I sat at a table in Jumeirah's Lime Tree Café, two anxious looking chaps from the production company facing me.
"So. Will you do it?"
"Look, I know Piers. I've worked with him on his media relations here. He'd burn me for thirty seconds' good TV. I do recognise that."
"No, no, no. You don't understand! Piers has changed!"
That made me belly laugh. I've been laughing about it since.
Piers Morgan is the famous former Daily Mirror editor who was sacked after a splash he ran about British soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners was rubbished by the authorities. One moment he was a successful editor and public figure who'd do tea with the Blairs, the next a jobless has-been; Morgan picked himself up from the floor and has built a new and highly successful career in TV. The whole story is documented in his excellent and frequently wickedly funny memoir, The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade. Love him or hate him (and, like Marmite and Clarkson, he polarises opinion), Piers came through the experience stronger and with a definite sense that he's seen the worst they can do to him and to hell with them all. I quite like him for that.
I did, in the end, agree to appear in Piers Morgan on Dubai. Filmed in luscious HD, the program looks at the glamour and fun of life in Dubai. Why on earth they wanted to talk to me (unglamorous and unfun), I don't know, but I thought it would be a chance to balance some of the egregious erks they'd undoubtedly pick up on with something at least down to earth.
Anyway, I'm a tart like that.
We drove out into the desert, a mirror-mounted camera filming me responding to our man, sitting in the back, asking questions. As we drove up into the dunes, Piers teased me about wasting my time driving around in this big sandpit. And then, as we flipped neatly over the crest of the dune and sailed down the leeward side into a huge bowl, you should (depending on the caprices of the editing room floor) hear Piers saying something like 'Erk!'.
Having just recovered from the not inconsiderable injuries sustained when he fell off a Segway, Piers didn't take very well to offroading, I have to say. It was quite an effort to get him back into the car once we'd got out to film an interview in the dunes.
We talked about stuff like groaning infrastructure, media freedom and blogging. To be honest, all these weeks later, I can't quite remember what we talked about. But at the end, Piers pulled a trick in response to my assertion that I had never been 'yanked' by the authorities for blogging - he nodded behind me and told me to look at the two guys from the Ministry of Information coming over the dunes behind me. I didn't, so he repeated it. I turned round and thereby gave them the ideal shot to end the piece: cut well, it'll look like I'm turning around in fear.
That's TV, I'm afraid. If that's how they cut it, that's fine by me. But it ain't the 'truth', folks.
Anyway, if anyone sees it on ITV tonight, please do feel free not to tell me all about it. Oh! And the production company still owes me a quid...