July 1-3: Radio, stowaway, hangperson


Monday, July 1

Radio Ga-Ga: a full house in the Radio Cumbria studio

To BBC Radio Cumbria, where I am doing my monthly arts preview on Helen Millican’s evening show.

The other guests have already been on air for an hour by the time I get to the studio at 8pm. A typically eclectic gathering, plucked from the Cumbrian creative community: two middle-aged women who are involved in the arts and crafts scene in Cockermouth; and a guy in his thirties who is in a folk band with his father-in-law, who must be in his late 60s, wears a stunted stovepipe hat, and plays the electric guitar one-handed.

I’ve been doing this gig since February, so I have no compunction about stealing the mic from the old geezer, one hand or not. It’s important to sound good – after all, you never know who might be listening, if indeed anybody is listening at all.

Helen is a consummate professional who used to work on the South Bank Show, and she’s got a hell of a job broadcasting on local radio for three hours a night, five days a week. I don’t know how much she gets paid, but it will be a drop in the ocean compared to Gary Lineker who now gets £1.75m for hosting Match of the Day for an hour a week, and Alan Shearer who trousers a staggering £450,000 for his 10 mins of monotone punditry on the same show.

I don’t get paid, but I regard each monthly broadcast as a penny in the experience bank. Helen has already said she will show me how to “drive the desk” – and, by the look of some of the Radio Cumbria DJs, a few are ripe for retirement.


Tuesday, July 2

A quiet day in Cumbria, but in London a man sunbathing in his garden was nearly struck by a dead stowaway who fell from the undercarriage of a Boeing 787 en route to Heathrow from Kenya.

When J and I lived in Thaxted, our house was directly under the flightpath of aircraft coming in to land at nearby Stansted. Thankfully we never experienced the falling stowaway problem, but then the flights were mainly EasyJet 737s coming in from Malaga and Mallorca.

It’s doubtful things could ever be so bad in Spain that people would want to risk their lives coming to Essex.


Wednesday, July 3

Being 51, I qualify for a free NHS Health Check. At Brampton surgery a nurse called Gail takes my blood pressure (excellent) and then takes my blood to test for cholesterol levels, potential diabetes and renal function (TBC in a fortnight).

I weigh in at 86kg, a kilo heavier than I was when I had the same MOT five years ago. However I appear to have grown – I am now 5ft 9 ½ins, whereas before I was half an inch shorter. Suspect the tests are not being done under rigorous scientific conditions, which makes me wonder about their validity.

A brief lifestyle Q&A concludes with the usual bullshit about how much I drink. I answer as honestly as I can – about five or six units a week on average – but neglect to point out that the average includes abstinent weekdays and weekend blow-outs which can last three days.

Still, as long as I get a certificate for the next five years I’ll be happy.

G reports that, in the spirit of end-of-term jollity, her ultra-feminist art teacher has suggested a game of “hangperson” on Friday.







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