Well, we made it here. It took far longer than we anticipated for a variety of reasons, not least because I am once again enjoying minor celebrity status in the Irish Republic.
Dedicated readers may remember this and how I came to set it up. A few days before we left I was contacted by a freelance journo in Ireland to see whether I had any news regarding the petition. Dutifully, I forgot about it. We were, after all, very busy. The morning we were due to leave I answered a call from a researcher: would I like to be on the wireless again? Errmm...No thanks, not at the moment because we're in the middle of packing, arguing and making phone calls to parents and Sharon's medical supplies company and all that. Can we do it Friday? OK. Then I logged on and found an email from a radio producer wanting comments. Grr...Not that I'm averse to wanting to spout on the airwaves, it's a giant buzz after all but the timing could have been a lot better.
We finally got away 4 hours later than we intended. Then the comedy started. Halfway down the M6 my mobile rang. Sharon took the call (because I'm very good and don't use the phone when I'm driving and I can't fathom the handsfree bit) and it was Dave, the producer who'd emailed me. Ack! He wants me on in the evening, after 10.30 on a chat show with Rory's brother on as well. OK. I told him to call me about 8.30 when I knew we'd be at Sharon's Mum's dropping Paul off and putting a new telly in, so we could set it up then - if we got away by 9 we could be at my Mum's by 10.30. Sorted. Why all this interest all of a sudden? Apparently Olivia Kelleher, the freelance, had written a short article anyway and syndicated it to the Irish nationals, so my name was all over the place. Despite it being the day the Bertie Aherne bung thing blew up, the story was still worth a few minutes airtime.
Dave phoned me back at 8.30 to say he'd text me 10 minutes before the interview so if I was driving, I could pull over. This I would have preferred because my Mum's phone is rubbish and there's next to no O2 mobile signal there. So we dawdled down to Ashford then pulled over into a business park around 10.25 to await the call. We waited. And waited a bit more. I went for a wee, on the premise that my forced inconvenience would generate the call. Wrong. Then I said I wasn't waiting any longer because it was now 11pm and I had originally told my parents we were going to be there early. A mile short, at Homelands, Ashford Town FC's ground, we pulled over again as it was the last place with a decent signal. 10 minutes later Dave called and apologised. Could we do it tomorrow?
We settled in and Wednesday we introduced the dog to the joys of living in the country. The country to her now consists entirely of being chased by my nephews and preventing them from extricating the tennis ball from her mouth. And rolling in fox shit. This is incredible fun. She peaked early though and when we tried the same game on Thursday, she was completely exhausted and could barely manage a trot. She has now discovered the woods opposite. This is even more fun because there's both fox shit and mud. She hasn't quite worked out the horses yet. She occasionally forgets and follows a scent into the paddock only to look up at Max's rather large and smiley head gazing down at her benignly at which point she realises that that's one immense dog thing and makes a rapid exit. Even Chalky, a tiny Shetland, is a huge threat not to be messed with. Poppy is part Jack Russell and they're actually good round horses so expect some progress on this front. The worst thing about having her with us is that we have to have the back door shut to prevent her wanderlust from taking over and it's a constant 30 degrees in the kitchen because of the AGA. It's not one of your North London trendy mock-rustic oil, gas or electric fired ones; it's an original butch hairy-arsed coal-fired one and the best part of 60 years old. OK, it's fossil fuel but we've got two orchards - is that a balance? It does good toast.
I sat around Wednesday evening waiting for Dave to call. He did and yet again apologised. Once again the item had been bumped and it would now definitely be Thursday night at 9.30. It's no wonder journalists have managed to land themselves with a collective bad name. Thursday arrived and finally I did the interview. It was short and sweet but the great thing was they managed to get Donal, Rory's brother on afterwards and he said he had no objection to the petition. The irony was, this was being treated as a new story but I'd already featured on the same station, on the breakfast show a couple of months earlier. In acute contrast to the Red FM organisational swamp, the next day's efforts on 103 FM were far more professional. 5 minutes before the scheduled airing at 11.15 am I got a call, hung on for some ads and then went straight into a proper and respectful interview, which went excellently. I've got a recording of it and as soon as S can be arsed it'll be on my website. I didn't stutter this time. Podcasts? This is the real deal!
More tales tomorrow, including a picture of my groin and some acute PC World woe.