heave-hoes (which had an uncanny resemblance to my stage entrance) I was successfully seated on the throne. As luck would have it, the elderly gentleman was standing guard of the toilet door that had malfunctioned and was locked open. My mission was complete. I was sitting there, basking in relief in the knowledge that, this time, my bladder hadn’t failed me, when out of the lady’s mouth came the words, “I had a heart attack six months ago, so I’m glad we made it”.
Based on the trials and tribulations of the day, I’m not too sure how I managed to wangle a full house of yesses. I don’t know whether the calamities and chaos of the day swayed their decision, or if it was my ever-surprising ability to wing my way through life. Either way, I’m extremely grateful.
To the team at Radio Lincolnshire who now have to compile a shortlist of interviewees from the footage of the day. I was the last auditionee and the one who was sitting in a chair. It’s highly doubtful you’ll be able to hear me, so if you happen to read this, my story, complete with a full rundown of events, is recounted above.