Sunday, 29 April 2018

My mate, Chris

Sunday night and I'm already tucked up in bed. I was going to just read my book until sleepy time but I just made a dash downstairs to grab two things: my laptop and the last bag of mini Party Rings from the cupboard. The first item I needed as I felt the urge to blog was upon me and the second I didn't need at all - I'd just eaten a piece of homemade birthday cake - but I'm a greedy bitch with emotional eating tendencies. Don't judge me!

Many a week has passed since I last threw open the windows and invited you all (all?! who am I kidding?) to peer inside my funny little world and there are a whole host of reasons why I haven't blogged in a while. I shan't go in to them. I'm back now.

While I don't feel it necessary to explain my extended absence from blogsville, I do feel compelled to tell you that my soundtrack to this evening's proceedings is Smooth radio. It's entirely possible that anything played on Smooth on a Sunday night could tip me over the edge and have me weeping openly. I will do my best to keep my shit together.

I had a rather smashing day yesterday and I wanted to reflect on it a bit for a few reasons. First and foremost, I don't want to forget it! It was almost definitely a once in a lifetime kind of a day. Secondly, I'm trying to appreciate moments - both the big and spectacular like yesterday but also the more simple and sweet.

Yesterday's events need a bit of backstory/ build up so just bare with me...

Back in 2012, when DJ Chris Moyles ended his (as yet unbeaten) run as the host of the Radio 1 breakfast show I was gutted. Yes it was just a radio show and he was just a DJ but I'd been listening to Chris on Radio 1 since he'd hosted the afternoon show back in 2001! During his eight and a half year stint on Breakfast I tuned in most days and suddenly not having him there to listen to left me feeling a bit adrift. Silly but true.

I defected briefly to BBC Radio 2 as I've always liked Chris Evans on the radio but the music choices of that station felt too old for me. In the end, I returned to Radio 1 and the shouty nonsense of Nick Grimshaw's presenting style. By now I was in my 30s, a mother of two, and a world away from R1's target audience.

September 2015 and somehow - although I honestly don't remember how - I heard that Chris Moyles was back on the radio. I was familiar with XFM but had never listened to it. Now it was the all-new Radio X and Chris Moyles was their brand new breakfast show host. I tuned in immediately and I haven't tuned out since. I already knew Dominic Byrne from the old place and I quickly warmed to newcomers Pippa and Dave. All was well! I had Chris and Dom back in my morning routine and the sensibilities of Radio X were much better suited to Chris' style. They talked, they joked, they laughed... I laughed, a lot. Marvellous!

October 18, 2015. My beloved dad is gone and the world no longer makes sense. After a few weeks of chaos, back and forth to the North East, I returned home to Kettering and 'normality'. Dad was laid to rest and I was expected to continue living my life. What I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep for as long as was necessary for this nightmare to be over and for my dad to be returned to us. What I had to do was keep going. My children, though sad at the loss of their Geordie Grandad, needed their mummy to keep doing her job. Shutting down was not an option. So every day, I got up and I put the radio on. As long as I had Chris, Dom, Pippa and Dave for company, I could cope. Not only did they help me cope, they made me laugh. Every single day without fail, I would laugh out loud at the show.

Days, weeks and months passed. Monday to Saturday I would listen live to Radio X via my DAB or the app if I was in the car and on a Sunday morning, I'd listen to the Chris Moyles show podcast. Even when I was hearing highlights from the show that I'd actually heard live, I'd still laugh.

A few months back I wrote a letter in to Radio X for Dom's letters feature. In the letter I did my best to explain everything I've written about here - how much the show meant to me and how it helped me function in the mornings after losing my dad. My letter was read out by Dom and Chris thanked me on air saying what a lovely letter it was. Thankfully, I was in the car driving the children to school at the time and we all heard it.

Chris made references all the time on air to his cousin Suzanne's podcast and in January 2016 I listened to Dubland for the first time. I was hooked. In a nutshell, Dubland is two Dubliners - broadcaster, blogger and mammy, Suzanne Kane (Chris' cousin) and broadcaster, actor and comedian, PJ Gallagher in a room talking about anything and everything for about an hour. It is sweary, honest and fucking hilarious. No topic is off limits - everything from blow jobs from toothless koala bears to how far back men should shave their bollocks gets discussed. Politics, religion, sex, childbirth, food, exercise... you name it, Suzi and PJ have probably talked about it. One story in particular told by PJ made my sister laugh so much while driving that she had to pull over. Clare FaceTimed me with tears streaming down her face. "GET THE HEART MACHINE!" we shouted at each other while both laughing hysterically. Like the breakfast show, Dubland has been such a blessing. A guaranteed laugh every time I listen.

When I heard that Suzi and PJ were planning to come to London to record the podcast with a live audience I knew I had to be there... Not only be there but if possible, get a chance to speak to them both and tell them how much I enjoy what they do. Chris has been plugging the event on his show for weeks and confirmed last week that he would be in attendance.

So there we all were yesterday in The Boogaloo pub in North London. Chris introduced Suzi and PJ and Dubland Live was underway. It was amazing to watch them just chat and swear and do what they do right there in front of me! When Chris vanished briefly I wagered he'd gone for a cig and popped out the back of the pub to find him. I didn't want to miss the show but I also knew I'd probably never get a chance like that again.

Sure enough, he was smoking outside. I admitted to following him but assured him I wasn't crackers. As calmly as I could I explained about the letter, about my dad and told him how much I love what they do on the show every day. He gave me a massive hug and thanked me genuinely. "We're staying for a few drinks after the show finishes," said Chris, "Come and have a drink with us." Erm, yeah okay Chris Moyles, I'll do that.

Once the show ended, PJ, Suzi and Chris were mobbed. I'd already had my moment with Chris so I just watched as he greeted the queue of fans waiting for a selfie. The atmosphere was so relaxed, it just felt like the most normal thing in the world to be stood in a pub with Chris Moyles, his cousin and her mate, the stand up comic.

When the queue finally dwindled and Chris escaped to the smoking area, I unashamedly followed him again. This time we sat on a bench and chatted like old friends. Inside I'd seen him be polite and jovial with all the folks waiting for a handshake and a pic with him but we sat together and discussed Avengers: Infinity War, the show, my dad... I'm not an idiot. I know that we are not friends. I know he will eventually forget me but we had a bit of a moment in that pub's back yard. His lovely friend Megan took pictures for me of Chris and I together. I later got a pic with both Chris and Suzi.

It was a surreal and wonderful experience that I never want to forget. I know many people aren't keen on Chris, presuming that the loutish persona he played up to back in the day is really him. It's not. The man I chatted to yesterday was geeky, kind and funny.

As the time came for Chris, Suzi and Megan to move on to a birthday party they were all going to, I admitted to Suzi that I'd missed my train home. Of course there would be other trains (it wasn't that late) but my ticket was specifically for one at 18.54. She went in to a panic, making me promise to let her know that I'd got home safely! Saying goodbye to Chris I got another hug and a kiss on the hand. "I've missed my train!" I told him. "Will you let Suzi know that you've got home safe?" What a family!

The journey home was eventful to say the least but that's another story for another day. I did as I said and let Suzanne know I was back safe.

This blog post may come across as a little smug and I realise it doesn't pack the emotional punch of some of my other entries. Perhaps it reads a little more like a diary entry but feck it! My blog, my rules. I had a great day yesterday and I wanted to document that. When you have Mental Health problems as I do (did you think I was going to manage a whole blog post without wheeling out my crazy?! No chance!) and the days often seem long and dark, you have to celebrate the moments of joy and nonsense. Yesterday was both glorious and ridiculous in equal measure.