Monday 27 January 2014


Exciting weekend just gone as we went to a swanky "do"!

Dark Lady the Dark Stepchildren and I are not much for red carpets. Cocktail parties with People called Hengist or Pookie. We much prefer the simple life. Maybe a trip to the cinema. An average priced meal out or sitting at home watching the telly.

So we were very chuffed to receive an invitation to a castle!

Good friends of ours Martin and Julie were celebrating ten years of wedded bliss. So had decided to re-enact part of the big day by having a bit of a rematch at a marvellous Victorian folly in Herefordshire.

All we had to do was to get ourselves out to Ledbury where we booked into a rather fine coaching in called "The Feathers" which was very similar to our own wedding reception venue back in 2010 "The Mermaid" in Rye.

First we had to round up "the tribe".  They were staying with their Dad so DL and I had a very relaxing Friday  with a trip to a burger bar and the cinema to watch "August: Osage County" which was fabulous and I'm sure every family could identify even if only slightly with the horror of the family gathering as it unfolded in the film  Meryl Streep was as wonderful as ever and Julia Roberts was brilliant/ghastly too.

I had something to do first thing Saturday so we had to go I separate cars.  What I can never understand is that two sat navs programmed with the same address can take two cars in different directions. Although one thing is never in doubt. The Dark Lady will always arrive first!

It was going to be a dressy night so I dug out my wedding jacket and the DL poured herself into a long sheer black number (he slobbered). Ella at nearly eighteen and taller than both of us elected to wear heels and so towered over most of the male company of a similar age who were checking her out and trying to screw up enough courage to ask her to dance.

Jamie now 14 and buff after long hours in the gym receiving admiring glances from the younger end of the guest spectrum disappeared from view from time to time. The reason becoming apparent later on.

We got a cab to the castle and it was a fabulous venue. Huge vaulted ceiling in the massive hall where champagne awaited. I had already fallen in with bad  company back at the hotel. As my mate Steve Evans the truck driver who is built from boulders had already been testing the bar. So it would have been impolite not to have kept him company.

Whilst we were chucking back the champagne. We perused the wedding photos from a decade before.  I'd forgotten my glasses so couldn't really see. Everyone looked pretty much as they did today. Although two additions were Martin and Julie's 8 year old son Jack who has the energy of several so was whizzing around examining everything.  Well it was a fascinating place with cases full of stuffed animals and suits of armour among other interesting bits.  The other addition being me. I'd not had the good fortune to have met all these folk back in 2004.

Then there was food. Lots of it and delightful. We were on a table with our closest friends so conversation was easy and as entertaining as always.

Martin judging the mood perfectly made a short speech and as he is a demon quiz compiler informed us that there wouldn't be one as there was fooding and drinking and dancing to do.

So we did just that. We drank and we danced.  I've lost about half a stone since Christmas so felt rather more agile. (ie less lumbering) so was busting my best moves much to Ella's amusement. Dark Lady was very kind and held me close.

Jamie appeared on the dance floor from time to time. Swayed in time to the music and then wandered off.

Due to the volume of the music and my rather sensitive old ears. I elected to fashion earplugs from "bathroom stationary". That way I could enjoy it without discomfort.  I may have looked a mite strange. However I'm used to appearing a buffoon so there was no change there.

All too soon it was time to go. We gathered everyone together as the minibus arrived to take us back to the hotel......where was Jamie?

Ah there he was....being rather ill. So that's why he kept disappearing. He had found a secret stash of booze and was doing what kids do. Trying it all out. Without realising the consequences.

I drove a rather pale and nauseous young man back to London the following morning.

He had received the stern lecture from his Mother, a stern lecture from his Victorian Stepfather (me) and was about enjoy a third one from his Dad when he got home.

It was difficult to keep a straight face when I recalled my wallet being confiscated by my mother at a beach barbecue in Majorca when I decided that it would be a good wheeze to have a gin drinking competition with another teen......I was 14!

Monday 20 January 2014


Well 2014 seemed to be progressing fairly well at Lester Towers. (Or "Lester Acres". We fab poptastic DJs have to refer to where we live in such terms as enshrined in the Wunnerful Radio 1 charter of 1967).

January is typical a time of attempts at organisation. Plans to be made and sadly big bills.

I think some years ago in a misguided attempt at efficiency I decided it would be a terrific wheeze to ensure that all the bills came at once. Car tax. Insurance. House contents. Building insurance. Subscriptions. And of course tax. This would be all out of the way in one fell swoop.

Then the rest of the year would be one of relaxation and frivolity.

I of course didn't factor in the total of all these bills arriving at once. When they are added together they form one gigantic humungous enormous whopper of a sum that means you have to sit indoors in the dark for the next three months living off a thin gruel.

(Before I'm leapt upon by the pinched mouthed "what about the starving"? brigade. Wagging reproving fingers in my direction  I would like to point out that I'm not equating my predicament with those who are suffering real hardship. So stand down keyboard warriors.)

The advantage of enforced time spent indoors rather than being out whooping it up. As much as the Dark Lady and I whoop it up. I reckon the Dark Step-children think we must sit on the sofa all day watching TV. One day I'm going to leave shattered underwear. Sundry apparatus. Bottles of Yak milk. Root vegetables  and a startled Walrus around the house and see what they make of that!

They'd probably immediately decamp to live full time with their Father. Traumatised and unable to watch a wildlife programme or Nigella ever again.

Oops digression. As i was saying. Staying in does have its advantages. The DL has become a dab hand at making soup. I have started filing CDs once more. In so doing am beginning to see what colour the carpet it is in the spare bedroom. I can also listen to a lot more music as well so choosing tracks to play on the show reinforces what a pleasure it is.

The house is tidier than it has been for ages. Plans are being hatched to get rid of a lot of unwanted clutter. After all I'm not entirely sure why I have bank statements going back to 1988 in the attic along with copies of "Waterways World" and "Canal and Riverboat Monthly" from the late 70s. Not sure my trusty Amstrad 9526 is going to see any use again either.

The local dump has been remodelled and upgraded so it's now possible to load up the car with junk and whip in and out and recycle lots of stuff which would otherwise end up as landfill. So it polishes my eco-credentials. This makes me feel marginally better when I'm in London at a posh restaurant eating Panda burger in Snow Leopard sauce.

On the subject of cars. As well as insurance and tax in January I'd artfully arranged for its MOT to take place in the first month of the year. Oh well fingers crossed it has been looked after so hopefully it wouldn't fail.  It sailed through. The only fly in the motoring ointment was the necessity to buy a new tyre having had a puncture the day before the test which totalled the tyre which was replaced at the previous MOT. Six thousand miles ago.

Still it never rains but it pours eh?

Oh which reminds me. As I was filing CDs. I noticed a damp patch on the ceiling. Yup you guessed. The roof needs repair.

Looks like the diet of gruel will last until Easter at least.

Thursday 9 January 2014


Xmas came and went in a satisfying blur of overeating and gifts. As usual I went to see my Sister and Brother in law,.who provided another spectacular lunch. Dad brought the wine and I was on cheese and biscuits duty.  Thank you. 

When I was a child my parents would look in as we kids tore the paper from our gifts.  Now years later and not before time my Father gets the lions share and we watch as he tears the paper off

Although at 87 he does say what he really wants for Xmas is; "someone to come round and take stuff away"! 

Returning to London and the bazoom of the family I got the gifts including a rather fine jacket which I've had to take to be altered as being rather er short. The arms made me look like Mr Tickle according to my step son Jamie

We had the best time and the Dark Lady is enjoying her new bicycle.
A thoroughly good time was had by one and all.  Only one day off over the festive season. Although I did get a lie in of an hour and an extra half hour tacked on the end of the shoe. Which was fun. However all good things come to an end and we are now back to abnormal!

So 2014 is now well and truly underway and everyone has crept back to work or their previous routine. People are making wild and exaggerated claims as to what they are going to do over the next 12 months. This is definitely the year they are going to do it. Whatever "IT" may be.

Rather then widdle on your firework. How realistic are we with our plans for a new year and why do we wait until an arbitrary date on the calendar to put these often futile "plans" into practise?

Why not have resolutions starting on the 18th March or 27 August?

This may have something to do with my lack of understanding of the calendar. After all this is the man who on Xmas day writing a cheque at a petrol station had to ask what the date was. This is the man who assumed that late May/early June it was summer everywhere. As he froze in sub zero temperatures in Yellowstone National Park ankle deep in snow in shorts and sandals waiting for the the Geyser Old Faithful to blow.

(Pedantry alert). Ok this may be general geographic ignorance rather than the lack of grasp of dates. Although I think there may be a tenuous relationship between the two.

At this time of the year. Newspapers, magazines. TV and radio stations are asking for "resolutions" as an easy way to fill their products. Followed by a deluge of people telling us their resolution is not to have resolutions (snirk snirk)!

We know you are better than that on the Best Time of the Day Show. Judging by your responses to the things we throw at you each morning. I have a sneaking suspicion people in the entertainment industry sit with their notebooks jotting down your best bits to use in their acts.

So what do I think of the turn of a year? It is a time to look forward with optimism.

2013 wasn't the best year I've enjoyed due to the death of my dearest friend and the resulting fall out with helping to sort out his estate. (Note. If possible don't die. It can be very complicated for those you leave behind).

It took rather a lot of time and energy and so a lot of other things had to be put on the back burner. So all being well things will go better this year.

If 2013  taught me one thing is that we all hang by a thread and we have to seize the moment. We need to have as much fun as we can. I'm very fortunate in having a job that qualifies as fun so half the battle is over before I start.

So if you make any pledges for 2014 perhaps it is to have more fun.

What constitutes fun though?  Does it have to be rip snorting side holding hyperventilating food coming down your nose guffawing. Or something simple that gives you pleasure. Or maybe must something very simple that gives you satisfaction.

This can be done in many ways. Not all expensive. Nor involving huge amounts of equipment.

Let your imagination run riot. Stroke the cat. A cup of coffee on the settee. A conversation with friends. Zumba. (Not sure if this qualifies as fun but some swear by it)! A walk?

Does this sound amusing?

Well it's certainly economical.  So that in itself should give us pleasure.

Re-reading the above I do realise that this is a rather poorly argued blog and if we were defending ourselves in court with an alibi this weak we'd probably end up in prison doing 100 years to life!

However I am going to try and not let little things get to me this year.

So traffic jams will not make me fume.

I promise not to get frustrated with people who stop at the top of escalators blocking your exit as they stare vacantly into space.

Will try not to explode when I hear smug self satisfied politicians talking in cliches:

"Hard working families"

(We aren't stupid. We know your spin doctors are telling you to get this into every interview).

Although that may be a bit of a tricky one to maintain.

And I will smile at 1am weekday mornings when the alarm goes off as I know that I'm about to have some fun.

Hmmm I have a sneaking suspicion that the above looks a tad like resolutions.


Happy New Year.