Vanessa Kirkpatrick on heart-stopping moments – and camaraderie

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It was the Granada canteen that introduced me to the irresistible but heart disease inducing cheese and onion pie.  The canteen filled me with trepidation but you could star gaze – and create opportunities. It was a bit like speed dating. It was supposed to be rest time for an hour or so but it was also an audition – the stage –  for the actors, narrators and story tellers that we all wanted to be. It was sheer theatre, crammed and exuded an illusion of egalitarianism.

Everyone from the basement to the penthouse stood in the same queue for Chips and Bakewell Tart – and sat at the same tables. I don’t remember healthy options. Perhaps it was one ladle of cream – instead of two.

I thought about skipping lunch and going hungry because I really didn’t feel able to sit with David Plowright and Jules Burns – the only seat that was available in this trussed up diner.

I ended up at their table. It was especially foggy that day – so what better than to talk about the weather.

Car Park Lodge, Manchester. You had made it if you could get in there.  A smile – and the barriers would lift and a space was made available. The canteen staff at Albert Dock who always had my breakfast ready at 7.30am  – and then of course Mary, the indomitable cleaner from Rhyl who, for my 40th birthday, bought me a feather duster. I still have it. She made my day.

The Stables was the inebriated and fertile hub of creativity – from morning to night. If you came back with a ground breaking programme idea, it was tolerated. If you didn’t –  it was still tolerated. It’s also there that I had my first brandy and port. Carole Townsend  (This Is Your Right and second in command) said it was good for stomach upsets. Never, ever, ever again.

Pigs really don’t fly. Underinvestment?

The crew and I were driving to Lancaster in the’ Flying Pig’ – the blue Range Rover with the proud Granada ident. Everybody knew the Rover should have been retired. In fact, as we set off from the newsroom, there was a sense that we might be on our final mission. Each of us was on phones warning HQ  we may not make it. There was nothing in the engine. Graham couldn’t make it go any faster. I was mentally and physically pedalling like mad as it croaked and groaned  – at no more than 10mph – up an insignificant, gentle incline through the town centre. We were overtaken by the BBC heading for the same story. We never made it.

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