Royal baby sparks surreal media circus outside hospital

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Media gather outside the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

I'll be honest: I'm writing this is bed. I have a guilty conscience and the lyrics of 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' by The Clash on my brain. It's a royal baby thing, of course, and even early on a Sunday morning the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington is exerting a strange pull.

It is at the Lindo that the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth to the future king or queen and the media, if not the nation, will go bonkers. This private maternity unit sits on an unprepossessing street that runs along the side of Paddington station.

In normal times, families and patients come and go, ambulances swing into the A and E entrance opposite and passers-by pop into the hospital coffee shop for a sandwich.

But these are not normal times. Crash barriers enclose three press pens lined with television crews and stuffed with the ladders of photographers who have marked out a space. Another length of pavement has been divided up with gaffer tape and allotted to even more cameras.

The media wait outside St Mary's Hospital. Credit: Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

It's been a long wait. A couple of TV teams moved in more than a fortnight ago and have maintained a vigil ever since. I've been going for a week, turning up in time to go live for each of the three main ITV News bulletins. I'm lucky. My rivals from the 24-hour satellite channels have checked in to local hotels.

And how do we pass our days in this surreal media circus? By talking and writing about each other, just as I'm doing now. One day last week I was interviewed by Belgian, American and Asian satellite TV, who then filmed me hanging around with my team. We then turned our cameras on them. "The world is waiting and watching." That sort of thing.

Occasionally, a bookie will turn up with a publicity stunt for the underfed cameras. One lot had a Queen lookalike at the front door where Kate will eventually be photographed. Another produced huge babies with crowns and a blackboard with the latest odds.

The waiting media have been labelling ladders. Credit: Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

And, of course, there's the lovable British eccentric. A couple of days ago a bloke appeared wearing a Union Jack suit. He was instantly surrounded by Japanese crews and has been camped out there ever since. "The first member of the public to wait for the royal baby," said my producer enthusiastically. Right.

There are a few crumbs to be thankful for: it hasn't rained, Mickey's place behind the Lindo does good fish and chips and the hospital allows us to use its loos. That's it.

But back to the here and now. The Sunday lunchtime news is just three minutes long. The Lindo is a 90 minute round trip from my home, I'll be there from tea time until late at night anyway and the Ashes are on TV.

Well what would you do?