I’m currently working on a TV show that has a production office based down in Brighton, so I have an hour and a quarter drive to work in the mornings. I never really listen to the radio in the car; I don’t like listening tothe morning-time dronings of the likes of Nick Grimshaw or Dave Berry. Just play some music, don’t talk to me about how you bumped into Jodi Kidd last night at the British Soap Awards and then got felt up in Chinawhite.
Anyway there’s only so many times I can listen to “Andrew’s Running Playlist” in the car so this morning I started flipping through the radio channels and landed on Jamie Theakston and Emma Bunton on Heart FM. They were talking about how Emma (sweet sweet Emma, Baby Spice, confidant of Victoria Beckham, Queen of my life) knows loads of stuff about cars and is particularly versed on what dashboard icons represent. For example, an exclamation mark in a circle means your handbrake is still on. You get me? So they were asking people to call in and ask her advice on dashboard symbols that we don’t know the definitions of.
I have a symbol on my dashboard that comes up when you press a certain button – it’s a car on a sort of diagonal incline, facing downwards. I was bored on the M25 (despite the fact that the traffic was actually flowing nicely) so I called Heart. Next thing I know I’m being lined up to go on air with EMMA BUNTON. A SPICE GIRL. TO TALK TO HER. There I am listening to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” by the late Michael Jackson, eager to talk to a Spice Girl. The song ends. “We’re back…and we’re talking about confusing dashboard symbols this morning,” says Jamie Theakston, “and we’ve got Andrew on the phone…” “Hiiiiiii,” I say. Then the phone cuts off. Frantically I turn up the radio, which I had been asked to turn down for my special radio appearance, and I can hear Jamie and Emma going “Andrew? Andrew?” “I’M HERE!!!” I scream at the radio, as I pass Junction 5 anticlockwise. I hit redial on the phone and miraculously get back through to the producer in the studio who apologises for cutting me off. Yeah, thanks for that.
I then have to sit through the honeyed tones of Emeli Sandi and Labrinth singing “Beneath Your Beautiful” as I await my personal, private, one-on-one chat with Emma (and Jamie, and the Heart producers, and the rest of the UK) about dashboard symbolism. The song ends, and I hear “Hello Andrew, are you there this time?” “Hello Emma,” I say, “and Jamie,” I add as an afterthought. “Yeah I’m here, sorry about that, don’t know what happened to the phone there, I got cut off di-n’t I??” I squawk like a Vietnamese Fishwife. “Tell us about your symbol,” says Jamie, cutting to the chase. “Ok,” I say, desperate to communicate vocally with Emma ruddy Bunton. “So yeah I have a symbol on my dashboard of a car that’s sort of inclining downwards, almost as if it’s about to go headfirst into a ditch,” I explain with a jovial chuckle thrown in for good measure. “What does that mean Em?” asks Jamie. “Well, that’s an unusual one,” says Baby Spice. “That one, I think, means you need to stay away from hills Andrew. And ditches. Keep your car away from those I reckon.”
Jamie Theakston then says something in response to this and I laugh, but my mirth is drowned out by whatever Jamie says. I then sort of interrupt him and say “so that’s your expert advice Emma? Stay away from ditches?” Now, I said it jovially and followed it up with a tender laugh as it was all meant to be in jest but there was an abrupt silence. I think Emma took offense because she sort of went “yeah” and then Jamie said “thanks for your call” and moved on to Tammy from Hounslow. And I was cut off.
I then continued the rest of my car journey feeling a bit downtrodden that my virgin chat with a Spice Girl might have been perceived by her as me being a bit of an ungrateful bitch. I wanted to have a bit of a post-symbol-analysis laugh about it with her, but no. I was cut off, so that Tammy could talk about her symbol of a thermometer sitting in water, while poor Emma Bunton thought I was being sarcastic and rude. I didn’t even get a chance to ask her to ask Posh to follow me on Twitter.
Oh well, at least I communicated with Baby Spice this morning, right? And for those of you who want to know, that car/ramp symbol means “downhill assist”.
To hear this interchange click on this link and skip to 2 minutes in…