Posted on February 11, 2008 - by MG
My agent warned me not to go into London for fear of getting The London Lurgy. You know, that virus that everyone’s getting.
But not me, until two Fridays ago, because as you know from reading this I have very little actual contact with anyone outside of my Extreme Inner Oxford Circle (family, neighbour Gabby, me pals Becs and Susie…). Sometimes weeks go by and the only people I spend more than five minutes with are the EIOC.
So I went to London, caught the virus and was violently ill that evening. By Sunday night I was well enough to go to see ‘Cloverfield’.
Which made me sick, motion sick. I had to walk out after 40 mins…but was struggling to hold back feelings of nausea all the way through. Five more minutes and I would have barfed.
Then I went down with post-viral exhaustion. Yes, yes, excuses for not keeping the blog updated, but there you go.
Monday we did the little Joshua party at Krispy Kreme. I hardly touched the doughnuts but it was lovely to see everyone.
Tuesday I stayed in bed most of the day.
Wednesday ditto, conserving energy for the Bill Heine BBC Radio Oxford show. Bill and I met first at Costa where he amazed me by telling me how much he’d enjoyed ‘The Joshua Files – Invisible City’ and producing a stack of photocopied pages from the book; his favourite passages highlighted.
“This is what I’ll be wanting to discuss with you,” he said, picked up his coffee and scurried down the road to the BBC studios on Banbury Road. I followed behind slowly, looking at the pages. He’d picked out all the deepest and most personally revealing sections…not what I’d expected at all. (There aren’t many such sections…)
Over the course of Bill’s 3-hour show we talked on-and-off about the book. Every 15 mins Bill’s producer Sean popped in and knelt down beside me, took the mike and read out the headlines in a really posh voice. Bill fielded calls, read headlines, threw opinions around, punched buttons and managed screens and talked to me, all with dizzying aplomb.
After about 2 hours I worked out that the red light to my right went on everytime our mikes went live. So I didn’t need to be whispering and making hand signals the rest of the time. Duh.
I don’t know if I’ll ever again by interviewed by someone who a) loved the book so much and b) got right to the heart of the more serious stuff I thought I’d buried behind all the action adventure. As a radio debut it was a pretty extraordinary experience, I reckon.
Thursday I stayed in bed half the day, then wrote an article for National Geographic Kids about the Maya.
Friday – the Archbishop of Birmingham and his Bishop came to the school where I’m a governor and in a beautiful, moving ceremony, blessed the £21 million new school buildings which have finally been completed. The mass was also attended by representatives from all Oxfordshire’s Catholic schools and parishes, local dignitaries, Andrew Smith MP, city and county councillors, senior officers from the two authorities who oversee the school – the Diocesan Schools’ Commission and the Local Authority, plus most governors, past and present, teachers and of course, students from the school. The students were without exception impeccably dressed, courteous and helpful as guides, and basically they performed all the music for the mass too.
During one of the musical interludes the students brought banners representing every feeder parish. They’d made them themselves with the help of School’s brilliant art department. The banners were taken behind the altar, where they will be used to decorate the bare halls of the fabulous new hall. Watching, I remembered so many moments in the establishment of the school, from the first time I heard it mentioned in mass as a possibility, when having our own Catholic secondary school was just a dream that we had to petition for, to the first announcement, to meetings in people’s houses to discuss marketing plans…to the hard years of establishing the school…all the pain and struggle everyone had been through and all the minor successes on the way…to standing in that very hall with the architect when it was just bricks and mud, listening to him explain, waving his arms around, how it would all work. I watched those kids bringing the Archbishop those banners and I have to admit, tears sprung to my eyes. I think many of us felt that way.
It’s quite a thing to see a brand new school created. Meanwhile, inside the deluxe surroundings the hard work of driving up attainment and standards goes on.
And on Saturday I did my first ever signing in a bookshop!
Not a bad week. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.