Friday 25 October 2013


The blog is a sort of diary. So it is really a day to day record of what I have been up to.

Reading it back it does give lie to the view that its a glamorous existence!

Rather than partying with the A-listers the Dark Lady and I do lead a fairly quiet normal. Some would say boring existence.

Last weekend we went out to the local Chinese to celebrate Barry's birthday.  He's the DL's former husband and the Father of the Dark Stepchildren.

As I've  written before in the blog. We get on well.  Maybe it would make for a better story if we were at loggerheads. I could be the Peter Andre to the DL's Katie Price?

However no such luck for my washboard abs. Better news for me is that the DL is way better looking.

Mid way through the meal with the five of us I realised there were six at the table.

My mate V for Victory was beaming at us from a certificate on the wall.

Meal over. The DL and I set out for Hastings. That time on a Friday and normally it's not too long a trip.  We wuz wrong!

Weekend night time road works had closed the A21 in a couple of places.  So we wound slowly through the scenic back roads of Kent and Sussex . Sadly unable to enjoy the views as it was dark. Very dark.

By the time we'd woken and pottered about a bit. That was pretty much the weekend done.

Although we did have an extra guest with us on this occasion: Tia.

She belongs to the "Mother in law" (pronounced as on the show in a constipated Bernard Manning type voice).  Sadly Pat has had to go into a nursing home and they don't allow pets.

So thereby hangs a problem.  We can't keep her. We've asked family and friends if they wanted a sweet little albeit elderly dog. Ideal for a housebound or generally inactive person.

The answer universally has been no.

I've been dog sitting whilst the DL is at work.  This actually means trying and failing to keep her off the furniture and taking her outside for a drain and a strain!

I can't do it all the time and we don't want her to be left for long periods on her own. She has had a life of being doted on. So we have been checking out possible rehoming organisations.  We are adamant that she won't go to a place  that will put her down if no new owner is found.

Wish us luck in our quest!

Meanwhile back at the show. Kid Methuselah is busy taking photographs and video ready for a number of major "incentives"

Maybe as a hangover from "Strictly". We decided that we too would get in on the act by asking you to invent a new dance. Give it a name and suggest music and I would attempt to dance it.

As I type this I have a bag behind me containing an "outfit". Nothing glittery. Just practical. As you will see.

After minimal rehearsal we shall film my clumsy terpsichorean attempts and stick them up in social media and the website for you to be amazed by (or more probably laugh at).

I've also been out to source some terrifying costumes for Halloween.  Being the "Dark Lord" as you dubbed me some years ago I'm delighted to report I'm going to be presenting a special edition of the iconic Radio 2 show "Friday Night is Music Night" renamed for one evening only.

"Friday Night is Fright Night"

Make sure you tune in at 8pm on Friday November 1st for a marvellous combination of music and screaming!

The Kid and I shall be posting terrifying images over the next week to get you in the mood.

After all this preparation it'll be the weekend again.

Life is so tough sometimes......peel me a grape!

Saturday 19 October 2013


It’s always important to keep a sense of proportion when looking at the things that don't go according to plan on our lives.

Every time I turn on the TV there are ambulance chasing adverts giving us the opportunity to sue people for miss selling medical disasters or personal injury.  I wince every time the bloke falls from his ladder. Every time the chap saws his fingers off in the lathe or the woman slips on wet floor and her handbag falls open. (I think she hurt her knee as well but my focus is always the contents of her bag. Sorry).

However there are other things that can go wrong which frankly you must have to get on with.

My late friend Clive always referred to these events which frankly aren't important as a "Hampstead Crisis".  This idea was conceived after a rather posh woman who lived in the upmarket London suburb whom he worked with arrived late and flustered in the office one day and wailed:

"It was raining so hard I had to drive to the bus stop"!

I don't know if it’s a by-product of our cosseted lifestyle but sometimes you do catch yourself in mid whine and think.

"How would this play with a starving child or a refugee"?

Lecture over.

So for first world problems now read on:

I've been driving my current car - 'The Mid-Life Crisis" - since my previous steed (clearly fed up with me as its owner) decided to set fire to itself on the M40 at Oxford Services.  Which was a shame as I had just had a whole lot of work done it. It was a Mazda RX7. It was a rocket and I loved it.

Its replacement which I bought as an ex demonstrator is now 6 years old with 50,000 miles on the clock.

However in that time I've dropped a bicycle on the driver’s side door, there’s a rust spot on the roof where it has had a stone hit it and the alloy wheels have been curbed and dinged a few times and are beginning to corrode in places. So I decided to invest a few quid in bringing it back up to "scratch" (cue drums of pun).

So off I went to Acme bodywork who did an excellent invisible mending job on the paint. Then I needed someone to do the wheels.  Who to get? Just as I was pondering this I heard the letterbox rattle.  Someone had posted a flyer "Acme wheel hospital".

Yaayaaaay!  Off I went to the location. Got an estimate and booked it in.  The car would be perfect after that I thought. After all it was mechanically perfect. At that precise moment it decided to break down!

It had gone into "limp" mode!

Calamity? Nope, Hampstead Crisis.

After calling the dealer and looking on the Internet and turning it off and letting it cool down it has worked perfectly ever since.

So back to the alloy wheel place who lent me a set while they stripped ground reprinted and balanced the originals.  They did a fantastic job.  The paint was perfect and the wheels were perfect I thought, as I pulled up outside the Dark Lady's house and promptly curbed the wheels!

Calamity? Nope, Hampstead Crisis.

The old barnet was getting a bit long. Now at my ripe old age I'm actually quite proud of my hair.  It is mine. It's not a rinse and I hope to keep it for a while longer.  I've had it long for years so I had no desire for anything radical when I turned up at Acme hairdressing and was introduced to a young man with terrible hair, a ring through his nose and a insistence on addressing me as "mate"  at the end if every sentence... “mate”!

I showed him how much I wanted off.

"Just wind it back in a few weeks and take a bit of the weight out".

He measured and off I went to have my hair washed and head massaged by a teen.

Now anyone who has or has ever had hair will tell you that if you wet it. It gets longer. So if you measure hair dry and cut it in the same place when wet. When it dries it will be a lot shorter.

Don't think this had percolated into the brain of my "dresser".

"You've cut it too short". I protested

"No it'll be fine ".

He said and then set to with his straighteners.

If you have naturally curly hair as I do. Yes if you straighten it. It will appear a little longer......for five minutes!

I slunk out of the salon vowing never to return. It will take months to grow back.

The Dark Lady took one look and got on the phone to Acme Hair. A considerable strip was torn off I can tell you.  You don't want to mess with Mrs Lester when her blood is up!

Various people have said they like the new look. They have said that the guy did a good job.

My riposte is this:

If you take your car to be re sprayed green and it comes back pink it may have been done very well, but it’s not what you ordered. The same goes for my hair.

Calamity? bet. I feel violated!

OK maybe an exaggeration. It's still annoying though.

However rereading the above it is important to remember that sense of proportion. Its hair and it will grow back. Although I won't entrust it to that bloke again...mate!

There have been bright spots during the past week. I've not been staggering from crisis to crisis.

Hastings Classic Car show. Every year I get to go check out the marvellous metal and award a prize to a lucky owner.  This year I was delighted to meet Andy Garner and his excellent late 70's white mini pickup.  He's a Best Time of the Day listener and tunes in when up to his hub caps in buns as he's a baker in Sevenoaks.

Producer Kid Methuselah wasn't so impressed. I sent him a picture of a Citroen 2CV that was on display. He's a Citroen nut and spends a lot of his time haunting scrapyards and dismantling-reassembling his old Citroen CX and bright yellow Dyane.

He thought the 2CV should have won, of course.

My adorable wife the Dark Lady knows one of several ways to bolster the flagging spirits of her mercurial husband.

Chicken pie!

All is well with the first world!

Thursday 10 October 2013


The Dark Lady and I lead a fairly low key existence. Which is pretty much the way we like it. Not for us the mad showbiz whirl. In fact we could be accused of being terminally dull.

Our idea of a rip snorting time sees us going hog wild in the pub for a couple of drinks. A packet or two of salty snacks and home to some excellent DL home cooking and a DVD.

However from time to time something happens which is tremendously exciting.

I've been fortunate in my life and career to do a number of interesting things:

I can look back and think of the times I sat behind the pilots on the flight deck of commercial aircraft as they came into land at Heathrow. (That ain't about to happen any time again soon).

The time  I interviewed  Chief Concorde Test Pilot Brian Trubshaw after travelling by BA Concorde to Toulouse for a reception to mark the 20th anniversary of its first flight. Returning by Air France Concorde. (Hate to say this but I thought it had better decor)!

I've been behind the scenes at a sewage works and a nuclear power station. Been on the footplate of a steam engine. Driven a vintage steam roller.

Stood in front of 40,000 people in Hyde Park and met the widow of the man who started it all for me and my job.......Marconi!

I'm not complaining. I've been very fortunate and I know it.

So it made the Dark Lady and I giddy with excitement when we received an invitation..... to The House of Lords!

I remember going on a school trip to Westminster when I was about twelve.  I have two overriding memories of that day.

Apart from the usual nightmare trip to and from in 1950's vintage charabanc (think St Trinians) which smelt of farts, puke and stale woodbines.

Memory one: We were shown round by our local MP who pointed out that in the Commons there were small loudspeakers built into the seating so the Honourable Members wouldn't miss a word.

In the Lords the speakers also had little sockets for the slightly older and doddery inhabitants to plug their hearing aids into.

Memory two: Having Parliamentary procedure explained to us by our constituency member including voting in the Division lobby and the call to vote by the division bell.

As we were waiting outside for our coach the "Vomit Comet" to arrive, one of our number - a serious boy with huge ears as I recall  - detected an electric bell ringing.

"That must be the division bell" he opined.

"No it's the bell that summons taxis" replied our honourable member.

It was a long long journey back to school for our elephant eared swot.

Children can be so cruel!

So where had this invitation come from?

We were very honoured to be invited to a reception after the ceremony of introduction to the House of Lords for our friends Jon and Nicola.

Jon has been a political lobbyist and is a very  successful businessman as well as a leading light in the Jewish Community. Nicola is a tycoon too. Having just been headhunted by Facebook for one of their top jobs. Somehow they've also found time to have four children. Just to list all their achievements makes my head swim.

As you would expect with a power couple like this. There was a bit of a Who's Who at the reception: Lord Levy made an excellent and very funny speech

Lord Greville Janner who I last met when I got him a cup of tea when he was a guest at Radio Leicester in 1979. He didn't recognise me though. He also spoke as did Barnsley MP Michael Dugher who hosted the event.  I think I also spotted Yvette Cooper too.

Tracy Ullman was there. I didn't try an engage her in small talk. My planned opening conversational gambit I doubt would have been a winner:

"Hi Trace. I've still got the free hairbrush the record company gave me as a promotional device to plug your single Breakaway back in 1983".

Security is very tight at the Houses of Parliament it took us an hour to get in. So if a wild haired bloke brushing bagel crumbs from his beard had rushed over to one of the guests foaming about hairbrushes that were supposed to represent microphones in a thirty year old pop video. I would expect to be bumping down the steps outside before you can say "ermine"!

The Dark Lady is very good at knowing what to do and say at these events and if a gift is in order what to get.

"Jon likes whisky so let's get him a nice bottle"

"Leave it to me. I'll just pop to the supermar..."

"No this is a once in a lifetime event get him a good bottle. Not some value branded genuine "Skotch whizky made in Lithuania."

A quick search of the Internet revealed "Acme whisky" a swanky store that specialised in nothing else.

I arrived and a rather snooty man listened as I told him my budget.

"We'll for that you can get a  Speyside single malt"

"Can you gift wrap it"


"Presentation box?"


"You'd have thought for this price you'd get a nice box to put it in"

The assistant inclined his head to a bottle of Scotch in an adjacent cabinet.

No presentation box....just a fancy label.....just the price tag: £11,990!

We met up with some other friends Hannah and Adam and I related the whisky gift story.

Rarely does anyone trump the Dark Lady's gift ideas. However on this occasion we will defer to Hannah.

"I got him a House of Lords kit.":

A pair of earplugs.

Three books of political anecdotes and quotations. One for each of the main political parties.

A silver yoyo for those long drawn out filibustering sittings.

A small bottle of Scotch. (I think it can get cold in there).

Also gob stoppers.

Now that's a very thoughtful and appropriate gift.

We had a marvellous time and felt very privileged to be there.  So to Lord and Lady Mendelsohn congratulations. You have worked very hard and you deserve this honour.

Arise Baron Mendelsohn of Finchley