Beverley Minster

It’s been pointed out to me in no uncertain terms (as they say) that not everyone is going to be as fascinated by Project 60/60 as I am. One man’s list of 60 things to do - or start doing - while he’s 60 is hardly the riveting raw material of cliffhangers and bated breath being, as it is, of direct interest and consequence mainly to the man whose list it is; the man who dreamed it up. Namely (of course) - me.

But I don’t agree. In my opinion, to draw that kind of conclusion is to miss the point. The idea here, in describing the success or otherwise of The Project, is to tell a story of One Man’s ‘Special’ Year; one man’s journey through a period he has deliberately designed to be challenging, sentimental and unknowable by turns. And the not very well hidden agenda is the hope that it may inspire bystanders, helpers, listeners, readers, blogsters and those directly or indirectly involved to transfer some of the impetus to their own lives, to absorb some of the ‘action’ and its consequences and to concoct projects and ideas of their own. If my plan works there’ll be a lot more than one story to tell when the year is up in December 2009.

I’ve dreamed up 60 items to go on the list. I’ve hoyed them all into a ragbag and drawn them out at random to draw up the final order of the list. So, in genuinely random order, the list starts like this...

Take a photograph every day at 1300....
This peculiar idea isn’t original; it’s part of the basic plot of one of my favourite films: Smoke. If you haven't seen it, you’re missing out bigtime! One of the protagonists - the owner of a small, street-corner tobacconist shop in Manhattan - takes a picture of his shop every morning at about 0800 just before he opens for business. He’s the first to admit that there’s no real reason why he does it - except that, since he started, he has a running record of New York street-life spanning all the seasons through many years of local change. Most of what his photographs show is insignificant and utterly unimportant in the Great Scheme of Things. But it becomes of more than passing interest to him and, through him, to his customers, all of whom are ‘ordinary’ people leading ‘ordinary’ lives. In fact, one of the purposes of the movie seems to be to show us that the ordinary lives of ordinary people can be wholly and totally extraordinary.

At first, I decided not to fix a time for my daily photo. I quickly realised, though, that I would find the temptation to ‘contrive’ my photo would become irresistible; that I would end up doing whatever it was I was photographing because I was photographing it. Whereas the idea, of course, is that the photo is an ‘extra’; that whatever is happening each day at 1300 would be happening whether I photographed it or not.

So be prepared for a pictorial narrative of the mundane and the predictable mixed - I hope - with the surprising and the unexpected. I’d be genuinely delighted - and fascinated - if you could see your way clear to join me for a while. Try it yourself, if only for a week or so, and we’ll compare notes.

I’ll be taking the first picture in this series of 365 at 1300 on Thursday 4 December. If you do the same - and it’s a digital picture, of course - send it to me and let’s see what we can make of 60/1.

The Aquarium...
I mentioned on The Nightshift a few months ago that an ex-colleague had ‘donated’ a brand-new unused aquarium kit to me. I have no idea how he came to possess it or why, possessing it, he had never actually taken it out of its box, filled it with water and put some fish in it, thus fulfilling the ultimate destiny of all aquariums. Er...aquaria?

Anyway, for whatever reason, he gave it to me. And now, it’s 60/2 of my Project.

As I’ve said on-air, I’ve always had a hankering to keep a small fish tank but, for one reason or another, I’ve never got round to it. Well I now have no excuses. 'I’ve got a little list' and the aquarium is on it. New skills and techniques to learn, new animal-keeping pleasures to experience. Grist - as it were - to the Project mill.

I know that, as far as exciting new adventures go, starting up a small fish tank isn’t in the same league as, say, taking the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. But everything’s relative; if you’ve never kept fish before, Macchu Picchu can wait.

Make a ‘pilgrimage’ to Beverley...
Three of the 60 items on my little list are ‘pilgrimages’ to some of my favourite places in England, discovered over 60 years of getting to know my native country. Beverley is one of the three. It’s not just a splendid little East Yorkshire town; it also has the very great good fortune to possess two of England’s most notable mediaeval churches - St Mary’s and the sumptuous Beverley Minster....

With the first three random items on the list I have an element of the ongoing ‘present’ (the daily photo), a challenge for the future (the fish tank) and a lifetime favourite from the past (Beverley).

Watch this space....

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.


Just a quick blog (as it were) to remind everyone that I'm now cobbling together the sixth People's Nightshift, to be broadcast on Wednesday 3 December. Get your contributions in to me at the BBC as soon as you can. All the usual - plus the more UNusual - categories are welcome.....stories, anecdotes, memories, tall tales, jokes, quizzes, questions (and answers), trivia, lists, record requests, comments, newspaper's all grist to The Nightshift mill.

..isn't it good to know that Ryan is still listening in Alton (Hampshire) after all this time?

..these lorry pictures are cool, aren't they? Unfortunately, I can't remember who sent them to me. Typical.
Thirty animals.....

If you were listening to my chat with Sue on Monday morning’s Nightshift, you may have picked up a kind of hint about my Project 60/60 which, I hope, will make my sixtieth birthday year a little bit special. Permit me to explain.

A person’s sixtieth birthday - it seems to me - is peculiarly notable. The other ‘decade’ birthdays (twentieth, thirtieth etc) are useful ‘punctuation marks’ on our long march through the years of our lives, serving as stocktaking opportunities; times when we can ‘stand and stare’, look back at where we’ve been and what we’ve achieved and look forward to where we want to go and how we think we can get there.

Some weeks ago, however, I decided that reaching 60 wasn’t quite the same as reaching 30 or 40. When you get to 50, for example, there’s usually nothing to make you suppose that you won’t keep on going to 60 and beyond. That’s just the way things are - and the way you feel - at 50.

At 60, though, you feel strangely ‘mortal’. You become aware - almost suddenly - of the limited amount of time you may have left. For the first time in your life, you feel that attaining your next decade birthday at 70 is by no means guaranteed. After all, you’re now old enough for the generation ahead of you to have started dying; if you’re particularly unlucky, even members of your own generation may have started to give up the ghost. I guess it’s all part of the human condition. When you get to 60, you realise you have a long past and a shorter - and uncertain - future.

But there’s another side to this new-felt mortality - an exciting and uplifting side, too. It occurred to me that, if the future beyond 60 was uncertain and potentially of limited duration, then I should make the most of the moment of realisation and the year afterwards; I should take control of each precious day - each precious hour - and squeeze as much life out of it as I possibly could. I know that this is what we’re all meant to be doing all the time anyway, but very few of us actually manage it.

So I decided to mark my sixtieth birthday year in a way which, I hope, would allow me to take stock of my life so far (without taking it too seriously) and also to launch myself into the future with a smile on my face and some excitement and adventure on the horizon throughout the year and beyond.

Project 60/60. Sixty things to do (or start to do) while I’m sixty. Places to go because I love being there or have never been and want to. People to meet. Things to say or write or read. Experiences to have - either again or for the first time. Organisations to join or rejoin, charities to help. Relationships to renew, to nurture or even to begin.

To qualify for inclusion, each item on the list must at least be achievable, even though I know I won't achieve them all.

And I hope that a healthily large number of items on the 60/60 list will run on beyond the end of the year, so that my sixtieth birthday year will mark new beginnings too.

Whatever other effect the Project has, it should at least ensure that the year ahead is not the dull, turgid and pedestrian beginning of Old Age to which so many succumb.

Project 60/60 will falter and flounder without your active involvement and participation. In my next posting, I’ll be explaining how I hope you’ll want to make suggestions, how you can help me measure how successfully (or otherwise) the year is progressing and how - with a little judicious manipulation and tailoring - Project 60/60 can become something applicable to all of us in our own way, in our own lives, reflecting our own priorities and at our own pace.

Through you helping me to achieve some rather special things in the upcoming year, perhaps I can also help you to do something similar.

Join me. I reckon we could all have a lot of fun.

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.


Contrary to what you might expect at this time of year, the temperature’s rising. Things are getting warmer, degree by degree. There’s an unmistakable build-up of steam. The red light that means ‘too much pressure’ is flashing brighter and more frequently as each day passes. Unless the ‘Authorities’ take remedial or avoiding action....well as my Nana used to say, there’ll be a very loud report and I’ll have gone off.

And there isn’t much time, either. In less than a fortnight, I will officially reach the age at which dancing at weddings - or any other good-time gatherings - is strictly forbidden, or at least frowned upon. Suddenly, by merely stating my age, I will be looked upon as outdated, curmudgeonly and almost pointless - words which, on reflection, a great many people have been using about me for some considerable time already.

I will become entitled to free medical prescriptions - a perquisite that will become more and more valuable as time goes on and nature takes its course. Many public sector sellers of goods and services will regard me as a ‘concession’; cheaper seats at the Tyneside Cinema, much less costly rail travel (provided I buy a one-off ‘railcard’), free travel on the Metro (ditto). Even - as several nightshifters have already pointed out - my entitlement to a special winter heating allowance.

I’m going to be sixty.

Now I don’t want to complain or ‘create’. (Again, this is a usage of my Nana’s. She had a use of English that was all her own; comment was stressed on the second syllable: comMENT - and a REplica became a repLICa. Anyway....) Passing negative comment about all the allowances and concessions to which I am suddenly about to be entitled would indeed be curmudgeonly and niggardly, and thus perpetuate the ‘OAP’ stereotype described above. We over-60s have been conditioned over the decades to express nothing but gratitude for whatever crumbs off the financial table our keepers decide to throw at us. However, having said that - and having firmly established how grateful I genuinely am for what I am about to receive.....

Why can’t the over-60 concessions be a little less ‘worthy’? Sure, free bus journeys and discounts on trains and in cinemas are all very well, but what I would really appreciate, over and above these, is discounted beer and wine. ‘Senior citizen’ membership of discos and OAP entrance to rock gigs. 20% off all scones, pies, biscuits and cakes. Specially cakes and pies. Over-60s air travel at truly awesome discounts. The possibilities are endless.

If I’m given a cardigan for my birthday, I’ll sulk. If I’m given slippers and a pipe, I’ll sue.

Thanks for all your enquiries about my duties over the Christmas period. I'm afraid that, this year, I won't be with you 'live' on Christmas Day as I have been over the last few years. Instead, I will be presenting The Nightshift every night except Christmas Night and Boxing Night. There'll be more details of BBC Radio Newcastle's seasonal programmes in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times.

...was sent in to me by truckshunter Gavin.

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.

The Red House, Monkwearmouth


Regular nightshifters will know that, during the period when my blogpostings were mostly ‘in abeyance’, we started a new weekly slot on The Nightshift called On Your Doorstep (OYD). I say ‘we’. The whole idea can be laid squarely at the not inconsiderable feet of Lawrence Hepple, previously known only for either his renowned skills as a piano-tuner or his almost equally well-known enthusiasm for, and advocacy of, Berwick Bandits speedway team.

To both of those cap feathers can now be added that of an increasingly astute and thoughtful radio producer and researcher. Over the last 3 months or so, Lawrence has not only decided which subjects - animal, vegetable or mineral - should be covered each week on OYD; he has also done all the necessary accompanying research and scripting. It would, after all, be profoundly unwise to enter the arena of a Nightshift grilling inadequately prepared!

But his production talent doesn’t stop there. He has also taken it upon himself to book a few musical acts onto The Nightshift as well. You have already heard two of them - Paul Liddell and the youthful Leonard Brown, the jaw-droppingly skilled accordionist. Their studio performances have ensured that both of them will be paying us another visit in the not too distant future.

The particularly galling aspect of all this is that OYD garners at least as much nightshifter reaction as any other item on the programme. I’m not entirely joking when I suggest that Producer Hepple is ‘up to something’. He even brought his son Daniel into the Pink Palace last week on some ludicrous pretext or other, for Heaven’s sake.

So - seriously - for your contributions to The Nightshift way beyond the call of conventional listenerhood ......

Lawrence: TAKE A BOW.

Okay okay that’s enough of the limelight for now......

Last weekend my old friend Brian, whom you may have heard me mention over the years, came up to Newcastle to visit me. He’s one of those jetsetters - he’s a balletmaster and teaches all over the world - who has been to Tierra del Fuego, Inner Mongolia and Cape Horn but who’s never been to Edinburgh. Naturally, I criticise him roundly and often for this and last weekend decided to actually do something about it. So, instead of sitting around the flat getting not-so-quietly sloshed on red wine and lighter fuel, we went out on a couple of trips. Admittedly, one of them was only as far as Newcastle city centre but the other more than made up for the shortfall.....

Firstly, we called at Tynemouth Station Sunday Market. What an exhilarating pleasure!! I’m ashamed to say that it’s quite a few years since I’d been and I found it as exciting and unpredictable last weekend as I had the first time I went. What a great venue for a market like that. Covered, with easy access by public transport and with plenty of refreshments available; Brian was delighted and I, for my part - as part of my list of things to do while I’m 60 - determined to visit it at least once a month.

We then went a little way up the coast to St Mary’s Island, where it was (shall we say) cold (specially for London-dwellers like Brian). Thus forced to retreat by what was - for me, at any rate - a mildly chilly sea-breeze but what to Brian was the beginnings of the next veritable Arctic ice-age, we drove to Sunderland so that Brian could visit the National Glass Centre.

If you’ve been there this close to Christmas, you’ll know that they produce and sell some stunningly beautiful Christmas Tree glass decorations. I have a feeling that Brian’s tree will look particularly striking this year!

A little way along the north bank of the river at this point brings you to one of my favourite pieces of north-east public art: The Red House. It's described (in Public Sculpture of North-East England) as...

'...a large sculpture which represents the ground floor of a house, left open to the elements. Large blocks of red sandstone are carved into features such as a fireplace, a coat hanging behind a door and a table. A rug on the floor has 'WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND' carved around its edges. There are also books, tools and a secretaire. Scattered beyond the walls are other fragments of sandstone, one with a letter inscribed into it. The colour of the sandstone reflects that of the new brick houses behind, and the whole is sited within a planted area beside the riverside pathway.
That description is static; but Colin Wilbourn (its originator) makes narrative sculpture; he feels that there's always a story buried within it, even if he doesn't necessarily know what that story is....'

I love it. It’s astonishing. It’s as if the house has been blown apart somehow - or turned inside out. To me, it justifies the comparatively modest amounts of money spent on public art in the north-east at least as much as any other works which have benefitted, including the Angel.

Sunderland, I think, should boast a little more about its public art and open spaces and (perhaps) a little less about its football team....

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.
Escomb Church


Something very important indeed - in its own quiet kind of way - has been developing in County Durham over the last couple of years. In fact, it’s taken almost 20 years to come to fruition. And now, as a result of this long collaboration between the DLI Museum in Durham City and the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive, visitors to the County’s Record Office can access Listen To The Soldier - 200 digitised recorded interviews with veterans who served with all the battalions of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) during the Second World War.

You can hear the voices of DLI squaddies from all over the north-east and beyond: Sunderland, Hetton-le-Hole, New Herrington, Stanley, Pelaw, Thornley, Tantobie.....and of their experiences training and fighting. Normandy, North Africa, Sicily, Kohima, Tunisia, Dunkirk and elsewhere.

This kind of ‘oral history’ is undoubtedly the best there is. Listening to the voices of men who were in the thick of the action - and to their unexpected light touches concerning new, starched uniforms and food parcels from home - is a sobering and uplifting experience. Not that you need me to tell you that!

I guess it’s going to be more and more difficult to keep memories like these alive and ‘relevant’ to the experience of modern life. Veterans of the First World War are, of course, already extremely thin on the ground and the number of men and women with first-hand memories of the Second will decline in the same way and just as quickly.

So if you can, make a date with the Durham County Record Office to Listen To The Soldier. Warmly recommended. 0191 383 3253/3274.

Thanks for all your contributions. I’m afraid the balloon idea turned into the usual kind of Ian Robinson fiasco; cheap balloons combined with a mischievous colleague (David) with a razorblade (no less) didn’t make for a world-record challenging attempt at balloon-inflating. It was great fun, though.

I must admit to being the teeniest bit heartbroken that nobody called with a bid nearly high enough for me to shave off my beard. Where are all the rich businessmen when you want them? (Good grief - I seem to have been saying that for years.)

ESCOMB CHURCH arguably the oldest complete building above ground in England. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors used the stones of the nearby Roman fort of Vinovia to build it; the chancel arch is a Roman arch dismantled, shipped a couple of miles upstream and re-erected here. The church almost certainly existed while the Venerable Bede was still alive in the seventh century AD and is so old that its original dedication is unknown.

It stands - admittedly a little forlornly and forgotten - in the middle of a typically unkempt and even drab west Durham mining village near Bishop Auckland (of all places). For me, it is typical of the 'hidden gems' with which County Durham is adorned. I would say that its ancient and silent humility is awe-inspiring but that would sound like, and be, pretentious nonsense.

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.


All these jokes - which aired on The Nightshift this morning - are taken from an email sent to me by Pam. I reproduce them here by public demand; I don't think I've ever received so many requests to repeat or blogpost a Nightshift item. Enjoy!

Take One.....
Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, 'Where did you get such a great bike?'
The second engineer replied, 'Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, 'Take what you want.'
The second engineer nodded approvingly and said, 'Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fitted you anyway.'

Take Two....
To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Take Three....
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.
The engineer fumed, 'What's with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes !'
The doctor chimed in, 'I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!'
The priest said, 'Here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him.'
He said, 'Hello, George! What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?'
The greens keeper replied, 'Oh, yes. That's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.'
The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, 'That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.'
The doctor said, 'Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them.'
The engineer said, 'Why can't they play at night?'

Take Four....
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?
Mechanical engineers build weapons and civil engineers build targets.

Take Five....
The graduate with a science degree asks, 'Why does it work?'
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, 'How does it work?'
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, 'How much will it cost?'
The graduate with an arts degree asks, 'Do you want fries with that?'

Take Six....
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body.
One said, 'It was a mechanical engineer Just look at all the joints.'
Another said, 'No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.'
The last one said, 'No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?'
Take Seven....
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Take Eight....
An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, 'If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess.'
He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, 'If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week.'
The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.
The frog then cried out, 'If you kiss me and turn me back into a Princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do ANYTHING you want.'
Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, 'What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?'
The engineer said, 'Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend.
But a talking frog, now that's cool.'

THE PICTURE.... one of a series sent to me some time ago. Apparently, a German company decided to adorn their lorries with some startlingly original and clever 3D designs to give us all something fun to look at on long and dreary motorway journeys. Unfortunately, I can't remember who sent em the pictures. My apologies to whomsoever it may concern!

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.



Remember remember

The fifth of November

Gunpowder treason and plot

I see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot....

These days, of course, you’re far more likely to find Bonfire Night celebrated on the nearest weekend night to November 5 than on November 5 itself. Knowing me as you do, you’re probably expecting me to complain about it being a ‘movable feast’. You know the sort of thing by now....Why can’t we celebrate Bonfire Night on the correct date; on the fifth of November, which is the anniversary of an actual event. It’s as risible as celebrating May Day on the ‘nearest Monday to May 1’, which, incredibly, is what we do in England...

However, on this occasion, I have no intention of complaining. And that’s because I had such a great time on Saturday night in Stamfordham.

For those who don’t know Stamfordham, it’s a large and rather prosperous Northumbrian village 10 or so miles west of Newcastle, deep in the countryside and not far to the north of Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the last few years, the bonfire and fireworks display there has acquired quite a glitzy reputation locally and the village fills up with the cars of ‘tourists’ up to the time the bonfire is lit. I’m never quite sure how a community as comparatively small as Stamfordham manages to build such an imposing bonfire AND manages to prevent it being raided by rival villages (which is always what we used to do when I was a kid); but I’m glad it does. As usual it was huge and very skilfully built so that it made a truly awesome sight as it burned brightly on the village green in the clear November night. The blustery wind caught the flames occasionally and sent showers of sparks and embers into the sky.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing quite as primitively magical as a big, powerful open fire. And - I suppose because open fires are uncommon these days - I really enjoyed not just gazing at the bonfire but also looking at the faces of all the other people gazing at it! Especially, of course, at the faces of the children; wide-eyed, open-mouthed and not a little afraid of the power of the leaping flames.

What amazes even more is how Stamfordham manages to afford such an impressive fireworks display. It lasted for almost 20 minutes and was very colourful and noisy - all the things a good fireworks display should be. The ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ alone were worth the journey.

It was like being in an episode of The Archers. The villagers had obviously worked tirelessly together for weeks (if not months) to build the bonfire and arrange the display. Well, it was worth all the effort.

Thankyou, Stamfordham.

As you can imagine, I’ve been pondering on what my cash-raising role should be on Children In Need day this upcoming Friday (14 November). As you may have heard by now, the solution occurred while I was pre-recording Monday’s programme and remarking on the fact that this is National Balloon Week. No really, it IS.

I’ve decided that I’m going to blow up balloons during the live part of the programme on Friday morning.

This may seem like a turgidly trivial thing to do to raise money. Where, I hear you ask, is the Ian Robinson who had his beard shaved off for Children In Need? The man who did some Extreme Ironing at the top of Grey’s Monument? Well, please believe me when I tell you that I find blowing up balloons just as intimidating as ironing on a two-foot ledge 100 feet up above the street. I loathe balloons. They scare me rigid. They are the devil’s work. People who enjoy blowing them up and festooning the venues of celebrations with them are clinically unwell. And those who find bursting balloons uproariously funny should suffer the same fate as Guy Fawkes all those years ago. Indeed, to be hanged, drawn and quartered is too good a fate for such wicked folk.

Nevertheless, I’m going to do it. BUT ONLY if you give me some CASH. LOTS and LOTS of CASH. Expressed in amounts per balloon blown up on the day. It’s for a good cause and it’s only once a year. So DIG DEEP.

That’s not an invitation. It’s an instruction.

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.

In the deepest, darkest days of Dubya’s woeful term in office - at the height of his corrupt and warmongering tenure - a listener sent me a joke. He said it reflected the way he felt about the USA and its absurdly volatile and gullible people......

There is a question the Bible does not answer. During the Flood, what did Noah do with all that manure that all those animals on the Ark produced. Well, he did exactly what you would expect him to do. One day, he shovelled it all together and tipped it over the side; vast unmeasurable quantities of the most revolting ordure imaginable. And there it remained until Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492.....

The habitual hatred the world felt for the USA at the time made this joke mildly but acceptably funny; after all, the USA was almost universally loathed. And that loathing included its hapless population, who had elevated to the highest office in their land a pig-ignorant buffoon (to say the very least). Furthermore, they did it TWICE.

These incomprehensible acts have quite properly made Americans the butt of endless bitter sarcasm and invective ever since.

But it’s the same incomprehensibility (wow - what an amazing word!) that is now forcing us all to eat our words. With breathtaking decisiveness, those selfsame people have installed in office their first black President - something which countless millions of Americans never even dreamed would ever happen, at least not in their lifetimes. They have re-affirmed their immovable faith in the principles of democracy, change for the better and ‘the American dream’ in one fell swoop by going out to vote in larger numbers than ever before. It’s as if they wanted to make collectively sure that this unbelievable and momentous decision, which will change the world’s political map for ever, really was about to happen and that no-one anywhere should doubt it.

Once again - as so often before - the people of the USA, having given the rest of us unease, doubt and fear, have redeemed themselves in the most astonishing and life-affirming way.

I’m really glad to have seen the day it happened. And I know already that - along with the rest of this anxious world - I will never ever forget it.

The world is now a little less anxious than it was before 4 November 2008.

Thankyou, USA.

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.
Oh b****r!


The text of the email I received from Sid on 29 October was:
Thanks to a rather splendid idea from Inga, it has befallen me to present you with an award. We decided amongst ourselves that we should mark the first anniversary of the Truckshunters Blog in a fitting manner. So with this in mind, I take great pleasure in presenting you with the Truckshunters HITFOOO Award. In the spirit of the BBC’s current policy, there isn’t actually a medal or certificate. Had there been one, it would have read: Presented to Ian Robinson - For Humour In The Face Of Overwhelming Odds. Well done, Ian - and thanks from all of us. Loud applause. Sid.

Ladies and gentlemen...
A few years ago, someone who has forgotten more about the skills and craft required to be an effective radio presenter than anyone else will ever know once called me The Compulsive Communicator - not altogether as a compliment, either. After all, by most standards most of what I have to say is almost unbelievably inconsequential, trite, trivial, unspeakably unimportant in the grand scheme of things and of questionable interest - even to those who, like me, have an undying curiosity about the world around them and about the other creatures with whom he shares it, coupled with an unquenchable sense of wonder at how jaw-droppingly awesome (and utterly inexplicable) it all is.
Nevertheless, the radio expert was right. To more-or-less continually communicate to anyone who is prepared to listen (or, of course, read) is what I have felt compelled to do since the day Jon Harle, as Acting Station Editor, was foolish enough to give me a six-week trial on-air in 1999.
You could therefore be forgiven for thinking that a silent Ian Robinson - speechless and somewhat lost for words - would be a comparatively rare phenomenon. Indeed, until fairly recently, I even thought so myself. You, however, have ensured that, for however brief a moment in time, my breath was taken in sharply and my vocal cords lay undisturbed and at rest. Not for the first time, the amazing community of truckshunters - The Nightshift’s worldwide family of listeners - has silenced me.
I have been singing your praises as individuals, and as a truly unique radio community, for many, many months now. For evidence, see almost any of the blogs I’ve written or - of course - listen to almost any edition of the programme itself, which invariable consists, to a greater or lesser extent, of contributions from you.
So, in accepting this (virtual, notional) Award, I think it is only fitting that I make a similar presentation myself.
For what I am convinced is the first time in radio history, I therefore take the very greatest of pleasure in bestowing up on you (sniff, sniff) this MAFOOL Award; you are indeed the Most Amazing Family Of Overnight Listeners. Ever.
Well done!!!

Post comments on this blog or contact me in any one (or more) of these ways....
text 07786 200954 (while the programme is on-air, Monday to Friday)
call (between about 0545 and 0630 Monday to Friday) 0191 232 6565
Ian Robinson, The Nightshift, BBC Radio Newcastle, Spital Tongues, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE99 1RN

Please bear in mind that the views expressed in this blog are my own and NOT the views of the BBC.