Been a mite busy just "doing" of late and not had much to write about. So I have heaved myself into the chair and fired up the all-new laptop to bring you the latest instalments of "Alex Lester: A Life Pretty Ordinary".
The all-new laptop was a result of a generous birthday gift from the Dark Lady; she had been eyeing up my battered and rather sad-looking 7 year-old machine for some months now.
"You need a new computer so you can get down to writing that book," she quoth.
I had been "in talks" with a major publisher last year who had commissioned a synopsis and three chapters of my, erm, "memoirs". I had slaved over the keyboard for days on this project. From my early life as a Doctor’s son in the Midlands through to my first job as a gorilla at the zoo. (True. I wore a green suit). My first tentative steps in local radio through to the heady delights of the nation’s favourite radio network.
Along the way, sorry tales of broken relationships, depression, betrayal, addiction, suicide attempts, criminal acts, failed TV pilots and the full unexpurgated story of my relationship with Sarah Kennedy.
(OK, some of the above have been added to make a better story…even if they are not exactly, erm, true.)
The publishers were delighted…and then recession hit and the project was "shelved".
"We have had to put Wayne Rooney's book back too," they said.
Well, it was easy to see why as he had just been pilloried for a less than successful World Cup and – what, with his private life - has not exactly regained his place as the nation’s second most-loved footballer. The first being David Beckham.
(Ryan Giggs was second but due to recent events in our unscientific poll has now tumbled to 459th just below Hastings United's goalkeeper, Seb Barton.)
So it is back to the drawing board and the book remains in limbo; unfinished and mostly inside my head. One day maybe it will be commissioned and I can watch it being made into several films, retire on the proceeds and devote my life to philanthropic pursuits (which I think means jet-setting around the world as a self-appointed expert, poking your nose in where it is not wanted, when all that was actually required of you was a good sturdy cheque-writing arm.)
Day follows day with dizzying speed at the moment and - I may have mentioned this in the past - but I think we have reached the moment where the "low level Devil" wakes up and starts being a mite tricky, making life a tad harder than it actually needs to be. In other words, we have reached the point where everything seems to be falling to bits under my touch.
At home the other day, and deciding that it would be nice to wake up to a good cool smoothie which - according to the bottle accounts for “2 of my 5 a day” - I reached into the fridge and retrieved a nice warm bottle of....!!! Warm?
Yup! Another fridge/freezer had died. You may recall those with long memories that approximately ten years ago I cruelly and heartlessly murdered the previous occupant of that space in my kitchen. I tried to help the defrosting process with a butcher’s knife rather than a blunt implement, as I later read was recommended.
Being a bloke and being heir to all those bloke things, I am unable to read instruction manuals. The way to get anything to work is by stabbing the buttons repeatedly with sausage fingers ‘til it either worked or broke and then taking it back to the shop in high dudgeon: "This doesn't work. You sold me a pup!"
The Dark Lady does the most brilliant impression of me in full-on Grump mode. It is witheringly accurate as well as hysterically funny when she does it. It is almost worth being a grouch on occasion just to witness it. It sounds simple but it is done with enormous finesse. She stands in front of me and says very quickly loudly and gruffly:
This apparently is what I sound like. No words. Just this ejaculation.
The other week I came back to her place after the show in a taxi. When I made it to the front door and reached in to my pocket I realised my house keys were back in the studio 4 miles away. So there was nothing for it but to drive back to work and retrieve them.
I hammered on the door in a ferocious bate. Beautiful and bleary she opened the door. Realising what had happened she said:
"Don't worry, I will give you a lift in later and you can collect them".
I wanted them NOW. Not LATER!!! I also wanted a big slice of pork pie and to go to bed!
So I gently and kindly and with enormous love explained that I would grab my car keys and drive back to the BBC, then collect my keys and would be back in the house within the hour.
Apparently according to the DL what I actually said was:
as I stomped off down the path.
So my fridge freezer had bitten the dust along with a lifetime’s supply of ready meals. Even the ice had gone mouldy. Well, it was now more like pond water in truth.
(Trans: Rats! Nothing to keep the beer cold. I will have to keep it in the toilet)
The laptop I am using to type this blog is far and away an improvement on the previous model and it is in modish silver. Thing was, when I first switched it on and started to use it, for some reason it decided that every time I typed @ it would substitute ". Luckily, with my mind akin to a steel trap, I soon discovered after typing every other letter on the keyboard that if I simply typed " out would pop @!
However, this is not what is meant to happen.
The above translated means: I would ask you. You have been so helpful in the past with problems various that have occurred in my life. Be they which presents to buy for weddings and anniversaries, places to go and how to lose sufficient weight to get into those target leather trousers, how we can shame Producer Dr Strangelove into spending as much time at the gym working on his legs as he does on his upper body and the like.
We have warned him, you and I, that the above could be the result if he doesn't heed our warning!
You immediately pointed out that if the " is where the @ should be it was because the computer was functioning on US settings. What no-one has explained is why any American would want to transpose those symbols. However, I suppose if you are a nation that is unable to spell English words correctly putting " for @ and vice versa makes perfect sense.
(This is me in a grump Stateside!)
A few swift key strokes by the Dark Lady and the computer was restored to its rightful British settings. We of course celebrated with a cup of tea!
The next day I was due to take my car to be MOT'd and serviced. The vehicle, you may recall, was the replacement four years ago for the "Ford Mid-life crisis": my Mazda RX-7 which was my pride and joy until it caught fire at Oxford Services on the M40. This was replaced by a more modern vehicle a Nissan 350Z which has served me admirably ever since. (Although, not using a car much these days now that the show comes from London, it tends to spend a lot of time just sitting. So I had to charge the battery the night before so that I would be able to take it to the garage the next day.)
After the show I hopped in, started the engine and drove north. By the time got to Newport Pagnell services on the M1 the sun was shining and I was beginning to feel a little sleepy.
So I pulled over into the car park, switched everything off and dozed off for half-an-hour. When I came to, I had a quick wash and brush-up and turned the key in the ignition.
BIG FAT NOTHING!
Battery was dead.
(Trans: "It's broken")
I phoned the breakdown people with the yellow vans.
Trevor turned up within half an hour. Tested the battery not once but twice, pronounced it dead and fitted a brand new one and departed, as did I shortly after for the Main Dealer.
"It will all be sorted, Mr Lester, and we have a couple of recall notifications so we will be replacing the Clutch Master cylinder and the Engine Management System free of charge. Ready for you Friday.”
Friday arrived and I arrived at the garage.
"Nearly finished, Mr Lester. Slight problem though; we have replaced the parts but now don't seem to be able to start the engine."!
(This was a translation of: "oh well, not to worry, I am not in a hurry)
"All done. What is your radio code incidentally as we need it to make it work as it is currently locked out?"
"Er, no idea"
"We will have to take the radio out and cross reference it with the serial number on our computer"
(Trans: “Will this take long?”)
True to their word, another fifteen minutes and I was on my way.
Time for a hobby I hate: gardening. My Sister and Brother-in-law are avid gardeners and seem to spend much of their waking hours dibbing, weeding, pruning, mulching and all those rather back-breaking and grimy things which stop a person watching high quality Teevee like Escape to the Country or, in my case, Chuck and The Cleveland Show.
My house has been disappearing under some creepers for some time now and with the recent rains the green nemesis had been redoubling its efforts to turn my humble abode into something resembling one of those Mayan temples that are occasionally discovered in the jungle.
This involved secateurs, a ladder and me leaning against some guttering.
It also involved a torrential downpour and the down pipe from the first floor (where it met the guttering along the side of the ground floor single storey extension) discharging its contents of several gallons of water and dead leaves into the pocket of my jeans.
(Trans: “Brrr, not to worry I will soon dry out!”)
This chore being accomplished, it was to the Dark Lady and one of her spectacular culinary creations.
Her house being neat but also tiny, whenever the heat from the oven hits the ceiling upon the door being opened it sets off the smoke alarm.
(Trans: "Don't worry, dear, I will fan it with this newspaper until it stops for a few seconds")
I removed the battery. Unfortunately when I went to replace it I accidentally broke the cover.
DL was unconcerned. I vowed to replace it with a special "Toast Proof" one designed for kitchens.
The Dark Lady has had her fair share of mishaps over the last few months. She had the living room decorated shortly before the khazi sprang a leak and so had to have the decorating done all over again.
Just before I began this blog I had to phone her to explain that in removing the broken smoke alarm and attempting to replace it with the new improved "Toast Proof" one, unfortunately a considerable quantity of paint had adhered to the alarm casing and had torn off from the ceiling. The new alarm being a more compact beast there was now an exposed area of severely damaged paint.
"Don't worry. When we get some money I will get the decorator back and he can fix it and fit the new alarm properly. Probably best if you don't put those shelves up in Jamie's bedroom, I'll get a professional in to do that too.”
I think this was a translation of: