Wednesday 28 November 2012


Having travelled in a rather worn and slightly hungover state from Scarborough to London on Saturday morning, I had little opportunity to relax.

There was just time to have a good soak in the bath before it was time to get the glad rags on as we were due to go out to a Bah Mitzvah.

This is the second one I've been invited too and, as non-Jews, The Dark Lady and I consider it a great honour to have been invited.

Matthew had reached 13. He was on the verge of manhood. I'd missed the ceremony at the synagogue earlier in the day. DL went and she had to wear a hat this time as she was now a married woman. This, she told me, pleased her no end.

Proud parents, Adam and Hannah, had hired a hall and a slap-up feed and a disco had been laid on.

There was wild dancing.

There was eating and drinking

More wild dancing

Yet more drinking and eating.

There were prayers and blessings in Hebrew.

To us brought up C of E (retired) and Catholic (lapsed), it was baffling.

There was hammering on tables at one point and I thought back to my childhood. Any body who made the slightest sound during the Sunday service would have got a clip round the ear.

Then the Rabbi left the event and so I gather it was then permitted to dance, men and women together. Up to that point we had whirled in segregated circles.

Then it was time for speeches. Dad, Mum and Bah Mitzvah Boy, Matthew, all made funny and tender speeches. Friends chipped in and for hapless Matt. He had to sit there being "roasted" by his mates.

Then the disco struck up and we whirled some more. What looked like a canoe full of confectionery passed among the dancers. Had I been Fred Astaire I would have wondered why my enthusiastic tapping wasn't sounding right as I got a rogue marshmallow stuck to the sole of my shoe.

The evening rounded off with an outbreak of Gangnam style with all the kids doing the moves. Finally proud Dad, Adam, led us through YMCA

Disturbingly he knew all the moves!

I was wringing with sweat by the end but my hangover had gone.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here and on Facebook by clicking here, plus if you want to request a song of your choice to be played for Listener's Library then visit here.

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Lest you think the DJ nerd night in Scarborough was a horrible experience it was quite the opposite. The accommodation may have been poor but the rest of the evening was a lot of fun. We met in the bar of the hotel; it was immediately apparent this is where all the pensioners were kept.

They had discount drink vouchers. I'd like to think that this will become government policy by the time I reach that age.

Bus pass. Check

Free TV licence. Check

Winter fuel allowance. Check

Discount drink vouchers. Check.

Probably the opposite will be the case.

The upside of this establishment is contrast. In other words if you are surrounded by the elderly, as a middle-aged person you appear a pimply teen who's face has never seen a razor in comparison.

Although as one of the oldest in our party, if you extrapolate, I felt I was running a crèche.

After a couple of drinks we headed in to town to a Chinese restaurant which was very nice and ticked all the relevant boxes.

Food. More beer. Then it was time to hit another bar. This is where these events usually falter.

All the effort goes into the food but after we've eaten the conversation is flowing and we end up wandering aimlessly round whichever town we are in trying to find a bar.

Usually they end up being a deafening boozer rammed with lairy drunks and nowhere to sit. Too noisy to converse and about to close anyway.

This time we hit a casino. A few people were gambling. Music was low as you don't want it too loud in case it upsets the high rollers (although this being Scarborough I'm not sure the stakes were enormous.)

"I'll raise ya, Mr Bun the baker"

"North Yorkshire hold 'em" may not have the same cachet as it's Texas equivalent.

So we sat and yarned. Stories were told. Rumours were spread and eventually there were only a few of us left.

"What time we meeting for breakfast"?


What's the time now"?


I went to bed and hardly remember turning out the light. I was there on the dot of 8.30 bright eyed and...actually let's just leave it at "I was there at 8.30!”

Thoroughly excellent evening that raises the bar for the next event in Gloucester in February

Monday 26 November 2012


Every four months DJ's of my acquaintance and often new friends get together to talk 'shop' and generally try to top each other’s stories of bad behaviour and industry maltreatment.

We travel the length and breadth of the land in search of cheap food drink and lodging. The venue this time was Scarborough.

The last time I visited was in 1983. So it was a long overdue return trip. The hotel in which I stayed on my previous visit was sadly no longer there, having slipped down the cliff and been destroyed not too long after my visit. The foundations may have been undermined by a spectacular graveyard cough I contracted upon my arrival that was so violent I saw spots before my eyes and developed an agonising pressure headache. Also the earth shattering screams when I discovered a horrible brown mark on my face the following morning. An attack by the poo fairy?

Er no I'd gone to sleep not noticing the complimentary chocolate on the pillow.

On this occasion we'd booked into a cheap hotel which looked spectacular in the photographs. Upon arrival the reality was somewhat different.

I must stress that budget hotels are fine with me; provided the sheets are clean and it’s a reasonable temperature and quiet, I'm happy.

For the price I wasn't too fussed that my single room was two floors below ground level with no window. No phone and no mobile signal. I texted the Dark Lady my room number so she could contact me in emergency and went into the bathroom to freshen up.

Not sure what happened there but someone had smoked a couple of gaspers and bunged the dog ends down the pan.

I mentioned this on Twitter @alexthedarklord and also uploaded a video onto my Facebook page.
One of the comments left was by someone who had worked in the hotel industry telling me I should have mentioned this to a member of staff rather than complaining on Tripadviser (which I haven't).

A good point but to what end? The reception area was crammed with the elderly on a budget break. So the queues whilst not too long were taking a time to move. One flush and the problem was solved. It could have been a one off. Plus, if I was going to complain about that, there were far more important and pressing things to complain about of which the staff could do nothing.

Whilst queuing on a staircase with thirty others the following morning and eventually reaching the front of the line, I was told I'd have to find somewhere to sit as they didn't reserve tables. Looking at the faded décor, the worn Formica tables and general tiredness - albeit with a spectacular sea view - I felt a stirring of some deja vu. I'd experienced this before. The queues. The rigid regulation and the general grubbiness. .

Butlins Skegness 1985! I remember being on first sitting. The table set for two meals and accidentally having a cup of tea then a coffee in two separate receptacles. The tablecloth (at least they had one) a sea of brown due to an earlier gravy boat accident.

"Look. You've muckied another cup!" said the waitress.

A little research told me that the hotel had once been owned by Butlins but had changed hands a few years back.

I suppose that a huge hotel in a town no longer attracting visitors to stay in the same numbers it had back in Victorian times is going to struggle to attract people. Investment has obviously taken place but there still needs to be a lot more. I thought places like this had long since ceased to exist. It's a shame as it’s a wonderful building in a really nice seaside town.

Wednesday 21 November 2012


With the news crammed with gloom be it Israel and Gaza (can this ever be resolved?), Women Bishops (as a non-believer this whole argument goes straight over my head), yet another football manager loses his job (perhaps it's time for the Premiership to appoint its first woman manager?)…

It was to another vexed question I turned my attention to today. Namely lunch. I popped into the bakers and grabbed a sandwich and a drink.

When I came to pay I couldn't believe my ears.

"£3.99 please"

"I thought the Meal deal was £3?"

"It is. You need to get the salad pot"

"Instead of the drink?”


"Instead of the sandwich?"


"The meal deal is £3 for the three items. Yet if I don't have all three and just choose two the price goes up by nearly a pound?"


"That's madness. So I could just take the salad pot and throw it away to save myself a quid?"


OK then, retail types: explain how you justify this?

With parts of the world starving and we here in the West throwing perfectly good food away, you think it's a good idea to fuel this by insisting that I take a salad that I didn't want in order to save money? A salad which - if I didn't want the meal deal - would cost £2.25 on its own?

Maybe it's a secret government initiative to get us to eat more roughage. Although by the time I'd weeded out the cucumber (can't stand the stuff) it was largely cheese anyway so perhaps that theory doesn't stand up.

Does this work anywhere else?

I've come across "Buy one get one free"

Also "Buy three get the cheapest item free".

Would this work at an Estate Agent?

"So the house is £100,000"?


"I like it and the separate garage but don't want the shed".

"Ok in that case it's £150,000"!

I honestly do wonder sometimes if the modern world has gone utterly bonkers.

In comparison maybe some of the big problems aren't impossible to solve after all. Or worse, these little things have a knock on effect which makes things worse.

So you get the two opposing sides round the table. Talks are proving constructive. A ceasefire could be agreed. A lull in proceedings and someone suggests they send out for sandwiches.

They all chip in. Back comes the oppo with the food.

"Where's my change?"

"I wanted the meal deal"

"You didn't say you wanted the salad pot with yours!"

And the shells rain down once more.

Tuesday 20 November 2012


Every weekday morning I leave my bedsit and creep down the stairs.

I don't use the racketty old lift as it makes quite a noise. It's one of those that has an outer door and two inner doors that work in opposition. So when you slide one open, the other door slides in the opposite direction.

Should you forget and let the door you holding go the two doors hurtle together with an almighty crash.

I like to think I'm relatively polite and considerate. It was instilled in me from an early age to think of others.

I'm not for a moment suggesting I am saint material. With age comes the realisation that over the years I've upset people, professionally and privately. We all do. However, I've never been one of those would could easily sell their grandmother and walk over the corpses of their slaughtered pets in order to further their ambitions.

In this industry maybe it has held me back. Perhaps I don't possess the certainty or the arrogance that I witness so often in others in this business.

Had I been more outspoken and unpleasant, maybe displaying more of a killer instinct, perhaps you'd be seeing far more of me on the TV and on daytime radio.

That's not my style. I've never been good at confrontation as I can't see the point. Friend once said he never ever went to a dinner party and argued politics and suddenly discovered his adversary had agreed to change their voting intentions.

That is why I needed to take drastic action as there was every possibility I was annoying my neighbours every morning as I left the flat.

The door creaked.

Each morning after a quiet ablution, the people on either side of me could have been startled into wakefulness by a deafening


Followed by an equally noisy


As I closed the door behind me.

This morning I oiled the hinges and so peace reigns.

Monday 19 November 2012


I've mentioned before that I don't possess any form of religious belief. However, I hold no grudge against anyone who does. Everyone can believe what they like as far as I'm concerned so long as they don't use that "faith" to find excuses to hate and persecute others with different beliefs and lifestyles.

So with that in mind I was given a rousing and witty introduction last Saturday morning by the vicar of St Johns church St Leonards. Everyone is always very welcoming of the heathen in their midst.

"We'd like to welcome Alex Lester once again to open our Craft Fayre. As you know he is a regular church goer...attending once a year to open this event".

Over the years I've got to know quite a lot of the volunteers who create wonderful things out of wool, wood and recycled materials among other stuff. There's always something eye-catching that is worth shelling out a couple of quid for.

This year I remembered to skip breakfast so I had room for the excellent cake and sandwiches.

I spied some tiny woollen Dwarf Santa stockings which I bought.

The Step-children hope that when hung on the tree they'll be just big enough for a high denomination bank note. The Dark Lady muttered something about "jewels". I pretended not to hear.

The rest of the day was spent searching for a pine box.

No...a pine trunk with a flat top to use as a coffee table.

That's better. Hastings is full of curio junk and antique shops stuffed to the gills with pine trunks. However, I think I know what the must-have Xmas gift is going to be this year. Forget X Box and Tracy Island. It’s the plain flat-topped pine trunk. Not one did I see. There must have been a run on them.

That evening it was off to the Marina Fountain, a favourite pub, to meet one of my best mates.

As I said at the beginning of today's blog, I have no problem with different belief systems provided they don't try to claim one is superior to another.

The pub is similar as it attracts people of all ages and lifestyles who all mix easily with one another. There are office workers, truckers, writers, bikers and - shortly before I left - a couple of very glamorous women dressed to the nines for a night out sat down next to us.

Tossing her auburn curls and sipping her Chardonnay daintily, one of them said to my mate

"Hello Clive"

In a deep bass voice.

Wednesday 14 November 2012


They've been building up for a couple of weeks now. So rather than be buried under a mountain of CD' s…today was deemed a listening day.

The lead in time for tunes is quite long. I'm now being sent stuff that won't be released until January. Christmas songs are beginning to arrive too. However - unlike Producer Strangelove who adores the festive season and can't wait for it to start - I'm quite happy to wait until the 20th December or thereabouts before I go into Santa mode.

I set to and steadily worked my way through about 60 records. Some lasted seconds before they were discarded. Others longer until I started to get bored. Rule of ear here: If it feels like it’s been on for ages but the timer says 2 minutes it’s not going to sustain your interest either.

There were some albums that I would quite happily listen to at home but wouldn't be suitable for airplay. This included some African stuff and The Modern Jazz Quartet. I was tempted by the remix of the latest Bjork album. However, I remember the reaction we got the last time I tried one of her songs out on you. The wounds are still raw!

On and on I whittled until out of the 60, I now have about 10 that I hope you like. It's not an exact science but there is a good variety of styles from artists new and old and with a couple of reissues thrown in.

Lester's Library Lives!

Tuesday 13 November 2012


Getting to grips with the new downsized bedsit.

It reminds me of all those years on The Blue Pig, the canal boat I lived on for nearly ten years and it's now getting on for eight years since I sold it.

The time is really flying by.

Not too sure in the light of yesterday's blog I like the way this is heading.

On the plus side it's a short walk from the studio. On the downside it's rather small with a fold-up bed.

However, it's warm and comfortable and relatively quiet.

However for some reason just as I turn the light out someone in the block decides it's time to make a rhythmic knocking sound

This could be due to a variety of factors:

1) He/She is intent on filling every inch of wall space with works of art.

2) The stress of living in such a confined space has driven them mad and they are beating their head against the wall in frustration.

3) They are digging an escape tunnel.

4) They are singularly inept clog dancers.

After the show I saunter back to the bedsit and get back into bed for a couple of hours. I'm usually awoken by the dawn chorus of sweary builders. I don't know where it is but there is a site nearby.






"DON'T YOU CALL ME A F@'!?, YOU C@'?? F@'!? T@'?? ING T@'!? T@'!?,"

And so it goes on until they grow hoarse. Then it's tea time and it starts all over again.

I think they may be building a Comedy club.

My name’s Ben Elton, good night

Monday 12 November 2012


At the weekend Dark Lady and I headed to France, a journey not without incident as our Sat nav decided that it wasn't going to have anything to do with motorways any longer.

No matter what we did with it, it decided that the scenic route was the way it was going to direct us. We knew where we were going. However, by the time we realised it was working against us we didn't know where we were going!

End result: we arrived at our destination an hour late and furious.


However life can put things into perspective.

We had been due to have a meal with friends. We knew their daughter-in-law had been ill, sadly with not one but two types of cancer. The news we had been getting was that she was making progress and holding her own against this most horrible of diseases.

When we arrived their faces told us the news before we had even had a chance to enquire. She had died the day before a couple of days after her 40th birthday leaving behind an adoring husband and two children aged 7 and 10.

Life can be so cruel. To snatch away a wife and Mother at such a young age. They were so sad our hearts bled for them.

Saturday afternoon DL received a phone call. Her face too told the story. The Father of one of her best friends had died. He was in his 80's and had lived a full and amazing life. He'd been in poor health for some years so I suppose it wasn't entirely unexpected but that does little to soften the blow.

Sadly I'd only met him a few times although it was obvious despite his age and infirmity he had enormous charisma and a twinkle in his eye. He also had great taste in women having a particular soft spot for the Dark Lady.

He was Jewish so religious observance dictated the funeral had to be carried out quickly. So today we've been to the cemetery for the service. I've never been to a Jewish funeral before. Notwithstanding the difference in tradition, one thing shone through: Sadness. Grief. The desire to honour the dead.

One of his sons, obviously very overcome, told us about his life and the incredible things he had done and how despite having been uprooted from several continents had managed in the face of enormous adversity to provide and care for his family. Then it was the turn of his granddaughter to tell us why he was such a fabulous man and why he'd never be forgotten.

It was tremendously affecting and I was so glad to have been there to witness it.

It makes you realise that we hang by a slender thread and whatever we do in life. If we can leave a legacy such as this man did. Or that young woman did. It would be the hallmark of a life well lived.

My sadness was not only for the family and friends who so obviously loved him and it was an enormously emotional ceremony but also selfishly that I arrived in his life too late to have got to know him better.

So give those friends and family members an extra hug and tell them how much you love them. We never know what tomorrow will bring.


Wednesday 7 November 2012


Exciting night, not least because of the American Election. Although it wasn't quite the cliff hanger we had expected.

The fun part of these events is the losing side trying to explain away their defeat. Politicians the world over seem to be cut from the same cloth. They have to be magnanimous in defeat and in victory although in reality they'd rather a grand piano dropped on their opponents.

American politics is nastier than ours with more overt lying and name calling.

The US also boasts a rabid right wing media. These outlets are the market leaders yet they regularly complain about the "liberal media bias".

Plus the more extreme citizens are armed that so tends to make your political enemies potentially more dangerous.

So far we've luckily only lost one Prime Minister to assassination whilst sadly the Presidential body count is rather higher.

On my travels in the hinterland of the U.S., I have on occasion had to nod sagely as another redneck told me that Obama was a Muslim and wasn't born in America so was not eligible to be president.

Politics aside when you are clutching at straws like that to discredit your opponent it just makes you appear barmy.

Award to barmy barking person of the night had to go to gazzillionaire Donald Trump furiously tweeting "This election is a total sham and a travesty. The world is laughing at us."

No, Donald, we were laughing at you!

Meanwhile back at the flat, I eventually drifted off to sleep after spending rather too long looking at Twitter and Facebook, enjoying all the contradictory views and the election statistics.

I was unable to watch television as the aerial wire suddenly decided it wasn't going to support a signal any longer and went dead

About 9am there came a knock at the door. It was a man who had come to check my water supply for legionella bacteria.

Yup I'm infected. I went out and haven't been back yet. Wonder if it's safe to do so?

Tuesday 6 November 2012


Man chores day today, as well as a load of paperwork.

As an, er, "Alpha male" hunter gathered type, I am called upon to do swaggeringly macho stuff which have been deemed "within my capabilities".

These involve opening jars, filling cars with petrol, checking oil coolant and tyres and replacing bulbs.

So it was to the Dark Lady's house to do some of above, plus the very important job of setting up the hi-fi.

My Dad has decided he no longer needs his vinyl. So that has gone to the charity shop. This also means he no longer needs his turntable etc.

My 16 year-old Stepdaughter, Ella, is mad for music and is one of a growing number who are buying records again. Not only original stuff but new material. She has a very basic turntable which has a rather tinny sound to it. So my Dad - or "Virtual Grandad" - as he is known was only too happy to get his 20 year-old system out of his house.

So it fell to me to set it up.

In order for this to occur, space had to be made in her bedroom.

I'm sorry but a 56 year-old man doesn't venture into a 16 year olds room uninvited. He stands at the foot of the stairs yelling.

" Tidy your "!@#$/^" room"!

After a little coercion space has been made and after twenty minutes of wrestling with wires and earthing, it's good to go. She only appears to have half a dozen albums including Beatles and Lana del Rey but this could be a source of future gifts if she tidies her room and is nice to her Mother.

A couple of new lightbulbs and a smoke alarm battery, man jobs done and it was on the phone to sort new electricity, water and send council tax for the new flat.

Thirty minutes wait replete with wiffly music send recorded apologies until the electricity company answered. I was unable to do it online as their website refused to let me for some reason.

When I got through there followed fifteen minutes of questions and tariff discussions. I gave them goodbye and hello meter readings from old flat to new. Described the location and the condition of the meter

Then it was the water company. Rang the number. Straight through two minutes all set up. Confirmation email sent and received. That's all it took

Why the problem with the electricity?

Still, water’s water. What could go wrong?

Back at the flat I had a letter.

"To the occupier. We will be requiring access to your flat tomorrow at some point from 8am. This is in order to disinfect your water system as legionella bacteria has been discovered"

Cue trumpets

"Wah wah wah waaah"!