"Right Princess Fiona, we've
got three days until our National Radio debut." I shouted
up towards the crowd at the top of the slide. "No problem,"
Stuart's muffled voice called back. As the crowd thinned
a little I could see his arms and legs had been tied together
with bungy cords and a sun hat wedged in his mouth. "As
soon as Donkey and Shrek kill the dragon I'll be right down,"
he shouted distortedly. "Ha ha, we're going to feed the
Princess to the dragon." screamed a collection of kids,
pushing him down the slide. I sighed; turning ourselves
from semi wild travellers into lucid interviewees was going
to take some work.
Kirstie sets up our appearance
on National Radio from her city office
We chose Wellington's
Te Papa museum as the base for three days of intensive media
skills coaching. Te Papa is a world class museum and the
kids loved it. They rampaged through hall after hall, asking
questions, demanding answers, playing with the interactive
computers, scrutinising the exhibits. In contrast, Stuart
and I barely took in the magnificent art, culture, and displays
from all over the natural world. We were too busy interviewing
each other about ourselves.
Matthew and Cameron are thrilled
to try on different clothes at Te Papa Museum, Wellington
After our disastrous
brush with the television cameras at the start of our trip,
we wanted to be sure we didn't make public fools of ourselves
again. A few months before we came away I was briefed by
Anna, my journalist friend. She asked if we'd contacted
the UK TV stations, at which I recoiled in horror. "Get
over it" she said. "And then give them a ring." In ten years
of working in radio and TV I had carefully avoided ever
being on the receiving end of the
media. I was the one who asked the questions.
"What are the highlights,
the lowlights, the most embarrassing moments? What do you
think of the Kiwis? What does it feel like when Cameron
wees all over someone's living room?" Stuart was the one
asking the questions, over and over and over. Then, while
I schooled him on the workings of a radio studio, he talked
me through the art of being on message, of not being negative,
and how to get through the interview without bursting out
laughing, or worse, crying. "Turn a lowlight into a highlight,
like you'd do at a job interview." He obviously hadn't ever
been present at any of my job interviews. I became slicker
at answering, but was consistently thrown by the first question
of each practice interview. "Why did we decide to come to
New Zealand? Well… ermmm.. …Stuart, help me out here." We
developed a system. Stuart would answer the first question,
which was sure to be about our reasons for coming on the
trip, then I would answer the second and we would settle
down and take it from there. We practised for three days
and nights, and by the end we felt there was nothing we
didn't know about being Family On A Bike. Then as we were
settling down to a good night's sleep I remembered the Producer
had asked if we'd like to choose the music around our interview.
We racked our brains for something suitable. "How about
Queen's bicycle song?" Stuart suggested sleepily. "That's
the only one they've barred us from requesting," I replied.
After ten minutes of arguing we agreed to chose one each.
"I'll go for James Brown and 'I feel good,'" I said.
"And I'll have Louis Armstrong's 'Wonderful World,' " said
Stuart as he dozed off. I sent our suggestions off in a
late night e-mail, and went nervously off to sleep, answering
questions in my dreams.
"Ok, so you answer
the first question and I'll take the second. Just make sure
you tell him about how the project came into being, then
we know where we are," I whispered to Stuart as we entered
the radio booth. The kids has been whisked away by the production
team, and now there was just the two of us with Wayne the
presenter, who was just finishing an hour of sixties music.
A quick check for sound and James Brown was suddenly blasting
into the booth. Then as it faded out, I turned to watch
Stuart handle the first question. Wayne began his introduction.
"On Radio New Zealand we meet the best people. Kirstie and
Stuart Wickes are touring New Zealand with their two toddlers
on bicycles, but we'll hear more about that in a minute.
First of all Kirstie I must just ask you…why James Brown?"
I looked at Stuart as if
to say 'we agreed the first one was yours' but he shook
his head firmly. "Well Wayne, ermmm…."