Radio gaga

I watched Bohemian Rhapsody on my flight back from the Middle East last week, and I have been listening to Queen songs on repeat ever since.

It is absolutely brilliant by the way – I completely loved it. I grew up listening to Queen at home and on most car journeys with my family, and if there was one band alive or dead who I could choose to see for a single live performance it would definitely be them.

The movie ticked all the boxes, and reminded me just how much I love their music.

Credit: rollingstone.com

So when an opportunity arose this week to go and visit a local radio station – and take the little man along, of course – I was obviously Radio Gaga about it (sorry – I’m afraid there are lots more of these to come).

About ten years ago I was working as a producer at Edinburgh station Talk 107 (which Bit The Dust shortly after I left) so I’m no stranger to a radio studio, but I thought it might be a fun thing to do with Marley, what with all the people and buttons and flashing lights.

Wandsworth Radio is a community station soon to be making the Breakthru in to the neighbouring boroughs of Richmond, Merton and Lambeth and is run by an awesome team of volunteers.

Full disclosure: I was actually going along half-hoping I might be able to convince them they need to sanction a show presented by a dad blogger who likes to talk a lot and who could interview some interesting people for them.

Basically, I Want To Break Free from doing only written blog posts and have considered starting a companion podcast for a while now, so I figured if I could gain the support of a local station to do that then that would be very cool.

Not that I Want It All, or anything….

Anyway, we had a great time – we were shown around the studio by the Station’s Director, Jason Rosam, who was kind enough to let us go in and watch a live show being broadcast.

We even got a shot in the news booth – where Marley started Going Slightly Mad because daddy wouldn’t let him press the buttons.

We did get away with it when Jason wasn’t looking, though….

Don’t Stop Me Now….

Afterwards, the bus home was absolutely packed, and Marley fell asleep on me. Just as I was carrying him off, we had to squeeze past a group of Fat Bottomed Girls and he must have gone Headlong in to them because, unknown to me, his hat came off.

To be fair, I have form for this kind of thing…I leave stuff everywhere. But this was a particularly upsetting item to lose.

I mean, look at him wearing it….he’s like a little Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.

Eyeing up the buttons……

I miss working in radio, so hopefully some Kind of Magic opens up an opportunity again in the future.

For now at least, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. And with many, many years’ experience of getting to this stage in the past and being completely unprepared, I’m going to write a post about some Valentine’s Day hacks to help other useless lovers out.

Knowing me, it will probably take me so long to write it that I end up forgetting to buy a gift for my wife, so I might need to apologise in advance….

I hope it helps you out anyway – and who knows, it might even help you find Somebody To Love

OK, that’s enough now…..have a good week!

Middle East

I’ve spent the past week around 7,000 km away from my family, firstly in Abu Dhabi (work) and then a couple of days in Dubai (play).

It was an eye-opening experience – largely because the UAE is a huge departure from the UK culturally – but also partly because it’s the longest (and furthest) I’ve been away since Marley was born.

I know, I know, it was only a week. Some people go away for months at a time. And in some ways the time went by very quickly. But (especially with restrictions placed on things like FaceTime & WhatsApp calling) it can still be tough being away from the little guy.

I was over in Abu Dhabi for an education conference, with the focus very much on the future; how to equip the next generation (i.e. Marley and co) with the right skills to help them maximise their potential.

Then in Dubai, I was staying with good friends who are expecting a baby at the end of March, so I found myself talking at length about Marley and our experiences: the birth, the early weeks, the different stages, the challenges and the joys.

I tend to talk a lot anyway – I mean, I barely ever stop – but when it comes to Marley I’m even more relentless. So although I was away from him, he was never far from the conversation.

And of course, he is also a talker.

In fact the only slight change I noticed in him when I got back on Saturday is that his sentences are getting even longer.

So instead of: “Look daddy, a car” it’s now more like: “I don’t want a camel, daddy, I said I want a car!”

No prizes for guessing what I brought him back as a souvenir from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque……

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the brightest place on Earth

As you can see, some of the sights over there are just incredible. And I don’t just mean the guy in the white shirt…

I packed a lot in to the week, so as well as visiting the blindingly beautiful Grand Mosque you can see I also managed to take a stroll along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, sneaked a quick look at the Burj Khalifa’s light show in Dubai and even squeezed in some dune bashing in the Dubai desert.

The Corniche in Abu Dhabi
The Burj Khalifa……almost 3x the height of The Shard
The desert

And despite being pretty brave when it comes to food, and given the riches of different cuisines one can try in that part of the world, I think I became one of the few people in history whose first ever meal in the Middle East consisted of pork and beer.

Well, you can take the man out of the UK…..

Friends of Craig Sargent

I received an email today containing some terribly sad news about a former colleague of mine, Craig Sargent.

Throughout the five years I worked for Kaplan, Craig was the Principal of the school in Leicester Square. And in the final two years I spent working for them here in London, I worked closely with Craig on many occasions.

I would arrange trips for international clients to come and visit the schools, and we would always have a great time with Craig in London. We’d turn up (usually late….he didn’t mind) and we’d chat, have a laugh together, discuss sports. Sometimes he’d tell me a little about some of his experiences as an actor.

I have a vivid memory of talking to him about his injured Achilles as we stood in a blisteringly hot pod on the London Eye one summer.

Craig, fourth from left, with some of our international visitors

I always really enjoyed seeing Craig, he was incredibly friendly and helpful but above all, he was genuine. We both left the organisation at the same time in November 2017 and I’m gutted to say I hadn’t spoken to him since.

So I was shocked and deeply saddened to read that – at the age of just 42 – Craig passed away on Tuesday 15th January after a very short battle with cancer. I already knew he had two young sons, but that made it no less heartbreaking to read that he leaves behind his wife Jo and their two beautiful boys Joshy (8 years old) and Sammy (5).

Craig will be missed terribly by all who knew him, but for his family this is an unimaginable loss. And one made even more difficult by the fact that his family’s financial situation is now under serious strain as a result of having no life cover.

Craig’s friends have set up a funding page where anyone can leave a message and/or make a donation for his family, so I wanted to share that with you. All help would be most gratefully appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/friends-of-craig-sargent

Note: Craig’s friends gave me permission to post this. Our thoughts are with them, as well as his family.