The personal risk of “Personal Use”

I might have mentioned that I was interviewed on LBC the other day, by none other than James O’Brien. It was a unique experience for me. I’ve never been the northlondonhippy outside of my home before. I’ve never been interviewed for anything other than a job.  So lots of firsts.

It hit home when I arrived in reception at LBC and I had to give my name. The only name LBC had for me is ‘the northlondonhippy’. Guess what I had to say out loud?


I prefaced it by telling the guy at reception that “…what I am about to say is going to sound ridiculous, but my name is the northlondonhippy. They’re expecting me.”

When he phoned upstairs, they said someone would come to collect me shortly. Thankfully, they didn’t tell the receptionist to phone security immediately.

My time slot was pushed back slightly, so I got to relax just outside the studio and listen to the programme while I waited.

Mr. O’Brien trailed my interview in a very complimentary way. It was suddenly, very, very real. I was about to be on national radio, talking about my book, Personal Use.

We discussed filming the interview for possible online use, and even talked about me wearing a disguise. They also gave me the option of turning the cameras off, which is what I opted for in the end. So there are no photos or video of my appearance.

Even though my schtick is to call for urgent drug law reform, I’ve framed a lot of it through my own recreational drug use. As that shit is all still foolishly and pointlessly illegal, it’s prudent, for the time being, that I conceal my identity. There may come a point in the future, where that changes and everyone says, “so what”? But for now, there is a personal risk because I wrote “Personal Use”.

Did you see what I did there? I even put it in the title of this post.

So they brought me into the studio a few minutes before I was live on-air and I got to meet Mr. O’Brien. He is as nice and as charming as he seems on the radio and TV. I’ve worked in the media myself for a long time, and his sort of charisma and likeabiity is genuine. And it is also very rare.

All the LBC staff that I met were really nice, friendly and helpful. It meant I was relaxed and comfortable when it was show time.

I put on the headphones and before I knew it, James was asking me questions. And he expected me to answer them coherently and in complete sentences. I did the best I could.

I planned on disguising my voice, but I don’t think I did a great job. I probably sounded more like me that I had hoped. The headphones threw me off a bit, as did being so far out of my comfort zone. I don’t think I could have walked and chewed gum at the same time at that point.

I prepped up on a couple of cannabis and drug law reform topics, thinking I would be able to use them during my conversation with James. I even posted some information to back up my claims, RIGHT HERE.

I didn’t get to touch on either subject. It all went really fast, my 10 minutes in the studio flew by so quickly, that it was all over before I knew it.

I didn’t expect James to spend so much time talking about my book. I know that talking about my book is a good thing, and that’s how author interviews are supposed to go. I guess I don’t really see myself as an author. A writer, sure, but being an author is different. I’ve used the word “author” in promotional material, but I don’t think I’d ever really referred to myself that way in the first person or in my head. Does that make sense?

Maybe I really am an author now.

I was prepared to talk about the wider issues around cannabis and drug law reform. I was ready to explain the difference between Sativas and Indicas and I was going to touch slightly on strains too. And I wanted to try to put the word “skunk” to bed, as it is used incorrectly by the newspapers. I hate inaccuracy. I had material prepared, that I didn’t get to use.

I could easily do a 30 minute interview about cannabis and drug law reform. I didn’t expect to do 10 minutes about my book. Ooooops, my bad.

I’m not complaining. It’s one thing to have people you know tell you what you’ve written is good. But it’s entirely different when you’re being praised so highly, by a very well respected stranger. I really didn’t expect that either. Can you tell I have extremely low expectations? It’s an excellent way to avoid bitter disappointment.

I’ve had a chance to listen back to the interview, once. I can hear every mistake I make, every long pause. I know there are no second chances, but if I could do it again, I could do it so much better.

I don’t think I bombed, I didn’t die on my ass, but I didn’t nail it either. When I do something, I like to do it well. And if I can’t do something well, I don’t bother doing it. I think I could do radio well one day, and if I ever get the chance to be interviewed again, I know I will do better.

Towards the end of the interview, Andrew Castle came into the studio, to prepare for his programme, which followed Mr. O’Brien’s. James makes a joke, and you can just about hear me say that “I recognise Mr. Castle”. I don’t think he even glanced in my direction, but if he did, he didn’t recognise me. Many, many years ago, I did some freelance shifts in the same place he was presenting. I was quite lowly there, and just passing through, so I am not surprised I didn’t make an impression. But for the briefest moment, I thought there might be an awkward flash of recognition. I’m happy to say, that it didn’t happen. Phew!

This might have been my 15 minutes and it really only ended up being ten. You can judge for yourselves how it went, as I’ve posted the full interview below. Happy listening!

Oh and you should check out my book, “Personal Use”. James O’Brien digs it, you will too.


One thought on “The personal risk of “Personal Use”

  1. I heard your interview live on James show and lead me to looking you up and really keen to buy your book. So I don’t think you did as badly as you thought! 🙂

    I don’t have any personal experience of using ‘illegal’ drugs, but I’m aware of how addictive and harmful prescription drugs can be through my work as a therapist.
    I know there is so much misinformation out there so thank you for spreading the truth.
    BTW I grew up in North London, Muswell Hill and Crouch End.
    Good luck with it all!

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