Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Delhi after Delay

Monday 23rd

The south of the country was being battered with heavy rain. The Edinburgh sky was showing the first signs of that early moring blue as the light started to penitrate the clouds.

From the taxi on my way to the airport I saw the many conspicuous police officers that had been brought in to guard the Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office from the protestors that had been making a nusance ot themselves over the last few days.

Another indication of more of our tax pounds going, however indirectly to the fat cat bankers.

The airport was as usual at this time of day and year buzzing with a mixture of business travelers, holiday makers and festival folk.

I was glad to see that the queue for the fast bag drop was not too busy, particularly when the check in machine did not spit out my boarding cards because I had not entered my passport details.

When I got to the check in desk I was disappointed to find that I could not check my bags all the way to Delhi because I did not have my passport with the Indian visa. I would be getting that in Heathrow from Ian the producer when I got there.

There was no way, no matter how I tried to persuade the girls at the desk or ticket office that they would tag my bags.

It was not a major problem, just a minor inconvenience.

That was until I went into the departure lounge and found out that the flight to Heathrow was going to be delayed by at least half and hour.

There would still be time to get checked into the Delhi flight but it would be tight, very tight.

Things were not looking good when the delay got longer and longer.

I called Ian to see what he could do about getting me on the flight to Delhi.

He had words with the nice people at Terminal 5. They would not hold the aircraft but would help to get me through as quickly as possible.

So, I just sat around with the feeling that it was not going to go well.

My intuition was correct.

In the end my flight was delayed by a little over three and a half hours. The last forty five of those two hundred and ten minutes spent sitting on the tarmac at Edinburgh waiting for air traffic clearance to take off.

When I arrived at Heathrow the others were well on their way. They had ended up being delayed as well but not significantly enough for me to catch them up.

The good news was that there was a seat available on the busy flight later in the day, much later in the day.

This meant a frustrating wait in Heathrow of another five hours. The flight was due to depart at five thirty five. Ian and co had left not long after their planned departure time of ten past ten.

The other bit of good news was that I had been upgraded to World Traveller Plus. This basically just means a very slightly bigger seat.

I was quite keen to try to get a good bit of sleep on this eight hour flight given that I was effectively loosing a night’s sleep in a comfy hotel bed due to the technical fault on the flight from Edinburgh.

I asked if there was any chance that BA would consider allowing me to get at least a seat in Club so that I could lay down and sleep.

The nice lady at check in said no quite emphatically, but I thought it was worth a try with the duty manager.

So after a bit of a wait an elegant short haired blonde lady appeared and introduced herself to me.

Those first few fractions of a second are so imprtant when it comes to sizing folk up.

I was pretty sure that wrapped up beneath the pleasant hello and customer care practiced smile was a hard nosed centre and that I was not going to make any headway what so ever.

We had a chat about me loosing a night’s sleep and it not really costing BA anything to bump me up if there was a free seat but, the steely determined June was having none of it.

I did still have the bigger seat but was not looking forward to a sleepless night that could have been avoided.

I killed the five hours until boarding by having a long slow lunch with my trolleyload of kit by my side, waiting for the moment that I was able to check them in and having a look at the display of things that will be seen in the Nottinghill Carnival.

Nottinghill comes to T5

Once I was through security I carried on the massacre of hours by drinking more decaf, I did want to at least try and get a couple of hours sleep however uncomfortable that was going to be.

The flight was rammed in both the World Traveller cabin and in my World Traveller Plus cabin. I was pleased to have been upgraded but gutted that I would not be sleeping as well as the rest of the crew in their large warm duvet covered hotel beds.

What made it more annoying was that there were plenty of free spaces in the other two parts of the plane where I could have been getting a nice flat sleep.

I did manage to slumber for a large part of the flight so that was not too bad.

Tuesday 24th

The approach in to Delhi was to quote the Captain, “interesting”.

The First Officer who was flying the Boeing 777 on the journey had to abort the first apptoach because of the bad weather and then spent quite a while stearing us around thunder storms before being able to bring us in through the very thick grey clouds for a perfect landing.

I found my own mini moment of celebrity when I was getting ready to get off the plane.

One of the cabin staff, a very nice Scots chap came up to me to let me know that I had documents waiting for me when I got off and I was to make myself known to the ground staff.

Then an announcement was made asking me to do the very thing my new friend had just asked me to do.

Then another announcement was made with my name in the middle of it. I assume saying the same thing, only I could not confrm it because it was in Hindi!

When I was going through the door of the aircraft my nice Cabin Attendant friend pointed me out to one of the ground crew who handed me an envelope which had been left for me by Ian the producer.

It was a copy of a letter from the Ministry of External Affairs that gave permission to film in India.

The important letter from The Ministry of External Affairs.

I was walking towards the immigration desks with the letter in my hand when another member of the BA ground staff came rushing after me.

She asked if I had been given the documents that they had been holding until I arrived.

I was gobsmacked at the service and amazed at how, out of a plane load of people this eager, slightly breathless girl had picked me to check that I had been given the envelope.

Then it dawned on me. I had my name on my business card on the little lable slot in my rucksac, doh!

Delhi’s new airport is an impressive place all big and bright and modern. It should be having only been open for fifteen days.

Baggage Hall in the bright new airport.

I was very pleased that the modernity extended to the way that the Indian customs deal with the dreaded Carnet.

Sure all the details are still recorded in a big, very big book that would not have looked out of place on the desk of many a charater in a Dickens novel but it was dealt with in a very efficient and stress free way.

The Customs man with The Big Book.

Hail a cab? No it's just heavy rain.

I made my way to the hotel in a torrential downpour.

The heavy rain on the way to the hotel.

I though of the other guys who were with a local cameraman brought in to shoot what was going on in the morning until I arrived a mere eight hours or so after I should have.

They were out in some slum area out of the city doing part of the story that we had come to cover.

A lot of the poor people of Delhi that had the misfortune to live in slum dwellings near where land was needed for buildings, like the new stadium for the Commonwealth Games had been turfed out to new slums often miles away from their original ones which were then summerally flattened for development.

It suspected that it would not be pleasant at all.

I got checked in to the hotel and had time for breakfast before being going back out on to the roads of Delhi to go and shoot some general views of the city and some of its 18 million inhabitants as well as the still under construction Jawahar Lal Hehru stadium.

I did lots of shots of the stadium from the vantage point of a road bridge that bounced like a taught trampoline when any sort of heavy vehicle passed over it.

The Jawahar Lal Hehru Stadium for the Commonwealth Games.

From there I went around this amazing city doing lots of shots to show what Delhi is like.

It is a true assault on all the senses, both the physical and emotional.

Kids at a busy traffic junction begging for cash.

It's quicker by bike!

In any direction.

The rain leaves its mark, a deep muddy one.

As well as the street scenes I filmed at some of Delhi's landmarks, like the India Gate.

Shooting at India Gate.

One of the many dogs of Delhi.

Police van near India Gate.

When I had done a good bit of shooting and I hope captured some kind of flavour of the atmosphere of the mind blowing city I got a call from Rohit our Indian fixer for this shoot.

They had finished shooting at a squatter camp with the local cameraman that had to be hired in to cover until I arrived.

At a small restaurant I met him, Ian the producer, Glenn the sound recordist and for the first time Grainne Seoige, ITV Daybreak's new Features Editor.

The restaurant that we met in was an Italian one which felt a bit weird but it was convenient. I'm sure that we will manage to get in a curry or two in our short trip.

The pizzas were gently digesting when we left to go back to my stadium viewing bridge where we did a couple of pieces to camera with Grainne.

Grainne after doing a piece to camera at the stadium.

Glenn has a quick listen to check that the recording is ok.

Even though the advance party had arrived a good few hours before me and were able to get a bit of sleep in a proper bed they were like me pretty knackered. So we were all happy to get back to the hotel.

My 34 hour shift had at last come to an end.

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