Time to get back to real life…

Well, looking on the bright side, now that the election is done and dusted, at least I’ll get another couple of hours back in my day.  For the past month or so I’ve been obsessed with my twitter feed and all of the political shows and news headlines. At the end of the week I would find myself shocked as my mobile told me how much time I had spent looking at my screen. Now that Boris Johnson has the majority he so craved he can push on whichever way he wants to go.  That means all I have to do is check in with the news headlines every morning or last thing at night to see where our future lies.

Which is good really as it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  I’m making a list and I’m checking it twice.  My list doesn’t contain the names of the naughty and nice, no, mine combines a to do list and a diary.

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My mate Kev Johns in Panto.

I think the problem has been that Brexit and the election had taken over my thoughts so much that I have simply pushed everything else to the other side of the election.  I need to finish writing the lyrics to the songs.  I’ll do it after the election.  Can you present a couple of Radio shows over Christmas?  Yes, I’d be delighted, and look after Kev Johns’ lounge at the Liberty while he’s in panto.  No problem.  It was only yesterday that I realised that I’d kept on saying yes to things without filling in my diary. I have to say I was a little worried.

You would think I would have learned by now, especially as I have in the past been double booked through being careless with my diary.

I remember once that I had to be in Swansea for a theatre gig on the Saturday until late evening and then needed to be on the Isle of White a couple of hours later for an early morning live radio show for Radio 2. Even if I drove all night the ferry timetable on a Sunday made the trip impossible.  Then I found out that someone I knew had a dad who occasionally flew a light aircraft form Fairwood. With a couple of calls the problem was solved and I made a grand entrance to the show, stepping off the plane onto the stage like a proper rock star. Well, almost, the plane landed on a grass airstrip and the only people there to greet us was a herd of cows in the next field.

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Yesterday morning, vowing to get myself in order, I started emailing people asking them to confirm the dates we had agreed on.  Thankfully so far so good.  Let’s start with the Swans.  For the past few Christmases I’ve hosted some of the lounges at the Liberty because the regular host, Kev Johns, is in panto.  The idea is to welcome the guests, give the notices including team sheets and have a chat with a special guest before getting a prediction from Lee Trundle.

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On Wednesday my special guest was Leon Britton.  Leon joined the club 17 years ago this week.  He has an amazing back story.  As a kid he played the part of a young Ryan Giggs for an advert.

He became the most expensive 16 year old when West Ham paid Arsenal £400,000 for him in 1998, but things didn’t go according to plan and by 2002 he joined the Swans on loan.  The rest is Swansea history and of course later in his career he actually played against Ryan Giggs a number of times. It might have been so different. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago for the film ‘Jack to a King’ he told me that he had no idea where Swansea was and when he passed Port Talbot steel works on the M4 he wasn’t sure he had done the right thing.

Well, 17 years later he’s still here and as part of the Swansea Hierarchy he has a unique perspective of the club off and on the pitch.  The thing is, at heart I am still a fan and I hope I never lose that but when I chat to people like Leon or Lee or my special guest this afternoon, Alan Curtis, I still have to try my best to be professional. I still have to stop myself asking them to autograph my menu.

Mal and evnign bbc radio

So, I have those dates in the diary and the good news for me is that either side of Christmas day the Swans are away.  All well and good as the next email was to BBC Radio Wales to check on which shows I had agreed to present for them. For the past 10 years I have presented early morning shows right over Christmas and New Year.  On a positive note you know exactly what you are doing and when you are doing it.  Christmas and New Year used to mean getting up at 4am every day.

Certainty is one thing but that run of early starts takes its toll. Yes, I’m first up in the morning which is exciting but I’m also the first in bed by 10pm and missing out on fun with the kids.  With a new grandchild in the family I thought this year was the year to change. So, I’ll get more sleep but also more confusion on when and where I’m supposed to be in a radio studio. It’s bad enough keeping track of the days over the holiday period but if I get it wrong there’ll be a couple of hours silence on Radio Wales.

So that all fits together nicely.  I then realised that I’d better finish that ‘In Concert’ programme I’ve been meaning to put together ever since I finished the tour last May. Back in March Radio Wales commissioned an hour long live special to feature performances from my spring tour.

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An Evening with Mal Pope at the Wales Millennium Centre

Having recorded a lot of different shows there’s always the problem of choosing the best performance of each song.  A song might be going well but then, a dodgy guitar chord here and a misplaced piano note there means a search through all of the other performances.  They again might also have some imperfection.  Which imperfection is the least imperfect?  As with all things in life it’s a compromise.  Its also a job fitting a 2 hour live show into a 59 mins programme slot.

When I got the Radio Schedules back yesterday afternoon I found out that the ‘In Concert’ goes out on New Year’s Eve and is repeated again on New Years Day.

So, there’s plenty of time to edit and tweak and cut to get the show into the right shape for the slot, and now the election is done, well, I’ve got all the time in the world!!!

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