ONCE again we were off back down – or up to – London if you prefer. We stayed at our usual hotel.
We weren’t upgraded this time but we were put on the first floor, the lowest we’d ever been.
This floor unlike the others had brass signs along the corridor, ‘Non Smoking Floor’. It didn’t say anything about the ceiling. It reminded me of the limerick: ‘It said on the door don’t spit on the floor, So he stood up and spat on the ceiling’.
I’ve mentioned misheard words before. Remember the two old ladies chatting. “Isn’t it muggy Elsie?”
“No it’s Thursday Mavis”.
“So am I. Let’s go for a drink”.
Well Liz and myself were on a bus going to a recording studio. I spotted a Mulberry handbag shop. I said to Liz: “Mulberry” .
She replied “You can’t be, you’ve just had breakfast”.
Obviously she’d misheard me – her brain assuming I’d said, “I’m hungry” my utterances were always to do with food.
Misheard words were apt for the day. For breakfast I’d had scrambled eggs which had the appearance and texture of a lightly boiled brain. You know the joke about the customer complaining about the chicken to the Chinese waiter: “Waiter this chicken’s rubbery.” The waiter replies: “Thank you sir, the chef will be pleased”.
Unlike me. I wasn’t pleased with my rubbery egg breakfast. Rubbery egg was to come up again and I don’t mean puke wise. The radio show was about picking a piece of music that meant something to you.
Presenter Dr Phil Hammond was in charge. Milton Jones, the comedian, picked Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’. He explained Billy was his role model but he daren’t emulate him at school because he’d get beaten up.
I remarked that I couldn’t take the track seriously because when Billy Idol screams, “With a rebel yell she cried – more, more, more’ I always thought he was singing, “With a rubbery egg she cried – more, more, more”.
The track I chose was Larry Adler’s Swedish Rhapsody. Larry Adler was the world’s greatest harmonica player and name dropper. He knew everybody from Salvador Dali to Edith Sidebottom.
I don’t want to follow in his name dropping footsteps so I won’t mention the next guest’s brother. Rachel Johnson is the editor of Lady magazine . She chose Janice Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee. She said it was her favourite record in the sixties when she was too young to be a hippie.
I pointed out that dreadful line in the song “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to do.”
Admiring the ramblings of a drug-addled singer was the road to nowhere, and I thought if Bobby McGee had any sense he would have had nothing to do with her.
On the subject of hippies and weekend beatniks. I was on the Aldermaston march. I sat outside the American Embassy. I’d even sat on my own out side the Russian Embassy. But I lost faith in the movement and these ‘Right On’ people when I was put in charge of the lost property from the march.
It was all stored in the crypt of Saint Martin’s in the Fields, Trafalgar Square. When I went to check on it the following morning it had all been pinched. I was young and deluded. At the time, I must say the march was spectacular.
I remember the hairs on the back of my neck bristling when I was on top of a hill and as far as I could see ahead, stretching far into the distance, there was a wide column of marchers. I turned round and it was the same far into the distance behind.
I know it’s daft but I thought of the children of Israel walking out of Egypt. Of course I didn’t go into a lot of this detail on the show.
My parents being deaf didn’t feel they’d get much value out of a record player or radio. So reading and the cinema was my only source of entertainment .
I spent a lot of time at what we called ‘the pictures’, not the American ‘movies’ which I always associate with bowel function. I was at one time the projectionist at the Savoy Cinema, Brighouse. We only had three records to play between shows.
One was Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore. Unfortunately it had already been picked by someone else on the radio show.
So I had to pick one of the other two. I opted for Swedish Rhapsody because the other record at the cinema was God Save the Queen.
The producer thought the finished show was hysterical and surreal. I’m confused – I always understood men can’t be hysterical. I don’t think I’ll be asked back. If you’re interested it’s on Radio 4 today at 3.30pm.
At Covent Garden I had an interesting conversation with a chap about the problems of moustache maintenance.
He was at the time busking as a small dog in a basket.
While we were wandering around a man rushed up to me and asked for my autograph.
I thought he’d mistaken me for someone else so I said: “I’m not Viv Stanshall, Magnus Pike, Colonel Sanders or Mike Harding.”
My dad always thought I was doing well because he’d watched Mike Harding in his heyday on TV, thinking he was me.
The fellow produced his autograph book which I signed doing a little drawing of me wearing my boater. He then asked if he could he have his photo taken with me.
Liz offered to take the snap.
Each time we posed he put his arm round me. Liz took three shots before he was content. All completed he walked off, apparently happy. As we walked away Liz, whispered, “Have you still got your wallet?”
Wilf’s autobiography to the age of 11, My Best Cellar, can be purchased at Waterstones or via his website www.wilflunn.com