Steve's Online Diary
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DIARY 04/04/08Can't keep away from Broadcasting House: 26th, record Tracks Of My Years for the Ken Bruce radio 2 show; 28th, record interview with Steve Wright. Chatting with Ken, I find myself getting a little shaky, searching on the hoof for the perfect word or phrase to describe my feelings about some of the wonderful records in my list. They ask for 15 titles and whittle it down to their own choice of 10. Don't hear the tracks at the time of the chat, just discuss them cold. I realise how deeply some of them have affected my life. Back to the 60s with The Beatles and The Hollies and you remember the mates, and the girls, the fun and the growing up; the loss of some of your innocence. And Millwall, and the unbeaten home record coming to an untidy end at the hands of Plymouth Argyle, bringing with it what might have been the first-ever pitch invasion, at least since 1923 and The White Horse Wembley Final, where the poor lucky buggers mostly had little choice. Ken keeps it flowing because he likes music, he respects musicians and he has a great knowledge of his subject. As does Steve Wright: but with him it's all done impromptu, it seems. Never know where it's going to go, and going with his erratic and comedic flow is best. Faith is restored at these times. Hearing A Friend For Life at 8.45 one morning last autumn, when Johnnie Walker sat in for Wogan, restored some faith, too. Make Me Smile is no albatross, but it's a relief to hear more recent tracks aired.
DIARY 19/03/08Nothing shocks me anymore. But it came as a surprise to learn the BBC are dropping Sounds Of The 70s from their schedule. Been eight years, I reckon. I enjoy the research, and it's the closest I've come to having a proper job in 35 years, which hasn't done me any harm. Never say never, and Lewis Carney, who called to deliver the news, promised it hasn't actually been assigned to the annals of BBC History. We agreed that if and when the Beeb fancy re-incarnating the show, he'd get back to me. I'll miss it. Truth is, I sound like a mine of information on-air, but really I cram. Learn it all from copious reference books as I write, and most gets forgotten pretty soon after. Presenting radio is not unlike performing, which comes easy to me; always reaching out to perfect the impression of being relaxed. Recorded last show, for March 27th broadcast, last Friday. Then took in Peter Hall's re-vamp of Noel Coward's The Vortex at The Apollo. All that '20s flapper banter sounds dated, and the lines are not funny now. But it comes clamouring to life in the 3rd, last, act as the tragedy unfolds; as Felicity Kendall's Florence struggles to accept a) that she is not immortal, after all, and b) her errant son Nicky has a serious cocaine habit. Plus, he is gay! That role looks difficult, but Dan Stevens is terrific. For me, Phoebe Nicholls steals it.
New photo shoot with Mike Callow in the north-west. Think maybe we got something quite special this time. We have decided to print the collected on-line diaries in paperback form for the Spring UK dates, to sell as merchandise.
Maybe one of those pix is the front cover. Got a couple of Mick Rock's from New York to consider, too. What to call the book?160 pages going back to 2000, right up to date (well, up to end March, say, when the printer needs final copy).
DIARY 09/02/08Spent Sunday in Biggleswade. Had to have a good reason. Recorded "The Coast Of Amalfi" as a duet with Belgian classical singer Hans Peter Janssens. HP sings it in Italian, I in English with the occasional Italian phrase slipped in. He has a fabulous voice, a deep tenor, close to baritone. Leading man in Les Miserables at the moment - until June. Get there before he ends his run. It's still an amazing show, and HP is perfect. "La Costa Di Amalfi" will be released in April, in Belgium, Holland and Germany. There will be downloads available via iTunes or whatever. HP has recorded "Sebastian", also in Italian. The translation makes it very pretty and deeply romantic. The language is, of course, musical, and my wee song has taken on yet another new guise. In fact, "Sebastian" will be out first, in April they say, with "La Costa....." to come later.
DIARY 25/01/08I am squeamish. A drop of blood, I can handle. Even watched the German pathologist/anatomist, Dr Gunther, sawing cadavers in half, and then into pieces on TV. Saw him decapitate one. But "saw" is the key word here. They were dead bodies. Cold. Frozen. Felt no pain. I could not stay in a room where, even on TV, a living person was being given the "saw" treatment. They may be sleeping, deep under anaesthetic, but they are alive. And I feel their pain. My wife is not like that. She has the stomach for it. Our friend, Juliet, is a major player at the National Hospital For Neurology And Neurosurgery in London and, she being friends with a surgeon or three, the occasional invitation to sit-in, actually to stand-in and watch from over the surgeon's shoulder during complicated, life-threatening/saving brain surgery, comes our way. It comes our way because Mrs Harley has herself studied Anatomy and Physiology, and they trust her not to faint. She's just home from a six hour operation involving the removal of a tennis ball-sized chunk - yes, tennis ball-sized! - of a man's brain. Epilepsy was his problem. Major problem. And, God willing, now his life will be considerably improved. I know perfectly well the skill involved in such a piece of surgical theatre, and am myself living proof of such skills (orthopaedic, not neurological, of course), but you won't be seeing me in there while they perform. The boys with the white coats would be summoned before the poor patient laid out before me had even had a chance to get settled in ga-ga land.
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