Thursday 29 March 2012


Feeling pretty good about the teeth and eye during “MOT week”, the next job was to get my car serviced and MOT'd.

Seeing as how I bought the "Ford mid-life crisis" (it's not actually a Ford) 4 years ago as an ex demonstrator and that it has only covered 35,000 miles, I wasn't expecting any nasty surprises.

My brother-in-law has just had to have £2,000 worth of repairs done to his 3 year-old car with only 6,000 miles on the clock and the Dark Lady had had to fork out for damaged brakes on her three year-old car with about 20,000 miles on the clock.

Apparently there is a small radiator leak on mine. The air con needs re-gassing and only one of the twin air horns work making it sound like Noddy's car

So much for modern engineering. I don't expect vehicles to be immune from problems but it strikes me that they should last a bit longer than this before expensive bits go wrong. I thought the body was holding up pretty well compared to the car…until the tickle started in my throat. A couple of hours later I had a wheezy cough with the odd added sneeze for good measure.

Not sure if it is a cold or hay fever. Bob in the flats said a lot of people living there had gone down with it so I am hoping upper respiratory tract infection rather than hay fever. Or maybe that will be a treat in store for later in the year!

Then I woke up with a sore foot!

Is there no end to it? It feels like I have bruised it stamping along the pavement in my plimsolls.

However, being in this discomfort meant a minus and a partial plus: I had to cancel my skating lesson which was a shame as I was looking forward to trying out my newly-sharpened blades.

Met the Dark Lady in a break from her work as we had to go buy a new shower curtain and a kitchen bin. Whilst we were there we also started looking at bath towels. I am a big towel fan as I am a big fan of the bath and can easily spend two hours soaking in the tub.

However, purchasing a bale of towels with my adored wife is not a straightforward matter. DL likes to wander the shelves unfolding and refolding them and asking which colour suits; with this game you are not allowed to cut to the chase and simply say

"Let's have the red ones".

Oh no. You have to go through them all shade by shade.

"Red? Blue? Light blue? Orange? Pink? Green? Black? Yellow? Purple?

Not content with those there are the “girl-only” colours to be examined

"Taupe? Stone? Mulberry? Sierra? Ocean? Eau de nil? Verdigris? Avocado?"

This went on for such a long time that my bad foot started to protest and - ever concerned for my welfare - we left the store. Without towels.

I have a suspicion the DL thinks I was over-egging the injury in order to get out of the shop.....

OK then.... Prove it!

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Wednesday 28 March 2012


Off to the airfield yesterday in order to catch up on the flying (or "lie in", according to Strangelove); either my diction is now so poor or his hearing is duff due to all the VIP-only gigs he goes to.

Since I got my licence in 2010 I have not had a massive amount of time to fly. Unless you fly solo 12 hours in a 2-year period you have to take your test again. I need 7 more solo hours before September.

I have been converting to another aircraft which is based closer to London rather than travelling up to Halfpenny Green in the Midlands to hire the C42 from Hadair and its chief, the excellent Steve Wilkes.

Since last summer, long-suffering Keith in Upminster has had to put up with my glaring errors and general incompetence as I try and get to grips with his Jabiru UL450D.

The weather and holidays have been rather against us of late but was good enough Tuesday for us to go up for an hour. We went round the block a few times until Keith pronounced himself satisfied and just needed to show me how to operate the radio.

"feel between your legs. Next to the throttle you'll find a button. That's the transmit button."

"I can feel, it appears to be a bolt!"

"Other side of the throttle"

"Got it"

Once more round the block and out he hopped.

"Your go. Just do a circuit and watch for the wind eddying over the trees"

Ten minutes later I was back on the ground.

Yaaay. Now only need 6 hours and 50 minutes solo before September.

In the evening Dark Lady and I went to a showcase at the BBC to see a singer called Katrina from LA. No, not that one. She had a nice voice and stage presence although DL thought there was a bit of Bonnie Langford stage school influence in there which I agreed with. She was well received and afterwards we said hello just as a young bloke arrived with his camera. So being the seasoned pro that I am I grabbed her and posed for the pic cheek to cheek.

She whispered:

"I think he wants you to take a picture of me and him. NOT you and me!"

So laughing it off, I duly obliged and slunk away to catch up with the DL, who - oblivious to this huge blow to my gigantic ego - was already outside.

MOT week continues with a trip to the optician. Teeth Monday, now the annual eye test. I've been using pound shop readers since I lost my last proper pair a couple of years back. I thought I would wait as I didn't want to buy a new pair and then need another new pair if the prescription changed.

I had my eyes puffed at with compressed air for Glaucoma test and they took flash photos of the back of eyes leaving everything with a gentle purple rinse for a few minutes after.

In the dark the optician shone stuff, peered at me lenses, whirred back and forth and eventually the verdict:

1.75 up to 2.00. First change in 8 years so apparently not bad for a bloke my age. I Informed the Dark Lady of this fact who simply replied:

"Now let's get you some proper specs".

As you and I know: This means she wants to choose the frames!

Tuesday 27 March 2012


MOT week for me, starting with my annual dental appointment. Like many, dentists terrify me. Mainly due to grim childhood experiences of fillings and extractions under little or no anaesthetic.

I once went 28 years without a dental appointment until I realised that this was ridiculous and I should face my fears.

Amazingly all that was required were four fillings to be replaced. (Two had dropped out). One of the new ones was fashioned into half a molar as the original had snapped. A bit of a clean which was more painful than the fillings and I was as good as new. All done on the NHS, bless it.

So off I went. Into the chair. Teeth were counted. 4 missing due to childhood extraction in a failed attempt to make them less crowded. This resulted in four gaps! Soft tissue fine. Teeth fine. Quick clean and I was out again into the spring sunshine all in under twenty minutes courtesy of the NHS.

However, I may be alright but Producer Strangelove was in a terrible state when I arrived for Mondays show.

He is very proud of his hair. He is getting ready for a week in New York and wants to drive ‘em wild when he arrives.

Seems the hairdresser wasn't listening to his instructions. Or was daydreaming about their own holiday. End result: tonsorial calamity. Too much taken off in the wrong place.

I doubt there would have been a bigger scene if a surgeon told him he would be the new lead in Boxing Helena and so for realism. He would have to have both arms and legs amputated!

Luckily he managed to find another Mr Teasy Weasy to minimise the damage.

What I failed to understand was that only a week ago he was saying he may shave his head as it would be too hot on holiday!

After the teeth, next item on the agenda is my annual eye test.

Wow! Middle age is a rip snorting place to be!

Monday 26 March 2012


All fired up ready for the weekend then late Friday morning…it happened. Not sure exactly how. Stupidity? Lack of concentration? Creeping age and infirmity?

I bit my tongue.

When I related this tale to Strangelove the Producer he nearly fainted. He is not very good with this sort of stuff which may explain why he opted for this line of work rather than nursing.

Although the two fields are similar; in the case of broadcasting you are nursing huge monstrous but fragile egos.

A nasty ulcer sprang up and everything became difficult and painful.

Frythay nighth. Dark Lathy and I stayed and wathed a couple of Thee-V-Thees.

However, Sathuthay wasth the big thay.

Early we theth off for Glothsterthire to see friendth.

Lovely lunth. Although I founth it thifficult to eat.

Thame, really the footh was wuntherful.

In the evening we met thome other frienth anth hethed for a bar in Lunthun’s Hampthed to thee Edwina Hayes. You may remember thee thang a thong at our wething latht Dethember.

Capathity crowd in the Barth’s bathement. Thee was in fine voyth and altho very funny.

We had a tharriffick evening and thtayed up longer than we intenthed. We were rather wiped out on Thunday do did very lithlle.

Luckily the Bonjella was beginning to work ith magic. Tho by bethtime I wath nearly thpeaking normally again.

However, as you know from the show: clear diction is no guarantee of a trouble free show!

Thursday 22 March 2012


Another two hundred mile round trip today. This time to catch up with my dad, sister and brother in law. Oh, and the cat.

Speaking as the youngest person there (although not by a huge margin) we soon got onto the subject of age related memory loss.

My father, who is very organised, has for years kept a diary of events so he can tell you where he was been and what he was doing on any day, and what he will be doing in future days.

The other three of us trust to luck.

Nell and John, my sister and brother in law, are now retired and so are busier than they have ever been I think. It's difficult to keep track of what they are up to. They claim they can't remember what they were doing an hour ago, let alone last week.

I can remember what I was doing at certain times as my job revolves around it, so it is usually a safe bet to say that from 7.30PM to 1AM I am sleeping and from about 7AM until 10AM I am sleeping. The bit in between is "work" and the rest I can't remember.

However, where we all fall down is with names.

I have "Name Days" when I can't remember anyone's name so I have to go round the houses in an attempt to get my point across:

"Ah yes, I remember he was the king wasn't he? Came ashore in 1066 and beat err..." (this is where the felony can be compounded)

"The Saxon guy, the one who got the arrow. Not the one who burnt the cakes, the other one. They did the tapestry about him. You know, the one that is in the cathedral at... err... you know it's in France, Brittany I think. Begins with G."


"Yes that's it err... Gayeux"

"You mean William and it was Harald who allegedly got the arrow."

"Yes that's what I said wasn't it?"

I like to think it is in fact a family trait and it has nothing to do with age, so it is in the genes.

Years ago my dad and sister were out shopping and they bumped into someone my father knew.

"Hello doctor, how are you"?

"Er... fine" said my dad, completely stumped for the man's name, hoping he would introduce himself and when this was not forthcoming he introduced my sister.

"This is my daughter" he said, still hopeful.

Nothing came back from this man - no clue at all. Not realising, my lovely sister decided that it was only correct that she knew who was addressing her and so said:

"Well come on dad, aren't you going to introduce me?"

That was when the blank came to light.

My paternal grandfather (who was also terrible with names) used to try and garner a few clues and hope that this would jog his memory. If anything it probably made things worse.

"So how's the fishing coming on?"

"I don't fish"

"Sorry, I meant macrame"

"I don't do that either"

And so it would go on.

However, at least if that is the way round there is more chance of you getting a lucky break.

Friend of mine who is quite assertive has completely the opposite problem. He never forgets a name. Unfortunately, he isn't very good at remembering faces.

Once at a barbeque a man who he recognised came up and introduced himself:

"Hello David, it's Geoffrey"

"No you're not" he cried!

Any tips will be gratefully received, as this problem is only going to get worse.

Wednesday 21 March 2012


Spring is now here with a vengeance - so much so that I decided it was time for a good scenic walk around Britain's capital city.

I headed to the park after changing from winter leather to spring linen in the jacket department.

The sandals nestling at the bottom of the wardrobe were eyed but left.

Now, I am a married man with responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is not to come off like some wild-eyed frothing lunatic, so I also trimmed my beard and brushed my hair before leaving the flat. Nothing screams "wild-eyed frothing lunatic" more than a straggly beard and unbrushed hair.

To appear safe, benign and sane it is generally a good wheeze to be well turned out. This can be turned to your advantage if you have evil on your mind though, so it is not an exact social profile.

After all, Hitler was always well turned out and you'd have to go some to find a more malevolent individual.

Thinking about it, dictators generally are smartly dressed. Probably as they have access to the best tailoring, favour military uniform and can dazzle the eye with any number of self-awarded medals.

Just as well they tended to form their own youth "elite" rather than hijacking the Boy Scouts. Papa Doc Duvalier with a knots badge is certainly a thought to conjure with. Hmm, I wonder if The Boston Strangler was ever a Cub?

Speaking personally, I had nothing more cruel on my mind than perhaps scattering a few pigeons as I strode along.

Back to the park and it was a glorious morning and the daffodils and other sundry plants are blooming and budding.

With so many great places to go and visit, it seemed appropriate not to visit any of them. However, the tourists were out feeding our tottering economy.

Through the park I sashayed.

Down Baker Street I promenaded.

Regent Street came and went under my determined tread.

Into the heart of London's West End and the theatre district.

What to do - purchase tickets for a revival of "Pardon My Burnous, Boing Boing"? Or even "The Bed Before Yesterday"?

Nope - my footsteps took me to a discount record store where certain purchases were made, shortly to appear as part of Lester's Library.

I think I need to have a sit down and a rethink as far as making the most of spring is concerned!

Tuesday 20 March 2012


I think it may be time to face the fact I am a Philistine. (Philisteen if you are American). This revelation came halfway through a two hour Two And A Half Men marathon on Tuesday.

It wasn't that I was condoning the behaviour of the character that Charlie Sheen played as a drunken drug taking womaniser. Or himself frankly, if the headlines are to be believed.

It was just that whilst I was chuckling at some of the penis gags it occurred to me that I didn't know anything about art, or the classics, or classical music and opera for that matter.

The reason for this chastening revelation was my surroundings. My hometown Hastings is packed with artists and artistic types. It even boasts an area of town called Bohemia.

Portrait painter John Bratby was a resident. Robert Tressel wrote Ragged Trousered Philanthropist here. Mugsborough IS Hastings. Poet Fiona Pitt-Kethley. Cartoonist Martin Honeysett. The list goes on.

A quick Google gives you details of dozens of artists, galleries and exhibitions. The Jerwood Gallery is about to open in the Old Town and I am at home yukking at fart gags as usual.

Perhaps I should take up a brush and paint. Nah, can't draw and when it comes to home decorating I'm terrible with edges. Poetry?

"A few words to say should be easy to do. I can jot them down whilst I'm having a..."

Nah. That is harder than I thought too.

I KNOW: photography. If I can't create any other way, I can cheat by taking pictures of mundane things and giving them long explanatory titles as no one would know what they were otherwise.

"Bollard in grey. Encapsulating the way we humans feel trapped by our dull existence when the council hasn't any brighter paint."

"Hanging nest. Encapsulating the way we humans feel trapped by our dull existence yet still feel the urge to breed."

This is easy. There are a lot of proper artists around though.

However there are also quite a number who consider themselves gifted, but alas aren't.

A few years back a friend and I were having a pint in a seafront hotel, and at the next table a man we vaguely knew was scribbling noisily with cackles of glee. Every so often he would slam down a verse or two of the most appalling doggerel on our table for us to read, until in the end we had to politely ask him to stop.

With that he gathered up his belongings and swept out muttering darkly about ignorant peasants not understanding his genius.

I expect he now is making a living selling one of the staples of an artistic seaside town - sculpture made from driftwood and shells. I have heard of councils auditioning buskers so that they don't stand there murdering Knockin' On Heaven's Door for eight hours at a stretch.

So why not artists? Banning things made from household waste would be a good start. Flotsam and jetsam would be on the list too, plus anyone who decided to paint the beach launched fishing fleet and the curious tall black net huts would have their brushes confiscated.

Hmmm, I feel this rant is typical of a dictator. I think I had better just give up on this and go back to what I do best. Plus it's time for The Big Bang Theory - another US sitcom with bottom jokes!

Monday 19 March 2012


I'm not very good with meetings, as rather like school days the temptation to stare out of the window is very nearly overwhelming. Also I have little or no attention to detail and forms bore me so much that I find them very difficult to take in.

If you have followed my "career" via the radio or via the blog, you may know by now that when everyone else was on their gap year backpacking in Peru I was attempting to be a Civil Servant at the D.H.S.S in Walsall. I had been signed up as a CO! Yes, a Clerical Officer, with my very own rubber stamp with the word "UNEMPLOYED" on it, and not one but two ink pads - one blue and the other red.

This, try as I might, was just not for me, and after a very short time and large portion of the jobless in the West Midlands starving as their giros hadn't arrived it was traced to my incompetence and so I was demoted back to CA "Clerical Assistant" until I could safely leave and went to college to fritter away three more years staring out of the window.

The last attempt at being serious was a brief period as the "Promotions Producer" at Radio 2. This is a job with some responsibility for which creativity and flair are required, as the producer is responsible for the trailers and a whole lot of written information which finds its way to a variety of places including network controllers, press and publicity as well as the studios to be used by the DJs to plug other shows and special events.

I had somehow been given this job by a very nice man who somehow believed I could do it. Boy, was he ever wrong! Part of the job was to ensure that first thing on a Monday morning, a long and involved list of the promotional trailers for the week had been compiled according to network priorities after liaising with other radio networks and the BBC's TV networks.

This would then be taken into a meeting of controllers to be tutted and fussed over.

It was vital that:

1) It was accurate

2) It was ready with the exact number of copies on the dot of 9AM Monday

3) It was in a professional format so as not to bring shame on Radio 2

Things like this are tricky if you can't do forms and organisation. There are some who are brilliant at this like my then boss, who as well as taking a chance on me to do the job in the first place was a kindly man who was very rarely if at all raised to anger.

On this Monday I was (as usual) late in providing the information and he came hurrying into the office in order to chivvy me along with it. I think he found these meetings with very senior management rather hard going and his reputation rested on the efficiency of his department.

On this particular morning it was shortly after I had taken over, and despite having been sent on a computer course (more staring out of the window) I had only cracked one of the two computers that the department possessed. We had an early incarnation of the Amstrad home computer for internal stuff which had a rather feeble dot matrix printer, and a proper big one with an unfortunate name which had lots of terminals and a language that I never grasped. THIS was the one I was supposed to be using.

He took one look at me struggling tardily with the plucky little Amstrad, and the usual benign countenance darkened and he just exploded. I have rarely seen such anger. Apart from a producer who was a Jehovah's Witness, and so I thought supposed to be nice all the time, who had a meltdown when I got muddled up doing the Ken Bruce show once and played the wrong record cocking up a carefully crafted feature. That is is an open wound for another day.

"YOU'RE USING THE AMSTRAD!!!!!!" he shrieked turning several different shades of purple, clutching at his collar for air. "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE WANG!!!!!!!!"

Shortly after this I retired from production duties and returned to the airwaves, as I think it was deemed safer to have me on the radio rather than behind the scenes sabotaging it.

So now you have that bit of background back to the story. I had to visit an estate agent's in Birmingham in order to fill in a load of forms. To this end I had packed all the relevant items in my special executive carrier bag, and having done a little bit of shopping found myself in a swanky office in central Second City.

In order to find the relevant bits of information I needed to decant various items from the "briefcase" on to the desk in front of me, so I could have a good rummage and locate them.

Wonder what they made of me plonking a set of shoe tidies, a smoothie and a pink polka dot oven mitt on the desk?

I find the mitt is a good ice breaker. Perhaps they could be used more in senior negotiations. I like to think that David Cameron had one in his briefcase when he visited the White House recently. There could even be an exchange. Dark Lady has one of the New York Subway system.

After retreating from the estate agents, leaving some rather bemused real estate types behind, I drove back down to London and wandered into the house in order to put things away. The house being so small that I have to keep crates of CDs and such like in the garden shed.

When I was just finishing off the tidying I noticed some rather unpleasant marks on the carpet.

Oh no, one of the children had obviously stepped in some dog doo and had trampled it up the stairs. This was not on, and in my role as Victorian Stepfather I was going to have to have a severe word with those two I can tell you. They really should be more careful and responsible at their age. It doesn't take much to wipe their feet properly at the door. That is what mats are for, for crying out loud!

I was running late so quickly locked up the house and went to the bus stop to head into town.

After taking my seat, I noticed a rather unpleasant smell emanating from somewhere at the end of my leg.

On closer examination I realised that the terrible pong was due to the "doo" being on my shoe, not anything to do with the children.

So I decided not to take them to task and thought perhaps the best thing for all concerned was to keep quiet about it. Very quiet.

So far I have heard nothing.

Thursday 15 March 2012


A day of frenetic administrative activity which started with me blundering into the family home after the show and waking everyone as I looked for my car keys. Needed to head off from London up to the Midlands to see my dad.

At eighty five he is busily de-cluttering. Ever since my Mother died nearly ten years ago he has been de-cluttering. She liked clutter, so the house was full of curious kitchen implements that were bought on a whim, used once or not at all and put in a cupboard.

These were the first items that were de-cluttered, and many of them ended up at my house. In a cupboard. That they could "come in useful one day" was the reason they were not jettisoned entirely. I tell you, that ravioli maker, the pasta maker and the hinged omelette pan as well as the "Rumtopf" (no idea, it is a big green china jar) will all come in handy at some point... eventually... ultimately!

Straight up to see him without my usual snooze at the services on the M1.

Arrived about 8.30 and he was up and de-cluttering. This time he was culling his extensive library. He has always been a voracious reader and has hundreds of guide books, science books, books on art etc. Very cultured man my dad, which must come as a source of regret to him when he looks at his only son and sees a man addicted to cartoons and who likes fart gags.

"There are a load of books on the table in the kitchen if you want any of them"

There were plenty to choose from. Many I recognised as presents from Xmas and birthdays of yore.

None about cartoons and certainly none featuring fart gags so I opted for a book on gardening which I knew the Dark Lady would like.

Then it was off to Walsall to open a bank account.

There is a trading estate near the town centre, which if a purchase is made from one of the shops surrounding the parking the fee is waived. Luckily they are cheap homeware shops in the main.

Years ago upon discovering this, I would buy a tinned chicken and mushroom pie every time I visited. At least I think that is what they were, judging by the picture as the instructions were in Turkish. I built up quite a collection of these until the car boot was nearly full.

I think I had something like 34 of the pies in there before I actually decided to try eating one. It was vile. So The Clown Prince of False Economy triumphed once again, and they were unceremoniously dumped in the bin. Thirty four times bitten er... twice shy, so on this occasion decided to steer clear of the foodstuff and instead bought a pink spotted oven mitt which I thought "may come in useful one day".

Whilst I was heading back to the car I noticed something about the town of my birth that I hadn't noticed. Possibly a recent development and in these days of urban planning blight a very welcome one. Walsall is never going to win any prizes for the most beautiful place on earth, but it does have things going for it.

So taken aback was I by the sight before me that I filmed it and you can find it on my Facebook page.

Progress isn't always bad I thought, as I skipped to the car park in the spring sunshine.

Then I took my life in my hands as I attempted the tortuous road system to get myself to an estate agent's appointment in the centre of Birmingham.

£2.70 for an hours parking - gulp! Yes, this is certainly the second city I thought as clutching my executive briefcase containing all my important paperwork (see below) as I made my way to my meeting.

All this and the day was only half done.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of...

"Ordinary Bloke Has Ordinary Day!"

Wednesday 14 March 2012


The second part of the holiday was the French bit.

I have been going there for years and you would have thought by now I would have a reasonable knowledge of the lingo. Well, I know some bits quite well. Such as "Please", Thanks" and "Yes".

(Cue digression)

That was the title of a song from a long gone US TV kids show called "Howdy Doody" as I recall. I have it on an LP of the show soundtrack somewhere, as well as another very weird offering entitled "The World Seen Through The Eyes Of Howdy Doody".

It was a sort of documentary album which had bits from the TV show fading in and out of new reports from the era. There is a short clip of the show on a flickering television set at the beginning of one of the "Back To The Future" movies.

I may know the words "Please, Thanks, Yes" although not the lyrics to the whole song in English (and for the title at least in French) but I have yet to learn the French for another song from the show.

I think the programme was effectively aimed at brainwashing the American youth into good behaviour, although as I blogged during an American adventure a couple of years ago Americans use the word "sir" a lot when talking to you. (Unless you are a woman of course. Had to add that in case we were attacked by pedants.) However, it doesn't really modify their behaviour. Someone is just as likely to use the term when relieving you of your wallet at gunpoint down a dark alley in Toad Suck Arkansas as they are helping you across the road.

The merry song went like this:

"Do do a Howdy Doody do.

But don't do a Howdy Doody don't.

'Cos a Howdy Doody do will be good for you

But a Howdy Doody don't won't!"

With the help of my trusty online translation tool I can tell you that it supposedly translates as:

"Faites allo un Doody font.

Mais ne faites pas un doody allo ne font pas.

Parce qu'allo un doody fait sera bon pour vous.

Mais allo un doody ne fait pas pas!"

I may attempt to sing this for you in both languages on the show one morning, so make sure you don't miss a nanosecond.

Whilst on holiday and idly looking at the internet, I happened upon this wonderful translation from a town website which was offering information about civil rather than church weddings that could be conducted at the town hall:

"Vous vouler obtenir votre etat civil en contactant la Mairie de la ville?"

With one keystroke this turned into:

"You want your marital status by contacting the town hall of frogs?"

I wonder how self aware they are? An elderly man once told me "We call you "Les Rosbifs" and you call us "Frenchies". Erm that one was lost in translation I think!

This lengthy diversion from the main subject was mainly the lead up to a couple of pictures.

Whilst out having a stroll the Dark Lady and I were rewarded by spotting a mother and child of the red squirrel variety playing in a tree.

Then on the way back last Sunday night on the ferry as we left the port of Ouistreham on a millpond calm sea. The sun set.

In our tiny cabin the Dark Lady read the paper as I tried to get some sleep during the six hour crossing. This was the plan, for by the time we get back to London there is only two hours before I have to be in the studio.

In the cabin next door some natives obviously furious at some translation slur on a website decided to get their own back by turning their children up to full volume, making sleep impossible.

"Grenouilles Sanglantes!!"

Tuesday 13 March 2012


Do you suffer from the "ability gap?"

This is the difference between the job in your mind's eye and the reality of the job.

Another twist on it is the difference between your ability to do the job and the reality of your attempt. In other words abject failure each time you try.

The two above coupled with "activity amnesia" mean we just never learn from our mistakes.

Spring is here and the sound of power tools is in the air.

Yes, all those jobs around the house that you have been meaning to get around to are now going to be tackled.

Since marrying the Dark Lady last December there is now added impetus at "Lester Towers" (can also be "Lester Acres"). It is DJ law that anyone referring on the radio to their home has to use one of the two descriptions.

If you describe your abode on the air as your "farm" however, you are then immediately banished to a Saturday morning backwater on a small station in the Cotswolds where you can remember your heyday when you and your great mates went drag racing at Santa Pod on a weekend and wore funny costumes when introducing Top Of The Pops.

I have lived with certain things that needed fixing at my place for years - ever since I moved in at the turn of the millennium in fact. By now any self respecting person would have sorted everything out. However due to incompetence, inertia and the ever present spectre of high quality daytime teevee, important and less important jobs can be overlooked.

Plus to give her her due, when I first met the DL she was going the the throes of having a new kitchen installed. When your house is so tiny that half the ground floor space is kitchen, you can imagine how easy it is to grow to hate any form of building work. Scarcely had that finished then it was into a long period of refurbishment work at her work which involved the whole office moving to a different floor. Then back down again three months later. Although due to "slippage" I think it was more like four months by the time they returned to their usual home. Think of the disruption there!

Think of the number of computers and files and desk toys, gonks, photos of loved ones, bottles of pills, jars of hand cream and nudie calendars that must work out at. That is a lot of chaos!

So with this in mind, I realised that there were a couple of pictures that needed hanging as they had been leaning against the wall just by where they were supposed to be hung for nearly twelve years now. Plus I bought a new toilet seat and one of the fastenings didn't fasten due to a faulty nut.

By the time she came to stay this would all be fixed, I promised her.

The look I received was one I have seen many times before. A rough translation is "oh yeah?"

She is still scarred by my attempts a few months ago to replace her smoke alarm with one that was more suited to a kitchen, as it didn't go off every time the oven door was opened. (We are talking heat not smoke causing this to go off, I hasten to point out). I was able to replace one with the other fairly easily. Unfortunately, I also managed to remove a strip of paper from the ceiling in the process so that decorators had to be called in to make good.

I had tried to fix the loo seat some weeks ago and failed, which ended up in a middle aged mature petulant rage. Not quite lying face down on the carpet drumming my feet and hands but close.

So having visited Acme toilet fitting supplies, I managed to pick up some new hinges which to my utter surprise fitted without protest. Within fifteen minutes I had a serviceable khazi. Then to the easy part, or so I thought - the pictures. The small one went up with no difficulty. The larger one was going to need a little more security. Two screws were going to be required with rawlplugs too! (I have all the lingo. Move over Handy Andy)

First hole drilled and plug and screw securely fitted. Second hole and the first obstacle. The drill bit hit stone and refused to make a deep enough hole. In fact, it made a large hole in the plaster as it rattled about. Hmmm, move along the wall a bit. Same thing happened. Third time lucky and I now have a full complement of pictures with rather more holes than necessary. Although on the plus side you can't see the damage as they are hidden by a large picture.

After that success, we set off for France to see some friends. More on that in tomorrow's exciting installment of "The Man Who Didn't Do Much!"