BOTTLES OF BOOZE AND A FISTFUL OF FAVOURS
Marion doesn’t answer the phone. I have resorted to writing a letter to try and raise a response.
The lady in the States who is making my Marion Keene doll for the show asked me what colour Marion’s eyes are and of course I don’t know. How could I? as we have never met, and all but one of the photos I have ever seen of her are in black and white. The one colour pic was taken just a few years back, but she had sunglasses on. Thing is… she is always on the end of the phone and rarely goes out, so if my letter goes unanswered I’m not quite sure what to do…
Better news with the Manfreds. The day (last Thursday) finally came for my interview with them at the Sage Gateshead. I had prepared by stalking them on YouTube mainly. Research is sooo much easier these days. Knowing I had only 30mins had made me take a more structured approach. I arrived with three sheets of A4 peppered with meaningful questions, designed to sound sort of general interest but slanted in a way that they might illicit less stock answers than might be the case in a more usual journalistic scenario.
Having run out of cash to pay anyone for anything at the mo – I am resorting to calling in favours. Ken the cameraman (he has always been called thus) was duly roped in. Ken has many years of experience as both a documentary film maker and a BBC freelancer, so I knew he would be safe hands in a situation where there would be some pressure. It so happens he was also my photography lecturer when I first arrived in Newcastle in 1974. Oh and he has also played in bands with me, so I thought he might actually enjoy meeting the Manfreds.
Having arranged the interview months before somehow it still transpired that I was busy emailing insurance documents and health and safety certificates to the venue on the actual day. Seemed like a lot of hoops to jump through but all was eventually well.
Stuck in traffic on the Quayside, Ken and I arrived at the Sage just in time. No probs getting through the stage door and then, scarily quickly, we were at the side of the stage watching the guys sound check. A dressing room was offered to me as a potential interview space, but was a bit claustrophobic, so I asked if there was any chance we could use the stage instead. The lighting guys were due to go on a break but Paul Jones shouted over and asked if someone could sort some lighting out for us. One of the crew was predictably grumpy but hey… it got sorted so – RESULT. There we were in the middle of the stage in Hall One and I was clutching my questions, a rifle mic and the collection of photos I had brought along as prompts.
I had worried I might go blank but the adrenalin pumped in and away we went. I was massively helped by the fact that the three Manfreds I had asked to interview, Paul Jones, Tom McGuiness and Mike Hugg were such genuinely nice guys. No pretensions, happy to engage and very generous with their time.
My questions didn’t all get asked of course. In fact I rarely looked at the sheets of paper as the conversation flowed. My interview technique is, shall we say, ‘unorthodox’, as I tend to ramble a bit before getting to the crux of the question. I have however enough experience to know when to do the ‘noddys’ rather than talk all over the answer.
Somehow I always seem to get people to talk longer than they intended. 30mins became 45 and even then we continued chatting after the camera was packed away.
Back at base I downloaded the footage, and then felt a little tired. It had been like doing a performance myself, but so worth doing for the project.
Bottles of strong booze in the post for my musical arranger Karl and another one for Ken.
Worth every penny.