Blog by Eddie Brocklesby
What a fantastic six weeks I have had! It all began with 71 of our Silverfitters finishing the Big Half Marathon – a challenge that most of them would never have thought possible – but, thanks to the support of those who ran the training sessions it was an incredible success, along that famous route, ending at the Cutty Sark and raising an incredible £20,000 for Silverfit
I went on to speak at the WOMEN IN SPORT North Conference at the BBC in Salford, in tears, listening to the tales of discrimination experienced by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Hannah Cockcroft. But I relished meeting new friends, so keen to help Silverfit develop and come North. I was taken down to meet up again with Dan Walker, who was working in a line of desks and computers – he looked up `Eddie, Rio!’ – Such fun to see him again, and realise how tall he is – we only ever see him seated in BBC Breakfast, so it is a good long armed selfie:
Only days later, as publicity for Irongran surfaced, I was invited at very short notice to the Today programme. I am learning fast– scheduled for 8.30am, I was relaxed in the tiny Green room, then suddenly I was rushed into the adjacent circular studio at 7.50am, with Nick Robinson frantically indicating to me to sit down, next to him, and Mishal Husain already introducing me. What a lovely warm relaxing manner she had. A few minutes mins later I was ushered back out, into a room with a tall guy in a suit who had been listening, and knew my social work history. He was enthusiastic about my 74 year old achievements and told me about his sporting days and then described a new social work fostering initiative. I asked his name – Ian Duncan Smith!
Then followed a 4.5 hour photo shoot to achieve that weight lifting pic in the Mail on Sunday – far too much lipstick!
I am asking for a copy of some of the other shots – particularly me sitting in an armchair, knitting – a hobby my sons have long said I should settle for! And then I was flying off to Scotland, staying with friends from Glasgow Tri Club before my first long live radio interview, and a Q&A at the literary festival there, humbly signing my book for the very first time – disbelieving that it was really me, this Mum of 3, Grandmother of 4, and social worker whose autograph they wanted?
Suddenly, on March 24th I was 75! Age may be just a number for some but in triathlons it means you go into the next age-group – i.e. I am the youngest in the 75-80 yr group, so maybe in a better position to win my age group – or rather, when I am the only one, to come last, as my son so generously puts it! What a privilege too to be able to celebrate my 75th down in the Churchill War Rooms, ever more famous from Darkest Hour, where I had donated many of my Nan’s possessions – a fab 9 mins BBC interview by Joan Bakewell that I have promised a link to http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/churchill/11012.shtml. At least 25% of my genes are good in terms of longevity!
And then the fun really began at BBC Radio London and those famous 15 Listed Londoner questions they routinely ask (listen here). David Walliams’s Gangsta Granny went down well as my favourite Londoner. Off then to Manchester, for an early start for BBC Breakfast TV. Great to have my daughter with me, watching the chaos of her mum failing to describe the squats and the lunge, using dumbells at the wrong time, and then trying to get Naga and Charlie down into a plank, with our time suddenly cut from 5 to 1 minute. But such fun again – and Facebook reports there were 27.7 thousand views of the video they shot of me doing some simple strength building routines a few mins later. Then it was down a couple of flights in the BBC Media City building to Radio Five Live – one of the best interviews, with Anna Foster – we must try and get her supporting Silverfit.
So with IronGran published on April 5th came the most incredible experiences – Talk Europe needed me on a landline for 8.30am and the easiest solution seemed to get up to Broadcasting House hours early for my 10.00am scheduled ‘GNS’ session. But finding a landline in Broadcasting House was not so easy, and as time anxiously drew on, I ended up on reception with a landline – happily chatting live as all sorts of familiar faces apparently came past – Ken Bruce to Chris Evans.
GNS was a list of 10 interview schedules that had been sent to me, no script. Suddenly I was ushered alone into a tiny room, no direction, microphone and earphones set up in front of me, and suddenly I was live on BBC Radio Cambridge, chatting to Emma for 7 mins, then music for a few secs, a rapid producer saying ‘thanks, that was great’, then silence. Two mins later, Mike from Radio Manchester was on the phone live! More followed, all with different questions. Even in what the programme defined as a 10 min BREAK, a voice came though `Eddie this is Radio Merseyside, can we just do a recorded interview – it’ll only take 5 mins. Two hours later there was a total and enduring silence – I hesitated – was I really done? What incredible technology, what efficiency.
A couple of days later, BBC Radio 3 Counties contacted me ` Eddie you were so popular and we couldn’t get into the GNS itinerary – please could you talk to Nana on Sunday’s Health show?’
A few days later, Sunday Papers Live in Camden was not what I expected either – with an audience of 500 in a larger informal circle surrounding me in a small circular stage. For 20 mins, I was to be the sole representative talking about SPORT!! It was nerve-racking, following professional comedians, two leading economists, anxiously thinking `follow that`. Scary, but I survived, just, perhaps helped by getting the whole lot, who had had lunch and the odd drink or two, to stand up, sit down for 30 secs, and then balance on one leg then the other. All good fun.
And finally, this week, how privileged we all were for Ruby Wax to join us in Crystal Palace, interviewing for her new podcast on wellbeing that will be linked with a Neuroscientist. I loved her new Radio 4 programme 7.00pm Sunday `Frazzled` and am reading her new book ‘How to be Human: The Manual’. Fascinating, and she loved meeting our Silverfitters before rushing off to do a live show in Peterborough.
Anyone fancy joining me when the show comes to Southbank, May 25th/26th. Let’s look too at the possibility of partnering a Frazzled café? Yet more fun and a shared commitment to Ruby’s focus on mental wellbeing and mindfulness– especially as we age.