Day of work for some

A FAIR number of us will be reading today’s Mail with only one eye open after a few days of partying. So it’s a good time to remember the number of people who will be at work over the festive season.

 I’ve done it myself a few times over the years and it’s not all bad.

 Especially in BBC days, I often did live studio programmes and outside broadcasts on Christmas Days and New Year’s Eves and it’s almost like moving in a different world.

 The first thing, of course, is that you have to be stone cold sober surrounded by hordes of people who are several sheets to the wind.

 You may well have experienced this yourself and, if not, I can tell you that it’s just plain weird.

 Normal people start saying and doing the daftest things, and as the only sensible one around, you feel a mixture of virtue and total lack of comprehension.

 One classic memory is of a live programme I was presenting one Christmas morning.

 As well as studio guests, we were taking calls on air from listeners describing what was happening in their homes as presents were opened and champagne corks were popped.

 We had some lovely sounds of happy kids and great family atmosphere, when along came the call I’ll never forget.

 In case you didn’t know, I have to tell you that BBC live radio programmes really are live.

 Many commercial stations have a delay system so that foul-mouthed callers on late night chat programmes can be deleted without the listeners knowing a thing.

 Because BBC often does real time live links, time pips and so on, it’s the real thing.

 If it’s said in front of a live microphone, it’s out there – as many broadcasters have learned the hard way over the years.

 Happily, you rarely get questionable callers on a mid-morning programme, but this was different.

 A lady came on air with a bubbly voice and it became clear that she’d had a bubbly breakfast too. One of her other presents had been a tub of chocolate body paint and I soon had to try everything I knew to nudge her on to more mainstream festive activities.

 In the end, I cheated and told the listening audience that we had to go to a travel flash.

 Slapping on the traffic and travel jingle, I buzzed the traffic chap and told him that, to his totally unscheduled surprise, we were coming live to him in ten seconds.

 So, at about a quarter to ten on a fine Christmas Morning, I asked him what the roads were like in the North-East.

 “Very quiet, “ he said, “hardly a car moving out there.”

 The good thing about this shortest and most useless travel flash in the world was that it gave me a chance to lose my chocolate lady, though, unlike the listeners, I could hear her continuing her merry way in my headphones.

 Of course, there are lots of people working this very day doing much more important work than chatting in front of a radio mike.

 If you have a glass to hand as you read this, why not raise it with me to the emergency services, the power workers, the medical personnel, and everyone else who is keeping the world going while we have our collective feet up?

 And add to your toast an unknown chocolate smeared lady who probably still remembers much of that Christmas Day.