As I finished writing Nerva Beacon, I found a riff that suggested a whole new song. It’s lovely when that happens and I immediately knew it had to be used as a nagging refrain and that Nerva Beacon should lead into it on a record. It’s one of my faves and is all about BBC Television Centre and a day trip there.
When I finished recording it I had a disaster as my recorder showed an error message... When I turned it off and on again, it said the card had been deleted, so I lost the whole track and one other (an earlier version of Festival of Bellowing). I was heartbroken and stayed up most of the next night re-recording them. The semi-improvised guitar solo was slightly better the first time around, but I did make it a bit faster on the re-recording. As always happens in these situations, I've now become used to the new version of the guitar solo and can no longer imagine it any other way.
Christmas week in 2011
Waiting at Wood Lane
With my new, Nelson, graphic novel and Ghost’s album in my brain
Ayse’s knife was taken from her by security
But not their one armed man…
Approaching a mosaic building; a question mark drawn on a napkin
Means more to me than Hollywood. Yay!
The real, BBC2, black and orange clock was not a graphic
The real Gordon the Gopher!
The model Tracey Island, in cereal boxes!
Christmas beers with all and pregnant Liz, in the Defector's Weld
There’s a mistake they made earlier…
Moving to Salford
Answers on a postcard please
Roy Castle tapping on the fountain
Brian Blessed putting a johnny on the golden statue
Jimmy Saville seemed mostly harmless in this winter scene
Not so much by Halloween
Means more to me than Hollywood. Yay!
* Wood Lane – The road in west London, where BBC Television Centre is. Before Christmas 2011 I booked a tour of the building with a group of friends
* Nelson – A brilliant graphic novel, which I had in my bag at the time. It has several artists creating a page each (an “exquisite corpse game”) The first section is about the birth of the heroine, “Nelson,” which chimed with me at the time, as my wife was so near to giving birth
* Ghost – A Swedish band, who played very good and traditional 70’s rock music (and dress as Satanists :-) Their first album reignited my love of metal and I had it on my iPod that day
* Ayse’s knife – Ayse is one of my mates, who came on the Television Centre tour. She plays bass and is a lovely person. Crazily she had a knife in her bag, which seemed unlikely! It was only a pen knife
* The one armed man – I saw a documentary about Television Centre shortly after my visit. They apparently had a one-armed security guard for many years
* Mosaic building – The reception is beautifully tiled
* A question mark drawn on a napkin – From above, the building looks exactly like a question mark. It was a lucky accident, when the designer was doodling in a restaurant and realised that the shape could fit multiple studios around a central circle
* W12 7RJ – The postcode of Television Centre, which was always mentioned on children’s TV in the 1980’s, when they invited you to write in to competitions
* It means more to me than Hollywood – This is true! I love the BBC and its programmes. Seeing the building where they filmed Genesis of the Daleks and Blue Peter made me shake with excitement, whereas the Hollywood sign just made me nod to myself and smile briefly
* The black and orange clock – This was shown on BBC2, before each programme in the 1970’s. Incredibly it wasn’t done with CGI, but a real clock that they stuck in front of the camera (obvious in retrospect, as they wouldn't have had access to CGI in the early 80's). We actually got to see the real clock!!
* Gordon the Gopher – A puppet mascot on children’s BBC for several years when I was young
* The model Tracey Island – On Blue Peter, they once showed kids how to make one of these models from cardboard. It became their most popular design (as Thunderbirds was being repeated and was loved by kids). Our tour guide didn’t point it out, but the original model from Blue Peter was in a cabinet we passed!
* Liz – My wife, who was 7 months pregnant at the time and met us afterwards
* Defector’s Weld – A nice pub, at the end of Wood Lane on Shepherds Bush Green
* “There’s a mistake they made earlier” – When Blue Peter presenters make models, they always jump to a more finished one, with the catch phrase, “here’s one I made earlier.”
* Moving to Salford – I believe that this was a mistake. Just before 2011, the BBC relocated some of their TV work to a new campus in Salford. It’s incredibly sad, as the studios are hallowed ground. Also, it takes something away from the world’s best city and the BBC's atmosphere
* “Answers on a postcard please” – Another phrase from the 1970’s and 80’s, when people were invited to write in to competitions
* Roy Castle – TV presenter of Record Breakers, who played the trumpet and lead the world’s biggest tap dance (around the Television Centre fountain)
* “Brian Blessed, putting a Johnny on the golden statue” – Brian Blessed is a British national treasure! I love him. He’s a champion mountain climber and has an hilarious bellowing manner. He once climbed the fountain at TV Centre, to put a condom on the nude statue at the top. It’s the sort of thing he’d do (and then bellow excitedly of course!) He’s great in I Claudius.
* Jimmy Saville – Jim’ll Fix It presenter in the 1980’s and one of BBC1’s longest serving DJ’s. At the time we had our day trip, he was reasonably well liked….
* Halloween – By Halloween the next year, Jimmy Saville had died and it was posthumously discovered that he’d been a long-term child abuser. He became Britains most hated man.