When you’re working on a daily live magazine TV or radio show – I’m back in RTÉ Radio 1 for the summer, currently producing again on The Mooney Show – potential programme items come through a whole slew of different routes.
Someone on the team may spot an interesting story online, in a newspaper or magazine that could be further investigated on air; a viewer/listener may get in touch with a query that sparks our curiosity; an eager PR company might approach on behalf of a newsworthy client; an upcoming anniversary could suggest a reassessment of a well known historical event; or a great idea may simply pop into someone’s head during a conversation, while watching TV, reading a book…even doing the dishes.
Often these stories that tap you on the shoulder when you least expect it are the most interesting.
Last week, for instance, I chanced upon just such an unanticipated gem.
And while we still haven’t cracked this odd little mystery (last time I checked), I’m still kinda hopeful.
Strolling into work Wednesday morning I turned a corner from Pembroke Gardens onto Baggot Lane in Dublin 4 and would have walked by a lamppost there had I not spotted out of the corner of my eye some innocuous looking strips of brown cardboard gaffer (duct) taped to it.
I’m guessing it was the fact that these three pieces of cardboard each had something handwritten in large capital letters on them that really caught my attention.
The larger top boldly declared, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MY JULIE”; the middle one lamented, “I MISS YOU”; and the bottom one – hopefully? cheekily? desperately? – suggested, “DINNER TONIGHT?”
I was intrigued. Who was Julie? Who – he or she? – was missing her? Would dinner be had?
At the same time I wasn’t sure if this the most romantic thing ever or just plain creepy.
I also wondered if this very public declaration of love was real. My Julie’s distinct Ali G feel raised a very suspicious red flag.
I looked around, half expecting to see whoever had stuck this teasing troika here watching from a safe distance for reactions, or – and yeah, once a producer – a few judiciously placed hidden TV cameras recording for some kind of prank show. But no, nothing.
I took a picture on my phone and posted it on Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone could solve this ‘Who’s Julie?’ conundrum. It was immediately obvious from the comments and shares that others were curious too but there were no immediate answers.
So I showed the photograph to the Mooney Show team, suggesting that Derek could maybe have a bit of fun with it on the show. They agreed and an hour later I was back on Baggot Lane with a microphone and recorder stopping strangers who happened to stroll by and knocking on nearby doors to see if I could solve this hand-written romantic riddle.
Sadly no one I spoke to was able to provide any solid leads so when my report went out Thursday afternoon we were none the wiser as to the who, what or why.
Disappointingly, judging by the dearth of calls, emails or texts, none of the Mooney Show listeners who heard the item seemed to know anything either and this particular poster puzzle, which Broadsheet also spotted, remains at the time of writing unsolved.
And if anyone does know anything we’re still all ears at firstname.lastname@example.org
You might also be interested in this post on working on RTÉ Radio 1‘s old John Murray show during a particularly emotional period, after the Berkely balcony collapse and then as he finished up his five-year run: https://www.patomahony.ie/2015/07/everything-must-change-off-message-22/