Thursday, 27 June 2013

IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE

The other day as I was out walking a pleasant young Sikh gentleman fell into step next to me. He was dressed to impress and had spectacular aftershave.


"Hello I am Guru ........"

I never got the last bit.

Normally I am polite but slightly distant as I have an antenna for conmen and panhandlers.
However I am never rude. Can't see what satisfaction people get from being horrible to strangers even if they be cold callers or beggars.
"I can see you are a nice man"
Can't see anything to disagree with here. I thought.

"I can tell by the lines on your forehead"




He drew a rough sketch of my lined forehead on a pad he produced from the pocket of his elegantly tailored jacket.

His soft manicured hand gently took mine.
"You are in excellent health and have very nice hair"

Wow. How could he know all this just by looking at my palm?

"Look at my face. Remember my face"

He said.
"You are a sexy man"
Well who was I to disagree? The Dark Lady says that too. Although sometimes she has to leave the room directly after she utters it. Reappearing a few minutes later face slightly flushed from either laughing or weeping. Not quite sure which.


"You think too much. Do not think as much".
Uncanny. This has been said to me before; 30 years ago when I lived in the tiny North Yorkshire coastal village of Staithes. I was sitting in the pub; The Cod and Lobster one night and suddenly the local painter and decorator a chap called Fenton piped up:

"What's the matter with you"?
"Nothing. I'm thinking"!

"You don't want to be doing that at your age." He riposted!

Meanwhile a hundred yards further along the street and back in 2013. Guru....... was getting into his stride.

"You must not cut your hair or nails on a Tuesday"!

Not sure what this was about but then again he was right about the sexy bit and the fine hair!

"Look at my face. Remember my face". He said again.

This was beginning to resemble the ventriloquist Arthur Worsley and his dummy Charlie Brown.




"Look at me son when I'm talking to yer"!

"Have you ever been to Singapore"? He suddenly asked

"Once in 1989 for 4 days it was like going to the Arndale Centre"!

"I will be there....By your clothes I would say you are a poor but honest man"

"Well I wouldn't describe myself as rich but I do ok"

"You are poor but rich in your life. You are a happy man"

This was beginning to sound like one of those Music Hall mind reading double acts:
Man soliciting items from audience members to blindfolded man on stage.

"What am I holding in my hand? Take your TIME. Take your TIME"!

"Is it..a...a.watch"?

Huge applause from gullible audience.


Guru.......produced a card from his other elegantly tailored pocket on it were written words starting with Health and Happiness. Further down the list there were things like Money and Power.

"Choose two words to wish for."

"Health and happiness".

Without those everything else is meaningless.

He gave me a tiny scrunched up piece of paper.

"Hold this and tell me a number less than 100 and a colour. Not white or Black"

"38 green".

"Now open the paper".

I did although it took some time as it was very compressed. It read

"38. Green"!

"Now remember my face....and give me money. Paper money"

I did.

Amazing. So the "poor" part of his reading came true too!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

CIRCLE OF LIFE 2

So try as I might. I wasn't finding anything to get too wretched about. Nothing that would qualify me for a seat on a daytime TV sofa. Nothing that would propel me to the lead in a tabloid.

No pictures of me drunken and weeping exiting a night club missing a shoe.





I seem to remember some years ago reading about "paradise syndrome". This was a condition that ├╝ber rich and successful celebrities suffered from. In that everything in their lives was so perfect they begin to suffer feelings of dissatisfaction. They feel worthless despite all their success and material gain. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame was said to have been a sufferer.






Whilst I'm not for a moment suggesting I am one of the exalted few who are in this frankly envious position.



(There was a U.S sportsman who said "I've been rich and I've been poor, and I'm telling you rich is better).



I count my blessings every day in that I have a wonderful family. A job which doesn't feel like a job and as far as I am aware so far so good...my health!



As for cash. Well put it this way. A few years back a newspaper printed a comprehensive and lengthy list of the top radio earners......my name was conspicuous by its absence. Even better a few of you commiserated with me!





So where am I going with this?



Everything seems to be ticking over pretty well. That was until my mate Libido Boy tipped up last weekend. We had tickets to see a cappella kings "The Magnets" at the Union Chapel. Which is as you'd expect from the name a church. It's a wonderful venue. As its pews there are no marked seats. You have to get there early. We did. Rather too early. We were there an hour before the gig started.



"I'll get the beers in" I said generously! Once I'd found the bar I also found a notice telling me that no booze was allowed in the chapel itself.



So first strike!



We had to have a cup of tea each.



We were a couple of rows back with a good view. Then a large and frankly odiferous man sat right in front of us.



Strike two...or maybe...phew!



On came the Magnets. They were terrific. Rehearsed to the ninth degree. They had wonderful harmonies. They had choreography. They looked good and sounded even better. The high point of the evening was a "drum solo" by their beat boxer Andy Frost which was worth the price of admission alone. He is a genius and must be in league with the devil to get all those various sounds.





Lboy and I and the rest of the audience were having a whale of a time....then it happened:



BUSINESS!



Strike three.



I know I know it's probably me but when I go to see an act. I like them to do the work. I'm not overkeen on singing along and I certainly don't want to waste time trying to be the louder half of the audience ornate boys versus the girls or however artists try and pad things out.



I am still scarred from a Spinners concert in Wolverhampton in 1975






Please just sing the songs. You are so good at that it’s a shame you wanted us to sing instead. If we were any good you'd be watching us. Not vice versa.



"Let me here you say yeah!"



"No!"



Libido Boy leant over and muttered darkly.



"I'm not a fan of pantomime"!



That personal preference hiccup notwithstanding, The Magnets are a great act.



Then it was to the pub. We were gagging for a pint or several frankly.



Strike four.



We've not been in this particular boozer for some months. It's always very crowded but there is a guy on the wheels of steel playing ska and rockabilly and rhythm and blues.



Strike five



Seemed to have changed his format so it was more mainstream. More Bad Manners and the Kinks. Good but not as good as there were fewer surprises musically.



We had a couple or three and about 1.15am we headed it to get a burger and walk home.



Strike six.



MY PHONE.....WHERE'S MY PHONE??



We pushed our way back in. Of it there was no sign. I left my details with the landlord who said he'd check the CCTV. LBoy phoned my airtime supplier and had the sim disconnected and we slunk home.



The worst part was that I had lost a lot of family pictures. I was certain it was in my top pocket a hard place for anyone to lift it. However thieves are resourceful and skilled.





On the following Monday I wandered down to the pub to see if there was any news. Had they checked the video and seen who nicked it?



Apparently I left it on the table. As I left the premises and then returned it was not classed as theft. It was "loss".



Whoever picked it up from the empty table and didn't hand it in could have picked it up by accident I was told.



I suppose they could if they leant over presuming the earth had moved and it had slid away from them.



Or they arrived at the table and found it there and sort of thought it was theirs that had arrived there fractionally before they did. Possibly due to a rip in the space time continuum.



Or maybe it was a gregarious sort of handset that wanted to get the drinks in so went rushing in first!



Whatever. I am not sure that this law is a very sound one.



What galls me most though was that I was stupid enough to leave it there in the first place!



Strike 7-147



Do I qualify for the



"Alex Lester in theft horror"



Magazine cover?

Monday, 10 June 2013

CIRCLE OF LIFE

Have you noticed how things can go in phases? One moment everything can be going swimmingly and the next everything seems to be in the toilet?

Well in the grand scheme of things it's not major but the low level Devil has been out in force trying to disrupt things.

It had all been going rather well. Maybe pride comes before a fall. Was I getting too pleased with myself so was cruising for a bruising?

It's been a terrific few weeks what with the One man band for 2Day and the Radio 2 Presenters choir. The show has just posted its highest audience ever thanks to you as well as recording the highest percentage increase in audience share of any programme on the station. Again, this is due to you and keep it up…please!!


After spending six months in a smelly noisy tiny flat I've moved into a larger place which is blissfully quiet and I even have my own parking space which makes me feel very grown up.

The Dark Lady is a constant source of joy. We had a fabulous week in France and my Step children -Jamie and Ella - are terrific and growing into fine teenagers who are doing well at school and are a credit to their parents. It was Ella's 17th birthday the other week and we had a small get together. She wanted make-up brushes as a gift. I never knew they were so complex! I bought her one and judging by the price it must have been made of panda fur with an ivory handle. It seemed a bit mean to just give her a small brush. So I padded the gift out with other bristle related objects:

Nail brush
3 paint brushes
6 artists brushes
Clothes brush
Wire brush in case she goes rusty
Washing up brush
Tooth brush
Mop head!


From the look on her face you can tell she obviously thinks I'm an idiot. Mission accomplished!

So far so fun. So where is the heartbreak and tragedy? This isn't going to get me into a supermarket tabloid.

"Alex Lester - the tears behind the smile"!

Well there was the recurrent problem with the DL's French doors. The glazing bars kept falling off. Then the beading parted company with the frame. This took several visits and a lot of waiting on before it was fixed.

Hmmm hardly stuff that's going to make a TV soap.

"Tonight on Eastenders: Grant waits in for the gasman:

'You're late. You said between 2 and 4. It's nah five to FIIIVVVE!"

(Spoken in that ludicrous hard man husk that they all adopt to show they are acting).


What else has gone wrong?

Well the boiler in the new flat has decided that it is going to provide hot water only when it feels like it. So filling a bath can be a gamble:

Check boiler alight. Hot tap on.

Turn back on boiler and get undressed

Boiler gone out. Drain bath of cold water.

Relight boiler hot tap on.

Collect towel. Bath foam and rubber duck.

Boiler out. Drain icy bath.

Relight boiler and stand and watch it.

Hot bath.


Still not enough to get me on a daytime chat show to whine about my bad luck and plug my new diet and fitness book.

Hmm must try harder. I know we'll return with another exciting instalment of...

"Alex Lester: my over privileged life hell"

"'Ere Kat.....these chips are cold"

'Doof doof doof doof doof'

Monday, 3 June 2013

THE MICROPHONE SMELLS LIKE A BEER

Rather like mine and the Queen’s birthday - which arrive seemingly at least twice a year - the tri-monthly DJ Nerd Night seems to appear every three or four weeks.


This is where broadcasters from different walks of life and different radio stations get together to swap scurrilous gossip, drink beer, eat food, grumble about the state of the industry, be professionally jealous of other more successful and less talented presenters and generally put the world to rights.

Originally we would travel the country meeting with different people. Now it seems to be the same hardcore of about fifteen who travel the country and meet in a different place to do the same thing we did three months earlier.

We've certainly covered some miles over the years. Hull twice. Leeds. Sheffield. Birmingham twice. Swindon. Gloucester. Brighton. London. Manchester. Liverpool. York, and on this occasion, Lincoln. Don't think I've forgotten anywhere. Although with the same Modus I can understand why bands on lengthy tours staying in chain hotels write down where they are before they go to sleep as otherwise they have little or no idea when they awake (or in the case of rock stars IF they wake) next morning.

We've had varied success from very late nights to staggering around hideously crowded city centres looking for a pub that wasn't so crowded and noisy that we could hold a conversation. To ones that seemed to call last orders the moments we move into view.

As the oldest member of the party I've noticed now our cities have changed over the years. Birmingham was a prime example as I was a student there in the 70's


For the Nerd night we ended up in an ear-splitting boozer which had been a warehouse when I was a teen. It was situated opposite what had been an excellent local pub which had at some point been turned into a restaurant. A visit to the loo uncovered a couple going hammer and tongs in the cubicle - much to amusement of all the other blokes in there - who were taking it in turns to peek through the crack in the door and urge on the happy couple. Classy!

Would that have happened in the Birmingham of my teens? Possibly but unlikely. Why unlikely? The boozers I frequented rarely had locks on the toilet cubicles. Seats were a luxury and bathroom "stationary" a rarity. Some of the rougher pubs didn't even bother with doors!


Lincoln however was a triumph. The city has moved upmarket over the years. Must be getting on for thirty years since my last visit. I vaguely recognised some of the landmarks like the cathedral and some ancient walls but frankly that was about it.

This time, however, the accommodation was cheap and comfortable. Unlike the trip to Manchester where the accommodation had been interesting in that at some point someone had shoulder charged the door to my room and torn it off its hinges splintering the frame. The sofa was missing its cushion as I wrote at the time, presumably a detective would have noted the shattered door and the missing cushions and concluded the "perps" had disposed of the blood soaked upholstery after the murder.


This time no mistakes. No problems. It all worked wonderfully well due to the good offices of organiser Matthew Rudd who now divides his time between broadcasting and teaching swimming. So I always sign off any missives with "dry between your toes". Apparently he tells me it is the ears that need special attention.

My Godson, Michael Hurley, lives in Lincoln so he scouted the venues and came up with a superb Italian restaurant in Gino's. (You know with a name like that it’s not going to be a Chinese)!


The beer flowed and the conversation was as dark and scurrilous as it was supposed to be. After one particular industry anecdote I'll never be able to play a track by a certain pop duo ever again, knowing what I know now!

Note to the parties in question:-

If you are going to have a knock down drag out fight with your partner, don't do it at full volume In a hotel with paper thin walls. Intimate details of your sexual inadequacies will be heard by everyone, shattering for ever your squeaky clean heterosexual image!

All in all a top and very civilised evening in a beautiful setting. It was still very nerdy though.

The next one threatens to be in London. However, in the suburbs as it’s cheaper and the pubs stay open longer.