We love meeting up with other podcasters, comedians and musicians, partly because it’s a damned good excuse to go to the pub, but also because it gives us an opportunity to drop the names of famous people into our podcasts. When writer and broadcaster Tony Hawks was first thinking of producing a podcast of his own, we were introduced by a mutual friend, and spent a very pleasant evening with Tony talking about podcasting, comedy writing and some of the ridiculous adventures he’s undertaken in the name of humour.
Tony’s played tennis against the entire Moldavian soccer team and he’s had a number one hit in Albania with ageing comedian Norman Wisdom, but he’s probably best known for lugging a fridge around the entire perimeter of Ireland in order to win a bet.
The bet was a mere ₤100, and in fact the fridge cost him more than that. But that was the whole point. There was no point. Except that the adventure ended up making a splendid book. Chatting with Tony that evening gave Georgina and me much food for thought. Maybe we too should set out on some pointless adventure and then write a book about it. It certainly seemed to have worked for Tony. A couple of weeks later he invited us to a charity event at the National Geographical Society, where he was to re-tell his famous Irish adventure in front of a specially invited audience. By this time, Georgina and I were becoming more and more convinced that we should consider setting off on some daft quest of our own, so we were delighted to attend.
We loved the live version of Round Ireland With a Fridge, and after the gig we hovered in the bar so that Georgina could get Tony to sign our own paperback copy of the book. While we were waiting I glanced inside the front cover. “This book’s already been signed by Tony Hawks,” I laughed.
“What? Show me!” grumbled Georgina.
“There,” I said. “To Jim, from Tony Hawks.”
“Who’s Jim?” demanded Georgina.
I looked at the battered book again, and suddenly realised that it was in fact a copy I’d borrowed several years before from a friend. As it turned out, that friend had borrowed it from a friend of his called Jim, who neither Georgina nor I had ever met.
“I’ll get him to sign it anyway,” said Georgina.
“You can’t do that!” I said. “That would be very rude. You can’t ask an author to sign the same book twice!”
“Wouldn’t it make the book terribly valuable?” said Georgina. “It would be the only copy to be signed twice. We could take it to the Antiques Roadshow.”
Georgina can be very stubborn at times. I tried a different tack. “Look, it’s probably not good book-signing etiquette to ask someone to autograph an old copy of a book. Surely the idea is that you buy a nice new copy of the book, and get that signed.”
Georgina dug in her heels. “But we’ve got a copy of the book,” she said.
When Tony’s not explaining to Americans that he’s not the famous skateboarding star, he writes travel books which make a very close connection with his readers. You really get the sense that you’re going with him on his mad little trips – which is exactly the kind of intimate journey Georgina and I want our listeners to experience.
“We should go on a trip like that,” I said to Georgina.
“But what are we going to use as a fridge?” she asked.
“We’ll think of something,” I said. “In fact, I’m guessing our listeners will think of something for us!”
And they did.