Thursday 10 September 2009


Having visited the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon the other week (see previous blogs), I had only scratched the surface so it seemed a good idea to go back and finish the job. Also it would rack up a few walking miles into the bargain.

However a late start and new shoes slowed progress. I have been suckered into buying a pair of shoes which health nuts swear by. They are supposed to ape the gait of Masai Warriors. If you have ever seen pictures of Masai Warriors they are tall slim and graceful. They exude an aura of calm dignity.

So how different to this "warrior" who managed to find a pair on special offer and had to hold onto the shop assistant as he tried them on in case he fell over. The idea is that they are supposed to exercise a lot of forgotten muscles without you realising. The reality is that you are constantly moving slightly in order to maintain your balance. I remembered the sensation vaguely from a pair of stilts that I had as a child that my Dad had made. The simple description of this footwear is "banana shoes".

So off I set "sproing sproing sproing" to the tube station. Gingerly down the escalator "sproing sproing ker-sproing".

Queensbury tube. Up the escalator and out into the street "sproing sproing wobble sproing". It was only a couple of miles max to the museum and as it was about 6 back to the flat. I knew that I needed to leave about two hours for the return. However unfortunately this only left about 40 minutes in the exhibition.

There was a whole lot more packed into the hall than I realised and so a third visit is going to be necessary. I need to be more organised.

With these banana shoes progress isn't as fast. Maybe this is why the noble Masai excude that air of calm. They are going nowhere in a hurry but realise it. The museum was interesting and in the bomber section there was an elderly man explaining the finer points of one of the planes to passers by. Turns out he had flown them during the war. No time to engage him in conversation. I had warrior walking to do…"sproing sproing sproingety sproing" I am going to have go back a third time.

On the long march back, my mind buzzing with aeroplanes, I happened to look up at a block of flats not far from Brent Cross on the North Circular road and spotted this plaque : Amy Johnson. Aviators everywhere! Although I gather she should be referred to as an "aviatrix".

If you are not familiar with her work: She set numerous long distance flight records then unfortunately drowned in the Thames Estuary whilst on a ferrying flight for the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941. Worthy of a blue plaque I think.

All this exercise fitted neatly together with a selection of bizarre threads on the show on Friday when the news reported that 60cm thighs were healthy. At first as usual we got the wrong end of the stick confusing circumference with diameter.

60cms is the width of the average washing machine. That is big leggy!

We were also musing on irrational fears and Simon "Iron man" Tester - my producer who is getting into cycling in a big way after trying rugby and failing…(and only as a spectator) - had noticed that in the gloom of the night-time office there lurked in the corner the rather sinister sight of Arnold Schwarzenegger in cardboard cut out form.

For some strange reason he found this rather unnerving. Dumbly putting two and two together we wondered as do you how big Arnie's thighs were. So we hauled him up to the studio then discovered that we had no tape measure. The BBC can boast so many studios around the world. TV and radio channels the envy of the world. Online services that rivals loathe and yet we can't manage a tape measure!

You noted that one sheet of A4 paper was nearly 28cms to a couple of those round the leg should give us an idea. Arnie was a bit more difficult as he was cardboard and like Stanley…flat! Also we weren't entirely sure if the Terminator replica was life size or not. Although we were impressed with his flat stomach. He must have been using one of those "ab masters" that are advertised on daytime TV.

In order to make him look a little more friendly and less forbidding it was decided a smiley face was what was needed.

You also pointed out that to create a level playing field and make us feel better about our body image, if you took a photo of a gorgeous person and turned their mouth upside down it made them look hideous which was a great comfort. You also pointed out - and like all good science - the control was that the cast of Eastenders looked like that anyway so no amount of cut and paste with their mugs made a ha'pporth of difference.

Obviously the big news of the week was the bombshell that hit when Terry announced his retirement from the breakfast show and the news that Chris would be taking over in the New Year.

I have had the privilege of knowing Terry ever since he returned in the early 90's when his TV chat show ended. He has never been anything other than positive, kind & courteous to me and complimentary about the show. I have been in this industry for more than 30 years now and I have met a lot of people and some of them have been vile. Terry is a gem who will be sadly missed. However (and I have no vested interest here as one thing was certain when Terry decided to retire - it would not be me taking over!).

I know Chris vaguely, we are colleagues not mates and never see each other outside work. Yet he has always been positive, kind, courteous and complimentary about the show.

I am looking forward to hearing how his new programme sounds and am not prejudging it like many people on internet message boards.

Chris must have developed a rhino hide by now. I know it would get me down if I was in his shoes. Looking at some of the posts describing him for example in one instance as "scum", I wonder what goes through someone's mind as they sit at their keyboard berserkly tapping out this poison. He is a DJ and TV presenter, not a paedophile for goodness sake!


Mike from Pudsey said...

Well said about Chris. There really are some saddoes out there who need to get themselves a life or at least some perspective.
My better half treated herself to a pair of those "banana shoes" recently. She loves them and has yet to fall over. Hope for you yet Alex.

moggy said...

funny things shoes ! there are some many types and the costs are from a £1 to £1000.s the best are in box,s my shed is full of shoe boxs ,there have all storts of things in them ,good bloog alex ,,, the RAF rule ok

moggy said...

RE DJ,S at radio 2 Terry is a good dj but i have never realy took to him , as for are leader i he,s very under rated in radio, HE,S A LEGEND great wit and banter i would say lovely man , as for the persons who called chris evans things well THERE OUT IN THE WORLD , just don,t let them get at you chris i say good luck radio 2 in new age radio

Maid of Kent said...

Well said about Terry and Chris, I have to admit I am uncertain but then I was uncertain when Chris was given the drive time show and I now listen most evenings on the way home. At the end of the day, the chap has a job to do and there is always the option to switch off, certainly no need to be offensive! Radio is still a very personal medium and its almost like someone invading your own space when there are changes made to the schedules.

DamoIRL said...

Good blog as always, Dark one!

On Chris and Terry, I think some people are more up in arms that this day has come. They don't want Terry to leave. And that is a perfectly human reaction.

Chris, in a sense, is a reformed bad boy. People have long memories, they may not like what he did in the past, and that perception is hard to shift. I myself enjoyed some of his stuff on TV, but I have not quite warmed to him on radio, and that includes his Radio 1 breakfast show. I think this is down to the fact that I personally don't really like "zoo" radio shows, where the news/sports guys and producers waffle on inanely whilst stroking the presenters ego. (Note: whilst this sometimes occurs on Terry's show, they don't hang around after every song for the whole show!)

Terry's leaving was always going to happen, he is not getting any younger and I'm glad for him he's going on his terms, and not being ushered out the door. In fact, he's made management's job easier.

But I have no doubt that ratings may fall off a cliff. A lot of people are going to bash the BBC with Moyles on Radio 1, and Evan's now on 2, that both will have similar shows.

Maid in Kent has it in one. I've constructively criticized the decision; I've played the ball, not the man. There is always the off button. It's just that there is going to be a big hole in my day come January, where I used to listen all day to Radio 2 from the Dark Lord until midday.

Micky B said...

Chris Evans comes over as a really nice, genuine guy. I just wish that he would turn his own, personal volume down.

Not sure if my (new) shoes are 'banana shoes' but they are certainly leg-muscle workers. Alas, they are also toe-skin strippers. My poor, bloodied toes. They are going to take some getting used to. Look good though, just like ripe bananas should.

Okay, so you didn't get Tel's show. How about Chris's Drive Time ? Did you get that ?

tailendcharlie said...

Not being up on latest trends, I haven't got a clue what these shoes are or what they look like but, good grief man, get a grip! Or is that the point, you can't? Do you think Amy Johnson made such a fuss about her footwear? "Hang on I've got another long distance flight record to set but, oh no, I can't. My poor tooties are not suitably clad".

However, on to Mr Evans. I've always thought him an alright sort of chap. Okay, he may have let youthful exuberance get the better of him in the past but which of us can say we haven't done the same at some point? Give the lad a chance. He understands his listeners really well and is more informed about the goings on in the world than he is given credit for.

As for your good self, oh wonderous one, stay exactly where you are. There is no one else I'd rather wake up to - sorry, but early mornings are your destiny.

Decaff Dora said...

Try a pair of those big furry Garfield the cat slippers next time. Just a thought...

Paul F said...

Standard Greetings Dark Lord

I've just spotted the Odd-Cast on the Radio 2 website. An excellent move, finally one of your surreal and alternative ideas has been turned into a reality.
Also spotted your new publicity shots on the website. Looking good - in a chaste and Manly fashion as always! Even though you're not getting the Breakfast gig when the Togmeister leaves you can certainly lay claim to the "racing snake" moniker. Does this mean blubber watch is now considered a success?

I'm not sure about Chris Evans myself, but I'd agree that calling him "scum" was completely unnecessary. [Incidentally I think I found the post you were referring to, even though I wasn't trying to, and the poster didn't exactly offer any reasoned and pertinent arguments to back up what was nothing more than pointless insults].

I remember Chris when he was on Radio 1 breakfast and he was the reason I returned to Radio 1 after the Matthew Bannister clear outs of the early 1990s. I found his breakfast show very good back then, but towards the end I found the increasingly anarchical style and presentation a bit of a turn off. I think that and subsequent reports of the same while at Virgin radio colours my view of him today and probably why I've hardly listened to his drive time show since he started with R2 three years ago. That said there seems to be a good number out there that find his program very enjoyable so I'm going to start listening to Chris on Drive between now and Christmas and hopefully I will find his supporters are right.

It looks like the new year will usher in a significant day time schedule juggle, with Wogan leaving, Chris on breakfast, Simon Mayo joining for Drive time, etc. With the rumoured earlier start of Chris Evans on Breakfast I wonder if this will provide your oft-coveted opportunity to annexe the Dawn Patrol (and not just because Bunty has thrown a sickie at the last minute!). An extra hours of the Dark Lord each morning would certainly be desirable :)

Standard Farewells

PS Love the shoe (As always a bit out of date on the current catchphase of the show).

Chris A Tye said...

Ah, Amy Johnson. One of Hull's finest exports. If you ever visit this fair city, you need to see the statue of Ms Johnson outside the Prospect Centre, to appreciate how bad a statue of such an important historical figure can be. Me, I'd rip it down and put a good one up!