After leaving Downing Street to return home to pick up my car, things started to go quite seriously wrong. I was due to meet Asad in the BBC News Studios on Marylebone High Street at 12.30. Unfortunately I wasn't helped by the fact that when I got to my car, it was blocked in it's car park space by a white transit van which, from what I recall, had something to do with landscape gardening in Potters Bar. Not for the first time in my life I felt as though a panic attack was'nt a million miles over the horizon, so I scanned the pavement for a brown paper bag.
That wasn't necessary though, because a minimal blast on my car horn (approx. 15 seconds) saw a red-cheeked, red-headed man bound down the street towards me with an embarrassed grin and a raised hand of apology. I muttered the first two letters of a curse before realising that he was bigger than me, and so instead slammed my car door with a vigour I didn't know I possessed, and drove off.
I was destined to be late.
Lesson one: When meeting anyone off your list of 500, who has kindly agreed to give you a couple of minutes of your time, DON'T BE LATE.
As I drove past London Zoo, In an act of desperation I phoned my dad, who lives nearby and is retired and spends a lot of his time dozing on the couch, to ask him if he could drive my car (with me in it) to the edge of the congestion zone, drop me off, and drive it back to his house. He agreed.
I walked speedily across the Euston Road.....sorry is this all too much information? Bear with me, it's important, down Marylebone High Street, and found the Beeb Building.
"Hello, I'm here to shake hands with Asad Ahmad", I blurted out to a security guard who gave me a most quizzical stare. The sort of stare you give someone you've just engaged in conversation with, only to learn that they've recently escaped from Bedlam. "I haven't seen him today," announced a lady named Dominique behind the reception desk, and just as my heart started to slowly sink, the man himself walked through the front entrance and introduced himself.
Asad was a complete gentleman. After a quick change, he re-emerged and ushered me through to the BBC London News studio where our picture was to be taken.
I made various inane comments, such as "Gosh the studio looks small in real life," and the even more embarassing, "does BBC News have a separate studio for the London News?" before looking up on the screen next to me that read 'BBC LONDON NEWS STUDIO', but Asad kindly let those pass.
A young lady then came out and took our photo and left, before Asad mentioned that he would be sending me something for my charity auction, for which I thanked him very much.
He has even suggested, in response to my cheeky email asking whether this project might make a decent quirky story to end the BBC News with, to see what he could do, but I wouldn't for one second hold him to that.
Anyway, that was that, I thanked the security guards, did an Elvis, left the building and strolled up towards a drizzly Harley Street