Thursday 12 November 2009


It is that time of the year again and the trusty Broadcastketeers set out on another ultimately futile attempt to meet and engage with Radio and TV types around the country.

If you are new to the concept; "Nerd Nights" involve travelling to parts of the UK and eating and drinking too much with like minded people in our industry.

What actually happens is overtures are made often through an intermediary. There is a clamour as lots of people express interest and pledge support. A restaurant and hotels are booked and then on the day no one turns up but the original seven.

You may notice from the following photograph there are six. From left to right you have :

Simon Hirst, a top mate and genius DJ from Galaxy in Yorkshire.

John Foster, Breakfast host on BBC Tees in Middlesbrough. He was the subject of the wedding blog a few weeks back. Fresh from his honeymoon with the luscious Anna. He looked slightly worn and she was nowhere to be seen. She had invented relatives to visit we think. Or more probably was at home playing with that saucy wheelbarrow I gave them.

Matthew Rudd, top radio talent heard on many stations throughout the north.

Martin Emery - Breakfast jock for Tower FM (how many times do I have to tell you Alex it is based in Bolton NOT Blackpool)

My Godson Michael Hurley of whom I am immensely proud as he left University last summer and already has a thriving business providing sound services to theatre as well as making his way in broadcasting.

Last but certainly by no means least the legendary Charles Nove. Broadcaster. Deputy "Voice of the Balls" and host of the original (and still the best) "Come Dancing" . He came dressed appropriately as he had spent 12 years here out of season with "Prancing" as they used to call it apparently. The one glaring omission was me. As you have already correctly guessed I was the one taking the picture.

The excuses for non arrival are manifold and - call me cynical - frankly suspect.
From now on, we play hardball. A death certificate is not a sufficient excuse. We want to see a corpse!

I know how Captain Cook and Dr Livingstone must have felt. Or maybe a trader or two trying the Silk Route. So far none of the Magnerdficent Seven have disappeared only for someone to find their head on a pole outside "108 The Plate. Tasty Tunes 24/7 Sydenham’s favourite local".

Still it could have been worse, one of our emissaries may have vanished altogether and then decades after whilst watching 75 year old Fiona Bruce (no ageism here) unwrapping mummified remains "its been in our family years....we would never part with it....HOW MUCH DID YOU SAY IT WAS WORTH???" On the Antiques Roadshow.

One of us in the "Alan Freeman" wing of the DJ's retirement community staring rheumily at the flickering screen will remark: "You know that looks a bit like the Ruddster. Didn't he vanish trying to make contact with that community station in Arbroath back on 2010?"

We arranged to meet in Blackpool. I have never been. So was wanting to experience this jewel of the English North West.

We had decided to stay at the Travelodge by the North Pier which boasted Freddie Starr. Wonder if he is still doing that hilarious Hitler in wellingtons routine?

The first obstacle was car parking. I had spent three hours on the motorway in pouring rain and traffic jams so frankly was looking forward to some beer.

The car park like many town and city centre parks demanded a massive amount of cash for a 24 hour stay. 24 hours, horology fans, is actually any time over 12 hours. For this the machine demanded £13. A tidy sum. Also it demanded it in an untidy metal form: £1 coins, 50p or 20p.

Not sure about you but I don't usually carry that amount in coinage in case my trousers fall down with the weight. However for that money the facilities were pretty good. It boasted a lift, CCTV and a "Welcome office". (closed. Not sure if it meant we were unwelcome out of office hours.) Best of all and a note here to other municipalities. It didn't reek of piss! How do they do that? Well done Blackpool.

The Travelodge boasted in place of a mat a welcome puddle outside its front door which I gingerly stepped around and went to the reception which was on the first floor.

The other guys had already hit the bar and were discussing some rather disturbing noises emanating from one of their adjacent rooms. It apparently sounded like a woman gasping and a buzzing sound! My guess was it was probably one of Victor Kayams associates trying out a new razor. "I liked it so much I bought the company".

Although other more experienced (married) members of the group thought it may have been some "Dame Barbara Cartland" activity. To whit: "She gave a little cry...but not of fear".

A quick drink in the pub opposite (plastic glasses, I do so hate that) and then it was to the restaurant recommended by someone who didn't show. It was excellent and with the food followed the endless stories which make these events such fun. I had the steak with a "Jenga" of chips.

There is a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained when as described by Matthew "A grizzled veteran" such as myself. (Is it just me or does that term conjure up a picture of Walter Brennan to you?) can tell a tale and people laugh so hard that food comes down their nose.

It went so well that the waiting staff moved closer and closer and didn't want us to leave. However in the end we bade them goodnight and headed for a pub that had been recommended.

"Just next to the knocking shop", it was a curious place with no draught beer and had been done out inside to look like a village. In fact it was so shabby it more accurately resembled a plague village. As you would imagine if everyone is dead, not a lot gets painted.

It shut horribly early at about 1am so it was back to the hotel via a deafening club with sticky floors and the bar.

This is where I wonder if it is just me or them?

As we sat chatting one by one my compadres decided they had enough and it was bed time. "I was up at 4.30am. I was up at 6.00am" What is the matter with these people? I was up at 01.30 so had been up apart from a 2hr snooze for about 24 hours.

I defer to no one in my admiration for the British armed forces. However if my mates had been required to defend the nation we would be in a different place now I can assure you.

"I have been assured by the German Chancellor Herr Hitler that he won't invade after midnight on a Friday into Saturday as he knows we will be too tired after a hard week playing gramophone records on the wireless" Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, 1939.

I was first up at 8.30 and sprang out of bed ready for the full English. I never understand why I do that full English thing as an hour or so later it feels like I have eaten a boulder.

Michael and I went for a walk to the pier and revelled in the attractions and the "hook a duck" stalls. The prizes are always fabulous. "Dahling as a token of my wuv for you I have got you a four foot stuffed dragon". Blackpool boasts many fortune tellers and palmists. They all seem to be part of the same family and there is a theme that runs through all of them :

Photos of the Clairvoyant with "celebs"- and they had to be very old pictures. One person boasted a spectacular collection of stars of yesteryear which must be very disturbing for Sir Cliff Richard as he was the only one featured who was actually still alive.

Michael also pointed out the illuminations. This year they appear to be sponsored by a camera company with for some odd reason a picture of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen above a road junction.

"If you speed this is what can happen. Your wrists grow frills and your face sets in a permanent oily grin. Slow down or stay smug! "

Mike had experienced some confusion when he arrived the previous evening as the fake cameras kept flashing and there were so many brightly lit bulbs that the poor bloke wasn't sure where the illuminations ended and the traffic lights began.

He also got increasingly paranoid as he drove up the seafront well within the speed limit, yet seemed to be being flashed every couple of yards.

Perhaps Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen was there as a road sign. Which would make things simpler perhaps.

"Turn left at Linda Barker, carry on until you see..........NO YOU IDIOT, I SAID TURN RIGHT AT RUSSELL GRANT NOT RUSSELL BRAND!!"

By the time Michael had headed off, Charles and Hirsty had finished breakfast and so we had another saunter along the front and visited a novelty rock shop where we all bought a few items.

It was closing for the winter and I asked the woman who ran it if the products had a sell by date. The answer apparently is no.

When I related this on the show this week you told me that the way to tell if it was out of date was by looking at the little picture label. If it showed Ted Ray or the Crazy Gang, it was probably past its best.

Blackpool was tawdry, wet, windblown and fab. I am already thinking of excuses to return.


GATTIE said...

I was looking at the photo and wondered how it was that you was not asked to switch on the Blackpool lights this year whilst having a lads weekend.I can say that I think Harrow shopping centre are looking for someone to set off the xmas decs would you be interested ??

simon said...

When is the execution of the organizer of this day out. If its public I would like to attend.

Twilight said...

Wot's a "jenga" by the way? That pile of chips makes me drool - all we get on this side of the pond are
effete French Fries (sorry - Freedom Fries - they don't like the French).

A very entertaining post, Alex - I can understand how the restaurant staff felt when they listened in to the chat and didn't want you to leave.

I hope you will consider writing a book one of these days, when you can find the time between radio duties and gadding around to concerts etc.

B. Taupin said...

I was fortunate enough to meet "The Dark Lord" & shake his hand this week at the Toby Keith gig at Hammersmith. I noticed him arrive 10 mins before TK came on ( missed the support act then !)pop the glasses on to peer at his ticket and then took off for his seat like a homing pigeon - this man knows his way around the old Odeon ! What I first thought to be a foppish blue hanky in the jacket breastpocket was in fact a stick- on gig pass I think ? After an excellent show I saw him on the way out & told him how much I enjoyed the humour and music of the show in the five years I have listned, but sadly now only catch the last half hour as now working in London I get up much later. "Always i-player available" he muttered distractedly as he headed off at speed - towards the backstage bar I guessed rather than back to the flat for shuteye before the show. Still, a pleasure to meet you sir ! (and a few moments for a longer chat about music and life etc would be appreciated next time !)

moggy said...

ROCK N ROLL in blackpool with alex and his lads
pie and chips !!! beer and running up and down the sand any nolans about ? there home town SO I AM TOLD
cheggers photo was great mate
alex lester award winning radio

Less said...

[quote]B. Taupin said...

I was fortunate enough to meet "The Dark Lord" & shake his hand[/quote]

What a coincidence, my ambition is something similar, I would love to meet the Dark Lord sometime and shake him by the neck!

Great blog Alex, though there didn't seem to be much on your plate, had you eaten most of it to make it seem you where sticking to your diet?

tobacco jack said...

im not sure if i like the idea of a jenga of chips,it looks like someones idea to make you think 'wow' whilst being unaware that you had not actually got many chips....still you cant complain,'cos we all know what happens to food when it pops back into the kitchen for a minute.

Less said...

Well Tobacco Jack, if that was served while out with the kids how could you tell them off for playing with their food?

Annie said...

Gosh Alex!

I didn't appreciate you read Barbara Cartland! It serves as a good reminder for us all that the walls in Travelodge can be somewhat thin!

Love the blog, podcast and shoe!