Monday, 17 January 2011

It was a case of men and machinery behaving badly this week.

First up we had the restaurant below and to the right of us causing mass grief with a clapped out extractor fan!

The noise was akin to a motorbike spluttering and revving except a motorbike usually moves on, thus dispersing noise pollution. This dirge continued for well over an hour and a half, occasionally stopping to choke and lulling us into a false sense of security that all would, once again, be ‘quiet on the Western front’.

But alas. After a few more asthmatic wheezes the drone would continue.

Obviously this isn't ideal when running a sound studio. It was of course also our busiest day of the week – Typical and Happy Blooming New Year!

Well our brave soldier, and man on the ground, Mr Charles Nove went in to investigate.

The restaurant in question said that they couldn't turn the fan off as it was the only ventilation for their kitchen and they would lose money. Charles explained the nature of our business and said that we too would be losing money if the racket continued.

We officially had a cold war situation on our hands people.

Charles decided to bring in the heavies ........or the environmental health squad to you and I.

They were very helpful and said we had a strong case, but you know how it is when say your computer has been playing up and you call the IT guy over to have a look and it miraculously works again, well that is exactly what happened when Charles was on the phone to the ‘keep it down’ man. One choke, one last violent shake, and just like a very exaggerated stage death, the fan breathed its last breath. RIP fan – may we all now live in peace!

I don’t know if anyone else got caught in the flash flood on Friday afternoon in London but my god did it chuck it down. It was like Arma-bloody-geddon!

Ivan Massow had made a return visit to our studio to listen to the piece as recorded last week with editing and music effects now in place. The poor chap, who let’s face it, could have afforded to land a helicopter on our roof if necessary, had cycled to us! Not only that but he had left all waterproofs at home and only had a fleece for protection.

A very messy Massow no doubt made it back home to his renovated mansion in Clerkenwell! You gotta love his no airs, no graces attitude.

Just after Ivan left to get soggy, Neil Morrissey, who had a car laid on for him, arrived at our studio a little drier and with a massive spring in his step.

No Amanda Holden wasn't in the vicinity – Ouch!

Unfortunately his affair with Holden has become one of the things synonymous with all things Neil Morrissey.

I get the feeling that this cheeky chap can turn women’s heads and knows how to have a good old party. Even Ivan Massow backs up this claim by telling us that Neil would often frequent Ivan’s sprawling pile in Frome Somerset and end up being drunk and disorderly in his very garden – small world – In fact it may have been this chance meeting at A1 that led Ivan to comment about Neil in his column for the Daily Telegraph (Sunday 16th Jan 2011) saying....

“I have been a resident of Frome for so long now that I recall, with some nostalgia, the time when someone shouting, "I've just seen Madonna at the cash-point machine" got everyone excited. Nowadays, her occasional loitering outside the supermarket stirs up as little local interest as finding that Neil Morrissey has behaved badly once again in the Sun Inn, or Frances De La Tour has been bed-&-breakfasting at the Melrose guest-house, or that the Prime Minister and Roy Strong are having a multi-cultural chin-wag in the Blue Boar Inn”

Gosh – A1 clout or what!

So back to bad boy Neil.

Born in 1962 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Neil suffered a traumatic childhood, having been separated from his parents at the age of ten and placed in care after being involved in a string of burglaries.

He won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and made his television breakthrough in Boon.

His role in Men Behaving Badly made him a household name; and his voiceovers for Bob The Builder made him extremely wealthy.

He’s also famous for well-publicised romances with Liz Carling, Rachel Weisz and the aforementioned, Amanda Holden.

In recent years he has divided his time between television dramas such as Paradise Heights, West End theatre (A Passionate Woman, Acorn Antiques: The Musical, Guys And Dolls) and investing in production companies and hotel properties.

However it was somehow inevitable that Neil Morrissey would one day end up running his own pub. From playing the lager-loutish Tony in Men Behaving Badly to his investments in Dylan Thomas’s old drinking haunts in west Wales, Morrissey is no stranger to propping up a bar – just ask Ivan Massow!

And so, in a classic case of the poacher turned gamekeeper, he finally got round to owning his own drinking establishment. Together with TV ‘beer chef’ and author Richard Fox, he became a part owner of Ye Olde Punch Bowl Inn in the Yorkshire village of Marton cum Grafton.

The duo’s six-month journey from finding the 17th-century property through to brewing and selling their own beer (Morrissey Fox Blonde Ale) on the premises was documented in a TV series, Neil Morrissey’s Risky Business, shown on Channel 4.

Neil says of his own brew:

“If Kronenbourg is the Coldplay of the beer world, then my own beer is like John Lennon and Julie Christie driving through London in a silver Jaguar E-Type circa 1967 with The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset blasting out of the speakers”

Keeping with his pub theme he goes on to say:

“Martin Clunes is a beer god. I’d never say no to a long session in the pub with him. Elizabeth I would have been one of my ideal drinking partners. Apparently, she used to down four pints of ale before breakfast. In an ideal world, she’d have joined me, Keith Moon, John Lennon and all the Bloomsbury Group around the table of a good boozer. Now that would have been a session and a half”

I agree - Royalty and Rock ‘n’ Roll – Get In!

So I guess when talking all things ‘pub’ fewer things are funnier than a good pub joke and here is one of Neil’s favourites:

“A man is sitting in the pub when he hears a bowl of peanuts on the bar saying, ‘Ooh, you are lovely; you’re really amazing.’ Then the fruit machine shouts, ‘Rubbish – look at the state of that haircut. And your socks don’t go with your shoes.’ The barman apologises. ‘Sorry,’ he says. ‘The nuts are complimentary but the fruit machine is out of order.”

Cheers Neil!

London Showbiz News:

So last night saw the second round of Dancing on Ice to see who would be for the chop before the real show gets going.

Jayne Sharp, who has been mentioned on my blog before, is married to ‘Comedy Dave’ Vitty who took part in last night’s show. We had Jayne in, not once, but twice last week and she gave us the low down on Dave’s training.

She said that he is actually a very good skater but she felt the routine he was given didn't really show case that enough. Instead it focused on rigid dance moves which outlined what Dave’s really not good at – Dancing!

Dave, who is used to being heard and not seen, says of his brave step into the Lycra limelight:

“My attitude on this is that you either do this show or you don’t, and if you are going to do it you've just got to throw yourself in and embrace it. If they want to stick me in a pink costume one week then fine, it doesn't bother me.”

It seems that somebody took him at his word, as last night poor Dave was trussed up like a fab lolly on a psychedelic day!


So there we have it folks. Machines and men behaving badly - or just behaving in a new, weird and wonderful way. As a wise person once said "life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get" and that is just how I feel working here at A1 VOX!

(I believe it will be a couple of weeks until my next Blog so until then keep it warm and lucid people).

Sunday, 9 January 2011


It’s time to clean your pipes and get ready for some vocally uplifting New Year action – WAHEYOO ER MISSUS!

I hope you had a gorgeous break and managed to stuff yourself stupid. And so another year begins..........................................

On returning to VOX towers I thought I had developed 'Turkey Brain' as I could clearly hear the cooing of a pigeon....................coming from the stationery cupboard!

I felt the need to arm myself with a broom and plastic bag, though why they would help me if a rat with wings decided to take flight round the office I still don’t know.

The noise seemed to get louder as if the bird knew I was about to attack it and cause death by Tesco asphyxiation.

Luckily Charles came to the rescue with the knowledge that the bird wasn’t actually ‘in’ the office but just as damn well close as it could get!

There appears to be a pocket in the brick work which makes a nice warm resting perch for cold feathered friends. They can work their way right in and apparently all that is keeping us from them is a piece of plywood behind the stationery cupboard – hence why said cooing seems to be coming from inside the room. Mystery Solved and the bird lives to see another day – Coo-phew.

“That’s a nice pair of Secateurs!”

Not a phrase one hears too often but I did hear it in the office this week as Chris and Charles looked over the merits of this common gardening tool.

We get a lot of random post through our door including a brochure for Frances Hilary - Covent Garden’s resident gardening store – hence Chris’ outburst. It is a lovely little find and gardening has never looked so good! Check it out if green’s your bag.

Roger Allam popped in to VOX Towers for some New Year cheer this week.

Roger is sometimes heralded as one of Britain’s least known but most brilliant actors. You have probably seen his face and heard his voice in a plethora of media platforms. He is best known for his stage performances especially as the original Javert in Les Miserables. It is his voice that can be heard on the original cast recording of the same show.

He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981 and has been with them for many seasons ever since.

He has been nominated three times for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, winning in 2001, for his role as Captain Terri Denis in a revival of Privates on Parade. He has also been nominated for, and won, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Roger diversifies his stage roles from appearances with the RSC to pantomime performances such as playing villainous Abanazar in Aladdin at the Old Vic theatre, co-starring Ian McKellen, Maureen Lipman and Sam Kelly.

Apart from treading the boards Roger has appeared in TV and film. In 2006 he appeared in Stephen Frears' The Queen, starring Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren, as the Queen's private secretary.

Roger has also re-teamed with Stephen Frears in Tamara Drewe, the film version of Posy Simmond's popular comic strip. Allam plays the self-centred and serially unfaithful crime novelist, Nicholas Hardiment, who is bewitched by London journalist Tamara Drewe, played by Gemma Arterton. The film received critical buzz at the 2010 Cannes film festival and the Mail on Sunday described his performance as 'wonderfully sleazy'.
A great tribute to Roger comes from the late, great, Arthur Miller, who in the closing chapter of his Timebends autobiography (1987) writes: "To play the 1986 Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Archbishop's Ceiling, Roger Allam gave up the leading role as Javert in the monster hit Les Misérables because he had done it over sixty times and thought my play more challenging for him at that moment of his career. Nor did he consider his decision a particularly courageous one. This is part of what a theatre culture means and it is something few New York actors would have the sense of security even to dream of doing."

A marvellous accolade and to me sums up the magnitude of Roger's talent. An honour to have met him.

Millionaire Ivan Massow came to visit VOX Towers and we made sure we had the posh coffee on, though we needn't have bothered for this was one very 'un-millionaire' type of man. Simon Cowell watch and learn!

Ivan is best known for changing financial services in the wake of the 1980s Aids crisis when he campaigned to abolish higher insurance premiums for gay people.

Ivan was born in Brighton as Ivan Field, the son of a policeman, John Field, whom Ivan has described as "abusive". His mother left the relationship and remarried, before giving Ivan up for adoption at the age of 12, aiming to give him a better life. He was adopted by a bachelor businessman, John Massow, taking his surname. Later, after Massow had come out as gay, his adoptive father broke off all contact.

This guy did not have your regular start in life and a lot of people, having had this type of upbringing, would have ended up in the gutter. Not Ivan Massow – he worked hard against all the odds and continues to campaign for everything that he believes in.

Never one to mince his words, Ivan wrote a piece for the New Statesman magazine in which he attacked the predominance of conceptual art describing it as "pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat" and "the product of over-indulged, middle-class [...], bloated egos who patronise real people with fake understanding". He called the ICA a "pillar of the shock establishment" and personally attacked Tracey Emin saying she "couldn't think her way out of a paper bag". Don’t hold back now Massow!

Something that a lot of people don’t know is that Ivan is severely dyslexic and left education with an O-level in metalwork and a BTEC in art and design. As a 'closeted' homosexual working within the financial services industry, he experienced the homophobia that typified the early 1990s mortgage and life assurance industry.

Massow saw how gay men were penalised for their sexuality when they applied for financial services. In a time of increasing HIV rates, gay men were seen as high-risk and required to pay much higher premiums than other customers, whatever their circumstances.

These premium increases could be as high as 600%.

In 1990, Massow started a financial services business from a squat in Kentish Town, North London, having failed to find funding for his idea. With his acquired industry experience, Massow was able to source ways for gay people to take-up mortgages and insurance at equal rates, rather than suffer the standard rejection of every insurer.

By using the industry's computerised ‘automatic underwriting' systems, he was able to smuggle his clients through using said tool. By 1997, Massow's firm, Massow Financial Services, had become the 10th largest Independent Financial Adviser in the UK and was valued at £22 million.

Our own Mr Nove conducted an interview with Ivan, just before Christmas and even though this guy has amassed a small fortune for himself you can see that it is his beliefs and seeing justice done that is more important to this self made chap than pound signs.

This can be confirmed by Ivans answer to the question: now he is better off, does he feel happier?

“No, because the most miserable times in my life have usually involved money. I had a partner in my early 30s who used to earn obscene amounts, but our lives became very shallow, aloof and dysfunctional.

I found no pleasure travelling in private jets, for example – there's a buzz doing it the first time, but afterwards it becomes an isolating experience. His love of excess destroyed our relationship and in the end I gave away my share of the businesses we owned just to leave as an expensive exit. Afterwards I'd never been happier”.

Just goes to prove the age old saying that money doesn’t buy you happiness. But being able to afford your partner taking you to the cleaners, and thus taking that ‘expensive exit’ when reality hits, is still a privileged position to be in me thinks!

So a very interesting man and someone that I feel will be popping up on our radars again and again.

This week sees the return of Brian Blessed to A1. Brian keeps in shape by climbing up large mountains. About the only thing on Earth larger than Brian Blessed is Mount Everest, which he has attempted to scale three times without ever quite reaching the summit. Lets see if we can find out how the 'King of Ham' spent his Christmas and New Year – until then – catch you next week 2011 Voxers!!!!