Thursday 24 February 2011


After the success that was my Aunt’s 80th birthday, life returned to normal and DL and I continued planning for The Big Day in December. We have now booked a photographer who's work we really like the look of. This is terribly important; the wrong lensman/woman can ruin the big day.

When the show came from Birmingham we would have publicity stills taken from time to time and fell foul of indifferent picture takers. Once I was despatched to a studio which was the lair of a man who specialised in baby pictures, and had my photograph taken surrounded by toy bricks, brightly-coloured balls and fluffy rugs. He succeeded in making me look like a chubby-faced ghost.

On another occasion someone had the bright idea of taking our picture and having Janice Long and I made into cardboard cut-outs to stand in the reception area. This time is was a seasoned press photographer who was summoned to do the job. Brilliant, getting in to the thick of the action, taking the pictures and getting out to meet the deadline. Not so hot on the portrait front. He insisted on standing on a chair to take the pics from above. The end result was we all looked like Toulouse Lautrec with tiny, short, stubby legs and big heads. I - for some inexplicable reason - had a power socket between my tiny feet!

Needless to say, the pics never made the final cut.

Whilst we were moving on to think of maybe a wedding car we were interrupted by a letter plopping on the mat; it turned out to be from my Uncle Maurice (who you may know from the previous blog managed to guess the gift we had given my Aunt by the shape: "Ooh look she's got a Metronome" before Daphne had a chance to get the wrapping paper off).

His letter was typed which means his fingers were still healing from the stamping he received along with all the other unimaginable comedy violence we wreaked on his "sorry ass" (Sorry, channelling Will Smith there) at the time.

It was a very funny letter of contrition (not that he needed to apologise) containing a variety of nose gags, as well as the very astute observation that the only person in the world who somehow never needs to apologise is the Duke of Edinburgh. He signed it, "The Blurter"!

Got me thinking that I cannot take the moral high ground on "blurting", as I have previously in that department. In fact, if you want to keep a secret don't under any circumstances tell me. My brain can't cope with deception and I am the most awful liar.

In a previous life I was in a pub in Sheffield and met a woman who I vaguely remembered a fact about. We chatted for a while and then it came to me and:

BLURT: "Oh I remember you. You were the woman that as a nurse had sex with (a now well-known pop star) on the operating table at the hospital, before he got famous and was working as the handy man"!

CUE: Agonising kick in the shins from my then partner who had given me this juicy slice of information a few minutes earlier.

In a previous, previous life, I recall a family meal with my then girlfriend, her mother and her sister. For some reason, the two of them had gone off for a weekend in the country and had not told the other sister.

Me making conversation during a lull:-

So....BLURT "how was your weekend in Yorkshire"?

Oof! (agonising kick in the shins under the table from a pointy and expensive designer shoe.)

Before you warn the Dark Lady, I have told her never to tell me anything she wants to keep a secret. As a friend of mine says.

"Secrets are like crisps. They are to be passed around in the pub."

The Nerd Season is upon us once again and it was to Norwich last Friday to meet up with other DJs and radio people for our bi-monthly bore in.

Not been to Norwich since the 80's and, like many cities, it has had quite a makeover in that time. I decided - as it was going to be a late night - to go by train as it is a direct route(ish).

Britain is great North to South, but try going side to side and that is where the problems begin.

Train from London to Norwich utilising ancient Inter City rolling stock. I expected to bump into Jimmy Saville any moment. On the return journey it was Norwich to Diss. Then a coach to Stowmarket then train to London. The coach driver wasn't exactly instilling confidence in his passengers by asking: "Do you know the way?"

Still marginally better than him asking:

"Are we there yet?"

Bit of a coup for the Nerds on this occasion as often times we stay in hotels away from the main drag. On this occasion, scouring the map as I stood outside the station wondering how far away it was, I noticed it was the other side of the road.

Top location and top people, including folks from the local radio stations. Nice to meet them and one of the women there was the daughter of the bass player from the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band. Now this is the type of company I like to keep!

We walked the city streets past the sad remains of Anglia TV.

In its heyday it was home to:

"From’s the quiz of the week" Sale of the Century with Nicholas Parsons who got all kinds of stick for his on air gaffes but as he told me once:

"Every time I made a mistake the ratings went up"


"Who has just won the Open golf championship"?

Buzzer: "Sam, I mean Derek"

Contestant Derek: "Sam Snead"


Wonder if he won the boat?

They also made Tales of the Unexpected and lots of wonderful wildlife programmes.

Now it is a shell as the regional TV franchises have all but been dismantled.

The previous occasion I visited it was to see someone I knew who had just got a job as a reporter there.

In a hotel room in the city that night, she made me shave off my moustache which had had since I was 21 in a feeble attempt to make me look older. In the bathroom we discovered my face had caught up and I had a receding upper lip.

She left Anglia shortly after that and had quite a career at the BBC, although despite being an excellent TV journalist she was sometimes referred to as "Helen Keller"

This may be a reference to the time when she visited a hospital which housed the last few surviving 1950's polio victims, encased in iron lungs to help them breathe.

Holding the camera tripod over her shoulder and chatting with the consultant about how they would conduct the interview and frame the shots, after he told her what he thought was the best course of action she agreed with the words.

"Good Wheeze"! realising she was surrounded by people struggling for breath in their machines, she fled the ward to regain composure…unfortunately braining one of the patients with her tripod in the process.

Oops BLURT!!


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