Sunday, 27 April 2014

CHAPTER 23



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.


David’s office stood in the middle of what looked like a one street town. Reading up about Lennoxville (see photo)on the flight over it said that it had a population of around 5,000 evenly split between anglophones and francophones with francophones making up a plurality among native speakers (45.3%) whereas English is the language most spoken at home by 49.9%. The size of the population worried me as to where David would find enough interesting guests for the 5 days 2 hour programs that were scheduled. But from the minute I met David I laid my worries aside, he was a vivacious character full of confidence who spoke a hundred words a minute (you can just imagine the two of us together?). I liked him and felt confident that we were going to enjoy a successful week ahead.
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.
After breakfast I noticed one of the Hells Angels standing at the checkout desk so I went over to him, explained who I was and would he do an interview with me. BIG MISTAKE! He went crazy saying; “We don’t like people like you, reports, media you’re fucking liars!” The whole dining room fell silent as they listened to his rant. I apologised, collected Wendy and left the dining room as quick as possible. Our driver luckly was waiting for us but as we were about to get into his car I noticed one of the Hells Angels in the car park, I don't know where I plucked up the courage but I decided to ask him if he minded getting a photo taken with Wendy, he took one long look at her smiled and agreed! (See photo)

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.!!!
That evening we were invited to an out of town theater that was housed in a picturesque converted farm barn called The Piggery to watch a play called Same Time Next Year the cast included actors from the TV series The X Files. David had suggested that they would be perfect guests for my show. After watching the excellent play I sent word back stage that I wanted to invite the stars on my show but my invite was somehow misunderstood when a young scenery changer turned up the next day to be interviewed and it was only after asking him questions about his role in the hit TV show did everyone realise the mistake and fell around in fits of laughter! Bit like the time on a BBC current affairs program that a taxi driver waiting at the studios to pick up a fair was ushered onto the show as a IT expert!
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!!!
This made me more curious about the whole Hells Angels subjected added to the fact that I had read in the local Lennoxville press that three bodies had been found in the shallow St. Francis River, encased in cement ladened sleeping bags. When I mentioned this and the fact that the Mountie had walked off my show during my daily lunch break at the local Golden Lion pub, no one seemed in the slightest bit surprised as not an eyebrow had been raised and the subject yet again quickly changed! Whilst mentioning the Golden Lion I must mention the wonderful lunches I had of the local delicacy of ‘poutine’, a chips, cheese curd and gravy concoction and smothered chicken sandwich. On the other side of the scale was the dinner at the Auberge considered one of the most charming and romantic Inns of Canada which is set on the shores of Lake Massawappi.

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.

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