Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a good couple of weeks. I have had a fantastic fortnight. That has been full of fun, extremely busy and which included a special weekend in one of my favourite places in the United Kingdom, Liverpool. I will tell you all about that trip very shortly. But first I would like to wish you a slightly belated happy St George’s Day for last Wednesday. I always feel that we in England never really properly celebrate our Saint’s Day. Well not like the Scottish, the Welsh and in particular the Irish do anyway. May be this is because in the modern world we have issues relating to a Knight slaying a Dragon. Which could still happen if Alan Sugar ever really laid into or had a go at Peter Jones or Duncan Bannatyne. Although whenever I think of St George now it makes me think of Shrek when he rescues Princess Fiona from the Dragon in the castle. It is a day I personally think we should really get behind more and make more of it. Perhaps when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son becomes King in the future. He will want to make a bigger deal out of it. This year I celebrated St George’s Day by going out for a Chinese meal with a friend and former colleague of mine. So combining our English qualities with a culture in which Dragons play a big part. Therefore killing two birds with one stone or to put it another way slaying two dragons with one huge sword.
So the other weekend I went to Liverpool for a few days to attend a Wedding of a good friend of mine. Who I actually met through working in the radio industry over thirteen years ago now. I love Liverpool and as far as I am concerned it is one of the best nights out in the country. The Wedding was on the Friday but as I wanted to settle in and spend some time in the North West. I took the train up on the Thursday. Although the journey did take a little bit longer than I had planned. It is never a great start when your first train of three is late, meaning you miss your other two connections. But I eventually arrived and then checked in to my hotel room above the Parr Street Recording Studios. Where bands such as Coldplay. Beautiful South, Stereophonics and the Spice Girls have recorded alongside solo artists including Barry Manilow and Diana Ross. It is still a well used place, with lots of bands seemingly heading in and out of the place all through the period I was there. I did manage to stick my head in one of the studios. And it is far to say they have a very impressive set up there. As you would expect looking at the people who have worked in there in the past . As soon as I arrived I headed out to meet the Groom to be and his Best Man and we went to a couple of fantastic bars for a few drinks including the iconic Cavern. Which is just a truly magical place decorated with pictures and memorabilia from many of the great musicians who have played there over the years. On stage there was a brilliant acoustic guitarist playing Beatles songs. Which the whole bar were singing along to. I always like to pop in there when I visit.
The next day it was the Wedding Day. We met the Groom and his Best Man in his favourite pub right in the centre of Liverpool for a pre wedding drink to calm any last minute nerves. Of which there did not seem to be any to be honest. We then all jumped in taxis to head to the Wedding Venue. Which was actually the home of the team the Groom supports Goodison Park. This was the first wedding I had ever been to at a football ground, so I was really looking forward to it. We pulled up outside Everton Football Club and walked straight in the main entrance. Which is where the players arrive on a match day. Soon we were heading upstairs to the Dixie Dean Suite which is where the actual Wedding Ceremony took place. It was a very nice service with some great readings including a poem by Pam Ayres on relationships. Which I thought was a different but a very nice touch. Then we went and had all the usual Wedding style photos taken but in the main stand. We then came back inside and headed to the room where the reception was being held. While the Wedding Party headed down to have some more pictures in the tunnel and at the side of the pitch. Which the groom really enjoyed. The evening itself was perfect. The speeches were all great, the food was lovely and the whole night went with a bang. I got to catch up with lots of people I had not seen for a while. As well as having a good old dance. It is a bit hazy but I think I may have been having a small dance off to Steps and Tragedy with the person who will be shortly taking over the Radio City Breakfast Show. Now despite the fact that I did once win a competition doing this routine in Magaluf many years ago, she is a trained actress and dancer so was easily doing it a lot better than me. But it was good fun. It was a very special, funny and memorable day. And I would like to say huge congratulations to Jeff and Diane and thank them for inviting me to be a part of their big day.
Now the groom Jeff is not only a massive Everton fan but is also a king of rock n roll and can party with the best of them. The day after the wedding his beloved team were playing. So we all met up in Liverpool again to watch the game and continue the party. After the match we did a tour of quite a few of the amazing pubs that the city has to offer. All of which I have to confess I had been in many times before. My two favourites from the night were Lennon’s Bar where Jeff got up and did a brilliant version of the Madness song It Must Be Love on Karaoke. Before we all ended up stood around the bar singing along to Beatles songs that the DJ was playing. And the Tube which is an 80’s bar complete with music from that decade and a flashing colour squares dance floor like in Saturday Night Fever. It is such a fun place to pop into. The next morning I then met another mate who is a Liverpool fan for a cup of tea at Lime Street Station. He was up to watch the Liverpool versus Manchester City game taking place at Anfield. While we were at the train station we spotted former footballer Nigel Spackman in a coffee shop and Noel Gallagher from Oasis arriving off the train and looking like the definition of cool, as he walked across the platform to his waiting car. I then left my mate to go to the match and had a walk round the Albert Docks. Which is actually where This Morning used to come from until they moved it to London. At the Dock there was a Radio Caroline boat which is broadcasting for a short time in the area. Of course with my love of radio it would have been rude not to go on board and have a quick look round. Which is exactly what I did. The studios they had were actually set up a lot like they would have been on the original Radio Caroline pirate ship. In fact some of the equipment they were using was actually used on the film loosely based on the radio station by Richard Curtis The Boat That Rocked.
I was at Wembley Stadium recently again doing a little bit of work there with the Football Association. I was standing with a group of people in the players tunnel area just at the side of the pitch. Up in the stands I saw someone I recognised doing a few television interviews. I then returned to the talking to the people with me. Then a couple of minutes later the person I had spotted actually appeared in the tunnel area stopping briefly to talk to the group assembled before posing for a few photographs and shaking a few people’s hands. Then just before he headed off I wished him good luck for the World Cup and thanked him for stopping to see us. He then had a very brief chat to me before shaking my hand and then patting me warmly on the shoulder. I sure you have guessed who it was by now. It was the England manager Roy Hodgson. Who was fantastic for stopping and chatting to us. He is not only a top manager but a top bloke to. That is one of the things I like about working at Wembley the people you see. As well as the England manager I have also seen Sir Trevor Brooking, Clive Allen, Kyle Walker, Martin Peters and Gareth Southgate all walking around the place recently.
The last television show that I went to see being recorded at Elstree Studios “All About Two” was on Easter Sunday Night on BBC 2. It was good to see it again and see which bits actually made it on to the TV because as with all shows it is fair to say there were a lot more items recorded than were actually shown in the programme. It is so clever how they edit it all together to make sense. I knew of several parts where things went wrong and they had to re-take bits of it but watching it from the comfort of your home you would have no idea. Dara O’Briain is really great at hosting those sort of things. But my personal highlight of the night was being in the same room as Sir David Attenborough. What a remarkable man. He is clever, creative and also very funny. Strangely when I was watching it in the studio I had got some mini eggs and was eating them between takes. Then when I watched it at home on Easter Sunday weirdly I was also eating a packet of mini eggs once again. The odd thing about BBC 2’s fiftieth anniversary is the rather embarrassing fact that none of the programmes it was due to launch with actually went out. Due to a massive power cut in London that night. So the first transmission was from the BBC news room and was a pretty dismal short report on why this new big shiny channel was not actually available on it’s first night. That said when you think of all the great programmes that have started life on BBC 2 since. I think they have more than made up for it. If you did see it I hope you managed to hear my unnaturally loud clap. I could easily pick it out and on a few occasions I have to confess that I was that annoying person who puts in just that one clap too many.
I friend of mine was in hospital last week having an operation on his elbow that he damaged playing football. I went in to visit him, to see how he was doing and hopefully to cheer him up and have a bit of a laugh. Great though the staff are few people actually enjoy being in Hospital. He had been given a big bag of muffins from an earlier visitor, so as he didn’t think he could eat them all he very kindly gave me one. It never occurred to me when I took it but you should have seen the looks I was getting from people as I was holding a muffin that they must have thought I had stolen from a patient possibly because they had fallen asleep due to the pain killers they were on. It was an awkward feeling but I got through it and enjoyed eating the cake when I got home.
Finally most of the line up has now been announced for the Comedy Festival that I made my Stand Up Comedy debut at nearly two years ago now The Tringe. The event based in Tring is where many top comedians preview their shows for the summer’s Edinburgh Festival. I am hoping to get along to watch a few of the shows myself if I can. If you want to find out more about it and I would strongly urge you do. Please see the link. http://www.get-stuffed.biz/
Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.