Did You Know?

Set me down with a packet of TUC crackers and a can of baked beans (cold) and I’m as happy as a pig in.

Wherever possible, I always ensure that I never leave home without first having had a shave.

I have watched almost every episode of Coronation Street, in my lifetime. Since I was a boy, I would sit with my Grandmother and watched the TV series from as young as seven years old, and still I watch every episode to this day.

My handwritten signature includes two vertical lines in the squiggle under my name. It originated from a design that a colleague used, Dave Glass, from the Radio Lollipop days in 1979 when he used to put signs up in the studio and the reception area. He always underlined everything with a straight line and then two small vertical lines through the straight line. My calligraphy style signature is as a direct result of the tuition that I received from my father when growing up.

To this day, I use a calendar on my desk every day, without fail. The calendar was originally bought by me as a gift for my Gran around 1974 at Chessington Zoo’s gift shop and cost £3.50, during a school outing. She used it daily until she died in 1990. My Aunty Gwen returned the calendar to me shortly after.

I consider myself an avid diary blogger and entries dating back as far as 1980 are included in my life-long diary of events which continues on today and throughout my life. They were originally written in page-a-day diaries but around 1990, I transferred all entries to an online Google calendar and, since 1997, it has been available for viewing on this website. You can see it on the “On This Day” page.

My favourites movies coincidentally all have one-word titles; Grease, Fame, Ghost, Airplane, Arthur, Duets, Pride, Dual, Sisters and Dogfight… so far!

In 1979, as well as learning the basics for playing the guitar in after school lessons with Miss Jackson, I also passed my National Cycling Proficiency Test and was awarded a certificate and a triangle-shaped enamel badge.

I learned to swim at Westcroft Leisure Centre, Carshalton in the final year of junior school, 1979, aged 12. The teacher who taught me and finally made me realise that I wouldn’t sink was Miss Moody. I got my 10-metre badge the following week and Gran sewed it onto my swimming trunks. I wore it with pride for the rest of the year, well every time I went swimming with the school… not walked around everywhere in just my swimming trunks. That didn’t happen until I was much older.

I earned pocket money during my childhood in a variety of ways. They included: washing and cleaning Dad’s Ford Zodiac Executive car, cleaning the oven and the bath at home, polishing Mark Bogle’s Dads’ shoes, walking Aunty May’s poodle around the park. And cleaning out fridges in John’s second-hand electrical shop, next door to the dry cleaners where I grew up.

To earn extra money, I would sell my Lego collection and ‘no longer wanted’ toys in the window of Dad’s dry cleaners shop.

I am, and probably always have been, addicted to tea and will hardly ever refuse one, if offered.

I was profoundly affected by the death of my friend, David Wallis in 2011, referred to as Daddy David. Although Jezz and I met David in 2005, three years before Dad passed away in 2008, I have often referred to David as having taken over where Dad left off. The search for a Father figure continues on.

I once dug a large hole in Gran’s back garden, around 1975, after Grandpa told me that if I kept digging long enough, I’d reach Australia.

I grew up in a 3 bedroom semi-detached house belonging to my Grandparents. It was on the corner of Carshalton Grove with Westmead Road in Sutton, Surrey. I lived there with Gran, Grandpa (until 1976) and my two sisters, Michèle and Nikola. The house was exactly opposite the dry cleaners, belonging to Dad, where my sisters and I moved to, in 1979.

I was filmed for several television productions in my lifetime. The first three were because of my voluntary work at the children’s hospital radio station, Radio Lollipop, at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children in Carshalton. The shows were Blue Peter for the BBC, Afternoon Plus and Thames Help for ITV. I did get a Blue Peter badge, but lost it in one of my house moves. I was also filmed with Debbie, an ex-girlfriend, by Yorkshire Television for a show called ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’ which was never aired. It was supposed to portray the struggles of teenage single-mum lifestyles and how they moved out of the family home into the community with the help of the local borough council. Because Sutton Council found out about the recordings, they treated Debbie too well with temporary accommodation and the TV producers decided that it was not realistic enough.

During the walk home after a guitar class at Camden Junior School, Carshalton, around 1978, I was almost abducted by a man that was following close behind me. It was along Westmead Road, Sutton, between Browning and Milton Avenue and was around 4.30pm. As I gained pace by walking faster, so did the man behind. It was only my thought of shouting out to my friend, Trevor ahead: “Hey Trev., wait for me!” that I avoided what seemed like an abduction attempt. I ran off, as fast as I could. Trevor was not further ahead at all.

Whilst at Carshalton High School for Boys, Carshalton, Surrey, I won the Project in the Community award 1981 by having the entire school bring in old and unwanted games and toys. They filled a classroom so much that it could no longer be used until the toys and games were relocated to the hospital, where I was volunteering as a DJ at Radio Lollipop. The toys were given out as prizes to the patients on the wards for on-air competitions.

During my time as a limousine chauffeur, I once turned up at my daughter’s and took some local children around the block in a 6-seater stretched American Cadillac. I also gave my Dad a lift in a Lamborghini Gallardo, out of Durand Close, Carshalton and to the top of Culvers Avenue, reaching a speed of 92mph (148.06 km/h), before crapping the life out of both Dad and me.

At the tender age of 11, I was caught smoking a cigarette with a school pal, Mark Bogle, in the girl’s toilets. I was summoned to the headmistress’s office, Mrs Davis, who was a chain-smoker. I remember, clearly, being severely told off in an extremely smoke-filled room.

The scar on my chin was from a road accident, around 1980, involving no cars but instead, falling off my Chopper bike whilst cycling my sister (on the back) from Sutton to Carshalton Hall… neither of us never made it! I was cycling too fast and as a car went past, I lost my balance and the bike, sister Nikki and my chin went skimming across Westmead Road, all the way to the other side. An ambulance was called and took us both to the hospital. I had stitches in my chin but Nik, who called the ambulance from the payphone in the laundrette, came out with more injuries including a leg bandaged and an arm in a sling.

I have spent my life with a weakness in my lower back. I always blamed it on the accident that I had when I once fell out of a first-floor bedroom window. It was 1981 and at Paul Gibb’s parent’s house in Paget Avenue, Sutton. I had been drinking vodka and was trying to reach the conservatory roof with my foot by climbing out of the window and leaning on the window handle. It, along with me, came crashing to the ground and I landed on the concrete step in the back garden. Again, I was taken to the hospital. I remember the doctor advising me that if I was going to be drinking like that again, that I should limit myself… to remaining on the ground floor.

Despite my known sexuality, I had several sexual relationships with girls/women, including, Andrea, Debbie, Theresa, Tracey, and Evelyn. However, these were all before my 18th birthday. I have experimented with straight sex twice since and liked it!

It’s gross you out time… my left-foot large toenail is missing owing to an in-growing toenail condition that led to its removal in 1998. Yes, alright… well, don’t enlarge the thumbnail then, no pun intended.

I had large sticking out ears as a child and was mocked and bullied in junior school. It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I decided to have my ears pinned back. The ordeal was so traumatic that I only ever had my left ear done!

I sang at a karaoke night to around 300 people. It was at Southern Pride, a gay pub in West Norwood, South London and I performed the 1969 Eddie Holman hit: “(Hey There) Lonely Girl” in the same falsetto key as the original. And achieved it!

I lost my virginity (with a girl) at the tender age of just 13 years old. The place was at the family home address in Westmead Road, Sutton. It was on 13 May 1981.

I had a relationship with CB radio that lasted almost 12 months. One of the highlights was that I combined my love for poetry by creating a rap song that featured the handles (names) of many of the local CB’ers. I would often be asked to perform it both on-air and at CB eyeballs (meets). My handle on the CB was ‘ping.’

Whilst driving in London, I once gave way at a zebra crossing for The Who frontman legend and actor Roger Daltrey.

I almost died in the year 2000 with PCP pneumonia. I was admitted into St. George’s Hospital and was in Intensive Care for 12 nights and stayed in the hospital for 12 weeks. Somehow, through the amazing work of the nursing staff, as well as my family, I survived and made a sufficient recovery.

I had a Raleigh Chopper bicycle for most of my school days and would cycle to school. On the back, was an FM radio that I had tuned to Capital Radio 95.8 or Radio 1 and would play it fairly loudly both to and from school. It was parked in the front garden of a house near to the high school and was never stolen (bike nor radio).

For many of the years I spent in high school, I would go to Royston Park on a Tuesday, at lunchtime with school pals, Richard, Dominic (sometimes Terry and Perry) and between us, would write out the Top 40 singles chart as it was being counted down by Paul Burnette on Radio 1.

Growing up, every Christmas was always celebrated brilliantly at Gran’s with Aunty Gwen coming over and making it special. Each year, it became a tradition for the children to perform for the adults. This included doing to Wig Wam Bam dance with my two sisters, and then a variety solo performance, sometimes with my very own Emu, or singing with the guitar, dancing like Tom Jones and impersonating Larry Grayson and Tommy Cooper. I even had my own fez, as pictured.

I did many discos in my youth, aged between 13-16. Some of them were outdoors including a street party for The Royal Silver Jubilee which was held in the road Crossroads, Sutton and a summer fete for Robin Hood Secondary School, Sutton. Other venues included a function room in the local pub, The Robin Hood, Sutton and two youth club halls, Century Youth Centre, Fellowes Road, Carshalton and Youth Centre 21, Sutton Common Road, Sutton.

In 1981, I was the delivery person for a video game rental enterprise belonging to my friend Paul Gibb. I would walk and use buses carrying the collection of Atari game cartridges to houses in and around Sutton and collect rental fees from them. Game titles included: Ms Pac Man, Defender, Missile Command, Pac Man, Frogger and more. Ocassionally, my girlfriend then, Debbie, would keep me company.

I spent most of my teenage years collecting both 7 and 12-inch vinyl records. I lived nearby to a cardboard factory and would frequently ask them for free cardboard. Sometimes they would cut the blank white card into index card size and I catalogued my entire music collection in an A to Z index box.

Dad bought a small mixer unit for me and then made the sloping wooden box that was finally mounted on the front of my double decks. My days of rotary fading knobs were gone, and suddenly I had a mic input and fader, with mixer faders for both turntables.

I realised that I had a flair for DJ’ing as far back as 1977 when I was 10 years old. I created a tape cassette of music by recording tracks from the radio and then would record my own voice between the tracks. This was played to school friends on a coachtrip to France by my school teacher, Mr Dixon.

From as young as 10 years old, I loved the idea of being a DJ. I grew up listening to the radio and keeping up with chart music throughout my junior and high school days. I regularly tuned in to radio shows with presenters including Noel Edmonds, Dave Lee Travis, Tony Blackburn, Robbie Vincent, Paul Burnett, Annie Nightingale, Roger Scott, Simon Bates, Peter Powell, Tommy Vance, Greg Edwards to name but a few. But 2 disc jockey’s stood out from all of them… Radio 1’s Adrian Juste and my ultimate hero, Kenny Everett. 

Since my interest in cooking had grown over the years, so has my keen eye for a good knife. I started collecting Robert Welch Signature knives around 2005 and now have of all of the essentials knives for cutting, chopping, peeling, pairing and carving in the kitchen.

I strongly believe that the product ‘Zovirax’ cream (in the pump only) keeps any potential cold sores at bay. I have been sufficiently convinced that I keep the small 2g pumps in various places… always one by my computer indoors, another in the car and one in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I learned over the years that small tubes of Aciclovir, bought from Amazon, were just as effective but much much cheaper.

In 1998, whilst walking from the bar where I used to drink, Bar 68, Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, I was the victim of a random attack. A black guy, aged about 18-20, approached me, placed one arm around my shoulders and sprayed me in the face with mace. Completely blind, I managed to find my way back to the bar and was taken to Mayday Hospital in Croydon by Norma.  Noel was with me.

On 17 October 2006, I was approached by a man who wanted to attack me. It would’ve been a homophobic attack, but I refused to get out of the car. After a few minutes, the man gave up, but slammed the driver’s door closed and kicked the rear panel as I drove away. It frightened me for many years and has been the reason for my extreme vigilance with all cruising thereafter.

On 4 December 2010, a man who I identified as looking exactly like the singer Plan B, knocked on the front door of the flat. Both Jezz and I were home but for some ‘sixth sense’ reason, neither of us answered the door. Instead, I looked through the spy hole and at first could only see the outline of a figure in the dark because the hallway light hadn’t been switched on. When a pizza delivery man arrived for the flat above, he turned on the light, and then I saw the face of the man at the door clearly. The man was talking quietly through our letterbox and from what he was saying, it was clear that he’d got the wrong flat. What was also established, once the light went on, was that he was holding something behind his back. It later transpired that it was a samurai sword, not in its sleeve. Because I knew it was a weapon of some kind, I called the police. Marvellously, they arrived within minutes and there was a struggle. Mace was used and it was terrifying. I never really got over that incident, and it is the reason behind why I have never answered the front door to anyone until I know who is behind it. Also, it is the reason why I increased the security at home with a ring video recording camera doorbell and other CCTV equipment, including 4 audio/video recording cameras.

I haven’t exactly brushed shoulders with the rich and famous but there are a few moments when my life did coincide with some famous people. They were:
Tommy Steele – around 1974, when my cousin Brian was driving in New Malden and he spoke to Tommy Steele through the car window. I can’t remember what was said but it was something mild like directions to somewhere or something.
Simon Groom and Goldie the dog – from Blue Peter. It was 1979 and they came to the studios of Radio Lollipop and I was filmed for Blue Peter, interviewing them, well mainly Simon Groom. 
Peter Powell – then, Radio 1 DJ. It was 1979 and in the grounds of Queen Mary’s Hospital, in front of the staff clubhouse. I spoke to him about DJ’ing while Peter Powell was unloading stuff from the boot of his car. 
Gareth Hunt – around 1980. I stood behind him in the queue at McDonald’s, Sutton High Street. 
Roger Scott – Capital Radio DJ, around 1981, I got his autograph in a shop doorway in London.
Jean-Paul Gaultier – around 1994, I had an encounter without words in the top floor of the L.A., Old Street, London.
Will Mellor – around 1996, at the backstage door of The Apollo, Hammersmith, with Vicki. He spoke to both of us and signed a programme brochure.

I very much hold on to my memories of youth and in particular my love for music and radio presenting plays a big part in my adulthood in a different way to how it once did in my teenage years. An example of this can be heard when certain people call my mobile. My sister Michele once owned a 7″ copy of the 1979 hit: ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ by Funkadelic. The chorus of that song is her personal ringtone when she calls my mobile. The same memory of growing up with sister Nikki is immortalised with one of her records from the ’70s, Billy Paul’s ‘Bring The Family Back’. And again, this song is my ring tone for when Nikki calls. For Jezz, it had to be my favourite song of all time; ‘It Must Be Love’ by Labi Siffre, which has become our song and was used at our wedding. 

These ringtones are still stored on the phone but have been replaced with personalised voice ring tones announcing who is calling.

In 1981, Dad created a family crest for the family (just for fun). He drew it and gave it to me. I still have it now, protected and stored safely. In 2011, I used the drawing to create my first-ever tattoo, in loving memory of Dad.

My paranoia about security and identity theft makes me behave slightly differently. For example, each month, after collecting my medication from the chemist, I would decant all medication, removing pharmacy labels and boxes. The labels are collected and shredded with scissors and the boxes are thrown away in a community recycling bin 3 miles away from the home.

Bad Habits? Yeah, I got a few…

The website is littered with true and honest feelings about my life and my attitude towards certain aspects of life in general. I thought I’d take a moment to list some of my naughtier habits as both an expression of my openess but also to remind myself of some of those habits that I’ve either always had, developed or recently realised.

If I’m alone at home, I tend to make myself something to eat but then eat it at the kitchen work surface, over the chopping board or the kitchen sink… completely, until I’ve finished.

When I cut my toe nails, I have a tupperware container that has several tools, clippers and scissors for my nails but I always put the clippings in the container, thinking I’ll empty it one day but never have. Yes… that’s right… about 6 years worth so far.

When I do bite my finger nails, I play with them, testing how sharp they are against my lips and sometimes chew them and swallow them to, if I haven’t spat them out.

I have been known to lick my plate clean, like a dog. I tend to do it with baked bean juice.

Talking of baked beans, I frequently butter some bread and dip it into the newly opened beans, whilst they are still in the can.

I pee in the shower regularly.

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