Sunday, January 14, 2007

Don't set quiz questions when you have dodgy eyesight!

In 1997 I was working at Butlins. I worked on a twice daily live cable TV show that was broadcast to all the chalets and caravans on the campsite. I did everything except present the show, so I was the cameraman, vision mixer, sound and lighting guy etc.1 week we were given a load of toys to use as prizes. Rob the presenter asked me to come up with an easy question that all the kids would know the answer to.
I was in the newsagents, and saw a Barney The Dinosaur comic. That would be my question, 'What colour is Barney?' Rob read out the question that night and we waited until Friday, the closing date, while the answers came in.Friday morning, and Rob says to me, 'We've had a load of entries, but according to the answer you have given me, they are all wrong! Are you sure Barney is pink?' Well with my dodgy eyesight, he looked pink to me! And I will swear to this day that the comic makers must have been scrimping on the ink and had watered it down.I decided to be stubborn, stick to my guns and bluff it out! 'Yes Rob, he's definately pink. They are just kids, what do they know'So competition time arrives and Rob says 'Nobody won the prizes, Barney is pink and we did not receive a single correct entry. Now for a cartoon.'While the cartoon was on, we became aware of a commotion in the office outside the studio. When the cartoon finished, we quickly went into a pre-recorded interview with Bobby Davro and went outside to see what was going on. There was about a dozen holidaymakers kicking off because we had given the wrong answer out on the air. I had spikey hair at the time and 1 Irish woman called me a 'cheating hedgehog' who was 'trying to keep all of the toys for himself'Now I must confess that I DID swipe a Noddy alarm clock that I still use to wake me up of a morning, but I had made a genuine colour blind mistake!1 of the campers had even brought along her 5 year old daughter and her Barney stuffed toy, who was indeed purple. We brought the little girl and her Barney doll on the show, I apologised profusely, and we gave her all of the toys.Butlins TV was taken off the air at the end of that season.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Serial Killer Beatle

I was in The Grapes pub in Mathew Street in Liverpool once with my mate Bernie. The Beatles used to drink in The Grapes in the early 60s when they played in The Cavern. There are photos of them drinking in The Grapes on the wall of the pub. Bernie stared at a photo and said to me 'That's The Beatles isn't?'

'Yes it is' I replied

'Well that's Lennon and that's McCartney. But who's that then?' asked Bernie.'That's Stu Sutcliffe. He was their bassist before Paul McCartney switched from guitar to bass.' I informed him.

'You what?!?! Stu Sutcliffe?' said Bernie. 'You mean the Yorkshire Ripper was a member of The Beatles! Am not havin' that!'

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More Music - The Early Years

Back in 1982 I used to listen to a rock show on my local radio station, Radio City here in Liverpool. The show was called The Great Easton Express and the host was Phil Easton, who now makes pre-match and half time announcements at Liverpool FC's home games.Anyway, 1 night Mr Easton started dropping unsubtle hints that an upcoming gig at the Liverpool Empire by someone called Freddie McGregor plus the Studio One Band was actually a 'secret gig' by The Rolling Stones! The next morning in work I told everyone about this and in my dinner hour shot over to the Empire and purchased 10 tickets for myself and my workmates. As the gig drew nearer, some doubting Thomases, who didn't have tickets, started winding us up that it wasn't the Stones and it was some Reggae artist. As if!!!!!!!! Our man in the music business, Phil Easton, wouldn't mis-lead us.Thursday June 10th arrived and we all turned up to see Mick and the boys play a theatre gig. The fact that there was no Stones merchandise for sale in the foyer didn't throw us. OK there were T shirts in the colours of the Jamaican flag with the picture of a Rasta on instead, but so what? The support band came on and played 45 minutes of Reggae. Well Keith Richards loves his Reggae, he probably personally chose them for the support slot. Then it was time for the headliners, the 30 or so Rastas on the front row got excited, well as excited as a laid back, stoned Rasta ever gets and the other 2300 white middle class, middle aged members of the audience got ready for the Stones.Now you probably don't need me to tell you that The Stones did not play that night. Yes Freddie McGregor is a Reggae legend. No I never have forgiven Phil Easton. I still have my ticket stub. T 19 stalls price 4 pounds and 50 pence.
The moral of this story? 'If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is'

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas presents

I got loads of presents for Christmas. I received the following -
Pink Floyd Pulse double DVD (the greatest lightshow ever?)
The Monkees Complete 2nd season DVD (Got all the episodes on video but this has loads of extras too)
The Partridge Family Complete 1st season DVD
Rainbow Live Between The Eyes + The Final Cut double DVD
Whitesnake Live in the Still of the Night DVD + CD set
The Beatles Love CD
Pink Floyd Animals CD (already got this on cassette)
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds CD
Partridge Family + David Cassidy Could It Be Forever? best of CD (got most of this on vinyl)
Coffee Truffles
6 pairs of socks
CD Walkman (the one I have in work is on its last legs)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Interests No 2 Music - More from the early years

Music - More from the early years Current mood: good Category: Music
I have been listening to Blue Oyster Cult recently and because music often revives memories, it has reminded me of the 1st time I drank beer in a pub.When I was 15 I went to see Blue Oyster Cult at Bingley Hall, Stafford. I went by car with 2 school mates Steve (Wolfie) Wolfenden, John (Davo) Davies, my Maths teacher Mr Hillyard and my History teacher Mr Stone. Mr Stone had a wild mop of curly hair and a beard that any member of ZZ Top would be proud of. After seeing Mr Stone at a parent's evening, my Dad would refer to him as 'The Aborigine'.We arrived at Stafford early so the teachers said they were going to the pub and left us to our own devices. A visit to the chippy was decided upon and Wolfie ordered 1st. After spotting the 12 inch long sausages, he said to the young girl behind the counter 'A portion of chips and a sausage as big as my d*ck' I went into hysterics at this point. Schoolboy humour obviously!After scoffing our chips Davo suggested we visit the pub. I was a bit worried about this because I was the youngest looking. Wolfie was 6ft 2in tall with long blonde hair (he looked like a young mid 70s Rick Wakeman) and so would have no trouble getting served. Davo and I both shaved regularly, Davo every other day, me every other week! I couldn't lose face in front of my mates so said 'Yeah, lets go for a drink' and I think I even said something about copping for a barmaid.On entering the pub, Davo asked what we were drinking and I said 'A pint', he said 'A pint of what?' 'Beer' I niaively answered. 'So Lager then?' Davo enquired, 'OK, I will have that instead' I replied making it obvious that I wasn't an experienced drinker.While Davo went to the bar, I headed to the darkest, most secluded corner I could find so as not to draw attention to myself. After about 5 mins I noticed a huge fella, with a shaved head and covered in tattoos who was stood at the bar staring intently at me. When he realised that I had noticed him, he slowly walked over to our table. As he towered over me, with me cowering on my stool, he picked my pint up and had a good long look at it. I remember he had 'HATE' tattooed on his hand, something I thought never happened in real life. Only convicts in B movies have HATE tattooed on their knuckles surely? 'What's your pint like?' he said in a voice that would make 'I am going to give you all my money' sound like a threat.Now take a moment to ponder the scene. I am 15, 100 miles from home, in a pub for the 1st time in my life, obviously under age and some gorilla covered in tattoos is asking me about my pint. 'It's lovely, I mean it's great, a really good pint' I stuttered. He looked at it again and said 'This doesn't look good to me'. 'That's it' I thought, 'He's about to kick me out' when he said 'This pint looks cloudy to me. Take it back to the bar and get another one. If that censored behind the bar says anything, I'll censored him!' 'No its alright honestly!' I stammered drinking the rest of the pint as quickly as I could. We then made a hastey exit and headed towards the gig. Just as I thought I had got away without embarassing myself too much, the pint of lager and the chips decided they weren't staying down and I threw the lot up, all over my new cowboy boots!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Losing my virginity

I was 17 and still a virgin. I had my first proper girlfriend at 16. Diane was my first true love and I was absolutely mad about her. Well, you are when it's your 'first love'. She lived round the corner from my house, but if I stood on a table and looked out of my bedroom window I could see between the houses behind mine and see her front door. Our relationship consisted of us walking to and from school everyday, doing homework together once or twice a week, I would go round to hers on a Friday evening and we would listen to The Friday Rock Show on the radio and on Saturday evenings she would come round to mine and we would watch TV or listen to records in my bedroom. We kissed and held hands, but that was it. It was a very innocent relationship.

I remember the night she dumped me. We had been to a trendy club in Liverpool city centre on a double date with her best friend Christine and her boyfriend. I had been to clubs before but it was always Heavy Rock clubs with 3 or 4 male mates. Anyway I got all dressed up, which I hated and we went to this club that played awful disco music. I was in a right foul mood all night. When we got out of the taxi outside Diane's she dumped me. I can remember every word. Diane 'Going out with someone is meant to be fun. Tonight it was no fun at all. I am finishing with you' Then she said that immortal line 'But we can still be friends' I replied 'I have enough friends already. See you then' I was heartbroken. When you are dumped by your first love it is always a killer. We have never spoken since that night in 1980.

A year later I started seeing my 2nd girlfriend Barbara. My feelings for her were nothing compared to my feelings for Diane. Barb was OK. She was a very big girl (and I don't mean tall) and she liked rock. She introduced me to Judas Priest and Stackwaddy for which I am eternally grateful. Anyway Barb was sexually experienced, unlike me. After we had been seeing each other for a couple of months and we had partaken in some heavy petting on the couch in her front room, the chance to lose my virginity finally arose. My Mum and Dad went on holiday and left me to look after the house for 2 weeks.

The first Saturday they were away we went to a local pub so I could get some Dutch courage and a packet of condoms from the machine in the toilets. We then headed back to mine and straight up to my parent's bedroom. Well, they had a double bed and I was going to need plenty of bed space for all my love making skills! If you class slowly undressing the woman as 'foreplay', then the foreplay lasted about 30 mins. This was because she was wearing dungarees which I could not sexily remove her from and a bra I could not unhook. When she was finally naked my brain was screaming 'WOW! It's a naked woman!' but my face was trying to portray 'Yeah, she's naked. So what? It's nothing I haven't seen before' It most certainly was. I had never seen a naked woman before and I still do not think I have seen a woman with breasts as large as hers.

We slid under the sheets together and after 5 minutes of kissing and some groping I was standing to attention and ready to rock and roll! I got the packet of condoms out and ripped the foil off one of them. I then unravelled it and tried to put it on just like you would put a sock on your foot. Barb lay there with an increasingly shocked look on her face. After a couple of minutes of this unsuccessful condom fitting, I began to wilt and to feel very frustrated. Barb eventually asked me if I had ever worn a condom before. She did not know I was a virgin and I was not about to confess so I told her something like 'all the other girls were on the pill'. She spent 5 minutes 'stiffening me up' again and showed me how to put a condom on.

OK! Now I really was ready for action. I at the time thought that a penis was like a heatseeking missile. It just found the target immediately. This did not prove to be the case. It was getting pushed against her thigh, prodded against her ample stomach and then poked against her even more ample bottom. It was then she said the great line, ' This house has a front door and a back door. I would prefer it if you used the front door. You are trying to put it into the wrong hole' I realised it was going a lot nearer to her bottom than the intended area but I tried to cover for my niaivety by saying 'Wrong hole? Only if your arsehole IS the wronghole' (- what a charmer I was). She then threatened to cease our lovemaking unless I behaved. I was not going to be denied my great moment so I let her guide me in.

Oh my God! This is it! This is what I have waited for. I am having sex! It was one of the best 3 seconds of my life. She did not say 'Is that it' out loud but the look on her face did. I think I may have fallen asleep virtually straight after that but if I did, it will have been a very contented sleep. I do remember having alot of problems disposing of the condoms. I did not wrap them in tissue paper and just tried to flush them down the toilet. They filled up with water, floated to the surface and would not flush away. I fished them out a couple of days later and threw them in the bin. Barb and I split up shortly after that. She did not say that sexual frustration contributed to the split, but it may have been a contributing factor. Who knows?

Friday, December 01, 2006

My Interests No 2 Music - The early years

Music is my biggest interest in life. My awakening to music happened in June 1972. I was 8 years old at the time. I liked some Glam Rock like Sweet, T Rex and Gary Glitter (Yes I know! I saw him live 3 times before he was exposed) but I did not own any records at all. Then one Thursday evening as I was watching Top Of The Pops (this was in TOTPs heyday when 20 million people watched it) Alice Cooper appeared with School's Out to blast the Donny Osmonds and David Cassidys clean away. This was proper rock not watered down, poppy Glam Rock. Alice's band all had waist length hair and wore wild gold and silver clothes and in the middle stood Alice. Platform boots, leather flares, blouse (it looked too girlie to be a shirt) unbuttoned to his navel, Clockwork Orange eye make up smeared on, shaggy perm and he was waving a sword round. This was my musical epiphany. The following Saturday I bought my first ever record, the single School's Out. After that I bought the Alice Cooper albums Killer and Love It To Death. Nearly 35 years later I am still addicted to buying albums. And I still love Alice despite the awful albums he released in the 80s and early 90s. See when it comes to music I am not fickle. In fact I must be obsessed. If there is an artist/band I really like and they have released loads of albums, I will still buy their albums that I know are awful, just so that I have everything they have recorded. I must have 2 dozen albums by Alice, Santana and Tangerine Dream that I bought, knowing beforehand that they were abysmal and I would probably never listen to them more than once. Perhaps I need medical help.

My 2nd great musical awakening happened in 1979 when I was 15. I went to my first ever rock concert. I went to see the German Heavy Metal band The Scorpions at Liverpool Empire. I went with my school friend John Davies the elder brother of Richie mentioned in my last Blog entry. A quick story about John and Richie. They shared a bedroom together and John had a Pink Floyd poster above his bed that Richie coveted. So John sold the poster to Richie for £2. The only difference the change of ownership had, was that the poster was moved 10 feet along the same wall to above Richie's bed. A good bit of business by John I thought. Anyway my first gig. The first thing that really shook me (literally) was the sheer volume of the music. Up til that moment I had only ever listened to music on the radio or on my parents radiogram as background music while I did my homework. Suddenly my ears were being assailed by Heavy Metal blasting out of huge speakers at 110 decibels. The other great surprise was that at the gig I saw dozens of grown men playing Air Guitar. Now I thought I was the only person who played Air Guitar and then only in the privacy of my own bedroom. OK I am lying slightly, I did not play Air Guitar. I played Air My Sister's Tennis Racquet. I took Air Racquet very seriously too. I tied a long piece of string to the racquet to act as a guitar lead. I put 2 pairs of shoes on the floor in front of me. These were my effects pedals and I often twiddled with the knobs of my radio which was switched off, imagining that I was making adjustments to my amp. I also perfected the pulling of some great 'guitarist playing a really tricky solo' faces. Ever since that first concert I have loved seeing really good bands live. I sometimes even find technically awful bands entertaining live. I can on occasion enjoy seeing a band live who's records I don't particularly like. I guess I just love music.