A Facebook post by an old writer pal – who was spending the night shivering in a field for a story – set me thinking about the weird places you can end up in as a journalist…
Houses, hotels, hospitals, streets and shops are all hotspots for interviews, but I’ve done a few in some very odd places indeed. Here, just for the heck of it, is my Top Seven!
1: Durham Prison – chatting to the lovely ladies of Cell Block H (yes, really!) about a book of poems and short stories they had written. Myra Hindley and Rosemary West were inmates at the time.
2: The top of Penshaw Monument. I don’t do heights and I don’t do stairs; this interview had both! I spent most of the chat feeling numb – either from fright or from the freezing wind!
3: The bottom of Vane Tempest Colliery in Seaham. It was the last few days of mining and, when the lights were switched off, the site became eerily quiet and extremely claustrophobic.
4: In the North Sea, while attempting to balance on a wind-surfing board at Roker. I fell off (of course!) and, after struggling to the surface, a used condom bobbed past my nose.
5: On a circus trapeze at Seaburn Showground. This was a tough call – heights, stairs and clown phobias all combined in one shaking package. Again, and of course, I fell off!
6: At the bottom of a swimming pool in Sunderland. WARNING this technique DOES NOT WORK! Not only could I not talk under water, I couldn’t hear the other person either!
7: An allotment site in Easington Colliery. Must be 15 years ago now, but I still remember the absolute peace of the place as I enjoyed a pot of tea with one of the gardeners. Perfect.
I have to, somewhat shamefully, admit to a Number 8 as well: I tried to interview the brave crew of our lifeboat a few years ago…but had to stop to be seasick over the side!