Sunday 31 January 2010


Wow! All the grumbling seems to have paid off. Every couple of months the DJs hit town for a night of drinking, eating and Nerding. (Nerding: being horribly obsessive about stuff that, by rights, should bore you to tears).

This time we headed to Brighton. As I have outlined before when we do these events, we get a rush of enthusiasm with a lot of people initially saying they will attend. On the night, after a day when the mobile is red hot with people cancelling, it is usually down to the "Magnificent 7".

This time, there was a mega turn-out. And what is more, there were women there!!!!

I have met women before and they are nice! I have also spoken to women about their men and hobbies.

Never quite sure about hobbies and men. Do they do it because they like it or do they do it to get away from their women?

Do the women like the hobbies as it gets the men out of their sight? Or do they resent the hobbies as it occupies the men who should be doing important stuff like putting up shelves or kissing them?

Which would be the perfect hobby? I once interviewed a number of women whose husbands and partners were radio amateurs (Not Hams. They don't like this. It makes them sound like Nerds).

They liked this as a hobby as it meant they always knew where the men were. In their "shack", which could be a shed, attic or spare bedroom.

This worked on all levels. As a hobby it was clean, relatively quiet and close-by. This meant that, although they were in proximity, they were not under the woman’s feet. They were close enough if the woman suddenly felt the urge to have some new shelves fitted or were desirous of a kiss.

From the blokes point of view it meant that their "shack" was a little oasis of calm away from "the wife", however, close enough if he suddenly decided he wanted to put some shelves up and needed advice on where in the house to do so. Or he felt the sudden urge for a sandwich.

The hotel in Brighton was on the sea front which is a good location. Although my room was small it was clean and tidy and boasted yet another sloping floor. This time in the bathroom. I have lost count of the number of sloping rooms I have stayed in over the years. When I went to "Guilfest" a couple of years back, I stayed in a room that sloped so dramatically it had a warning sign on the wall, in case you suddenly lost your footing and found yourself hanging by your fingertips from the windowsill like Harold Lloyd.

Predictably it was raining hard as we trudged from the hotel to the restaurant and then to the pub and then back to the hotel.

No idea where the time went but I found myself and the excellent James Walsh from "Kerrang" still chewing the fat at 4.30 in the morning.

Now we are into the new year, the gigs and showcases are starting up once more and so it was off to the basement of a boozer just near the BBC to see Arno Carstens from South Africa embarking on a solo career after being in the band, Springbok Nude Girls.

Janice Long invited me to the Roundhouse in London to see a special reworking of the Beggars Opera by Charles Hazelwood, with people from Portishead and the Unthank sisters, among others.

The word "opera" usually strikes terror into my Philistine hide, but Janice assured me it would be fine. It was a revelation and Charles introduced each item and explained his vision for the music and the treatment of certain tunes and the history. The man is obviously mega clever. The sort that makes you feel you have a hand inside your head squeezing your brain whilst you listen to him. He gave huge detail in a fascinating and amusing way without notes.

The only downside is that the seats were none-too-comfortable, as a by-product of my back going "ping" as I put a sock on the other week. I now have sciatica which is rather unpleasant and not to be recommended. I have been going to the physiotherapist which, ironically, is up four flights of stairs. Purple faced and limping, I made it into the surgery the receptionist asked "how are you" and being British I replied, "fine". Then I corrected myself. "Well no, frankly, otherwise there would be little point in being here in the first place".

I am being manipulated and have been given some exercises to do which I hope will do the trick. It is rather a strange feeling for a middle-aged man to be apparently tied up in knots by a young woman who he has never met before who assures him that this is for his own good.

Just reading that back...nope its fine.

Shame on you for thinking that!!!!

Friday 22 January 2010


"What time do you sleep? I never know when to phone you!" A couple of typical remarks that I have received on numerous occasions over the years. The answer is, always call me at lunchtime. If I am not awake by then, I will probably have died so you won't be disturbing me.

With the new hours it seemed like a pretty good thing to try and cause minimum disruption to the bed time routine.

If you work nights you are probably aware how disruptive it can be. Another thing people often ask is: “how do you have a social life?” Well, for years I didn't, is the short answer. However, since moving back to London in 2008, I was determined to make sure that I had as good a time as I could, bearing in mind the restrictions.

Staying up all night and then starting the programme is not an option for me; it would mean that by the time we have got going, I would feel like going to bed which doesn't make for a very lively show. We are not “Radio Quiet”.

If you tune around at 2 in the morning, if there is music playing it tends to be the "let us soothe you gently to sleepy bo bo land 17 in a row here on Anodyne FM". Failing that, a shouty phone in with a selection of bigots arguing the toss for transportation to the New World for anyone caught committing even the most minor offence. “Parking on a double yellow? Not opening a door for a lady? Hang ‘em. Hang ‘em again then sentence them to life. That should mean life. Then hang ‘em a third time for good luck”. Being dead is the only way they'll learn!

I am sometimes amazed at how furious and unpleasant people can be, particularly behind a pseudonym on an internet message board.

I have had a quick look at a couple of the BBC and other broadcasting forums over the last week. From the tone of some of the remarks, Chris Evans appears to have beaten the Queen Mother to death with a litter of particularly cute puppies.

“What has this got to do with sleeping patterns?” I hear you cry. Well, Chris will have to change his for his new show. My new hours mean I haven't had a chance to hear him yet. Under the old regime I would get back and at 7.30 flip the radio on for a few minutes of Terry and then off to sleep.

Now I am back and up the wooden hill to bedfordshire before Chris starts. Better check out the iPlayer.

The side effects of this are that instead of being up at about 10.30, I can be fully awake by about 9.00. The whole day stretches ahead which usually involves a trip to the office, in case you think that we only do three hours a day.

I have been trying to stay up to my normal bedtime of 7.30 or 8pm. However, sometimes I have had it by about 7.

This means my bedtime is 30 minutes earlier than it was in 1966!

A world of opportunity awaits in 2010. Will this mean more brisk walking? Back at the gym with a vengeance? Daytime improving lectures or maybe some classes. I could learn Mandarin or how to play the didgeridoo.

On the evidence of the first two weeks, I have spent the time idling and watching such improving television programmes as Megastructures and Campervan Crisis.

Next week, I shall start to have a look at what live music is going on. Need a gig fix. Need to take myself in hand.

I would shake myself by the scruff of the neck.

However, it is still slightly sore having been hanged for the heinous crime of accidentally dropping a ticket stub as I got off the 51E one night in 1977 coming back from Birmingham after a night out.

Thursday 14 January 2010


The weather seemed to have been the main topic of conversation over the last week.

It is difficult to get much of an idea on how the rest of the country fared when you are cocooned in a nice warm studio in London. Yes, it snowed. Yes, there was ice on the pavements. However, things were manageable.

It was only when I decided to head home to Hastings that I realised just how much of a fall there had been. The Kent corridor attracts bad weather like MP's to a brown envelope.

I was wondering why the trains were not running very reliably until I managed to get one that headed in two stages with a substantial wait in between all the way to the coast. It was a Perry Como Christmas out there!

What I did not understand though was why the train companies didn't just say, “Sorry - no trains today” rather than the indicator boards showing, “7.23 Delayed” at 9.30am. This actually meant no trains had been running that day. I was slightly concerned that on the first day of my new time slot I would not be able to make it back.

So Sunday morning I went to the station. The TV and the rail websites had said all was well. The indicator boards read, “Delayed”. Suddenly a train to London arrived and I hopped on.

Cancellations meant that plans had to be changed; meeting some friends in the pub on Saturday to watch a band turned into meeting a friend in a nearly deserted boozer for a few drinks before going home to watch the TV.

I was on my way to the pub – and I stress, on my way TO the pub - when suddenly I crashed to the ground.

There was some discussion on the programme this week as to whether I had slipped over, fallen down or "had a fall". The answer was I slipped over in the snow. I am at least 20 years away from "having a fall".

I like to think that "having a fall" kicks in at pension age plus 10.

You wondered why I had not taken the time to do a snow angel as I made an embarrassingly large hole in the snow. I was well wrapped up (he said in his Monsieur Bibendum defence).

Very simply I was never a daredevil kid and this has spilled over into my adult life. I have a very strong self preservation instinct. That is why, having been asked numerous times over the years to do things for charity such as bungee or parachute jump, my answer callously is: “I am not going to die on somebody else’s behalf.”

However, I think that God (other deities are available) may have got wind of this and exacted revenge. More on this in moment.

The reason I didn't try and stay in touch with my inner child and make a snow angel was that I was actually in the middle of the road. Albeit a side street hence the lack of grit, but all I needed was a yummy mummy and her offspring in their 4 x 4 to roar past in a cloud of CO2 and Monster Munch and I would have been channelling Flat Stanley.

Back in the big city and I decided to go for a walk in the park the other day. A fresh snowfall had meant it was looking pristine rather than that slightly moth eaten look that snow gets, rather like an actor making a special guest appearance in a show they left 10 years earlier; “Ooh, haven't they aged!”

I had forgotten that snow attracts youths. I was suddenly hit by a flurry of snowballs as the almighty exacted a terrible revenge.

You are supposed to laugh this stuff off, I think. Smile, shake your head and walk on.


What is the law here? Tell me the etiquette. If there are three of them laughing at you, are you allowed to blast one of them back with snowballs as a lesson to the others? Or can you hire Mafia hit men to teach them a lesson?

Mustering what little dignity I had left I squelched away with their derisive laughter ringing in my reddening ears.

First week of the new time and it has been heartening to hear from so many of you contacting the "shoe". It is always difficult and upsetting when a programme schedule changes.

Some people are pleased, some are unhappy and most probably don't care much either way.

To me, the important thing is to carry on and make the best of it. After all, how important in the grand scheme of things is someone who plays records on the radio?

However I must share with you that I am a little concerned with Ss, my new producer. He revealed that he had had a dream in which his, erm, nipples had been replaced by, erm, ahm…two, um "cough"… "members". He is now known in the office as, Dr Strangelove!


Friday 8 January 2010


So we reach the end of an era this week. And we have a few fond farewells:

Top producers Andy Warrell and Simon Tester are moving on.

Andy is producing the brand new Simon Mayo Drivetime show. (I have never actually met Simon but he did give me a "Tweet of confidence" the other day so that was kind of him. He obviously doesn't sleep too well.

Simon is off to the Claudia Winkleman programme. So I expect to see him on the red carpet in LA wearing a wide variety of hats.

They have been brilliant and a lot of fun to work with. It may have been early in the morning but we always had a good time. There are very few jobs I would imagine where grown men are paid to fool around. Apart from the Chuckle Brothers that is.

The knock on effect of the earlier start to the new Chris Evans breakfast show is that The Best Time of the Day show is starting and finishing an hour earlier. So from Monday I hope you are going to join me between 2 and 5. It will be interesting to see how the body clock copes with the change after 16 years in the current slot.

If this means that you now won’t be able to catch the programme if you don't surface until after 5, but all is not lost. You have a variety of options. The best one is to get up an hour earlier as that way you will get more done and, effectively, when you draw your terminal breath you can say to yourself, "You know, I lived more than others". You can also look at the health benefits: being up and active longer means you burn more calories. This can then be a trade off. Up earlier so as a reward another pint, another couple of chocolate biscuits or a bacon sarnie. Also, more time means better efficiency. You will get more done. The boss will love you. You will be promoted and so, therefore, will end up being impossibly rich and admired by lesser folk who don't demonstrate the same application, tenacity and single-mindedness that you do! It can only be a win/win situation.

If, for some odd reason, you are unable to make it you can always catch up on the show via the iPlayer and download the "Oddcast" every Friday.

We may be earlier but one thing will not change: the stupidity will continue!

So who is going to be joining the "Best Time of the Day Show"?

We welcome Stefano Softley. For this is his name. He tried to shorten it to "Ste". However, we were having none of that.

So I give you, "Ss"!!

This is my new producer and fwend, Ss. He is from Bradford in West Yorkshire, he likes badminton and the gym and he has a snake as a pet. The snake is called "Sss". He brings fruit to eat in the morning and he wears a woolly hat. He is not bald - it is just something young people do.

He feels the cold so sometimes wears his fleece. I think he needs to eat more lard.

2010 is barely a week old and already something good has happened. My mate Libido Boy came to stay and after the shoe on New Years day we went to get some breakfast. Whilst we were eating, a strange expression came over his face and he suddenly grabbed my cup of coffee. "I can smell it, I can smell it!!" he cried. Two years back he lost his sense of smell. Not through accident nor disease, it apparently is just one of those things that can happen. He has been taking some medication and it appears his sense of smell is on the way back.

I know this is not exactly throwing your crutches away at the medicine show and shouting, "I can walk praise the Lord". Nor is it the last scene in It’s a Wonderful Life. However, “it is amazing how much you miss when you can't smell,” he says.

He has now gone on a sniffing tour. So if a chap comes up to you and starts smelling you, don't be offended. That is Libido Boy just catching up.