You might have heard me on the radio recently.
Actually, as an aside, I should tell you that the original air date of my bid for stardom had to be rescheduled due to a certain senior police officer resigning and therefore hogging all the news. Who would have thought that home policy was more important than home economics?
But my time finally came. Being on the radio is a slightly surreal experience. It’s not like being on television. The most obvious difference between the two environments is that in one you don’t have hulking cameras and blinding lights pointing in your face. With radio, you don’t need to fret too much about what you look like. I don’t want to get too Trinny and Susannah, but many about this, many famous DJs have the luxury of turning up to work in the comforting knowledge that nobody will be able to see their sloppy jogging bottom’s and yesterday’s shirt.
As another aside, I don’t want to get too Gok Wan either. There are plenty of DJs I wouldn’t want to see striding into work naked.
But with radio, there is the problem of what you should sound like. I believe I’ve said this before, but I’ve been talking for several years so I would like to believe that I am pretty adept at the art. As soon as I learnt to speak, much to my mother’s chagrin, I did so as if it was in danger of suddenly going out of fashion. Like riding a bike or boiling an egg, you never forget how to do it once you’ve learned.
It’s simple, really: you think of some words (okay, I occasionally think before I speak) and they magically pop out of your mouth. Sometimes the words are better than others, mind you.
However, when I entered the BBC Radio London building on Marylebone High Street, my mouth experienced a strange sense of disorientation. This certainly had never happened to me before. But slipping on a pair of headphones, seeing the microphones dotted around the studio, I suddenly became unbearably self-conscious.
What if I flub my words and embarrass myself, I thought, seeing people around me fiddling with switches and buttons.
What if I blurt out the wrong thing?
Hold on a second, I don’t really sound like that, do? I cringed as I heard my own voice looping back to me. I tried as best I could to smooth off the edges of my Northern Irish accent to make me sound… well… less like myself, and concentrated on pronouncing everything as clearly as I could.
However, after a few minutes I started to relax. I stopped worrying about what I was saying and the way in which I was saying it, and started talking about the one thing in life that I am truly passionate about: food. Essentially, I expanded on some of the issues I raised in my book mix. The importance of healthy, home cooked family meals. Ways in which the consumer can reduce the cost of groceries. Simple tips for cooking delicious and nutritious food. That sort of thing.
Occasionally it hits you that there is more to this than just a few people in a room talking. Suddenly you remember that there are people at home listening to you. Maybe they’re paying attention or jotting down notes or recipe ideas, or maybe they are sniggering or tutting or changing the channel.
But I didn’t worry about that. Hopefully, my passion for all things food came across. It’s the same reason that I started writing my series of books, the same reason that I spent all those years studying to become a home economist in the first place. Because I love food. I love its versatility. I love the fact that food has several purposes: it looks great, it smells great, it does you good, it brings people together for fellowship, communion and good craic. I love… well, I just love food.
Hopefully, some of that feeling came across in the broadcast.
To hear the broadcast, click here.
Frankly, I can’t wait for the next one.