Thursday 25 February 2010


After the show on Friday, we hot-footed it to France for the weekend. Made it to Folkstone and the channel tunnel just in time…to miss the train. Technology is so wonderful these days; all that was necessary was the insertion of a credit card and the machine flashed up: "Mr Lester you have missed the 6.50. You are now booked on the 7.20"

I think machines are taking over the world. The only ones that are there to ease your passage and make things worse (hmm, possible show thread here, I think) are the self-service check-outs at the supermarket. Whatever I try to buy, the machine invariably calls for a supervisor. Once the machine would not let me buy a copy of the Daily Mail as it flagged it up as an "adult purchase". For a publication that constantly rails against declining standards and declares how this country is going to "Hell in a handcart” ( - Richard Littlejohn), I was surprised that it was deemed to be so.

We headed for Normandy which, we soon discovered, was a long, long way away. 288 miles from Calais to be exact. Mainly motorway so it didn't take too long, and the journey was punctuated by some fine views and the spectacular bridge over the river Seine.

Who is “we”? you may ask. Why none other than the lovely ".........." who is still a bit shy. Although, here she is in the following picture as we enjoyed a Vin Chaud in a bar in a small market town.

Hmmm, I think she may be turning into "Harvey the Invisible Rabbit". She must have ducked out for a second.

Bit of snow on the Friday and a wonderful clear night sky, so we were able to stand outside in the freezing cold and identify the constellation: "that must be the plough". Does anyone know any others than that?

Ferry back Sunday afternoon which got us into Portsmouth at about 9.15pm in the pouring rain, and then a dash for London and an hour in bed before I staggered in for the shoe.

Monday night and it was off to see Beth Nielson Chapman. I am a big fan and have played her many times on the programme. She recently featured with her new album, Back to Love, as the Radio 2 Record of the Week.

A lovely intimate venue of London's Sloane Square called the Cadogan Hall. However, rather like the train man in a previous blog (who insisted that the Birmingham to London train that had Manchester written on it as "Destination" meant that was where it had come from, and "destination" meant starting point, and got quite shirty when a train load of potential passenger questioned his grasp of the English language), the tickets and the website said the doors opened at 7.30pm, as we wanted to see the support act, Marcus Hummon. I saw him a while back supporting Alison Krauss and really liked his work. He is best known as a writer these days although he does perform and was in Beth’s band as well.

We arrived at 7.45pm, made for the bar and noticed on the TV screens that he was already on stage. By the time we had glugged it down, as drinks weren't allowed in the auditorium, and made our way to the door to the venue proper the usher said, "he is finishing after this number so no point in going in".

"Why does it say Doors Open 7.30pm on the ticket if it means the support act is already on by the time they are supposed to open?". Came the answer: "That means the time doors open for the main act"!


Nice lady recognised me and came and said hello. This is a rarity as 2 episodes of Call My Bluff and 1 of Eggheads does not place me in the Chris Evans or Terry Wogan category of instant recognition.

We filed in and took our seats. As expected, Beth Nielson Chapman was wonderful and "........" and I found many of the songs extremely emotional. I was very touched when Beth thanked me from the stage for playing her songs on my programme.

About three tunes before the end though something terrible happened. I developed a tickle in my throat due to the dry atmosphere.

The music was subtle and not too loud, so to clear my throat or cough would have made too much noise and would have disturbed other people’s enjoyment. I’m never sure why people store up coughs and colds before concerts: "Honey, I have a massive cold coming on, let’s book for Swan Lake".

So my feeble attempts at clearing the tickle just caused "......." extreme mirth. She being a person who would be horrified if she thought she was inconveniencing anyone or spoiling their enjoyment therefore had to laugh silently. This, ofcourse, was the catalyst for me to start as well.

The last three tunes had us shaking with silent mirth. I was sweating and tears coursed down my by now purple face. She was glowing and pretty tears trickled down her lovely face.

We were willing the concert to end even though the music was spectacular. Every so often once of us would manage to get the laughter under control. The other would follow suit. Then, just as we thought we were in the clear, another giggle would well up and we would be off again.

By the time the concert finished we were husks.

Needless to say, this turned into a very successful thread on the programme this week and it would seem that we are not alone. So many of you have suffered from "Inappropriate Laughter". Funerals and weddings being a favourite location for a good giggle.

I wonder if it is possible to make it a certifiable disease or a chronic illness. "I am signing you off for a fortnight so you can miss that wedding as you seem to be suffering from a bad case of 'IL' "

"Thanks Doc bwwooo hhaa ha hahha haahhhaaa hh haaa!"


GrrrNasher said...

Nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to laugh at the wrong moment. As a kid, I was always in trouble for ‘the grin’.
The ‘sadder my face should be …. the bigger the grin! It does not help when you have an unique sense of humour too – not helped by listening to Alex!

GrrrNasher said...

Alex, please let us know when you are travelling by train .... then we can avoid travelling that day!

tailendcharlie said...

Been away for a while, but haven't you been busy? Great to hear you all loved up - you deserve a bit of TLC after all the fun you give shoe people.

I usually end up sniggering at meetings where people think they have something unique to say and end up using the latest buzzwords. Playing buzzword bingo usually brings on a fit of the giggles. The worst thing is when you get the wobbles from trying not to laugh - or is that just me?

Mike from Pudsey said...

Like the Syd Barrett reference in the title. Was it deliberate Alex? Will "she" ever make an appearance or is "she" destined to remain forever in the background. Only time will tell.

GrrrNasher said...

Its true, the lovely ".........." is one of those invisible friends only children have.
Can you see anyone sitting next to Alex? I can't. Mmmmm.
This fits in with the cartoons and the high childish behaviour escaping from Alex. Wink.

hazelxstitch said...

Sorry to be pedantic, but "vin" is masculine, therefore your article should state "vin chaud", not "chaude"!

Annie said...


While it's good to know that you read the comments, I am amazed that you have found the time over the weekend to make the correction! I really believed you had other considerations ... of a more romantic nature!

Now I can't even remember the original comment I intended to post!

Electro-Kevin said...

We took the boys to see The Hobbit in Plymouth last week.

A kid a few rows down spent the whole show unwrapping sweets. We were all ready to kill by the end of it. I now feel bad that they may have been cough sweets.

I'm a train driver btw. I was a policeman before that. Both jobs entail inconveniencing the travelling public. It's written into the contracts, don'tchya know !

moggy said...

its a life that we share friends thats wot we are all alex,s fans or followers meet here
thank to all
moggy says love to alex and all nutters

GrrrNasher said...

We love you too Moggy - especially the photo - cool dude.

Boo hoooo ... I’ve just noticed someone else is using the alias: Snap Dragon so I’ve changed it to Gnasher (it fits my snappy personality ... wink)!

Annie said...

Treasure, dream, hope and believe.