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.

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