Posted on Sep 7, 2018 in Editorial.
On Monday, 13th August 2018, I was invited to LifeBook headquarters in Godalming, Surrey, to take part in a TV commercial promoting the company. This all came about when I was called, initially by Tom, who had been my project manager when writing my book, and then by Roy Möed, the founder of LifeBook.
Obviously, I was delighted to be asked, but, of course, never having been involved in anything like that before and not knowing what to expect, I was a little apprehensive.
I travelled by train and when I arrived at the LifeBook offices, I was warmly greeted by everyone. I was quite overwhelmed as I realised that my whole life story had passed through this place.
Roy introduced Mike, the film director and I noticed a couple of cameras and other filming equipment around and about. As I had travelled down from Stafford, it was almost immediately time for some lunch, after which Roy introduced me to Bella, the make-up artist. What she was supposed to do with me, I don’t know, but she did improve my appearance, although she nearly dropped her blusher when I told her I was just shy of 85 years old.
My filming was to take place in the garden – the cameras and other equipment were set up and ready to roll. I was asked to sit in a chair, while Mike, the film director, kept repeating to me my ‘lines’ ‒ which was actually only one line. I was told to look straight at the lens of the camera in front of me and not say anything more when I had finished my line.
My moment of fame arrived, although we had to have eight or nine takes because of noise, mainly coming from aircraft flying overhead. Each time the clapperboard, as I call it, came into play; then it was ‘action, take one (or whatever number) and roll’. I will be very interested to see how I came across – everyone said I did OK.
I then moved to a table, where the cameras were set up once more. I was fitted with a microphone for the next bit of filming, my interview by Roy. By this time, I was feeling more relaxed. Roy posed a few questions and I was in my element talking about my experiences with LifeBook, even though I now can’t remember what I said.
There was one point made by Roy, when he said, “Alan, you hold two records with LifeBook. You were the first author to ask us out for lunch and, second, your new great-grandson is the youngest recipient of a LifeBook autobiography!” I had taken a couple of photographs of Alex (my grandson) and Emma carrying Henry between them, while holding my book I Did it My Way, which I presented to him on 17th June 2018, two days after he was born on 15th June 2018.
Roy then showed me the LifeBook library, which was now having to be extended. In it, there are about 750 private and corporate biographies that the business has completed in the UK and all around the world, including my book. With so many books, I felt very privileged to have been one of only three or four authors to be invited to take part in this special advertisement.
Roy had previously told me the company would cover my expenses for the day but that was the last thing that I wanted because it was a privilege and pleasure to be invited. A member of staff, Tess, asked me about my return journey and I told her I had only bought a single ticket as I had not been sure what time I would be travelling back. She then disappeared, only to reappear half an hour or so later with an envelope containing a first-class ticket for the 5:33pm Virgin train from Euston to Stafford. What could I say? A wonderful gesture!
I said my goodbyes and thanked everyone for their kindness. David, Roy’s brother, drove me back to London, pointing out places of interest on the way and entertaining me with interesting conversation.
I was home in Cannock by 7pm, feeling I wanted to tell someone about my day, but, of course, when you live on your own there is no one to talk to. I pottered about for a while and then put on the television to watch a wonderful concert by Andre Rieu. I sat with my cup of tea and said out loud, “The end of a perfect day.”
I can hardly believe what has happened over the past nine months. This time last year, I had no idea or thought about writing a book. Since then, however, I have completed my book of 66,000 words, inspired and helped by some wonderful people at LifeBook. The book has been printed, after which I met up for lunch in Pall Mall, London, with Roy and the members of staff who had worked on my book ‒ and now I have played a small part in a TV commercial. Not bad for a bloke of 84 and it’s all thanks to Lifebook.
I might not be the most important client of LifeBook, but everyone there has always treated me as though I am – it’s been wonderful and thank you.
Never did I think that I would have the opportunity to visit LifeBook; meeting up in London was one thing but to see the place where all the action happened and where my book was put together was something quite special.