A few years ago I was on the Tetbury Woolsack Committee, which organises the “internationally famous and world record breaking” Woolsack Races. As befits an event of such esteem, we generally managed to get a local celebrity along – that particular year we’d somehow got the presenter of the BBC’s Record Breakers TV programme to come.
That year also, I figured I should run the race itself, which involved carrying a 60-pound sack of wool a hundred yards up a pretty steep hill. I wasn’t brilliantly in shape, but you know, what the heck.
The morning of the event, us organisers were up at 5am as usual, putting up signs, planning stall locations and so on. In a quiet moment I happened to be standing by the painted faces stand. “Come on, let’s paint your face,” I was told. “Sure,” I said, promptly forgetting immediately afterwards.
Everything went pretty smoothly – barriers arranged, PA speakers installed, tents put up and so on. Mid-morning the Record Breakers team arrived with presenter, Jez Edwards, doing a round of interviews. We spent a good few minutes talking about the history of the town, the event and so on. Wow, I thought, I’m going to be on the telly.
The races started shortly after, first the kids and then the more serious racing. I was in the third heat: just before it began, Jez Edwards decided he would also have a crack! So there I was, racing against the man from the Beeb. He quickly left me for dust; I plodded up, making it to the top somehow.
A few months later, the Record Breakers Woolsack feature was due to be aired on the TV. Of course, we all gathered round the box. The sequence started with the usual – some sheep, an archetypal Cotswold pastoral scene and so on. Then it cut straight to Jez Edwards, talking at the bottom of the hill.
“So here I am, at Tetbury Woolsack Races,” he said. “It’s been such an exciting day, I’ve decided to join in!” As he did so I knew, somehow, that my big TV moment was imminent. And sure enough it was, but not quite as I expected. “And guess what,” he continued, “I’m even racing against the local clown!”
Cue shot of me in face paint, looking startled. Fade to race view of Jez sprinting up the hill. Cut.