Thursday 7 November 2013


It's just been that time of the year.  The time of the year that until recently we didn't bother about. Now thanks to our special relationship with our American cousins. It has nearly eclipsed our traditional day at this time.

Not sure when it started to seep into the British consciousness but it has.

As a kid, there was the one special event after summer and before Christmas; Guy Fawkes Night.

We looked forward to it and planned for it. We saved for sparklers and those matches that glowed green or red when lit.  We weren't allowed to buy fireworks although we tried.  Some older kids succeeded and often blew themselves up.

When I first started in local radio amid the record requests. Chemists rotas and lost pets there was the annual visit from the local fire chief to warn us of the dangers of fireworks.  Do they still do that?

Children would hijack the family pushchair and wheel around a baggy shapeless selection of old clothing stuffed with newspaper with a cheap mask or maybe even some paper mâché creation to make a head. Then they would drag this thing round the streets trying to elicit donations.

"Penny for the guy mister"

Last time this question was posed must have been about 20 years ago coming out of a pub in Hastings Old Town.

"He's drunk"

"No I'm not" I said indignantly!

"Not you. Him." They said pointing to a bag of rags on the pavement which I can only assume was meant to resemble a guy.  Obviously  creativity was beginning to suffer at this point so the energy had gone from the event.

So at some point Halloween struck.  Perhaps like St Patricks Day which seems to be a marketing exercise for Guinness. It would appear Halloween makes bigger bucks. What with all the ghoulish clothing and the pumpkins.

In fact I was dispatched by the Dark Lady to go get a pumpkin so my Step daughter Ella could fashion something eek worthy for the fright night.

About this time the call came through.  Would I like to present an edition of Friday Night is Music Night?  Would I?!

This is a piece of broadcasting legend and history. Who could turn down the offer of standing in front of a packed theatre audience. With an 80 piece orchestra ready to go?

So given the notes and the list of tunes I set to to write the script.

Often the show is live. On this occasion it was recorded as live the evening before. However still at the same time.

We made a special video to mark the event:

It was decided by Bridget Apps the Producer that I would do the call and response for "Ghostbusters".  During the rehearsal it became apparent that I just had no sense of rhythm. A tin ear and despite having heard the song a zillion times. I couldn't figure out which bit was mine!

"Who ya gonna who's callin who you gonna callbust"?

So Robert Zeigler the conductor kindly agreed to poke his baton on my direction. When a ghostly ejaculation was called for.

Being all ham. I decided that a costume was necessary so rushed to the pound shop and bought a cape. Fangs. Fake blood and white pancake makeup.

A listener had kindly given me another cape so I was able to change during the interval as well as applying liberal amounts of fake gore.

Not sure about the audience but I has the best time. Although I did have to remove the fangs as they made my speech so muffled I wasn't able to be understood.

I like to think that it went pretty well. There were a couple of retakes. Only one was my fault and that was because I had forgotten to introduce myself.

It was a rip snorter of a show however I think Halloween has the upper hand. I also have a sneaking suspicion that in a generation or less Guy Fawkes Night will be all but forgotten sadly.

Caroline - an American listener - emailed and asked:

"When you gonna give up on this Guy guy? It's years ago. Get over it".

I replied with my usual British reserve and dignity:

"When you stop celebrating Thanksgiving and Independence Day."!

1 comment:

mwhite229 said...

what a fab pumpkin, Ella is a clever girl. You should have used orange make up instead of white and it would have looked like twins :) meggie