I started painting the house at the end of November (interior only – I’m not that stupid that I would try to paint outside during a British winter). With the wife at work and the boy at school, weekday mornings have seen litres of gloss and matt applied to skirting boards, dado rails, doors etc. over the past few weeks. I don’t seem to be any closer to finishing than I was a month ago, but I’ve enjoyed it, being a fairly solitary animal in the main. But we all need company, and “Colin Murray & Friends” (TalkSport, Monday-Friday, 10am-1pm) has been providing just that. It is an incredibly average show 😉 with Mr Murray being joined by two sidekicks each day (Brian Moore/Perry Groves on Mondays, Des Kelly/Michael Gray on Tuesdays, Steve Bunce/Dietmar Hamann on Wednesdays, Daley Thompson/Danny Murphy on Thursdays and Perry Groves/Bob Mills on Fridays).
Anyone who knows me will know that for over ten years I have regarded Hawksbee and Jacobs as the undisputed kings of daytime talk radio. Those guys have got me through a degree (when I used to leave the university library early to get home for their show) and a couple of really tedious jobs. They remain at the top of their game, but for the first time in years they have a rival. Murray and his guests provide, in my opinion, a thoughtful, humorous, insightful and generally cliché-free three hours of radio that I recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in sport. Anyway, enough of that.
Here’s the thing: since the painting started, when I look at the various bits that I’ve painted over the past eight weeks, so many memories are brought back. When I look at the kitchen doorframe I hear Andy Fordham’s interview from the other day, when he spoke of his health, his drinking, and his attempt to get back among the elite of the BDO darters. I wish him well. The skirting board in the alcove next to my bed is now Perry Groves telling us that Sunderland will not be relegated this season. They had about nine points at the time, I think, but he may turn out to have been right. I don’t think he was saying it to be controversial, he genuinely believed it. And he persuaded me. Another piece of skirting board (this one in the back bedroom behind the wardrobe) will always be Daley Thompson, Eddie Izzard (who seemed to get on like long lost friends though they’d never met before) and the day AVB got the boot from Spurs. Only really good radio can do this. (H&J’s coverage of the Lewis-Tyson “face off” in 2001 that ended in a brawl is another example. I remember it like it was yesterday).
But the best thing is that my four-year-old son’s bedroom door will forever be associated with Dietmar Hamann’s magnificent cover version of Chris de Burgh’s “Lady in Red” just before Christmas. The term “comedy gold” comes nowhere near to doing justice to this incredible moment in radio history. It has to be listened to in order to be believed. I don’t laugh out loud at many things, but this had me (genuinely) in bits, with tears rolling down my cheeks. Fantastic.
At 7.30 every weekday morning, as I go into my son’s room to wake him up for school and push on that same door, I am instantly transported back to the former German international’s rendition of possibly the worst single to reach Number One in the 1980s (and there’s plenty of competition). If it’s cold and wet outside, if I had eight pints the night before and my head is still pounding, or if I have just another day of paint fumes to look forward to, by the time I’m whispering “Daniel, it’s time to wake up” I’m grinning like a demented lunatic.
In years to come my son may well be sitting in a pub somewhere discussing “earliest memories” with a friend and he will recount how he clearly remembers his Dad waking him up for school when he was just four years old, and that no matter how cold it was, no matter how poor West Ham had been the night before, no matter how monstrous the hangover was, Dad always had a great big smile on his face. What a great Dad!
And for that, Mr Hamann and Mr Murray, I thank you.