12 August 2009

"I had to wear a black jumper with a purple stripe..."

A very favourable review of the revamped TV Cream site from Web User magazine, which was enjoyed considerably by the staffers from the website who met in London for ale last night. The photo is courtesy of Steve, who was so taken with the review he uploaded it on to Twitter in between sips of iced cider.

Prior to joining everyone at the Phoenix bar, I killed a few hours of London time by walking the Embankment in the baking heat. This involved leaving Embankment tube station, crossing the footbridge next to it and then walking along the south side of the Thames, past the Royal Festival Hall and under Blackfriars before walking back across the river on the ex-wobbly Millennium Bridge and heading back the way I'd come on the north side. I eventually completed the imperfect circle and continued right through Westminster and finally to Victoria station, from where I headed to join the others.

This was a two hour stroll in total and, as you'll know whether you are resident of London or just an occasional visitor, a wander of reasonable length in the capital enables you to see pretty much every type of person that may exist in the world. I'm not a great people-watcher, but this was fascinating. From octogenarians in pointless overcoats ambling towards the riverboat queue, to small children in the new Chelsea shirt nagging for ice cream, and everyone in between. Teenagers whizzing round on bikes and skateboards, flexitimers in a hired deckchair with their heads buried in a good book, joggers in lycra with mp3 players welded to their ears, people asleep on benches with their jackets over their eyes, foreign visitors photographing absolutely everything.

If you are a visitor like me, you also do find yourself celeb-spotting a lot, even though the chances of seeing someone famous within many thousands of entirely anonymous people are slim.

Twice I thought I saw famous people. One was George Alagiah, but as he walked past me it was clear it wasn't him. Pity, as I may have been tempted to do Harry Hill's "deep fat firer..." line his way. The other was Anne Charleston, whose identity I was totally sure of until I heard her speak. There was no Aussie twang with a hint of Ilkley Moor in her raucously south England tones, and so again I was disappointed.

Upon later arrival at the Phoenix, sweating, I calmed and cooled myself with a steady flow of lager for the next few hours, while enjoying the anecdotes and gossip that this event always brings. F-C led the way, as always, with tales of the various women in television he wishes had got the This Morning gig ahead of Holly Willoughby, to the extent that we concluded that Jean Boht would have been better.

There was also my revelation (which is not interesting, but I was proud of it) that Treasure Hunt was and is the only television game show where the names of the contestants were included in the end credits (below Kenneth and Anneka/Annabel, and above Wincey) and a further revelation from elsewhere on the table that Val Doonican's full name was Valentine. I never knew this...

An elongated discussion on Grange Hill followed, complete with impromptu "identify the character"/"name this teacher and her daughter"/"how did this boy die"/"who was her secret boyfriend"* quiz via some hastily discovered photographs on an iPhone. All good fun, of course.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole evening was the soundtrack on the speakers. This place has an idiosyncratic musical taste, to say the least, and after any number of wanky John Barrowman cover versions, we got an unfamiliar version of much-loved TV Cream karaoke standard I Know Him So Well. Sadly, it started to skip from the Barbara verse onwards, leading us to sing the "No-one in your life is with you constantly..." bit over and over (and over, and over) again until, finally, one of our party could stand it no more and went to inform the evidently deaf bar staff that their CD player was buggered.

*Kevin Baylon/Mrs Regan and Laura/drowned in the swimming pool/Stewpot Stewart

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