Thursday 19 August 2010


Has it come to this? The part of your life that Terry Wogan has always been going on about: Where simple things become a problem?

Forget the creaking of the bones as you struggle to climb out of your chair. The old gags about the husband and wife:

"Carry me upstairs and make love to me"

"I can manage one but not both"

The standing at the top of said stairs - maybe alone or in company - and thinking:

"What did I come up here for?"

Carrying a selection of items to your front door. Basket or briefcase. Newspaper tucked under one arm shopping and your house keys dangling from one finger with a bottle of wine held in the armpit.

Why do you drop the wine when all you wanted to do was open the door?

With those thoughts floating around in my head and bouncing off the sides randomly, like one of those early video tennis games waiting for a player, it has been a week of memory lapses and imagined events. Or so I thought.....or did I.

The other morning, as I was exiting the rental flat at horrible o'clock, I noticed the smell of incense.

"Someone smoking an elderly aunt?" I joshed with another as we passed each other in the "common parts". It is my stock response to joss sticks et al I am afraid. It is the smell of lavender that does it. Sorry.

When I arrived at the studio and woke up Dr. Strangelove who, as usual, was asleep under the desk. Curled up dormouse-like sucking his thumb. Never sure what he dreams about but his leg twitches and I sometimes hear him mutter "Disco" under his breath.

Probably having that old Tony Manero Saturday Night Fever dream that we all have from time to.......erm. Anyway where was I?

Ah yes. When he was fully awake, I asked him about the joss sticks.

"What joss sticks?"

"The ones I was given the other day"

"Were you? I don't remember.”

"I told you I was given some joss sticks."

"You didn't"

"Didn't I?"

Oh. I was convinced that I had been given a packet. So I checked with the DL.

She knew nothing of these Pimpernels of the incense world.

Friday and once more it was "Nerd Night". I have detailed these before. This is where a load of radio DJ's get together eat drink and tell stories. Last one awake wins.

This time we went to Swindon. Stopped in to see my mate Tony who runs the BBC station there. He was on good form and, although he wasn't able to come along for the whole evening, he kindly offered to take me to the hotel where I was going to meet the rest of the gang.

I had passed the Travelodge on the way from the railway station which was only a stones throw from the radio station. As I arrived in reception a text arrived from "MATTHEWWWW".

He is a tall and Tigger-ish man who has, as the monkey on his back, an abiding and deep love of football. He has tried on many occasions over the years to interest me in the "beautiful game". Although, as he is an Hull City fan, I have watched his mounting excitement as the "Fish/ Bees/ Falcons/ Tigers" (fill in the correct creature here.) compete on the field.

As a football philistine, I gather true fans don't refer to the team by their proper name but by calling them after animals. Not totally sure why, but I think it helps with the name calling and the choice of mascots.

MATHEWWW has grown in stature as Hull City made their way to Premier League status. We have also watched as his nails became bitten to the quick as they teetered in the relegation zone for two seasons until the inevitable drop.

Already back among the mortals in the league below they have been thrashed 4-0 by the Rochdale Aardvaarks (or some such. I told you I was a Philistine).

He is on his way to being a broken man. He is smaller, thinner, and his rich booming voice is nearly reduced to a croak. Poor man.

Anyhoo. He sent me a text as we stood in the foyer of the Travelodge.

"In the pub over the road".

One slight problem. There was no pub over the road. Still that would have to wait. The guy on reception was having difficulty locating my reservation.

"L-E-S-T-E-R.” I spelt the name for him as many spell it as in the city.
I used to say "As in Piggott". However, anyone under thirty-five has no idea who I am talking about these days.

L-E-S-T-E-R "As in Young"

L-E-S-T-E-R "As in Maddocks!!"

This was going nowhere.


"Which pub over the road? All I can see is a selection of boards surrounding a building site and a car park"


"Can't see any roundabout"

"BIG ROUNDABOUT ON AN INDUSTRIAL ESTATE. PUB WHERE WE ARE AND THE PREMIER INN IS NEXT DOOR" he boomed. Imagining himself in the stands two seasons ago as the Hull Axolotls were promoted for the first time in their history.

"Premier Inn, you say?"

No wonder. I was at the Travelodge! Tony bussed me up there and the evening started in earnest. Food, drink and excellent people. New friends met. Very old stories told and, all too soon, it was 3.30am and we headed back to the EconoHolidayETAPLodgeInn.

In the morning I tweeted that "Shields were at 70%".

Matheww (slight hangover, so quieter) found this reference baffling until I explained that had he not wasted his life on football. He would know the reference as I had wasted my life on "Star Trek". We could combine the two and he could support the Hull Tribbles, or the Grimsby Farenghi.

Back on the show, after two bouts of amnesia in the space of a few days, I was furious to note on thursday morning that I had been sold a "pup".

In attempt to stave off the effects of hours and the nerd nights, Dr Strangelove and myself force ourselves to drink a smoothie every morning. Normally, we stand in the studio at the end of the programme, hold our noses and pour them down in a sort of "suicide pact".

On Thursday there was no time as I had a train to catch. Whilst on the train I reached into the man bag (carrier, I am cheap) for my health-giving concoction and glanced at the lid.


I was furious. How could a shop have such lax hygiene regulations to allow them to sell perishables more than a year old? I was going to have a word with them when I was back in London.

It was only when I was relating this tale of woe to the DL that she pointed out my confusion.

"04/09." She told me gently "means 4th of September. Not April 2009"

Saved from more embarrassment. I shudder to think what would have happened had I marched into the shop waving a perfectly good in date smoothie at a baffled shop assistant demanding to see the manager.

So the brain is softening. I am easily confused. Can't remember stuff and, to put the tin hat on it, am returning to schoolboy status:

I suppose it coincides with our "Student Essentials" campaign.

After playing "On the Road Again" by my hero Willie Nelson as part of "Lesters Library" on Thursday morning, I opined that you could never "have too much Willie."

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a purple-faced Dr Strangeboots fall to the floor. And then I was off.

A 54 year old man had regressed 40 years in the space of a sentence. We howled. You can hear it on the iPlayer and doubtless it will turn up on this weeks "Oddcast".

Still I suppose it keeps us young.

So, what next? Turning up for the show in my Cosijamas or trying to pay bills with chickens?

When I got home I was turning some stuff out of a carrier bag and there, nestling at the bottom: a packet of Joss sticks.

I wasn't dreaming after all.

Oh, we haven't had this for awhile....


Maid of Kent said...

Think you have hit on a nerve there both with the age and getting more like parents stuff. As Mum recounts the latest episode in their lives, it is oft remarked that "there is no hope" for me.

Still glad that finding the jossticks proves you aren't quite losing your marbles - just yet :)

Have a great weekend

mwhite229 said...

The "parents" comments on the shoe are hilarious but oh so true and at your great age will become more true as the weeks/months pass by. I was concerned about the jossticks, though, when no one knew anything about them making me wonder if you were indeed "losing it"; was glad to know that it was not all a figment of your imagination after all and you did have them. Perhaps you should take a leaf out of Mr Strangeboots book and sleep a bit more rather than rush all over the country as much as you do at least it doesn't affect the fab music on the shoe, is that down to you or Dr S?

Greenie said...

That photo of Mr. Manning reminds me of my Grandad.

We're from the same part of Manchester as Bernard Manning and my "uncle" worked at the Embassy Club. Anyway my grandad asked for a signed photo of his favourite comic and Bernard was more than happy to do one for him.

So for the formative years of my life every time I went to my Grandad's I couldn't help but be confronted by a picture of a fat old man in the bath, wearing a crown.

It probably explains a lot.

scarcabco said...

I was listening to the aforementioned sudden regression. It took me straight back to the classic, "the bowler's holding, the batsmans, willy."
Needless to say the taxi driver next to me at the lights was bemused to see a happy laughing human!