Wednesday 31 October 2012


Taking time out from flat tidying. I am now knee deep in bags. Tuesday evening Dark Lady and I headed out on a date.

I'm rather amazed how much stuff I've accrued over the last four and a half years. When I think of the tons of stuff I've lugged up and down stairs I get perhaps a slight idea of what an ant must feel like. Drudgery day after day lugging dead stuff around.

For some reason I often think of what life must be like for undertaker beetles. They get their name apparently as they bury corpses in which to lay their eggs or whatever it is they do. They also help to keep the wilderness clean.

However, if you are a terminally lazy beetle and you round a corner to find an elephant or wildebeeste has just carked it, what goes through the mind?

"Oh s$#@**"!

…is probably an educated guess. Followed by

"Why couldn't it have been a mouse?”

So leaving packing and cleaning aside, I met the DL at her office and we headed to the Royal Albert Hall to see Diana Krall.

I've played a track from her new album, Glad Rag Doll, on the show in which she covers songs from the early part of the last century.

For those expecting her to be the breathy jazz chanteuse that has won her Grammy awards and million-selling artist…they were in for a surprise.

She and her band were dark. Tom Waits dark. In fact she covered a couple of his songs (as well as tunes by husband, Elvis Costello, and even Bing Crosby) to a backdrop of period film clips and also - incongruously - The Clangers and Stingray!

The only part of the show that didn't work for me was when the band left the stage and she switched from grand to upright piano and attempted some Fats Waller and boogie woogie.

She played for over two hours without a break and the hushed and reverential audience including us lapped it up.

It was also nice to go to a show where nobody on stage felt it necessary to yell


Monday 29 October 2012


So the clean-up is now starting in earnest. The countdown to the flat move has started in earnest.

I've bought sturdy bags of the type people use to transport duvets or their worldly goods if they are unfortunate enough to be homeless.

The plan is as follows. I get the keys to the new considerably smaller flat on Thursday. By then I want everything to be packed up and the current place to be clean and ready to be handed back with no quibble from the letting agent who can then inspect it and give me my deposit back.

So I've been packing stuff into bags, packing stuff away and packing things into the bins outside.

This was going pretty well until I was hit by a wave of ennui dahlings. So strong was it I had to go for a walk.

It looked like it was coming on to rain. Frankly I didn't care. I needed to get away from the cleaning.

Whilst walking along the canal towpath, the head cleared and I realised I needed a bucket.

So I strode in the direction of the supermarket and bought an "Acme Supersplosher Pro". Or something similar. In a world where everything is getting more and more expensive it is gratifying to note that buckets are still comparatively cheap.

It's also useful for taking your shopping home in. So I trudged back to the flat with a bucket filled with vegetables, individual Shepherds Pies, toilet tissue and a birthday card.

The bucket was £3. Less than the price of a pint. So next time you are out pouring beer or exotic cocktails down your neck on a Saturday night. Think how many pails that purchases!

Wednesday 24 October 2012


Up in the Midlands to see my Dad and run an important errand.

Chez Lester. We are homemaking. This involves standing around as the Dark Lady reels off a bewildering array of colours that look red to me. Some of the others may be brown, I think?

I've mentioned this often before but there is no way men can be accused of being the rulers of the world if we don't know what colour it is!

Having followed some of the U.S. election and its debates recently, maybe a crucial question should have been posed by the moderator:

"What, or where, is taupe"?

President Obama would probably have given a long and carefully argued case for more investment in it. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, would suggest that it was a threat to National security and should be bombed immediately, neither of them having a clue as to what it was they were describing.

Perhaps they should let Michelle and Ann - their respective wives - deal with policy. The world would probably be a better place with less macho posturing.

It would certainly look and smell better.

So after a quick Cup of coffee I went to a haberdashers to look for curtain material. I had been furnished with a swatch of sofa material to compare with the stuff in the shop.

(Guys, a swatch – apparently - is a scrap of cloth you wave around near other material until, as if by magic, it tells you what to buy. It's a bit like water divining).

The 21st century plan was for me to take pictures of the stock with my newish phone and email them to the Dark Lady hard at work in her office. She could then instruct me as to what matched. I had all the measurements. So once a decision was reached all would be fine.

I emailed the first no problem. The second picture froze in the phone and despite a good signal took 25 minutes to send.

At this point I gave up. However, I do have 20 photos of possible curtain material. Most of which look the same to me

Furious at being thwarted I stomped off to the nearest branch of Acme Fones.

One new SIM later. A deluge!

Tuesday 23 October 2012


Sunday and I headed to the Dark Lady's abode for a family lunch and to avail myself of her superb cooking.

We love our quiet Sundays together. There is the prospect of a walk that all often ends up as just that. A prospect.

She works very long hours as well as being a Mother, having an elderly Mother of her own to look after and now me. No wonder the poor girl is worn out by the weekend.

So I often join her on the settee after lunch and we'll watch a film or two.

We like pretty similar things although she's not wild about slapstick as I have mentioned before in the blog.

This time we watched The A Team which was confusing but fun. Then on a Liam Neeson roll went for Taken.

The harrowing and bloodthirsty tale of an ex-special forces guy who's 17 year old daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers.

We were gripped. However we both independently were irked by the actress playing his daughter, clumsily reinforcing her youth and lack of sophistication by running everywhere.

It was an annoying skitter fest.

As the proud Stepfather of a cool and assured 16 year old, I've not noticed an abundance of skittering. Enthusiasm, yes. Skittering, no.

When that was over, sadly it was time to head for bed as the Dark Lady stayed up to watch my first appearance on Janice Long's Review Show on Vintage TV.

It was lots of fun recording it with Janice, Paul Hardcastle and Gary Christian.

There's another edition this Sunday at 8.30pm. Don't miss it.

Some of you saw the first one and enjoyed it including a very nice lady Dietician who very politely pointed out that I was too fat!

In my defence, the cameras pile on the pounds and I was slumped on a tiny stool. However, point taken, I shall redouble my dietary efforts. Although the last time I saw the Doctor everything appeared to be functioning normally. Long may this continue and, all joking aside, I genuinely appreciate your concern.

Monday 22 October 2012


After another week of cramming in massive amounts of not doing a lot, couple of visits to the gym, flat-tidying and not going flying because it was too windy…

I went home on Friday and slumped on the settee and flicked on the TV.

As I drove round the M25 my heart was warmed by the sight of a couple of lorries bearing this year’s Truckwriting Season slogan: SLOGAN standing for "Sexy Lester, our god at night". (You can hear the irony oozing out of that phrase. However, you invented it and I have no shame so we are all winners here.)

When I got home and had finished opening the post I was exhausted, so I flicked on the TV and watched stuff.

I'd recorded some music documentaries from BBC 4 including a very touching one about Squeeze which I love. Also one on Dave Davies of Kinks fame. He lives on the Moors these days and is into UFOs.

Think there may have been some lifestyle-induced collateral damage judging by some of his pronouncements.

There was sort of a parallel between his relationship with his brother Ray Davies and that of Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze.

They love and respect one another but find it very hard to be round each other for any length of time without wanting to murder each other.

After all that hard effort it was pub time. I'd set the oven to cook the pie. So when I lurched back in I was rather put out not to smell the delicious aroma of chicken and mushroom.

So I fired up the stove and went and got a Chinese takeaway instead.

It was a hearty breakfast of pie and beans the following morning I can tell you!

Saturday I just vegged.

I spent the whole day watching the telly.

There are a lot of episodes of Air Crash Investigation and Planes That Never Flew. I also managed to catch a bit of some people dissecting a Leatherback turtle.

It looked like a giant pie case!

Wednesday 17 October 2012


It’s off to a cracking start this year as we roll out the 2012/13 truckwriting season slogan which this year is, er, SLOGAN.

I can't remember a better start to a season, Brian. (Sorry. Football manager speak getting to me there).

I love the way you take it to your heart and - thanks to social media - there is now the added bonus of instant interaction complete with pictures.

We hope to develop this still further and hope you'll help us in our endeavours.

I mentioned football manager speak earlier. It's interesting how external events can colour and change your view of things.

Back in the mid-80's, I was working in commercial radio in the North-East and one of the features on my show was "Ask Alex, a direct rip off of Jim’ll Fix It.

I've told this story on the show before but now it's going to be harder to relate because of recent events.

Rather like mentioning Dunblane or Lockerbie, due to terrible happenings, that is where the mind goes first. The memory of a TV show is now forever tainted

A 14 year-old football mad lad had asked to be taken round Ayresome Park, the then Middlesbrough football club ground.

I fixed it and we were shown round by one of the stars of the club, Heini Otto. This kid knew everything about the club and its then manager, the late and flamboyant Malcolm Allison.

He was a veteran and well versed in football manager speak.

He'd also recently been in the tabloids after having been discovered having an affair with a leggy dancer.

We rounded a corner and spotted him so asked if the lad could have a few words.

First rule of football manager speak: get the name of the interviewer into your answer as often as possible. This gives the impression you know them and actually care.

Having asked the youths name, Big Mal said

"Fire away, son"

"Mr Allison, do you think your affair has had a detrimental effect on the team’s performance?"

I wanted the ground to open up. I was so embarrassed.

"Well, Kevin" said the great man.

"I always try to keep my private life separate from my work"

Big Mal is now in the big stadium in the sky and the "kid" will now be in his forties. I wonder how he turned out? He'd have made a great journalist!

Tuesday 16 October 2012


As I have detailed before in this blog, after the show is over I snatch a few hours sleep before its back to the grindstone. Sorting stuff for the next days show. Or attempting to be the perfect husband.

Already I feel I'm losing you on this one. I must admit the definition of work is reminiscent of the lyrics to Dire Straits "Money for nothing" (without hopefully the homophobic comments contained in the words of the album version.)

You may remember the song was banned briefly in Canada. However, as with so many examples of tabloid-induced public outrage, the context was missed or ignored.

It does seem that with the advent of social media it is far easier to be angry than it used to be.

In the old days if you were furious you had to put pen to paper and write to the newspaper or the source of your annoyance.

These days you can tweet, Email or Facebook your fury and at the same time provoke mass outrage enlisting others that builds into a mass movement of people, very often largely ignorant of the cause of the anger but anxious to complain.

I can still remember a furious letter I received early in my career. A listener incoherent with rage berating me for suggesting that you should give children drugs!

I was horrified. As was the management. This could be the end of my broadcasting career.

Tapes of my programmes were examined in detail. Eventually we realised what the complainant was objecting to.

An off the cuff remark about Christmas in response to a letter about the tyranny of family visits and expectations over the festive season.

I had suggested that a good way to ensure you never had to visit relatives on the 25th was to give their kids a set of DRUMS!

Sorry. Tangent time there. I had just intended to tell you that I spent the day waiting for the burglar alarm service engineer. He turned up on time. Did his job and went. Not such an interesting story perhaps.

Monday 15 October 2012


Over the weekend, Dark Lady and I had the exciting prospect of a big TV.

We both like the TV. I like music documentaries, US comedies, cartoons, plus programmes about cars, buses, trains. In fact any transport-related stuff.

Her tastes are rather more sophisticated: News and current affairs, wildlife documentaries, sport, drama, with The Voice, X Factor and Strictly as guilty pleasures. She can multitask being a girl so can work on her computer with one of the "talent" shows on in the back ground.

Our tastes coincide with films. We both like road films as we both like driving holidays. We love comedies and are working our way through the complete works of Woody Allen.

I think it was our third date when we discovered one of our favourite movies was The Party, a rather odd Peter Sellers vehicle about an idiot film extra.

The only area of dissension is slapstick. I'm a big Laurel and Hardy and Marx Brothers fan.

She – sadly - is not. Whilst I doubt it will damage our relationship, it is a cause of some sadness knowing we'll probably never snuggle up on the settee together chuckling at the Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello.

She is also a mite disappointed that her husband will never be able to watch X Factor without getting annoyed at the obvious cynical manipulation of the audience, the generally mediocre performers and the hysterical audience shrieking with delight when one of the acts managed to hit a high note.

To this end I usually try and busy myself elsewhere in case I spoil her enjoyment.

So it was with some excitement we settled ourselves down in front of this enormous flat screen TV with a Blu Ray 3D DVD player attached.

I'd bought Gnomeo and Juliet, a sensitive reworking of the Shakespeare classic using, er, garden gnomes.

In order for it to work we had to don special specs. Unlike others I have used these were battery powered.

We enjoyed the film. Me for the pratfalls and broad comedy. Dark Lady for the clever parallels with the original play.

We both agreed the 3D was excellent. It was only when I collected the special electronic specs and went to turn them off that I discovered her pair hadn't been turned on in the first place!

Thursday 11 October 2012


I can remember my late mother and also the elderly mother of an ex-girlfriend of mine who found it a chore to do more than one thing per day.

I used to scoff at this lack of drive and energy. However as I get older myself, I am beginning to see the attraction in this behavior.

Last weekend all I did was saunter down to Hastings old town. Look at some nice old cars.

I then sauntered back, watched a huge amount of tv and filed a few CDs. I also slept a lot. This I decided was fun.

This week in comparison I've been a whirlwind.

Monday: Shoe. Food shopping. Gym. CD listening.  Blog.

Tuesday: Shoe. Flying. CD listening. Blog.

Wednesday: Shoe. Train to Birmingham and back to visit my dad. Long time in phone shop trying to get it to work properly. Blog.

Thursday: Shoe. Chores for Dark Lady. Paperwork. CD listening. Video shoot.  Gym. Blog.

No wonder I'm a husk!

However, looking back at what I've just written none of this can be described as arduous.

So just ignore me.

Wednesday 10 October 2012


Nearly a week into my new phone and it's beginning to become clear. However there a lot of things I'm finding tricky

Not least is the hair trigger predictive text function.

It has a mind of its own and seems to fire off at least a consonant ahead of any phone I've had before.

For example:

I'll new attempt time tell uiy my inside Lester meAsus. It's currently thirty inched. Altair I expensive it to details as I get Olivia


I'll attempt to tell you my inside leg measurement. It's currently thirty inches although I expect it to decrease as I get older.

Sending videos to my Facebook page was a doddle on the previous one.

For this I spent forty minutes in the shop today with the "expert". She spent an inordinate amount of time online looking at user forums to find out if anyone was having similar problems. I could have done that myself!

In the end we downloaded an app that failed to work. Then downloaded another that did.

I thanked her and as the battery was nearly flat bought a branded charger so I could plug it in on the train.

As we pulled out if the station I excitedly opened the box to find the adapters were missing so I couldn't plug it in!