Travellers Tales

Jim shouted ‘I said get me up at 7.30’, but I thought he said 8.00 so the pair of us were running around like blue-arsed flies this morning.
He managed to get out in ten minutes. Off to the dentist, having had four and half hours of sleep.
I was more leisurely and dawdled around until I realised that I had to get to TWells for the 9.01 train and it was nearly 8.30 and the traffic and the rush hour and OMG! – So I kissed the dog and ran like the clappers to the car, ran back having forgotten the keys, ran back again and drove in the fast lane until I arrived at the car park. Then I leapt out of the car, put in my first pound coin – it came back to me. The second did the same. The parking machine was broken, so I wrote a scribbled note on an old receipt, ran to the exit where a working machine leered at me, bunged in 4 pound coins, too much money as I had no change, ran back to the car, screwed up the note and put the real parking ticket in its place, then walked very fast indeed to the station.
Got my cheap day return then into the coffeebarcumwaitingroom for ‘The Mirror’ and ‘The Mail’, both of which I hate, but both of which can be devoured in under 40 minutes and both of which have opposing versions of Alistair Campbell’s diaries, all of which makes… no, never mind as it’s just another pile of parliamentary money spinning.
I grabbed a seat next to an unusually long legged man and settled down for a read.
Now I don’t mind people falling asleep next to me, although I would prefer to have been formally introduced first, but this geezer stretched both his legs into my space, diagonally under the table. I had to struggle to put my little legs (I am only 5.1 and three quarters) up on the seat opposite which meant sliding down in the seat until my chin was resting on my clavicles.
When Long John Baldy started scratching his bits, I swear I nearly woke him, but he was so deeply asleep I thought it would confuse him if an aging traveller whacked him over the head with Alistair Campbell.

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Sleepless in See-Sussex

Whenever my girlfriends come to stay, I burn the candles at both end. I have my cake and eat it, whilst biting off more than I can chew. All in all, I am clinched out, cream crackered and so full of chocolate, my airwaves are totally clogged up. I go to bed exhausted but can’t sleep because the conversation has fired me up. Hence sleepless in See…
We’ve just come in from Lewes. It’s about 20 minutes from the cottage. We went to see an art exhibition called ‘Body of work’, a free warehouse exhibition of stunning contemporary art. The show is on until 13th July, everyday from noon – 6pm. My cousin had created some wonderful splashes of colour with his arty bluebells, whilst one of his tattooed chums hung extraordinary pictures of blood and gore in the form of Buddha self harming and alienated figures literally crying their eyers out.
Mandalas, of intricate design, hung on one wall, whilst on the final corner, beautiful body casts were displayed. There was even a shuttlecock – which was just that. I should have liked to have met the guy who modelled for it.
I hope enough people support it, its so hard for artists to survive these days. We left Grant over-seeing the exhibition whilst five of us went for lunch in ‘Bills’ in Lewes.

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The postman always rings twice

Well, just as I said, the postman arrived and I signed for BB’s ‘Love Box Weekend’ tickets. My, that sounds like a good day out, especially with the weather we are having. It snowed in Battersea this evening…
The postman and I talked about his grandson Zac, who is nine weeks old and smiling. His Grandpa swore he heard him say ‘dada’.
Then I walked the dog. I bought him a new rope lead. It smells good but he won’t hold it in his mouth. He obviously has an aversion to twine. It’s about the only thing he does have an aversion to. If any kind of food has been discarded, mislaid, masticated or eliminated, it will somehow find its way into his Labradorian gob. I now walk next to him and scream, tersely, just to remind him who is boss.
So, carrying my five birthday cards, me and the hound set off in the midday sun. He on his new lead and me holding it. I was feeling bright and cheery and awfully virtuous…

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There is an awful lot to do in the country. So far today I have juiced a whole pineapple and a massive papaya, taken the dog to the field and waited for him to widdle in the wet grass, sorted the mouldy coriander from the fresh, whizzed up my seed cheese, meditated, and left the door open for the postman. He’s a lovely geezer. His son went to school with my daughter so we’ve know each other for years. I’m awaiting tickets from some ruddy Festival BB is going to – I have to sign for them.
I’ve had a shower, responded to all my emails, and got dressed in preparation for the estate agent who is coming round at noon to evaluate the property. We’re not moving – I just want know how much we’re worth.
It’s Jacuzzi Tuesday today, the rain is teeming down. Last year Jim made weather boards in the front garden so that our cellar wouldn’t flood, yet again. He succeeded. Now it’s a dry as a bone, which is good because poor old Mr. Fenner doesn’t like the damp.

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Michael and Selby

No, I can’t tell you what the food pilot is called. It’s not that it’s bad luck. It’s just that I’m not allowed to say anything. But thanks for your good wishes.
This morning I drove my daughter to Paddington. The traffic was catastrophic. We made it but I had to stop in a wine bar and borrow their restroom. Not literally – I left it fitted to the wall.
I had my pink Crocs on and slipped on the floor, landing on my knee. One of the regular drinkers looked at me and pondered as to whether to knight me with his ham baguette. He offered his hand instead.
I drove home in the teeming rain dodging all the traffic by taking what is a now a familiar route, West-ish, thanks to LBC.
I ate a lot, and continued to do so on the way back to Sussex, stopping off in Gypsy Hill for a spot or two of chocolate. I never normally eat it but the last week has reduced my strength and a good boost of milk chococrap really did the trick. Hello to the woman in the offy.
When I got into the suburbs of T’Wells I got lumbered behind a little white Robin Reliant.
I thought about how I never really watched ‘Only Fools and Horses’ as that kind of comedy ‘classic’ used to irritate me. I thought about how I could call the little white RR ‘Trotters’ something or other but felt it would be fraudulent since I don’t know the series that well…

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Nil by mouth

By four o’clock today I had had enough of my own gob. No more yakking, no more voice overs, no more chit-chat. I had been at it from 7.15 a.m.
My day started with BB and I driving into Soho. We left early so that we could wander through the empty streets which always reminds me of Paris first thing in the morning. Everything lazily opens with a smattering of people sitting outside coffee shops having a morning brew.
We drove down Shaftesbury Avenue to turn right into Wardour Street, when there they were – 48 plastic cones and a barrage of metal railings. Half the street was being dug up. I turned the car round. I tried Greek Street, Dean Street, Frith Street, then Greek Street, Dean Street, Frith Street. Again, each time we were thwarted. They all went in the wrong direction round the one way system and by the time the clock had passed nine, we were suffering motion sickness from travelling in ever decreasing circles.
Eventually I made a calculated decision to try and park in Soho Square. Terrific except that now there are hardly any coin-receiving machines. By the time I had secured a parking slot, it was 9.30 and I had yet to telephone in my parking details. Voiceover studios are booked by the hour. Time is money and I seemed to be using up the valuable minutes like we had all the time in the world.

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Mr Brown goes to the palace

As we were coming to the end of today’s LBC programme, I watched the television screen in front of my nose, and there they were – Mr and Mrs Brown holding hands and being cheered on from people standing on glass balconies. The B’s looked like royalty in creased suits.
As I write, I’m chomping on the most amazing chestnut bread that Paul Hollywood brought into the studio. He gifted me that and a lovely ciabatta loaf, fresh from his own baking ovens in Kent.
The radio show goes so swiftly. I know what I’m doing when I’m talking to people but my timing is as bad as a pregnant woman trying to calculate the date of delivery of her first born baby after a night out on ouzo with a group of drunken midwives – hic!
There was so much I wanted to talk to Paul and Ian Marber about but I had to keep remembering when to go to ads, news and weather. You would think after 498 years in the industry, I would know a second from a minute but I’m all over the place. It’s doing me brain in.

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Second night nerves

Even if you’re not a thespian, you must have heard about ‘first night nerves’, but when you are a seasoned thesp, it becomes apparent that first night nerves are actually a God send. The adrenalin pumps, the brain focuses, the middle distance disappears and off you go. It’s the second night that’s the bitch. Concentration is down. The adrenalin is more under control. There’s ever such a slight smugness that you’ve got over the hump and BLAHM!, that’s when those mistakes creep in.
I turned up to LBC, which is situated on Latimer Road, near Shepherds Bush, and only fifteen minutes from my flat. The traffic was easy, but already I was taking liberties. Instead of having my brief case – I’ve used it for years it’s made out of red plastic and kept together with good will and gaffer tape – I had a flimsy purple folder I’d bought in Waitrose. I had scant notes, three different coloured pens (red, blue and black) as well as a lovely pencil from ‘Scramble’, the sound studio I voice ‘Heat’ ads in.
I had my purse with a little money, my car keys and my phone. I was travelling light. I drove to reception and picked up the plastic key to let me into the car park. When the black end is inserted, wrought iron gates, with fierce barbed wire rolled atop of them, open very slowly. Yesterday I tried inserting the red end and sat there for 10 minutes wondering why I couldn’t get in
I parked my car, buzzed to get into reception, flirted with the Greek receptionist, who looks like my cousin Malcolm Hoppen, father of Zoe with whom I spent some time in San Diego, and was greeted by Steve Campden and Chris Lowrie, my producer and engineer.
I felt like an old timer, having been there for precisely one day as I skipped up to the second floor. It felt less strange but not yet familiar. Anna Raeburn was at her desk, all intent and intelligent. She told me I looked nicer with my hair down and suggested, rather than dictated, that I should keep back from the mike. This was endorsed by Steve, who told me that sitting back in the chair was wrong. Sitting forward on the chair was wrong. But sitting in the middle was right. Steve had told me that before but it had gone right over my head. See, second day and you think you know everything until…

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A light lunch

Something I never do is take an afternoon nap but having to face a brand new challenge has completely knackered me. Thank you for your messages of support – you definitely warm the cockles of my heart.

Radio is a staple of my life. I grew up with ‘Round The Horne’ and ‘Billy Cotton’s Band Show’. I was ill to ‘Mrs. Dales Diary’, and I ‘Listened with Mother’ until I was old enough to send in my requests to ‘Uncle Mac’. So for a child of the 50’s, the wireless was an integral part of life.

I was also a pianist. At the age of five I was picked out as having some sort of precocious talent, but it’s gone the way of most things you don’t practice, along with the waistline and the ability to hit top ‘C’. Did you know, girls… our voices get lower as we get older? By 2020, if they ever ask me, I’ll be singing bass on the back row with the Treorchy Male Voice Choir.

So, doing LBC feels like some kind of strange continuum. I know how radio sounds but doing it is very different. There are cues that have to be listened to, callers that have to be talked to, guests to debate with. All while talking as fluently as is possible without swearing. Given that the bulk of my brain was concentrating on five things at once, and given that the bulk of my brain is mashed potato, you can see why I took to my bed.

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Shrek in Chelsea

To Jill, I know it’s hard to find work when you’re sixteen. My twillage employs all the young folk in three supermakets and, of course, I don’t approve. But I am not so naive as to think that all the yoof of today will go out and get jobs husbanding trees or picking organic strawberries in the local biodynamic farm. Surviving in today’s climate is tricky at the best of times, but really tough when you are skint and in need of a pint of cider and the fare money for the only existing bus service to take you to the cinema which is now re-located out of town and costs the price of an awayday ticket.

My daughter refused to work in Waitrose, not from any political position but because she hated the fabric of the uniform and thought the dress and blouse, like the job, wouldn’t have suited her. I thought we would never see the back of her, but she trawled the back streets of T’Wells and landed a job behind a bar and kitchen of the local arts club.

I know they are few and far between but sometimes the young folk do surprising things when left alone. Mind you, I’m still waiting for her to pay me back-rent for nine months free board and lodging in my luxury womb with a view.

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