Sunday 21 February 2016

Task 57: Have a message read out by Graham Norton on his BBC Radio 2 Saturday morning show

There's no doubt about it, it's a tricky thing to complete a task in which it's necessary to be reliant upon the goodwill of someone you've never met - especially if that person happens to be an A-list celeb, with a flagship radio show listened to by millions, scores of whom probably email/text the show every week. So what on earth possessed me to include Task 57?  Am I perhaps a deluded narcissist? Or was I out to sabotage the success of the sixtyat60 challenge? Well, hopefully neither. I chose it because I'm a huge fan of Graham Norton's Saturday morning radio show - in my book it's up there with I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (if you ever need cheering up, just listen to Graham and Maria McErlane mulling over listeners' dilemmas in the 'Grill Graham' feature). And after all, sixtyat60 is meant to be, like I say, a challenge.

Four weeks ago I began my campaign to get a message read out by Graham Norton.  I sent him what I thought was quite a nifty email. I mentioned the challenge, the charities, the sax-playing/cow-milking/chicken-plucking/tattoo-tatting, and I wound up with a heartfelt expression of gratitude to my fabulous friends for their support.  Yup, all boxes ticked. Lucy played her part by re-sending the email with a charming covering note. And the result? The email sunk without trace.  The following week I tried a more punchy streamlined approach. Tumbleweed. And the week after that? Zilch. It seemed as if my card was marked. I imagined Graham's team going 'Oh noooo! It's that self-obsessed woman from East Sussex again - just pretend you haven't seen her message everyone.' 

At this stage, it seemed as if a new strategy was needed. An emergency executive committee meeting was held at sixtyat60 headquarters (OK it may have looked like Andrew and I were just having a nice barmeal at our local pub, but this was serious). We agreed that the time had come to co-opt other people onto Task 57, the plan being that they would take it in turns over the next few weeks to write to Graham on my behalf until we achieved that all-important mention. The first volunteer was Linda (my Caterham companion and chicken plucking pal). 'I'll go in guns blazing' she said with admirable grittiness. The Norton baton was formally handed over to her. 

At 10.00 yesterday morning Graham hit the airwaves.  'Have you missed me?' he cried out to his army of listeners. 'I'll never miss you again if you don't read out Linda's message today Graham' I thought to myself. At 11.30, Graham was in full-flow - hilarious as always, but still no sixtyat60 mention.  At 11.39 I sent an email to my friend Hilary. 'People have been wonderful in their response to the challenge' I wrote, 'Although there's one notable exception so far' I added a little wistfully, 'And that's Graham Norton....' 

Then at 12.07, all of a sudden, this is what I heard:

Oh my goodness, Linda had cracked it! Isn't that amazing? I was so surprised and excited that I couldn't remember a word of what Graham actually said. So Linda very kindly forwarded me her winning email, which she'd sent at 6.45am - what a trouper! In case you aren't able to play the video-clip above (thank you to my technical expert Andrew for capturing it), here's her message in full:  

'I would love you to say Hi to my friend Vivien who has shown everyone that life can certainly begin at 60. Since her birthday among other things she is learning to play the saxophone, has started Spanish lessons, read the whole of War and Peace, milked a cow and plucked a chicken and is also a wonderful friend. Thanks. Linda'.  

So are you a wonderful friend Linda - a thousand thanks for your help. I think a new career as Press Officer beckons. 

I'll wind up by saying an extremely huge thank you to Graham Norton and his team for playing a key role - albeit unwittingly! - in my sixtyat60 challenge. And with the completion of Task 57, I'm delighted to announce that the Celeb Moments section on my list is now complete - phew.......

I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Shooting Star Chase children's hospice care in memory of a gorgeous little girl called Thea Redford. 

For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at

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