A few weeks ago a friend of mine made a mistake. It was the kind of error of judgement we’re all quite capable of making.
She turned up for work a bit the worse for wear. She was rather emotional, to be fair. A little ‘below par’.
The problem was that this friend of mine just happens to be a presenter on a BBC local radio station and so her mistake was shared with thousands of people.
It also happened to be genuinely hilarious. For half an hour she slurred her way through her final week-day show before being rescued by colleagues.
She didn’t say anything derogatory. She didn’t swear. She didn’t libel a listener.
She had, however, had a drink or two and so the audio train wreck made headlines in most of the national newspapers (and the local one).
The unusual 30 minute broadcast became an internet sensation – with hundreds of thousands of people listening to it.
For a brief moment only she had the kind of listener figures BBC local radio station controllers would kill for.
I’m not sure if she trended on Twitter but the clip of her faux pas has the distinction of making it on to comedy show Have I Got News For You and even overseas news channels.
A bad day at the office doesn’t cover it.
The lady in question is, of course, Paula White who has been the voice of afternoons on BBC Radio Stoke for as long as most of us can remember.
After taking some time off and issuing a public apology for her behaviour, I am delighted that Paula will soon be back on the station.
It is absolutely the right decision. After all, let’s not forget the Beeb chose to inflict the talent vacuum that is Richard Bacon back on the British public again via the medium of radio after sacking him as a telly presenter on Blue Peter when his drug use was exposed by the tabloids.
By comparison, Paula’s misdemeanour pales into insignificance and I think it’s only fair that she be welcomed back.
OK, so she appeared on radio sounding a bit squiffy and the odd Puritanical listener took umbrage.
But Paula’s not a brain surgeon or a policewoman. Nobody died as a result of her saying ‘P-A-R-T-Y… because I said so!’.
Come on, admit it, that’s still funny.
The problem is that because Paula works in the media and has a profile she’s there to be shot at.
But when considering her fate I am sure the powers-that-be at BBC Radio Stoke must have taken into consideration a number of things.
Firstly, for the last six and a half years Paula White has done a terrific job brightening up people’s afternoons and done a great deal of good for local communities and charities.
Secondly, she is one of the precious few local voices on BBC Radio Stoke and that is important.
Listeners feel comfortable with her because she knows her Biddulph from her Bentilee and can pronounce Potteries place names.
They like the fact that she grew up in this neck of the woods, remembers the SPACE Scheme, danced the night away at The Place and calls everyone ‘duck’.
Finally, Paula’s style is chatty and irreverent. She has always worn her heart on her sleeve and that is what has endeared her to so many guests and listeners over the years – listeners who have shown their support for her through social media and have written in to BBC Radio Stoke too.
Paula probably still feels mortified at what happened – not least because she thinks she let her family, friends and colleagues down.
But the truth is that ‘squiffy-gate’ is a storm in a teacup.
It should be viewed as a half-hour aberration in a broadcasting career that has spanned thousands of hours and brought a smile to many faces.
Welcome back, duck.
Read my Personally Speaking columns every Tuesday in The Sentinel