Well, my one shot at TV fame has come and gone. The studio lights have darkened and it’s back to reality at Teamwork.com. I had everyone’s attention for about five minutes and now it’s back to work. Ah well, you can’t have everything.
Being on the Ray D’Arcy Show live was a terrific experience, although it’s funny the things that bother you. Emily Savage and I were taken on a quick trip onto the stage so we could sit in the right seats and get a feel for the environment. My biggest fear was not that I might stumble over the words when Ray asked me questions, but that I might trip on a step! There’s no one as dopey as myself in these situations.
I knew Emily through Facebook and Twitter, so I had some sense of the difficult time and terrible experiences she had living with facial disfigurement. In one of those strange quirks in life, my daughter Sarah Jane met her years ago when she was doing work experience in the Department of Justice in Dublin. Still, to hear Emily speak so eloquently, and often humorously, was fantastic because I shared some of that road journey.
I won’t deny it was very rough back in my teens and twenties. So many of those bad experiences I haven’t written about, and perhaps I never will.
Anyway, back to the TV show. I loved the VIP treatment – being put up in a hotel, the driver taking you to the studio – and home again. I could get used to that.
One of the first people I met was a Twitter follower @Jim_Sheridan who’s a freelance producer/director and musician, and a great supporter of my blog. It’s always great to meet Twitterati!
I’ll let you into a little secret. I was asked some months ago to appear on the show, but something made me hesitate. I don’t know why because when you put yourself out there as a blogger on facial disfigurement then you have to handle the media when they come calling, something I should know having worked in the Irish Examiner for so long.
Researcher Siobhan finally won me over and I’m glad she was persistent but diplomatic. It’s one thing to go on radio, but TV is a visual medium, and there’s also a live audience to contend with. She gave me the space to reflect, but just when I had agreed on a date, Trish’s sister Betsy died suddenly last January.
I was surprised at the trouble Ray went to to put me at my ease. We were staying in hotel in Dublin, and he came over the night before to have a chat with Trish and I. In fairness, he stayed for 75 minutes, and I really appreciated the effort he put into learning more about me and the whole subject of facial disfigurement.
The segment we were on went well enough. I thought that by looking at the audience I would avoid distractions. I also tried not to listen to my own voice, because I tend to lose my way when I do. Instead I look across at Ray or Emily. Only towards the end did I make eye contact with the audience, and by then I was sorry I hadn’t done it sooner. Oh well.
I could hear the audience respond with gasps, laughter and applause, although rarely for me, unfortunately, but it was nice to know they were engaged by what we had to say. As I said afterwards, if we helped just one person then the effort was worth it.
The fabled Green Room generated more questions from friends than I expected. It’s not a pub, or exotic place, just a large room with tables, chairs and some refreshments. No caviar was visible. Very few of the other guests were there when we arrived back, but we were relaxed (tea for me) and chatted among ourselves. I met Emily’s lovely parents too for the first time.
Ray came out some time after the show, having changed from his suit into jeans and shirt. He posed for pictures (look at Trish below with him), the dreaded selfies, and talked to us for a time. Then he was gone to join his wife Jenny and her friends while we lingered for a while, Emily and I frantically trying to keep up with huge Twitter reaction, emails, text, etc. In the two hours following our TV appearance my blog registered several thousand hits! I gave up trying to stay on top of the reaction, and only got to grips with it the following evening.
Of course I picked up a bunch of new Twitter followers, and I’m hugely grateful to everyone who helped promote the blog, or said lovely things about me on Facebook and Twitter. Some of the email messages were amazing. To say I am humbled is putting it mildly. One guy said he stumbled across my blog and stayed reading every post for 4 hours! Thanks mate.
It was Sunday night when we arrived home that Trish and I looked at the recording for the first time. Apart from needing to shed a few pounds, and a little stutter here or there, I was pleased enough. It’s hard to keep a good man down!