Postaday 2011 – 12/353 Secrets…

This is one of those awful subjects where they want you to reveal some dark deed you committed but managed to keep quiet about, well here something I’ve never admitted to anyone before today.

A very long time ago when I worked for the BBC I was the senior sound engineer on the largest Outside Broadcast vehicle based at Pebble Mill in Birmingham. We’re talking late 70s possibly even 1980/81. I had been the No. 1 for several months and I guess after a while you get a bit complacent and forget to do things. We were in Manchester, Saturday afternoon,  at the City football ground and the sound supervisor and I were sitting in our control room at the back of the truck waiting for the match to start when the internal phone rang. It was Broadcasting House in London, they had no sound from our vehicle, nothing no background atmosphere, no commentator, zilch absolute silence. We looked at each other for a few moments and then he said did you ever connect the lines? These were two pairs of telephone cables, four wires in all, that would convey all the glorious stereo imagery and commentary to London. Pictures went by a radio link but audio was sent out down copper wire. Expletives were exchanged, I thought he had done it while I was putting out some other fire and conversely he had assumed, well you get the picture. Very hastily he made a step by linking his hands together took the weight while I connected the four wires on to the Post Office block. You will probably have seen telephone engineers up ladders against telegraph poles doing the same thing. I don’t think I have ever done it so quickly. I was very worried about my weight on his hands and neither of us wanted to face the wrath of the director if he was to find out that the sound wasn’t going anywhere. We would have been severely boll*cked for such a stupid screw up. We got away with it, just, by a matter of maybe a minute. It was a close thing and not something that I ever let happen again. Afterwards on the way home we had a good laugh but we never owned up. As far as anyone was concerned there was a problem somewhere else, we always blamed the Post Office tower and I am sure people still do although it’s probably all fibre optic now. Halcyon days.


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