A Sea Poodle Is Born
It was one big shock to the system being back with the news on live radio after seven years, but then, just as my act slowly got together... Just when I had foolishly relaxed...
It was a rough day. Very rough and getting rougher. "No more tenders today," was the call. "All ashore that's going ashore". Paul Graham had to abandon his show in mid-flight and run for it. Chris Elliot took over, but with Mark Roman and Ray ashore we were kind of short of staff, and to add to the troubles the Captain said the Yeoman Rose had to head for deeper water to ride out the storm. This left on-ship organiser Chris Elliot with a problem - just one of the many that assaulted him on a daily basis. Here we were way out to sea with two pop jockeys and one news man comprising the total broadcasting crew. (One-and-a-half disc jockeys, as Chris put it.) A very grave-looking Elliot looked me in the eyes and said, "Sorry Tom, you have to go on and take the six to nine slot." Ye Gods, I thought, the last time I did any serious pop-jockeying was in the Falkland Islands in the very early 80s. Oh well, here we go. Yes, there I was at my time of life being dragged screaming from the news room and my security blanket, and thrust before the pop jockey's microphone. Well, I survived until nine o'clock, but left the studio in a state of shock. I will not comment on the performance, but quote from others:
Chris Elliot: "You'll Live."
Ray Anderson (with an enigmatic smile the next morning): "I didn't know you could do that!"
Paul Graham: "You not only look a bit like Wolfman Jack, you sound a bit like him."
Rob Yarnold (who had helped me through the trauma): "Boss Jock On!"
John the Mate: "That was a bit of all right."
On the mobile phone, CPO Sharon Smith: "You're better at that than the news."
That is how I came to present further pop jockey shows on Big L. It was great to get back to it after so long, especially with the music I first pop-jockeyed in North Carolina all those years ago in 1967.
As well as Paul Graham, a couple of callers on the mobile phone said I sounded a bit like the infamous Charlie Sea Wolf of Laser 558 fame. (I deny it, anarchistic like him yes, but no match for the magnificent Sea Wolf himself, a good mate of mine and I must admit an inspiration in the back of my mind during that first show). Paul's comment about Wolfman Jack made me think, now if I'm to be a pop jockey I need a similar name to match the 1967 US style... Well I'm no Sea Wolf, certainly not a Wolfman, but Poodles; well that's my style. Thus Tom "Sea Poodle" Collins was born, and it stuck. I still get e-mails addressed to the Sea Poodle. I think it was Mark Roman who turned it into "Tom the Old Sea Poodle." OK, I can live with that.
My best-remembered moment
Dave Cash has always been a man I admire on the radio, and to read the news into his programme was an honour I never expected. The same goes for doing the news for Mark Roman, a legendary figure in offshore radio and such a hell of a nice guy that no one could dispute it.
I remember my meeting Rob Yarnold. I first came across Rob when he joined the ship and wandered into the News Pit, where I almost slept sometimes. I had never met Rob before... yet I had! Where, I did not know at that time. After a short conversation I knew we had been this way before (reincarnation or déja vu?) and we were old mates.