When I was a little kid, my teacher couldn’t work out why I was so much better at telling stories that I was at writing them down. My mum knew. I didn’t want to make a mess of my exercise book by trying to use words I couldn’t spell.
Thing is, while my spelling got better, the fear of ballsing up persisted until ridiculously recently.
About two years ago I had a revelation. Not the religious kind with a capital R, but one that’s been just as life-changing.
Iain and I were invited out to coffee with our then boss…
“I’ve been contacted by the Radio Academy. They want you to speak at their festival in Salford.”
I took another sip of my latte. I was used to people wanting to pick Iain’s brains, this was nothing to do with me.
“They want both of you.”
My stomach lurched.
Both of us? On a stage? In front of people?
Balls to that! I don’t do stuff like that.
I can’t. Just can’t. I mean, what do I know?
I told them both as much. Well, actually I told them “F*@k that. I can’t.” Words that would come back to haunt me, but not in the way I feared*. Because Iain convinced me I could.
No. He convinced me that we could.
And we did.
And it was terrifying and stomach churning, and there were loads of people there…and a lot of them really liked it. So much so, that we were asked to speak at more conferences, and colleges – at one point we found ourselves working as radio consultants in Bratislava – before I knew it I was standing in front of people on a pretty regular basis, feeling really comfortable and getting a real kick out of it.
Bloody hell. What had I been so worried about?
I started to think about all the times I’d held back in the past. I’d been telling myself I wasn’t ready, I just wasn’t good enough, or didn’t know as much as the next person, but the truth was I was scared of falling on my face. I was still that kid with a pristine exercise book full of crappy stories that weren’t half as good as the adventures in my head.
Almost every time an opportunity presented itself, I’d been imagining the hurdles and bailing out of the race.
What an idiot! No more.
I’d been missing all the fun!
Which is how 2016 saw me give up the nice sensible job at the BBC station I’d worked at for 15 years. It’s the reason I’m now self-employed and hoping my contract gets renewed at talkRADIO next month. It’s also how I find myself on the brink of co-hosting a brand new podcast that might fail spectacularly.
The idea is this; Once a month, we make a phone-in show in front of a live audience and whoever’s floating about online. We’re assuming you’re going to join in, either by turning up on the night, having a laugh and maybe even grabbing the mic, or by staying home in your pants or PJs, watching on Periscope and giving us a shout on the phone or Skype.
It’s a huge ask, and it might be an absolute disaster.
But…it could be amazing. Can you imagine? It could turn into something really special.
There’s only one way to find out.
Are you in?
And just look how that little kid has blossomed.
I’m writing this having watched the first two shows being recorded so I can confidently say you had nothing to worry about.
Your stomach may have been churning beforehand but it didn’t take long for that quick wit to kick in and smooth any troubled waters.
There was never any chance of “ballsing-up”, although unfortunately I now associate that term with an entirely different activity. (Could those underpants be any smaller?)
I’m not sure many people could live with Iain’s hilarious stream of consciousness that passes as a dialogue, but somehow you manage to hold your own (no, I’ll just let that one sit there).
The pair of you are just a magnificent combination and I’m certain this new format will enjoy all the success it deserves.
Thanks Larry. We really do appreciate the support!