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Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Yesterday morning a producer from Radio 4 called me to ask me about the impact the new Sony Reader was having on people's perceptions about ebooks and e-reading. She was preparing for a show to be aired on Monday and wanted to know what kinds of questions they should be addressing. We had a forty minute conversation during which she asked me lots of questions, and I quite warmed to my pet topic. Eventually she asked whether I was free on Friday to speak on the show alongside an author I know. My heart sank. Friday is my day off, the day I look forward to each week, when I get to spend the entire day with my children. I told her I was really sorry, but I couldn't do it. She sounded really disappointed, said I was exactly the person they needed; she really liked the things I'd said; they'd send a cab to fetch me and I'd only be away a couple of hours; they'd pay me a small fee plus expenses. It did seem very irritating to have spent all that time briefing her on the background to the topic and then not to be able to go on and speak about it, especially if it meant a competing publisher would get the air time if I said 'no'. I hummed and hah-ed for a minute, then said I'd call her back. I called Paul and explained the situation to him. He sounded unduly unimpressed that I should even be considering it, but huffily agreed that he'd look after the children for a few hours while I went into town to do it. When I questioned why he sounded so grumpy, he said in what sounded a slightly martyrish fashion, "No, no, if that's what you want to do, it's fine...."
I fought the urge to get cross with him, and rang off, then fought the urge to feel stupidly guilty, then wondered whether I should say 'no' after all, it was only a stupid radio show, then called the producer back.
"I can do it", I said, "I've sorted everything out."
"Fantastic!" she said.
Later I walked through the front door at home to find Paul in the kitchen making supper as usual. His smile seemed a bit thin.
"Are you still huffy about me doing this Radio 4 thing on Friday?" I asked. "I guess I'm stopping you getting your 'me-time', and you won't be able to work now on Friday yourself... "
"No, it's not that," he said. "It was only that it's Ava's birthday on Friday and I don't think you even remembered."
I can't even begin to tell you how bad I felt.


sally said...

Leave your guilt where it belongs- if you were a father you wouldn't even have given it a second thought!

Scar said...

Ahhh, the joys of having too many responsibilities! ;)

Sounds like she was cool with it though :)