Quite an odd combo you might think. But bear with me. Having been living like hermits for the last few months we’ve suddenly been surprisingly active on the social scene. It’s not likely to trouble the diary pages of the Daily Mail but for us it’s been quite diverting, having hardly seen a soul in ages, outside of the family of course.
We had a rare treat and had dinner out with John and Sue, our good friends in Buckingham, just over a week ago. Then John, Gill, Jack and Ella paid a surprise visit and crashed for the night after we demolished a lot of booze. J and I were still up chatting at 5am and the poor bugger had to grab some kip and be up at 6am to get home for the arriving cement lorry. And he made it! Then had a great day Saturday at the footie with Mike and Jake. Lawrie dropped in Sunday for a BBQ and last night our lovely daughter S stayed with us as she had business in Northampton first thing. We had a long discussion about the ‘dog’s life’ posting I wrote the other day. S loves her two cats and stuck up vociferously for caring pet owners everywhere. I think I lost the argument but pretty sure I won the wine battle.
Anyway on the way to taking S to Northampton this morning we happened to tune into radio 4 and came across an absolute jewel of a little programme called Invisible People. It’s part of a series about the people behind the scenes in various roles. The reporter is this chap called Joe Kerr, the sort of chap who gets excited about a visit to today’s location, the National Transmission Centre. It’s the place where they monitor the national grid. Stifle your yawns, this was as engrossing as it gets. Joe has this unusual reporting style. He likens everyone he meets (and they are mostly men or ‘griddies’ as Joe calls them) to Hollywood film stars. So we learn that in the pretend movie ‘National Grid’, Bob the lean, blond, steely-looking National Balancing Manager (don’t ask), would be cast by Joe by Daniel Craig. Bob’s spent 28 years in the power industry, hankers for the days when he’d be up and down poles (!) and invites his mates to check out his management of power loadings, with his hands on the frequency line controller (ooh er) real time on the national grid’s website. Next we meet Neil, who Joe likens to John Travolta. There’s quite a bit of chat and commentary which seemed to me to become increasingly homo-erotic. Joe tells us that ‘I forced him (Neil) to indulge me’. Then he challenges Neil with the line ‘I bet you’ve taken your amplifier apart haven’t you’. They play a little game of ‘name that power station’ – absolutely rivetting – which Joe wins. Neil responds by telling us that ‘when people go the toilet we get a surge’. It’s all true.
Then we discover another side to Joe, his passion for food and drink (well tea). He finds a box of raisin muffins and can’t resist them. The ‘food spy’ in him then sniffs out a horde of 480 tea bags and a 5kg bag of sugar. There’s a lot of late-night tea-drinking it seems at power HQ as we learn from the token babe, Natasha, from Belgrade. Sultry voiced Natasha would be played by Juliette Binoche. He’s clearly got the horn for her too. ‘Describe the satisfaction’ he implores her. I was sure he was going to add ‘as I can’t get no’.
Before long we’re back to the boys and introduced to ‘the tall brooding figure’ of Joe Montana, sorry Mike, the Control Room Manager who ‘has a passion for power’ so strong his young kid draws him pictures of transmission towers. I think we know what you mean Mike.
Blimey, all this packed into an electric 15 minutes (see what I did there?). Joe’s final line is an absolute belter. We hear him flick a switch off as he signs off with the words ‘That’s for you Bob’. Just frigging priceless. Don’t believe me? Well you can check it out on the radio 4 website in the listen again section.
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