Cummings' goings: The upcoming election and more March musings
PUBLISHED: 17:24 11 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:24 11 March 2015
BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Mark Cummings on the election, redundant trampolines, the remarkable Rob Camm and more March musings
In a couple of months we will enter one of the most intriguing general elections of recent history. I grew up in the Wilson/Heath/Wilson era, started cub reporting in the Thatcher years and anchored the coverage through the night in the ‘97 landslide. Since then I’ve had the fun of pre-election one to ones with Tony Blair and latterly David Cameron. It’s always a thrill, privilege and responsibility to ask the right questions in this rather tense and full-on period, and I love it. However I’m also aware it can be relentless and exhausting for listeners if handled in the wrong way. We decided that in the long drawn-out period leading up to May 7 we could all achieve something life enhancing and significant in our lives. I issued a rallying cry and was overwhelmed with the response. We have people committed to learning foreign languages, training for the Tewkesbury half marathon, some have promised to join me on May Hill learning Morris dancing, we’ve got an unfit group accepting my offer of a pedometer, and one man who is determined to be an expert on the ukulele by May. The Bishop’s Cleeve U3A have signed up to various intriguing projects including creative writing and one listener has vowed to complete the book they’ve always dreamed of writing. It’s amazing what you can achieve in a focussed, intense period. I’m currently visiting places I should have gone to before but for some reason or another have never managed to see. For example I have passed the Highwayman Pub on the A417 over 10,000 times but have never been in it. I’d never been to the famous Nature in Art gallery at Wallsworth Hall at Twigworth near Gloucester. I’ve often heard about the elusive Pleasant Style viewpoint on Littledean Hill where you get one of the best views over the River Severn. I intend to make it there. I had also never eaten elvers but now this breakfast delicacy has been ticked off the list. I can’t wait for the Monday after the election when we can fill the studio with our fit pedometer army, our authors, linguists and Morris dancers all breaking into song accompanied by the newly formed ukulele band.
The remarkable Rob
I met Rob the other day and I haven’t stopped thinking about him since. Two years ago he accepted a lift home from a nightclub in Dursley and was involved in a terrible accident which would see him facing the rest of his life paralysed from the neck down. The driver was over the limit and is currently serving a jail term. A mad keen rugby player, Rob had been on the verge of starting a new life at university. He had 96 days in Frenchay hospital in Bristol before being transferred to Salisbury and now he is back home. If you have time to visit his website CAMMPAIGN4ROB you’ll get a glimpse of a remarkable man who has no bitterness, remorse or anger. Despite needing 24-hour care and the use of a ventilator for his breathing he has now started a degree course at Bristol University. I met a man who is simply looking forward in life. A recurring theme was his love of rugby. He played for Dursley, supports Gloucester and it’s clear the whole rugby community has rallied round to support him in his recovery. He has high hopes of moving into sports journalism and with his knowledge of rugby I’m sure he’ll make it.
The bounce has gone out of my life
Have you ever experienced a seminal moment when you suddenly realise you have moved into a new phase of your life? A small, possibly minor event suddenly holds huge significance. It happened to me and my wife on a cold, bleak Sunday morning. This monumental shared experience was the dismantling and dumping of the children’s giant trampoline. It only seems two minutes ago since we were putting the monster together on a sunny afternoon with our two young girls leaping around the garden laughing at clouds with giddy anticipation. We drove to the tip with a car full of rusted poles and ripped netting knowing this was a life changing moment. We drove home with heavy hearts knowing they will be leaving home soon and tearfully pulled up outside the house. Once back into the garden I perked up a bit when I realised how much space we now had, and discovered three trees I hadn’t seen in 12 years. Warming to the theme of the kids growing up I perked up even more when my eldest offered to pick us both up from the pub that night. I positively perked up to maximum capacity when I researched how much we could get for renting out their rooms when they have gone. A quick calculation of current rentable values means after three months I’ll be able to afford that all weather table tennis table I’ve always wanted. Luckily I have a good idea of the perfect spot to put it.
DJ in a spin
I can confirm the rumours that vinyl is making a comeback are true. My daughter has just got herself a record player and is loving the novelty of seeing a big black disc spinning round and round often at completely the wrong speed. I’m not quite sure she believes me when I tell her I used to use these black plates when I first started on the radio in 1982. In those days radio shows were full of tunes played at the wrong speed and full of scratches. The one trick I was taught early on was to place a 10 pence piece in the centre of the record if it was sounding a bit wobbly. This DJ tactic rebalanced the disc just enough to get you through to the end. I will shortly be heading up to the loft to retrieve all my old albums. I’ll then shove my girl out of the way and re-connect with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Barclay James Harvest and all the others I was too tight to buy on CD.
Mini March missives
I hosted a pub quiz in my local the other night and the question that drove everyone mad was this...give me the next line after... “I’m singing in the rain, Just singing in the rain, What a glorious feelin’ I’m happy again.” Next line? If you don’t know you can either keep singing it until you get it, resort to Google or read my piece about the trampoline and see the clue in there.
Every journey starts with a single step...
A recent editorial in Cotswold Life from Mike Lowe hinted at a hatred for something he described as ruining the essence of our Cotswold beauty. This time he wasn’t venting about wind turbines, solar farms or incinerators. The victim of his ire was the obligatory 14 foot trampoline that appears to reside in 90 per cent of all gardens. Well my message to the old growler, 1 down 700,356 to go.
You say potato...
We have another pronunciation controversy to add to our list. You have to accept very early on in radio that there are some things you can never win. If I refer to the place near Gloucester on the A40 as Over, someone will say it’s pronounced Oooover. If we talk about the beautiful Prinknash Abbey we will pronounce it as “Prinish”. However many will say it’s pronounced as it is written as Prink Nash. Travel reporters quiver with fear if they have to report how traffic is doing on the M5 near the Michael Wood services because it really should be “Mikkel Wood” Our new friend is Cambridge on the A38 near Dursley. We pronounce it the same way as it’s illustrious Cambridge cousin with the big university. However a minority believe that since it is named after the bridge over the river Cam it should be pronounced Cam Bridge. Help!
Sing while you’re winning...
I saw one of the best rugby matches at Kingsholm recently when Gloucester beat Saracens with a last minute monster kick from James Hook. It had been a classic game of top quality rugby with two brilliant tries for Gloucester and the score ping-ponging between both teams all match. With the time up Saracens were two points ahead and to rub salt into our wounds had appeared to have scored a try in the last second to compound our misery. To our joy it was ruled offside and our Welsh wonder did the rest. What capped the night off for me was the spontaneous male voice choir who broke into the most beautiful refrains in The Queens Head pub afterwards. 5 blokes just started singing at the next table which added the perfect final ingredient to possibly the most pleasure I’ve had at a sporting event.
and finally pop pickers...
I’m off to play with my record player and spins some classic oldies...now what were the phrases I used to use? that’s it. Spin from the bin, classic from the attic, rave from the grave and a charmer from the embalmer.
Mark Cummings can be heard on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s morning show 6am-9am