Anthem for doomed youth

A doomed show for the 11th November, anyway. I left my box of essential CDs on the kitchen table when  I drove in to the studio. My Kid Creole signature tune, the Rachmnainov for the not-very-sad story about the uselessness of utilities in East Anglia, the Gotan Project I was once addicted to and was going to play In Memoriam.

The show before over-ran so I had to cut across it and go straight into the telephone interview. Where the problems started. The deck said the ph9ne was recording. It wasn’t. The listeners were treated, if that’s the word, to me talking to nobody, as if I’d gone nuts.

Then a total sound-out, dead air, when I slide the wrong thing on the mixing deck. I think. I was panicking by now, trying to play something off Soundcloud that just wouldn’t play, the same way it wouldn’t when I played it at home after the show.

Read out Anthem for Doomed Youth, the Wilfrid Owen poem as it was Rememberance Day and kept calling it Memorial Day as if I was American. I hate doing that. Remembered the story about the American artillery battery that kept firing after 11 o’clock on 11th November 1918, so they could bravely say they fired the last shots of the war. Got stuck on the pronunciation of ‘orisons.’ I know why he had to use the word (to rhyme with ‘guns’) but it’s a word nobody ever uses now; all it does is distract from the poem.

Anthem for doomed middle-aged men

Nothing else could go wrong, right? Wrong. Phone call from the studio guest, fifteen minutes into the show. They’re too busy to come and publicise the thing they were doing that depends on people coming to it. Oh ok, I understand how that could work. Second time they’ve done that.

“I don’t want to be on the radio” is a really handy phrase. Not for me, but guests. I had a request for a song, Robbie Williams’s Feel. Nice song. Sad, but you can hear how he got rich. Snag was I know the person who requested it. I know she hates people knowing anything about her. Read the name out like a normal request? Decided not to in the end.

It’s a juggling act, this show. I was trying not to slip off the wire any more than I had.


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Ligging, as it used to be called

When I first went to journalism school (oh, didn’t I tell you? Why don’t you buy me a drink and I will?) we all thought we were going to be fast-tracked onto the free drinks circuit. All the movers and shakers and people who wanted to influence people were bound to want thirty 18 year olds swigging their free champagne and stuffing vol-au-vents in their pockets for supper while we practised our T-Line shorthand and forgot people’s names, starting on the fifth free champagne and an empty stomach, with our own. Bound to. Somehow the 46th Annual Bread, Cake and Confectionary Exhibition at Cardiff City Hall didn’t quite go that way and nor did I.

Cardiff City Hall. Dropped the camera. Bit skew-whiff now. You’re my besht mate. No, really you are. You know that?

But today reminded me what ligging was really about. Not scoring free drinks and some nibbles instead of buying your own lunch, but getting your face about and keeping an ear to the ground, although now not drinking so much that you do that literally.

I was walking down the street, like you do, when I saw a friend of mine walking towards me. Where are you going? Off to a press launch. Invites only. Mind if I come? No, if you like.

It’s that simple. Like many things in life, the hardest thing is believing you can do it. And not acting the arse when you do. I met a few interesting new people. Made some contacts. They might come to something, they might do later. Might have some new guests for the Lifeboat Party radio show at Gave them my card (thank-you Vistaprint, £6.59 well spent) and something might come of that. Who knows?

Even if it doesn’t it reminded me of two things. More people usually want to meet you than you think. And you don’t always have to buy your own drinks.




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Getting it right

So I just finished my fourth show, the Monday noon Lifeboat Party slot at

He's got a lovely bunch of coconuts

So far I thought the third was the best, with someone saying to me ‘you sounded like a real DJ!’ which flattered me hugely. This time I had no guests at all though, everyone had blown me out and I forgot my Kid Creole Lifeboat Party CD for the signature track.

I thought the whole thing was a total disaster, his fourth show. I just wasn’t in a great mood, bad weekend and chaotic. I couldn’t hear through the headphones, I couldn’t remember which CDs I’d loaded into the decks, the iPod feed was about half the volume of anything else and I couldn’t hear anything from the iPod at all, so I didn’t even know if it was playing or not.

So I talked about BT’s broadband to Rachmaninov’s Second (Rach 2, as we call it down the station, darling) and that seemed to go a lot better than I had any right to expect it to, unrehearsed. Then I played Magazine’s Permafrost and totally, I swear, totally forgot about the line that runs I will drug you and oh look at that out of the window. Except there wasn’t a window in my studio.

Got home. Thought I’d blown it. Got email. One word: “Brilliant.”

It made my day.

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