“Danny Baker’s doing his one man show in Cheltenham”
“Would you like to go?”
“Um, yeah, OK.”
Thus, thanks to Mrs Bryer’s bridled enthusiasm, off we popped this week to the fringes of the Cotswolds and this delightful regency spa town - Cheltenham, whose Town Hall has previously hosted acts of such a bespoke fit for tonight’s audience for @prodnose that you couldn’t make it up:
Mott The Hoople
And yes, glory of all glories, Hookfoot.
(Thanks as ever to https://www.setlist.fm/ for the information)
Mrs B’s ambivalence to Danny Baker, you see, is rooted in her belief that ‘he talks too much’. I protest that is surely an asset when our subject is on the radio (although he’s not on there nearly enough) but she stands her ground. I decide not to impart the information – at this stage - that we’re likely to be in the company of a man who talks too much for up to four hours tonight.
When I first came across his radio show on the old BBC Greater London Radio, it took me a while to make the connection with the bloke who had been on the hugely entertaining 6 O’clock Show (which would be memorably described by DB tonight as, ‘The One Show with a rocket up its arse’) from the early 80’s. The shows on GLR were radio/not radio. Not radio as we knew it, and certainly not as we know it now when everything that comes out of the Roberts Digital has been subjected to Death by a Thousand Meetings and rinsed in disinfectant before being allowed out under escort by a covey of media studies chaperones. Radio where the host plays the music he feels will fit the current mood, or just whatever he damn well pleases. Like being round a mate’s house. The mate who has thousands more records than you and has shaken hands with all the Beatles. Radio where the list of today’s subjects can be gleefully detonated within moments of being divulged because a listener has blithely ignored all suggestions (are there many, ahem, ‘jocks’ whose egos would stand that sort of thing?) or a random thought has occurred and we’re off on a three-hour wild ride, and stories about people who have had a horse in the house.
Yes, I know, Brexit and Trump, and all that, but here’s a real scandal;
Radio, where our greatest exponent, past or present, and I suspect future, is allowed on for a scant two hours a week and can’t play any records.
To the front row at Cheltenham Town Hall, where, just before 7:30 show-time, I have a chat to the bloke next to me in the Keith Emerson T-shirt.
“11:30 finish tonight,” he reports.
“Right,” I reply, “do me favour would you please?”
“When my wife comes back from the ladies, don’t tell her.”
No worries, on that score. During the interval Mrs B and I reflect on the first two hours of relentless, hang onto your hats, rollercoaster raconteuring - we are on the ropes yet ready for another pummelling. Mr Baker duly obliges and when 11:30 rolls around and he strolls off to a roaring ovation Mrs B pronounces herself a convert. “I was hoping he’d go on for longer,” she said. Quiet at the back, you lot.
At home the following day, Mrs B sums up her feelings;
“I used to think he was the sort of person you’d have round for dinner and think 'I’m never inviting them again'." Now, I’d like to have him round every week. It’s funny, when we went down for breakfast this morning I was sort of hoping he was staying at our hotel so I could say how much I enjoyed the show and how brilliant he was. And how I never used to like him that much so I wasn’t really looking forward to it.”
Mrs Bryer, expertly tempering the compliment, there.