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November 2019 - Catch a falling star

Updated: Jan 9

Thursday the 21st November 2019 was not a normal day. The strange events of that Thursday stem back to the previous week, when the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) issued a press release. They were promoting awareness by describing our brush with meningitis and mentioning my book. That press release then formed the basis of an article in the local newspaper. I always thought that newspapers were written by roving reporters, so it was a shock to learn that many articles are tweaked press releases.


Anyway, on the back of the press release, MRF lined me up for a radio interview on BBC 3 Counties radio. I arranged that for Thursday 21st November, but then received a further message to contact them. I phoned up, concerned that they wanted to cancel me, but instead it was a different 3 counties producer asking whether I could appear on the Sunday evening show. I confirmed that unfortunately I was already booked on a show, but they said that the Sunday show was aimed at the South Asian audience and that they still wanted me. They did add that it would be good if I could bring my Indian wife and half Indian son – which was fair enough. However, I was amazed that someone like me could feature in a newspaper article and two radio interviews – my star was on the rise and I seemed to be edging ever closer to a prime slot on BBC1!


My wife, son and I enjoyed chatting in the interviews on the Sunday and the aforementioned strange Thursday. In fact, I quite fancied being on the radio again. After the interview we chatted to the presenter and he asked: “would you like to come back next week to do another show?” Well, it was only a matter of time before star quality rises to the top, which in my case was unfortunate because the presenter aimed his comment at my wife. She had been invited back for a slot on a cooking programme.


Alas, my radio career had abruptly ended, but the wife’s moved up another gear. I therefore took my place as her chauffeur and used her car to drop her off at work. She hurried into a meeting, whilst myself and my son drove off. After a minute the car informed me that I was driving without a key – ahhh! Can it do that? What happens now? Will it just stop? Will an alarm go off? Will it self-destruct? My wife still had the key in her handbag and our button start car had not batted an eyelid when she shot out the car. We drove back to the car park and tried to phone her, but there was no reply. We tried to track her down, but without any luck. My star, which that morning was rising majestically, had crashed and now floundered stranded in a car park. An hour later there was a break in the meeting and I received a concerned call, followed by sniggering and car keys.


Later that night I was busy working, to make up for my unscheduled car park break, when a flurry of beeps sounded from my phone. Maybe it was the radio station offering me my own show? I read the messages – BBC1 Prime Time – Yes! But, no – not as I planned. Apparently, at that very moment I was on some BBC1 supermarket documentary. A hidden camera had captured me looking grumpy in a queue of people in Sainsburys, much to the amusement of several friends.


References/evidence:

Article: https://www.thecomet.net/news/hitchin-author-jeff-brown-meningitis-1-6365982

Radio interview 1: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07rpq1b (about 15 minutes in)

Radio interview 2: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07rpq5n (about 35 minutes in)

BBC documentary: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000bhz0/inside-the-supermarket-series-1-episode-3 (not sure but started getting messages about 35 mins in)


Updates: Well the Waterstones talk was fun, although my book sales have slowed down to about 13 in the last month. It will be interesting whether the article and radio interviews boost book sales. However, the emphasis on the article and interviews was meningitis awareness so I’ll be surprised if there is much change.

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