Timing is everything and we picked the wrong time to visit Julie’s parents in New Zealand. 

We haven’t been back there together for seven years. We made a big mistake, we should never have traveled all of that way and I’m truly sorry for the stress and anger we caused with certain members of Julie’s family just by being there. 

When we left the UK on 12th March, the Coronavirus was a “thing” but nothing like what it has become. Premiership football matches were still being played and there were no restrictions on travel or public gatherings.

We’ve never seen anything like this before and we’re used to the British media regularly sensationalising everything from “killer” snow storms to “biblical” floods and catastrophic economic meltdowns. In December they were warning us of a killer bird flu. No humans in Britain were even infected, just birds and poultry. Unfortunately, this time, with Covid-19, they weren’t crying wolf. This time the media got it right and we got it very wrong.

To be on the safe side, Julie had prepared so we had antibacterial wipes and wiped down any surfaces we came into contact with like aircraft tray tables, armrests and inflight entertainment touchscreens. We washed our hands whenever we could and used hand sanitiser in between. 

When we arrived in New Zealand on 14th March, there were no restrictions on travel or public gatherings. There were only six confirmed cases in the whole country. However, as we had arrived from “overseas”, some people there were angry with us for visiting the country and for visiting Julie’s elderly parents. I must point out that even now, we are showing no symptoms related to Covid-19 and as far as we know have had no close contact with anyone that has.

The day after we arrived, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that, effective 01:00 on 16 March, all travellers arriving in or returning to New Zealand from outside of the country after that deadline, must self-isolate for 14 days. It didn’t affect us because we arrived before the deadline.

Later that day, President Trump announced that travel restrictions imposed previously on visitors from EU countries would be extended to the UK. This means that if you’ve been in the UK within the previous 14 days of arrival in the USA, you will not be allowed entry. We were due to travel back to the UK via Los Angeles within the 14 days so that DID affect us.

We had three days booked in Sydney before our flight home through LA, so we called the Sydney hotel and booked another four nights so that when we went back through the USA, we would have been out of Britain for 15 days.

The next day, the Australian Prime Minister announced that all visitors. Including Australian citizens, would have to self-quarantine for 14 days. We decided to spend the extra four nights in Auckland instead. Then Air New Zealand cancelled the Los Angeles to London leg of our trip home.

Then the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced that all visitors who arrived BEFORE 16th March should self-isolate for 14 days.

We decided to cut our losses and get back to the UK as soon as we could. By now, airlines had started grounding planes and Air New Zealand had announced they were laying off a third of their staff. The earliest flight we could get back to London was Sunday 22nd March via Singapore.

Auckland Airport on that day was chaotic. I’ve never seen so many police at a New Zealand airport. They were allowing passengers only, into the international terminal. If you were saying goodbye to family or friends, you had to do it outside the building. 

As we were in the queue to check-in, we had to listen to this message that played over and over again. It sounded like, “This is the voice of the Mysterons” from “Captain Scarlet”. We felt like extras in a disaster movie. 

I managed to get wifi on the flight to Singapore. Checking the news, I read that Singapore had announced that it was closing its borders to visitors and that included transit passengers. 

It turned out that the ban didn’t take effect until 11:59pm on Monday 23rd March (15:59 GMT). Our flight out of Singapore to London was due to leave on Sunday 22nd March at 11:45pm. As long as that flight wasn’t cancelled, we’d be OK. 

The flight left on time as scheduled and we arrived at Heathrow this morning (23rd March).  Right now, I’m typing this while we’re on the bus from Heathrow to Hitchin. 

It looks like we flew in from New Zealand just in time. When Julie asked the lady at the National Express desk if the bus was still running, she said, “Yes, that service isn’t being cancelled till tomorrow”! 

In the UK, we are being advised to stay at home, with Boris threatening to put the country into compulsory lockdown within the next 24 hours.

Works for me, all I want to do from now on is stay home!

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.

Check out,  www.grahammack.com


When I caught up with my old mate Steve Shaw in Whangarei New Zealand this week, we talked about the band we were in together in the 80s, an Oscar winner’s brief stint as frontman and why the rhythm guitarist wasn’t on stage for the last set at my final gig.

Here’s one of our TV appearances…

A typical gig at the Waipu hotel…

And audio from a gig we did a Pips in Whangarei…

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.

Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Night Terror!

22Mar20

When you have a traumatic experience, your senses heighten. That super-awareness burns a memory of the event into your brain forever. That’s why you hear people say they know exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard news that shocked them. 

Years later, people are able to describe otherwise forgettable details vividly. They won’t be able to tell you what they had for breakfast yesterday but they’ll know exactly what kind of toast they’d just bitten into when they heard that Princess Diana had died. 

Sometimes memories get triggered, all it takes is a smell, a sound or a feeling.

A memory from 35 years ago came back to me this week and it was just as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

It happened during our visit to New Zealand. Julie and I took a drive out to Whangarei Heads in Northland. Across the water from Mckenzie Bay, I saw somewhere I used to work…

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


St Pauls

St Paul’s Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Julie and I have been back to the church where we got married in 1987, St Paul’s in Paihia in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

I met Julie in Whangarei while I was working as a pipe-fitter on the Marsden Point Oil Refinery expansion construction job. When we met, my parents had moved back to the UK so I was living in digs. For a couple of years before that, I’d lived with my parents in the Whangarei suburb of Tikipunga, at 56 Tapper crescent.

56 TC

56 Tapper Crescent, Tikipunga

I didn’t know it at the time but Julie was living down the street at 23 Tapper Crescent.

23 TC

23 Tapper Crescent, Tikipunga

The Bay of Islands is about a hour’s drive north of Whangarei and one day, while we were there we had the idea about getting married in St Paul’s.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


photo-1470093014438-2ede8d7a4818 (1)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is a weak leader and one of the worst people in the world to be in charge of this special country right now.

I used to like Jacinda Ardern. I thought she was different to the power hungry megalomaniacs running other countries in the world. It turns out, I was wrong. She’s just as bad as all of the others and just as focused on keeping hold of power instead of using the power she has to benefit the people that put her there. She’s just better at disguising that than the others.

The threat to New Zealanders from Covid-19 comes from overseas. Instead of closing New Zealand’s borders completely or testing everyone entering New Zealand or quarantining all visitors, the Prime Minister announced that from 1am on Monday 16th March, with the exception of people arriving from some Pacific Islands, everyone entering New Zealand must ‘self-isolate” for two weeks.

By making visitors get on with an important task that should be handled and regulated by her elected government, she abdicated her responsibility. Visitors to New Zealand have not been given a clear definition of what “self-isolation” actually means, which has also made it impossible to effectively police. 

Her handling of this crisis has become even more wobbly in the days that followed. 

On the 18th March, Jacinda announced that anyone entering New Zealand BEFORE the 1am deadline on March 16 “should” self-isolate for 14 days. That’s “should” not “must”. Self-isolation (whatever that means) after arrival from 1am on March 16th is compulsory and enforceable by law but voluntary self-isolation for people who arrived before the deadline is just something Jacinda is asking them to do. 

That’s the situation Julie and I are in. We arrived here on Saturday 14th March and everything was fine until the 18th when the Prime Minister announced we “should” be self-isolating but we’re not breaking any laws if we don’t.

With no clarity from the nation’s leader, ordinary New Zealanders, including members of Julie’s family, are judging everything we do. Without a clear definition of what self-isolation is, Kiwis are deciding for themselves if we’re doing the right thing or not. A lack of clarity is stoking up resentment of foreign visitors and returning New Zealanders. Paranoia, suspicion and fear has taken over. We know of people who are refusing to come into close contact with people we’ve had contact with before the 19th March deadline. 

Jacinda Ardern has turned a people who were famous for their easy-going nature and friendliness, who gave visitors a warm Kiwi welcome, into a nation suspicious of anyone who spent any time outside the country in the last two weeks. Families and life-long friends are falling out over this. Some will never recover. Jacinda Ardern has caused a very special part of New Zealand to die.

We have no idea what to do so instead of self-isolation, we’re going to practice self-deportation. We’re flying back to London via Singapore tomorrow. To do that, we had to fly from Julie’s home town of Whangarei, where we were staying, to Auckland. Does getting on a 50 seater plane break self-isolation rules? Should we have waited till we’ve been here for 14 days before we go near an airport? Jacinda hasn’t told us.

In a time of crisis like this, we need a leader that can make strong clear decisions. This Prime Minister continues to make half-arsed compromises. At 11:59 on March 19th, Jacinda announced she was closing New Zealand’s borders. Then she said that New Zealand citizens and residents were exempt. Without testing or regulated quarantine, how does she know they can’t bring Coronavirus into the country? 

Or has it got something to do with the fact that only New Zealanders and residents are eligible to vote?

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


We went to a special place in New Zealand this week. It was a nice respite from working around the travel restrictions brought in by the Governments of the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com

 

 


 

IMG_0334We are being told to self-isolate in New Zealand. Although we got into the country just before the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, brought in compulsory 14 day isolation for visitors, she’s now suggesting we should self-isolate anyway.

The reason we made this trip to Julie’s home town for the first time in seven years was to see her family. Now, most of them don’t want to be near us. We’re not welcome here, we are lepers, it’s heartbreaking.

Some of our relatives are even refusing to meet other relatives who have been in contact with us and say they won’t go near them for 14 days.

We don’t have the Coronavirus and have not been in contact with anyone who has. People are scared of catching something we don’t have from people we didn’t give it to.

Our flight back to London is via Los Angeles. We can’t go back through the United States until we’ve been out of Europe for 14 days, so we can’t leave until the 27th.

I called Air New Zealand and asked if it was possible to get an earlier flight through L.A. and just stay on the plane when we land. Technically we wouldn’t enter the U.S.. The lady on the phone told me that’s not possible. Then she checked a couple of things and found out the L.A. to London leg of the trip has been cancelled anyway. Good job I called them today!

I tried to book us through Vancouver but there were no seats available. In the end, I managed to get her to put us on the next available flight to London which is on Sunday via Singapore. 

Today, the New Zealand government is urging New Zealanders overseas to come home. Hmmm, Julie and I are New Zealanders and we’re going the opposite way!

Coming to New Zealand at this time was a mistake, have we picked the wrong time to go back to the UK as well?

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com

 


Home Sickness

16Mar20

A question I always find hard to answer is, where is home?

Julie and I have lived in many places and hold passports for three different countries. We live in Britain, Julie’s parents are in New Zealand. We haven’t seen them for a while and it looks like we picked the wrong time to visit them.

We dodged a bullet when we arrived in New Zealand on Saturday the 14th of March. Because of the Coronavirus, the day after we got here, the Prime Minister brought in a rule that all overseas visitors who arrive after midnight the following night have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Imagine if we’d left the UK a day later? We would have come halfway around the world to spend two weeks in a motel? It takes around thirty hours to get to New Zealand, if the announcement had been made while we were in the air, we wouldn’t have even had a chance to cancel the trip.

Julie and I met in Whangarei, New Zealand. My family emigrated there from the UK when I was 18. My parents and my younger sister ended up going back to Britain and leaving me in New Zealand in 1986. I was 21 and not long after they left, I met Julie, she was 17. We got married in 1987. We left New Zealand, originally for Sydney, in 1990 then moved to Britain in 1997. We go back to New Zealand every now and then but the two of us together haven’t seen Julie’s parents for seven years.

This trip was going to be special because after a week in New Zealand, we were having three days in Sydney on the way home. We love New Zealand, it’s where Julie was born and where my family emigrated. Sydney is special because it’s the one place in the world that we’ve deliberately chosen to live. Everywhere else, we’ve ended up there because of birth, family emigration or because I got a radio job there. We haven’t been back to Sydney since our last trip down under seven years ago.

We’re due to fly back to the UK through the USA. Sunday morning, our second day in New Zealand, Donald Trump announced that his ban on visitors to the US from Europe was being extended to visitors from the UK as well.

It means you can’t travel to, or though, the United States if you’ve been in the UK in the last 14 days. We worked out that we’d be going through America only eleven days after we’d left the UK.

That was great news, it meant we HAD to have an extra three days in Sydney. We booked extra nights in our hotel in York Street and called Air New Zealand and rearranged our flights.

On Sunday night, our second night in New Zealand, the Australian Prime Minister announced he was bringing in compulsaty self-isolation for all overseas visitors to Australia from midnight.

So now we won’t be going to Sydney and will have to spend a week longer in New Zealand than we planned instead.

The next day, Monday, Air New Zealand announced it was in trouble. They’re going to cut staff by 30 percent, around 3750 jobs, and cut international capacity by 85%. I don’t know if our flights are still going ahead. If Air New Zealand goes bust before the 27th of March, I don’t know how we’ll get back to the UK. If they go under a day later and we could be stuck in Los Angeles.

And then there’s the real threat that the UK will introduce a travel ban that could stop us getting into the UK anyway.

Wherever home is, either we don’t know when we’ll get there or we’re already here and the universe is telling us to stay.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Air New Zealand

The Global Coronavirus Pandemic is just one of a series of unfortunate events that Julie and I are dealing with right now.

Things started to go wrong in early February when we realised the extent of the COVID 19 outbreak in China. The first part of our holiday, which we’d booked months earlier, had us on a March flight to New Zealand with a four hour layover in Shanghai. Obviously, we were forced to change that. Now we’re on a different flight via Los Angeles.

Julie and I haven’t been to visit her parents in New Zealand for seven years. That last trip had been a special treat to ourselves for our 25th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately the gloss was taken off THAT holiday a bit because the day before we flew out, I was told that my contract was not going to be renewed for the Breakfast Show I presented at BBC Wiltshire. Cost cutting meant I had to go. It didn’t ruin our trip but it would have been nicer to head off around the world knowing I had a job to come back to. 

Although we didn’t know it at the time, losing that job opened doors to bigger and better things. When we got back, I freelanced on some great commercial and BBC radio stations up and down the country, including BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio London. I ended up getting a great permanent job as Programme Director and Breakfast Show Host at JACKfm in Hertfordshire, where I led the expansion to DAB and the relaunch as BOBfm. I stayed there for five years until I got the gig at Fix Radio in London.

Things went great at Fix. I was Programme Director, launched another Fix Radio station in Manchester, hired Russ & Jono, (ex Virgin Radio), and poached Ugly Phil from Triple M in Australia. I got the station to its highest ever listening figures and got paid a large bonus last year. Also, when the boss realised I hadn’t taken a single holiday or sick day for over a year, the radio station paid for Julie and I to stay in a hotel in the South of France for a few days last November. 

We’ve learned that radio can be an insecure way to earn a living. It’s never a good idea to take a holiday when things aren’t going well. In October 2019, we decided that as things were going so well at Fix, it was a good time to finally have a proper holiday and make the twenty-three thousand mile round trip to see Julie’s family in her home town, Whangarei, New Zealand. 

We timed this trip to coincide with a radio convention called the Worldwide Radio Summit that was taking place in Burbank California. The plan was, when we changed planes in San Francisco on the way back to London, Julie would continue to Heathrow and I would catch return flights to Burbank and then fly back to Heathrow from San Fransisco four days later. 

Everything was looking good until Wednesday 19th February when I was told I was being let go by Fix Radio. – Hey, that’s showbiz!

The night before we were due to fly to New Zealand, I got an email from a friend saying the radio conference in Burbank had been cancelled. 

March 12, we flew to New Zealand on the worst two seats on Air New Zealand’s NZ 1. 47 D and 47 E are an aisle and middle seat in a centre bank of four with windows either side blocked by toilets. The galley bulkhead is directly behind us meaning our seats don’t even recline. 

So that’s where I am now, writing this blog. The food trolley from the galley bashes into my seat every time it goes past. People stand in the aisle next to me, queueing for the toilet as we listen to at least three screaming babies on this packed flight to Auckland, which will take 26 hours, if you don’t count the time on the ground in Los Angeles.

The last bit of bad luck we’ve had happened during our two hour stop in Los Angeles. As a special gift for Julie’s dad, we’d bought him a bottle of sixteen year old single malt Scotch for £50 at the duty free shop at Heathrow. It got confiscated at airport security in L.A. because World Duty Free at Heathrow hadn’t given it to us in the correct type of bag. You see, even if you’re only in transit, when you fly to New Zealand through LAX you have to clear US immigration and customs and go through airport security again. A 700ml bottle of whiskey puts you over the amount of liquid you’re allowed to take on the plane, even though it was with me for the eleven and a half hours it took to get to LA on this same plane.

We’ve crossed the equator now, we’re bound to have better luck in the  southern hemisphere.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com

 


Radio On TV

03Mar20

There’s a good show all about local radio in the UK coming up soon on the BBC News Channel. It’s called The Village Loudspeaker. I hope you can watch at 9:30pm on Friday. It’ll also be on the iPlayer.

Here’s some clips (My bits are third row down);
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xdxz1/clips

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


The Navy Lark

02Mar20

 

download (1)

Innocence gets corrupted when you grow up. I’ve had to reframe an important childhood memory.

It all came back to me this week because of the visit to Liverpool of the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales. Thousands of people went on board over the weekend. It reminded me of the day I went on an aircraft carrier in Liverpool when I was five.

HMS Eagle berthed at the Pier Head exactly fifty years ago. She was there from 27th February until 4th March 1970. This week, to go onboard the new HMS Prince of Wales you need a ticket with an allotted time on it. Back in 1970, things were a bit more informal and in my case, lacking any formality at all.

When the Navy opened the ship for public tours back then, all you had to do was show up and stand in a queue. The morning I got there with my dad, we joined the queue which already had hundreds of people in it. It was clear that we would be waiting a long time.

Now here’s where my child brain and my adult brain see things differently. As a five year old, I clearly remember my dad seeing a sailor walking towards the ship that he recognised. He left me in the queue, ran over and talked to him, as you do with an old mate, then beckoned me over to where they were both standing. The three of us then headed towards the aircraft carrier and went up a different gangplank to the one the public went up, further towards the back of the ship. Once onboard, we walked down various corridors and through bulkheads until we finally joined the front of the public queue on the hangar deck.

So my childhood memory is that, against all odds, out of a crew of more than two and a half thousand, the one sailor that my dad knew, just happened to walk past us in the queue that day, my dad recognised him and he helped us jump the massive queue.

My adult brain now realises that there’s no way my dad knew any of the sailors on HMS Eagle, he’d never been in the Navy!

Money must have changed hands.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Iechyd da!

01Mar20

Happy St David’s Day!

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


INRIX Out

08Feb20

anouk-fotografeert-BryYookJz_w-unsplash

BBC local radio is about to sound better.

INRIX, a private American company that provides traffic information, won’t be contributing off-site presenter-read travel bulletins for 39 BBC local stations from June. Instead, INRIX will produce travel information scripts which will be read by local presenters at each radio station.

It’s sad that jobs will be lost at INRIX, their presenters that BBC local radio stations cross to for travel, are excellent broadcasters. The problem is WHEN they do it and what it does to the sound of the radio stations.

Currently, each INRIX presenter reads travel news on multiple stations so each radio station is given “windows” in each hour when they can cross to the INRIX studios, to get their local bulletin. This window can be up to two minutes either side of your slot. If you’re working on a station who’s two INRIX slots are 15 minutes into the hour and 45 minutes into the hour, you could be going to travel anywhere between 13 and 17 minutes in and 43 and 47 minutes in. Now that might not sound like a big deal, but it can have a negative effect on the sound of the programme, let me explain.

Radio links or talk breaks, each have a natural length and that natural length is different for every link. Radio sounds bad when a bit that only needs 30 seconds is dragged out by the presenter to 45 or 60 seconds. Presenters regularly do that so they can hit benchmarks on time. With INRIX you have to wait till you know their reporter is connected. The same is true when a link that needs a bit more air to breath, say two minutes, is condensed down or rushed to fit into 40 seconds. On an all speech show with no music and no commercials like the Breakfast Show I presented on Swindon’s BBC Wiltshire, I found myself having to extend or condense the natural length of bits to make sure I hit the travel windows when the INRIX reporter was ready.

There’s always going to be benchmarks, news windows have to be hit precisely. We need to reduce the amount of times when this has to happen or the show just becomes a series of filler segments in-between touchstones, instead of a collection of great content pieces that connect deeply with the listener.

News and travel aren’t the only windows you’re dealing with on a live show. I remember having a cabinet minister on the line from Westminster. They had a hard-out time that I had to be finished with them by but because they had dialed-in late, I was left with a five minute window for an interview about an important local issue. I’d already been padding for a while and now his slot had clashed with the travel window. Instead of ditching the travel, the producer decided we had to cross to the travel first and then talk to the minister. That meant that the travel reporter in a location at least thirty miles away and completely unaware of what was happening on the programme, spent more than two minutes of airtime explaining that on that morning, the local roads, trains and busses were as busy as they usually are in the usual places at that time every weekday morning. When we eventually got to the cabinet minister, I only had three minutes left to cover what was a major issue in the local area. With my padding beforehand and the travel, the listener could have been waiting five minutes for me to get to what was the main interview of that day’s show and it ended up being rushed.

People’s attention spans are shorter than ever and they’ve never had so many opportunities to be distracted, so every second on the air counts. It has to be all killer, no filler!

If INRIX were just providing the script it could have been read by me or a producer after I’d grilled the cabinet minister properly or been used to fill the gap while we were waiting for the minister to connect. If the travel information was irrelevant, an editorial decision could have been made to drop it all together in that slot.

The decision to drop INRIX off-site travel reporters is a cost saving one. Chris Burns, Head of Audio & Digital, BBC England said that the change will “ensure that we are providing our licence fee payers with the best value for money” but the result will be that BBC local radio will sound better.

So it’s curtains for windows, well, at least two of them an hour anyway.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Mack Nuggets

02Feb20

Here’s what I’ve been up to on Fix Radio lately, including;

How Busy?; How far?; Why vegan; Zulu; Big Tone and the canoe; Radio examination; U2 confused; New Year’s resolutions; Mark The Shark; StephenKing.com; Mick’s mate’s best swap; The war downstairs; Mistaken identity; Wayne Rooney & Jonathon; Breaking up advice from Steve.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Phoneys

24Jan20

anna-dziubinska-mVhd5QVlDWw-unsplash

I hope time travel wasn’t invented twenty years ago.

More people are using tiny wireless headphones these days. They’re not all listening to music, a lot of them are talking on the phone.

Wireless headphones are getting smaller, you can’t always see them. I commute into central London every day and it looks like every other person is talking to themselves. Some of them get really animated, angry and loud on the phone.

If a time traveler arrived from twenty years ago, they’d walk around thinking that the city has been taken over by winos!

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


“Did you just pay for that with your finger?” That’s what the lady at the Black Sheep coffee shop said when I paid for my order today.

I used my new K Ring: the world’s first contactless payment ring. I’ve been wearing it for about three weeks now and it’s great. A bloke called Steve put me onto it, he’s one of my regular callers on Fix Radio. He works for K Ring at their HQ in Welwyn Garden City. He said he’d send me one to try out for free.

I have to admit that when Steve first told me about the K Ring, I thought, no, I’m happy just using my debit card for contactless payments. I changed my mind after the Fix Radio Christmas party. I had to get home after being at a big do at Evolution London at Battersea Park. I walked to the overground station where I had to tap in. This was late on a Friday night and I didn’t really fancy getting my wallet out. Even if it didn’t get snatched, one of the colourful characters hanging around the station could have easily seen which pocket I keep it in. I thought, if I had a K Ring, I wouldn’t have this problem.

I decided I’d get one and only use it on the trains, tubes and busses. Now I’ve got it, I use it for everything. It’s brilliant, never needs charging and it’s waterproof so I never have to take it off, I even wear it in the shower.

Now that everyone at Fix is back in work after the Christmas break, they’ve seen mine, and they all want one. The two single lads who work in sales even think it’ll help them impress the ladies. This week five K Rings were ordered for people who work at Fix.

It does confuse a lot of retailers. I’m sure the bloke in my local stop ‘n’ rob convenience store thinks I’m ripping him off when I fist bump the contactless pad, say thank you and walk out with my stuff. It feels good though, it’s the shopping equivalent of a mic drop.

The only problem I’ve had was when I first got it. The K Ring showed up at Fix Radio on the Friday after Christmas. I was the only one in the building and was on the air in the afternoon. I was going to set it up after my show but couldn’t wait and opened the box while I was on the air. I logged onto the K Ring website, entered my unique security number, registered my debit card details and topped up £30 onto it, then I put the K Ring on. It was a lot tighter than I thought it would be and I was actually quite annoyed, the jewelers where I’d had my finger measured must have got my size wrong. No, I’d put the ring on the wrong finger, now I couldn’t get it off!

I went into the Gents, put my hand under the soap dispenser, pulled the lever, soap squirted onto my palm, ricocheted off and went straight into my eye. With my eye stinging from the soap, the ring still stuck on the wrong finger and the song on the radio running out, I raced back to the studio, just in time to start the next song.

I eventually got it off, put it on the correct finger and I haven’t looked back. Now I’m looking forward to using it on our round the world trip in March. I’ll be paying for things contactlessly in China, Australia, New Zealand and the USA without getting my wallet out.

I’m not being paid by K Ring to write this blog, but I did get a free K Ring to try out and they’re not getting it back!

So that’s one in the eye for contactless cards!

Find out more about the K Ring here;

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com

 


Here are some highlights from the latest G-Emmy Awards which recognise outstanding excellence in entertainment. Nominees this year include:
Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Wayne Rooney, Katie Hopkins, Greta Thunberg, Rebekah Vardy, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Cleese, Jeremy Corbyn, Noel Gallagher, Piers Morgan, The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Diane Abbott, Mauricio Pochettino, David Cameron, Jo Swinson, The Duke of Edinburgh and, Liam Neeson.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link.
Check out,  www.grahammack.com


Mack Nuggets

21Dec19

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

The Queen confesses to Donald Trump about her sordid past.
The writing is on the wall for Mick.
A selfie with Wayne Rooney.
A special birthday song.
The stripper.
The sex festival.
Steve’s worst Christmas present.
Television New Zealand ripps of the USA but not quite.
John Cleese gets stuck into Piers Morgan.
Darren gets thrown out and Mark loses a tent and a friend at Glastonbury.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link and check out,  www.grahammack.com


adrien-ledoux-12eeCSiQPcI-unsplash

Do we need guards on trains?

Up until yesterday, I didn’t understand why the RMT union were causing chaos on Britain’s railways by striking. The RMT are against removing guards from trains. I thought they were protecting the jobs of their members, and maybe that’s part of it, but it’s not the main reason we need to have guards on trains, it’s much more important than that.

Yesterday I was on the 7:26 Thameslink from Hitchin to Brighton. I ride this train every weekday and get off at London Blackfriars. I was at the back of the very last coach of a twelve coach train. About twenty minutes into my forty-one minute journey, the bloke opposite me collapsed and fell into the aisle.

Lots of people surrounded him to check if he was OK and someone shouted, “Push the button and let the driver know!” As the bloke lay unconscious in the aisle, they spoke to the driver on the intercom. He stopped the train between stations somewhere north of Finsbury Park. Luckily, a member of Thameslink staff happened to be in our carriage. She was great and kept things calm while we waited for the driver. She explained that the driver is in charge of the train and makes a decision on what happens, but first he has to assess the situation. We had to wait till he got there.

It seemed to take ages for the driver to arrive because he had to make his way along the full length of the train from the front, right to the very back.

He checked on the bloke who was drifting in and out of consciousness by now and made the decision to push on to Finsbury Park station. He would phone ahead for an ambulance. Then he made his way back to his cab at the other end of the train. I didn’t time it, but it felt like a long time had gone by from when the driver was first alerted to the problem, to when the train started to move again. If this had happened on a later, standing-room-only, train, he would have taken a lot longer or been forced to get off the train and risk his life, walking along the tracks.

The driver should never leave the cab. What if this was a terrorist incident and the man collapsing was a ruse to make the driver leave the cab so someone else could take control of the train? What if the man needed urgent medical help (for all I know, he did) and all of the time wasted stopping the train and having the driver walk the length of it twice had fatal consequences?

If there had been a guard on the train, they could have dealt with the situation, told the driver to keep going and the casualty would have been getting medical attention at Finsbury Park a lot sooner.

You’re a lot safer if there’s a guard on the train.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link and check out,  www.grahammack.com


photo-1487180144351-b8472da7d491

Here’s how to be offensive on the radio without getting into trouble with Ofcom.

Ofcom are the government body that regulates and licences broadcasting in the UK. They have effectively banned the song ‘Melting Pot’ by Blue Mink. They’ve found Black Diamond FM in breach of its radio licence after complaints were received about the station playing the song.

When Melting pot was released in 1969, it reached No 3 in the UK charts and has been a fixture on radio playlists for decades. But the song’s racial language, including references to “curly Latin kinkies” and “yellow Chinkies”, has been deemed inappropriate for modern audiences by Britain’s media watchdog.

It’s not the first time, Ofcom have dealt with this song. In August this year, Gold was forced to ban the song after Ofcom stepped in and said the song, “…would not be acceptable on a mainstream radio station”.

The thing is, “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues is playing on radio stations all over the country right now, uncensored, even though it contains the lyrics, “…you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot…”

Clearly, Ofcom considers the word “faggot” to be inoffensive in the context of this song even though a lot of the stations that play Fairytale of New York also play a censored version of Dire Straights ‘Money For Nothing’ with the word ‘faggot’ removed.

It’s a bit more complicated with the word “maggot”. In Fairytale of New York, it’s OK but in 2018, while I was on the air at BOBfm, I used the word maggot and was found to have put the radio station in breach of it’s licence.
https://radiotoday.co.uk/2018/08/bob-fm-in-breach-for-aggressive-speed-camera-rant/

If you programme a radio station and are unsure of the Ofcom rules, let me explain. – If you’re going to play an offensive song, make sure it’s homophobic rather than racist and if you want to broadcast the word “maggot”, don’t say it, sing it.

Craic on!

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link and check out,  www.grahammack.com

 

 



%d bloggers like this: