By Eamonn ‘The Budgie’ Keyes
Life generally moves itself along in a fairly humdrum fashion. Often a highlight will be nothing more than finding steak in Tesco’s out-of-date section, a tenner stuck down the side of the chair, or even that the hangover you’ve dreaded all night hasn’t materialised.
I’ve been equally blessed and cursed with finding myself in occasionally bizarre situations. Sometimes the rich and famous have been involved and sometimes it’s merely a very dangerous animal attempting to sample me.
I’ve come to accept these occasions as little gifts bestowed on me at random by the universe, and they’ve become tales to press onto weary strangers, like some modern Ancient Mariner.
These have become my Brief Encounters….
It was 1993, Nirvana and Metallica ruled the real music world, with Mr Blobby doing it for the kids and a Whitney Houston with more teeth would always love you, apparently.
I’d been asked to mentor a school band from Bangor, Northern Ireland in the National Panasonic Battle of The Bands contest. I worked hard with the 4 boys, all about 16, and they won the Irish heats, getting them through to the finals in London, which would be filmed for televising.
I was asked by the headmaster if I could accompany them and look after them. What could go wrong?
The final was in the Grand Theatre, Clapham, and after two days rehearsals and dress rehearsals, eyeing up the competition, the big night arrived.
Presenter on the night was Jools Holland, the judges were two members of Madness, DJ Tommy Vance, comedian Roland Rivron and, inexplicably, Joan Collin’s daughter, Tara Newley, not known for anything much.
With a couple of hours before the kick off, we were milling around the lobby when we were intercepted by recent celebrity Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edward, who was interviewing for Radio 5 Live, aided by a beautiful young blonde female producer.
Eddie was utterly hapless, and the BBC, not knowing quite to do with him, were trying out something else he couldn’t do. After several excruciating interview attempts Eddie gave up, with his producer shouting at him, and suddenly, in full view of everyone, I had Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards crying on my shoulder, slumped and sobbing about how nobody liked him. I ended up sitting with my arm around him as he cried, the tears running off his sharp nose and weird little moustache whilst I lied about how great he was. Anything to get him to stop. Thankfully he eventually did.
It all went hazy from there. I’d been offered an as-yet-unopened bottle of Bushmills Single Malt for a fiver by the barman, and decided to drink it. The night went hazy, the band didn’t win, and we celebrated not winning in a fountain. In December.The only pleasant memory I was left with was being sick on the buffet just as Tara Newley got to it. That, as they say, is as Rock N Roll as it gets.
Eamonn ‘The Budgie’ Keyes is a new contributor to The Orkney News. Follow his Brief Encounters