Confessions of a Newsnight insider
- 4 Dec 07, 03:37 PM
Jeremy Paxman bought me dinner last night.
Canapés, candlelight, cocktail music..? Yeah, right.
He thrusts a £20 note at me, its silver strip catching the fierce fluorescents in his office and says, “I’ll have the meal deal - and get something for yourself”.
Then with that trademark televisual twinkle in his eye he adds, ‘And don’t ever say I don’t buy you dinner!’
The 6.30 food order is something of a NN office ritual. Nearly everything we do is deadline driven and the idea of downing tools and sloping off somewhere to eat for an hour is a tad quaint.
OK, we’re not talking Victorian children snatching a scoop of porridge at one end of the loom before weaving their way back again. But you do see harried journos biting off more than they can chew while trying to craft a video package for your later consumption.
As the office junior - admittedly one of the Beeb’s more senior juniors - it falls on me to place the food order. You’d think that being the Arch-Nourisher of NN would put me in a privileged position, but a hungry man is an angry man and you can’t please all of the hacks all of the time.
Get your hands off my falafels
One might be delayed in a legal meeting while another is itching to eat before being stuck in the studio for a pre-show recording. Added to which, if you don’t keep enough people on board there’s a danger of losing the free delivery.
So many variables, so little time...
But it’s all in a 13-hour day’s work and a newsroom marches on its stomach. Plus, there’s nothing like the wonder in a reporter’s eye when those foil food parcels arrive. It’s only slightly tainted as she says, ‘Jeremy - have you got hold of my falafels?’
Which brings us back to Mr P’s proffered £20 note.
I can’t prove it, but I swear that under the glare of the strip lights, on the flip side of Her Majesty, Adam Smith’s winking at me.