Thursday 31 March 2011


As usual, no sooner had I finished the previous blog I started thinking as to what the next (i.e.this) one should be about.

If you have followed my scribblings over the last few years, you will have noticed that - unlike some of my esteemed colleagues in this industry - I am not very "showbiz".

This is probably due to a horror of parties and dressing up. Also these events tend to be on in the evening, so it’s a little difficult to "Party like its 1999" when you realise that you are restricted to one glass of wine and two sausages on sticks and will have to leave before the event gets going.

Just the one glass of wine in case one staggers in to the studio a few hours later, switches on the microphone with some difficulty and slurs the words:-

"You're my pal I love you......what you looking at? Alright then, outside I can take you" before bursting in to tears.

Two sausages on sticks only, as three would bring on the whole world of roaring indigestion. Nothing like trying to get to sleep with what appears to be a blast furnace bubbling inside, not to mention the accompanying gusts that follow.

Dressing up is another horror. I have always hated the phrase "Suited and booted" and the idea of having to squeeze yourself into a suit in order to have one glass of wine and things on sticks strikes me as hell in spats. I am built more for comfort.

Another reason also for not attending many of these events is the ever-present threat of "dancing".

Some people are born to twist. Others just have no shame.

Any attempt to dance (whilst sober anyway) just causes a severe hotness in the head and face area and the desire to hide. There is that glib and twee phrase "dance like no-one’s watching".

Nonsense. They ARE watching and they are sneering!

It may have been the result of attempting waltz lessons when I was 8. My partner was called Prudence and she was 9 and, to my untutored eyes, "statuesque" and fully a foot taller than me. When you weighed in at about 4 stone and three foot tall, this was a big difference. She also insisted on leading and wouldn't let me put my arm around her waist (which admittedly was a bit of a stretch). Every time I attempted this feat she would slap me!

Another down side of the crazy showbiz merry-go-round is status.

Not being a recognisable TV face also means you start off at these events at a bit of a disadvantage. For some reason the Spitting Image puppet of David Steele comes to mind. In my minds eye I am smaller than everyone else and poking out of David Owen's pocket.

I am still smarting at recalling an event a few years back when I was chatting to Ken Bruce; I had just got to the punchline of some very witty anecdote when a well-known Scottish TV and radio personality interposed herself neatly between Ken and myself, and so the punchline was spat into the general area of her shoulder blades.

Ken, gallantly realising, attempted to introduce me but I was ignored.

Another occasion a few years back was when another well-known TV and Radio personality had complained that there were no "eligible men at the BBC". We were at the same function and heading for the door. I beamed hopefully and opened it for her and she swept past without even glancing in my direction.

So you can see why I do tend to stay away from such events. My fragile ego can't stand it.

Sometimes though you have to make the effort and the time to go to stuff otherwise life would be very dull indeed.

The other night Radio 2 hosted a gig by Taylor Swift, the 21-year old US country sensation.

I was a little suspicious how someone so young would cope. She is a trouper, explaining throughout the performance the reasons behind and why she wrote the songs and what they were about.

The Dark Lady was working so I took Susan the Finance (she’s not a banker so don't hate her).

Susan occupies a very special place in our hearts as she introduced us in December 2009 and for that I will be forever grateful.

She had never been to the legendary Abbey Road studios before and was also keen to see Taylor.

She was excellent and the audience was made up of an interesting variety of people. If you listened to the gig on the red button or were even there you may have noticed at the end of every number the screams were very high-pitched. There were a lot of teenage girls and gay men in the audience. Taylor writes and sings songs of teen angst very well. I also loved the constant use of "heart hands" by the audience and her just to show "the love". It was an ideal gig for me. Not a big monster event. Nicely low key, and it finished at 9pm so I was in bed within 20 minutes after seeing Susan to the tube station.

Then it was off to another non-showbiz - but also vitally important - event; to the Midlands to see my Dad and also my sister. As you know if you have been tuned in regularly, I ask your advice on so many things including what to buy Nell (that is her name. Short for Petronella, a name my parents gave her and laughed at! They also called me Norman after my Dad's Dad so that was a little bit better I suppose, but a name I resented for years but now would not part with.)

She has just taken early retirement after years in administrative and secretarial work; she has seen the world of work change from the typewriter to the word processor to the computer. It used to be traditional for retirees to be given a clock.

So off I went and found and bought a nice clock. So nice I thought that I would keep it myself, which was not really the intention and I was roundly slapped by you for my selfishness.

The other weekend, the DL and myself hot-footed it off to visit the establishment where we are having our wedding "do" at the tail end of this year. We wanted to keep is simple and – again - unshowbizzy. So we effectively wanted a pub. We have found a place that fits the bill with lots of Oak beams and open fires and so we went to try out the food.

It was lovely but something was missing. We agreed it was too "posh"; we wanted chips!

So we had a look at the bar menu and asked if we could make a change to the wedding menu which was readily agreed, and now the guests are going to get to shovel fish and chips down them and also have cheese and biscuits. Now that is more like it and unpretentious too.

Whilst we were wandering back to the car park, we spotted a shop selling all sorts of stuff including rather interesting clocks. Result! Nell loved it and already has a place in mind for it and it suits their house and decor.

The only downside to this excellent day was that we spent so much time having a good look round that I got a parking ticket.

Wonder if I should phone them up to try and get off the fine using that well worn phrase:

"Don't you know who I am??"

Don't forget to make a song request for the Listener's Library. Think of a track you haven't heard in awhile, a track that is special you would like to share, or a song for Feelgood Friday. Visit here, I look forward to hearing your suggestions. And don't forget to add me to Twitter @alexthedarklord (click here to do so) and also use the same login to hear the latest Audioboo (click here).


Paul F said...

Of course the danger of asking "Don't you know who I am??" is you get the answer "No!". Sadly, this could be likely considering the rude people you've encountered at your shoe-biz functions.

I can't help but recall the anecdote about buying car insurance from some young spotty herbert who asked who you are when you pointed out your profession is TV/Radio (and thus the insurance industry thinks you spend the whole time going around coked to the eyeballs with Pete Doherty....)

Definitely enjoy hearing celebrity anecdotes from "Alex Lester Friend of the Stars". More please!! although I understand that you may be limited by things like libel laws :)

Mike from Pudsey said...

Alex, saw a webcam picture of you the other day. It was the first "realtime" picture I've seen for some time. It prompted the question: whatever happened to blubberwatch?

mwhite229 said...

Don't be upset by "Mike from Pudsey@" Alex, how rude of him to mention blubberwatch - all those hours with your personal trainer will work one of those days :) Loved the clock you got your sister - was that the one you wanted to keep I wonder, or did you buy her another one. Just heard Taylor Swift won the Country Music "thingy" today, well done her.

Gaspodesm8 said...

No names no pack drill but the only person who springs to mind that would fit the bill of "Scottish radio and tv personality" is someone whose name Almost rhymes with no rain jelly. Glad you managed to get the wedding "Banquet" menu changed.

Spriggle said...

NoRain Jelly sounds like someone who should be beneath your social radar. Surely better to remain in your select coterie.