Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 9/5/2006 I'm at home late in the evening when the phone goes. It's Guy Kewney.

Tuesday 9/5/2006

I'm at home late in the evening when the phone goes. It's Guy Kewney. He said he'd call, but I'm surprised by the misery in his voice.

You undoubtedly know of Guy Kewney, veteran IT journalist and quondam colleague of mine. He started in this business when it wasn't even a business, and has forgotten more than any five of the rest of us could hope to remember. His pale, professorially bearded visage has graced magazines and websites for thirty years: if there is a face of IT hackery, it is his. Remember this. It's important.

But tonight, he's remembered my phone number and is even now relating a tragic story in which, I slowly realise, I've played a most unfortunate part.

He was called in, he says, by BBC News 24 for a 10:30 am slot to talk about the Apple versus Apple case. As arranged, he turned up at Television Centre at 10:20 and reception said "They'll come down to meet you ". By around 10:45, he was still there.

There are two reception areas at the BBC - the runner had come down to the other reception, and asked the first bloke he'd seen lounging around 'Are you Guy Kewney'? Said bloke said "Yes", and was thus ushered into the studio.

The time comes round, the interviewer turns to the faux Kewney and says live on air "Guy. What does this result mean for Apple Computers?" The bloke starts blathering on about downloading music from Internet cafes: it's not quite clear what the relevance is, but then it isn't quite clear what he's actually saying. All that is beyond dispute was that he is large, black and Francophone. To his and the presenter's credit they gamely struggle on until they can go to a reporter standing in the rain outside the court, who rescues the item with damp aplomb.

Downstairs in reception, there are banks of monitors relaying the BBC's output to those who await Aunty's pleasure. Among these, of course, is Guy, who goes through his own colour changes faster than a chameleon at a disco.

After the interview reaches its baffling confusion, realisation dawns in the studio. The producer descends, apologises profusely and asks "Seeing as we've put you through this, can you hang on for 11:30?" Guy, not wishing to waste the whole experience, agrees. 11:30 comes around, and so does some chap called Tony Blair who rudely decides to make some news even more important than Steve Jobs' record collection. Guy is rudely bumped again.

"Look, we're REALLY sorry" says the producer, who by now is contemplating a career in the New Zealand Community Sheep Shearing Channel "Can we record an interview now, and then we'll slot you in as soon as we can?"

Grumpily, Guy agrees, does this, goes home, turns on his telly, watches News24 all afternoon. Nothing. The final indignity. Or so he thought.

Later that evening, needing to let off steam, he IMs me.

GK: What a day! I've been to the BBC... Me: Really? What a coincidence! So have I - perhaps we passed each other like ships in the wotsit GK: Were you? I was there for News 24 Me: Amazing!! So was I! What about? GK: Apple versus Apple Me: NOOOO! So was I! This evening, 6:30. Went like a dream. Even got a joke in about Apple Corps needing to let it be. Why, what time were you there? GK: Hold on, I'll give you a call...