2 January 2009


First bit of priceless telly of 2008; last night's edition of Celebrity Mastermind. Having just retaken his seat after facing questions on the Just William books, Rick Wakeman watches his fellow competitor Ian Lavender take to the black chair. As ever, John Humphrys commences by asking the participant his name.

Before he can reply, Wakeman yells: "Don't tell him Pike!"

It may have been rehearsed and unoriginal, but I laughed like an inhabitant of a home for the deranged. Lavender looked a mixture of amused and peeved. The audience applauded.

Wouldn't have happended under Magnus Magnusson.

Tim Vine won the episode thanks to an impressive general knowledge round (despite the celeb questions being so much easier than the ones Kevin Ashman, Fred Housego and co would have ever needed to answer), although he was bizarrely slipshod on his specialist subject. He chose to face questions on Elvis Presley and failed to know that Elvis a) was managed by Colonel Tom Parker; and b) owned Graceland. These are surely facts that everyone, including Presley haters, know about Elvis Presley.

1 January 2009

Still, think of the money

6.45am - rise and shine

7.20am - leave my corpse-like East Yorkshire village, negotiate biting -3c snap across the M62 and up the A1 and A19

9am - arrive at TFM's studios in Thornaby

10am - go on air

1pm - come off air, pile back into car, stop down the road for fuel of two kinds - diesel for the Mondeo and a carrier bag full of chicken and bacon caesar salad wraps for me

2.45pm - arrive at Pure FM's studios in Stockport, having eaten two of the wraps on the journey down

3pm - go on air

7pm - come off air, eat two more wraps

7.15pm - go upstairs into gentlemen's convenience, change into suit and dicky bow, get angry at forgetting cufflinks and inability to style my dreadful hair

8pm - arrive at the club, ready for eight hours of music, abuse and spilt drinks on my shoes

12 midnight - lead the New Year countdown, choose Twist & Shout by the Beatles as the first song of 2009 and it goes down a storm - watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off the other day was a real help

12.05am - ring Natural Blonde to wish her a happy birthday and a happy new year, in that order. I'm in trouble if I get it the wrong way round...

12.15am - put on I Predict A Riot just as two burly, flourescent-jacketed members of the Greater Manchester Constabulary wander through on one of those routine checks

4am - say goodnight, leave sharpish, hit a deserted, freezing M62 with Alex keeping me sane on the wireless, while eating the last of the wraps

5.50am - arrive home, spend half an hour in the car on my knees in the rear footwell as I dropped my mobile phone under the utility unit between the front seats; eventually retrieve it with the aid of a screwdriver

6.30am - leave NB's birthday card on the (new) sofa with her present

6.35am - collapse into bed, 23 hours and 50 minutes after getting up

And all because the calendar is changing...

The most notable thing was how empty the roads were during the day. New Year's Eve isn't a public holiday, forgawdsakes. Why was I the only one working...? Still, I appear to have done enough for a couple more people along the way.

Hope your celebration was fun and safe.

31 December 2008

I don't know the words to Auld Lang Syne

Be safe and have fun tonight. See you in 2009, then.

30 December 2008

No good ad-vice

BUPA, who put high prices on health and breathing, have moaned that our soap opera characters with bad habits don't show enough symptoms or side-effects from their vices.

Oh, just shut up.

It's fiction. It's drama. As engrossed as I am by Coronation Street, I know it's not real, therefore nobody in their right mind is going to be influenced by the activities of a fictional character.

I also know that there are few smokers in Weatherfield these days. Becky Grainger lights up constantly but doesn't have a hacking cough. This is because the actress, Kate Kelly, doesn't smoke in real life and therefore she sparks herbal fags. As good an actress as she is, I suspect a hacking cough in which oysters are regularly hawked up is quite hard to feign if your airways are, in fact, clear as glass.

After her, who else smokes? Liz and Steve McDonald (though Steve didn't seem to start until a couple of years ago, oddly) plus Lloyd Mullaney, Janice Battersby, Peter Barlow and that new limping Windass fella, the one who separates his fry-up on dinnerladies and doesn't seem to have anything more than the tiniest dog-end on the go anyway. None of them smoke indoors as the homes on the Street are, of course, really workplaces and therefore the scripts avoid the issue as nobody is allowed.

I no longer watch EastEnders but I know Dot Branning still smokes like a chimney, and proper fags too. BUPA says she should be struggling for breath all the time. But if June Brown - who mirrors Dot in her longtime habit of chaining real fags - isn't breathless, then why should her alter ego be? Drama is supposed to reflect life and, sorry BUPA, but while bad habits are to be discouraged, it doesn't mean that everyone who smokes (or drinks a bit, or has a bad diet) is going to be severely ill, earlier than expected.

28 December 2008

You know, Russian geezer, had a mate called Perry Stroika...

One of the glass collectors at the club had a bit of an accident over Christmas, which left him with a large cut on his totally bald pate. By the time he turned up for work last night, the cut had dried up and a large bruise was, instead, impressively spreading towards his scalp.

On the mic I spent the evening, cruelly but aptly, calling him Mikhail. He got the joke but the bar staff didn't have a clue.

The bar staff are all under the age of 26. One's age really comes to the fore when the last Soviet leader, as famous for his port-wine birthmark as for his reforms, is someone not even remotely on a grown-up person's radar. I'll have the bath chair now, thanks.