Wednesday 30 November 2011


Another day of fetching and carrying. Dark Lady has been buzzing around doing last minutes bits of paperwork. Various administrative tasks have been completed including the final draft of our vows.

"What is mine is mine and what is yours is also mine" was rejected by the DL at an early stage.

"Yow oyes am loike limpid poowels"

This too was rejected for some reason. I was only trying to get back to my Black Country roots.

Vows are tricky as they have to mean something without making you want to hoot with derisive laughter. Or gnaw an arm off with embarrassment. Hopefully we will have avoided that.

Whilst I understand the sentiments behind "I Will Always Love You" or "Angels" being played at weddings and funerals my battle-hardened cynicism would have me on my knees slapping the floor with the flat of my hand whilst howling with uncontrollable mirth.

We are both big weepers so we may just sit there snivelling like babies.

I have not thought about my speech yet. I have a list of people to thank so have had a few thoughts that I need to process before I sit down and make a few notes.

Much advice has been given about speeches. Books have been written and people offer speech-writing services. I think the best way to go is to formulate in your head and have the odd note to point you in the right direction. Writing every word down it will sound rather false and halting and not sound natural at all, rather like those harrowing, trembling and emotional statements to the press that are made by the victim’s family after the verdict has been handed down in the trial of the alleged murderer.

As we have mentioned on the show many times over the years, "Strategic fainting" is always a last ditch option. When all else fails and things are crowding in on you…


Best story came from a lovely friend of ours who, at her wedding, the groom was so overcome with emotion that when he rose to his feet to make his speech no words would come out. He wept tears of happiness for himself and his lovely new bride and sat down again to thunderous applause without managing to utter a single syllable.

Now that could be a cunning plan!

May I just add my thanks to you for all your good wishes. Dark Lady and I are genuinely very touched by all the warmth and kindness you have shown, particularly with your long-suffering selves having had to endure me banging on about it every morning for weeks on end.

Tim Smith in charge for the next 6 shows and I'll be back on Monday 12th. Incidentally, he is now engaged as well! Better remind him that he should be setting a date!

You will still be able to follow me on Twitter (go here) and on Facebook (here). Plus, if it all gets too much and you are craving the sound of my voice, then why not treat yourself to an Oddcast (visit here).

Tuesday 29 November 2011


Had the car cleaned yesterday by a nice Nepalese chap. It is now pristine as he waxed it and vacuumed inside and out as well as doing the "shuts"!

I think they mean the edges of the doors etc. Every occupation has its jargon to give it a professional air and to make the person feel part of an exclusive club. I know how this feels every morning as I send “tone” and “prefade” my “jingles” on “OS2”.

This is about as far as I get with radio jargon. Dr Strangelove, with his more recent commercial radio background than mine, can talk at length about "dry sweepers”, “donuts" and "rolling crunches". No idea what this means but a casual ear on the opposition tells me these terms serve to suck the life out of it and render it bland and anodyne.

Now the car was pristine (apart from the stone chips, the kerbed alloys and the big scratch on the door where my Dad’s old bike fell against it) it was time to load it up with weddingy stuff and head out. I was so busy thinking about my speech I realised that I had forgotten to turn onto the M25. So by the time I had retraced my steps I had added an extra 20 miles to my journey. I was also very tired so stopped at the Services for a snooze.

An hour and a stiff neck later I was on my way once more.

Destination reached and car unloaded, I turned round and headed back. This time in daylight.

Rich pickings for the 2011/12 Truckwriting season. In a few miles I saw two RTNH's and one "Ride the Night Horse" on trucks. The word is out and I drove rest of the way with a broad grin on my face.

Then more chores. Although the Dark Lady is doing the lion’s share, I have a few things to do which included buying and delivering a train ticket to a friend who works in a swanky advertising agency.

I even got to have a quick look round. There were all sorts of creative types hard at work, every one of them on a laptop. There were other parts to their office including a room full of amps and guitars (maybe to make jingles) and a pool table (no idea why that was there). However, my favourite room was small and dimly lit and the Walls were papered with pictures of camels. Apparently they help the creative process. I am going to insist that Dr Strangelove sources one. Alive, dead and stuffed or a cardboard cut-out. Check out the programme and see if we sound more creative,

Monday 28 November 2011


Travelling weekend and one of cold and disappointments.

Drove from London to the Midlands in order to catch up with my Dad for the final time before the wedding. He was in fine form and a lot more relaxed than when I saw him last as - after a lot of soul searching - he has decided to pack in driving. At 85 he thought his reflexes were getting a little slow and frankly didn't want to run anyone over.

His Bus pass, his legs, his hot squeeze, June, and my sister will take up the slack.

He now walks down the supermarket with a rucksack and strides back with it full of groceries so he is getting plenty of exercise and saving money into the bargain.

Went to collect the jackets that I have had made for the wedding and the waistcoat.

The first jacket was made and is excellent. The waistcoat didn't have any pockets for my watch so had to be altered. There was a problem with the lining on the second jacket which is a bright colour to match the waistcoat. It didn't sit right to they had to send it back to be re-made. Then there was a flood at the sorting office as they tried to post it too me and so it was lost for over a week.

They then found it and offered to drive to London to deliver it. “No need,” I said, as I was going to be in the vicinity at the weekend.

When I arrived at the shop the smiling man told me there was a "problem".

Seems they had been pressing the jacket and the new lining had torn so they had replaced it with a black one!

"If I wanted a black lining I would have asked for one" I raged.

"Why didn't you phone and tell me?"

"We didn't want you to go ballistic whilst you were driving here"

Nice of them to think of my safety!!

They now have until this Wednesday to deliver the jacket with a new red lining to London or they will be in terrible trouble. Not sure what I will do but it will be bad tempered.

Then it was to the NEC in Birmingham for the Flying Show. Entrance was £6 but parking was £8. Grrrrrr!

In the ticket queue, middle-aged blokes were discussing flying and their experiences.

"What do you fly?" asked the chap behind me to another guy

"RANS Microlight"

"Nasty noisy smelly things. I’m A GLIDER PILOT!" he smugged.


I loathe this one-upmanship and us-against-them type "banter", just as the Group A pilots refer to "rag and tube" and lawnmower engines on flex-wing microlights; Microlight pilots often refer to the Cessna's etc that the Group A guys fly as "Spamcans"

I gave him the full force of my Paddington Bear 'Hard stare'. However, he was so busy enjoying his rapier-like put down that it bounced of his thick self-satisfied hide.

The flying show was really a chance to catch up with my former instructor, Steve Wilkes, and various flying chums and they were out in force. Just as well really as the show itself was very sparse indeed with only a few planes on show. Plenty of leaflets to be had, but very little hardware to ogle.

Then off home to discover the boiler had failed. Brrrrrrrr!

With my impending nuptials there comes responsibility so Sunday it was up early and drove to London to watch the Dark Stepson play football. It was held on a windswept icy pitch in Enfield along with other teams playing round and about. Important match as his team which was second from bottom of the league were playing the bottom of the league team.

Dark Lady was already there and we bumped into Nicola whose lad was on the other team. So we huddled for warmth and tried to remember which side to cheer on.

The Dark Stepson played very well, I thought, with some excellent headers. However, when the final whistle went they lost 1-0. This meant that despite some great chances they left the field the losers in more ways than one. They then swapped places with the team they had just lost to at the bottom of the league. Never understood sport and this whole competitive thing. All that effort in the freezing cold and you go home dejected.

Still, a hot bath and restorative Fajita's and he was restored to his normal sunny self.

Just before bedtime we decided to check on the second of the two large lanterns we had bought for the ceremony. We wanted candles on sticks but the only ones we could find were too small and so I pointed out to the Dark Lady they would look like the "Henge" in the film, This is Spinal Tap.

So we ordered a couple of huge lanterns off the internet. First one arrived, the second one was "still on the van". Just as well we checked it as it was broken. Left DL frantically trying to sort it out and went to bed.

Everything is nearly sorted for the big day. We both have lists of things to do.

Hers is down to about 60 items, she tells me.

My list has one item on it. It reads:


Thursday 24 November 2011


The countdown has started in earnest to the big day. Chris Evans kindly wished us well on his breakfast show the other morning.

We've ordered the flowers. The cake has been tasted and ordered. The room is booked. The invitations have been sent out and the replies have arrived. The seating plan has been done. The legal bits have been done. Vows written and rehearsed without sniggering or nausea. We have run through the order of service and are now praying the weather is kind and everything goes according to the plans.

All this for a very low key and informal wedding. Am I nervous? No. I am slightly tense as I want everything to go according to plan as I want to see the Dark Lady's face as she enters the room and sees me in my finery. I have been teasing her that I'll be wearing a suit of lights like a matador. However after "discussions" that idea has been shelved.

Instead I have ordered two jackets in different styles and a waistcoat. The fitting took place some weeks ago and the first jacket arrived without problem.

The second one had to be sent back as the lining wasn't fitted to the tailor’s satisfaction. The waistcoat was a perfect fit but unfortunately they had omitted the pockets as requested for my watch!

All has now been rectified and I was told they would be arriving last week. The deadline came and went. As I mentioned in a previous blog, seems there was a flood in the sorting office and the label was washed off the parcel.

A call to the shop and they promised it would arrive on Monday.

This became Thursday of last week. By Monday patience was wearing rather thin and seems they had lost the parcel at the Post office once more. So the manager of the store had to go and find it.

Wednesday and I was assured they had found it and had returned it to the shop to press it once more before the manager offered to drive from Birmingham to London to personally deliver it. I am up in the Midlands this weekend so I'll be stopping by the Tailors so I can try it on and pick it up in person.

If there’s a further cock-up I shall probably be rather testy with them!

Dark Lady is busy doing the Wedding favours and had run out of ribbon so I was dispatched to a haberdashers to buy metres of the stuff which had to be a certain colour and a certain width. Not sure what it is all about but I'm sure the end result will look like her fabulous!

There is a big file at her house which contains all the vital information including swatches of fabric for her dress. I have been avoiding it like the plague for two reasons. There are a load of bills in there which we are splitting 50/50 as is only fair. So far she has paid for most things. At the last tally it seems she has shelled out several thousand quid and my share had been the insurance which worked out at £55.

The other and more important reason for me staying away is that there are pictures in there and fabric from the dress. If I were to see that before the event there would be hell to pay: massive disappointment and the inevitable superstitions would kick in.

If the file is ever opened I retreat to the far end of the room in case my eye falls upon something it shouldn't.

I am sure this aversion therapy could be used either in defence or medicine. Just how, I am puzzling.

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Called to a central London venue Tuesday evening for a glass of wine and some things on sticks, this was the annual Radio 2 austerity beano. In this day and age we don't do parties like we did years ago.

It consisted of a pep talk by The Controller, a review of the year gone by including a fleeting glimpse of yours truly on stage in Hyde Park for our festival in a day bellowing, er, "BELLOWHEAD".

Fleeting maybe but this is a distinct improvement on last year when I didn't feature at all. This is a remarkable improvement on the view the then controller held when I first arrived at 2 24 years ago. There used to be a presenters lunch which I wasn't invited to as night time guys weren't deemed important enough.

Lewis, the Head of Talent (love that title, my ego is swelling as I type), gave a run down of some of the main events of the year and announced David Jacobs is now back at work after a spell in hospital. This got a rousing cheer as he is not only a legendary broadcaster but one of the nicest and most genuine people it has been my good fortune to meet in this business which can be peppered with back stabbing and two facedness ( if that is a word).

Lewis also announced my impending nuptials which also raised a cheer which was heart-warming.

Robert was up next who, as Head of station sound, is a very senior figure who used to be my assistant years ago when I was a producer. He gave a run down of some of the events and specials you will be hearing in 2012. I can't tell you as the info is top secret, but I will say you are in for a treat next year.

Then a team photo. Being the shortest apart from Jamie Cullum (who unfortunately couldn't make it),Janice Long, Craig Charles and Trevor Nelson, we worked our way to the front.

After that we mingled and chatted for about an hour until we all dispersed.

Due to the hours we keep this is about the only time we get to meet and chat. So it was good to catch up with Ken Bruce and Chris Evans as well as Claudia Winkleman, Lynn parsons and meet Ryan Tubridy for the first time as well as Zoe Ball. She's very tall!

Hailed a cab and driver asked me if I had been to a party. The season has started apparently for the Christmas parties. He had just been ferrying doormen to a mobile phone company party in south London.

"They need bouncers at an office party?"

"Yeah. Last year, apparently, the Slough branch had a fight with the staff from the Lewisham branch!”

Tuesday 22 November 2011


As I mentioned on the show this morning, it has been a few days of sweet destruction.

Not entirely sure why this happens. Perhaps if I was a scientist I would be involved in enormous in-depth costly research as to why it happens.

Everything can be going along seemingly swimmingly and then one damp Thursday afternoon it can all come suddenly crashing down.

The first inkling I had was last week when I fished my underwear from the washing machine and noticed two or three pairs of undercrackers had holes in them. They had seemed perfectly OK when I wore them, then suddenly they were dusters.

One day the draw was full of perfectly serviceable pants. The next they were rags.

There is the urban myth of the perfect car which you have probably heard.

If you have ever owned a car you will know they can be massively temperamental. Just as one bit has been replaced, another part wears out. The story goes that a boffin…

…realising that the company that builds the perfect car would clean up in the cut throat motor market, set to design just such a machine. Just imagine what this would do to TOP GEAR and Jeremy Clarkson?

"I'm driving the PERRFEECTT CAARR. I can't think of anything to complain about at AALLLL".

In fact if the car was designed by a gay, vegetarian, non-smoking Frenchman, poor old Jezza would just explode as all his prejudices came home to roost.

So the story went that having identified which bits wore out and at what rate. They strengthened this bit. They shaved a few microns off that bit. They re-routed that bit and twiddled some other parts until they had created the perfect car.

Off they drove for months of intensive road testing. Up hill and down dale they sped. Over bumpy surfaces in freezing conditions. Across baking deserts in sand storms. Hell they even braved the M25 in the rush hour.

All worked perfectly and the boffins were pleased.

One damp Thursday afternoon one of the boffins decided to take the prototype for a spin.

Just outside Mansfield he hit a small bump in the road and heard an ominous sound as every single part on the car wore out simultaneously and he found himself sitting the road clutching a steering wheel as all around him lay the remains of the perfect car.

Back to my story. So, after the great underpants failure I decided it would be a good idea to listen to some tunes ready for "Lester's Library". Clutching an armful of likely CD's I headed for the CD player. Every single one I inserted it refused to play. There would be some rattling some whirring the odd clonk and then the display would declare triumphantly.


So looks like Santa is going to have to get me a new one or it could be a rather silent household and it would make my job rather harder.

So that's two bad things in the falling apart area. What was going to be the third?

Sudden unexpected and catastrophic trouser failure.

I was at the Dark Lady's house doing a few "Man chores", which generally means eating the contents of the fridge and watching TV. I had been to visit her elderly mother to collect her old and rather overcomplicated microwave oven to replace it with a simpler easier to understand one. I carried the box into the house intending to put it in the shed for safe keeping. As I crouched down (not bent) to undo the bottom bolt on the back door, there was an horrendous rending sound and a draught.

A few months ago in the sales I had espied a pair of "designer" jeans reduced to the price of an ordinary pair so they were tried on and snapped up. DL really liked them and told me how good they looked on me. (I have told you before: this woman is a total saint).


So much for that "bargain". With no replacements handy I had to shuffle like a bent and elderly person onto a bus full of schoolchildren whilst trying to keep everything out of sight and scuttle back to my place to change into a replacement pair.

I may have to steer clear of bargain "designer" clothing. Still had my "wardrobe malfunction" occurred on US TV I would doubtless have had an angry mob marching on my house with lighted torches. Having said that, splitting his trousers on stage in Luton and subsequently being banned from TV and a theatre chain as a result didn't do a lot for P.J Proby's career either.

Monday 21 November 2011


Back in Hastings for the weekend and frantic house-tidying and towel-counting.

Towel counting? Come the big day, a host of relatives are descending on my house and they all kindly offered to bring towels and sheets to save me doing a lot of laundry. However, the "small man" in me won't let them.

If I stay at theirs they don't expect me to bring my own bedding, probably as I am the youngest of this branch of the family and for many years lived a rather nomadic existence. My housing was always rather student-like, although not quite so studenty as student friends of mine when I was a student. (Lot of uses of the word "student" there, sorry).

I lived at home with my Mum and Dad and caught the bus every day to go and be a student. Sex and drugs and rock n’ roll were not high on the agenda as a result, mores the pity. Other friends were away from home for the first time living in appalling accommodation which probably would not be allowed in this day and age.

One such house had no hot water and the loo was actually behind a half door off the kitchen; sometimes it was difficult to tell where the cooking smells ended and the....well, you get the picture. The carpet in the living room was made from a stolen carpet sample book from which the individual leaves had been torn and nailed to the floor. No letter box and the wind howled down the hallway. It was dire. Filthy. Freezing…and to me impossibly exciting!

So now I am enjoying a more comfortable existence I refuse to revert to those student days and – as I have a perfectly good washing machine and tumble drier - if people come to stay, they shouldn't have to bring a sleeping bag!

Dark Lady had been working very hard all week at her office in London so grabbed a train down and I met her at the station. The winter light seemed nice so I took a short video clip of her train arriving which is now on my Facebook page. (Click here to see it).

Saturday morning and it was up to St John’s church for their annual visit from "Alex Lester's short but cheerful speech 12A".

Everyone is terribly kind and indulges me. They fussed over the DL and we had excellent cake which is a terrific draw. Seemed an excellent turnout, too.

Judge for yourself via the two other short video clips on Facebook.

Managed to pick up a couple of stocking-filler presents for family members whilst I was about it and we headed off to the pub that evening to meet with our friend, Clive, who is going to be one of my two "Best Men". Two because I am unable to choose and both Clive and Simon both have unique abilities and talents that will help make things go well with fun and efficiency. Odd that it must be an age related thing that the moment I type the word "Efficiency" I am thinking of naked people playing volleyball in old black and white movies!

Saturday afternoon we had been down to Jonny Swanns seafood stall in the old town to pick up some bits for a Paella. I have the dish which I bought in Spain in about 1982 and DL has the ability to do the cooking. However, we stayed rather longer in the pub than we expected to so somehow never got round to making it and ended up at the Chinese takeaway instead.

Sunday it was back to London with a car smelling vaguely of squid and other sea-related foodstuffs and into the kitchen for the makings.

When I say "the makings", I organised the DVD player and inserted Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry and got the table ready whilst the Dark Lady did the work.

Even though I say so myself I think this is an ideal division of labour.

Only two more weekends to go until the big day. Everything seems to be on track although due to a flood my jacket hasn't arrived from the tailor. I hope it didn't get wet or it may have shrunk! She may march down the aisle to join her intended Norman Pitkin at the front of the hall.

Wednesday 16 November 2011


Out yesterday, stocking up on a few DVDs for the weekend. Dark Lady and I do like to chill on the sofa with a good film after a tiring week (she has tiring weeks, I just get tired due to the unsociable hours, as I'm sure you do).

We are trying to build up a collection of the Woody Allen catalogue. So I was delighted when I found another three of his that I'd not seen.

Are also big fans of romance so the other week we sobbed all the way through The Lake House with Sandra Bullock. Have lent the DVD to producer Dr Strangelove who is also a big weeper. Expect to see his crumpled red-eyed face first thing Monday after he's wept through the weekend, although he did say yesterday morning that he wished it was Christmas, so much so he had Gremlins and Home Alone ready for Friday night.

Whilst in the shop I also had a peruse of the CD shelves in case there was something I missed.

At last I found a Kevin Fowler album containing the track "£ sign" This is a fun tune I heard on my last US road trip and seemed to go down pretty well when I played it yesterday on the show. One of the other tracks on the album was called "Don't Touch my Willie"; this reduced some members of the programme team (there are only the two of us: Strangeo and I) to sniggering adolescents. It is about a first date and a guy’s record collection: Willie being Willie Nelson. OK, you were ahead of me on that one.

Whilst on my way back home I passed one of those “boys shops” that sell computer parts, radio controlled cars and, for me, an aluminium CD carrying case, ideal for transporting the Lester’s Library tracks to and from the studio.

This - in my mind’s eye - is "professional DJ equipment”. I was transported to a life on the road. Heading from one exotic location to another to DJ in front of thousands of excited young people at clubs festivals and raves. I am Fat Boy Fat. I am DJ Ludicrous. I am Lethal Drizzle!

I trudged home knowing after a couple of days the box will be full of odd bits of paper, the odd CD and sweet wrappers. Hey, I can dream.

See you in Ibiza!

Tuesday 15 November 2011


As I've mentioned on the blog before, it is a curious time of year where one festival rolls into another all the way to Christmas.

As we live in a multicultural society there are far more events in the British calendar.

So the Divali fireworks gave way to the Guy Fawkes ones and there was Halloween too. My neighbours, who are Sikh, got into the spirit of things with a fine display of corpses in their front garden.

Amidst all this there is Remembrance Day. It is heartening to see it is being given a little more respect than it has been. It is a shame it takes sacrifices by our troops to bring it to public attention.

Dark Lady had been furious about lack of poppy purchasing opportunities last year. She claimed she had to hunt high and low until she found a vendor. So this year I bought one for both of us. (By that I mean one each, by the way!) The moment I arrived home beaming with my purchase I noticed she already had one.

"What has happened this year? The poppy sellers are everywhere!"

I am glad they were as my first one only lasted a couple of days before it vanished. The second one lasted the course. DL being a girl attached hers with a safety pin so it wouldn't work loose.

However, those harrumphing at declining standards may recall as I do a ‘Til Death Us Do Part episode where Alf’s wife admits to repairing Alf’s poppy each year so he doesn't have to buy another.

Now Christmas is upon us, with a pop up Christmas shop opening a few doors away, the TV ads for the big stores are being discussed in print and on Internet forums. Wonder if we will start to think about it's meaning in the same way we have reassessed Remembrance Day?

A Jamie Oliver pudding to your M&S Turkey says NO!

And speaking of Christmas, start thinking of your Christmas Listener's Library records now; think of those festive tracks that you don't always hear every year and let us know here.

Monday 14 November 2011


Revenge of the Nerds. As you know, if you are a regular, every three months DJs get together in a bore-a-thon. We eat and drink too much and talk about jingles and playout systems (the technology that gets the tunes to you now that we don't do 78s vinyl or CDs any longer. Well. rarely).

Friday and we met in a pub in London. Then went to a pizza place which apparently - according to author Louis Barfe - was the home of recorded sound in the UK.

It was also the home of indifferent Italian food, sadly. Mine arrived lukewarm and last. A bit like the fifth Osmond.

After eating we headed out to find a pub for a couple more hours of yarning, boasting and grumbling. We managed a swift couple in two pubs before they shut up shop. London, what are you doing? "The city on the Thames. The city that never sleeps". It was shameful. Still, come the Olympic games no athletes are going to be in danger of ruining their form or getting front page headlines due to bad behaviour if everyone is tucked up by midnight.

Some of the Nerds had travelled a long way to be with us. Now due to the fact the signals have stopped working on the trains due to cable theft, some of them didn't arrive until gone ten as a result of the delays. Need act really our together we get to!