I was out on Saturday night and vaguely remember trying to tell someone about my stint on Radio 2 last summer (must have been the clocks changing that clouded my memory!) Anyway it’s a good anecdote and what follows is a brief description of what happened and then the complete unabridged script that caused me weeks of anguish as I misjudged what they wanted…
Following the negative press of our alcohol license I decided to spin the PR on its head and launch a range of local beers. We held a photographic competition and one of the winners who works promoting Fife (hmmm what a convenient coincidence!) subsequently emailed me to say that Radio 2 had been in contact with him wanting someone to talk about Pittenweem on Alan Carr and Melanie Sykes Saturday show. I initially wasn’t going to do it as I’m not ‘a local’ and thought it a bit of a poisoned chalice. I also didn’t have any agenda apart from maybe promote our beers and have a story to tell people about afterwards. I just didn’t know and had conflicting advice at home with my wee brother keen for me to act a fool but my wife being the sensible voice of caution. Eventually I agreed to do it however and set about writing my witty and cheeky script.
The interview was prerecorded and an unnatural experience. They were very quiet on my phone and gave me plenty space to keep talking at the end of every question before responding. It made for an awkward chat with no flow and after stumbling early I never really recovered. The first blow came when Alan said ‘oh Iain it’s sounds like you’re reading that. You sound like a robot’ after my first answer. I panicked and subsequent attempts to ad-lib had me tongue tied so in the end I stuck to my script but delivered it with zero panache and could hear myself awkwardly looking for approval at the end of each answer. There was a bit in the interview where I asked Alan if he thought if seven inches was impressive during a piece about how little rainfall we see each year and he batted it away with the disdain it deserved. Misjudged it. It was a 10am slot and if anyone was going to ram seven inches down anyone’s throat it would be Alan Carr- not me! At the end of the interview I muttered a hurried thankyou and hung up the phone feeling a bit sick. All I needed to do was to promote Pittenweem and I screwed it up in the name of getting cheap laughs. I skulked through to the kitchen and confessed to my wife that ‘I sounded like a d*ck’ and her helpful response began with ‘well Iain I hate to tell you this..’ I zoned out and thought instead about the fallout that would come when they aired my stupid interview.
I emailed the producer apologising for misjudging it and he replied that it was actually alright and that it’d edit well. I did not believe them and had two weeks of worry before hearing a sensitively edited piece being broadcast. I am eternally grateful to the editing team- that’s why I pay my tv license! Before I heard the edit I tried to take something positive from the experience and the best I had was to show my children to trust their gut; if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it. However after it aired I thought ‘nah screw that! Take risks. It’ll work out in the end!’
The show was well received and the creative editing had my answers cut and pasted in such a manner that I sounded pretty good. Over the following weeks I had a handful of tourists specifically mention that they’d heard the show and that I’d done a great job of promoting the area. If only they knew the truth…
Pittenweem Summer Seaside Survey:
Tell me about yourself and where you work
I work in Pittenweem Pharmacy. We’re a one stop shop with an in-store pharmacy, newsagent, post office and licensed general store. We’re a mini mega store at the heart of the community
(We do it all: snacks and drugs and sausage rolls)
I’m not necessarily the best person to ask about Pittenweem. When I told my wife I was doing this she said ‘why are you doing it? Youre not enthusiastic about Pittenweem. You’re not passionate about anything! You’ll probably just try to talk about your new range of beers’
What’s Pittenween/Fife also known as – does it have a nickname?
Pittenweem translates as place of the caves in Gaelic.
Pittenweem is a small village of 2000 people and collectively with a handful of similarly sized villages comprises an area known as the East Neuk of Fife (Neuk is a Scots word for ‘corner’)
How do residents refer to themselves?
If you’re from Pittenweem you’re known as a Torn Erse which sounds a bit like the sort of ailment that one of my customers might try to buy a soothing ointment for. I’m not sure of the origin of the word but its modern use will soon refer to a new beer that we’re bringing to market- Torn Erse Pale Ale. We’re going to sell a range of locally branded beers- I’m particularly looking forward to sampling the St Monans Stiffener!
(Alan I can see you in the bar now ‘I’d like a Torn Erse please barman’)
(Mel, I think you’d be perfect in our beer advert: bobbing about in Pittenweem harbour with sea foam on your top lip- we should swap numbers)
What’s Pittenween/Fife’s biggest claim to fame?
Our region is famous for golf and St Andrews is just a 15 minute drive away- 25 minutes if you drive like the pesky tourists that I’m trying to attract- There are loads of outstanding golf courses in the area and the East Neuk of Fife is a great base to discover them from. There’s plenty of places to stay: (beachfront houses/historical cottages/character properties) and it offers a completely different proposition than staying in a hotel in st Andrews
How many visitors do you have each year?
We see thousands of visitors in Pittenweem. The historical fishing villages of the East Neuk are a tourist attraction all year round whether it’s for people who are staying on holiday or people passing through walking the Fife coastal path- over 100 miles stunning scenery by an accessible seaside pathway
Who was/is Pittenween/Fife’s most famous resident?
In 1721 John Douglas was born here and he went on to become the bishop of…. Salisbury! What do you think about that?! We don’t see many paparazzi lurking in the bushes in Pittenweem
What’s the best thing to do when it’s raining
It rarely rains in Pittenweem. We’re on the east coast of Scotland and our average annual rainfall is seven inches less than the national average. Seven inches Alan: what do you think about that?!
But if you are unlucky enough to be here in the rain you could put on some wet weather gear and walk the Fife coastal path (100 miles of seaside pathway)
What is Pittenween/Fife’s biggest annual event?
The Pittenweem Art Festival brings 25000 people to the village during the first week of August. Each year 100 venues open up in people’s houses, garages and shops and tourists flock in their thousands to look at art and have a nosey in people’s houses
What is the local delicacy or treat?
Seafood: local prawns, crab, lobster. Mel you seem like a classy lady. Do you like lobster? Alan have you ever had crabs?
How would you sum up Pittenween/Fife in ONE word?
Fishy. I mean that in a good way. A raw visceral seasidey way
Why should Britain come and visit you in Pittenween/Fife?
It’s a great place to visit and also to live in- regularly featuring in top ten best coastal villages: fresh air, gorgeous scenery, village life, semi-rural isolation while being within touching distance of civilisation. And it has a pretty decent pharmacy-newsagent-post office-and-licensed-grocer too! An hour north of Edinburgh and close to St. Andrews- if you’ve never been you really should visit!
The buildings haven’t changed much in hundreds of years and in the winter you can get a feel for how hard it must have been for people back then. Zero phone signal, no 4G, having to travel miles to find a decent supermarket