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Archive 2
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Celtic Clan
Oliver Moor

I hadn’t expected to even go to the Celtic Film and Television Festival. I’d 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. “It’s Beatrix Wood – we need someone to help out in the festival office and I thought of you…” “Yes! I’ll 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 couldn’t think of any famous Celts for a second. Then I remembered one: Catherine Zeta Jones. “When do I start?”

The reality wasn’t 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 wasn’t sure what the last would entail, but it all sounded fine enough. I started Wednesday morning.

Sophie took me through the schedule. After we’d 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. “Haven’t 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 I’d vaguely heard about the bloke somewhere but couldn’t remember where.

Schmoozing chances seemed to be growing ever more distant. “So you’re the highly qualified gofer, are you?” said Anthony, our press officer. I couldn’t 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 didn’t 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. I’ve 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.” I’d 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 – I’m, 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 he’d been told to go and work on oil rigs by Alan Bleasdale and we thought you’d be interested… err, would you be interested in that?” A pause. “Hang on, I’ll 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 wasn’t a real journalist, just a bloke in the press office. Anyway, nothing appeared in the next day’s 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 wasn’t 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, I’d become a complete jobsworth. “You can’t park there, mate, that’s a VIP slot.” “No, sorry, you’re going to have to wait, we’ve got a lorry coming up.” “You’re not on my list, piss off!” (OK, I didn’t really say that.) God knows what I’d be doing if I ever got myself a proper uniform. I’d 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. “Who’s 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. “He’s 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 they’ve found one now.” Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Honestly.

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