A high-definition make-up malfunction
'So, do you moisturise?" I must admit I squirmed a bit. "Yeah, sure I do," I replied, hoping my blushes wouldn't be sensed by the listeners.
The programme's host, Ivan Yates, knew he had just tapped a rich seam of radio gold. He didn't waste any time digging deeper.
"Ah, Darragh, what would the lads in the IFA and the Farm Centre think if they heard you saying that?" he said with unrestrained glee.
"We don't all make a living out of being wrinkly, grumpy old men, Ivan," I countered, hoping, nay praying, that he'd drop it if I swung low enough.
But what was my problem? After all, are we not living in an age when men talk about their feelings, sport pink shirts and... moisturise?
Maybe my discomfort stemmed from another recent incident involving facial creams.
My producer on 'Ear to the Ground' had been on to me for some time to use make-up on shoot days. I'd gotten away with it for years on the basis that no farmer wanted to be caught on camera in one of his fields talking to a lad with make-up on.
But the ante was upped significantly when he informed me that we would be switching to HD cameras next season.
"HD -- you know, high-definition," he said. To my shrugs he continued: "That means the viewers can see everything, like, I mean every little detail."
Finally, exasperated with my blank stares, the producer cut to the chase. "You're gonna need make-up. You're a bit too rosy in the cheeks, and it shows up big time when you're on-screen with the girls."
I was shocked. Make-up? Surely, my skin wasn't that bad.
But if that's what the bosses wanted, that's what they'd get. I headed for the pharmacy, and made a bee-line for the girl with the heavy make-up. You know the ones. They smell as if they've bathed in a pool of perfume for the previous 24 hours.
"I need make-up," I blurted, hoping the furious blushing in my cheeks didn't look as bad as it felt.
She looked at me initially with surprise, and then what I thought was a hint of pity. "O-kay," she said slowly. "What is it?"
"TV. My producer says I need make-up for the cameras," I gushed, glad to have somebody to blame.
"Well, let's see what your skin tone is," she said, staring into my face.
This close scrutiny of my facial pores, combined with the pharmacy's lights, which suddenly felt very warm, had me breaking out in a sweat.
Five tortuous minutes later, I was walking out with tinted moisturiser. I was relieved with what I considered a good compromise.
Guys moisturise, and nobody will even notice that this has a bit of colour in it. Nice one.
The next shoot was the following day. A typical 'Ear to the Ground' shoot day -- cold, overcast, with the threat of rain at any minute.
When I arrived, I could see the crew jeep was already there, getting microphones, cameras and scripts ready.
I lashed on the moisturiser, giving it a good rub all over, but realised that finding an end point was going to be tricky.
I decided to stop at the jawline and ear lobes, but cursed the fact that I hadn't done a practice session at home.
I took one last look in the mirror. "Jaysus, this stuff is a bit strong," I thought, feeling a bit panicky.
"It'll be grand," I then told myself. "You're just not used to seeing yourself looking like this."
I could see the director waving me on. "Right, here goes," I said to myself.
I barely had the door of the car closed before the first guffaws erupted. Half of the crew stood open-mouthed, the other half were already in stitches. A glowing, orange face was looming at them from the grey morning mists.
"Is this OTT?" I asked, mortified. But I couldn't even get an answer, they were laughing that hard.
HD or no HD, 'Ear to the Ground' fans will have to put up with my ruddy cheeks. I'll leave the glamour to the girls. Maybe there's more to be said for being a wrinkly old man than I gave it credit for.
The 20th season of 'Ear to the Ground' runs on RTE1, Thursdays at 8.30pm