London Calling

15May18

IMG_5492In the latest episode of my show for America; A chat in a London pub with Magnus Walker, the British fashion designer and car collector. He moved to the United States in 1986 aged 19 and established the Serious Clothing Brand in Los Angeles.

As well as that there’s reaction to the latest Royal baby, why the demise of newspapers is a wonderful thing, Marxists running British schools are closet capitalists, running away stories, why there’s no problem with kids being glued to their phones while surrounded by natural beauty, a nuisance phone call, noisy neighbours, the great indoors and the scandal at the London Marathon.

Listen to Episode 64 of London Calling here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-64-magnus-walker-urban-outlaw/

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Ikea

Pride is more important than money.

We’re moving to a new flat, it’s smaller than the one we’re in, so storage is a major issue. We decided a floor to ceiling wardrobe in the bedroom was the way to go, so we took our measurements to Ikea. We chose what we wanted from the various pick and mix combinations and arranged for it to be delivered.

We spent our Friday night last week, in the new flat, opened all of the the flat packed boxes and began construction. At a certain point, we tried to stand up our work in progress. That’s when we realised we’d made a huge mistake.

The wardrobe was supposed to be 10mm shorter than the ceiling height, only the ceiling wasn’t high enough to stand up what we had.

The flat is a new-build and Julie had made the floor to ceiling measurement before the carpet was fitted. Now the wardrobe was about 20mm higher than the ceiling.

We contemplated having a rectangle of carpet taken out so it would fit or even having the sides of the wardrobe cut to size. In the end we decided the easiest solution was a shorter wardrobe.

The next day, I made the call to Ikea and told them how stupid we’d been. I asked if we could package up the bits they’d sent, return them and order a shorter version. The lady on the phone was lovely, said it wouldn’t be a problem and even told me when they deliver the new wardrobe and take away the original one, we’ll get a refund of over £200.

Usually saving a lot of money like that would make me happy but it just doesn’t take away the shame.

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Tom Jones

Most people think the world is getting worse. If you read or watch the news, you might think the world is falling to pieces. Trends like terrorism, climate change, and a growing population straining the planet’s resources can make you think our world is in crisis.

We do have major issues that need attention but what you’ve got to realise is that the “news” is just a collection of UNUSUAL stories, things that don’t normally happen. People don’t usually get stabbed on the streets of London. More than 8 million people get on aircraft every day and all of those aircraft land safely. 2017 was the safest year in history for commercial airlines, with no passenger plane crashes anywhere in the world.

To find out what’s happening, we go to the news but what we get is a list of things that hardly ever happen. They’re presented as if they happen all of the time, making us think that the unusual is the usual.

The truth is we’re actually living in the most peaceful, abundant time in history. We’re actually seeing a massive drop in poverty, fewer deaths from violent crime and preventable diseases. On top of that, we’re the most educated people to ever walk the planet.

In the last hundred years, we’ve seen the average human life expectancy nearly double, the global GDP per capita rise and childhood mortality drop.

Last week, it was announced that some of the world’s biggest companies have signed up to reduce plastic pollution. Forty-two businesses including Coca Cola, Pepsi co, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Birdseye and Nestle have promised to reduce packaging and increase recycling. They’ve set a target for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

So now that you know the world isn’t so bad after all, here’s another thing to think about: it can get even better, very soon.

In their book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Steven Kotler and Peter Diamandis say that it might be possible for us to meet and even exceed the basic needs of all the people living on the planet today.

“In the hands of smart and driven innovators, science and technology take things which were once scarce and make them abundant and accessible to all.”

Look at what computers and the internet have done for us in the last 30 years. They’ve given us easy access to the world’s information, the ability to share knowledge with anyone, anywhere for free. We can buy and sell goods and services globally. Less than twenty years ago, you’d have to spend thousands on the best stereos, cameras, TVs and entertainment systems. Today, it’s all on your phone.

Solar power is now cheaper than fossil fuels. Self-driving cars are already on the roads. Most accidents are caused by driver error. 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads every year, more than in all of the wars. Just think of how many lives self-driving cars will save.

Two things haven’t changed:
1. Things keep getting better.
2. People keep saying things are getting worse.

That’s not unusual.

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Mack Nuggets

27Apr18

Here’s what I’ve been up to on BOBfm lately, including:

You should be peeing on your tomatoes.
Bad news for Titanic The Musical.
Curry is the way to find the love of your life.
Miscommunication.
A gender bender.
The return of the woolly mammoth.
Almost embarrassed in Asda.
Another business idea that could make you millions.

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Picture This

25Apr18

The older generation complain about young people constantly looking at screens on tablets or phones.

They accuse them of not being fully present, especially if those screen-obsessed kids are surrounded by amazing things going on around them. Frustrated parents have gone on Twitter and shared pictures of their kids surrounded by natural beauty – but glued to their phones instead.

nintchdbpict000399478817

Well how things have changed. I remember going on holiday as a kid to a beach or beauty spot and being surrounded by grown-ups reading newspapers.

How come is was OK for an adult to sit in a deck chair and read the Daily Mirror but now it’s not OK for a young person to sit by a lake and read from an iPhone?

Today’s kids live in an inter-connected, over-communicated world of tech. Their future will be dominated by online gadgets. The kids that don’t embrace this future will be left behind. They’ll be like the kids in the past who couldn’t read.

And that young person staring at a screen in the forest surrounded by trees is checking out what’s happening right now, not reading yesterday’s news off something that used to be a tree.

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London Calling

24Apr18

Stars and jack

In the latest episode of my show for America;

Nuisance calls from ambulance chasing lawyers.
Embarrassment avoided in the supermarket.
A great business idea that could make you millions.
Getting things stuck.
What you can learn from Westerns about the gender pay gap.
Indoor tobogganing.
Why digital broadcast radio is dead.
When Mick got locked in a darkroom.
A chat with Jim McCabe from Philadelphia and small steps that could change your life.
Why you should pee on tomatoes.
Miscommunication.
When chili pepper eating goes wrong.
Gender bending.

Listen to Episode 63 of London Calling here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-63/

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Waste

The demise of newspapers has been great for the environment.

Nowadays, hardly anyone buys a daily paper. Imagine the amount of forests that are being saved because everything is online now.

There is no value in printed newspapers anymore. Look at the Evening Standard, you used to have to pay for it, now it’s free. There are people all over London handing them out but not everybody takes one, so sometimes they can’t even give them away.

The big problem is the waste. Every day, tons of newspapers are still being thrown away or left on public transport. It’s not as big a problem as plastic waste, which might make you think that paper is more environmentally friendly than plastic. Well if you look at the example of supermarket bags, it turns out that plastic bags are better for the environment than paper ones.

Plastic bags are thinner and lighter than paper ones, so it takes more fossil fuels to transport paper bags. Making paper means chopping down trees. Those trees could be absorbing carbon dioxide. The paper bag making processes uses 20 times more water than it takes to make plastic bags. A paper bag actually consumes 4 times as much energy in producing than a plastic one. Paper bags cause 70% more pollution and emit 80% more greenhouse gases than plastic.

Don’t get me wrong, plastic is a huge problem. It’s made from non-renewable energy sources. It causes a danger to wildlife and plastics take up to 500 years to decompose. Paper and plastic are both bad for the environment.

Is the solution biodegradable plastic? Technically what we are talking about here is “oxo-degradable” plastics. These are plastics made to degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight. Well, if it gets buried in a landfill it won’t degrade at all because it won’t get that sunlight or oxygen.

Oxo-degradable bags are made by adding metals like cobalt, iron or manganese to the plastic. Most manufacturers say they only put tiny amounts of metals into the plastic, but a US study found that one brand contained “very high levels of lead and cobalt”. That’s not good for the environment.

Maybe the answer is edible bags. I’m serious, think about it, you bring home your shopping, wash the bags under the tap, cut them up into squares and wrap them around something tasty, pop that little parcel in the oven for twenty minutes and enjoy a bag burrito!

If free newspapers were edible, you could read the news and have a snack on your way home.

There might be a business opportunity here. How about launching a snack sized, edible, general-interest family magazine, full of inspiring stories, hilarious jokes and surprising advice on health and weight loss?

You could call it, Reader’s Digest!

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London Calling

20Apr18

Engelbert

In the latest episode of my show for America, Engelbert talks about coping with his wife’s Alzheimer’s, his new album, singing with his granddaughter, how he got started in show business, his friendship with Elvis and Dean Martin and why he doesn’t talk to Tom Jones anymore.

As well as that, a preview of my chat with Kim Wilde and a look at what’s happening in Britain including: sacrificial salad, a rude French waiter, the sinister truth about the Commonwealth Games, why Prince Charles is a hypo-twit, a final episode for my Dr Who pinball machine, and a question about Stormy Daniels.

Listen to Episode 62 of London Calling here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-62-engelbert-humperdinck/

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Super Awkward

17Apr18

Embarresed

I almost shouted something embarrassing in Asda supermarket yesterday.

As I walked in, a lady carrying shopping and some clothes she’d bought was in the queue at the checkout. The “Happy To Help” man behind her in the green uniform tapped her on the shoulder and pointed out that there was a free checkout further along so the lady grabbed her stuff and ran for it. That’s when she dropped one of the items of clothing. It was a tiny pair of lace panties.

Now the lady was quite a distance from me, about half way between us on the floor was this pair of undies. Thankfully, “Happy To Help” managed to let her know just in time because I had already taken a deep breath and was about to shout, in all innocence,

“Excuse me, your knickers have fallen down!”

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Radio Ga Ga

16Apr18

RIP radio

Is radio finished?

I never listen to the radio anymore. I listen to a lot of radio stations but not on a device that picks up broadcast audio through AM, FM or DAB. I listen online.

At work, I listen through a PC, at home though my iMac, my Macbook, or my Amazon Echo. In the car AM sounds horrible and FM doesn’t give me much of a choice of stations. The DAB radio in my Lexus is so difficult to operate that it’s easier to use Tunein on my phone and listen online via bluetooth. The cheap SIM Only deal I’ve got means I get 20GB of data a month. I spend more than ten hours a week on the road, I’ve never gone anywhere near that limit.

For twenty years we’ve been told that DAB is the future of broadcasting in Britain. We were told that DAB’s two biggest advantages over analogue radio were more stations and better sound quality. Well, neither of those things are true anymore. With a DAB radio you can pick up less than a hundred radio stations, online, you can listen to thousands. In an attempt to jam more stations on DAB, bit rates have been reduced and a lot of stations only broadcast in mono, so sound quality is another myth.

Almost EVERYONE has access to internet radio, it’s on all smartphones, computers and tablets. You can only pick up broadcast radio on a dedicated receiver.

No wonder so many articles written about DAB uses the phrase, “Dead And Buried”.

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Western

You can learn a lot about the reaction to the gender pay gap from westerns.

In most western movies, the plot revolves around the quest to right wrongs. Sheriff’s, Marshalls, members of posses and lone gunslingers set out to avenge a wrongful death, protect ranchers from rustlers or just get even.

Exposing the gender pay gap is also about righting a wrong. The tricky thing is, the reaction to it could end up legalising prejudice and discrimination.

In Britain, more than 10,000 big firms had to report what men and women get paid because of new legislation.

Some people have looked at the numbers and concluded that three-quarters of these companies are paying men more than women. That’s a dangerous thing to do without working out what’s going on here.

We all know that overall, men hold more senior positions at British companies than women, so when you look at what a company pays men, versus women, the numbers will be skewed towards men. We need to look at why more women don’t hold senior positions.

If women are being paid less than men for doing the same job, then that needs to be looked at because it’s wrong. Is that what’s going on here though?

My worry is that the release of these figures will lead to calls for quotas. I know of one large organization that, right now, has targets for the percentage of women it will employ in key positions in the next couple of years. They’ve also got targets for people who are from ethnic backgrounds, LGBT and people with disabilities. That means that if you don’t fit into one of these categories, you’ll miss out on a job until that quota has been met, even if you’re better qualified and have more experience than any of the other candidates.

Everybody can be identified as belonging to a particular group and that group might be under-represented in the business you happen to be in. We need to find evidence that proves you were discriminated against purely because you belong to that group.

I belong to a group that is hardly represented at all in the industry I work in which is broadcasting. I am non-university educated working class. I left school at 16, and after a failed apprenticeship and then a job cleaning power tools and cement mixers for a plant hire firm, I ended up working on an oil refinery construction site as a pipefitter and eventually as an air conditioning engineer. The first time I worked in an office was when I was hired to present the Breakfast Show at my first radio station.

That first radio job was in Australia, so I belonged to another under-represented group in Australian radio, I was a Pom. In a way, that helped me. I knew that to get a radio job, I had to be better and work harder than all of the Australians with university degrees that were going for the same job.

Now I could miss out just because I’m not female, black, gay or disabled, that is discrimination. If the reason you don’t get a job is just because of your skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, that’s against the law isn’t it?

Yes, there should be more women, black, minority ethnic, LGBT and people with disabilities represented in key positions in Britains companies and the people you see and hear in the media should represent a more diverse Britain. Quotas won’t fix the problem, they’ll just hide it.

So, why is the reaction to the gender pay gap like a western? Well, it’s about what a quota will do. When a Hollywood movie studio builds a set in the middle of a desert to shoot scenes set in a frontier town, there’s no real town there, it’s just shop fronts. It looks good on the screen but behind those wooden fronts, it’s still just a desert.

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OysterI think I’ve come up with a great business idea. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should steal this.

We’re moving to a smaller flat soon, so we’re trying to get rid of as much stuff as we can. Everything has to pass the, “Do we REALLY need this?” test. So far we’ve sold my Dr Who pinball machine, my Fender 100 watt guitar amplifier, my Marshall amp fridge and next week my Epiphone semi-acoustic guitar will go. I just don’t use them enough to justify keeping them. That brings me to something that takes up a lot of space but is hardly ever used, suitcases.

We’ve got three huge Samsonite hard cases, two medium sized hard cases and two small cases that class as cabin baggage on one, but not all of the budget airlines. We never use all of them at once but might use some of them, for maybe two weeks a year. The rest of the time they just take up space. We don’t have a loft, so they’ve ended up under the bed and on top of wardrobes. The new place won’t have a loft either, so it’ll be the same story there.

I started thinking, wouldn’t it be great if you could just rent luggage when you need it? That could be a great business idea!

No one would expect to rent brand new luggage, so you could buy used cases online. If you bought heavy duty ones, they’d last a long time too. You wouldn’t even need any stock to start with, you could just buy it as you need it when the orders come in. I checked and right now, you can buy a used Samsonite oyster case, just like the big ones we’ve got for £24 on eBay. You could probably rent it out for £30 a week so it would pay for itself first time out. If you get your customers to pay a refundable deposit up front, you could use that money to buy the suitcases as you need them, so you wouldn’t need any capital to set this business up.

You might be asking, if this is such a great idea, why don’t I start a suitcase rental business? Well, I’d love to but I’ve got nowhere to store the cases!

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Engelbert talks about coping with his wife’s Alzheimer’s, his new album, singing with his granddaughter, how he got started in show business, his friendship with Elvis and Dean Martin and why he doesn’t talk to Tom Jones anymore.

Craic on!

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Mack Nuggets

01Apr18

Here’s what I’ve been up to on BOBfm lately, including: Advice for Theresa May on how to deal with the Russian situation; Tributes to Ken Dodd; Housemates From Hell; Nightmare neighbours; What happens if England boycott the World Cup; Unusual things you’ve eaten; Is Vladimir Putin going to be the “Lord Of The World”?; The key to greatness; Left behind stories; An uncertain future for Ant & Dec; Kim Wilde talks about how singing songs drunk on a train turned her into a YouTube sensation.

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Kim Wilde

28Mar18

I had a chat with Kim Wilde in Hertfordshire. She talked about her close encounter that was the inspiration for the title of her new album, “Here Come The Aliens”, how singing songs drunk on a train turned her into a Youtube sensation, how she used gardening to beat the mid-life crisis she suffered aged 30, being a mum and her latest tour.

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Andy Summers

In the latest episode of my show for America, guitar legend Andy Summers talks about his HARMONICS OF THE NIGHT tour, his current album, Triboluminescence, photography, writing, why he doesn’t sing on albums anymore, his relationship with the British press and what Bournemouth and Santa Monica have in common.

As well as that, a look at what’s happening in Britain including; How the Prime Minister should deal with Vladimir Putin; Housemates from hell; How to keep clutter off the radio; The death of Ken Dodd; Why the play Bryan Cranston is doing in London is the talk of the town; Why the England soccer team may not be going to the World Cup; Windfall stories; A brush with fame and a left behind story.

Listen to Episode 61 of London Calling here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-61-andy-summers-guitar-player-with-the-police/

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It’s a real time of transition for Julie and I. We moved to the UK twenty-one years ago and in all of that time, we’ve always rented. Right now we’re in the process of buying a flat. It’s a new-build so it’s small. That means we have to say goodbye to a lot of cool things we’ve collected over the years because they just won’t fit.

This week, we said an emotional goodbye to our Dr Who pinball machine. I don’t know it’s full history but I know it lived in an arcade in Blackpool before it was rescued by a place called “Pinball Heaven” who refurbished it.drwho003

We bought it from them about eighteen years ago and it’s stood in the living room of flats and houses we’ve rented in Birmingham, Nottingham, Bournemouth, Teesside, Swindon and now Hitchin. Removal men have sweated and grunted over it as we’ve moved around the country. From time to time I’ve dismantled and resableled various bits, soldered broken joints, replaced solenoids, bulbs, the motherboard, the rubber bits around the flippers and all of the bumpers. Thankfully, you can fix Dr Who Pinball machines without a sonic screwdriver.

We’ve played hundreds of games on it and once I got a score so high that it let me add my initials to it’s list of high scoring Time Lords. When that happens the big dalek on the top gets really grumpy and says, “Next time Doctor, you will not be so lucky!”

We sold it on eBay for more than twice what we paid for it, so the news isn’t all bad and we’re moving to a really nice, brand new flat that we’ll own and can do what we like with. It’ll open up a whole new episode of our lives together.

Just like the Doctor, it’s time for us to regenerate.

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I had a chat with guitar legend, Andy Summers from The Police. He talks about his HARMONICS OF THE NIGHT tour, his current album, Triboluminescence, photography, writing, why he doesn’t sing on albums anymore, his relationship with the British press and what Bournemouth and Santa Monica have in common.

Craic on!

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Tree of Life

17Mar18

Tree

Have you ever thought about how amazing trees are?

I know you’re going to think I’ve lost my mind but I’m starting to get the feeling that spending time with trees might be the key to greatness.

Percy Shaw is the man who invented “cat’s eyes”, the reflectors you see at night in the road that must have saved countless lives. On Youtube I watched a documentary about Percy from 1968. At one point they show his factory in Halifax. Sticking out of a hole in the roof, you see the top branches of a tree. The factory was built around the tree. Alan Whicker’s narration explains, “…Sentimental as any no-nonsense Yorkshireman, he made sure, when he was boss, that the woodmen spared the sycamore he climbed as a child”. Percy’s sycamore is not the only tree that was important to historical pioneers.

The orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire has a special apple tree. In 1666, an apple fell from it and made Isaac Newton ask the question; Why do apples always fall straight down? That apple tree gave Newton the inspiration for his work and helped him become one of the most influential scientists of all time. Without Newton’s work on gravity and his laws of motion, we would never have been able to fly to the moon.

Another tree plays a part in man’s conquest of space. Robert Goddard was an American engineer, professor, physicist and inventor. He built the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket.

With his team, he launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is named after him.

He grew up in Boston and at the age of 17, on October 19, 1899, he climbed a cherry tree. He was transfixed by the sky. Later he wrote, “On this day I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had the possibility of ascending to Mars”. For the rest of his life Goddard called October 19, “Anniversary Day”.

He moved his rocket testing equipment to New Mexico and would go back to Boston and visit the cherry tree and wrote about it in his journal:

“October 19th, 1927 – Got rocket weighed and ready in the afternoon. Stopped at cherry tree at 6pm”.

“October 19th 1928 – Took out trailer to farm, with Sachs. Went out to cherry tree”.

“October 19th 1932 – Worked on flow patterns in afternoon. Went to cherry tree – Anniversary Day”.

In the autumn of 1938, Goddard got a letter from a friend in Massachusetts telling him that the cherry tree had been uprooted on a nor’easter. In his journal that night, he wrote, “Cherry tree down – have to carry on alone”.

Percy Shaw, Newton and Goddard’s connection to trees got me thinking about how important trees might be. Buddha reached enlightenment as he sat and meditated under a tree. Why do we decorate a tree at Christmas?

Do trees have a connection to the universe? They’re directly connected to the earth through their roots, they interact with the atmosphere through their branches and their leaves absorb energy from the sun that has traveled millions of miles through space. Do trees communicate with the universe? If you spend time with them, is inspiration one of their fruits. Does spending time with trees bring good luck?

It would explain why we say, touch wood!

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London Calling

13Mar18

Tony HendraIn the latest episode of my show for America, part 2 of my chat with British satirist Tony Hendra. He lives in New York and talks about alcohol, his amazing life and work, which touches Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, George Carlin and beyond. He explains how he discovered John Belushi and Chevy Chase and what it was like being recognised by a hippy taxi driver after his appearance in This Is Spinal Tap.

As well as that, there’s a look at what’s been happening in Britain, including wild weather, the thing holding back electric vehicles, tattoos, why the British Prime Minister and the Queen are a disgrace to women and a hero policeman talks about rescuing a dog from a frozen lake.

Listen to Episode 60 of London Calling, here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-60-tony-hendra-part-2/

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