Communication Is Key

I’ve just finished my first podcast!

I’m really excited about it as well and very much looking forward to the official launch and sharing it with everyone. It’s all come together as a result of meetings with, and lots of phone calls with Vanesha Peach of Peach Revolution, with the final result, and, I hope, the first of many being available on Spotify and numerous other platforms by next (w/c May 9th) week. I think we were both a bit nervous to begin with-and that’s no bad thing, ask any great actor before he or she takes the stage and they’ll always say they’re nervous of what is to come. That doesn’t stop them, of course, ever putting on a masterful performance and I am not trying to compare myself to them in anyway at all-but what I am saying is that if they can be nervous, then I’m certainly ‘allowed’ to be!

One of the things I enjoy most in my professional life is hosting the events that I have organised as charity fundraisers or talking to an audience in general. I genuinely feel completely at home with a microphone in my hand with a host of expectant faces looking up to me, the adrenaline starts to surge and off I go-sometimes its hard to stop me!

In full flow! Mind you, it looks as if I might be singing. It’d be a Sinatra number, obviously. (Russell Baker, personal collection)

I remember one particular event that I was part of, one that involved the current (and many congratulations to Ronnie for winning the title again earlier this week) reigning world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

I’d been asked if I’d like to present Ronnie with a trophy at the end of this particular evening, not an opportunity I was going to turn down in a hurry. It may not have been an event that had the prestige of a world championship but if Ronnie is playing then, no matter what the event is, or where its being held, he wants to win. Even if he was playing you in your back garden for Mars Bar, he’d want to win it and you’d rarely, if ever, be at the table.

He is one of sports ultimate professionals which he has, once again, proved to the watching world.

As I took to the stage prior to the presentation, I was hit by this great wall of sound as all of the people who’d come along on the night rose as one and showed their appreciation to Ronnie. Wow, what a buzz. I knew, of course, it wasn’t for me, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the sensation. At the end of those world championships earlier this week, Ronnie, once again, would have been hearing that sort of appreciation from an audience but he was so emotional about it all, he just gave Judd Trump a long and very heartfelt hug until he could, I guess, pull himself together and take it all in properly.

I shook Ronnie’s hand as I handed the trophy to him and stood there, me holding one side of it and him the other as the applause continued and everyone who wanted a photograph of the winner got one. Ronnie’s a big star and everyone wanted a piece of him, there’d be requests for autographs and the inevitable selfies to follow, but he’d have taken it all in with his usual aplomb.

On and on the applause went, on and on went the clicks of the camera shutters, all the time with the two of us standing there, that is, until Ronnie briefly looked away from the crowd and the cameras and said to me, with a smile on his face,

‘Erm, Russell. Do you think I could have the trophy now?’

Of course! I stood back and joined in with everyone else. What a performance. Ronnie communicates with an audience through his play, a frame of snooker is usually a very quiet and intense affair, interrupted only by the occasional cough or the sound of the referees voice as he calls out the scores.

He can’t talk, not at that point. So Ronnie lets the cue do the talking on his behalf. There is more than one way to hold an audience in the palm of your hand and that’s one of them.

I wrote in my previous blog about how I am currently planning my charity fundraising events for the second part of this year and into 2023, I’d like, of course, for Ronnie to be involved in some of them and, hopefully, if his time and other commitments permit, he most certainly will be.

So keep reading this blog, because you’ll hear about them on here first. But look, what am I saying, you’ll also be hearing about them, and quite literally, on my new podcast as well.

Exciting times. When my friend and editor Edward Couzens-Lake and I were finishing my book, we both agreed that the book wasn’t meant, in anyway, to signify my beginning to wind down my professional life but, contrary to that, be the start of a lot of new projects that I am going to be involved with, some of which will mean working with him again.

So much to look forward to then….

Cheers! (Russell Baker personal collection)

…I’ll drink to that!

Look out for my podcast next week-and don’t forget to subscribe.

Life, for me, really is beginning at sixty. Bring. It. On.

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