Thursday, 17 February 2011

Garry Richardson Mended The Donkey's Radio

The downside of the Donkey, is that the radio reception in it is iffy. That's not to say that the radio is not good. Quite the opposite, the state of the art radio, dvd player. cd player and stereo sound system make it a much more pleasurable experience travelling in the old stalwart. It's just that the aerial misbehaves and halfway through a good tune, or in the final 200 yards of a neck and neck horserace, or just as Rooney is about to score, the radio dies.

This produces apoplexy on the Alf Garnett scale of things. Short of thumping the dashboard and shouting obscenities at passing motorists, there is nothing you can do. You just have to wait for it to receive again.

This morning was a fraught one. There had been a freak snowfall on the high ground. Four inches of snow had fallen and was lying on the final 300 feet as I drove up to the summit. I tried it out in my four wheel drive car first and when that started spinning in the wet snow, I chickened out taking the bus over the top and went around the long way, meaning an extra 30 minutes on the journey to Bradford.

This was great. It didn't matter how late I might be, it meant I would have an extra half an hour listening to the Dark Lord's (Alex Lester) good music on Radio 2. Dr Feelgood were making the bus vibrate:

'A black cop gave me a shove with his gun
Said up against the wall and don't make a run
They've got me on milk and alcohol
They've got me on......................................


The Donkey was left with the dissonant sounds of my dreadful bass voice....'milk and alcohol', singing a cappella, but more in the style of the karaoke evening down at the local pub.

The radio's silence continued for nearly an hour as the tuner searched automatically. It finally connected with a voice. The voice of Garry Richardson reading the two minute sports news on Radio 4's Today programme.

Garry Richardson is a genius. Often a comparatively and unknown genius, for someone who has been one of the lynch pins in BBC Sport for the past 30 years. You can tell how well he is thought of from the banter with John Humphrys, Sarah Montague, Justin Webb et al, quite unlike any other sports presenter.

He hasn't deviated from his hard line of questioning, sometimes called Paxmanesque, asking the same question three times. That was the same in the 1980's when sometimes I used to share the BBC Sports Room at Broadcasting House, preparing our respective scripts. I use the word 'share' liberally as he was the sports professional going onto the Today programme and I was the humble contract worker for Radio 2.

It's strange how life pans out, I thought as the blizzard subsided and was replaced by heavy rain smacking into the bus's windscreen. I hope the BBC properly recognise the amazing service he has given the BBC. From my perspective, it is amusing to know that a voice from the past can syill influence my life. His voice was the one to buck the radio back into life.

That, at the very least, deserves an award.

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