My Day Of Fame
A few weeks ago I was contacted by the BBC with the view to giving an interview on Elizabeth and her book The Little White Horse. The local BBC had just woken up to the fact that Elizabeth had been a local author, and as the film The Secret Of Moonacre was going on general release at the beginning of the month, they wanted to know all about her Oxfordshire connections.
I agreed to go along to the nearest studios which in my case was The Mailbox in Birmingham. The trip over was dream like, the way just seemed to open up before us. Surrounded by a panorama of snowscapes, the road was clear and the traffic lighter than normal. I couldn’t help but remember that Elizabeth’s auto-biography was called The Joy Of The Snow.
We found the Mailbox easily thanks to google map and directions and parked underground. The building was all steel and dark glass with the most entrancing purple escalators traversing its height. I had a message on my phone that I was wanted for a radio interview, and for one brief moment of hubris I was standing overlooking the basin of barges that the local weather is broadcast from on balmy summer evenings, waiting to go and be interviewed on television, and talking on Nick’s mobile to a radio station who also wanted to interview me the following afternoon!
We waited in the upstairs foyer of the BBC until a beautiful girl called Yvonne came and took me through the banks of reporters and workers into the interview room, which was tiny, with an enormous camera and a high stool to sit on. I found it really difficult to make the earpiece stay in so it was just as well that Abigail and the Oxford crew were 15 minutes late. Yvonne knew her job well and put me at my ease by talking. Any way eventually Abigail got to the other end and the very quick question and answer session began. What were Goudge’s connections to Oxfordshire, what would a visitor find at Compton manor in Devon that they would recognise from the film, what makes Goudge different from all the other children’s writers, etc, etc. I forget the detail of my replies, probably more than they wanted to know about Oxford and not enough snappy sound bites to use. But, I had overcome my own shyness to promote the work of the author I loved.
The radio show on Friday was totally different. For one thing it was live and the presenter was very professional. He did however call me Elizabeth Gaudin on air after giving me my correct name before hand. But we managed a civilized conversation and I got across more accurately what I wanted to say. He was surprised that she had won the Carnegie Medal for the Little White Horse, saying that this had been The literary prize of its day. We then talked about the film for a while and the location in Devon where it was filmed. He made a quip about an Alfred Hitchcock film that was being produced at MGM based on the book The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. Apparently there were two goats eating reels of celluloid out of some bins and one turns to the other and says “I preferred the Book!” We both decided that the same could apply to The Secret of Moonacre.