DJ Shadow – Changeling
I was talking with a school friend of 24 years ago on Facebook a couple of days ago about how much of my life was intrinsically linked to the BBC.
I owe my very existence to the Corporation, as it was there that my parents met in the 1960s. In the 1980s it was a BBC Micro on which I learned rudimentary programming. And in 1996, at the third attempt, I eventually got a job there, working as an IT Support Manager at BBC Worldwide. (As an aside, one of my proudest moments was being able to show Biddy Baxter of Blue Peter fame my BBC Staff Pass in the reception of Henry Wood House. And that isn't a euphemism.)
I started at Worldwide in the October of '96, and so my 26th birthday was celebrated in what I thought would be a relatively low-key way in the BBC Club bar ('The Bistro') at the Woodlands site in West London. I was with a few colleagues, and also a chap called Ross who worked in the (what seemed to an IT person) exotic Home Video department (exotic, not erotic). Ross is a character. He also had contacts… into the murky world of 'Props', where, for a small fee, it seemed anything could be yours.
Oh, and he also knew Chris Barrie, also know then as Rimmer from Red Dwarf, and now as that bloke who occasionally turns up presenting programmes about large machinery on Channel 5.
Anyway, on that evening of my 26th birthday, Chris turned up. Here I was, in my mid-twenties, less than two months into my media career, and I was already sharing my life with celebrities. (It would turn out that this would actually be the apex of my linked-to-celebrity-IT career, and the only other 'highlights' would be a couple of business meetings with Mark Goodier, and occasionally spotting Ainsley Harriott out of the back of the office having a ciggie.)
On hearing that it was my birthday, the group decided that a curry would be in order. A few of us piled into Chris's Range Rover, and headed over to Chiswick, and a pre-meal pint (which, frankly, I doubt I needed). We settled at a fairly prominent circular table on a raised area at the front of the pub, and tucked into yet another beer.
I was sitting next to Chris, and after a while we noticed a chap who was sidling around the table, looking a bit nervous. Chris leaned over to me and whispered that this happened once in a while, and he'd come up and ask for an autograph in a moment.
Sure enough, after a few minutes, the sidling gentleman came up to the table, but rather than talk to Chris, he spoke to me:
“Did you go to Loughborough University?”
“Erm, er, yes?”
“Oh, I thought so. You probably won't remember me, but I was in the year above you in Cayley Hall. Nice to see you.”
And with that, he disappeared back into the crowded pub. And for a moment, Chris looked crestfallen.
Eight and a bit years later I left the Beeb, and that was still the most exciting thing that happened to me whilst at the BBC.
Number one on my birthday in 1996: The Prodigy – Breathe Don't think that that was one of Cowell's…
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