Awards Season Chaos
It is October 2002, almost two years after I gave up smoking 40 red Gauloises a day (the first of the day was always the best!), and I am at the London Docklands Arena in a state of complete despair, begging passers-by for cigarettes.
I am in charge of the media room for one of the year's major awards events. For months, I have attended planning meeting after planning meeting and at each one I have been assured that the media room would be fully equipped with a large screen transmitting the ceremony live to the assembled journalistic royalty. I have also been promised copious refreshments for said scribes.
What I am faced with at the London Docklands Arena, essentially a giant metal shed with all the architectural style of a wheelie bin, is a smallish room with grey walls and a 20" TV monitor in one corner which is flickering worryingly. Oh, and there are some crisps. 10 bags. For 80 journalists. I need fags. Or a gun.
It's too late for arguments. Some decisive action needs to be taken. I realise that the short corridor between the media room and the arena itself is guarded by one bored security guard. I suspect he hasn't been fed. I decide to make one heap of all my winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss (Kipling, literature fans!)
I run out to the local corner shop and buy everything edible. And beer. But no cigarettes (no time to smoke the buggers before the media start to arrive). I befriend the security guard with sandwiches, a Caramac and a cheeky beer, and we come to an agreement. I'll keep him fed if he lets my media sneak into the empty seats in the Arena through the door he is pointlessly guarding.
The scam works a dream. The only dicey moment is when my boss arrives to check out the media room and finds it empty. All apart from me and my security guard mate polishing off the crisps........