Thursday, June 10, 2004

Fame of a kind

In my quest to drum up votes I was on Bangla TV, a subscription-only channel, near Stratford yesterday afternoon. Along with Azizur Rahman Khan, one of our Tower Hamlets councillors, we were on a live TV phone in for about an hour.

First time I've done anything like that before. Don't fidget, sit up straight, talk to the presenter, don't cover your head with your hands, use your hands to emphasise points: all little details which I'd been told about before I went on air. On TV what you look like counts for more than what you say, so I chose a conservative light blue shirt and dark blue tie (no lines, which would do squiggly on TV) and prepared for the worst questions which might come up - and luckily they didn't!

The presenter was pleasant, although there wasn't any small talk until after the programme finished. And she had an initially quite fierce demeanour. Mr Khan and I sat on the sofa in an increasingly hot room as they planted earpieces and microphones on each of us - it was a slightly odd thing to talk to the person next to you and have their words magnified through the ear furthest from them.

As for the session, I think we got the main points across: Iraq, Lib Dems on tuition fees, police numbers, housing (a big issue for the Bangladeshi community), free personal care for the elderly and Respect. Mr Khan spoke a little about the Lib Dem administration in Tower Hamlets before 1994, including what it had achieved. But almost everything was in Sylheti, with the exception of the questions the presenter put to me. We had a few callers, who had to be translated for me, while one chap went on a rant about Iraq. I wasn't sure what was being said for most of the time, so I decided against smiling on TV. I can't think of anything worse than doing so when a caller is on about torture in Iraq.

What was slightly distracting though was the presenter looking over to the TV controllers while I was talking. I would be speaking to her and she would be looking away. I almost found myself stopping and waiting for her to look back - death on TV!

All in all, an interesting experience and another bow to my string.

Then in the evening I went over to one of our activist's house in East Ham. Almost didn't make it as the car decided to go mad on me: flashing light indicating the oil needed hecking, so to the petrol station where it finished off more than half a litre.

My contact had invited a bunch of Asian volunteers over for food and a motivational talk by me. They were going to be trudging the streets on polling day, so I gave them the things to remember: polling is until 10pm, people don't need their polling card - and if they ask about Respect to remember they're a one-trick pony with Iraq as their only line. Where will they be after Friday? In fact, will anyone still remember them in a year's time?

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