16 August 2010
A close-up of the estimable Charles Nove and I at the latest Nerd Night. Swindon was the venue and it was as simple as these nights can get; one hotel meeting point, one restaurant, one pub.
Fortunately, the pub kept us in place until 3.30am and so extra drink could be taken in the time it would take to wander from hostelry to hostelry.
Those of us from outside the area stayed at a local Premier Inn, and so it didn't take me long to bleat at the poor receptionist that the £29 a night deal endorsed by Lenny Henry simply did not exist. She assured me it did, but it applied only to stays of more than one night. So the upshot of it is, it may be £29 a room, but you would never be allowed to leave with a bill of £29. I feel vindicated.
Charles, Alex and I chatted with a local BBC chap in the pub adjacent to the hotel until it was time to beetle into town and meet the rest of the throng at a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet called Cosmo's. During this period, I was advised that I should brush up on my reading upside down skills if I ever wanted to embark on a career within the BBC. I'm currently writing this blog while standing on my head.
The buffet was tremendous and I put back as many mouthfuls of chicken in black beans, rice, noodles, garlic mushrooms and various other deep-fried sundries as I could. I took four trips in total to the buggies of grub, doing what all people when faced with an all-you-can-eat deal do - eating far more than your physical being will allow. All those swimming sessions in the last seven days were gone for a burton.
Then we piled into cabs to a pub called the Steam Railway, owned by a local radio DJ who had, with sensibility and nerve I could never muster, realised a while back that the industry's arse was weakening substantially and looked for something else to do. We took seats in a corner and stayed there, swapping stories, jokes and wisecracks that had our host, the marvellous Fat Mancunian himself (exiled on the wireless in Wiltshire now), removing ceiling tiles with the force of his laughter.
Among the stories related were:-
* The well-known female presenter who would habitually call the police because she was lonely and change into a mere négligée once said officer had turned up at her flat to deal with the non-existent "intruder"...
* The well-known female presenter who on a particularly drunken night out, said hello to a group of people who recognised her from her television work - and then promptly fell face down into a load of dustbins...
* The now-deceased national radio presenter whose hissy response to being bollocked for not introducing the newsreader properly was to say, on air as an introduction, that she had four buttocks...
* The presenter who had received a "visit" from an impressionable (and, presumably, easy on the eye) sales girl at his home on the very day that Google Streetview turned up on his estate with their big cameras, meaning that this lass's car is now permanently photographed outside his house...
* The obsessive (ie, lonely) listener to a local show who told the presenter she was ill and unable to listen for a while and, when the presenter chose not to ask for details, sent a long email about her Paget's Disease (click the link only after bracing yourself) which went into waaaaaaaay too much detail.
That last one was extraordinary. It involved the removal of skin from buttocks and legs and, well, that's the bit I have the stomach to reproduce. The moment couldn't pass by without asking Charles, one of the country's leading voiceover artistes and continuity types, to read the whole email as if doing his stuff on a lottery night. This knocked previous revelations about Toblerones into a cocked hat, frankly.
Brilliant evening in a smart pub within a town that seemed quite sparse, both of architectural features and, well, people. Friday night in Swindon is quiet. Or at least it is until radio people choose it for a night out.
My health regime has prompted me to knock the Guinness on the head and switch to vodka and tonics instead. Elton John once famously sang that it'd take a couple of vodka and tonics to set you on your feet again. It took about ten of the blighters to have the opposite effect on me.
It's York next. If any local radio presenter in North Yorkshire wants to come along and even it up by grassing on a listener with priapism, you'd be most welcome. Otherwise it's back to the jingles, roadshows and playout systems. And there isn't much wrong with that.