I hadnt expected
to even go to the Celtic Film and Television Festival. Id applied
for the student forum but had received a thanks but no thanks
response, and was starting to plan an enjoyable week off, when the phone
rang. Oliver? said a voice. Its Beatrix Wood
we need someone to help out in the festival office and I thought
Yes! Ill do it I cried. Dreams
of mingling with the great and the good of the Celtic film world flashed
before me, or tried to, as I couldnt think of any famous Celts
for a second. Then I remembered one: Catherine Zeta Jones. When
do I start?
The reality wasnt quite like that. I met with Karen Stockdale,
the festival director, on Monday afternoon. We went through my duties
setting up interviews if asked, locating people who needed to
be interviewed and helping out with anything else, really.
I wasnt sure what the last would entail, but it all sounded fine
enough. I started Wednesday morning.
Sophie took me through the schedule. After wed done that she told
me at some length about an interesting character who was up for an award
the following day. Some sort of musician, apparently, and hugely famous
in his day. Havent you heard of James Scott Skinner?
she said. Oh yes, he was a legend. Skinnermania was
rife amongst the Americans they adored him. Really, they did.
News to me, I thought, although I thought Id vaguely heard about
the bloke somewhere but couldnt remember where.
Schmoozing chances seemed to be growing ever more distant. So
youre the highly qualified gofer, are you? said Anthony,
our press officer. I couldnt reply to him as I was
rooting around under a desk at the time, and before I had the chance
to I was sent on my first errand. The car park attendants are
getting wet, said Jackie. Can you get down to the market
and buy some waterproofs? I didnt comment on the likely
levels of intelligence of people who had agreed to stand outside all
day, in Cornwall, in March, without bringing raingear. Then again you
could probably be fairly moronic and still work in a car park.
I had managed to get away to one of the seminars after a morning of
faxing, phoning and packing bags, but unfortunately had picked one of
the more boring ones. New Media New Opportunities
seemed like promising title, but the five panellists seemed to be nothing
more than masters of the inverse words to idea ratio, i.e.
the weaker the idea, the more words need to be spun out to mask it.
None of them really came up with anything more exciting than interactive
drama: Press 1 to have Heathcliff become a transsexual. Press
2 to have him play upfront alongside Michael Owen etc. All pretty
feeble, really -- before we knew it we were well and truly in downtown
Buzzword City, as the forum rapidly became bogged down in vaguely
technical details. Ive spent enough time in IT to know that
when the discussion gets vaguely technical, as opposed to
merely technical, people have lost the plot, but of course
losing the plot and having nebulous thoughts has never prevented anyone
making an absolute killing.
Back in the office, I had a chance to practice my sales technique. Fax
these to the nationals, mate, said Anthony, then follow
them up and sell em in. Id never managed to persuade
anyone to buy anything in my life, so headed off to the bar and had
a pint to get up a bit of Dutch courage. Then I picked up the phone
and called the Daily Mirror. Newsdesk? said a brisk voice.
Err, hello there Im, err, Oliver from the Celtic
Film and Television Festival, we had a nice line from Jimmy McGovern
last night, you know the creator of Cracker, about how hed been
told to go and work on oil rigs by Alan Bleasdale and we thought youd
err, would you be interested in that? A pause.
Hang on, Ill give you our TV Editor, they might be.
Yes! A result! Immediate thoughts of receiving Media Salesman
Of The Year Award at a gala dinner at the Café Royal flashed
into my mind. It was not to be, however they seemed to lose interest
when I told them I wasnt a real journalist, just a bloke in the
press office. Anyway, nothing appeared in the next days Mirror.
Various crises were going on power cuts, missing soundtracks,
not enough tickets but the team handled them well. Nobody got
angry or had a fit and problems got sorted out. The only problem that
wasnt sorted was the lack of car parking staff on Saturday. Oliver,
are you busy? (I knew what that meant.) Can you put on this
flourescent jacket and go and work in the car park? Oh no! The
shame! The ignominy! Not the car park!
Half an hour later, Id become a complete jobsworth. You
cant park there, mate, thats a VIP slot. No,
sorry, youre going to have to wait, weve got a lorry coming
up. Youre not on my list, piss off! (OK, I didnt
really say that.) God knows what Id be doing if I ever got myself
a proper uniform. Id probably be trying to annexe Devon
lebensraum for the Cornish! I had found my calling.
All too soon it came to an end, however, and I was back in the office.
Then, a surreal moment. Whos that? I said to the photographer,
who was busy manipulating an
image in Photoshop. The image was of a rather grim-looking bearded chap
standing between two doors. It was James "Sophie, The Easter Bloody
Hen" Skinner, from the Professional Writing course at Falmouth
College. Hes on my course! I gasped. "What the
hell is he doing here?" The caption read: James Skinner,
great nephew of the legendary James Scott Skinner, at the Celtic Film
and Television Festival. Nice bloke, said the photographer.
Apparently some of the Scottish nationals have been looking for
living relatives, and theyve found one now. Talk about being
in the right place at the right time. Honestly.