Monday, February 13, 2006

News Update.

On hearing the news that Michael Carroll aka The Lottery Lout has just been sent to prison for nine months for causing an affray, I can't resist but to republish this piece I submitted back in June of last year. It was titled: 'What's The Recipe Today Jerry? which on reflection makes me wince a bit. It's funny how good ideas at the time often turn out to be less than inspired when you revist them, but the thinking behind the title was, I think, sound enough. "What's the recipe to day Jim?" spoken in Pinky and Perky-like tones, was the prelude to the Jimmy Young Show daily recipe. Jeremy Vine of course, took over the Jimmy Young show, though the daily recipe was unceremoniously dropped along with octogenarian JY and his brand of prog.

I think the writing was on the wall for Carroll and I guess he never received those hugs he believed would have cured him of his yobbery.

(June 2005) Jeremy Vine carried out an interview on his Radio 2 programme today with the self-styled 'King of the Chavs Lottery winner and serial lout Michael Carroll. For those who don't know, Carroll is an ex dustman yob who, at19 years of age, in an obscenity of justice two years ago, won nearly £10 million on the National Lottery . When he picked up his cheque wearing an electronic tag attached to his leg you could almost hear the collective despairing groan of a disbelieving nation as this boyo gurned at the nation's press photographers whilst holding a cheque with this mind- boggling sum of money displayed on it - all of it going to him, to this nightmarish example of an undeserving cause.

Part of Carroll's celebrations was to burn a 40 foot mobile home in his new front garden in rural Norfolk, whilst setting off industrial strength fireworks. There was a boat and a couple of cars lined up to stoke the fire up a bit should things die down too quickly, though the neighbours pre-empted this by summoning a battalion of firemen to dampen down things a bit, treating Caroll's bonfire as a fire as out of control as he was proving to be. The same neighbours who must have thought that Carroll had brought Hell as well as Hades with him into the Norfolk countryside where, once ensconced in his large home with grounds a plenty, proceeded to have all night alcoholic binges and banger racing parties in his garden, with at times as many as 80 cars formed up for the drive and wreck treatment.

A mini crane had been purchased for the purpose of shifting the wrecked hulks from one part of the garden to another to allow unimpeded, noisy, smoke inducing, dust cloud creating, racing with a new regiment of sacrificial vehicles.How the neighbours hearts must have sank to see this metal crushing procession in waiting. Not so much the calm before the storm, more the nepalm which brings the end of norm. How their lives had changed thanks to the lottery. From polite garden parties, hedge topiary, good natured braggery over the quality of the herbacious borders and gentle clapping during the family's annual croquet competition, to this dystopian, devilish fairground of Hell on earth. Satan's circus is in town - and it ain't moving on.

Not content with making his unfortunate neighbours lives a misery, his next stunt was to travel around the town and share a little of the mayhem about, toting a catapault from which he fired ball-bearings at shop windows and other cars. He got into trouble with the police for that one and it was for that he received his ASBO. He now says it will change him. And today he has chosen the Jeremy Vine show to let people know that he's turning from this dark side, and become a law abiding citizen.

On the JV prog. A little current affairs, a range of music, (well the Radio 2 playlist), and the current debate - nature v nurture in terms of personality development. This was brought about by the Narcissitic Personality Disorder murder issue and it stays with JV throughout the Carroll interview.The arrangement was for Carroll and his manager to assemble at the BBC Norwich Studio and explain how this corner was going to be turned. It was never going to be an easy interview for Jerry. His natural journalistic instincts were always going to prompt him into an investigative interview rather than something more cozy about where Carroll might go from here. He was always going to adopt a challenging attitude over his actions since winning the money.

Carroll predictably did not have a good voice for radio.Vine began by introducing Carroll who grunted something like 'ello' - even though one word, it was quite indistinct.

Vine: "You've been awarded an ASBO, is that why you've decided to change?"

Carroll: After a hiatus that must have seen much BBC tumbleweed rolling through the empty radio space probably made out of the hairlines of Jeremy's and his producer's hair-lines. "Yeah!"

Vine: "And the ASBO was awarded to you because you fired ball-bearings from your car."

Carroll: (Into comfortable territory) "Fucking prank wannit. Stoopid."

The "stoopid" referred to the prank I think, not Jeremy. It hardly mattered who the 'fucking' was aimed at, the whole of Radio Two's lunchtime audience would have heard it, that's all that mattered. Jeremy, slightly stunned, let it pass against a background hissy shout in his ear from a heavily sweating tumbleweed producing Producer: *move on quickly.*

Vine: (loosening his tie) "Why do you behave so bad?"

Carroll: "Provoke."

Vine: "What do you mean?"

Carroll: "Sly remarks and shit!"

Vine: (To the accompaniment of more: in-his-ear-but-audible-to-us-hissing.) "Because the £9.7 million must have changed you and perhaps changed the people around you?"

Carroll: "Yeah. Changed me. Yeah! Trust!" (Sniff)

Vine: "And you feel you haven't been treated well by those around you."

Carroll: "Not too good."

Vine: "And that has affected your behaviour but you're cleaning yourself up now?"

Carroll:"Fucking right."

Vine: (now with thoughts of P45s winging their way towards him before he can acquire a Colt 45 to place against his foot. Or his head) " I must remind you that this is a family show and to kindly watch your language"(or words to that effect.) Christ! he must have thought, one day Kissinger, next day ...

Carroll: "F..... yeah. Right."

Vine: "You were treated badly as a child." ( the old nature versus nurture debate still rippling through his head.)

Carroll: "Just a wee bit."

Vine: "You didn't get on with your wive's partners."

Carroll: ( Wondering how many wives he's had and perhaps rationalising that he probably wouldn't get on all that well with their partners) "Pardon?"

Vine: (bugger me I'm getting as bad as him)"Your mothers partners were cruel to you."

Carroll: "Just a wee bit."

Which took the interview roughly down the route he was (unconsciously) heading for I suppose. And as the interview developed I did begin to feel some sympathy for Carroll. There can be little doubt that he had a shocking upbringing, and even agreed to Vine's suggestion that all he really needed was a 'hug' from someone genuine and he'd be fine. Difficult to imagine I know but ...We shall have to wait and see.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Can't Stick, Won't Stick

One of the fortunate by products of hanging out in stark, cold, echoic rooms with the smell of paint and paste invading your nostrils and the charivari like scrape clatter of rickety step ladders nearly nullifying your auditory senses is that it's the perfect setting for a little intense radio listening. Or putting it another way: I like to listen to the radio when I'm decorating.

During the last few days my stall has roughly consisted of: a pasting board, a thing I always think resembles a child's stick drawing of a normal table, fragile and tottery as if it were a runt escapee from the nest world of tables, or a newly released table prisoner that has almost wasted away in its dark cell, the shed; scissors long enough and sharp enough to be part of a mad murderer's arsenal, blades, ditto; rolls of assorted, devilishly difficult pattern constucted wallpaper, a bucket of extra stong mixed paste with the consistency of tapioca, and enough paint and brushes to attempt another Sistine Chapel endeavour. And a small transitor radio -specifically chosen due to everyone's indifference should it get covered in a ghastly brew of paint, paste and stubbornly 'stuck on you' triangular cuttings.

The radio is of course the most important of this check list - everything else can be improvised. Paint brushes can be slow time rollers or muti-tasking as pasters and flatteners. The absence of wallpaper can be rendered unimportant, as the paint could be made to stretch further. The paint likewise, this time the roll taking on a greater role. For scissors, the blades. For blades... you get the picture.

But the radio is the thing that keeps you in touch with the world whilst in the midst of a hellish interfusion of sticky walls, opaque windows, stinging eyes and noxious fumes. But what to choose to listen too. If this, why not that? If that, what about this?

Over that last few days I have become, in my own mind at least, a Terry Wogan TOG. One of Terry's Old Gits. Many of the curmudgeonly letters read out on this show I rationalised, could have easily been written by me. A definite sense of the Peter Simple going on here - things ain't quite what they used to be. And I was happy to paste and to cut, and to rock with enthusiasm (even if it was more Eddie Cochran than Arctic Monkeys) and roll with emulsion with all the TOG music. Traffic reports from someone calling herself Sally Traffic. Rapport with Tel, slightly stilted.

A twiddle with the tuner and it's over to Radio 5 Live, and all those in-jokes, nothing is spared the: " If you have had a similar experience give us a call, we'd love to hear from you," school of radio broadcasting. Too much travel and weather though, and too much repeated news - twiddle twiddle, and it's bye-bye Nicky and Shelagh and it's time for Ken Bruce on 2. Chosen as a Terry Wogan soundalike back in the eighties whenTel abandoned radio for his now defunct, and under rated chat show - this is required listening. Pop Master. Riveting stuff. And there are people out there who know that Alvin Stardust used to be called Bernard Jewry before he became Shane Fenton en-route to becoming Alvin Stardust, and can name five hits by Mike and the Mechanics against a background of nerve-shattering Dalek-speaking countdowning of five, four, three, two, one, boof! You're out.

Ken's quizzes are worth listening to just to hear him hiss through superglued teeth: "Yeess go on" when the contestants ask if they could: "Say hi to a few friends" before they disappear back into obscurity. Ken nevers asks if they would like to do this, which means, frankly, that he'd rather they didn't. Sally T Rapport with Ken, respectful and reverend.

Meanwhile it's Victoria on 5 Live revealing too much of her personal life as usual: "Don't answer him Vicky, I think to myself, tell him, 'I'll ask the questions if you don't mind buster!' " Hmm, too much natter about schools and kids going on here, back to Two. And it's Jeremy Vine with music and chat, and a little shouty-shouty if past programmes are anything to go on. Oh, but it isn't Jerry. Someone called Tim Marshall. Who he? Is it time for Simon Mayo on 5 yet? I like Si. I particularly like his weekly spats with loud mouthed film critic Mark - "Its badly acted, badly directed, it takes pants sludge to a whole new order"- Kermode. But that's only on Fridays. So it's back to Two.

I studiously ignore that noise as I zzzzmm, zzzmm along the bandwidth as the radio attempts to lock in with Radio One. No. I can't do that one, not since they go rid of that nice Emperor Rosko who went on the road giving prizes to lasses with skinny legs, and Jimmy Saville, who was then marginally less mad than he is now. Tim with Sally? Tim thinks:' I suppose I'd better try, though I hate this sort of thing." Sally with Tim? Sally thinks: "You're a rum one, let's keep to traffic." Tim thinks: 'Thank God she's sticking to the traffic!"

Time for Steve Wright and the gang - the sultry sounding Janey, the chippy Tim Smith, and a curio axe-battler known as the Old Woman who remains - curiously anonymous, though is obviously Janey Lee Grace affecting the voice of a wise old crone. More music, and the Radio Two playlist is becoming a little obvious by now - and we're now into Radio 5 live repetition territory. And I'm ready for something other than music and news. Rapport with Sally a little strained: Steve's thoughts: "I'll do the jokes if you don't mind, and I don't even begin to fancy you." Sally's thoughts: "You're no Johnny Walker and I bet you'd look crap on a motorbike."

And the now paste and paint encrusted radio tuning dial is fiddled with again - this time the fruity tones of one of my all time heroes, ever, since the beginning of time. Stephen Fry is monologing supremely on Radio 4 about the subject of gibberish. Just how much work does this man do? Just how much exactly does he know? I spend a sublime half hour with my hero, and feel bereft at the end of the programme. Stephen Fry. The first name I'd enter on to my Fantasy Dinner Guest List.

I'm not going to Peter Allen on Radio 5 just now. He's a and first class interviewer and world class chuckler, but Five's reception is starting to fade and words like: Bonsoir ici est les nouvelles de le france, and: die folgende gute Musik, die ich Wille für Sie spiele are fighting it out with a game Pete Allen who I can still here chuckling in the background waves about people finding snakes wrapped round Yukka plants bought from Asda and voicing their hilarious concern about the dastardly effects of globalization.

And before I set myself up for another round of Sally Traffic flirting outrageously with Johnny Walker on 2 - she's been waiting for JW all day and gets to help him whilst sat on his knee and gives over the traffic reports to some young starlet wannabee with a good body for radio - "I turn that radio off," and go and clean myself up.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Tentative Steps

I always thought that I could blog for England given time. Spending time at home with a damaged foot should have given me an embarras de richesse of time, and enabled me to churn out numerous blogs of inordinate length. It hasn't. Finding myself with so much time, blogging has had to compete with all the other things that don't get done when coping with a life sucked almost dry by a time-mugging career.

I have become remarkably adroit at decorating for example. Only having one fully functioning foot hasn't stopped me from reaquainting myself with wallpaper and paste. All the old anxieties remain however: whether to use scissors or a blade, paste wall, paper, or both. Cut to size first when it's dry and manageable, trusting measurements, eye, ability to estimate, all of which known to be, in me at least, all too fallible; or trim and shape once it's up with the riskiness of cut, size and shape reduced, but replaced with a fear of imprecise slicings and cuttings through the damp stickiness of the pasted paper. But the foot thing is forgotten about during the interior debates about how best to tackle the interior design, and I can still do it.

Anything involving squatting at one end, or ladder climbing at the other, gives the tenderly fragile, newly connecting, weakly jointed metatarsel a little painful stress, but it's improving. And it needs to be tested. Given a work out. Pushed a little.

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