On Monday I am due to be interviewed by the BBC. That is a scary thought. I know there are people out there who relish the idea of appearing on the television or talking on radio. There are writers who can face a journalist with professional ease and blag about their life and work and still appear intelligent and respectful. I am not of that ilk. On the very few occasions I have appeared on television or spoken on radio I am something like the proverbial rabbit trapped in the headlights of a car: petrified.
But what has to be has to be. I will have to bite the bullet, take a deep breath, hitch up my trousers and try and appear rational, intelligent and knowledgeable: three things which I find difficult at the best of times, yet alone when I am under pressure!
It’s not as if there will be a massive media audience. The subject matter is the 50th anniversary of the end of British Whaling. I am being called upon because I wrote a book about the Whaling Industry [Whalehunters – for anybody who is interested] and have another one due out in the spring [The Dundee Whaling Fleet, folks and full of fascinating facts]. Honestly, I write because I am interested in the subject of men pitting themselves against hellish conditions, and am intrigued in the home lives of these iron men when they got home. In the event they seem to have been pretty decent husbands and fathers. There was the odd drunken fight of course: and a murderer or two, and maybe a cannibal, but that was par for the course in the 19th century. Wasn’t it?
Anyway, re-reading the material for these books has highlighted one simple fact. Once the BBC interview is over I may well be a pool of greasy terrified humanity, but I will be alive. Many of the men about whom I am am talking did not return. They died out there in the bitter cold of the Arctic; and that puts things into perspective. For most of us, the day to day fears of our lives are blown out of proportion. for others, life can be a great deal harder and much more dangerous.
Hats off to the men and women who keep us safe and fed by performing tasks that put them in peril: all credit to fishermen and firemen and the military. Having said that, I am still shaking at the thought of facing the BBC