Welcome to The Forgotten Works.

See what I did there? For reasons that were never explained, as Hunter Thompson used to say before he shot himself, I seem to have a radio show going on air very soon. It’s going to be on Radio Castle.

I’m going to learn how to work the machines on Friday. Frankly, I’m scared.

It’s Dee Time

Heeeeeere's Simon Dee!
Heeeeeere’s Simon Dee!

For about ooh, most of my life I’ve wanted a radio show. I could be cool and witty and sort of like a cross between Simon Dee and Alistair Cooke. Except funnier, obviously. And please no-one say about as cool as Austin Powers. I’ve always liked him but it seems to be a singular taste.

The thing is, now it’s happened I can’t think of a single interesting thing to say. Obviously there are legions of more or less bitter women who’d say that’s not a new thing at all but it’s a real issue for me now, at least.

I’m going with an hour-long magazine format and maybe you can begin to see the problem. When you’re sitting talking to someone you can chat about all kinds of things, get up, sit down, make a cup of tea, wonder about going out later, talk about a film they saw, debate whether sardines on toast are ethically caught (yes, no-one seems too worried about sardines on toast, do they? No Greenpeace campaign I’ve ever seen about that. Oh no!). And like most things worth doing in life, it depends on another person being there. It’s a conversation. A two-way thing.

And sitting in a room on your own with a microphone isn’t. I can get some guests in, but probably logistically, only really one per programme. So it’s me. On my own. And I can’t think of anything I want to talk about.

I tried scripting it yesterday. It was a rubbish day yesterday and it got more rubbish as the day went on until it peaked at the very rubbishy summit of an incredible mountain of rubbish that’s left me feeling rubbish. But hey listeners, enough about me. Otherwise I’ll sound like Tony Blackburn.

Richard Brautigan

In Watermelon Sugar
In Watermelon Sugar

It’ll be ok. The radio thing, anyway. It’s called the Forgotten Works because of the utterly wonderful book In Watermelon Sugar, which I naturally enough can’t find now I need it.

The Forgotten Works was the opposite of the green, self-sustaining rural paradise where the nameless hero of the book lived, lit by lamps fuelled by watermelon oil, eating trout and avoiding the tigers who ate his parents. As they said, they’re tigers. That’s what they do.

It was a magical book by Richard Brautigan, another American writer who killed himself. I read it when I was seventeen and like any book then if it was half-way well written, it’s stuck with me. Those ten years have just flown past, really.

There was a time when everyone you wanted to know wanted to look like this. I sort of still do.
There was a time when everyone you wanted to know wanted to look like this. I sort of still do.

He wrote Trout Fishing In America, which is only a bit about trout fishing in America, Willard and the Bowling Trophies, which really sort of is, which is easier to understand when you realise Willard is a stuffed bird on a mantelpiece and A Confederate General In Big Sur. Where oddly enough, Hunter Thompson also lived at one time.

I just read the end of the piece in the Daily Mail about Simon Dee, which isn’t something I often say.

Although he had been married three times, and had four children and four grandchildren, Patricia Houlihan believes the last years of his life were very lonely. He continued to pursue women, that was in his DNA, but he became increasingly reclusive and eventually left London for Hampshire. 

‘He would often call me for phone numbers of people he knew a long time ago, some of them now dead – he continued to treat me as his PA. It never occurred to him that life had moved on.’

It isn’t looking that promising, is it?


Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow on Feedly