Stavros Flatley

090408_stavrosflatlyHelevision has been charmed by a  short, hairy, dancing Greek man. Sort of like Shirley Valentine on a budget.

It must count as one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever done but I went to meet the dancing legend that is Stavros Flatley. In a carpark. In Littlehampton.

They were the headline act at Party in the CarPark, the town’s summer one day music festival.

And they were absolutely lovely.

I managed to grab them after they’d come off stage the second time and squeezed in the interview as they got ready to dash off to Portsmouth for a show there.

Whilst slightly strange to be interviewing someone who’s getting changed (you try asking questions while fighting down the mental thought of ‘please, please don’t take your trousers off!), it was great. Their father-son relationship is really lovely to see and Lagi is far, far too funny for a 12 year old.

My favourite answer? I asked Demitri where the act came from:

“Well, I used to run a restaurant and the food was terrible so we used to do cabaret. It needed a finale and I thought what would be funnier than a little fat bloke doing Michael Flatley.”

Genius.

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Vroom Vroom! Goodwood Festival of Speed

 

The centrepiece in front of Goodwood House

The centrepiece in front of Goodwood House

 

Helevision has been on possibly the jammiest reporting job ever this weekend. She’s been the on-the-ground reporter for Spirit FM at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009.

I have to admit I was mildly apprehensive, given that my chat with the editor had gone something like this:

“Helen, what do you know about motorsport?”

“Erm, nothing”

“Cars in general?”

“No, still nothing”

“Hmmm. Then you might find this a bit tricky.”

However, my fears, it seems ,were groundless. For those of you that have never heard of it, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is an international motoring event hosted on Lord March’s Goodwood Estate in West Sussex.

It’s a beautiful setting on the South Downs and attracts some of the biggest names in motor racing. This year even current F1 stars like Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were there.

Not that you would have seen poor Lewis Hamilton. Every time he set foot outside the Driver’s Club he was mobbed by adoring fans. It began to resemble a large swarm of human bees criss-crossing the grounds.

Legends

I got to meet and interview motor racing legends like Derek Bell, current Le Mans champion David Brabham and even Sir Stirling Moss, who were all incredibly nice and very friendly. You can listen to them here.

Derek Bell, being a local man from Pagham, told me how he used to hear the cars going round the Goodwood Circuit while he was working on his parents’ farm.

Sir Stirling had some great anecdotes about a pub he used to run with a long-time friend in nearby Chichester.

And David Brabham gave me a fascinating insight into the rigours of a 24 hour race.

Possibly my favourite interview of the weekend though was Jesse G James. He’s the founder of West Coast Choppers, related to the outlaw Jesse James and married to Sandra Bullock. He’s also bonkers and utterly charming. I can honestly say that nobody else described their car as “kind of wrong-looking”.

Here’s hoping they let me go next year!

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Another month, another apologetic post..

Helevision is sorry. She went AWOL. Again.

Still, May was an interesting month.

First up was a visit to Brussels with some of my coursemates, courtesy of the British Council.

Then I got stuck into my documentary about an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Fascinating stuff, you can read more on the Strangers into Citizens website.

And lastly I moved out of London after 4 1/2 years and am now back in beautiful West Sussex.

Phew!

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‘My Husband and I’-Pod

Helevision is concerned about the gift -giving skills of our senior statesmen.

 A personalised i-Pod for the Royal holiday snaps?  A box set of 25 DVDs (for Gordon Brown on his recent visit to the White House)?

What, then, did Barack Obama bring for Prince Charles? A “One hearts NY” t-shirt perhaps?

Finding that ‘thoughtful little something’  is clearly not the forte of the 44th President of the United States. Although admittedly he probably has a few more pressing matters on his mind just now.

Not that the Royal Family did any better. As thelondonpaper reports this evening:

The President was given a silver photo frame with a picture of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in return.

Excellent. I’m sure he’ll keep it by the Presidential pillow.

Gordon Brown

In fairness, Michelle Obama did slightly better with the Brown kids.

Apparently they got an historic baseball bat (all the better for that much loved past-time of British kids, happy-slapping) and a set of Dr Seuss books.

And in fact Gordon Brown comes out best of all.

On his recent trip across the pond he presented Barack Obama with a penholder made from the wood of  anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.

All the more poignant as it was the sister ship to HMS Resolute, from which the desk in the Oval Office is made.

One nil to Gordon I think….

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Journoporn

 

 Helevision is using her ‘Easter Break’ to indulge in a spot of journoporn.

Don’t worry, it’s not Andrew Marr in hotpants again.

 Nor, for those of you coming from Julia Raeside’s Guardian blog, does it involve Robert Peston. Sorry.

No, ‘journoporn’ is my very own collective noun for the autobiographies of famous journalists. Preferably foreign correspondents. With war-wounds.

It’s the sort of book designed to make me think I might not spend the rest of my natural life reporting on cake sale bans (headline news in the world of student journalism this week).

So, in the spirit of sharing the love, here’s a list of my favourites:

1. Jeremy Bowen – War Stories

Journoporn par excellence. Bullets, near death experiences, slightly crazed TV ranting, it’s got it all.

Bowen himself terms his war-reporting days an addiction and it certainly feels that way. Very interesting to read how he changed though.

2. John Simpson – too many to list

Helevision’s current journoporn of choice; I’m on “Strange Places, Questionable People”. Which I probably should have started with, given it’s the first one.

Fascinating stuff; the section on reporting Ireland during the Troubles is particularly good. Slightly off-the-wall anecdotes include getting punched by Harold Wilson.

It’s not as instantly likeable as Jeremy Bowen though; there’s often a sense of ‘and then I outsmarted them all’ but then he is one of the greatest broadcast journalists ever so fair’s fair!

3. Kate Adie – The Kindness of Strangers

No porn top 5 would be complete without some girlie action now, would it?

I read this a few years ago but remember it being excellent.

It’s also very encouraging for student journalists to know that even Kate Adie didn’t really have a clue when she started out (read about her Radio Sussex days to find out).

4. Fergal Keane – Letter to Daniel

Actually, this one isn’t really journoporn in the bullets and bayonets sense.

Rather, it’s a collection of reports and columns filed from around the world. I’ve included it in this list because the writing is the most movingly beautiful I’ve read in a long time. His pieces on South Africa and Rwanda genuinely made me cry.

5. Piers Morgan – The Insider

Now, from the sublime to the cretinous.

To be read with a large pinch of salt but highly entertaining nonetheless.

And definitely journoporn for those who prefer red carpets to green zones.

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Don’t Mothers like a laugh too?

Helevision has been shopping for a Mother’s Day card today.

So, yes, you can add ‘errant daughter’ to the list as well.

But that’s not the point of this post. (Yes, there is one).

No, as I gazed at the endless rows of ‘marvellous mummy wummy I love you best’ pink ,glittered monstrosities, it struck me that cardmakers obviously don’t think mothers have a sense of humour.

Saccharine 

Now I love Mummy Helevision dearly. I owe her a lot – in appearance, in character and now, thanks to the journalism course, in sterling.

But we have never, ever felt the need to exchange nausea-inducing Hallmark sentiments.

In fact, sending her one would smack of a lack of effort.

Fathers Day

Father’s Day, on the other hand, is a doddle. Papa Helevision has received countless comedy missives over the years.

Dads, it seems, are allowed to be funny. Mums are not.

Of course, there’s a whole debate about the so-called humour gap. Have a look at Christopher Hitchens’s Vanity Fair article for an idea.

Nobody says mums need to be comediennes. But they do have a sense of humour like everyone else.

And not all of them like pink…..

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Going postal

Helevision has had her very own Monty Python moment in the Post Office this week.

Being an errant grandchild, I had left it until yesterday to post a birthday card to Nanny Helevision, who turns 86 tomorrow.

So, feeling slightly ashamed I asked how much it would cost for special delivery to arrive today.

“Oh that’ll be £4. 70” said the counter assistant.

“Right, and to get there Saturday?”

“£6.70”

Hmm.

“So, it’ll cost me more to get it there a day later then?”

 

“Yep” she replied with a smile.

Gannet-on-a-stick, anyone?

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