Interviewing the 7th Python

I had Neil Innes email for a while, but had never got around to dropping him a line –then I saw a YouTube clip of Monty Python’s Holy Grail and the “Singing Minstrel” and it reminded me I should contact him – I am very pleased I did.

He was playing a rare show in a small theatre called the Ropetackle in Shoreham, West Sussex. I had arranged to meet him after his sound check for a half an hour interview.

We chatted about his days working with the Monty Python team, the Bonzo Dog-Doo Band and the Rutles (which I loved as a kid.) He then started to tell me a few anecdotes about some meetings he had with John Lennon.

As it was coming up to the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, I asked him where he was when he heard the news. Looking back at the interview now still brings a little lump to my throat. He was an absolute pleasure to interview and his show wasn’t half bad either.

Still not too sure about the headwear!

 

Attending Mick Jagger’s birthday party in Paris

It’s funny where you end up sometimes – I never thought as I boarded the Eurostar to Paris with ex-Rolling stones drummer Carlo Little, that I would end up being invited to Mick Jagger’s birthday party. I was there filming for a TV programme called UK Raw for Channel 5. It was a pretty dire show with little budget, but we did cover some interesting and fun items.

This story was about Carlo Little (no, I had never heard of him either) who was once in the Rolling Stones and now operates a hot-dog stall outside Wembley stadium where the Stones were due to play.

Great storyMillionaire rock stars play sell-out World tour, whilst Carlo flipped burgers outside in his van. Real Daily Mail stuff.

On the day of filming at Wembley, we had heard that Keith Richards had damaged his finger and the show was cancelled until sometime the following year. So plans were made to head off to Paris a couple of weeks later.

So who is Carlo Little? Well in the 60s he was part of Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages. He worked with Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, the Flowerpot Men, Jeff Beck, two of Led Zeppelin played with the then semi-professional Rolling Stones. Oh and not forgetting he taught Keith Moon to play the drums.

Carlo was a little older than Jagger and the boy’s at the time and he really couldn’t make ends meet as a full-time drummer with them, besides he made a reasonable living delivering bread. Fast forward to the mid-90s and he was now running two successful mobile hot-dog stands, making a good living. But music never went completely away. He played with Carl Perkins and BB King, and went on drumming into the 1980s.

Back to Paris – We arrived and tried to get tickets to the sell-out show in The Stade de France. By chance, a journalist from Le Figaro a French daily morning newspaper heard that we were in town and was trying to fix up a meeting between the Stones and Carlo. They interviewed him and the story went out the next day.

My hotel telephone rang early the next morning – “Dave – it’s only bloody well on isn’t it!” shouted Carlo. Keith Richards had apparently seen the story in the paper and tracked us down to the hotel we were staying in.

“There is one slight problem – they don’t want us to film it – but you can go to the show and your invited to Mick birthday party afterwards – fancy it?” Bloody right Carlo – I did.

I called the executive Producer back in London and told him the situation. He wasn’t happy but there wasn’t much I could do.

In the end I had a cracking night, no filming but mingling with a lot of A and Z celebrities. Here is the UK Raw piece, I am afraid it’s a dodgy VHS copy, but it is the only recording I have.

Dave Painter

Ps – Jagger’s tiny!

Dive Chess Championship

Donning my Goggles, Speedos and a Gopro camera, I headed off to an exclusive swimming pool in central London on one of the hottest days of the year to cover the World Dive Chess Championships

The Championships are now in their 5th year and is part of the annual Mind Sports Olympiad; a week long festival of ‘intellectual prowess’ held in London, England.

So what is Dive Chess? It’s like normal chess but played in a swimming pool with a submerged chessboard. Each player can only think, submerged, as long as they are able to hold their breath. Once you’ve made a move and come up for air, your opponent must dive and cannot come back up until they’ve played a move, and then it’s your turn to dive again.

I have to say I have covered over 150 unusual World Championships in my time and this is certainly in the top ten! – great fun as well.

Dave Painter

 

Big Ben falls silent for repairs

 

Big Ben sounded for the final time on 21 August at noon, before they fall silent for a four-year period of restoration work on the Elizabeth Tower.

Members of the public packed into Parliament Square along with dozens of media outlets and a handful of MPs to mark the occasion of the bell’s final chimes.

The clock is to be dismantled piece by piece, with each cog examined and restored, the glass repaired, and the hands removed and refurbished. Though the clock’s mechanism will also be dismantled, at least one clock face will continue to operate via a temporary modern electric system, but scaffolding will cover three of the four clock faces by the end of October.There were cheers and applause from the crowds as the final chime rang out.

Here’s my report with their London correspondent Richard Bestic for CGTN, formerly known as CCTV-NEWS, an English speaking 24-hour news channel for China.

 

Landing on Blue Iced runway, Antarctica

 

In this age of modern air travel, it is relatively easy for anyone with the means to book a flight to almost any corner of the Earth. Unless that corner is Antarctica, a place where you cannot simply pave a runway and start landing planes.

 

Boarding the Russian cargo Ilyushin il-76 is like climbing into another world, a throw back to pre-cold war days. It’s an exhilarating experience knowing your that next foot on terra firma is going to be on the frozen continent. Our destination was Union Glacier and the famous “Blue-iced runway”. The airport is operated by a company called Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), who provide expedition support and tours to the interior of Antarctica.

The runway is located approximately 5 miles from base camp (79.767° S and 82.867° W) and blue ice: dense, intensely blue glacier ice formed when snow falls onto glaciers gets compacted and recrystallizes. It only operates during the months of November to January when the weather is the least hostile. It is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. It was certified by the Chilean Directorate General of Civil Aviation in December 2008.

I  have been very fortunate to have flown in and out of Union Glacier over the past six years and without doubt, the thrill does not wane.

Frozen in Time

It was one of those passing social media fads -The Mannequin Challenge – it was all the range in late 2016, even in the USA Presidential election, nominee Hilary Clinton posed in one.

So there I was, sitting down sipping my iced tea in Union Glacier camp in Antarctica, when I suggested to a bunch of hardened marathon runners that we should have a go and attempt to create our own Antarctic Mannequin Challenge – with my news head on, I suggested we could set the new World record for the Southern most challenge – after all we were only 600 miles from the South Pole and no other silly fools were going to do it.

Of course the athletes already had the advantage of being ‘frozen to a spot’ with temperatures hovering at around ¯20°C. Right on cue, the runners stood still and we managed to get it in one attempt!

On arriving back in London, the news editor at Reuters thought this was indeed newsworthy and the story was quickly out, making the news in bulletins around the globe. Strangely, it did as well as the main story I had gone to cover, that of the Antarctic Ice Marathon!

 

 

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