Hey Dad, it’s me, have you got a minute?
The first draft of the book I am writing about you is done and for the past couple of months Keith and I have been frantically editing it The chapter we are looking at again right now is one tentatively called Warners2Warners and it’s all about me which makes it so much harder to write. As usual Keith is wonderfully encouraging and yesterday we spent two and a half hours on the telephone talking about notes he had made. He got to the solitary sentence I had written about my time on Capital Gold co hosting and writing the Bradley Walsh Sunday Breakfast show and asked about it, I explained how I was always sure Brad had only asked me to help out because he would know that I would be talking to you so he was getting your talent and skill for my price tag. Smart really.
Others at the studio felt differently so I was ecstatic to be offered a show with another DJ Chris Yeo which would go out on Saturday mornings, my role would be talking to the listeners who called in while Chris concentrated on the buttons and finding the tracks that had been requested. Chris took a holiday and I figured I would have that show off as well but no, once again, someone else saw something in me that I would never recognise so there I was in the studio with a producer as I couldn’t be trusted with the mechanics of running a radio show on my own.
The point is this story came up and Keith laughed heartily, I could barely get through retelling it without laughing and sometimes wincing about the time I offended a fan of the Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother was celebrating her 101st birthday on Saturday the fourth of August 2001 and the newspapers were full of tributes to her which was making the search for quirky stories harder for the All Request Breakfast show I was about to present on Capital Gold.
Usually I would have pages of funny stories from the news coupled with the jokes we’d have written for the day but the news was all about the Queen Mother reaching this milestone birthday. So I decided we needed to play a song for the Queen Mother and when the producer asked me which one I told him I would work it out and when I wasn’t answering the phones of chatting on air I read all about the birthday girl.
Now before I carry on you need to know that Capital Gold has a top 500 chart of the listeners all time favourite songs. It’s important for this tale.
It turns out that the Queen Mothers favourite singer was Frank Sinatra somewhat narrowing down my song choices and when I looked up Sinatra on the stations list of songs there were still a few to choose from. Dad, you know how good I was with music and that is to say I wasn’t. I loved to listen to stuff but I didn’t know who wrote what or who recorded anything, ‘blissfully ignorant’ I think you called me. So when I see My Way listed at number 101 in the all time Top 500 list I decide it has to be played for the Queen Mother. I tell the producer, Eamon who questions me but I insist.
“Come on Eamon it’s Frank, the Queen Mothers favourite singer AND it’s at number one hundred and one. She’s 101 today! It’s a sign.”
After the break for adverts the red light goes on to let you know the microphone is live and I tell the listeners that the next song is for the Queen Mother reminding them she was celebrating a big birthday and I hit the vocal like a pro.
“And now the end is near and so I face the final curtain….” sang Frank Sinatra.
It was around about the word ‘end’ that I realised what Eamon had been trying to protect me from, I felt myself start to go red, I am not sure if that was me blushing with embarrassment or the fact that every single one of the thirty phone lines into the studio lit up. A wall of red flashing lights.
Undeterred I fade down the music and pay a glowing tribute to the national treasure that is our Queen Mother and slowly but surely the red lights turn off, thirty to twenty to fifteen to nine, seven, three, two until one was left flashing. And it didn’t stop. I finished my impromptu homage and went into the next tune and the red lights started to flash with callers wanting to hear their choice of song.
For the rest of the show I answered the phone nervously until it happened.
“Capital Gold Grizzly talking”
At Pontins I was always Fatbloke and here at Capital Gold everyone knew me as Grizzly a moniker given to me on show one by Bradley Walsh and it has always been my favourite nickname because it is the only one I ever had that didn’t include a variant of the word ‘fat’.
“Capital Gold Grizzly talking”
There then followed a torrent of abuse from a well spoken lady including words I had to look up. Nothing I could do would calm her down until exasperatedly I said.
“I made a mistake but I can’t fire myself, take this number down and call Andy on Monday he is my boss.”
She hung up and I finished my show.
Fast forward to eight oh five on Monday morning and my phone rings, the display tells me it is Liz who was Andy’s assistant.
“Am I fired?” I asked sheepishly to which she told me I wasn’t but suggested I made myself familiar with the stations playlist.
“How did you placate her?” I asked.
“I told her ‘think yourself lucky the Queen Mother wasn’t 102 Grizz would have played Honky Tonk Woman.’”
I remember calling you and telling you all about it and you said if I was ever on Parky that story had to be told. I am not going to be on Parky for so many reasons, one being he has retired but had I been lucky enough to appear on his show I would have spent it telling the viewers all about you!
I love you Dad. Talk soon.