Wednesday 28 September 2011


Due to a combination of other commitments (inertia and not leading a glittery showbiz lifestyle) I thought it may be good opportunity to change the way I do the blog.

I have been writing these since 2007 including three "American Adventure" road trip blogs; these in particular have been a lot of fun to do as I sat in any one of 100 often grim motel rooms in the Mid-West tapping out my thoughts and impressions of the day whilst filling myself up with fizzy beer. Had I been Ernest Hemingway, in the morning I would have doubtless woken to a destroyed room with a waste basket full of empty bottles and the floor littered with crumpled pieces of paper, all failed furious first drafts. Oh, also utilising my limited knowledge of Hemingway there would probably one or more of the following in the bed: 1) Hooker. 2) A big fish like a Tuna. 3) A "Death in the Afternoon" Bull corpse.

Dark Lady - whilst not being a vegetarian - would probably draw the line at at least one of these!

(Yes, you guessed. Sorry. No blokes’ porn film fantasies in this blog).

What I would like to try is to write a shorter daily blog rather than a weekly/bi weekly longer one.

Research shows we now have the average attention span of a....

(Some hours pass)

Sorry, went to make myself a cup of tea and got roped into a couple of episodes of Camper Van Crisis.

Where was I? Ah yes. I thought it would be fun to try the blog as a sort of daily diary and see how that goes down.

However, just to bring us up to date before we try this new way of operating:

Since I last wrote a number of things have been going on. First off a triumph for chest-beating, Testosterone-fuelled man-stuff. You may remember that the DL had accidentally dropped a bunch of keys down the back of her kitchen units. How was I to retrieve them? You came up with several bright ideas which mainly involved, as I recall, wanton destruction of what is essentially a brand new kitchen. Tearing panels off was a popular choice as was poking around with sharp objects and - failing that - Dynamite.

I had a brainwave. Magnets! Just attach a magnet to a piece of string and let it down the back of the cabinet and then to use one of our favourite phrases: "hey presto" - up will come the keys!

So to the hardware shop to buy a magnet. This is no longer as easy at it sounds. Long gone are the days of magnets of the red variety with the steel "keeper" as used in cartoons to suck out heavy objects like irons that had been hidden in opponents’ boxing gloves for unfair advantage purposes.

Also, I don't remember the last time I saw a card of iron filings which with the aid of a small pencil-type magnet you could put eyebrows or a beard on a man’s face with.

Each shop I entered answered "yes" to the question, "do you stock magnets?" and duly pointed me in the direction of the fridge novelties. How the world operates now if they are the only magnets on offer, I have no idea.

I have not seen pictures of the Hadron Collider but in my mind’s eye it is a huge cylindrical apparatus covered in tiny smiling pigs, top hats and views of Salt Lake City.

My Dad is the "go to guy" for in his "man cave" he has everything you need to do anything. This has been built up and developed over half a century and now if anyone requires a differential for a 1942 Vauxhall or that little thingy that made Concorde's snoot droop: my Dad has it in his garage.


"Hmm…what sort"?

He only had about half a dozen varieties including the comedy half hairpin version with the "keeper".

Now nothing I attempt is ever simple. Would I manage to find string, attach it and haul up the keys?


Friday before last we went of to the Festival Hall in London to see Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. Last year he "re-imagined" the work of George Gershwin. DL and I are huge Gershwin and Beach Boys fans so this was going to be great.

It was. Brian Wilson has had well documented mental troubles over the years but the musician is still there, even if the voice is a little wayward and he has a rather odd demeanour as he sits behind a keyboard which he rarely touches.

First half was the Gershwin part and the second was Beach Boys; hit after hit after hit. As is the case with all concerts the artist you are watching never does your favourite track. So "In My Room" was notable by its absence. DL nudged me at one point and pointed out, "How can you hear this and not be happy?"

She was quite right, of course, as we beamed our way through a fantastic evening.

Last week with the wedding now barely two months away it seemed a good idea to try and tidy up my house, as relatives will be staying, and it is rather a tip.

So I had a week off in order to clear it up and also to get rid of tons of rubbish in the garage.

First was the table in what I laughingly refer to as my "study". It is covered in bits of paper as well as being home to my computer and a printer and to give it that full "tycoon" ambience; a rather old Anglepoise lamp. I am not sure that Lord Sugar or Donald Trump have six year-old utility bills on their desks. I have. I also found a couple of cassettes and a box of cereal bars three years past their sell by date. This is the sort of stuff that has made Captain Scott's hut in the Antarctic a place of pilgrimage.

The table took a day to clear and claimed the life of my shredder. I have (had) a heavy duty document shredder which, it is claimed, can help prevent people steal your identity. Not sure why anyone would want to be me but that is another story. Still, thieves are often very dumb:

"You got me that new fake passport, Fingers?"

"Yeah, stole this guy’s identity. Dead, I think. No one will ever suspect. Sorted"

"Great. So let’s see...from now on, I am a German Dictator called Adolf...Adolf...Hitler?"


I shredded and I shredded and I shredded, pausing only for tea and the occasional episode of Top Gear on Dave.

Late that evening when all was nearly cleared I found a credit card. I had never used it but it was still valid. So I put it through the shredder as it said I could.


I am still picking bits of ground up plastic out of it several days later.

The Garage proved to be a similar problem as inertia set in after the first couple of boxes were moved. I also needed to hang some bikes up on the wall and discovered my drill had somehow been parted from its chuck key. I have another cordless but that isn't really powerful enough for masonry. So I made a half-hearted attempt.

I also vacuumed the floor of ten years of accumulated dirt.

By then it was Thursday so up to London to meet up with my mate, Libido Boy, and off to the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith to catch one of my favourite artists, Eleanor McEvoy. This was a benefit as the centre is threatened with closure which would be a terrible shame. Normally when he hits town we head off out to Camden later. However, he had to be up early as he had to drive to Somerset with two Chinese business people who he brought with him. A man and a woman who were very nice and very polite and for the woman it was her first trip outside of China. They were also very jet-lagged and so, during the quieter numbers, I could see their eyes closing. Eleanor was even better than ever. She too, like Brian Wilson, has been "reimagining" This time rerecording a whole lot of her finest songs for her latest album, Alone. Our Chinese friends snapped up a couple of copies after the gig so the word is being spread. Although, as she travels so widely, if a man in a pith helmet hacks his way into a clearing in deepest darkest comedy stereotype Africa and discovers a woman there he should remove his solar topee, extend his hand with the greeting: "Eleanor McEvoy, I presume?"

So it was off to bed without hitting the fleshpots. It was also very nearly the end of the week and so the end of my weeks "holiday".

I too had an early start as I had to be back in Hastings first thing as some men were coming to put some metal work in my back passage.

(Move over John Inman. Graham Norton. Larry Grayson. Alan Carr. Julian Clary. Frankie Howerd etc. )

Don't forget I am now on Facebook, you can find me here. I am also on Twitter (ooh, get me!) you can add me @alexthedarklord or visit here.

And if you want to hear a record on the shoe - maybe one you haven't heard in years, one that means
something to you or just a darned good record you think would sound great, then I would love to hear from you. Submit your suggestions here.

And - last thing - make sure you download this week's Oddcast; the funniest bits from the week all mixed together in one bite-seized chunk. Click here.

Monday 5 September 2011


Not seen any live music for a week or two so was getting twitchy until my mate, Al Booth (who produces, among other things, The Bob Harris Country Show) said she had a couple of tickets for Brad Paisley at the O2 in London.

I had seen him before in a far small venue in London and he was amazing. Terrific guitar slinger and a demon songwriter, as well as making the most exquisite videos. If you have never seen the Vid for "Online" check it out on YouTube; it’s a peach! The only thing that marred his performance was his adoption of a faux "Briddish" accent from time to time. You don't need to do this Brad; we love you for who you are.

After the previous gig the record company or promoter sent me a questionnaire asking me what I thought. This was obviously in preparation for his major assault on Europe. I replied that he was a terrific performer but for the fake accent as it made me feel uncomfortable and him sound a bit of an idiot to these sensitive Old World ears.

Had he read the constructive criticism? No he hadn't. In fact, this time he was even worse! He - like many from across the pond - claimed British ancestry via his wife. Aaaauuugggggghhh!!!!!

I love America and its music but there is something about this thing they do that really grates. There is scarcely a U.S politician or celeb who doesn't somehow find out they are part-Irish or their great, great, great uncle came from "MANchesturrr".

I thought we had begun to move past that in an increasingly PC world.

How do US entertainers get on in other parts of the world?

"Hello be sure at all at all at all at all. Didn't I just see a leprechaun as I was drinking a pint of 'Gine-ness'?"

"Herro Tokyo rubbery to be here"!

"Bonjour Paris, j'aime les frogs legs et le surrendering"

"Achtung Berlin....invaded anywhere lately?"

"G'day Sydney, hands up who's a convict?!"

Wonder how we Brits would get on in the Mid-West?

"Howdy, Lexington married your 13 year old cousin yet? ptui ......tang!"

Try that and you would be full of bullet holes before you could say "right to bear arms"!

I suspect it is just me, but I though I detected Al shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

It also proves that as a producer for Bob she is an expert and I am merely an enthusiast.

Support act - Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame - was on fine form as well. When he launched into "It Won't Be Like This For Long", I muttered, "this is a cover, isn't it?"

"No. Track from his first album."

Ah. I heard it dozens of times on US radio and as most of the tiny stations in the Mid-West tend not to have DJ's outside of prime time (Eeeek!) no-one has any idea what is being played. So I had never put the two together artist and song.

With our new exciting Facebook feature I made a few short "films" of the gig and have posted them on there for you to have a look at, as well as other exciting and self-revelatory bits of video. Thrill to me in the pub eating pork scratching. Wow to me walking along Hastings Seafront. Be baffled by my early morning "Brown Mile" and get all unnecessary to my Fokker!

I can feel that there is a little of Stan Boardman in everyone.

"The Geermans bombed our chippie" (Repeat ad nauseam until the 70's draw to a close.)

Took Friday 26th August off, so the Dark Lady and I headed to France as we were running a little low on "Apericubes" (a tasty Gallic cheese snack) as well as wanting to catch up with some friends of ours who live in the middle of nowhere with little other than moles for company and a fine selection of food and wine.

As usual it rained but that didn't stop us having a fine old time and we were able to show them our tiny collection of several hundred pics from our US trip last June. It was gone midnight by the time we went to bed.

The following day we did a bit of sightseeing and found ourselves in a pretty little spa town Bagnoles de L'Orne which boasted a terrific chocolate shop. DL being an "L" is very keen on chocolate. Me being a "B" (fill in whatever that stands for in your eyes) is happy to come along for the ride.

It is amazing what they can make out of chocolate these days. Everything from eggs to shoes and - at this shop – great, erm, "art". For some reason a bright spark had decided that it would be fun to make scenes from the Kama Sutra out of chocolate.

So there in the window was a selection of tableaux that would make a Premiership Footballer in a post-match hotel bedroom celebration with several blonde strangers blush.

Frankly, not sure if this stuff was to be collected or eaten! Not really the sort of thing you would pass round at Christmas during the Queens Speech:-

"Choccie, Aunt Agatha?"

"Hmmm, lets see. Think I'll have the Tigress. I find the Congress of the Crow leaves a nasty taste in my mouth." N.B This is, erm, factually accurate.

Summer time and there are a number of Fetes/Fayres and other celebrations. So it was off to Bexhill the other weekend to visit Peterhouse, a retirement home for people from the advertising industry. It was fabulous and everyone made me terribly welcome. As a sucker for nostalgia there were loads of posters on the walls of the corridors of old and half-forgotten as well as completely forgotten advertising campaigns from years ago.

As this was the first time I had visited I was able to make "Short-But-Cheerful Speech 12A". If I get invited to places more than a couple of times I have to think of something else to say in my opening remarks before I declare the festivities open.

Note to anyone in the same position: they have come for the bargains and the food and drink. Get on and off as quickly as possible, they are not interested in what you have to say. If you time it right you will escape the wrath of the mob.

Then I got tucking in to the food and drink that was on offer.

Beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Last Weekend it was the Summer Fair at St Michaels Hospice in St Leonards-on-Sea. I have been involved with this charity for a long time now and I have always marvelled at the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers.

When it comes to events like this, the Dragon's Den mob could learn a thing or two as could the world’s best entrepreneurs. The volunteers can pounce within a nanosecond and before you can say "Good morning" your wallet is empty and you are tottering home laden with cakes, books, CD's and all sorts of other stuff. One stall I looked at was selling nick-knacks. This included something small and wooden with three knobbly rollers on it.

"What’s this?” I asked

"No idea," came the honest answer. It was either something to do with pastry or a massage device. One thing is sure though: that item is now at someone’s house being regarded with puzzlement by the purchaser.

“How did that get here?”

What don't you need on a nice hot day in late summer?

A heavy duty woolly hat, that's what.

I had barely walked through the door before I was the proud owner of said article and only managed to avoid a lengthy mohair scarf by running.

So if they would like to link up with the French Chocolatiers, I am sure they would have no difficulty selling any amount of confectionery Karma Sutra to Convents up and down the country!


Don't forget I am now on Facebook, you can find me here. I am also on Twitter (ooh, get me!) you can add me @alexthedarklord or visit here .

And if you want to hear a record on the shoe - maybe one you haven't heard in years, one that means something to you or just a darned good record you think would sound great, then I would love to hear from you. Submit your suggestions here.

And - last thing - make sure you download this week's Oddcast; the funniest bits from the week all mixed together in one bite-seized chunk. Click here.