“I get by with a little help from my friends.”– John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Do you know there are “friends” out there who are waiting to meet you?
As we’re heading down our own path to happiness, life has a way of supplying us with unexpected — and pleasant — people along the way.
BBC journalist and drive-time radio host Simon Hoban became one of my accidental friends as I was charting my own happiness path. I’m inspired today to share him with you.
Simon and I met while I was in Liverpool, England doing research on the rise of Britain’s musical mega-success story – The Beatles!
It was my last day in Liverpool where I’d spent three days traversing the city in a quest to learn all I could about the background, challenges and history of the early Beatles. Passing the BBC radio studios, a light bulb went off. Would I get lucky?
I dropped into the towering BBC Merseyside center and asked the receptionist if they still had an older DJ or journalist on staff who worked during the Beatles era. Even someone who worked under a retired DJ who remembered the early Beatles would have provided a bonus to my research.
As it turns out, the one journalist who could have helped my research had left work for the day. Instead, I was greeted by a 30-something stand-in by the name of Simon Hoban.
In a pleasant and immediately endearing fashion, Simon offered himself as a goodwill consolation prize. He knew nothing directly of the Beatles (he was obviously too young) but invited me to join him down the block for tea.
We had barely been handed our order when Simon asked, “Maura, would you mind sitting in for my drive-time interview? I have need for a feature interview this coming Monday and I’d love to chat with an American journalist about the similarities and differences between the Brits and Americans.”
He led me back to the BBC building, my uncovered tea spilling as we headed up the block. Within moments, the two of us were seated in his studio, donning headphones.
I was still a bit perplexed. Simon was preparing for a prerecorded interview that would replay, uncut and unedited, the following Monday.
What in the world would we discuss? Was I ready for an international interview on BBC radio — without preparation or talking points? Smiling, I mused, I guess I’ll soon find out.
For nearly a half hour, Simon peppered me with questions. We chatted about things British and American: journalism, politics, royals, childhood dreams and the things that make us happy. The time spent together was one of unexpected delight. By the close of our interview, we had discovered commonalities in both heart and spirit.
I’m not sure how it happened, but our interview dovetailed perfectly with familiar issues I’ve studied for years — culture, government, society and economics — and the way they serve as backdrops for people pursuing their hopes, dreams and happiness.
For me, a journalism research project into the Beatles’ back story was serendipitously turned on its head: I became the subject of a BBC interview and met a new “friend” instead.
By the end of our time together, I realized that Simon could have grown up in my hometown, worked with me somewhere in the States or just managed to be a friend I’d made at our local Starbucks. He was a delight that added richness to my day, even though he never met John, Paul, George or Ringo Star!
We filmed this impromptu video in BBC Merseyside’s lobby following the radio interview and before I said good-bye. Simon Hoban was so engaging and memorable, I wanted to share my new British friend with readers.
(A note of thanks to BBC’s front desk manager for offering to serve as stand-in videographer.)
Your interests may not lie in the Beatles, cultural journalism or overseas travel.
But while pursuing things dear to your heart, don’t be surprised by the unexpected friends you, too, encounter on the way.
Be sure to welcome those people who drop by to enrich and support you along your Happiness path!
Maura Sweeney is a Podcaster, Author and Speaker
Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out!”
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