Things are crazy at the moment with public lectures, examination marking (Bristol & Oxford), book promotion and all the other s**t that I have managed to clog my life up with but I received an invitation last week to fly out to Barcelona to record an interview with Eduardo Punset that I could not resist. I had heard such wonderful things about this city and frankly I needed a break. Also I am a sucker for getting in front of the camera and was really sick of radio and podcast interviews. (I’m a visual guy and if I can’t see the other person, I find it much harder to communicate). So a TV opportunity was welcomed but more for the chance to visit the city of Antoni Gaudi, someone I wanted to know more about.
As it was, I had most of the day to explore Barcelona on Thursday as the shoot was not scheduled until 4pm. So I did the tourist thing and sought out the nearest Antoni Gaudi building I could find which happened to be “La Pedrera.” Cor blimey… this guy was seriously possessed. A whole apartment block designed through his vision of a fusion of nature and technology. It really has to be seen to be believed. I thought that nothing could top that until I then headed over to the “Casa Batlló.” At this point my head was spinning. This is frankly the most awe-inspiring piece of architecture I have encountered and I am a sucker for magnificent architectural monstrosities. The thing about Gaudi is that he designed everything! From the impossible structure of the building to the handles on the doors and nothing, and I really mean it, nothing was conventional or too small to be taken for granted. His vision is everywhere. The word genius is all too easily bandied about but seriously Gaudi was clearly from another planet. He was a devout Catholic who was entirely motivated by his beliefs. I am not religious but I am astounded by the creativity and drive that religion can bring out in some people.
Anyway, back to the shoot. I was collected by the delightful producer Javier and assistant Stephanie from the hotel and we headed a mile out of Barcelona to a Romanesque church on a hill overlooking the ancient pathway between central Spain and the ocean. For the briefest moment in the back of the car driven by Carlos, I felt like a hostage victim as I had expected a studio shoot. (I am terribly anxious when I don’t speak the language). But the hour’s drive was well worth it. They kept talking about Eduardo Punset and how they wanted our meeting to be spontaneous but I have to confess I did not know who he was. When I arrived at the church I was relieved to discover that it was not a kidnap situation but that there was a crew of about 8 people including the delightful flirtatious make-up artist, Sue. I was beginning to enjoy myself under the hot Catalan sun.
Then Eduardo Punset turned up and it was clear I was in the presence of a pro. He was incredibly charming and immediately put me at ease. I’ll tell you more about the interview when it is broadcast in a couple of weeks time and available for download. I can’t wait to hear myself dubbed in to Spanish! Anyway just to end the blog, we went out for dinner and clearly Eduardo was a national celebrity as the heads turned and tongues wagged in the restaurant. At the end of the evening, a clutch of young women came up to fawn over the elegant gentleman. I had a great time. I was honored that Eduardo liked my book and was interested in my ideas. I also love a country were elderly science communicators are considered celebrities. I think I am going to try and learn Spanish!