Having my say – Richard Dawkins on the BBC

Yesterday I was on the BBC phone-in programme Have Your Say.

It was a strange experience. I imagine I was wheeled in as a token atheist for a remark I’d posted on the Have Your Say website in response to Pope Benedict’s latest daft encyclical. At a guess, the Beeb watch the boards, as it was only about 10 minutes after I’d posted my comment that I was rung by a member of the production team and asked if I’d be willing to air my views on the programme. An interview followed of around 10 minutes and I agreed to go on, imagining they would ask me something about my membership of the British Humanist Association and whether atheists can live in hope (a patronising question if ever there was one).

It was Friday afternoon and I spent the rest of the weekend regretting the decision. I’m a shy and nervous creature in general and would rather have my teeth out without anaesthetic than get up on a podium. But I did once have the experience of being interviewed in the street by German television on the subject of the British Royal Family, which was an enjoyable opportunity to air my republican sentiments and I thought Have Your Say might be something similar.

Come the day I’d reckoned without being laid flat by a cold. I spent pretty much the entire weekend in bed and only crawled out grubbily in my thermals and dressing gown, to conduct the interview live on television (phone-in only, thank heavens, rather than by Webcam), half an hour earlier than scheduled and about a subject I’d not been questioned on – the supposed atheism of Hitler and Stalin.

I struggled to string together a coherent sentence while my teeth chattered together in terror but fortunately I’m interested in Second World War and Holocaust history and had read widely enough to know that Hitler was a Catholic, and that many of his closest entourage were practising Christians, so I said my pretty piece, was thanked by the producer and that was that. Feeling completely pants, I headed back to bed.

I didn’t see the programme, of course, as it was live, but the DH had taped it, so some hours later I had the surreal experience of hearing myself expounding on the subject of atheism on the telly, which was very weird indeed, particularly as I sound nothing like myself, if you know what I mean. In the end, I didn’t make too bad a fist of it, though as usual in these circumstances, there was more I wish I’d said. However, the incident has at least galvanised me to say something about moral and spiritual values on this website, so I’ll be posting more of this nature in the future.

But until I feel up to it, it’s back to bed with an aspirin and a hottie…

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