Sitting in the office yesterday afternoon, the phone rings. None of the guys are around so I pick it up. Someone with a very heavy accent on the other end asks for me by name.
“Oh. I was wondering if you’d like to be on our TV programme today.”
I thought she said this: “Arte”.
“The Franco-German channel?”
She didn’t answer and so I took that as a yes. The rest of the phone conversation continued in a rather ramshackle fashion, but I excused it. It was nice to hear some continentals get interested in the Brexit debate.
“Fine,” I finally said, wishing to bring the whole tortuous affair to a close. “Where is the studio?”
“Could you be a little more specific? Do you mean Millbank Studios?”
“Yes. Ask for art-tee.”
“Excuse me, who are you from?”
This time it was clear.
“R.T. The letters.”
My brain swirled. I’d just unconsciously agreed to be on Russia Today.
“Hold on….” I said, but she was gone. I then realised that I had neither her name nor her number in order to cancel; to say, sorry, it’s all been a huge misunderstanding and there was no way I could appear on that anti-liberal Putin mouthpiece. But there was no way out.
Now, some of you would have just bailed on the whole thing. But honour called – even if I was duped into it, I had agreed to appear. So I made the short walk down to Millbank Studios at the appointed time, ready to take my medicine.
“RT?” I asked the security guard at reception.
“Arte aren’t in this building, mate.”
“Oh right. Down the hall to the right, just past the ITV studio.”
So off I toddle, past ITV to come to…..a toilet. I figured instinctively the Kremlin’s budget must stretch farther than this, so I return to reception and explain the situation.
“Nah, nah, Russia Today aren’t in this building, mate. You want to go down past the roundabout to Millbank Tower.”
As I walk down Millbank I give serious thought to bailing. I’d been misled on the address, which was a fair enough reason in itself to not turn up. But no, I persisted.
Reception at Millbank Towers sees me come upon a scene involving dozens of milling teenagers, all of them apparently on their way to Russia Today (sorry, RT) as well. This was causing extreme logjam, so given I was meant to be on the channel in three minutes by this stage, I butted to the front and explained the urgency of the situation to reception.
I was asked to repeat it six times as the receptionist typed. After further delay, I was eventually given a name tag that read “MR NOCK TYON” and told to travel through the security gates.
“Don’t know – ask the security guard.”
So I amble up to the security barrier to the lifts and ask the guy.
“Which floor is RT on?”
“Don’t know – ask the receptionist.”
It was at this point something broke in me. I felt I had made as much effort as was really required in terms of my sense of honour in regards to trying to appear on the Duginist propaganda hate channel. I put down my pass, and Mr Nock Tyon headed out the door, never to grace RT’s door again.
And I mean it. I promise to you my readers to never appear on that wretched TV channel ever, ever. I had a close call, but fate and various acts of stupidity intervened.
I have no idea what they did in my absence. Did they empty chair me? Was there a leather seat sat next to some rabid Eurosceptic that had a little sign saying “MR NOCK TYON” on it? One can only dream. I suppose I could find out by watching RT rewind or something, but since I would rather be waterboarded than actually watch thirty seconds of Russia Today, that option is out.