So here’s what Grant Stott asked me …

I’ve done a few radio interviews in the past few days, all with the aim of telling people about The Red Light Zone (which is launched tomorrow) . On A1 Internet radio, the presenter Chris Grant took seriously ill just before I went on air and handed over to his co-host in Madeira.  As the minutes passed, Chris was sending us text messages telling us that he was in severe pain and was being admitted to hospital there and then. Happily he was back on his feet the next day.

A few days later, I was on air with  Dave Hodgson on Talk Radio Europe and backed myself into a conversational cul-de-sac about sausages.

This afternoon I was on BBC Radio Scotland, talking to Grant Stott who managed to cover my thirty year career in the space of fifteen minutes, pausing only for an archive clip of  Johnny Sellotape and then allowing me to read an extract from the book itself.  I told that Princess Anne story again.

Then Grant asked me what the BBC bosses thought when I told them I was going to write about life behind the scenes in radio …







In The Zone


“The Marketing team put together a fun promo showing a kitchen radio bursting open with all this extra content. Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament, the Director General Mark Thompson said that the audio zones were an intelligent and imaginative response to the challenges that Radio Scotland faces.”

The Red Light Zone (Chapter 22)

Let’s see who’s sharing a birthday with Adolf.

dan o'day

Dan O’Day used his library of audio clips to illustrate the dos and don’ts, based on things he had heard, admired or cringed at from radio stations all over the world. One example was that hackneyed feature The Birthday List, when a radio presenter gave a roll-call of famous people – dead and alive – who might also be sharing a birthday with you on that day.  But who, asked Dan, as he fired a clip of a bored presenter going through the motions, really wants to know that “… also born on this day was notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, responsible for implementing Hitler’s Final Solution that led to the murder of millions of Jews.”

It was a fair point. You would have trouble shoe-horning that into the conversation at coffee break.


-The Red Light Zone (Chapter 12)

Dan’s website



“It is a tale told by a supreme anecdotalist, an excellent journalist, a very accomplished writer and a man who could, and did, drink me under various tables on many occasions.”

tom morton shetland

Once again I’m being selective in my choice of quotes from a review, but this one from Tom Morton in The Scottish Review is mostly positive … and I’m trying not to be more flattered by his assessment of my drinking prowess, because that would be just too stereotypically Scottish. Besides, that’s all in the past now. Hic.

Here’s the full article …



Cutting Remarks

press cutting

“Coos Bay could easily be the setting for the location of a John Carpenter movie or those opening chapters of a Stephen King novel, where the viewer/reader is waiting to find out if, this time, it’s the sheriff, the dog or the cat that’s been possessed by a demon. Clean, quiet and with inhabitants so spookily friendly that you can’t square it with the town’s oddly tragic claims to fame: numerous shipwrecks and ‘Oregon’s only recorded lynching’.”

The Red Light Zone, Chapter 5.

Chapter 18: Hall of Fame

hrh anne

“The Princess asked one of those innocuous questions about the location of this new Sense centre and whether it would be convenient for the children and families who hoped to use it. This, to our relief, prompted an explosion of conversation about the transport links in this part of Glasgow – Govan – and a small debate about which bus routes best served the area.  I could see the Princess absorb this information with a concentrated frown, but there was no sign of her taking notes for future reference.”

-The Red Light Zone

Chapter 15: A bit tacky, but it sticks.


“I suggested the open auditions might be just a publicity stunt. Goaded into taking part, I looked around the office for some inspiration, but all I could see were office supplies and so Johnny Sellotape was born. And his daft gimmick of attaching old jokes to his jacket would allow him to fill the required five minutes of stage time, should he forget his lines.”

*audio from Stuck: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Sellotape (BBC Radio Scotland)

Picture: The Big Issue.