Beyond the Beehive – Woman’s Hour

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I had had a conversation with Bev, the producer, the day before.  We had gone over the sort of questions that might be asked, why I wrote the book, was it semi-autobiographical? and what about the music? so I felt quite relaxed walking up from Oxford Circus tube to Broadcasting House at 9am on Thursday morning.  But people were sending me supportive tweets and texts, and Facebook comments, and being amazed and thrilled that I was to be on Woman’s Hour, so that by the time I got to the large imposing doorway, my mouth was a little dry.  This was really something.

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It is a magnificent building, dominating Portland Place. I passed the man with the banner about drug pushers, and the people rushing to work holding cups of coffee, I pushed open the door and I was in.  I was given a visitor’s badge, waited a minute or two for someone to come and meet me and then I was whisked up several floors in the lift to the Woman’s Hour area.  Bev met me at the lift and took me to a studio where I recorded a couple of paragraphs from Beyond the Beehive to introduce the piece.  I started, I stumbled, started again, missed a word, and then, a little cough and third time lucky, I read it straight through.

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Then I was directed to the Green Room where there was coffee and papers – and a copy of Ready Steady Girls – the new book about mod girls in the 60s.  Some great pictures! A real nostalgia fest.  So while I was waiting to go on air I ordered a copy! I was also answering emails and texts from people who might loosely be called Fans, and responding to people contacting me that I hadn’t heard from in years- decades even. Hello Jane, hi Anthea! So nice to be back in touch again.

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There were some really interesting women on the programme on Thursday, one of whom I knew, Polly Neate from Women’s Aid and Susan Bewley, obstetrician and academic, who I’d not met before.  But it doesn’t take long to discover you have a lot of shared history! One by one they disappeared to the studio for their moments on air, Polly to talk about an issue around Scottish Women’s Aid and Susan to discuss the Woman’s Hour Power List.

Then at about 25 past 10 my Keeper came and we crept round the corridors to stand outside the studio to wait for the green light to go in.  The green light came, in the form of a nod from someone nipping out from the control room, and in I went.  The recording I’d made earlier was played and then Jenni Murray (for it was she) asked me about the book.  Was I really allowed out in the evenings when I was still at school? How important were the clothes?  And what about the politics? I really enjoyed it.  I do quite like radio! The time passed in a flash and then Jenni was introducing the serial.

But what a popular programme Woman’s Hour is – so much twitter and Facebook activity about the programme, lots of people writing to me to say they’d heard it, and then a load of visits to my website (and quite a few books sold too!).  It was a great morning.  If you missed it and you’d like to listen or just listen again, you’ll find it here for the next 28 days or so (my bit starts at 33 minutes in).  You can download the podcast – I think that means you can keep it forever, almost.  How cool is that?

And for a visual flavour of the book, consider this outfit, black dress, red beret, black patent shoes with a flower detail, and wait till you get to the last chapter of the book.  I’ll say no more than that.

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