Saturday, September 19, 2015


I've been reminded of a Barry Rocard story which I hope adds to his dry sense of humour.

In the old days of Broadcasting House, a real road ran through the Entwistle piazza. Nestled where it turned was a small open forecourt car park, leading to a bigger underground car park. There was a stripey-pole barrier at the entrance, and at the lever end, a white-painted sentry box, glazed on three sides, equipped with a stool and a telephone.

From around 8am to 8pm this was occupied by a BBC commissionaire, pre-cursor of today's contracted-out security men, there to lift the barrier to those without car park tokens - deliveries and VIPs, whose impending arrival was announced via telephone. The bakelite phone was connected to a repeater bell under the eaves of the sentry box, should the commissionaire have left the box for a patrol, a fag or an errand of convenience.

Windows on the east side of the third floor radio newsroom overlooked this forecourt and its sentry box. This was the corner that housed "General News Services", writing national news summaries for use by local radio, and the News Organiser and the Foreign Duty Editor.

Barry Rocard had acquired the internal extension number of the sentry box phone. On slow news afternoons, when more senior editorial figures were perhaps taking longer lunches, Barry might drift to the window, and when the commissionaire left for a patrol, fag or errand of convenience, he would dial the number, and let it ring, waiting for the hapless sentry to turn. As the commissionaire put his hand on the sentry box door handle, Barry would put the phone down.

Then repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

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