Fluff had yet to meet Ray, so we were taken to the studio that had somehow been crammed into the tiny captain's cabin, where there was scarcely room for a presenter and a guest to fit in at once. I was shortly to make my Big L '97 debut on the TW Coffee Break, yet I didn't feel in the slightest bit nervous. In the meantime, we were invited into the galley, where someone made us a cup of tea. An electric kettle was available, but its operation caused the mains power to dip, reducing the turntable playing speed, and making any disc currently under the stylus sound decidedly odd.
The on-board atmosphere was perfect. Here was a group of professional radio personnel enjoying the time of their lives, doing something that had scarcely been heard of in recent years - having fun on the radio with their listeners. They could be themselves and treat their audience as an old friend. Indeed, many of the people who comprised that audience were old friends.
Much laughing, joking and speaking in Goonish tongues was in evidence. Then
came the moment when my brain finally awoke and accepted the knowledge of where
it was. Ray played the Spanish jingle. Immediately, every single person present
- whether they knew the true lyrics or not - joined in and sang that jingle
all the way through. I thought, 'Yeah, that's it - I'm home!'
Minutes later, it was time for my Coffee Break appearance. Although we had just taken tiffin in the galley, Chris Baird insisted we should now be drinking coffee to add to the sense of occasion. Ray introduced me with my signature tune - the Association's Along Comes Mary. I had, naturally, brought my precious Kenny and Cash Knees single with me so that it could receive one of its rare radio airings. I could hardly have talked about the Knees Club without including it.
During the course of the interview, Ray decided I should reopen membership
to the Knees Club in honour of the thirtieth anniversary celebrations, and naturally,
he wanted to be the first to have the privilege of joining. In a spectacle that
would probably have shocked TW, and might well have been banned had this been
live television rather than radio, Ray rolled up his trousers to reveal both
knees. I agreed that the pink, hairy objects on display conformed to Knees Club
regulations, and conceded that my Coffee Break host was entitled to become member
377 and the bizarre pact was sealed with the obligatory kiss. Ray has been going
around ever since boasting, "I'm member number 377, you know." And I was worried
about him thinking I was a couple of cuts short of a jingle package...
Of course, I succeeded in provoking gales of laughter from the jolly funsters listening in the galley, when I pronounced Ray to be the third person on board the ship - the other two being myself and the Roman Emperor - who was now in the club!
I have a unique souvenir of my star appearance. By complicated means, Fluff
managed to capture via the DAT recorder, the station output on one track and
our off-air conversations in the studio on the other.
We had arrived aboard the Yeoman Rose at around 10.45 am. Other visitors came and went, but we didn't return ashore until around 3.00pm - and that was mainly because our car park ticket was running out. All of that time was spent talking. This was a shipful of people you could take to straight away, people who were friends as soon as you met them.
I shall always remember Tony Currie for his joke that Craise Finton Kirk was
the brother of James T Kirk! Tony is the man responsible for giving Steve Wright
his break in radio. He is, we have since heard, so infamous North of the Border
that letters addressed only to 'Tony Currie, Scotland' will reach him.
Other visitors who came aboard included radio stars Dave Windsor (who receives less-than-honourable mention elsewhere in this saga) and Dennis Jason, who captured us on videotape.