Yesterday was a bit of a marathon ... at one stage I had to do 16 interviews, back-to-back, for BBC local radio. The questions tend to be the same but the attitude of the presenters varies enormously. The most common reaction is disbelief that I am defending smokers.
Ironically, perhaps the least successful interview was at the end of the day when I was on TalkSport. Presenter Adrian Goldberg and I were in general agreement and I guess that doesn't make for good radio. Adrian realised this and changed tactics to play devil's advocate but I don't think his heart was in it.
Yesterday was the first time I have been interviewed by Nicky Campbell (Five Live Breakfast). I've never mentioned it on this blog but Campbell and I were at the same university (he was two years below me) and for a brief period he was on the staff of the student magazine I co-founded and edited.
I say "brief period". What happened is that, one morning, all six members of staff were issued with a writ for defamation. (The plaintiff was a fellow student.)
In case I get another writ (from Campbell himself) I should make it clear that he was totally blameless and was not responsible for any of the six (!) articles cited in the action (which was eventually settled out of court).
I still have a copy of the writ, with all our names on it, but it's fair to say that Nicky kept his distance from that moment. In fact, I am fairly sure that yesterday was the first time I have spoken to him since that fateful morning, 31 years ago.
Finally, I was interviewed twice yesterday across the road from our office in Wardour Street. (Soho is great place to be interviewed about smoking because half the population seem to smoke.) The first interview was with Al Jazeera, the second with NBC.
Now, I don't normally corpse during interviews but for the NBC piece I was standing next to a litter bin (don't ask) and of course the moment we started filming a street cleaner wandered up and began emptying the bin. We waited for him to finish but he was old and slow and he wasn't going to hurry for our benefit.
The NBC journalist and I both found it quite funny so when, eventually, the bin was empty and our friend moved on, I found it impossible to look her in the eye without laughing, especially when I began a sentence with the words, "I'm angry that ..." (cue giggles).
Usually I do an interview in one take. Yesterday, I'm ashamed to say, I experienced the dreaded words: "Forest, take six".