Sunday, 27 April 2014
AN UNEXPECTED INVITE TO CANADA AND A RUN IN WITH THE HELLS ANGELS!
It only takes a few days to settle back to my ‘day job’ on the radio after the trip Las Vegas. It wasn't long before I picked up the phone and started organising this years Raise The Roof event. I know that the roof on the hospice was now paid for etc but I liked the title, in fact it was now all about raising awareness for those that were terminally ill with cancer. I used the word cancer freely on my radio shows at a time when most people were referring to the illness as the big ‘C’. I believed the more I talked about and used the word 'cancer' the more people were less frightened to talk about it. Joan Hunt once told me that the Raise The Roof was now much more than simply a building fund it was an a awareness campaign that was already showing huge public support.
Terry Mancini who was organising the celebrity golf tournament had already emailed a list of celebrities that were available and willing to take part (I really cant remember all of them but thankfully we had enough to make up the teams) I also felt that the gala evening at the Don Carlos also needed to be organised and I wanted to book a ‘name’ from UK to star on the show. I had seen TV's magician Paul Daniels and Debbie Magee’s show at the Prince of Wales Theater in London a few years ago and thought it was amazing, luckily I had Paul's telephone number so I called him asked if he was willing to come over to star at the Cudeca gala and thankfully he agreed. I also called John Lodge to ask him if it would be possible to bring some Moody Blues memorabilia, he said he would see what he could dig up.
Out of the blue I got a phone call from a guy called David Green who used to live in Nerja and now lives in Quebec, Canada where he was in charge of a large insurance company. He explaned that a few years ago, whilst living here, he was sitting in his car at the the Torrequebrada casino on Benalmádena Costa car park listening to me on the radio interviewing convicted drug trafficker Howard Marks better known from his best selling book ‘Mr Nice' and from that moment on became an ardent listener to the Boland Show. He went on to tell me how much he enjoyed my the shows from Vegas and Barbados and was wondering if I would like to take my show to Canada.
“Sure.” I said “When would you like me to come?” Thinking sometime next year perhaps.
“How about next month?” I thought he was joking until I realised that he was being deadly serious.
“Next Month? WOW that's very soon." I replied, then thinking about it why not, might as well do the show from there as here: "Okay I'll come as long as you can arrange a producer and all the broadcast equipment necessary, you will also need to find my guests and supply accommodation, transport etc.” I knew it was a lot to ask with only a month to arrange it, but it would be impossible for me to arrange this from my end. David agreed without hesitation . Although it was an on the spot decision his enthusiasm and attitude gave me confidence....I hoped I was correct!
Four short weeks from David first call, Wendy and I arrived at Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for the start of a week long series of radio shows live from Quebec to Spain. We were met by one of David’s company cars and driven 150 kilometres to the Delta hotel in Sherbrooke, the closets to David’s office which was situated in the small but picturesque town of Lennoxville. Having never before been to Canada, I was expecting Mounties in red tunics but not one in sight. My biggest disappointment was we didn’t spot one moose on the way in from the airport!
After a few hours which we took to rest and unpack our driver picked us up to take us to meet David in Lennoxville. On the way I noticed what looked like a prison camp perched on a hill, it was surrounded by barbed wire, watch towers and security cameras, all very sinister looking, so I asked the driver what it was? He didn't seem to want to answer and suggested I should ask David.
I was still curious about seeing what I thought was a prison camp on the hill and asked him about it, also why the driver seemed nervous to speak about it when I asked him. David explained that it was the Quebec Hells Angels Club House Compound, site of The Lennoxville massacre, a mass murder which took place at their clubhouse a few years earlier and that they were subject to regular police and RCMP raids and that in this part of the world, the subject was largely taboo. David, too, quickly moved away from the subject and excitably told me that he had arranged a series of great guests that will bring a very Canadian parochial flavor to my show including local Canadian personalities and at last I was to meet a Royal Canadian Mountie! (why I was so insistent in meeting a Mountie is that as a kid I went to a fancy dress party as a Mountie and I remembered loving the uniform especially the hat!) David then told me that I had made the local press (see below)
David invited Wendy and I to join him and friends that evening at a BBQ at his beautiful home and it was there we met many of the staff who worked with him. They all came across as genuinely nice people who were mostly very religious and before we started to eat prayers were said, in fact this was a practice that happened every morning in their offices, that before work all office staff had to stand silent for prayers, this was something I greatly admired. As I said my first impressions of Lennoxville was a one street town and I don’t know why but for some reason I imagined a band of fiddle players would be the perfect opening to my shows. So I started making inquiries and it wasn’t long before I found the exact type of band that I was looking. Believe it or not they called themselves The Late Bloomers
The morning of my first show Wendy and myself got up early to have breakfast so we could set off to Lennoxville for me to meet my producer and inspect the equipment etc. When we went into the dining room for breakfast we were taken aback by what looked like a scene from the movie Easy Rider, every table had groups of Hells Angels sitting having breakfast. I’ve never seen anything like it, there was what looked like hundreds of them dressed in black leather, tattoos and beards and boy did they look a scary lot! Needless to say we felt very out of place as we sat on the only table that was still available.
By the time we got to Lennoxville the hotel had called saying that they have been instructed to cancel our reservations and to vacate our room immediately! I was later told that the Hells Angels owned the Hotel among many other businesses in Sherbrooke. Whether this is true are not I’m not sure but what I was sure of was that I didn’t want to return to the Delta Inn!!!
David's secretary told us that she had booked us into a B&B on Lake Massawappi a few miles from Lennoxville
“A B&B!” I exclaimed “Sorry but I don’t do B&B’s” David calmed me down and explained that B&B’s in Canada and North America were very different than in UK. Bed and Breakfast simply meant that they don’t do dinner in the evening. It was only when we checked in did we find out how stunning the place was. The owner was a gay dress designer who made outfits for many of Hollywood’s top female stars and would arrive every morning on the terrace to announce the most sumptuous breakfasts, like hot strawberry cake followed by eggs benedict and choices of exotic fruit juices and home made breads. Each of the rooms had it's own special character and were jammed pact with historic memorabilia. In front of the lodge on the lake shore they had a boat house and I would take an old style Red Indian style canoe out on the lake as the evening sun was setting. It was so beautiful and a place I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys 5 star luxury.
Anyway with that out of the way, I settled into what I came here for and that was to broadcast my show back to Spain. I was delighted that David had found me an excellent producer and top class broadcasting equipment, he had certainly done his job as promised.
The first show got off to a flying start with excellent and interesting guests. The Late Bloomers my ‘house band’ for the week, whom I booked to open my show every day (See photo) which were made up of two fiddle players, two guitarist a banjo and a keyboard player. When they opened the show I was shocked at just how good each individual musician was but there was only one draw back, none of them were actually playing the same tune at the same time!!! It was so funny and from the calls that the studio in Spain was receiving, my audience were loving them!!I suppose they were the One Direction (or was it the Wrong Direction) of their day. I think the youngest in the band was in his 70's and went on to become a great favorite with my listeners.!!!
Another memorable moment was the time that I had my chance to meet a Royal Canadian Mountie when he came in to be interviewed (See picture) After the photo session the interview got underway. Still fascinated by my experience with the Hells Angels I asked the police officer about the Angels and the compound on the hill. The Mountie, up until then a mild mannered keen to please but very proper and sober gentleman stood up mid interview, live on air, turned his back and walked out, leaving dead air and a hasty retreat back to Spain for a commercial break!!!
Since our trip to Canada David Green has become a good friend who told me later that unbeknownst to me was crafting his first Oscar Phelps novel and had referenced my interview with Mr. Nice within it. David’s novels which have since expanded to a series of six are the current subject of a US/Canadian motion picture and TV mini-series adaptation and a character based, at my insistence; upon my persona and characterisations of that time first featured in the third book in the series and have had a recurring presence ever since. I hope David sees to it that I’m cast as ME in the movie!
Now back in Spain it was time to get ready for the next Raise the Roof Gala and my first John Lodge Celebrity Golf Tournament.and the launch of my first journey into publishing with Hi! Magazine
To be Continued.......
A collection of a few photos from my Canadian trip..
From the left: The crew with David Green who is on my right. The Late Bloomers in full bloom! My brilliant engineer for the week. Wendy in the stunning grounds of our hotel. Wendy having breakfast catching up on the local news. Me peeping out of the boat house before my evening canoe trip.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
A NEW DECADE. FEELING SEA SICK IN LAS VEGAS! CUDECA NEEDS MORE CASH
The New Year brings a new sponsor for my radio show. Ocean Estates, founded by Alistair and Alice MacDonald, were at the time one of Marbella’s most successful real estate agencies . Property sales during the turn of the decade were booming and the MacDonald's wanted use the radio to aggressively market their wide range of proprieties. Shortly after the deal was agreed Ocean Estates moved into state of the art offices in Puerto Banus. For the launch they brought golfing legend the late Seve Ballesteros as their star guest (see photo. I think I was checking my hair was in place!)
Travelling came very much part of my time with Ocean Estates especially to UK and Irish property exhibitions. Alistsir and Alice loved London's Dorchester Hotel, when they were not exhibiting in Olympia or Earls Court etc they would use the Dorchester as a London base to exhibit. I, of course, was delighted as I got to stay in what they effectually called the 'Dorch' when traveling with them to UK. One memorable show from the Dorchester was with Lord Jeffery Archer (Although I had already interviewed by phone I had never met him in the flesh as they say) Another guest that day was actress Maureen Lipman, again someone I had never met, in fact never interviewed until that day but I was a huge fan, still am. After the show Maureen and myself took ourselves off for coffee so we could plan her daughters and my son’s wedding. We were both delighted finding Jewish partners for our kids, the only problem was neither her daughter nor my son were in on this plan, in fact they had never met! Ah well things might happen in the future we both agreed, they didn’t and my son is happily married as I'm sure Maureen's daughter is..
Another UK property show was from Earls Court, this time my guests included The Hamilton’s that is the colorful Neil and Christine Hamilton. I always enjoyed having them on my show and was delighted to meet them ‘in the flesh’. After the show we took ourselves off to Pizza Express for lunch. I was amazed at how famous they were (or are) as people kept coming over asking for photos, completely ignoring me that is except the waiter when he brought me the bill!!!
I was watching the Des O’Conner TV Show, when my old mate Kenny Lynch was a guest. During the interview he mentioned he was off to Portugal to celebrate Jimmy Tarbucks 60th. All of a sudden I was interested as that sounded like a perfect opportunity for one of my outside broadcast shows. After a few phone calls I got hold of Jimmy’s PA and suggested that perhaps I could broadcast the show live from his Birthday celebrations. She said she needed to check it out with him and would come back to me. Within a couple of hours she called back and said that Jimmy said he would be delighted for me to come along and was looking forward to meeting me.
Jimmy Tarbuck used to spend a lot of time in Marbella, in fact he was the one responsible for the famous Italian singer Tony Dalli coming to Marbella to open his restaurant. For some reason 'Tarby' fell out of love with Marbella, it was said that he objected to the ludicrous prices that were, at the time, been charged for around of golf!! Tarby chose the Algarve instead and it was there that he established his annual Jimmy Tarbuck Golf Tournament which raises funds for the local children’s home Refúgio Aboim Ascensão.
The first thing I needed to check out was to make sure the hotel Don Filipa, where the birthday celebrations were to be held, had an ISDN line, this is a lesson, you might remember, that I learnt from my trip to Barbados that almost cost me my show (See chapter 21). The hotel informed me that they had no ISDN line nor would it have been possible, they said, to get one in the time required. I had the choice to either call off my trip to Portugal or record the show to be put out at a later date. I chose the latter.
I had brought the mini disc recorder with me, the same one as I recorded Paul Anka on in Las Vegas. I’m always nervous recording an interview without an engineer, so with that in mind I try to be doubly careful when recording. After about half hour we rapped up our chat he thanked me very much and said that he looked forward to seeing me at his party that evening. Over the years I’ve found that there are only two types of interviewees those that are difficult to chat to and those who are easy and Jimmy most certainly falls into the latter, he was both generous with his time and funny. I was delighted with the interview and played it back to make sure all my levels etc were okay. I pressed play and heard nothing! Don’t panic I thought must be the volume, I checked the volume. NOTHING!!! Oh shit, this is a disaster! I tried everything still NOTHING not a Dicky Bird!! I removed the minidisc from the recorder to check it and there it was, a tiny adhesive label that was part of the cellophane rapping paper had fallen off and lodged it’s self in the discs driving wheel, a chance off this happening is about 1 in a Billion! What to do? Certainly I had no intention of approaching Jimmy who was now back with his bunch of celebrity mates and admitting to him what has just happened. As Dell Boy would have said; 'What a Plonker!' and that's exactly how I felt, a RIGHT PLONKER!
If you’ve ever had an out of body experience that's what I was now experiencing. I found myself drifting slowly towards the celebrity table, the Good Voice in my head was saying; ‘Sit down doh’t do this’ the Bad Voice was saying; ‘Go on Go on make an idiot of yourself!’ When Jimmy saw me he jumped up put his arm around me saying: “Jess this guy’s brilliant, thanks Maurice loved it” Oh shit, I thought, then I heard myself saying in the lowest voice possible hopping on Jimmy could hear me: “It didn’t come out” A deadly silence swept over the table, it felt like an eternity until Jimmy said: “Okay lets do it again.” I couldn’t believe it, he guided me back to the table and did the half hour interview all over again. I’ll be always thankful to ‘Tarby’ for that. A great entertainer and a true gentleman.
Jimmy’s 60th turned out to be a great success and Jimmy even mentioned me in his speech as the ‘Faultless’ radio host, unfortunately that got a great laugh all round.
I headed back to Marbella the next day with a bunch of celebrity interviews recording after a shaky start it all turned out well in the end.
No sooner did I get back to Marbella than the call I was hoping for eventually came, it was from Debbie Munch the marketing executive from Caesars Palace Las Vegas confirming that she wanted me back for another show Live From Caesars. Of course I was delighted to accept and again she promised some top class celebrity guests etc.
It was so amazing having someone else for a change arrange my guests, five days a week I broadcast The Boland Show and five days a week I have to find and secure at least 4 guests per sho so having Debbie doing that in Las Vegas spoils me rotten (remember my worries I had about guests when arriving in Barbados? See chapter 21). Wendy was also delighted that she was coming back with me, if you remember she wasn’t over enthusiastic about her first trip to Vegas but after spending the ten days there she loved it, especially shopping in the malls!
The Cudeca Hospice under construction. Although the roof was almost finished more fund were urgently needed to complete the building work.
The second call I was half expecting was from Joan Hunt who didn’t beat about the bush saying she needed more funds to help complete the hospice. I had visited the construction sight a few times over the following month since Raise The Roof and was excited by the progress but as Joan said more funds were urgently needed to help complete the hospice. With Joan you really don't have any choices so I agreed yet again to help. The first thing I decided on for the next fund raising event was to hold on the anniversary of Raise The Roof which was mid December and this being only March giving me 8 months to plan ahead. I was sure the shear outpouring of support for last years hugely successful left most of us charity fatigued so I needed to come up with something very different but equally as successful. I knew it would be hard to equal the 30 million raised at last years gala but I knew I’d at least give it a damn good try. As always the drive to do so was the memory of my late fathers, Dr Stanley Boland, suffering from cancer and how I wished that palliative care was available for him as he approached the end of his life.
I now needed a new plan to Raise the Roof again. I began to think about the successes of the celebrity golf tournaments at La Manga for Varity Club and Jimmy Tarbuck’s Tournament for the Children’s home and thought maybe that’s the way to go. I also remembered meeting Terry Mancini ex international footballer who organises celebrity golf tournaments worldwide. I called him and thankfully he remembered me saying he would be delighted in organising a celebrity golf tournament for me in Marbella, I suggested we should have a celebrity to add a title to the tournament (there I go again me and my titles!) He asked me who I fancied as many of the well know celebrities already hosted their own tournaments. I remembered being introduced to John Lodge, guitarist with one of the world’s biggest rock bands The Moody Blues, at La Manga and asked Terry to see if he was interested.
(The photo below of John Lodge and myself was taken at La Manga when we first met)
Terry said he’s get to work on celebrity invites etc and that I would need to organise airline tickets for at least 20 celebrities and 5 star accommodation, meals and transport.
With a little Boland blarney I secured the 5 star Don Carlos Hotel and 20 celebrity rooms by assuring them that I would have the gala evening in there magnificent ballroom. I also was lucky enough to get a very reduced rate from THE Santa Maria Golf Club. Servatour again were fantastic and agreed to sponsor the 20 airline tickets and Harro rent-a-car agreed to supply 10 courtesy cars. Job done. Next stop Las Vegas!
Arriving in Las Vegas this is the huge neon sign that greeted us as we approached Caesars Palace! If you’ve never experienced your name up in lights it’s hard to explain how exciting it is and doubly so when it happens to you on the main boulevard in Ls Vegas along with the biggest names in the world of entertainment.
It was great to see Debbie Munch again, she is the Marketing Executive of Caesars Place and is the one responsible for inviting me back to Vegas. Debbie also organises most of my guests.
“Do you get sea sick?” smiled Debbie. Interesting question I thought seeing we were in the middle of the dessert. “No not really, why?”
“Well, this years Boland show will be coming live from a boat.” Has Debbie gone barmy?
“Well not exactly a boat, a barge!” Yep, she lost it, must be the pressure of work at Caesars.
“ This year we’ve planed to broadcast your show live from Cleopatra’s Barge” An a excited Debbie told me
This boat rocks! Cleopatra's Barge, the luxurious floating lounge at Caesars Palace, is an ornate replica of the sturdy but graceful craft that transported the royalty of Egypt on the Nile River in the time of Julius Caesar. So there you have it, that's where I’ll be broadcasting from, a barge in the middle of one of the worlds most famous hotels!
I was delighted to welcome Ben Vereen onto the show. Vereen is most famouse for his role as Chicken George in the TV adaptation of Alex Hayley book Roots. I met Bubba Knight, Gladys Knight's younger brother, last time I was in Vegas, he is one of the funnest men I have ever met he always has me in knots of laughter every time he tells me “I’m a PIP!” Yes Bubba was one of Gladys Knights backing group the Pips.
I had some memorable shows on this trip to Vegas, one that stands out for me was with Otis Williams and the Temptation. Otis is like a demi god in America, although he’s the only reaming member of the Temptations, the rest have been members of the group for years, the youngest having spent the last 25 years with them. Although it was early in the morning I persuaded the Temps to sing acapella; My Girl and all I can say is that the hairs were standing to attention on my arm, I have never heard anything like it. Robert Goulet wouldn’t travel into Caesars for his interview, so myself and Jeff were invited to do it at the stars home(See Photo of Goulet and myself in his garden)
Another wonderful story from my second trip to Vegas was told by Debbie herself; Most visitors to Vegas normal stay for a max of four days and allow themselves an average of $2,000 to gamble with, win or lose the golden rule is once its gone that's it, never draw more cash using your credit card to chase your losses! "This rule doesn’t always work for everyone" Debbie told me! This couple, we’ll call them Sylvie and Mike, had come to their final day and had lost their agreed gambling amount. They'd already checked out of their room and had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. Mike suggest cashing $500 to see if their luck had changed. Sylvia wasn’t happy, an argument pursued with Mike coming out the winner, so they withdrew another $500, he kept $400 to try to win back the $2,000 he’d lost playing Black Jack and gave Sylvia $100 to play the slots. After 20 minutes and losing his $400, Mike found his wife standing by the slot machine called Big Bertha, he suggested that they should leave for the airport, but Sylvia said that she thinks she might of won something and was waiting for the slots cashier to confirm her win. Big Bertha is a giant slot machine that’s works linked to other Big Bertha slots throughout Las Vegas as an accumulator and she has just hit the jackpot $25 million!!!! You here about these stories all the time in Las Vegas but it never seems to happen to you!
I must have done an OK job judging Miss Hawiann Tropical last year with David Hassolhoff and Co because I was invited back again this year. This time the final was held at the Goldan Nugget Hotel and Casino. The photograph of me with the finalist and the CEO of Hawaiian Tropical Ron Rice.
It's always sad when the time to bid farewell arrives saying goodbye to Debbie, Jeff and all the crew at Caesars arrives, but again we promised to return soon. As we took off from Las Vegas's International airport, looking out of the window at the extraordinary color mixture from the thousands of illuminated neon signs flickering below us, I started to reflect about my outside broadcasts from Vegas, Barbados, Portugal, London and La Manga wondering where to next. One thing for sure although they were stressful shows I was loving the travel and meeting a huge cross section of guests. As we approached Malaga my mind turned to the Raise the Roof campaign and what lies ahead.
To be continued.......
Here is a small selection of photos from my trip to Vegas. From the left: Bubba Knight. Otis Williams (2nd Left) Ben 'Chicken George' Vereen. Backstage with Mr Las Vegas Wayne Newton. Playing Piano with Buddy Greco. Back stage with magician Lance Burton (He earns $5 million a year from his Vegas shows!) Jeff my ever suffering engineer in Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun announces the return of The Boland Show to Caesars Palace. Wendy getting into the limo for another shopping trip to the Mall!
Saturday, 19 April 2014
BARBADOS PART TWO......
I woke up after a wonderful undisturbed nights sleep only to find Wendy was not in bed beside me.
After breakfast of fresh fruit we decided we should go and have a bit of a look around the island, do our tourist thing, knowing I'm normally not a great fan of, we settled on a quick visit to Holetown which we agreed is as good a place as any to start. Wendy, as usual, wanted to look around the shops and I had the most unusual habit when visiting a new country and that was to look around the local supermarkets. I know, I know I’m a bit weird in this, but I just liked looking to see what produce etc they keep on their shelves.
Rory had ordered our rent-a-car but it wasn't due until later that afternoon so he suggested we just jump on a bus as they pass regularly outside the hotel. Taking his advice we rose to the challenge to ride in one of the local buses.
After a look around we decided that a cool drink was now needed . After finding a local cafe and ordering our drinks I started to read a tourist leaflet that I had picked up along the way about the history of Holetown: Holetown was first settlement in Barbados and was originally named Jamestown, after its benefactor, King James I of England. The first English landing in Barbados was in 1625.
It acquired the name "Holetown" because of the off loading and cleaning of ships in the very small channel located within the immediate vicinity of the town.
After returning to the Lone Star and still more than a little worried about my guest list I decided to take a walk along the beach to check out what was happening around us. It wasn’t long before I came across a small beach restaurant with a brilliant steel band providing the entertainment. I just sat for a while on the sand listening to them and when they were finished I introduced myself asking them if they might be interested in coming to the Lone Star on Monday to open my show. They were delighted and promised to be there in plenty of time to set up. With another guest secured I walked back to the hotel and spent the rest of Saturday with Wendy sunbathing and swimming. That night we were recommended a restaurant called the Cliff for dinner.
It is said that The Cliff is probably the best known and celebrity-frequented restaurant in Barbados. The open-air setting on a coral clifftop above a small cove and described as the "most romantic restaurants in the world' It's Split across different levels and dramatically lit by Olympian-style torches, there's not a bad table in the house.
I instantly fell in love with the restaurants stunning setting. The food was definitely Michelin standard. I remember sitting watching a passing cruise ship on the horizon with its fairy lights twinkling on all decks, I promised Wendy that one day I will take her on a cruise that will take us back to Barbados. Little did I know this promise would feature later in My Story but without Wendy and certainly not in a romantic way! But all that comes in a later chapter. After dinner the restaurant manager came over to offer use a drink on the house, I started to chat with him explaining what we were doing in Barbados etc and asked him if he knew of anyone presently staying or living in Barbados who would make a good guest. His eyes lit up as he suggested that perhaps Michael Holding the legendary Jamaican cricketer would be perfect for my show. Knowing how crazy the Caribbean people are about cricket I asked him if he knew how I could get get in touch with him. "Better than that!" He said; "he’s sitting over there." Pointing at a table close by. I immediately made my way over introduced myself by telling him what a big fan I was of his (Okay, Okay a little bit of exaggeration here, but a man has do what a man has to do!) I wasted no time in inviting him on my show and again I was delighted when he agreed. I made a mental note to read up on International cricket as I knew nothing about it.
When we got back to the hotel we decided on a quick nightcap before bed. Pattie Boyd was at the bar and invited us to join her and her boyfriend Rod Weston who had just flown in from UK. She suggested we join them tomorrow evening for a casual meal at a small bar in Holetown called Ragamuffins. She explained it was where everyone goes on a Sunday night from the local bus driver (don’t need to see him in a hurry!) to the wealthy banker. She said its great fun so we agreed to join them.
That evening we met up with Pattie and Rod and took a taxi to Ragamuffins . The bar was exactly as Pattie described, very local with a cross section of clients. Just after a delicious plate of Jerk chicken and chips. I got the surprise of my life when suddenly from nowhere three women dressed in shocking pink mini skirts started miming to the Supremes hit ‘Baby Love’. An odd looking trio would be the best way to describe them; the one in the middle had to be all of 6ft 5in the other two were short and very muscular. Everybody were cheering and in floods of laughter. Pattie leaned over and said; “You know they are three men?” Of course I knew!!!!!
Here is a review from Tripadvisore: ‘Oh my if you want a slice of local fun, this is the place to be. The infamous ' drag show' on Sunday nights is so much fun, BUT do book way in advance. We were there this week with a host of celebrities like Cilla Black and Danni Minogue which was so much fun to see them getting down and having a great time. The food is pretty ropey but you are not going for that. You won’t starve at all but you will laugh your head off. The ' Girls' are amazing, so funny and it’s a really good show, something so different.'
Unfortunately there was no famous celebs that night but I did end up getting the three girls, sorry boys, to agree to come on my show. If anyone reading this is heading off to Barbados for the first time I highly recommend Sundays at Ragamuffins .
I awoke very early on Monday morning, slipping out of bed quietly so as not to disturb Wendy, I sat on the terrace watching the reflection of the most stunning sun rising on the very calm Caribbean sea. I only had one thing on my mind, it was that pile of junk sitting in our room,I just couldn't see how it was going to be technically possible to make it good enough for me to broadcast to Spain in a couple of hours.
The show was scheduled to go live at 1pm local that’s 7pm Spanish time. Rory had assured me that the Cable & Wireless engineers would be here latest by 10am to set up and test the connection. It was now 10:15am and not sight nor sound of them. By 10:30am and still nothing, I walked up to the Rory’s office to see if he could find out where the elusive engineers were. Rory, as usual, was calm as he assured me not to worry they would be here soon! By 11:30am I was breaking out in a cold sweat still looking at the pile of junk lying on the floor of the suit! At last there was a knock on my door, ‘thank goodness’ I thought as I opened the door only to find the members from the steel band arriving to set up. I brought them in and let them get on with it.
I hardly heard the the engineers from C&W knock on the door over the racket of the steel drums. With not an a apologies in sight in they walked as calm as cucumbers and without a word gathered up the junk and started sticking wires and plugs in everywhere!
I hoped Wendy was keeping my guests happy as I kept tapping my finger on my watch trying to let the engineers know that I was panicking . Then the guy fiddling with various nobs on the sound desk looked at me and calmly said “Sorry sir. We can’t make a connection with Spain.”
“Are you fucking kidding me!” I yelled, “What do you mean YOU can’t make a connection to Spain?” I was now practically in tears it was 12:55pm with 5 minutes to go and I was sure back in Spain the radio station was announcing that they would be going live shortly to the Boland Show coming from Barbados.
“There is no ISDN agreement between Spain and the Caribbean” explained a super cool engineer.
“You had over a fucking month before I came out here to find that fucking out!”
I then popped out still not letting my guests know about the panic going on behind the closed terrace doors.
“Who’s Julie?” asked one of the engineers as he popped his head around the sliding door.
I ran back inside “We have Julie connected now” smiled the man fiddling with the sound deck. Julie was driving my show back in Spain . They had connected exactly with 1 minute to go!!!!!
WE MADE IT !
In the picture below is Rory Rogers, The Lone Star manager and Pattie Boyd
It was only after the show that I find out they routed the ISDN connection through London. Clever lot the Cable & Wireless engineers are but I could have strangled them at the time.
Miracles do happen, well they did for me in Barbados! With that shaky start behind me we ended up with a faultless week of shows with some amazing guests. A final note to the trip; what should have been a free ISDN line connection ended up costing the Lone Star $12,000 for the five days of shows! I hope that didn’t contribute to the hotel going bust but thankfully it was taken over by British multi-millionaire David Whelan the owner of English Premier League club Wigan who became the new owner of the Lone Star Hotel and Restaurant after purchasing it for over US$13 million.
Here is the Lone Star's website: www.thelonestar.com
Here are a few more photos of Barbados
From left to right: One of the entertainers from Ragamuffins (she's a he!). Mr Cool, the engineer from Cable & Wireless. Wendy with Pattie Boyd.
My Story Chapter 22 coming shortly
Thursday, 17 April 2014
RAISING THE ROOF FOR CUDECA,. I ALMOST ASK CLIFF RICHARD IF HE'S GAY AND A BEATLE WIFE EVENTUALLY SAYS YES
With just 4 weeks to go, my campaign to try and raise the 10 million that was needed to pay the builder so he could then put the roof on the hospice was well under way. As is my way, I always like to have names or titles over any project that I was working on, so I named this the Raise The Roof For Cudeca campaign.
Max Bygraves, who I casually met in a Puerto Banus restaurant, had agreed to star at a fund raising Gala which I planned to stage at the end of the four week fundraising campaign to be held in Marbella’s 5 star Guadlamina hotel.
Thankfully things were beginning to gather momentum at a pace and it seemed that the whole Costa del Sol was talking about and getting into the spirit of helping to Raise The Roof. Various radio stations also put aside any differences that they might have had as competitors by agreeing to play The Raise Roof For Cudeca CD throughout the day also announcing various ways that their listeners could get involved and help. I was also receiving updates from golf, tennis and bowls cubs who had agreed to put on a least one tournament during the 4 weeks leading up to the final gala evening. Restaurants and bars were also getting into the spirit and promised various fund raising events.
I then did something that I was criticised innately for; I called Joan with what some might think a very odd request, I asked her could she get me a terminally ill patient to record a radio advertisement as a promotion for the Raise the Roof campaign. Joan being Joan didn’t even question my request and within 24 hours I had what I wanted down on tape. I know it upset some of the listeners and maybe I can understand how some people listening to a dying woman making a plea for funds etc was distasteful but personally I didn’t care all I was focused on was raising as close to the 10 million as possible!
At the time of the Raise the Roof campaign my radio show was sponsored by the Club La Costa Resort. The owner Roy Peires (see photo) was also a personal friend of mine, so I decided that I would go along to his headquarters to see if he might make a generous donation towards the building fund . Driving there I was trying to work out how much I would ask him for, because if I asked for too much he might say no and if I asked for too little I might be missing out on an opportunity to get more. So I settled in my mind for 1 million PTS (6,000 Euro). I know it’s a lot but CLC was doing phenomenally well and I knew Roy to be extremely generous when it came to charity.
I decided that I was going to tell no one about Roy’s phenomenal donation not even Joan Hunt as 1. I wanted to keep people motivated to continue raising funds and 2. I planned not to announce the 10 million donation until the end of the Gala evening.
The 4 weeks were now up and the gala evening was underway, I knew that I had achieved my goal of raising the 10 million
(The Photo of Joan shows the actual moment of her holding THE 10 million peseta fax I had just read and then handed it to her)
That evening 'WE..... Raised the Roof for Cudeca'. We had done it!
A total of 30 million was raised during that unbelievable 4 weeks thanks to the people of our beautiful Costa Del Sol. Even to this day every time I think back to what happened I still believe it to have been nothing short of a miracle!
Barry Hands a former colleague of mine at Onda Cero Radio and now heading up Age Concern in Estepona called to ask would I help raise enough money to pay for 60 plus members of Age Concern Christmas dinner and party, who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone. I decided that my radio show would make this contribution as I really didn’t want to ask the listeners to start digging deep into their pockets again so shortly after Raise The Roof. I did pop along to the party on my way home from my Christmas morning broadcast of Wish You Were Here, it's where I phone around the world sending Christmas greetings to loved ones from their family and friends living here on the Costas. Just seeing how happy all the Age Concern members looked in their silly paper hats laughing, pulling crackers, stuffing themselves with turkey and Christmas pud made me feel as good as I did raising the 30 million for Cudeca!
Early into the new year I had word that the Variety Club of Great Britain were hosting a special fund raising weekend at the La Manga Resort Murcia, Costa Calida about a 5 hour drive from the Costa Del Sol. It was planned to be a weekend of celebrity golf, tennis and various sporting events all to be filmed by Sky Sports and sponsored by OK! magazine ending on the Sunday evening with a concert by Sir Cliff Richard and Elaine Page. I put a call to Varieties head office in UK requesting permission to attend and broadcast live from the event. They said as long as it didn’t interfere with Sky Sports they had no objection. After assuring the TV production team that I wouldn’t get in the way or disturb the event in any way they agreed. A couple of weeks later Wendy and myself were checking into what was to become one of my favorite hotels in Spain the La Manga Cub. Hanging around the lobby, also checking in, were various celebrates who were over for the event including former world champion F1 driver Nigel Mansel, Moody Blues guitarist John Lodge, Goody, Tim Brook Taylor, stunt man extraordinaire Rocky Taylor,Jess Conrad, Henry Cooper and my old friend Kenny Lynch. After checking into our room we made our way down to the pool aria for lunch we spotted Kenny who asked us to join him. After lunch he suggested we join him and the rest of the celebrities that evening for dinner.
(The photo on the left was taken the day after our Pizza experience. Jasper looking a little rough and me looking a little heavy, must of eaten to many pizzas!!!)
Cliff Richard arrived at La Manga on the Sunday morning and attended a short press conference, he was then scheduled to do a short 5 minute max interview with me arranged by his then manager Bill Latham. As I said earlier Wendy was never into any of the showbiz type hype , she hardly ever attended any of my radio or TV shows, but once she found out the I was going to record an interview with Cliff Richard she insisted in coming along, she's been a big fan of Cliff since she was a kid.
As we made our way to Cliffs suit Wendy asked me; “So, are you?”
“Am I what?” I answered slightly puzzled to her line of Question
“You know exactly what.” Wendy answered with a knowing look on her face
“Oh that!, of course I will.” Wendy was of course referring to the ongoing debate; is he or is he not GAY?
Do I think he's gay? Firstly it's none of mine or should it be of anyone else's business. I do think in all these years with all the rumors about his sexuality there would have been at least one story confirming that he was gay in the gutter press and yet over 50 years NOTHING. Just makes you wonder.
Another funny incidence that weekend concerning Cliff happened when he was playing an arranged double tennis match against comedian Jasper Carrot. Cliff had just made a sneaky shot that slowly dropped off the top of the net falling far too short for Jasper to get to, Cliff, who takes his tennis very seriously, walked smugly away delighted to take the point, But jasper slammed his racket down on the net shouting: “You’re not going to claim that Cliff, there’s nothing in the bible that allows THAT!” he exclaimed much to the amused to the packed galleries. In all it was a brilliant weekend and an outstanding concert that evening with Sir Cliff and Elian Page
One sunny afternoon I was walking along Puerto Banus generally minding my own business when I heard a woman calling my name. I didn’t recognise the woman who was now waving frantically at me to join her for a drink. She introduced herself by telling me how much she enjoyed my shows from Las Vegas and would I be interested in bringing the show to Barbados? Would I what???? I told her that it would be fantastic and although I don’t charge an added fee I do need my flights, hotel, food etc sponsored. I got the surprise of my life when she told me that her husband Eddie was a partner in one of the islands most fashionable boutique hotel and restaurants called The Lone Star and that she was sure he’d be delighted to sponsor the deal. Coincidentally, I had just read a glowing report about the Lone Star in Michael Winners travel column. He had stayed there on his annual Christmas holiday as his usual haunt, the Sandy Lane hotel, was being rebuilt by a consortium of Irish billionaires, J. P. McManus, Dermot Desmond and John Magnier.
Again Wendy accompanied me on this trip, well who could blame her, 10 days on the sun soaked Caribbean Island of Barbados? As we disembarked the Virgin Atlantic 747 at Barbados’s International Airport we were met at the bottom of the steps by a woman smartly dressed in a maroon blazer, a white pleated skirt and white shoes, she was holding up a sign with MR and Mrs Boland printed on it. I was amazed she was allowed to greet us on the runway even before passing through immigration and customs. She introduced herself and said that she was from the Diamond Service and had been sent by the Lone Star to meet us and drive us to the hotel, I was impressed. She asked for our passports and to follow her, passing the other 400 plus tired passengers, who also had just disembarked the London flight, waiting in line to go through immigration. We were briskly ushered through a side gate, our passports were stamped, we were then ushered out of the burning hot mid afternoon Caribbean sun into a waiting air conditioned limousine that sped us away from the airport to our hotel, it was then I asked about our luggage, only to be told that it was been picked and would follow shortly. Now I was doubly impressed!
The trip from the airport to the hotel was only about 15 minutes. When you first arrive at the Lone Star one could be
Rory Rogers greeted us warmly and accompanied us to our suit which was located directly on the whitest beach I had ever seen, he asked us if we would like to freshen up and then join him for a coffee in the restaurant.
As on my trips to Las Vegas, we arrived on the Friday giving me the weekend to acclimatise and start planning my guests (finding them in this case!) for my forthcoming week of shows. I got a terrible shock when I noticed a pile of pretty archaic looking radio equipment lying in the corner of the suit! "Surely that wasn’t what Cable and Wireless were hoping that I would be using on my show'" I said to Wendy, as usual the ever calm Wendy told me not to worry, that she was sure it would all be sort out on time for Monday. I left Wendy to unpack and relax as I went to meet Rory. But no matter what Wendy said I WAS worried!
Over coffee Rory explained that The Lone Star used to be a car repair garage run by a couple of locals, it was eventually bought by an English company and transformed into one of Barbados’s top restaurants attracting the mega rich celebrities and business moguls who annually holiday on the Island. After a few years it was decided to build just four luxury suits onto land to the side of the restaurant. The suits were designed by one of London’s top design studios. Each suit was named after a famous car i.e The Cadillac Suit, The Buick Suit, The Studebaker Suit and we were staying in the Shelby Suit. As interesting as all that was I needed to ask him about the stack of old looking radio equipment dumped in my room. Rory told me not to worry as Cable and Wireless assured him that they will be here early on Monday morning to set up everything and make sure it’s working. I was worried! I then asked him how many guests had he already invited onto my show and who where they? He looked at me somewhat bewildered a sort of confused like a rabbit caught in a cars headlights: “I thought YOU booked your own guests and that’s why you come out two days early?” He replied apologetically. I didn’t want to show him how disappointed I was and told him not to worry.
That night we had a long leisurely dinner at the Lone Star, it didn't take long to understand why the
restaurant is one of the top ranked restaurants in Barbados. Sitting there under the star filled sky watching the moons reflection gently dancing on the sea could only be described as Paradise. We were one of the last customers to leave when a couple sitting opposite us come over to our table and asked us would we like to join them at the bar for a drink.
As we walked back to the suit we saw a large crowed gathered on the beach, we wondered over to find out what was happening only to find a Greenbacked turtle was on the beach digging a whole to lay it’s eggs. There was what looked like an expert keeping the crowed back so as not to disturb the turtle. I went over and asked him to explain what exactly what was going on. He told me he was part of the Caribbean Wild Life Association and his job was to record turtle movements. Perfect I thought and invited him to join my Monday show, which he thankfully accepted. I went to bed that night thinking this might be easier than expected.
Little did I know the nightmare that was about to unfold .
To be continued...