Thursday 14 October 2010


Been a bit of a mixed week and one that I hope hasn't shown up on the show. In all the years I have been doing this for a living, it has never seemed like a job and has always been a way of lifting my spirits when I was a bit down.

I remember years ago, after a particularly traumatic relationship failure, reading a self-help book which told me that it was like “bereavement" and that it was likely that sleep patterns would be disturbed, so it was probably a good idea to tune into late night radio.

"Er, excuse me," I thought, "What happens if you are the guy doing the late night radio"?

Just over a week ago the Dark Lady damaged her back and has a prolapsed disc in her neck. In other words, she has slipped a disc. She is in terrible pain and has spent the last week doped to the eyeballs in a hospital bed. To give you some idea of what it is like; Women tell you it is like childbirth without the respite between contractions.

To translate that for us blokes with a notoriously low pain threshold; it is like a mild dose of constipation and we know how agonising that is!

No wonder she is on Morphine, poor thing. Despite the agony, she is in remarkably good spirits and I have decided that as she is on the way to becoming a dope fiend; I am going to buy her a beret and a saxophone. We are expecting various calls from the music business asking if she has any to spare.

We now have to wait and find out if the disc will go back in or if she needs surgery. We have been inundated with good wishes and she has had to shoo my mournful face out of the ward on several occasions.
I am sure you have been in the position where someone you love has been hospitalised and has suffered terrible pain. It is the feeling of helplessness which is so difficult to cope with. You just want to "magic it better".

Dr Strangelove, my constantly-cheerful producer and butt of endless jokes on the show, has not escaped unscathed this week suffering an unexpected bereavement. I have suggested he pops up to the hospital so the DL can shoo his mournful face out of the ward as well.

The show is a great solace and thank you for all the daft stuff you are still providing on a daily basis. For this, we are very grateful, and it gives us a lift in the small hours. Sorry there have not been many Tweets over the last week but, as you can imagine, I have been somewhat preoccupied....which of course led to my mournful face being.....etc

On a brighter note…
Last weekend it was my Godparents 60th wedding anniversary.

My Auntie Stephanie and Uncle Norman have been a vital part of my life for ever and they are terrific.

Being of slightly, ahem "mature" years, they have a huge extended family as well as zillions of friends. So it was to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire last Saturday to a school gym where a bash had been laid on. There was a "soft play area" for the children, an amazing buffet and some very amusing speeches. The best part was to witness the high regard in which this couple are held.

My Uncle who has recently celebrated his 90th birthday was up a plum tree with a pruning saw a few days ago, and has played the organ in the same church every Sunday for more than 70 years. Stephanie is the organiser doing so much for the community. They have hardly spent a night apart in all those 60 years. If they ever need a poster boy and girl for marriage, sign this couple up now. They are an inspiration. They have been on the phone to me this week more concerned about the DL than themselves and have cheered me and my mournful face up.

Sunday and it was nice to get to Hastings Old Town once again in order to judge the Classic Car show. I have been doing this for a few years now and it is always a joy, being a bit of a petrolhead. The only slight disappointment has been that I have had to change my act slightly.

Gone are the days of saying, "I remember Grandad had one of these"

This was replaced by "I remember Dad had one of these"

This year to my horror I realised.... "I remember these....I had one of these!"

Don't forget, you can find out what I am upto outside of the show by following me on Twitter, click here. Plus, with that very same login and password you can hear my weekly Audioboo, this is like a "Twitter with noise". To login, click here.

And while we are click-happy, why not submit a song request for Listener's Library? Maybe a dedication to somebody else who is listening, or a song you have never heard on the radio before, a song you haven't heard in years, or a song you think everybody would like to hear. We are a broad church, so submit your suggestion here.

and here is something for the weekend from myself and Dr. Strangelove...

Wednesday 6 October 2010


Been a sad, disappointing and poignant week for a number of reasons this week.

Friday night, the Dark Lady and I went off to the O2 in London's Docklands to see Santana.

As I said on the show and via Twitter, I have been waiting to see them/him since I borrowed my sister’s copy of Abraxas back in the very early 1970's.

Never been to the main bit of the O2 before so was looking forward to it immensely.

You may remember a few years ago (when it was known as the "Millenium Dome") it was branded a white elephant and a waste of taxpayers money and politicians and tabloid newspapers queued up to put the boot in. How things change and now I gather it is the most popular and successful music venue in Europe.

The band were due on stage at 8pm so there was time for eating and a quick drink. Lines of people stretched along the malls between the restaurants and bars. This was not good.

DL has been here loads of time so she knows the drill. "Won't take long, we will be eating in no time" she said, as we joined the throng outside a burger emporium.

My face was obviously telegraphing my feelings as it took on its "petulant child" expression.

You may think this is not a very nice trait; however, to my way of thinking, it explains my youthful good looks!

She was right. I was wrong. Within five minutes we were at our table.

8pm sharp on came the band with minimum fanfare as they immediately created their own.

Drums, Congas. Timbales. The band were a percussionist’s dream. They thundered along and very occasionally - to my untutored ears - we would get a tune we recognised. "Smooth”, “Maria, Maria”, “Black Magic Woman” and "Oye Como Va", which was the highlight of the night for us and it was fascinating to see the audience change from attentive to "grooving" (We are middle-aged don't forget, hence that terminology).

Carlos brought on his fiancée - who is a respected drummer - in order that she should pound out a lengthy solo. That is when the first seeds of doubt began to be sown in my mind. The words "Vanity" and "Self-indulgence" appeared at the front of my brain.

On and on they thundered with extended jams and tracks neither of us recognised. Then disaster struck: Carlos stepped up to the microphone to talk to us!!!!!!!!

I remember him being interviewed on The South Bank Show a few years back by a plainly baffled Melvin Bragg. Simon Mayo had him as a guest last week and said it was like talking in a different language.

Carlos Santana is a superb artist and musician but he talks in 1960's Hippy Californian.

This doesn't play very well with a bloke from Walsall and an electrician’s daughter from Barnet.

Midway through his lengthy treatise on "energy" and "light" and the "Universe" I was reminded of the Frank Zappa track: "Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar".

He did but by that time I am afraid the spell had been well and truly broken, and we as one decided it would be a good idea to "beat the rush" and get the Tube home during the encore.

Entertaining but he could have been so much better.

Then the news broke about Sir Norman Wisdom.

I was immediately transported back to my childhood when my Mum took me to the pictures to see The Early Bird. I have blogged before about the opening sequence when Norman comes down the stairs, stumbles and takes all the wallpaper off with his arm. I am not sure I have ever laughed quite so hard since.

My Mother probably thought I was choking on the odd plastic thingy which was usually supposed to be a whistle in my threepenny "Jamboree Bag".

Norman was King after that for a very long time before I jilted him for the Marx Brothers and The Goon Show.

Sorry Norman, but as a kid the rather sentimental "love interest" thing went over my head. I wanted more falling down which you did so superbly.

We have his films and should be grateful for them. I look forward to a season of them on the TV shortly.

Then one of my old stamping grounds and another part of my childhood went up in flames. I am referring to Hastings Pier.

All my life I have been connected with the town. First through my Grandparents who lived there and - for the last twenty years - so have I.

As a child we would run around the pier and play the slot machines. Among these were sliding penny machines; a tray loaded with coins would move back and forth and, by judicial addition of more coins in theory, some would drop off the edge of the tray and down the chute into my youthful sticky hand. There were table football games, which were works of art with the players leg actually moving to kick the ball and their strip was hand made of what looked like wool. There was rock and candy floss and a speedboat that took passengers for a quick trip up and down the coast. We went on it once and it was terribly exciting and we had a tarpaulin that you hitched over your legs to stop yourself getting too soaked.

In 1966 on the apron at the front of the pier, a Space Age metal building called the "Triadome" was erected containing the recently completed Hastings Embroidery as part of the celebrations for the 900th anniversary of the Battle.

My sister, being three years older, loved the pier as there were bands on and boys! (hopefully of the type Mother had warned her about). The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and many others appeared there. My friend Clive (who is rather more of a historian than myself) told me that the last appearance with Pink Floyd of Syd Barrett took place in the concert hall at the end of the pier.

It gradually became neglected and tatty and rather sad. I remember one dreary cold winter’s evening in the early 80's walking onto the pier and past one of the Bingo stalls. Half a dozen pensioners sat flicking the plastic shutters across the numbers as they were called as they had a console in front of them rather than a sheet of paper. The first prize was a 2lb bag of sugar or a catering tin of baked beans!

However by then they did have a "What the Butler Saw" machine as a retro exhibit. The answer for you excited teens is: Not a lot really. A woman dancing with a broom in her underwear to be exact.

In its last incarnation before its closure four years ago, as it was deemed unsafe, it was decided to make it a sort of upmarket bazaar with no slots. So in came the shops selling Dream catchers and bits of driftwood and shells, which duplicated the dozens of other shops around town selling Dreamcatchers, bits of driftwood and shells. When this didn't work furious voices demanded that what was needed were slots and the cycle began again.

We have a family picture of my Mum as a rather goofy teen standing on the pier in about 1935. Now part of my family’s history, and part of thousands of other people memories, lies in smoking ruins; ironically, just as it looked like some progress was about to be made towards its restoration.

Before the war Hastings boasted two piers. Now there is the remains of one. It would be criminal to let this one disappear too.

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