Thursday 23 May 2013


May 11th was my "eleventyfifth" birthday. (Curse you Tolkein).

When you have had as many as I seem to have had now they all appear to meld into one and also turn up two or three times per year.

Thirty took an age to arrive. Forty a while and since then it has just accelerated out of control.  So I had better hurry up and type this in case I don't make it to the end.

Having said that, I don't really feel remarkably different than I did as a young man; although these days I am less likely to drink so much that I vomit and the room spins round and am less inclined to sleep on friends floors.

Or walls and park benches if they were not forthcoming.

It's been an exciting two weeks since my last blog.

This was due to 2 Day and my birthday, coinciding with a week off.

The theme of this year’s Radio 2 "2 Day", where we move the schedules around, was the Orchestra.  Friday Night is Music Night that venerable institution which I have presented myself on occasion was celebrating the wonderful BBC concert orchestra and thoroughly deserved it was too.

An all-star cast was featured but the highlight without a doubt was the finale with the radio 2 presenters choir belting out "Dancing Queen"

It was a nice thought as I busted some moves up there on the stage of the Hackney Empire that Gary Barlow, Mick Hucknall and Sinead O'Connor had been my warm up acts.

After the gig it was a quick drink and home with the Dark Lady as we had an early start on the Saturday apparently as I was the birthday boy.

Breakfast in bed and then presents.  YAAYAAAAY. I like presents.

The DL is the best at this as she can second guess what I'll enjoy and so I was soon sashaying around the bedroom wearing a selection of new shirts and a rather fine jacket.  All fitting perfectly.  The only sartorial hiccup was a rather sprauncey pair of jeans.

The waist size was perfect.  The leg length was erm how shall I put this....a little long!

I have either lied about my height or she, blinded by love thinks I am somehow taller than I actually am.

Then it was the tube into central London as my sister and brother in law had sprung for tickets up the The Shard, the latest addition to the London skyline.

When we arrived the lifts were out of sync so we had to wait rather a long time in a queue watching a short film of London views.  Too short frankly as we saw it about a dozen times before the lifts were back working again.

Even though it wasn't the clearest day the views were spectacular.  We could see all the way to the Dartford Crossing which must be around fifteen miles.

On the way down in a city of ten million people we bumped into Johnny Walker and his wife Tiggy who were doing the same trip with some friends to celebrate a birthday as well.

Then it was lunchtime and the DL had booked a table at a Mexican restaurant.  I love Mexican although for some reason there were no fajitas on the menu it was very tasty and we didn't want to overeat as there was probably going to be sweeties later

On our honeymoon in New York in December 2011 I had booked us tickets to the musical The Book of Mormon which has to be one of the funniest and rudest shows I've ever seen with wonderful songs to boot.  The show has recently opened in London.  How would it compare?

First though we needed Smarties!  I'm sorry there are certain things in our lives that are inviolable.

Going to a gig?  There must be beer.

Going to the cinema?  There must be hotdogs.

Going to a show?  There must be Smarties.

Could we find any in any of the shops?  Nope so we had to make do with M&M's.

All good in their own way but somehow brasher, cruder and less sophisticated than their understated British cousins.

As we made our way through the theatre bar to our seats I spotted them.......on sale behind the bar.  Everyone else was guzzling their pre-show drinks. We snaffled a couple of boxes of the good ones and settled in our seats.

From the opening number "Hello" possibly the only song from the show that you could play on the radio it was a triumph.  Within minutes we had stopped comparing it with the Broadway version and just enjoyed it.  

What a day! It wasn't over yet.  After the matinee we hit the tube once more and headed back home to pick, up the car.  We were on a mission.  We had places to go.  People to see!

Night ferry from Portsmouth to France, we know it will always rain but we don't care.  We always have a relaxing time. Eating. Drinking. Watching TV reading and entertaining friends.

A week away doing nothing is really good for the soul.  Whilst I busied myself doing man jobs like sitting down and staring into space.  The DL carried on with her major project, sticking a lifetime of family photographs into albums.

She has been working away at this for some time.  She has now reached the mid 1980's.  Although she's not entirely sure but she may have got 1982 and 1983 in the wrong order!

End of the week and my truck driving pal Steve turned up with Annie his Mrs and we had fine old time with some more eating and what have you.

More entertaining company it is hard to find although when the women opted to watch the last part of the Eurovision Song Contest Steve suddenly came over all tired and went to bed.

Come scoring time the Annie and The Dark Lady suddenly decided it was time they too hit the sack.  So it was left to me to wade through the scoring whilst simultaneously doing the washing up.

Who said men can't multi-task?

Thursday 9 May 2013


The big talk this week has been about 2Day. This as you are probably aware is where we celebrate the breadth and variety of the stuff we do here on Radio 2 and its also an opportunity to boast about what we do.

As is normal with these events the big guns are brought out and paraded up and down our TV screens and newspapers.

This is the way the business works.

So on the show we have long since stopped worrying about competing for column inches as we know that the average Fleet Street journalist or TeeVee type wouldn't recognise the Best Time of the Day Show if it sat on their knee in a gorilla outfit and farted in their face!

So we, with your help plough our own furrow.

You have been very helpful in this regard over the years first with letter writing. Then faxes and over the last decade email the texts and now Facebook.

It also means we can interact with you so much more freely than we were able to before.

Back in the early days I could throw out an idea or ask a question and three days letter a letter would arrive saying:


By then I'd have forgotten what I was talking about anyway.

Now however communication is instant and we can do all sorts of things on top of the usual playing records and fooling about. Instant is good as due to advancing age unless the response is instant I've probably forgotten what I was talking about anyway.

We now do radio with pictures. We also do it when the show is not on the air. With iPlayer and the Oddcast we also do the show 24/7. We are always there which is terrific. Unless of course you are not a fan in that case it's like embarrassing personal itching!

With the creative input and IT skills of Producer Dr Strangelove who oversees the whole thing and his glamorous assistant Jade the Unnatural who studio produces three of the five shows per week......hang on Jade 3 Strangelove 2. That may make it Jade the Unnatural and her glamorous assistant Dr Strangelove......well they both bring stuff to the party. We are always thinking of new and dumber ideas to keep you on board.

So when the 2Day musical gauntlet was thrown down the team immediately set to work thinking of new ways to get us noticed. Knowing full well in me they have a man with no shame. For whom the word "dignity" is just that a word. Just as garbure. glitch and froghood are words.

Something to do with music obviously. It was only a short hop from that thought to a One man band. The acme of music for fun. It is pure showbiz. You get the tunes and you get the spectacle. Also and perhaps most importantly you get the ludicrousness of it all.

A delightful East Ender called Jake kindly volunteered to take me through through process. He is a very accomplished performer and is a regular feature when foreign language students arrive in London. He greets them off the coach with a song a solo and a cry of "ave a banana"!

It's a lot harder than you think.

Akin to patting the top of your head and rubbing your stomach whilst at the dentist due to your mouth being crammed with metallurgy. With drums and cymbals laced to your shoes if you are not co-ordinated it just sounds like someone throwing a music shop downstairs.

I was surprised to learn that this quintessentially British pastime was in fact huge in Canada. With books being written on the subject as well as there being more one man bands per square foot than anywhere else on earth. (I think). Quite a boast (I think)!

They are possibly used as bear scarers.

So how did I get on? Alex Lester Putting the number 2 in 2Day. Judge for yourself with the following link