I recently had a call from an old colleague, Carlton. We worked together as producers for Radio 4 & 5 in the BBC Business unit in the late 90s. He’s now an IFA and called up out of the blue with the fun suggestion we meet up to chat about old times.
His call reminded me of one of the most embarrassing moments of my professional career. Then I worked a mix of day and night shifts, and when you sometimes work with a group from 9pm to 9am, you all (hopefully) become friends. On one particular shift, I was chasing a story involving the National Farmers’ Union, and more specifically (forgive me if it’s inaccurate, it’s a dusted-off memory) the fact many farmers were depressed and even committing suicide due to the poor farm economy.
Carlton heard me on the phone to the NFU, and without realising the story’s gravity, decided to play a joke. As I talked to its senior press officer, he started loudly mooing! Yes, literally making noisy, cow-impression sounds! I frantically and angrily signalled for him to stop, yet this only raised the level of the joke and his volume. After another 10 seconds, I’d no option but to tell the press officer, “I’m really sorry, but my colleague is finding it funny to do cow impressions, I know it’s inappropriate, please let me call you back.” A phrase I don’t think I’ll ever repeat again.