It was the year 1991 and Moi thought it would be an interesting birthday present for me to book a ticket for the live audience at a BBC programme that I liked. We can’t remember what the programme was after all this time; it may have been Top Gear, if they had live audiences back then, but it doesn’t matter because Moi couldn’t get the ticket she wanted. Instead, the BBC offered four tickets for the programme hosted by Terry Wogan called Wogan, which was for a time a very popular talk show. Versions of it ran from 1982 to 1992.
At its height it was broadcast live three times a week, though by 1991 it was losing its popularity. The ‘special guests’ on the show we witnessed were Conservative MP Edwina Curry and a couple of what some might disparagingly describe as ‘tree-huggers’ – self-sufficient vegans. If they were around today, they might possibly be found supergluing themselves to the middle of a road somewhere. Definitely characters.
Chickens and eggs on the Wogan show
Curry came across to me as very aggressive, belligerent and confident, very much like Margaret Thatcher. In fact, many have described her as a female version of Thatcher. Edwina became famous when in 1988, during her time as undersecretary of state for health, she claimed, “Most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella”. This did not go down well with either the egg producers or consumers. It is fair to say that Edwina was easy to dislike.
As we were sat in the television studio waiting for the live show to start, I was fully expecting the floor of the television studio to be bustling with panicky last-minute activity, but it wasn’t. In fact, there seemed to be nobody doing anything – or is it everybody doing nowt? Perhaps they had done it so often that it was easy by then.
A few minutes before the off, Wogan himself joined us in the audience as a sort of warm-up welcome and for reasons unknown he had a chicken drumstick in his hand. Maybe it was a comfort prop or something to give the impression of relaxed professionalism, though he never took a nibble from it.
Brother Nick – our enthusiastic London guide
By far the most interesting parts of that evening happened before and after the show. Moi and I had met up with my little bruv Nick and his then wife Jenny the day before. We had planned to travel into London by underground. Nick had done this journey many times and of course he took over the arrangements with flamboyant enthusiasm.
To give an indication how flamboyantly enthusiastic bruv can be, these are two photos of him. One is him at the Rugby League Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in 2022 wearing the claret and gold Huddersfield Giants colours. The other is him sat outside his office celebrating Yorkshire Day in 2023.
He went to a lot of trouble this year: the tie is a Yorkshire cricket tie, there is a concrete Yorkshire Terrier, Yorkshire Tea, Yorkshire cufflinks and a bunch of white roses. The suit has a pinstripe that reads “Made in Huddersfield” running all the way through in tiny lettering. He was also proud to point out (not needed in my case) that the flag is the correct way up. A fine effort, young sir.
Anyway, back to 1991.The four of us were excitedly waiting on the underground platform. Moi, Jenny and I were on unfamiliar territory, but Nick had allowed his confidence to run away with him and he jumped on to the correct tube train long before he had ensured that us other kittens had been shepherded into an organised group.
By the time we realised Nick had boarded, the doors were closing behind him and all we could do was inanely wave at each other – we three kittens still stood on the platform with our bottom lips beginning to tremble and Nick with his nose firmly pressed against the inside of the tube door while it disappeared up the tunnel. Nick will no doubt describe this event differently but fortunately he is not writing it.
(All was not lost as we met up again at the next station.)
Yorkshire appetites impossible to overface
Following our interesting if slightly odd hour at the BBC studio and after the earlier tube debacle, Nick was desperately trying to recover his man-about-town image, and we agreed to his suggestion that we should have a meal at an Italian restaurant nearby. Both Nick and I are always willing to enter into a conversation with the staff whenever we can. This conversation can often develop into banter and if we can get as good as we give – it’s all the more entertaining, perhaps not so much for our respected family members, but once we start there is no stopping it.
This restaurant was no exception. It all kicked off by us telling the waiter that we were both hungry Yorkshire lads and we asked for the dish with the most pasta on it. We suggested that as we were big strong boys we couldn’t be ‘overfaced’, so bring it on. The waiter, bless him, entered into the spirit and must have scoured the kitchen for the biggest plates he could find. He came out with two meat dishes full of spaghetti bolognese. Both Nick and I tackled it manfully and managed to scoff the lot – much to the waiter’s surprise and apparent pleasure.
But touché for the waiter on language skills
Nick asked him where he was from and pretended to be very familiar with the area – he told him that he had visited nearby several times in connection with his fencing (of the sword variety). Nick thought he would impress the chap by describing fencing in his very limited Italian and said the word ‘schermo’. The waiter looked puzzled, so Nick said it several more times, getting louder each time and adding the mime for a sword fencing stance.
The waiter eventually cottoned on and said “Ahhh– scherma!”. Schermo in Italian is actually a TV or cinema screen but from the waiter’s attempts to explain it, we understood it was something to do with windows or curtains. Therefore, Nick has forever since been known as an international judge on the fine art of curtain fitting.
Nick will, of course, say that recollections of this event may vary, but just like the London underground debacle, he isn’t writing it, so this is the proper and true account of that day.
All in all, an excellent and memorable occasion.