This, the first CD in the series, features Terry Wogan, Mark and Lard, Ned Sherrin, Sir Jimmy Young, Charlotte Green, Jonny Walker and many more…
Written by Paul Donovan, Radio Correspondent, Sunday Times.
Strange songs are LES BARKER’s speciality. He writes and performs them. His 1995 series on Radio 2, Mrs Ackroyd Explores Her Roots, was praised in the Financial Times as a “blend of Edward Lear nonsense, Stanley Unwin wordplay, the surreal inconsequentiality of Reeves and Mortimer and the demotic robustness of Stanley Holloway monologues”, qualities all much in evidence here.
As the author of all the poems on this double CD he naturally opens and closes it himself. So CD One begins with his Guide Cats For The Blind, the name that with his permission has been used as the title for the whole CD, which he recorded in front of an appreciative audience in Albany, New York, in 1999.
That’s followed by KEN BRUCE with Across The Plains of Africa (“Ngorongoro Crater – so good they named it twice”) and his Radio 2 folk music colleague MIKE HARDING with Curse Of The Baskervilles.
Yet more African nonsense comes from Radio 4’s NED SHERRIN, who brings gnus of the postal journeys of a Stamped Addressed Antelope. SARAH KENNEDY savours Sprouts, her former Radio 2 colleague SIR JIMMY YOUNG, CBE, OBE, rhymes “broccoli” with “locally” in Reg The Vegetable Gardener, and folk musician BILL CADDICK continues the food theme with Custard Creams.
Partially-sighted actor GERARD McDERMOTT urges Waste Not, Want Not, Radio 4 announcer BRIAN PERKINS lampoons the Shipping Forecast, and SALLY BOAZMAN, aka Sally Traffic, narrates an all-too-appropriate Crawl of The Light Brigade. Her Radio 2 drivetime playmate JOHNNIE WALKER follows with The Man Next Door’s A Burglar.
Folk musician JUNE TABOR’s Git Along Little Dogie is succeeded by PROF HEINZ WOLFF’S dissertation Administerium And The Science Of Unclear [as opposed to Nuclear!] Physics. Then comes BBC Midlands’ NONNY JAMES with the plaintive lament Nobody Hugs A Hedgehog.
ALLAN BESWICK, remembered for his outrageous phone-in on Red Rose Radio in Preston, tells us of the Jehovah’s Witness At The Door, RYAN KELLY, the blind actor who plays sighted Jazzer in The Archers, recites a moving and heartfelt supplication called Blessed Are The Meek.
Devon’s CYRIL TAWNEY sings Sammy’s Bar Revisited, a parody of one of his own songs and NICHOLAS PARSONS, chairman of Just a Minute, conjures up Amnesia.
New Yorker PAUL GAMBACCINI recalls his fellow countryman James Fenimore Cooper in Last But One Of The Mohicans, and CD One ends with DAVE CASH, one of Radio 1’s original line-up, reading Detritus, a sharp satire on the sonorous Desiderata.
CD Two opens with the calypso Sidney by SIC TRANSIT, a Kent folk duo consisting of Clive Lever, the creator of this CD, and Don Thompson.
TERRY WOGAN, Britain’s most popular radio broadcaster, wonders about the polar bears on the night the Titanic went down in Have You Got Any News of The Iceberg? and NONNY JAMES returns in Spot of The Antarctic.
ROY HUDD, whose loss to Radio 2 is Coronation Street’s gain, reads An Infinite Number of Occasional Tables. Northern humourist BERNARD WRIGLEY provides a nightmare vision of homicidal dentures in The Man Who Was Eaten By His Own Bum.
Radio 4’s CHARLOTTE GREEN, whose serene voice famously won a Radio Times readers’ competition, looks acidly at Voicemail. BBC Radio Merseyside’s BILLY BUTLER, famous for his Hold Your Plums phone-in quiz, reads It Was The Surprise More Than Anything and MARTIN CARTHY, MBE, the leading British folk musician of his generation, sings Hard Cheese Of Old England.
PETER WHITE, the BBC’s Disability Affairs Correspondent and the first totally blind person to produce reports for television news, reads I Can’t Find My Camouflage Net, DAVE CASH returns with another version of Detritus, Radio 2’s BRIAn MATTHEW describes The Dog Formerly Known As Prince, and GALLIARd – acoustic jazz-folk duo Dave and Gay Reay – perform The Unigate Milkman.
Two actors from BBC1’s hit sitcom The Vicar of Dibley continue the fun, TREVOR PEACOCK with Captain Indecisive and ROGER LLOYD PACK with One Legged Horse, before CYRIL TAWNEY returns singing another parody, Lassie Free And Easy.
Radio 3’s Ian McMILLAN reads AncientMariner.com, Radio 5 Live’s NICKY CAMPBELL reads The Phoenix, BBC Midlands’ folk presenter GENEVIEVE TUDOR satirises Sellafield with Everything Glows, MARK AND LARD (Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley) argue their way through Jason And The Arguments, and the CD is rounded off with LES BARKEr and Déjà Vu.
- Les Barker – Guide Cats For The Blind
- Ken Bruce – Across The Plains Of Africa
- Mike Harding – Curse Of The Baskervilles
- Ned Sherrin – Stamped Addressed Antelope
- Sarah Kennedy – Sprouts
- Sir Jimmy Young – Reg The Vegetable Gardener
- Bill Caddick – Custard Creams
- Gerard McDermott – Waste Not, Want Not (Barker/Lever)
- Brian Perkins – Shipping Forecast
- Sally Boazman – Crawl Of The Light Brigade
- Johnnie Walker – The Man Next Door’s A Burglar
- June Tabor – Git A Long Little Dogie
- Heinz Wolff – Administerium & The Science Of Unclear Physics
- Nonny James – Nobody Hugs A Hedgehog
- Allan Beswick – Jehovah’s Witness At The Door
- Ryan Kelly – Blessed Are The Meek
- Cyril Tawney – Sammy’s Bar Revisited
- Nicholas Parsons – Amnesia
- Paul Gambaccini – The Last But One Of The Mohicans
- Dave Cash + Five Guide Cats of Arijaba – Detritus/Tu Haiku (Barker/Lever).
- Sic Transit – Sidney (Barker/Thompson)
- Terry Wogan – Have You Got Any News Of The Iceberg?
- Nonny James – Spot Of The Antarctic
- Roy Hudd – An Infinite Number Of Occasional Tables
- Bernard Wrigley – The Man Who Was Eaten By His Own Bum (Barker/Wrigley)
- Charlotte Green – VoiceMail
- Billy Butler – It Was The Surprise More Than Anything
- Martin Carthy – Hard Cheese Of Old England
- Peter White – I Can’t Find My Camouflage Net
- Dave Cash – Detritus
- Brian Matthew – The Dog Formerly Known As Prince
- Galliard – The Unigate Milkman
- Trevor Peacock – Captain Indecisive
- Roger Lloyd Pack – One Legged Horse
- Cyril Tawney – Lassie Free and Easy
- Ian MacMillan – Ancient Mariner.com
- Nicky Campbell – The Phoenix
- Genevieve Tudor – Everything Glows (Barker/Porter)
- Mark and Lard – Jason and the Arguments
- Les Barker – Déjà Vu.
The Technology Association of Visually Impaired People (formerly British Computer Association of the Blind) wishes to thank all the artists and everybody involved for your total support of this project in your own time and at no cost. We would like to thank the following people and companies for their help in the production of this work:
Les Barker, for supporting such a strange project around his strange poems.
Paul Bajoria, Artist contacts; Peter Bosher, recording and editing; Bud Budzynski, recording and editing; Paul Donovan, Sleeve notes, assistance with artist contacts; Becky Harris, art work and intrepid roof expedition; Ian Macrae, artists and repertory; Hester Nevill, liaison with artists (radio 2); Steve Plumpton, recording and editing; Chris Harvey Pollington, recording and editing; David Reay and Gay Reay, recording and editing, track listing planning; Terry Robinson, support and guidance; Inderjit Sandhu, administration; Nigel Schofield, background material for sleeve notes.
Fiona Brown and the Persula Foundation, for generously supporting this project; Richard Ellin of Osmosys for wholeheartedly backing this project with faith and money; Free Reed Music, permission to use Mike Harding recording; Sue Atkinson of Spotlight Contacts Directory: artist/agent contact details; McDonald Bridge, work on legal contracts; Stumbling Block Productions, recording, editing and mastering; Topic Records, general business advice; all the producers who worked with the BBC performers; and all those agents who have generously supported us in reaching the performers.
Clive Lever, who kept the tracks on the project; the brains behind it all and the man who really believed it could happen, executive producer; Don Thompson, unstinting support, executive co-producer; Kevin Russell, procurement of funds, keeping the project on track; Chairman of the British Computer Association of the Blind.