I was interested to learn of the recent offer to BBC Alumni of (re-)joining the BBC Club. However, I won’t be applying because I found the place to be a hotbed of physical danger, crass mismanagement, insult and crime.
When I worked at Alexandra Palace back in the mid-70s, I was a constant habitué of the club there and, one lunchtime, ended up in A&E with a broken nose as a result. “Sporting injury!" claimed my colleagues as they propelled me into the Whittington Hospital, blood streaming down my face. Horrified emergency staff appraised the situation: “Gosh! Rugby? Boxing? Ice Hockey?”
“Er, no”, I replied nasally, “Snooker”.
The club at AP had an excellent snooker room and during a game with a fellow member of the Graphic Design team, I questioned the viability of a shot he was proposing to take. It required a lot of edge and a bit of bottom to get the cue ball to glance one of the colours and send it sideways into the pocket. “It’ll never work” I thought, as I moved to stand behind him and peer along the length of the cue to see precisely where he was going to hit the white, “although, it migh-“.
At that moment, (as should really have been expected), he pulled back on the cue to take the shot. About eighteen inches. So all I saw was the rapidly approaching back end of the cue travelling towards me at a rate of knots before everything went black as it smashed squarely into my nose. Symmetrically, fortunately, because it broke my nose straight on. You’d hardly know from looking - if I hadn’t been perfectly positioned behind the shot, my nose would now be all over the place.
Ever since, of course, I can’t stand behind anyone playing snooker without a horrific welling of the sinuses, in anticipation of the great pain this noble recreation can bring. Even mention of the game brings on a bout of neuralgia.
So for this reason, I won’t be applying to re-join. That, and guilt; for when I was social secretary of the BBC Railway Society, I sent everyone to the wrong signal box one day, which didn’t go down well with BR management. They didn’t need a great horde of grumpy anoraks cluttering up the end of platform 8 at Kings Cross.
And then there was insulting the bloke standing next to me in the club at TC one day when he asked my what I thought of the pint of Ruddles County I had just bought. “Not much,” I said, “Tastes like dishwater”. “Oh”, replied John Ruddles, chairman of the brewery, “Thanks very much…’.
And I still feel unsettled about the time while watching the Test Match on the TV in the club at AP, two blokes in brown coats wandered in and said “Sorry everyone - we’ve got to take this television away”. They turned the set off, unplugged all the wires, lifted the mighty beast and, leaving us sitting around disgruntled and wondering what else we could do now there was no cricket to watch, carted the TV through the club, out of the doors, through reception and into a van parked outside. They drove off and neither they, the van nor the television set were ever seen again.
No, life is menacing enough these days without rejoining the BBC Club…