Going Ga Ga For Radio

Standard

Well, the snow held off for my birthday, and I’ve had the most fantastic weekend celebrating it. Saturday was spent being thoroughly spoilt by my kids, then an evening of karaoke – my birthday rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was indeed a treat for everyone present! Yesterday (or my Birthday Boxing Day, as we call it in our family) was a somewhat surreal experience, as the radio of my teenage years became real life.

Arriving in Camden for the Great British Radio Reunion at The Jazz Cafe, I was twenty minutes early so popped into a nearby coffee shop to keep warm and check I looked presentable. As I stood in the small queue for the single, unisex toilet that served the cafe, I noticed a group of gentleman sat inches away from me. I don’t know what you call a collection of radio DJs. A broadcast? A transmission? Whatever it is, I had stumbled upon one of the best – Paul Burnett, Mike Read, Ian Damon  and Tim Jibson. Paul invited me to join them, and as I sat down with the group, Showaddywaddy’s Dave Bertram turned up! Like I said, surreal.

We arrived at the venue at the same time as a number of other DJs, including Andy Peebles and Roger Day, who tried to convince the doormen I was his wife, in a futile attempt to get me indoors more quickly. The guest list hadn’t arrived at the door, and without a BBC pass to flash at security, I was amongst those having to wait a minute until we were given the go ahead. Still, I was in good company, and for the rest of the day, I was Roger’s pseudo wife!

DJs

Clockwise from top left: Roger Day, Johnnie Walker, Adrian ‘Ade The Shades’ John, Adrian Juste, Mike Read, Paul Burnett and David ‘Kid’ Jensen

As more and more guests arrived, I soon found myself surrounded by voices of the airwaves – Kid Jensen, Graham Dene, Tony Prince, and Shaun Tilley, who always seemed to be on hand whenever I needed someone to take a photo – thanks Shaun! I also managed to grab conversations with the two Adrians, Juste and John, both an integral part of my Radio 1 listening during the Eighties. Then, there was the man who everyone wanted to meet, Johnnie Walker. Magnetically charismatic, he seemed to have the ability to attract people from across the room, regardless of who they were. I won’t name names, but I wasn’t the only guest to have a big grin on my face when they met him. And what an eclectic bunch, the guests were.

Representing the 80’s music contingent were Brother Beyond’s Nathan Moore, Dr. & The Medics’ Clive Jackson, Martin Fry, Phil Fearon, Owen Paul, David Van Day, and Eddie Lundon of China Crisis, with the 70’s and earlier being represented by Tina Charles, Linda Lewis, Jimmy Helms, Hello’s Bob Bradbury, The Foundations’ Clem Curtis, The Searchers’ Frank Allen, and Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry, to name but a few.

Music

Clockwise from top left: Nathan Moore, Clive Jackson, Eddie Lundon, Adrian Juste, Owen Paul, Dave Bartram, Jona Lewie, Tina Charles, Graham Fenton, Jimmy Helms, David Van Day,  and Linda Lewis.

Amongst an onstage celebrity Pop Quiz, which saw Jona Lewie, Eddie Lundon and Sally Geeson take on Dave Bartram, Stephanie de Sykes and Beverley Craven,  a tribute to Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, and numerous performances by a plethora of singers and musicians, there were two personal favourites for me. First was Graham Fenton of Matchbox singing Rockabilly Rebel and When You Ask About Love, which immediately transported me back to a time when I was at primary school, and still in single figures. The second was Angie Brown performing Bizarre Inc’s 1992 hit I’m Gonna Get You, a track synonymous with my clubbing days. Although, I never dreamt that I would be watching Angie performing it live, whilst dancing away between The Reverend Doctor and Sixties’ songstress Billie Davis. What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I can’t wait ’til next year!

Click here to see the full list of presenters and performers at this year’s Great British Radio Reunion.

 

Past Christmas

Standard

With only a week to go until the big day arrives, I thought I would take a look back at Christmas during my favourite decade, so here are my festive Eighties’ memories:

1980

Following John Lennon’s fatal shooting at the beginning of December, I have an overwhelming memory of his music being played over the Christmas period. My dad bought Jona Lewie’s “Stop The Cavalry” on 7” vinyl, so that also got played a lot, and was usually accompanied by all my family singing along at full volume to the chorus. No wonder I looked so thrilled to meet Jona earlier this year!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1981

“Don’t You Want Me” by Human League may have been the Christmas No.1, but the record Santa left me on the big day was Cliff Richard’s “Daddy’s Home”! Boxing Day was spent at the Whitbread Social Club in Faversham, with songs like “The Birdie Song” by the Tweets and “Hokey Cokey” by the Snowmen on the jukebox. We returned home in the early evening to watch Russ Abbot’s Christmas Madhouse, featuring characters such as Basildon Bond and Cooperman.

1982

A memorable, transitional year for me, which saw me have my first Christmas as a pupil at Simon Langton Girls’ School in Canterbury. Most of the schools finished at lunchtime to start the Christmas break, and pupils from across the city would congregate in the bus station amid a frenzy of silly string and spray snow. 1982 was the year animated film The Snowman was released, and it was also when I became obsessed with Boy George, as shown in my homage to him.

1982

1983

The year when the world went mad for Cabbage Patch Kids! Footage of shoppers fighting over the dolls, which came with their own ‘adoption certificate’, even made headline news. My own Christmas wish list (which was fulfilled) included Paul Young’s “No Parlez” album and a bright red ghetto blaster. Inspired by chart-topping Flying Pickets, friends and I would practice our acapella singing of “Only You”.

1984

Christmas ’84 is easily summed up in two words – “Band Aid”. The world of pop music piqued the consciousness of a generation and, in an age of conspicuous consumption, Christmas came to mean much more than our own individual needs. I still have my most prized gift from this year, the making of Band Aid video. Unfortunately, I can no longer watch it, as it’s on Betamax.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1985

The year I received my music centre, complete with turntable, radio and double tape deck. This led to my obsession with vinyl being closely followed by a preoccupation with creating mixed tapes. Whilst I was upstairs listening to everything from Immaculate Fools’ “Hearts of Fortune” to Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” LPs, my family were downstairs listening to Nan’s favourite, Shakin’ Stevens, singing “Merry Christmas Everyone”.

 

1986

The return of acapella singing, this time in the form of The Housemartins’ “Caravan of Love”, and attempting to roll our Rs, whilst singing along to Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite”. Christmas Day this year saw us experimenting with creating cocktails. Just for the record, Baileys and lemonade doesn’t mix!

1987

My first Christmas in the sixth form, which afforded us the privilege of sitting on the stage during assembly, singing Wham!’s “Last Christmas” whilst covered in tinsel! This was the year my favourite Christmas song, “Fairytale of New York”, was released. However, it was kept off the top spot by “Always on My Mind” by Pet Shop Boys.

6th form Xmas

1988

My ‘reign’ as Faversham carnival queen covered Christmas 1988, and meant I got to turn on the town’s Christmas lights, along with First World War veteran Dusty Miller. It was an amazing experience to see the large crowd gathered in the Market Place, as we illuminated the town.

Xmas lights

1989

I left school in July ’89, and began working for a local accountancy firm. Our Christmas ‘do’ taught me two very important lessons for future office parties: 1) curbing your alcohol intake is always a good idea, no matter how boring it may seem at the time, 2) telling your boss a dirty joke is rarely wise, however funny you may think it is. Failure to achieve the former will invariably lead to the latter, and to much festive merriment for your colleagues!

Leaving you with those words of wisdom, all that’s left for me to say is “Merry Christmas” – have a wonderful time.