15 December 2008

"We prefer to call it Gallic, not Gaelic..."

Another radio boys night at the weekend, this time we chose Leeds as the venue for our eating, drinking and swapping of anecdotes about jingles.

To be in the company of Charles Nove, Alex Lester and Martin Kelner while they tell stories is like having a front row seat or an exclusive interview. I wish I could relay just one of their tales to you. I can't for reasons of a) discretion; b) loyalty; and c) libel. Let's just say that (literally) invisible BBC staff, an engineer's secret tape recording, getting the local lingo in Scotland wrong and the phrase "she was always capable of night-time adventure" were randomly scattered about the pub while the rest of us laughed.

I've never met Martin Kelner before but I'm a longtime fan. I used to enjoy his BBC night-time network programme on the local stations up here, and he is always the best thing about Fighting Talk on 5 Live whenever he is recruited. As with the first time I met Alex, and for that matter Richard Allinson, I happily and unashamedly began my first conversation with him by telling him of a time I'd corresponded with his programme, expecting him to remember instantly. He did. He may have been acting politely, mind...

The restaurant was a new Italian joint, which looked after us well (despite only 12 people turning up for a 20-strong booking) although it was one of those places that liked presentation as much as it valued taste. As a consequence, my fillet steak was excellent, but when the menu said it came with chunky chips, I didn't realise they meant five solitary French fries which were each the size and shape of housebricks, and all piled on top of each other. My builders would have been tempted to cement them together.

Our final drinking location was the bar at the local Jury's Inn hotel, which initially looked us up and down at the door - having supposedly adopted a policy of hotel guests in the bar only - before agreeing to "15 minutes only" for us in their bar. As raucous as our collective lives may have been in the past, I was surprised that this self-important doorman could believe that Alex and Charles were potential rioters in his precious hotel. Anyway, we stayed an hour and a half in the end before the hay finally beckoned. A fab night.

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