Well whilst we were back home quite accidently I heard two guys I know really well on the radio (in one case, I’ve known him all his life). On the first occasion I was just doing the after dinner dishes at E’s, Radio 4 on in the background with End the Week or Loose Ends perhaps when I heard the unmistakeable voice of Maurice Collins. Maurice was one of the founder members of a self-help group for families with handicapped kids, called Kith and Kids. We joined the group after R was born and it was a tremendous support for us during those early years. The group was full of interesting and really strong people and fascinating kids. Maurice was one of the leading lights and he and his wife remained highly involved even though their own child had grown up and long since moved on in life. We lost touch with the group when we moved from London to Buckingham when R was 10, more than 20 years ago. We’ve had no contact with Maurice since then but his distinctive voice was instantly recognisable.
He was being interviewed about an exhibition of his collection of weird gadgets and inventions from the Victorian era and early 20th c, being held at the British Library. Apparently Maurice is a renowned collector and writer on the subject, having co-authored several books including Eccentric Contraptions and Amazing Gadgets etc. It was fairly interesting stuff in a mad dogs and Englishmen kind of way, with Maurice talking about his self-pouring tea-pot, the skirt-lifter (yes that was skirt) and the wrist band route director. I knew Maurice all those years and never realised he was interested in all this stuff. I googled his name afterwards and discovered that he also collects wartime posters etc which he has commercialised by transforming the collection into an online print/repro business. I smiled as I remembered that Maurice was also a very smart businessman. It was good to hear him and realise that he was apparently well and thriving.
The very next day I was driving with son-in-law S into Brighton to help S select some gardening stuff from a local B&Q, when a call came through from C to switch on Talksport radio. On air was Mike Parry doing his Saturday morning sports quiz, That Was the Week That Was. I can’t remember what the prize was but I was bowled over to hear old short arms Parry welcome the next contestant, Dave from Poulton-le-Fylde. It was only my younger brother. By all accounts Dave had a reasonable chance of getting through to the main prize element as the earlier bloke had scored a big fat lonely zero on his 5 questions. Come on my son! (well brother).
Dave’s a whizz at this kind of thing but he sounded a little nervous and got off to a pig of a start with a couple of incorrect answers to two tricky questions that even that knobhead on Eggheads would have struggled with. Q3 was the killer; Dave had to name the winner of the previous week-end’s F1 Grand Prix. I could tell he knew it was the Finn Kimi Raikonnen but as often happens when being pressured for an answer, he couldn’t drag the name from his memory and blurted out something like Hanni Mukkanen. Well it was a decent stab knowing how badly the P-meister mangles names himself and on another day Dave’s drawled offering might have got through under the Parry radar. But it didn’t that day – instead it raised a spontaneous laugh from the fat ginger seeker of truth and justice and his trusty side-kick boy wonder Andy Townsend. And to be honest it made S and I smile a bit too.
I think Dave knew his number was up at that point because he got nowhere with the last two questions. His mind was on the frigging finn I could tell. When Parry went through the answers you could hear Dave’s groan at the sound of the name Raikonnen all the way from Blackpool. Of course mangler Parry had to make a thing of it which was a bit rich given his track record of barminess and mispronunciation. But Dave took it in good grace and was laughing as loud as the studio numpties at being referred to as one half of the worst pair of contestants ever on the show. Ha! I was proud of Dave – if you’re going to fail, do it with style. Zero points but a great sense of fun and a real laugh. Now my bro’s the best at being the worst and in doing so he became instantly famous.
I know Dave won’t mind me writing about his Talksport debut indeed I hope Dave’s performance made Clips of the Week – a feature Parry’s made his own over the years, unintentionally of course.