Category Archives: Packed Lunch

One Final Packed Lunch

Yes, it’s all very sad but after more than two and years, it’s time for me to pack my Saturday Lunchbox away!

IMG_0286But my word we are going out in style as I was joined today by an old friend to the show, DREW LEVI. When I say old I am referring to the fact that Drew, who is still only 21, was one of the first guests to join me on the programme and today’s appearance was the third time he’s been on this show. Drew has talents in bucket full – he sings, pens his own material, and acts. He’s appeared in West End stage shows like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Les Miserables, he was in the original cast of Billy Elliott, performed alongside WESTLIFE, been in THE SWEENEY and done the Olympics and now we learn that he has auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent so who knows what the future may hold.

Drew has also just released a new EP from which we played the song DON’T CRY – a cracking song that I’ve been playing a lot on all my shows on Phoenix.

Listen again to my chat with Drew by clicking on the link below: – Drew Levi 8th March

And it wouldn’t be PACKED LUNCH without Carl Merry popping in with another ESSEX TALE. Today’s story involved WILLIAM smuggle3BLIGH, a smuggler from Paglesham. Not for nothing was William Bligh christened, the king of smugglers as you can find out for yourself by clicking on the link below: – Essex Tales 4th March

Well that’s me done on this show. Thank you for listening for the past couple of years and more, but I’m not gone, I’ll still be around on Mondays and Tuesdays between 1 and 3pm so if you can I’d love to see you there, but for now it’s au revoire, it’s been a lot of fun.

All the best,


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It all started with a newspaper

On today’s penultimate programme I was joined by the president of the Rotary Club of Billericay, KEITH WOOD who doubles up as Chair of the IMG_0280Trustees for The Reading Rooms in Billericay and his colleague ANDY MADDOCKS who have along with others been working hard to generate funds and refurbish the BILLERICAY ROOMS in time for the 150th anniversary. To listen again to what Andy and Keith told me about the history of the rooms, what they have achieved and about the celebrations that will be taking place next weekend between the 7th and 9th March by clicking on the link below: –Billericay Reading Rooms 1st March

Later in the show CARL MERRY dropped by with another ESSEX TALE – this one concerned a con man and a half – STEPHEN BUNCE – a man who could clearly think on his feet. If you missed it and want a laugh, listen again here: – Essex Tales 25th February

Right that’s it for me. I’ll see you again for one final time on this slot next week. In the meantime have a good week,


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Stone me it’s a sunny Saturday

After all the weeks of high winds and rain it’s a joy to see some sunshine today – makes you feel that spring is indeed in the air. On today’s music filled programme we attempted to capture a bit of that sunshine in the music we played.

long_dragonWe also enjoyed another ESSEX TALE from Carl Merry about a knight who was seemingly employed by the High Sheriff of Saffron Walden to kill a “dragon” reportedly terrorising the inhabitants of the area. Listen to the tale once more here by clicking on the link below: – Essex Tales 18th February




I was also very fortunate to waylay one of our sponsors – Karen Kirby from KIRBYS COACHES as well as one ofIMG_0272 their drivers, Bob Frost from off their stand at the Food and Drink Exhibition being held at the Brentwood Centre> I dragged them both in for a brief chat that you can listen to here: – Kirbys Coaches 22nd February


We couldn’t let today pass without taking the mickey out of someone else’s misfortunes. It seems that earlier this week a cleaner in Italy threw away items that had been carefully installed as a work of art – well two worksArt for art's sake of art actually. Just goes to show that if you exhibit rubbish, don’t be too surprised if it is mistaken for the real thing!

Have a good weekend and enjoy the sunshine. See you next week,


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Time to go on the defence!

IMG_0271Paul Church from the newly formed organisation, Essex Self-Defence Partnerships dropped in to explain what his newly formed organisation is all about. All too often we hear about nurses, paramedics and others working for the community coming under attack, not to mention other innocent people going about their day-to-day lives. As a result Paul decided to try to redress the balance by providing some basic safety awareness principals. To this end a FREE seminar is being held between 2 and 4pm on Saturday the 15th March at the Laindon Community Centre. You can get more information by going to their Facebook page at or by calling Paul on 07903 361286.

Listen again to all Paul said here: – Paul Church Intereview


Black Shuck

Talking of defence, that is something you could definitely use if you were to come across the subject of today’s ESSEX TALE from CARL MERRY – BLACK SHUCK, the DEVIL’S DOG. Another truly demonic tale which if you missed, you can catch up with here: –Essex Tales 11th February

On a lighter note we took a look at the story of Britain’s most tattooed man’s fight to obtain a passport.Tattooed man and passport application

Well that’s me done for another week. See you next time.


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A very blustery day

When you see the devastation wreaked in some parts of the country you realise just how lucky we’ve been in Essex. Nevertheless once again it is proving to be a very blustery day and yet again many of the local football fixtures have had to be abandoned due to waterlogged pitches – can’t imagine why, after all they refer to the football pools!

Anyway it was definitely a day to hanker down in the warm and dry and listen to some great music on the radio – and that we had in plenty on today’s monster 3 hour programme.

We also heard a truly demonic ESSEX TALE from CARL MERRY all about the reported encounter of The Witch matthew-hopkinsFinder General, Matthew Hopkins with a self confessed witch. If you missed it you can listen again here, but beware, this one is not for the faint hearted: –Essex Tales 4th February

Right I’m off home in my amphibious vehicle. See you next week.


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That’s January out of the way at last!




Well we got through January without any snow or significant ice so let’s hope we can do the same with the shortest month of the year. Mark you I’ve never seen so much rain and at this rate we’ll still be playing this season’s football matches next season.

Rev Sabine Baring-Gould

Burial Ground






On today’s show, as part of our ESSEX TALES feature, we heard a very gruesome story indeed concerning twin Viking brothers and their fight over a beautiful girl. If you missed it or would just like to hear it again, just click on this link: – Essex Tales 28th January

Right I’m off now to watch my wife perform in a play in South Benfleet and I’ll see you again next week.


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Tales of a dragon to warm us up

January always seems to go on for ever, but at least it’s still mild if somewhat dull. But as the month ends we have LIVE AT OLD BRENTWOODS to look forward to next Friday. This event features EDD COATES, LEANNE LOUISE, SCARLETT ECHO and LOOKING FOR LIAM. Two of these artists have appeared on Phoenix FM recently. Leanne Louise was on yesterday’s ONE-2-THREE Show with Bob Simpson and Edd Coates was on this programme two weeks ago. Because of this I thought it would be good to include songs from both Edd and Leanne Louise as a bit of a “taster” for next week’s extravaganza.

Carl Merry dropped by to give us another ESSEX TALE. This was a really strange story about a dragon, or perhaps a large snake, which caused panic around West Horndon in the early 16th century. If you missed it listen again here: – Essex Tales 21st January

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you again next week,


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A wash out – well not entirely. we still had the music!

football in the rain

Well at least the rain seems to have stopped but it’s very soggy under foot and many of today’s sporting events have had to be postponed yet again, but in spite of this I enjoyed myself playing the usual mix of great music for two hours.

In addition, CARL MERRY popped by with a very strange Essex Tale about a pirate from Fingeringhoe, known locally as PEGLEG JAKE. According to this somewhat improbable tale Pegleg Jake swallowed an acorn and gave birth to an oak tree which still stands on the village green close to the Whalebone Public House.

Listen to the story again here: –  Essex Tales 14th January

Right I’m off for a spot of lunch and a beer!

see you next week.


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No lost Coates here

Edd Coates

Edd Coates live






On today’s show I was delighted to be joined by a very talented local singer-songwriter, EDD COATES. Edd has been on the station before and also performed for us in Crown Street last month for the Lighting Up Brentwood Christmas Lights. Edd’s last album LOST IN TRANSIT came out a couple of years ago and I asked Edd when we might expect the follow up. You can listen to my chat with Edd and the songs he performed for us live in the studio today right here: –Edd Coates 11th January

In the second hour of the show CARL MERRY returned with the first of his ESSEX TALES for 2014. This one involved the strange story of a famous “wise man” of Essex, known locally as CUNNING MURRELL. Listen to the story again here: –Essex Tales 7th January

Cunning Murrell

See you again next week, meantime keep safe, well and warm.


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A very soggy Saturday

Hi and a very Happy New Year.

I hope your first couple of days back at work after the long Christmas and New Year break were not too awful and at least you still have this weekend before the full onslaught of work hits on Monday.

Anyway welcome to my first proggy of 2014 and a very soggy Saturday it is as well. Nevertheless snugly ensconced in the studio I was pleased to play some great music for a couple of hours today.

In addition I was joined by Frances Clamp for a special New Year edition of BYGONES. You can listen again to what Frances had to say right here: –Bygones 31st December

Hope to see you again next week when we’ll do it all over again. Have a good week til then.



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Out with the old …………..

Year EndWith the final Packed Lunch show of 2013 it seemed appropriate to take a look back at some of the music that helped to make 2013 such a great year. So we started by turning the clock back to January BECAUSE WE CAN to listen to a great track from Bon Jovi. We also played hits from artists such as HAIM, ONE DIRECTION, the 1975 and a host of others for whom 2013 must have been a memorable year. We also looked ahead to 2014 with some of the latest recordings from old favourites such as Boxer Rebellion, The Killers and new comers like Sam Bailey.


The full list of songs played was as follows: –

        Zac Brown Band - Jump Right In
	Bon Jovi - Because We Can
	Fun. - Why Am I The One
        Bastille - Pompeii
	Taylor Swift - 22
	Wanted - Walks Like Rihanna
        Lady Antebellum - Golden
	Boxer Rebellion - Keep Moving
	Pink - True Love
        Barenaked Ladies - Odds Are
	1975 - Girls
	Katy Perry - Unconditionally
        Frank Turner - Losing Days
	Sam Smith - Money On My Mind
	Tom Odell - Can't Pretend
        Killers - Just Another Girl
	Lawson - Brokenhearted
	Fleetwood Mac - Sad Angel
	Stacey Skeete - I Forgive You
	One Direction - Kiss You
        Train - Mermaid
	Noah And The Whale - There Will Come A Time
	Kings Of Leon - Supersoaker
        Pharrell Williams - Happy
	Passenger - Holes
	Keane - Won't Be Broken
        Eliza Doolittle - Let It Rain
	Taylor Swift feat Gary Lightbody - The Last Time
	Saturdays - Disco Love
        Sam Bailey - Skyscraper
	Wombats - Your Body Is A Weapon
	Haim - Forever
        Paul McCartney - New
	Nina Nesbitt - Way In the World
	Katy Perry - Roar


We were also joined by FRANCES CLAMP for a BYGONES special for Christmas week, all about the Holy Land. And you can listen again to what Frances had to say here: – Bygones 24th December

At this point let me wish you a very Happy, Peaceful, Prosperous and Healthy New Year.


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T’was the last Saturday before Christmas

As Christmas is now less than a week away, I relented today and played a few Christmas songs. I didn’t go mad though – that will come on the Christmas Eve edition of ONE-2-THREE.


So today we had a real mixture of Christmas songs, current releases and old favourites. Additionally I was joined by CARL MERRY for an Essex Tale about a Maldon man who’s waistcoat was so large it could accommodate no less than Seven Hundred men at once. If you missed that intriguing tale you can listen to it again here: – Essex Tales 17th December

Right I’m off to do some last minute Christmas shopping and look forward to seeing you next week for the final PACKED LUNCH programme of 2013.


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Bah – Humbug!

bah-humbugIt may be less than two weeks to Christmas but it’s still too early for me to put up my Christmas decorations, send out my cards and start playing Christmas music.

“Bah Humbug!” I hear you say, but if I start too soon I get fed up by the big day itself. When I was a kid, I don’t think we really got into it until a week beforehand so I’m largely sticking to that tradition.

However I made one exception today by playing a special Christmas song recorded earlier in the week by some of our key weekday daytime presenters, BRYAN POWIS, ROB JELLY, MICHELLE WARD, BOB SIMPSON and MIKE JONES. The POPETTES had even leant a hand with the recording which featured words penned by Bryan. So there that’s my contribution for now.

Next week I’ll start playing some Christmas tracks for real!

Now maybe when I get home tonight I will start putting the decorations up and writing those cards!

jack rann

I was joined in the second hour of todays show, by CARL MERRY who presented the tale of Essex Highwayman, Sixteen String Jack. If you missed it, listen again here: – Essex Tales 10th December

See you next week,


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The Partying continues

Last week saw the big switch on of the Christmas Lights in both Brentwood and Billericay and the fun keeps coming with events taking place today in Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone to mark Small Business Saturday. So on today’s show we made a point of keeping everyone up to date with all that’s happening today.

Viking ghost

We also enjoyed another Essex Tale from Carl Merry. This week it was a ghost story from Canvey Island concerning a Viking sailor. If you missed it you can catch it again here: – Essex Tales 3rd December

I’ll see you again next Saturday. In he meantime have a great week.


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Just a “light” lunch today!

It was LIGHTING UP BRENTWOOD today so it now really feels like CHRISTMAS is coming. Mulled wine, chestnuts and all the other goodies were on display in the town centre, where we were hosting not one, but TWO separate events to launch Christmas.

As such we started playing some traditional Christmas songs as well as some tracks by some of the artists who were themselves appearing at the events.

We also enjoyed another ESSEX TALE from Carl Merry – a short one this time concerning the Harwich born philosopher of Brightlingsea. If you missed it give it a listen here:- Essex Tales 26th November

All saints Church, Brightlingsea

Right I’m off to grab some of the goodies at all those stalls in the town and watch the big SWITCH ON at 5pm.

See you again soon.


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A good day for a crisp walk in the park

Not exactly warm today but at least it’s sunny so a good day to get out for a quick blow of fresh air. But if you decided to snuggle up against that radiator indoors we certainly had the music to keep you company today.

We started with the recent song by the Zac Brown Band, Jump Right In and the rest of the playlist was as follows:

	Calvin Harris - Acceptable In The 80s
	Katy B - 5 AM
	Lawson - Brokenhearted
	Michael Buble - I Haven't Met You Yet
	Taylor Swift feat Gary Lightbody - The Last Time
	Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma (clean edit)
	Blue - Curtain Falls
	Scissor Sisters - I Dont Feel Like Dancin (radio edit)
	Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing
	OneSevenFours - Walking Away
	Little Mix - Move
	Westlife - Bop Bop Baby
	Modjo - Lady (Hear Me Tonight)
	McFly - Love Is On the Radio
	Electric Light Orchestra - Rock 'N' Roll Is King
	James Blunt - You're Beautiful
	Matt Cardle - When You Were My Girl
	Killers - Shot At The Night
	New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream
        Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual 

In the second hour of the show I was joined by Carl Merry for another ESSEX TALE. 
If you missed it, you can listen to it here: - Essex Tales 19th November Katy Cannon

OK. I’ll see you again next week.




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How about a brisk walk in the park?

2013-11-16 Nick and Annette Butterworth 02

I was joined today by children’s authors, by NICK and ANNETTE BUTTERWORTH, who dropped in on their way to Brentwood’s THE CHICKEN & FROG BOOKSHOP.

Percy the park keeper







Amongst his many writings, Nick has produced a long line of PERCY THE PARK KEEPER books whilst not to be outdone, wife Annette has written a series of books about a dog named Jake, inspired by their own dogs, Jake and Sheppy.



To really keep things in the family, son Ben has joined in the fun by helping to bring Nick’s books featuring Q Pootle 5 to the small screen. A 52-episode series began on CBeebies in July.

If you missed it, or would like to hear what Nick and Annette had to say, just click on this link to listen again: – Nick and Anne Butterworth


PearlI was also joined by CARL MERRY for the second of our ESSEX TALES. This week’s story concerned a  Wivenhoe based boat builder who was also into smuggling. You can hear Carl’s story again here: – Essex Tales 12th November

Right That’s me done. I’ll see you again next week,


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Any late firework parties?

When I was a kid I used to love this time of year. First off it was the Southend Illuminations, then it was my birthday, followed swiftly by Guy Fawkes night and soon after came Christmas.

These days firework parties seem to go on for ever but if you are having a late one tonight I hope you will have a good time.


On today’s show I was once again joined by THE ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS – well three of them anyway – Adam was away on holiday – lucky man. Listen again here to what they’ve been up to recently: – Essex Ghost Hunters 9th November

lobster Pot

Carl Merry






In the second hour of the show, CARL MERRY popped by with the first of our new series – ESSEX TALES. Today’s story was a rather sad tale about the love a 16 year old girl had for a sailor who was drowned before they were able to get married. It has been suggested that Charles Dickens based his character, Miss Haversham in his novel, Great Expectations on this young girl from Canvey.

If you missed it you can hear it again here: – Essex Tales 5th November

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you again next week.


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Making The Most of things


I had expected to have local band THE MOST playing live in the studio today but unfortunately their drummer, Jay couldn’t make it so we had to forego the live music. Nevertheless we had a good natter with one of the founder members of the band, Mick Finch, their bassist Jon Patch and their brilliant guitarist, Rick. Their promotions manager, Alison Lovelock was also in attendance. You can listen again to my chat with the guys here: – The Most 2nd November


Actually although it was my birthday today, it was also a very sad occasion as I had to bid farewell to FRANCES CLAMP. Yes after 3 years, today saw the final edition of our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY Bygones feature, so Frances used the occasion to look back at just some of the items covered in the 150 odd episodes we have broadcast over that period. Hopefully we will be able to persuade Frances to return with the odd “special” in the future. Anyway the final regular edition of this feature can be heard again here: –  Bygones 29th October

Enjoy yourselves, if you are going to a fireworks party this evening. Keep safe and have fun. I’ll see you again next week.


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No Accident here


In another truly PACKED LUNCH I was joined today by Colin Wade from BRENTWOOD MIND the local charity established 40 years ago to help people get over depression, stress etc.

As part of their 40th anniversary celebrations, on the 30th November, BRENTWOOD MIND is staging WEIRD AND WONDERFUL – an evening of music and comedy at the BRENTWOOD THEATRE. I was also joined by ACCIDENTAL TOURISTS,  one of the acts taking part in this event. ACCIDENTAL TOURISTS have been playing together for 6 years but the oldest member of the band is still only 17!

If you missed today’s show or would just like to listen again to what Colin and the band had to say, you can catch it all again here: – interviews 26th October

White Hart

The Crown, Billericay








In the final hour of todays show I was once again joined by Frances Clamp on a pub crawl down the Billericay High Street of the 1960’s. To re-live that time again listen here: –Bygones 22nd October

With the threat of high winds over the next couple of days, batten down the hatches, keep safe and I’ll see you again next week.


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Now that’s what I call SUPERNATURAL!

Back in June I got to chat to  local singer/songwriter, LORRETTA who had just won the TRUE COLOURS LorrettaCOMPETTITION. Then lo and behold who should I run into at a reunion event I happened to be attending in Westcliff, but her mother who had actually gatecrashed the event! The result – LORRETTA was back on my show today and would have sung her latest release “SUPERNATURAL” live, had she not left the backing track at home!

Listen again to what LORRETTA has been getting up to recently and her future plans right here: – Lorretta interview 19th October

Marygreen ManorLater on we heard all about the history of Brentwood’s MARY GREEN MANOR from Frances Clamp. If you missed that you can catch it again here: – Bygones 15th October





Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you again next week.


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PACKED was the operative word today!




Yes,  in a truly packed programme today I was joined by Jo Overfield, Ray Morgan and Chris Davison from the Essex based voluntary-run arts organisation, SUNDOWN. Sundown is just celebrating its 10th birthday with a series of shows across the region. The next show will be staged at 7:30pm on 19th October in Colchester at the Arts Centre on Church Street.

You can listen again to my chat with the Sundown Group here: – Sundown 12th October

In the next hour Frances Clamp provided some fascinating facts on 118-120 High Street in Billericay 120 high streetbefore moving on to THE BEAR INN at Stock, said to be haunted by a man who got stuck up a chimney. Listen to what Frances said here: – Bygones 8th October





Finally Scott Forsyth, Tom Boardman and Lewis Mudford, who together make up DREAMHEAD joined in the proceedings. This is the third time that the boys have been in to Phoenix having previously guested last time with Nikki Mills on IN THE MIX.

Listen to our chat here: – Dreamhead 12th October


Well that’s me done for another week. Have a great weekend and see you next week.


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The Spooks have flown

I had expected to be joined by THE ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS today, but unfortunately they had to cry off at the last moment. Fear not, however they will return next month. Sticking to things of a spooky nature however, at a chance meeting in a pub (where else?!), last Saturday I met the parents of LORRETTA, who had been a guest on this programme back in June. I’m pleased to say that as a result of this chance meeting, LORRETTA will be my guest on this show in a couple of week’s time and to celebrate we played her latest release today, SUPERNATURAL – and a great song it is too!

I also rather indulged myself this week by playing a good many of the new releases now taking pride of place in our current A List. You can see the entire list of songs there by clicking on the music tab here on our website.

Apart from taking a peep at some of the crazy laws that exist in different countries, waiting to catch out the unwary traveller, we also took a trip ourselves down Brentwood’s Brook Street with Frances Clamp and you can hear what Frances told me by clicking on this link: – Bygones 1st October

Right enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you next time.


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Another pub crawl – well it is Saturday after all!

Old-pubsAnother Saturday and it’s still fine and dry but we needed a liquid lunch today as Frances Clamp returned to take me on another pub crawl in Billericay. Well we only managed two pubs actually, The Red Lion and The Chequers, but it was lunchtime after all. You can listen again to what Frances had to say on the subject right here: – Bygones 24th September


We also looked at a couple of odd ball stories including the one about unusual events that Village Hallwere being held in a Cambridgeshire village hall and why an Australian mother auctioned the birthday present – tickets for a One Direction Concert – she had planned to give her daughter.

I’m off to a re-union bash tonight and I hope you will enjoy the rest of your weekend as much as me. See you next week.


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An extra tickled lunch

Last Thursday BOB SIMPSON spoke with entertainment legend, KEN DODD so if you were at work and missed it, we repeated some highlights of their conversation on today’s show. It’s hard to believe that Ken will be 86 in November and is still going strong and playing to packed houses after all these years. As Ken said, during his chat with Bob, most people only start doing what they really wanted to do, once they retire from their regular day job, so Ken is feels privileged to be able to carry on doing what he has been fortunate enough to have been able to do all his life – entertaining people. Long may he continue! You can read more and listen to the whole of the interview here:-

St Mary's new church

We also heard from Frances Clamp who re-visited St Mary’s Parish Church in Great Warley and whilst there proved that my research on today’s subject, was somewhat wide of the mark! Listen again to what Frances had to say right here: – Bygones 17th September

Right I’m off to do some final cutting of hedges and lawns before the arrival of the autumn storms.

See you next week,


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All about Essex Girls (and boys)

IMG_0175If you had been waiting for some jokes about Essex Girls you might have been disappointed but my guest today, Karen Bowman who after many years of painstaking investigation and research, has published two books about some amazing people who hailed from, or had strong connections with our county.  Women like radical reformer, Elizabeth Fry, Mary Boleyn (sister of Ann) and Boudicca and men like  Daniel Defoe and Dick Turpin.


Listen again here to what Karen had to say on this subject: – Karen Bowman 14th September

Hopefully your appetite to learn more will have been whetted. If so both books – ESSEX GIRLS and ESSEX BOYS are available from WATERSTONES and AMAZON and of course, all good bookshops.  Alternatively you can oder direct from Karen’s website – The price for each book is £12.99 or £14.99 for autographed copies.

In the second hour of the show Frances Clamp who returned to tell us all about the links between EVELYNSt Mary's new church HESELTINE and St Mary’s Church in Great Warley. Listen again here to what Frances had to tell me:-  Bygones 10th September.

Right that’s me done for another week. See you next Saturday at noon for another 3 hours of fun. Have a good week.

All the best,



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Freecycle – Diane Evans on a busy Packed Lunch

Diane Evans

Diane Evans

It was great to welcome Diane Evans from Brentwood Freecycle to the studio today. You can hear our chat again here – Freecycle

Well I think Freecycle is a fabulous idea. Anything that can save people money in these difficult economic times whilst helping the environment has to be supported. If you would like to get involved and get in touch – 

Brentwood Freecycle Yahoo Group –

Brentwood Freecycle Facebook page –

As well as chatting with Diane today we had a second chance to hear my recent interview with Bay City Roller Les McKeown. If you missed it, you can catch it again here –

As well as that we heard Scott’s Bygones slot with Frances Clamp talking about Chantry House Billericay – Bygones 3rd September

The final hour was devoted to some of those great oldies we never seem to hear nowadays. A pleasant Saturday afternoon for me, If you were listening I hope you enjoyed it.

Normal service will be resumed next week with the return of Scott Ross!

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A truly “funky” lunch

IMG_0155A really big show today – and I mean BIG as I was joined by THE FUNKY VOICES – around 40 of them crammed into the studio. Now these guys are something else. You’ve probably seen and heard them performing at STRAWBERRY FAIR or at the Christmas Lights “switch on” but wherever they perform they always pull a big crowd. The Funky Voices were founded in 2007 since when they have established around 10 groups across Essex and the Essex and Suffolk borders with a total of around 800 members.

You can listen again to our chat and their songs right here: – Funky Voices 31st August

Later in the show, Frances Clamp provided an insight into some of the things  King Henry VIII got up to in Blackmore. Had Frances been so forthcoming in stlawrencechurchHenry’s time she might well have lost her head, as it was she partly lost her voice so the question remains – “was she attacked from beyond the grave?” Perhaps I should ask the Essex Ghost Hunters what they think, the next time they are on the show. You can listen again to what Frances said here (with most of her strangled cries edited out) : – Bygones 27th August

I’m not here next week so Bob Simpson is kindly stepping up to the plate along with Diane Evans of Brentwood Freecycle. Please be kind to him. See you in a fortnight.

All the best,


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It’s another Bank Holiday so of course it rains!

Well it may be wet today but the next two days are looking good  – but whatever you are not at work so life is good!

On today’s show we looked at a couple of the strange stories we encountered earlier this week and also looked ahead at some of the sporting events taking place this weekend.

lighteningIn our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature today, Frances Clamp recalled a very wet spell of weather back in September 1958 when both Billericay and Wickford were seriously affected by floods following a huge thunderstorm. Surpreising really we could simply have gone outside as today’s rain was something to behold – such that Steve Robertson never made it in to the studio and it took me ages to get home driving through literal floods. Anyway listen again to what Frances told me here: – Bygones 20th August




And whatever you do, don’t let today’s rain spoil you enjoyment of your final bank holiday before Christmas.

See you next week.


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Yes as of today your PACKED LUNCH is even bigger – 3 whole hours every week instead of two.

The extra time allowed me to re-visit a couple of weird stories we covered during our ONE-2-THREE shows this week whilst Tomato solicitoryou may have been at work. As part of this we looked at the Russian man who’s won much admiration for catching out the bankers at their own game, the story of the man who when accused of soliciting claimed he was only trying to buy tomatoes!



As Frances Clamp was unable to join me this week, it was left to me to report on the history of Blackmore Priory. Mercifully Frances had provided me with copious information and you can listen to the results again here: – Bygones13th August

Thankfully Frances will be back next week with the story of the great storm that hit Billericay in 1958.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you again next Saturday.


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A real life saver

IMG_0142On today’s show I was very fortunate to be joined by TIM SHEPPARD of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. There are still a lot of people who do not realise that the RNLI is wholly funded by public donations and has no official backing from government. If you would like to contribute to the Offshore Boathouse Modifications appeal just visit this website: –

You can listen to all that Tim had to say about the valuable work that the RNLI does for us, what it costs and how you can help here: – RNLI Interview 10th August


A few weeks ago we learnt about a monster fish lurking in a Billericay pond and keeping to the theme of monsters, in the

Monster Millersecond hour of today’s show, the subject chosen by Frances Clamp for this week’s Bygones feature was Thomas Wood, who bore the nickname of The Monster Miller of Billericay. He lived  between 1719 and 1783 and it appears was known all over the world. He was especially renowned for a living on an abstemious diet of a home made bread pudding and giving up all forms of alcohol which resulted in an amazing improvement in his health.

You can listen again to what Frances told me right here:- Bygones 6th August

Don’t forget that as from next week your PACKED LUNCH will be super-sized to 3 hours. See you next week.


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The Ghost Hunters are back from The Other Side

A specially large portion of Packed Lunch was served up today, lasting a full three hours.

Fort HorstedAnd to celebrate I was again joined by the Ghost Hunters fresh from their trip to “the other side” – Kent that is where they visited Fort Horsted.

Listen to all the ghostly goings on they encountered this time: – Ghost Hunters 3rd August

The Ghost Hunters are heading back to Cash’s Well tonight, 16th August and 20th September and next week on the 10th August they’re heading back to Harwich Fort and will be returning there again on 18th October. Some places are still available, if you’d like to join them.

Keeping to the past, Frances Clamp rejoined me for another trip down memory lane, or more accurately – Brentwood High Street – where she looked at the history of the old PRIORY HOUSE. My own research had not found the Priory House that was the subject of Frances’ topic, but an older house dating from the 16th century, so for once I’d found something about which Frances was unaware.

Listen to what Frances told me here: – Bygones 30th July

Right see you next week for the final time at two hours as after that we are going to be “supersized” to three hours permanently.

All the best,




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It’s still sunny

Doesn’t it make you sick – you’ve been sitting at work all week looking out at all that sunshine, and come Saturday when you could get some tan on your body, we’re told it’s going to rain. But hey we got a bonus, the rain held off  – well at least whilst I was on air! Well don’t get too disheartened as the sun will be back out “full throttle” tomorrow – and look on the bright side, your other half would almost certainly have wanted you to go shopping or do some chores anyway! Good time therefore to listen to the radio.

FoxcroftAs usual we played a great selection of the latest releases coupled with a sprinkling of hits from the recent past. And talking of things past, we heard from FRANCES CLAMP, all about the FOXCROFT CHILDREN’S HOME, founded in BILLERICAY more than 70 years ago.

Listen again to what Frances told me here:- Bygones 23rd July

Right see you next week for the supersized version of the show – yes 3 hours next week from 12 til 3 – and the ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS will be back as well. Till then enjoy your weekend and don’t work too hard.


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An early start for a very full lunchbox

Typical isn’t it – you’ve been stuck at work all week long, looking enviously at the glorious sunshine outside, the school holidays begin, the weekend comes along – and so does the cloud and with it, much cooler temperatures!

But did we let that dampen our spirits? No as true Brits we even set off earlier for our extra large PACKED LUNCH. And as the holiday season gets under way, we took a look at some of the complaints received by holiday companies from their clients. I think my favourite is from some people who had visited Jamaica and claimed that it was unfair that it took them 9 hours to fly home whilst it took the Americans just 3 hours! A true gem that one.

Chapel-ruins-in-high-street1-150x150In the final hour of today’s programme, Frances Clamp returned to the Chaplain’s House in Brentwood that she’d looked at earlier back in March. This time round Frances  looked in a little more detail at the building itself, the chapel and the surrounding land.

Listen again to what Frances had to say here: – Bygones 16th July

The sun will return later today and tomorrow and I’m off now to top up that tan. Have a good weekend and don’t work too hard next week. See you next Saturday.




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What a day for a daydream!

Wow a hot and sunny weekend and boy did we have the music to match today.

Hopefully you’ll have taken your radio into the garden with you so you could enjoy the music we were playing – a whole heap of summer fun sounds of the recent past mixed with some of the greatest recent releases.

Phoenix FM, the ideal companion to make your lunch in the garden just perfect!

For that crowning glory had you then added an ice cold beer, glass of Pimms or a refreshing bottle of wine, you would have enjoyed a meal fit for a King.

For me the crowning glory was the arrival of Frances Clamp who took us on a nostalgic walk down Billericay High Street as it was in the 1950′s. Of course the decade opened in a period of true austerity. Rationing was the order of the day. No supermarkets then. Butchers had rabbits, and at Christmas, turkeys hanging on hooks outside their premises. Greengrocers stocked only the fruit and vegetables in season. Private cars were few in number. The sights, sounds and smells were all different back then, but listen again to what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – Bygones 9th July

Well that’s me done for another week. Starting an hour earlier next week at 11am so don’t be late. Enjoy your weekend and get out there “in the great outdoors” to enjoy the sunshine.

See ya,


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A fine day to be out ghost hunting!

Yes – they’re back again, those intrepid ghost hunters! The first time they joined me I was regaled by eerie sounds, the second time some of the furniture apparently moved on it’s own so what I wondered would happen today?

Well in the event I couldn’t blame them for the various technical problems we encountered which were largely self inflicted.

Cash's WellThe team is planning another visit to Cash’s Well in Langdon Hills at the beginning of next month. If you don’t know what Cash’s Well is, it was built as a “get rich quick scheme” in the 1920’s by a farmer named Edwin Cash who sold the water as “Farmer Cash’s Famous Medicinal Vange Water”. Due to it being highly sulphated it was considered to be good for ailments such as stomach troubles and nervous disorders, however it was shut down around the mid 1920′s due to water contamination perhaps because of a tuberculosis sanatorium that opened in 1927 which was on higher ground to the well. Cash died in 1931 and the well was sold. The haunted history is less clear and seemingly has little to do with the well itself. Anyway listen to what happened on their last visit and then decide whether you want to take one of the available places on any of their forthcoming trips : – Ghost Hunters 6th July

If you know of any haunted locations that you’d like the Essex Ghost Hunters to investigate, they’d love to hear from you. You can contact them via their website at

Next up Frances Clamp returned with the story of one of “the few” – Squadron Leader Desmond Fopp, who had been forced to bail out of his aircraft over Brentwood at the height of the Battle of Britain. Squadron Leader Fopp was actually Australian by birth although his mother was English whilst his father was a first-generation Australian of Prussian extraction.

Squadron Leader Fopp had joined up shortly after the outbreak of war and had been involved in battle_of_britain_propaganda_poster_midproviding air support for the evacuation of the BEF at Dunkirk and was subsequently heavily involved in the Battle of Britain. On the 3rd September 1940 his section of 4 Hurricanes was scrambled to intercept a force of 200 enemy aircraft approaching East London. He led his pilots into a head-on attack to disperse the bombers and after his ammunition was exhausted, he was attacked by three of the escorting German fighters and his aircraft was set on fire. He was badly burned during his attempts to bale out, landing in a field near Brentwood, spending several months in hospital recovering from his injuries.

In spite of his injuries Sq Ldr Fopp returned to operational flying within a year. Listen again here to what Frances told me: –Bygones 2nd July

Right well I don’t know about you, but I’m off now to get some sunshine. Have a good week til we meet up again next time.

All the best,




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Here we are, another saturday and amazingly the weather looks set fair for the weekend. A good time to go fishing perhaps – especially in Billericay. Quite why this should be the case, we learnt from Frances Clamp in the second hour of today’s show. But more of that in a moment.
First off I was joined by local publicist, Audrey Snee. A lady of many talents, Audrey not only publishes books, but under a pseudonym, Una Rose, she also writes books. On the publishing side of things Audrey made special reference to a fascinating book on the old Southend firm, EKCO founded by E K Cole, a new novel as well as a book for children – FESTIVAL OF THE GARGYLES by Robert Hallmann.


More than 10 years in the writing, Una has just completed her novel, THE TOKYO EXPRESS. The book is set in Japan as the second World War is coming to its end but with eerie parallels with the present. Listen here to hear what Audrey/Una had to tell me: – [audio:|titles=Una Rose Interview]

Oh and by the way Audrey will be back in Brentwood, next Saturday afternoon to give a talk to THE BRENTWOOD WRITERS CIRCLE at the Fairfax Rooms, Brentwood Ursuline School, Queens Road. If you are interested the event is free for members and £3 for visitors. You can get more information from Janice Grande on 01268 451547. Both FESTIVAL OF THE GARGOYLES and THE TOKYO EXPRESS are available from or Waterstones at £9.99. They are also available from some independent book sellers, mainly in the Southend area at present. The childrens’  book is also available in Brentwood at the independent Childrens Bookshop.


Anyway back to the fish.Frances Clamp returned from her holidays with the tale of a fish (well the
story rather than a tail) connected with Billericay. If you missed it or to learn what that was all about, you can listen again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 25th June]

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All the fun of the fair

Mid-summer weekend and the STRAWBERRY FAIR is in full swing!

Meanwhile back at the studio I was joined today by LORRETTA, who has just won the TRUE COLOURS competition which was organised by ESSEX PRIDE. Apart from a very interesting chat we also experienced her singing talents first hand to see why she won that competition. You will be able to see and hear LORRETTA tomorrow at the ESSEX PRIDE event which is happening all this weekend in Chelmsford’s CENTRAL PARK.

Meanwhile listen again to my chat with LORRETTA right here: – [audio:|titles=Lorretta interview]

Also on today’s show we heard two more tracks from today’s featured band, THE RIVER, recorded specially for PHOENIX FM by CREATIVE STUDIOS LTD, at THE BRENTWOOD CENTRE on 13th April. The two songs featured on my show were YOU’LL NEVER KNOW and BREATHE.

For a second consecutive week, I was left to my own devices by FRANCES CLAMP. Well not entirely as she had fortunately provided copious notes on her chosen subject for this week – the Grade II listed building in Brentwood, on the corner of Kings Road and the High Street, currently occupied by BENNETTS FUNERAL DIRECTORS.

Listen again to what Frances would have said, had she been here today: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 18th June]

Mercifully Frances will be back next week so the pressure will be off!

Right I’m off now to STRAWBERRY FAIR. Have a good one in spite of the weather.



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A big celebration day

Well it’s finally arrived, our 6th birthday bash which we are celebrating about 3 months late. Well we hoped the weather would be better but clearly that was not to be!

Never mind a whole new heap of songs have just been added to our playlist so we had a lot of fun playing many of these out today.

I’ve been abandoned by Frances Clamp this week – well not completely as Frances provided me with some in depth notes on poverty in Brentwood and Billericay.

You may recall that we looked at the workhouses in our area about a month ago but today we took another trip to that dark era and  you can listen again to my efforts in presenting the information she provided right here: –

[audio:|titles=Bygones 11th June]

Well now it’s off to Woodlands School Fete in Great Warley. Just hope the showers hold off!

See you next week,



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A lunch fit for Kings

An extra large bulging PACKED LUNCH today as we had an extra hour to feast on the music. No ghosts to surprise us today but FRANCES CLAMP did pop by with the history of fairs and markets in Brentwood since 1227 and how the discovery of an ancient charter could spark a conflict with nearby Havering. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.

It was supposed to be sunny today but the sun seemed rather reluctant to fully show itself, nevertheless it was dry and reasonably warm and so a good excuse to indulge ourselves in some summery sounds like “VALERIE” by Steve Winwood, “DANCING IN THE STREET” from David Bowie and Mick Jagger and “HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS” by Bob Segar, to name just a few. On top of that we played 3 tracks from today’s featured band, Outset Ocarina, recorded live at the Creative Sessions held in April at the Brentwood Centre. The band members feature PHOENIX FM’s very own Alex Hoggett, Bob Simpson’s son Jamie on bass and drummer, Ben Heapy.

But back to Frances Clamp. Well as Frances explained, a charter granted to Brentwood, dating back to 1227 has just been re-discovered. The charter grants the town the right to a weekly market day as well as an annual fair which can be held close to Wilsons Corner. So why might this be a case for war? Well Havering council has suggested that they might challenge any plans by Brentwood to expand their market in the light of the old charter being recovered. It seems that Henry III granted a similar charter to Havering in 1245 which states that the minimum distance between markets must be no less than 6 and two thirds of a mile, an ancient ruling based on how far a sheep could be walked in a day!  Havering council used this charter to block other markets in the area, notably against Barking 20 years ago. However Havering could find Brentwood to be a more formidable opponent based on the fact that’s its charter pre-dates Havering’s by almost 20 years!

Watch this space but meantime you can listen again to what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 4th June]

Well that’s it for me. Have a good weekend.


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The spirit moves – or does it?

Once again I was joined by THE ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS and after my experience of seemingly unearthly sounds during their last visit, I was unsure what to expect this time around. The main aim of today’s discussion was to learn what happened during their recent expedition to the REDOUBT FORT in HARWICH. Before we got onto that however, the two mediums in the group, Russell and Simon said they had picked up on someone, or something in our studio. Allegedly one of the chairs in the studio moved at the start of the broadcast, but as I did not see anything untoward myself, I am unable to verify that.

Anyway the guys gave a complete account of their experiences at the Harwich Fort and you can listen again to our conversation right here: – [audio:|titles=Ghost Hunters 1st June]

In the second hour of the programme, we heard from Frances Clamp all about hair powder and what that could tell us about life in 18th century Billericay. Here’s another chance to hear what Frances told me: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 28th May]
Right enjoy your weekend. See you next week.

All the best,


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Ah – A bank holiday Saturday and the sun is shining!

Normally we swelter in the office all week and as soon as the weekend arrives (especially an extended  Bank Holiday weekend), it chucks it down with rain. But this time it’s all the other way around. The last week has been pretty cold and as for yesterday, the least said about it the better!

So it may not be as warm as it ought to be, or we would like, but the weekend ahead looks good. As such we set ourselves up for the weekend with an absolute feast of music including songs by such diverse artists as The Corrs, REM, Calvin Harris, The Righteous Brothers, Pixie Lott, AC-DC, Katy Perry and Sam Callaghan. Unfortunately whilst we were on air, news came in about horrendous queues on the M25 which was closed between the A12 and the A127 so hopefully we were able to keep you entertained if you were stuck in that lot. It could have been worse as had you been in Hertfordshire the jams stretched for 34 miles. Why might that have been worse I hear you ask? Well quite apart from the more than 2-hours, you’d have been stuck there, since you’d have been outside our transmission area so unless you can listen to us via your mobile phone, we would have been unable to keep you company!

In the second hour, Frances Clamp joined me to relate the history behind one of the mainstays

of Brentwood’s economy in the 1920’s and 30’s, SELO LTD. Selo was a photographic company associated with Ilford Films and although they ceased to exist as such by the end of the war, their name lives on today by way of the BRENTWOOD-SELO SUB AQUA CLUB which was formed 50 years ago by a group of swimming enthusiasts employed by Ilford Films. The club continues to this very day and meets at The Brentwood Centre every Friday evening.


Listen again to what Frances had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 21st May]

Right. Enjoy your extended weekend. See you next week when THE ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS will be returning.

All the best,


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Two trips down Memory Lane

We took not one but two trips down memory lane today. First off I was joined by JOHN DEBENHAM who is co-author with ANDREW SUMMERS, of a fabulous new book – London’s METROPOLITAN ESSEX. The book is a treasure trove of the fascinating history of the South Western part of what many of us still consider our county, even though from April 1965 it has actually been absorbed into London. The book tells the story of the area from the earliest recorded times to the present day and includes some remarkable, and I would suspect, little known facts. How many of us, for example, would know that King Harold (of the Battle of Hastings fame) is supposedly buried in Waltham Cross, or that those behind the Gunpowder Plot spent the night before planting their explosives, at Eastbury House, which still stands in Barking?

Listen again to what John had to say about the book right here: – [audio:|titles=Metropolitan Essex]

Our second trip into the past was provided by Frances Clamp in our Brentwood & Billericay BYGONES feature. This week Frances was looking at a dark period of our history in the shape of the workhouse, and especially the workhouses which used to be located in both Brentwood and Billericay. Hear what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 14th May]

Right that’s me done for another week. Next week Frances Clamp will be looking at a mainstay of Brentwood’s economy in the 1930’s, SELO LTD – the for runner of ILFORD FILMS.

Enjoy your weekend and have a good week til next Saturday.


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A Packed Lunch for a spring day

Well the weather may be a bit “iffy” but we managed to get through without it actually raining on us!

No spooks or Frances Clamp this week, but Frances had left me some notes on the history of Billericay Town Football Club which we went through in the second hour of the show. Apart from that it was music all the way with the usual mix of classic hits from the past – like Rainbow, Marvin Gaye, Bob Segar and Free along with some of the latest songs around from people like The Loveable Rogues, Noah and the Whale and The 1975. Some of these were real belters but along with this we had some smooth sounds from the likes of Laura Critchley  and Missy Higgins, all adding up to a real musical feast.

You can listen again here to the history of Billericay’s Town Football Club as researched and provided by Frances Clamp but presented by me: – [audio:|titles=Billericay Town FC]

Right that’s it from me. Back next week, til then keep safe,


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A “spirit” filled PACKED LUNCH

Well I knew it was going to be a spooky show today. It couldn’t be otherwise with guests like THE ESSEX GHOST HUNTERS. But even I was unprepared for the unaccountable “spooky” sound which suddenly surfaced during our conversation. I would like to say it was down to traffic outside the studio, although I have never previously been aware of such sounds being audible in the studio. See what you think, the extraneous sound appears about half way through – all very strange!

Now the ghost hunters are going to be regular contributors to the show and will be with me again on the 1st June when we’ll be looking back at the results of their visit to THE REDOUBT FORT in HARWICH which is happening next week but this being the first of our paranormal features, we started out by establishing how the guys got together and what drove them to search out ghosts. I also wanted to try to find out exactly what the definition of a ghost might be, and the difference between a ghost and a poltergeist.

If you would like to join the Ghost Hunters on one of their expeditions take a look at their website – Prices depend on the location involved but are normally in the range of £10 to £35. The next two outings to The Redoubt Fort in Harwich and Cash’s Well in Langdon Hills, are fully booked but spaces are available on the following two locations – Fort Halstead on 19th July and Kelvedon Bunker on 10th August – and if you’re quick you can take advantage of a special knocked down price of £30 for these two. But the price reverts to normal tomorrow.

Listen again to our conversation – including the “spooky” sound right here: – [audio:|titles=Ghost Hunters]

In the second hour Frances Clamp dropped by to talk to Bob Simpson about the connections between Brentwood and the town’s namesakes in the USA. Listen again here to what Frances had to say on this subject: – [audio:|titles=Frances Clamp]

Well that’s it for me. Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday weekend. I’ll see you again next week – minus the ghosts.

All the best,


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Is there anybody out there?

Today we celebrated the birth of the father of radio Guglielmo Marconi. He would have been 139 next Saturday and to mark the occasion it will be open day at Sandford Mill Museum in Chelmsford. My guest today was Peter Watkins who without doubt has been one of the leading lights in arranging many of the displays at the museum.

Having spent some years working at sea with Marconi Marine, Peter started out by recreating a ships’ radio room of the 1960’s. There are now no less than five replica radio rooms at the museum covering each decade from 1905. Peter has also spent 3 years constructing a model of “ELECTRA” a luxury yacht converted by Marconi into a floating radio laboratory. That model will also be on display at next week’s event. Marconi used to transmit signals from the yacht and one of the receiving stations was actually here in Brentwood on a patch of land on the corner of Hatch Road and Doddinghurst Road; Marconi Gardens is now located on part of the site!

CARS (The Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society) will also be there next week talking to other amateurs around the world who will all be chasing the prized QSL card bearing the special call sign which will only be used during this very special day.

There will also be a good many “hands-on” exhibits for both adults and children.

The exhibition includes the original hut used by Marconi’s experimental station 2MT which was established in Writtle back in 1920. Whilst they do not have the original transmitter, they do have the actual piano used in those pioneer broadcasts, which used to be wheeled out from the local pub and across the road to the hut from which the programmes originated.

If you’d like to join in on the special day, it’s all free and happening next Saturday between 10am and 5pm at Sandford Mill Museum, Sandford Mill Road, off Chelmer Way, Chelmer Village, Chelmsford CM2 6NY.

Listen again to my chat with Peter right here: – [audio:|titles=Sandford Mill Museum]
In the second hour Frances Clamp took our look at history much further back to the times of the Pilgrim Fathers, some of whom came from Billericay and who went on to found the town of Billerica (pronounced Biller-EEK-er) in Massachusetts in the USA. Unsurprisingly Billerica is twinned with our very own Billericay. You can hear what Frances told me here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 16th April]

I’m not here next week so Nick Field has kindly agreed to stand in for me. All being well therefore, I’ll see you in a fortnight’s time.

All the best,


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A very creative Packed Lunch



Two weeks in a row and I’ve been lucky enough to have been joined by acts appearing at THE BRENTWOOD CENTRE. This week saw the annual CREATIVE SESSIONS which have been jointly organised by PHOENIX FM and the CREATIVE RECORDING STUDIOS. This year the sessions are being held in public at the foyer of the Brentwood Centre, in two 12 hour sessions from 9am to 9pm both today and tomorrow.

So it was that in the second hour of the show I was joined by James, Ben and Joe who together are THE RIVER. They’ve only been playing together as THE RIVER for 7 weeks and today’s appearance at THE CREATIVE SESSIONS was their first real gig together. Now it’s off to the recording studio before they go back to gigging on the road.

Listen again to my chat with the boys right here: –  [audio:|titles=The River]

Then it was the turn of FRANCES CLAMP who popped along with a potted history of Brentwood from Roman times up to 1480. You can hear what Frances had to tell me here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 9th April]

Well hopefully spring is finally arriving so enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you again next week.

All the best,


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If music be the food of love – play on

For this the first Saturday after the Easter break in an extended show, I was very fortunate to be joined by DREW LEVI, just one of the many artists and sports personalities appearing this weekend at THE ESSEX INDOOR FAMILY FESTIVAL right here at THE BRENTWOOD CENTRE. Drew also brought along brothers, Jordon  and Conor Bailey who for the past 6 months have been working with him as his new band. Last time he came into see us, DREW was suffering with a really bad throat and so could not sing live for us, but today mercifully, although having only just recovered from another throat infection, we were treated to one of the songs from his new EP, BEST BRITISH SINGLE.

Conor is on drums and Jordon, a friend from school days, is the guitarist. Drew is still on the lookout for a bass player so if you are interested get in touch with Drew via his Facebook page. Listen to the song and the interview with DREW, JORDON and CONOR right here: 

In addition Frances Clamp came by to talk about some pottery, uncovered around 40 years ago, dating back to

the first and second centuries.

If you missed it you can hear what Frances had to tell me right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 2nd April]

Well that’s me done for another week. See you next week.

Keep smiling,


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Gissa Packed Lunch

Easter Saturday, the clocks go forward to British Summer Time tonight and yet the weatherman says that winter is still with us. And indeed the snow flurries have continued on and off all day.

Thankfully I was in a nice warm studio talking to local author Stephen Haughan who has just published his first novel – “GISSA FAG”. Indeed so successful has the book proved that he has already set about writing a sequel which should be available in 6-8 weeks time and a third book is being planned. Stephen is a builder by trade and spends time writing whilst commuting to and from work on the train. As ideas present themselves during the working day, Stephen makes notes on anything that happens to be close by when the ideas hit so he has been known to make jottings on pieces of wood! Living above a pub in Hutton provides Stephen with the opportunity to observe people and has proven to be a veritable treasure trove to be exploited to provide both dialogue and inspiration for new characters.

Listen again to my chat with Stephen right here: – [audio:|titles=Steve Haughan]

In our Brentwood & Billericay BYGONES feature, the subject chosen by Frances Clamp this week was the story of BRENTWOOD’s COAT of ARMS and if you missed this listen again to what Frances said here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 26th March]

Well it only remains for me to express my wish that you enjoy the rest of your extended Bank Holiday Easter weekend. See you next week.


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Is this really spring?

This weekend last year we were enjoying beautiful spring sunshine and warmth and now look at us! On top of that it’s our 6th birthday so we were looking forward to street parties, fireworks etc. Not much chance of that in this weather. Never mind I had my own celebration with a specially extended show – yes on til 3 this afternoon. In spite of the weather we managed to keep warm with a great selection of the latest releases as well as some great memories from years gone by.

In addition Frances Clamp popped by to relate the history of BILLERICAY’s ROSE HALL.

If you missed it or you would like to hear what she had to say you can listen again right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 19th March]

Easter next weekend so let’s hope it will be a little warmer and more spring like as we go into April.

See you next week, meantime enjoy the first of your short working weeks.


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A very soggy lunch

A couple of weeks ago I really thought spring had sprung. How wrong can you be? After a week which started out with ice and snow now we have wind and rain – certainly not the sort of weather to enjoy a packed lunch, well certainly not if you’re outdoors. Nevertheless a great day to enjoy a take-away under cover, next to a radiator with your radio tuned to Phoenix and turned up good and loud.

As usual we enjoyed a fabulous collection of music, both old and new from the likes of Dandy Warhols and Top Loader to Joe Cocker and Missing Andy. There are some great new releases out there right now and on today’s show I indulged myself by playing a whole heap of them by the likes of Train, Flo Rida, Bastille, Little Mix, One Direction, The Stereophonics, Fun, not forgetting the sensational new release, “22” by Taylor Swift.

As we had a bit of a change around during the week just gone, it was to Michelle Ward that Frances Clamp was regaling the history of the old chapel ruins in Brentwood High Street as well as the Chaplain’s House which dates from 1221. Listen again to what Frances had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 12th March]

Next week it’s our birthday weekend so there’ll be much dancing in the streets. See you there and save a bit of birthday cake for me. Til then have as great week.

All the best,


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A cold and soggy Packed Lunch

Just when we thought the spring was on its way, the icy tentacles of winter started to claw their way back with a thoroughly unpleasant day. A good day to seek cover to enjoy the fun and great sounds of music that only Phoenix could provide. With a whole new batch of songs from our brand new A-List to some favourites from years gone by plus some “tasters” from tonight’s glittering PHOENIX IN THE FOYER event, which you really won’t want to miss, all added up to two hours of fun and great radio.

During the second hour Frances Clamp dropped by to provide the history of BILLERICAY’s PHOTOFOLD CAMERA CLUB. Whilst the club dates back only as far as 1981, it’s origins go back much further than that. Listen again to what Frances had to tell me right here:- [audio:|titles=Bygones 5th March]

Well let’s hope that the weather will do another “about face” by this time next week. See you then,


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A Packed Lunch with a learning curve

Well we’ve finally got the worst two months of the year out of the way! The March hare has arrived and now we’re Springbound.

To celebrate that fact we played a true variety of music that only Phoenix can deliver. Others may promise variety, but then go on to churn out the same old predictable mix, but not so PHOENIX. We had songs from Keane, Brentwood’s very own Pixie Lott, Joe Cocker, Faith Hill, Kenny Rogers, the latest songs from Bon Jovi, Lawson, Tom Odell and Josh Osho plus classics from Tom Jones and a real rocker from Bad Company, to name just a small selection.

But we also did some learning courtesy of FRANCES CLAMP who provided a history of Brentwood in public places. Frances even picked up on a quite serious mistake on one of the council notices. Someone’s going to be in deep trouble! Listen again to what Frances had to tell me right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 26th February]

See you again next week, meantime have a great week!

All the best,


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An Activity Related Packed Lunch

For this, the final Packed Lunch for February, I was joined by DOMINIQUE BRUNNING, the fundraising manager of the Chelmsford based, J’s Hospice. The J’s Hospice is primarily for people across Essex aged from 18 to 40 suffering from life limiting conditions. At present the hospice does not have its own building so most of the care is carried out at home. Since taking up this post a mere 5 months ago Dominique and her team have been busy coming up with all manner of ideas. A new event later this year is THE DRAGON BOAT RACE and coming up in April for the fourth consecutive year is PEDAL FOR THE J’s. This event takes place on Sunday 28th April and promises to be a great day out for experienced and novice cyclists alike. The ride takes in some of the most beautiful villages in the county. There is a choice of three routes of 15, 35 and for the really athletic types, 50 miles! All routes start and finish at Admirals Park in Chelmsford.

Later this year on the 28th/29th September there is an opportunity to join a trek up BENNEVIS so plenty of time to get your sponsorship money in – and don’t worry, this is a trek – there will be no hanging from ropes or pitons. For the less adventurous there is always J’S DAY  on the 11th October. You can get involved by simply holding coffee mornings, having your head shaved, your hair died blue , bake cakes, donate an hour of your salary or indeed a myriad of other ways. To get involved in any of these events or to find out more why not go to their website, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages, or just call them between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 01245 475474 and they will arrange to send you all the necessary forms, leaflets etc?

Listen again to what Dominique had to tell me right here: – [audio:|titles=Dominique Brunning]

Later in the proceedings, Frances Clamp dropped by to give us a potted history of BILLERICAY from the 15th century up to the second world war, and all in under 10 minutes. Some achievement that! Hear how Frances managed to condense all that history into such a short time right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 19th February]

Now I know that Spring does not officially arrive until the end of March, but I always feel that once we’ve got January and February behind us, we’re over the worst so join me for the first PACKED LUNCH show in MARCH, next week. See you then I hope. All the best,


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A lunchbox bulging with music!

Whilst January seemed to drag on forever, we seem to me to be making much better headway in February – maybe it’s the lighter afternoons or just the recent milder conditions, whatever it is I certainly feel the better for it. Excuse or not but I used it to play some fabulous music today. What a privilege it is to be in charge of the biggest Juke Box in town, even if it was for only 2 hours! We got to enjoy a feast of songs, old and new from the likes of Bon Jovi, Lawson, Deacon Blue, The Righteous Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Joshua Kaddison, The Hot Puppies, Kylie Minogue, Mish Mash and just too many more to mention.
On top of this FRANCES CLAMP dropped in to provide a story about 4 key clocks which have helped to keep Brentwood on time and on schedule for many a long year. Listen again to what Frances told me right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 12th February]

I hope you can join me next week for the final show in February. After that we can really start looking forward to the spring to come.

See you then,


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After two curries on the trot (!) a solid diet of music was the order of the day

After two nights indulging in my favourite Indian food, I needed a special diet today of music, music and yet more music to calm things down a shade! So from oldies by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Heart, Squeeze, Britney Spears and Carl Douglas to the latest sounds from One Direction, Calvin Harris, Haim, Josh Osho, Matt Cardle, Lawson and Bon Jovi as well the fabulous Dani Clay Band (who will of course be appearing at the next PHOENIX IN THE FOYER event on 9th March) I was able to indulge in my other passion for great music.

All this plus the welcome return of Frances Clamp who popped in to provide the interesting story of the Spigot Mortar which was installed in Norsey Wood to protect Billericay from marauding German invaders in the last war. As this weapon was only able to hit something with any degree of accuracy if it was no more than 100 yards distance, it would probably have been as much practical use as a chocolate fireguard! Anyway you can listen again to what Frances had to say on the subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 5th February]

So another week passes us by. Look after yourselves til I see you again next week.



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A musical feast

Thank heavens we’ve got January behind us. The month seemed to go on forever and whilst it is still pretty chilly the days are getting longer so it was good to celebrate today with a PACKED LUNCH, truly packed out with music.

Apart from the usual collection of the latest chart favourites we also enjoyed a rich mix of oldies from the past 30 years and in addition as Frances Clamp was off celebrating her birthday week, it was down to me to seek out a potted history of Billericay up to the 14th century. You can listen again to what I managed to uncover, with a little behind the scenes help from Frances, right here:- [audio:|titles=Bygones 29th January 1]

That’s me done for another week. See you next Saturday.


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A Fevered Feast of Rock ‘N Roll

I was thrilled to be joined by Rock ‘N Roll/Rockabilly band FEVER. Fever is made up of Wil, his son Billy and Nick who popped in to chat to us briefly last November when they appeared at the Vintage Fair at the Brentwood Centre, but this time we put them to work and got them to do a live session for us. Two of the numbers they performed for us – “OH YEAH” and “ALL THE TIME” – were originals written by Wil. The third song was their version of the Carl Perkins original “MOVIE MAGG”.

Wil and Billy are from Wickford whilst Nick is from across the water in Dartford.

The guys all started playing and singing very early in life. Wil started at the age of 7 when his father was let down by his drummer and then history repeated itself when his son, Billy also got thrown in at the deep end when Wil was let down by his drummer. With just a couple of days notice, Billy was obliged to play a for a whole evening at a gig in Wales. Lead guitarist, Nick picked up his first guitar at the age of 10 but had been hooked on music from much earlier on when he persuaded his father to smuggle him into venues to see artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

If you’d like to see the guys live make a date to get down to the South Benfleet Social Club, 8, Vicarage Road, Benfleet where they will be appearing in the event,  BASS SLAPPING BOOGIE on Friday 8th February.

Meantime listen again to our chat and the music session right here: – [audio:|titles=Fever]

Now Frances Clamp let me down this week, claiming to be snowed in so I was forced to step in at the last minute with a brief look at THE THATCHERS ARMS in Brentwood. You can hear what I came up with right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 22nd January]

I don’t know if it’s just me but this month has seemed almost endless but mercifully it looks like the snow has finally left us. So I’ll see you next week for the first show in February which is at least a short month. Roll on Spring!

All the best,


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Bringing the Happy Empire up to the table

We could all have been well and truly snowed up by this morning but the gods were shining on us so I was very lucky that neither I nor my guest BEN MILES were stuck in any snow drifts! Now Ben who not only sings and writes his own music but also plays the guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass and keyboard has been performing solo for getting on for two years as HAPPY EMPIRE  and yet he’s only 15 years old. Ben is strongly influenced by amongst others,  Mumford & Sons and even Bob Dylan.

On February 1st Ben has organised a solo performance in the 35 seater studio at The Brentwood Theatre between 8:30 to 9:15. At this event Ben will be performing many of his own compositions along with some covers. Tickets are on sale now at £7 for adults and £5 for concessions. He is also going to be at The Hooga Bar in Chelmsford on 21st February and The Essex Arms in Brentwood on March 15th.

Listen again to my interview with Ben right here: – [audio:|titles=Ben Miles]

In the second hour of the show, Frances Clamp braved the elements to give us the low down on Brentwood’s LIBRARY HILL in our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. You can here what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 15th January]

Well that’s me done for another week. Let’s hope that it will be a little less cold by next Saturday. Meantime keep warm and keep safe.


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A cold but spooky Packed Lunch

Now as many of you will know we stream our shows via webcam, but when I got back home after today’s show I was surprised to be met by my wife (who had obviously been checking up on me) to be told that I was still presenting my show. She was cross that I hadn’t called her to say I’d been delayed. I said well I’m definitely here to which I was invited to “see for myself”. Sure enough there I was large as life. Indeed I was just in time to watch myself handing over to Nikki at 2pm. Really spooky! I’m pretty sure there aren’t two of me – heaven forbid.

Perhaps I brought this on by laughing at other people’s misfortunes. During a brief review of the recently released Darwin Awards for 2012, we looked at the case of a man who awakened by the sound of his phone ringing by his bed, mistakenly picked up his gun and shot himself in the head. We also examined the case of another hapless individual who had recently had his appointment with the electric chair commuted to life imprisonment. Unfortunately whilst sitting on a metal toilet he bit into an electric cable whilst trying to fix his TV and was duly fried!

Anyway back in the real world being a very chilly day, it was not really the kind of day to be taking your PACKED LUNCH outside, so as I sat unpacking my picnic in a nice warm studio, hopefully you enjoyed all the music we got out today. Most of the music was aimed at keeping the temperature up but with the risk of impending snow I unearthed John Lennon’s version of Slippin & Slidin plus The Snowflake Boogie from Jools Holland & Edwin Starr.

In our Brentwood & Billericay BYGONES feature, Frances Clamp presented the story of when Billericay had its own money and to keep the historical aspect going we played 100 Years by Five For Fighting. Listen again to what Frances had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 8th January]

Anyhow weather permitting I’ll (or should I say “we’ll”) see you next Saturday. Meantime do your best to keep warm.

All the best,



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A good first lunch box for 2013

Happy New Year one and all!


For my first PACKED LUNCH for the New Year I was delighted to be joined by Steven Cooper. Steven who runs Haddon Events is often known as Steven Haddon. Actually “Haddon” is his middle name.  Confused? Anyway I digress, Steven was the man behind the Vintage Fair which was held at the Brentwood Centre at the end of November and is organising an Antiques Fair tomorrow at the Orsett Hall Hotel.

The event tomorrow is specifically related to antiques of any antiquity, whilst Vintage Fairs are rather more focused, specifically on the 20th century and can include vintage cars and often include live music, DJ’s, dancers etc., and so may be of interest to a slightly different audience.

Anyone having items they would like to have valued, or even sell, are welcome to take them along with them tomorrow. Around 45 exhibitors will be at tomorrow’s event. Doors open at 10am with the event closing at 4pm and at just £3 (Concessions – £2) it’s certainly worth a visit.

If Vintage Fairs are more your scene, the next one will be happening at Runnymeade Hall in South Benfleet on 13th January with another on 17th February.

Listen again to my chat with Steven right here: – [audio:|titles=Steve Cooper]

No Frances Clamp this week, but fear not she will be back next week with the story of when Billericay had its own currency. Meantime have a good week til next time we meet.

All the best,



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2012 – A true feast of music for a Jubilee Year

Well for the final show for this year, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the songs that made 2012 such a memorable year for music.

Some years are absolute bummers but 2012 has been a truly great year musically, so much so that there was no way I could squash everything  into just 2 hours. But I did manage to play the following (in no particular order): –


David Guetta              Titanium

Jessie J                          Domino

Kelly Clarkson            Stronger

Coldplay                       Charlie Brown

Carly Rae Jepsen      Call Me Maybe

Keane                            Silenced By The Night

Missing Andy             Money

Olly Murrs                    Oh My Goodness

Paloma Faith                Picking Up The Pieces

St Etienne                      I’ve Got Your Music

Scissor Sisters             Only The Horses

Cheryl                             Call My Name

Gossip                             Move In The Right Direction

Killers                              Runaways

Maroon 5                        Payphone

Stooshe                            Black Heart

Train                                 50 Ways To Say Goodbye

One Direction                 Live While We’re Young

Fun                                      Some Nights

Owl City                              Good Time

Robbie Williams              Candy

Tiao Cruz                            Fast Car

Biffy Clyro                          Black Chandelier

Train /Ashley Monroe  Bruises

Owl City/C R Jepsen       Shooting Star

That’s it for 2012.  See you next week in the New Year, which I hope will be happy, peaceful and healthy for you.




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Definitely a day to hold our Packed Lunch to be indoors!

Well the world didn’t end yesterday but I did wonder today if I should have given serious consideration to building an ark! It might be almost Christmas but the weather is anything but.

Undaunted being the last weekend ahead of the big day, I thought it was right to wheel out a good number of Christmas songs. Many of these were old favourites but one was a brand new song recorded by a band formed just for this song – CHRISTMAS TIME IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR. And what a good song it was! Don’t believe me? Well take a listen to the song here: – [audio:|titles=The Hound Dogs – CHRISTMAS TIME IS THE BEST TIME OF Y]

The band concerned were THE HOUND DOGS, consisting of Matt Broadbent from “The Fiftyfours” plus Rob Broadbent, Toby Thacker, Gregg Hummell and Jamie Simpson all from “The Felonie”. The Felonie was one of the bands who featured in the CREATIVE SESSIONS staged by Phoenix FM last May. And the connections with Phoenix don’t end there as Jamie Simpson is the son of Bob Simpson your host on the Sunday Replay.

On top of the feast of music, but keeping to the festive mood, Frances Clamp dropped by to tell us all about how turkeys used to make their way from the farm in Brentwood to the market in Romford. If you missed that, you can hear what she had to say again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 18th December]

Enjoy yourselves over Christmas and join me if you will next Saturday at noon when I’ll be playing some of the songs we enjoyed during 2012.

All the best and a very Merry Christmas,



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A Feast of Music ahead of Christmas

Well it is just 10 days to go to the big day (assuming, of course, that the world doesn’t end next Friday, but still for me a bit too soon to be churning out all that Christmas music (bah Humbug!).

I did, however succumb and played a few Christmas songs – one was a request for Harry Belefonte’s 1956 hit “Mary’s Boy Child” –  I remember buying that record on a 78rpm disc. I also played two other Christmas songs from Elton John and the Pogues. But next week I will play more in the way of Christmas music.

We just had our Christmas party at Phoenix so if you heard vacuuming noises in the background today it was Alan Johnson doing a strerling job in cleaning the studio.

Frances Clamp popped in as usual with the story of BILLERICAY BRICKWORKS – that was in today’s edition of Brentwood & Billericay Bygones. Listen to what she had to say here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 11th December]

Right all being well I’ll see you next week at the same time


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An extra large portion with a few surprises today!

In an extended edition of PACKED LUNCH today, after an initial panic that he might not make it in today, I was delighted to see a welcome return of local author, Patrick Forsyth. Now Patrick has over 80 titles to his name to which he has just added another two, just in time for Christmas.

Patrick’s latest offerings are “EMPTY WHEN HALF FULL” and “HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR WRITING”. Even the second book is written in an amusing style. We discussed both titles, the first book having been devised as a result of spotting a batch of misprints in just an hour, such as a warning on a  sleeping draught, suggesting that the product might cause drowsiness! This collection of daft “gobbledyspeak” is bound to entertain so if you want to irritate fellow passengers, who might wonder why you suddenly burst out laughing whilst reading this on public transport, make sure to add this book to your Christmas list.

Likewise with money being tight, Patrick’s other book “HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR WRITING”, will help many people to at least make some pocket money, especially from writing articles for magazines. Some more creative people may also be able to pick up some valuable tips from this book. Patrick read a few lines from this book which once again illustrated that this book apart from being educational, is also written in a very amusing style.

Patrick’s books are available on Amazon and also via his website Listen again to my chat with Patrick right here: – [audio:|titles=Patrick Forsyth]

Frances Clamp was also on hand with the history of SOUTH STREET in BRENTWOOD.  For another chance to listen to this contribution from Frances just click on the link below: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 4th December]

Well as Christmas looms ever closer and the weather gets ever colder, I’m off to wrap up warm and I’ll see you again next week. Til then try to keep warm and keep those bugs floating round at present at bay if you can.

All the best,


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Brrr! An ideal day for roast chestnuts

December is here already and with it the start of the festive season. Whilst I was sitting cosily in our studio many of the Phoenix FM gang were out braving the cold busy lighting up Brentwood.

Anyway we enjoyed ourselves playing some fabulous music – not Christmas songs yet though. Still too early for that to my  mind! So it was recent music from the likes of Little Mix, Robbie Williams, Hot Chelle Rae, JLS, Killers and Matt Nathanson plus some old favourites from Westlife, Christine Aguilera, Mike & The Mechanics, Jooles Holland and  Laura Branigan to name just a few of the great tracks played out this afternoon. Whilst today’s show was going out Leanne Louise and Edd Coates were appearing at the Lighting Up Brentwood spectacular, so to whet your appetite we played a couple of their songs – “Magic” by Leanne Louise with a song bearing the somewhat unusual title of  “Warchibeser” by Edd Coates. Of course Edd’s mother Jean was my guest on this show a few weeks ago.

As per usual Frances Clamp came along with the fascinating history of The Reading Rooms in Billericay in our Brentwood & Billericay Bygones feature. Listen to that feature again here: -[audio:|titles=Bygoners 27th November]

Anyway have a good week. I’ll see you again next Saturday.



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I can hardly believe it, this time last week I was sitting in the outside, cradling a beer and looking out through palm trees over a sun drenched beach leading down to the Atlantic Ocean. And just look at it now!

Well at least I was lucky to welcome two surprise guests on to today’s show. A Vintage Fayre is being staged at the BRENTWOOD CENTRE all this weekend and I was joined,not only by the organiser of the event, but also one of the acts performing live on stage.

First off were Will, Nick and Billy, who together are the rock ‘n roll band Fever. Will as the leader and founder of the band is on vocals and double bass, his son Billy is on drums and Nick is on guitar, but also does some vocals and dance routines. The boss though, is Will’s fiancee! When I chatted with the band they were just between shows, having just come off stage and were preparing to go on and do another set. You can listen to my chat with them here: – [audio:|titles=Fever]

Then the man in charge of the whole event, Steve Cooper popped in to explain all about the many things to see and do at the event. Not only is there a large number of artists performing live but also displays of vintage vehicles and stalls where you can buy everything from old records (including 78’s) and fashion goods dating back to the 1930’s. Here what Steve had to say on the event here and then get on down there and enjoy: –

[audio:|titles=Steve Cooper]

In a very busy programme, we had a double helping of Bygones features from Frances Clamp who, in my absence was talking to Bryan Powis, firstly about Stockwell Hall and later about the Great Storm of 1987. Listen to both clips again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 13th November][audio:|titles=Bygones 20th November]

Well that’s November done and dusted. Next week we will be in darkest December so see you then. Meantime try not to float away or get blown away in all this lousy weather.

All the best,


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This being Remembrance Weekend, it was fitting that my guest today brought with him a story of war and reconciliation.

Norman Wilson’s brother was one of the first British casualties of World War II. So early in the war was his brother, Douglas shot down, that the event was recorded, along with photographs in both British and German media, and even featured in one of Lord Haw-Haw’s broadcasts! This must be almost unique given that 22,000 airmen from Bomber Command out of a total loss of 55,000, are still listed as having no known grave.

Given these unique circumstances, Norman was able not only to find the site of the grave in which his brother was originally buried, but also the actual crash site of the aircraft. If that was not enough, he has also managed to recover a piece of the actual aircraft. All this with the help of some new found German friends.

A memorial service was held at the end of November two years ago, in the local church where his brother had originally been buried was attended by among many others, an officer from the RAF, 5 representatives of the German Air Force, the local City Administration and members of the local press. So ended a 70-year search for his brother, Douglas’ grave.

The post script to this story is that the local Town Council has nominated Norman as a Citizen of Honour of the Parish of Ganderkesee. What more fitting epitaph could there be?

Listen again to my chat with Norman here: -[audio:|titles=Norman Wilson Interview]





In the second hour of the show, as part of our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature, Frances Clamp popped in to relate the story of  Primrose Hill in Brentwood. You can hear what Frances had to say here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 6th November]

Well that’s me done for another week. I’m off on my hols next week but MICHELLE WARD of EAT MY LUNCH fame has kindly agreed to sit in for me next week. All being well I’ll see you in a couple of weeks on the 24th November. Meantime look after yourself.

All the best,


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Very unkindly, some people at the station have nicknamed me “The Firestarter”. This is on account of the problems I sometimes have grappling with the electronic equipment we have at the station. The plain fact is that I haven’t actually set anything on fire there, although I was on site twice when fire was located in the building where we were based at the time. Not our present building, nor even the studio. Nevertheless the name has stuck! Now most people are celebrating Guy Fawkes night tonight so you would have thought that given my alleged pedigree that I might have been asked to officiate at some bonfire event – but not so. Indeed it was suggested that I should keep my distance, lest I be mistaken for the guy and chucked on the fire. Sometimes you just can’t win!

Anyway a cold day in November might not be the best day to take your PACKED LUNCH outdoors, so instead we stayed firmly in a nice warm studio and armed with some “hot hits” and some real golden oldies we were able to keep the temperature high and enjoy some of the latest songs mixed with some greatest memories of the recent past.

For a more distant view of the past I was joined by Frances Clamp for our Brentwood & Billericay Bygones feature at half past one. Frances provided us with the story of how the railway service was extended to Billericay. You can listen again to what she had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 30th October]

I do hope you will enjoy your Guy Fawkes night. Whatever you do make it a safe one and have fun.

I’ll see you again next week.

All the best,


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Yes, the clocks go back tonight! I’m still waiting for the summer that never really started and already we had sleet today! How I hate those long dark winter evenings and short cold days. Still it’s now less than 2 months until the days start drawing out and Christmas will be upon us again.

Anyway I was blessed to have a bit of brightness in the show today as I was joined by local photographer turned author who has already raised £1000 for Cancer Research UK from the sales of her first book, “THE LUCKIEST MISS NOBODY”. The first run has sold out and a second print run is now on order. Jean is also working on her second title, “IF I WAS HUMAN” which is aimed principally at younger readers.

The first book is the result of years of visiting racecourses in Britain and Ireland, meeting and talking with those involved at all levels in the racing world, and of using her exceptional photographic talent. No wonder Jean swept the board by winning all the trophies during her first year as a member of the Brentwood Photographic Club.

Jean lost her father to cancer and it is thought that cancer might also have been a contributing factor in her mother’s death and it was for this reason that she has dedicated herself to raising money for Cancer research. Jean’s late father certainly encouraged her initial interest in the world of racing, although not perhaps initially very profitably! It was her late husband who introduced her to photography and so by combining her two hobbies, Jean has been able to devise a really practical way of raising money for a cause close to her heart.

You can listen again to my chat with Jean here: – [audio:|titles=Jean Ashdown-Coates interview]

Jean had one more surprise in store for us, as during the course of our discussion it emerged that her son is talented local singer, songwriter, Ed Coates who was a guest on Michelle Ward’s EAT MY LUNCH show a while back. Ed also appeared in a show staged by PHOENIX FM at the Brentwood Theatre a couple of years ago. What a talented family!

No Frances Clamp this week so it was left to me to do my best to present the story of how the railway arrived in Brentwood in 1840. My efforts are repeated here:- [audio:|titles=Bygones 23rd October]

Well that’s it for October. See you next week in November. Have a good week until then.

All the best,


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Well the weekend is with us again and after the deluge we had yesterday, mercifully for a Saturday,  dry and mild.

Today’s show featured the usual mix of great new songs from Little Mix, Olly Murrs, Train and One Direction and favourites from people like Michael Buble, Edwin Starr, George Harrison, Bucks Fizz, Fun, Maroon 5 and Keane to name but a few.

I don’t know if it is just me but the new song, Top Floor  from P45 seems rather similar to the old Madness hit, Baggy Trousers so I played the two songs back-to-back. I’d be very interested to hear what you think.

The good news was that Frances Clamp returned – well at least for this week. This was very fortunate as I had been especially unsuccessful in my efforts to uncover any history relating to South Green in Billericay. Fortunately Frances came up trumps and you can listen again to what she had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 16th October]

Well next week is the final week before the clocks go back. Don’t know about you but I really hate that so we’ll need to play some especially happy sounds to keep our spirits up. See you for that next Saturday at Noon. Have a good week til then.



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Mid October already and it’s getting pretty chilly as well!

As good a reason as any to ensure that our Packed Lunch today was full of some real goodies.

And that it was, with new songs from Adele, AlunaGeorge, Cheryl, Little Mix, Olly Murrs, One Direction, Rajiv featuring Mr Ash, Rihanna and an absolutely sensational new song, BRUISES from Train who have got together with Ashley Monroe.

We didn’t forget some of the more recent releases either from artists like Fun, Garbage and Kelly Clarkson all served up together with a sprinkling of Oldies from George Harrison, Kirsty MacColl, Jules Holland and Edwin Starr, to name but a few.

No Frances Clamp this week so it was time for me to do my homework and serve up the history of HUNTERS WALK in Brentwood for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES Feature. To listen to my efforts on this subject again, just click on this link: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 9th October]

Well that’s another week done and dusted. I’ll see you again next week as we head ever closer to the time when the clocks go back and those long winter evenings really do start to draw in even more than they are already.

Have a good week til next time.


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Cushh live on Phoenix FM

CUSHH stands for “CREATIVE, UNUSUAL, SENSUAL, HOT and HAPPENING” and is the brainchild of E who now owns the Cushh brand which includes an IT company, a production/record company and a clothing label. Cushh is made up Saskia and E who got together after Saskia responded to an ad placed by E in a music paper. Saskia was chosen by E out of 200 girls as precisely the singer he was looking for. But from music they’ve moved into the fashion world, designing and creating their own clothing brand which is sold in prestigious stores like Fenwicks and Dorothy Perkins and is already becoming favourites with celebrities.

After taking a break to set up their clothing division they are now putting their first album together for release in the New Year. This will involve 10-14 tracks plus some bonus material. Cushh performed an exclusive acoustic set for us including the ballad -”I LOVE YOU” which will be included in this album as well as an acoustic version of their second single “FABULOUS”.

As Cushh were due on stage within minutes of leaving us, we were really grateful that they took so much time to come in and talk and sing for us. You can listen again to the interview and watch the acoustic sets here:



Cushh were here as part of the Essex Indoor Family Festival, which is running for the first time this weekend. There’s still time to get down and catch the vast number of things going on under one roof – see their website for more details.

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Brother and sister Denis and Shanel – who together are SD-JEM – have been singing and writing material together for about 4 years. The guys have their own website, and you can receive a free exclusive download from them by simply liking their Facebook page – Catch them on You Tube at During the show we played their latest single, Roll With Me, which can be downloaded from iTunes.

Voting starts on Monday for their efforts to get onto MTV Unsigned and you can vote by simply going to the MTV Unsigned website or alternatively via links from either their website or Facebook pages.

Listen again to my chat with SD-JEM here:

[audio:|titles=SD-JEM 1]

SD-JEM were one of many attractions at the Essex Indoor Family Festival, which is running for the first time this weekend. There’s still time to get down and catch the vast number of things going on under one roof – see their website for more details.

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What a fabulous show we had today! The Indoor Family Festival was taking place at THE BRENTWOOD CENTRE and I was privileged to be joined by two of the acts appearing live on stage this afternoon.

First off were brother and sister Denis and Shanel who together are SD-JEM. You can hear the interview again by clicking here.

During the second hour, music and fashion gurus, CUSHH popped in. You can see and hear the session by clicking here.

No Frances Clamp this week so you had to put with me to provide the low down on BILLERICAY SCHOOL. If you missed it hear it again here: –  [audio:|titles=Bygones 1st Oct]

Well that’s it for another week. Look forward to seeing you again next Saturday. In the meantime have a good week.

All the best,



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We started the month of September with temperatures of 28 or 29 degrees – the sort of highs we have seen all too little of this summer, but whilst it might be sunny today, at just 14 degrees, none too warm.

Nevertheless we enjoyed some hot music this afternoon before the winter winds start whistling round our nether regions.

In addition to that Frances Clamp dropped by to provide the history of New Road in Brentwood. Now the fact that Frances appeared was a bonus as I had thought she would be on holiday this week, which would have been the case had she not changed her plans in the light of the weather forecast. As it happens Frances will not be with me for the next couple of weeks so I’ll have to get myself sorted out to try to take her place for a little while.

You can listen to what Frances had to tell us on today’s subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 25th September]

Well that’s it for the final PACKED LUNCH in September. See you next week as we move headlong into Autumn. Til then have a good week!



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A mercifully sunny, if somewhat cool day, brightened up by my guest, PHILIPPA BARR who popped in to tell us about her experiences gained from the world of journalism which ultimately lead her to establish her own PR company in Brentwood, SunSign Communications Ltd.

Philippa has certainly seen life; reporting on a local “driving” incident, she was identified as the defendant, not content with treading on the Duke of Edinburgh, Philippa went on to have a “run in” with the Queen Mother who returned the compliment! Philippa has interviewed some wonderful characters including a financial adviser who together with his family spent their spare time living as Romans, wearing togas, speaking to one another in Latin and even re-creating Roman food including such delicacies as pig’s testicles – very nice with chips.

Philippa went on to outline the many services offered by her company, which might include internal communications, from establishing in-house magazines to more general communications aimed at keeping staff “in the loop”, external communications which could be anything from one-off press releases to advertising literature and brochures. Other services include website design and proof reading.

Anyone who feels that Philippa’s company might be able to help them can call her on 01277 221701 or 07890 756698 or e-mail her at or go to her website at

You can listen again to my conversation with Philippa right here: – [audio:|titles=Philippa Barr]

Later Frances Clamp joined me for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERCAY BYGONES feature and provided the low-down on the BOARD SCHOOL in Great Burstead. Once again you can catch what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 18th September]

Well that’s me done for yet another week. Enjoy the last week of September and I’ll see you next Saturday.

All the best,


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A big day for us today at Phoenix FM as apart from it being the date of our first PHOENIX IN THE FOYER gig with a host local talent performing and singing a heap of totally original songs, we were also playing host to a newly formed Amateur Radio Group – THE THAMES AMATEUR RADIO GROUP. This was their launch day so they established a special event station  – call sign GX0TRG – at our studios. One rig was operating out of our second studio, with two more operating from a gazebo adjacent to our studios. This second group were using a makeshift aerial formed with the help of a fishing rod and for a time outperformed the studio based guys using a £250 mast. In fairness those in our studio suffered from a fair bit of interference from lighting and all the other myriad electrical equipment stuffed in our studio complex. Nevertheless the group managed to speak with other ham radio operators from as far away as Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia and the USA.

This is a great hobby and if you are interested in getting “on the air” yourself take another listen to what PETE SIPPLE, the group’s media relations officer had to say on the subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Ham Radio]

I was also joined by FRANCES CLAMP who gave us the lowdown on the SHOREDITCH AGRICULTURAL & INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE as part of our Brentood & Billericay BYGONES feature. Listen again to her contribution right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 11th September]

Right well I’m off now to get ready for the PHOENIX IN THE FOYER bash. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you again next Saturday.

All the best,


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Well I had been expecting to be joined by a local photographer today but unfortunately he forgot. Well actually he blamed his wife saying that she made him go shopping! A pretty lame excuse if you ask me, but it’s not the first “negative” reaction I’ve had! No matter, we’ll get him in eventually.

In consequence we had a music filled couple of hours, with lots of summer sounds to match the weather.

In addition I can always count on my old friend FRANCES CLAMP who provided some very interesting historical facts on Little Burstead and Hope House in our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. Listen again to what she had to say here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 4th September]

Well that’s me done for another week. Enjoy the sunshine for what’s left of the weekend.

All the best,


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Well the weekend’s here again and with that comes another PACKED LUNCH SHOW. And what a show we had today as I got to chat to a 17-year old star in the making from Braintree.  LAURELLE BETTS has a voice that sends shivers down your spine, but not only that as she is self taught at playing both the piano and the guitar. And if that was not enough she also writes her own material.

You can listen again right here to her songs and our chat. Any further comment from me would be superfluous!

[audio:|titles=Laurelle Betts]

In the second hour I was joined by Frances Clamp with our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week Frances provided some historical facts on two famous names in the world of industry from Brentwood’s past – CITY COACHES and THERMOS.

You can listen again to what Frances had to say right here: –  [audio:|titles=Bygones 28th August]



Well that’s me done for another week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I look forward to seeing you again next Saturday at 12 noon.


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You just have to admit we really have suffered this year with the Bank Holiday weather. We may have enjoyed extra bank holidays but every one without exception has been a huge disappointment weatherwise. Well if the weather hasn’t tempted you to sample the delights of the “great outdoors” hopefully you will have been encouraged to cosy up to the radio. And today we added an extra temptation in the shape of local author, BRIAN EVANS, who since 1988,  has penned no less than 33 books with pictorial histories of many towns, notably in Metropolitan Essex and East London. On top of this Brian is also a director of, and volunteer with the Museum at Havering Atte Bower.

In addition to his work at the museum, Brian is also running a series of “WALK ‘N TALK” events, so if you want to take a step back in time with a true enthusiast who really knows his stuff why not join Brian on one of these events? The first of these will be on 4th September in Havering Village. The group will be meeting in Havering Village at 10:15 on The Green by the Church. The second event will be meeting in Balgores Square, just north of Gidea Park Station again at 10:15 in the morning on 22nd September. Afterwards the group will take stock of what they’ve learnt by unwinding at the local Ship Inn.

Brian’s latest book is “ROMFORD THROUGH TIME” but as it very much a pictorial, should probably be read in conjunction with his earlier book, “ROMFORD A HISTORY”. Both books and indeed many of his other books should be available at any large book shop such as Waterstones and Smiths. The shop at Havering Museum, which is on the site of the old Romford Brewery has probably the largest selection of books on historical topics anywhere in the area. Another good source is, of course your local library.

You can hear my conversation with Brian again here: – [audio:|titles=Brian Evans]


In the second hour of the show Frances Clamp popped in to give a view of Billericay in both world wars. Listen again to what Frances had to say here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 21st August]

Well that’s me done for another week. Whatever the weather does try to enjoy your extra day off work and keep it Phoenix.

See you next week,



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Wow, what a fabulous day! Brilliant sunshine coupled with balmy temperatures and today we had all the music to match the weather. Bags of summer fun sounds with the widest mix of music from today and yesterday you’ll find anywhere on the radio – and everyone a real winner.

To name just a few we had oldies from Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Vanessa Amerosi and George Harrison, classics from Bob Segar, Bryan Adams, Katy Perry, Amy MacDonald and the Sugababes, plus the latest tracks from Train, Gossip, Cheryl, Stooshe, Florence and the Machine and the Killers. Every one a winner!

On top of that Frances Clamp took time out to give us the low down on the history of SHENFIELD COMMON and interesting stuff it was too. You can re-listen to what she had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 14th August]

Anyway I’m off now to sink a couple of beers in the sun. See you next week.

All the best,


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Once again the sun was shining (and we haven’t been able to say that too often on a Saturday this year)! This was the weekend the Olympic Games came to Essex – Hadleigh to be precise and with the weather behaving itself we had the music to match the occasion. From Hot Chocolate’s EVERYONES A WINNER to QUEEN belting out WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS we had it all today.

The icing on the cake came in the shape of Frances Clamp who presented the final part of her look at all the events surrounding THE PEASANTS REVOLT in 1381 as part of our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. You can listen again to what Frances had to say here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 7th August]

Anyway enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and I’ll see you again next Saturday at noon.

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Today is Super Saturday with no les than 25 gold medals up for grabs at the Olympics. While we were on the air Team GB took no less than 3 golds and a silver. What a performance!

And we had the music to match and celebrate. Indeed the hamper was so crammed full of music today that I couldn’t shut the lid.

On top of that Frances Clamp took time away from the “gogglebox” to pop ibn with part 2 of her series on the PEASANTS REVOLT which you can listen to again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 31st July]

Enjoy the sun while it lasts today and the rest of the Olympics. See you again next week.

All the best,



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I was joined today by DAVID CLARK who made a welcome return to PHOENIX FM to disclose some of the hitherto secrets of the cold war era and our independent nuclear deterrent.

Between 1958 and 1961, David spent time with the RAF at Honington in Suffolk where he joined those involved at the sharp end of the Cold War and Britain’s defense programme. At the first sign that sign that Russian missiles had been fired, 164 Vulcans and Victors together with aircraft stationed here from the US Strategic Air Command, would have taken off within 4 minutes with the aim of obliterating Russian cities with hydrogen bombs, whilst Russian missiles would have obliterated ours. This was known as Mutually Assured Destruction – MAD!

Frequent indoctrination lectures were given to both the aircrew and ground crew. The aircrew knew that assuming they could even fly back after the raid, there would almost certainly be nowhere left to land in practice. These lectures appeared to have little if any practical value! That said it must have been apparent that even assuming the raids were successful – and David estimated that around half the bombers would get through, that it was in fact a “death sentence”. Anyone baling out over territory that had been wiped out would not have survived for very long given the radio activity, and even assuming that they got home, it was unlikely there would be anywhere to land and even had they been able to find somewhere to land, once again the radio activity would not have been conducive to a lengthy survival. Indeed there were no fall out shelters available for ground crews who in the event of war would simply have been sent home to put their affairs in order!

For most of the time it would not have been possible to launch a full scale response, but this would change rapidly in the event of “increasing political tension”. Indeed this occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 at which time both the RAF and the USAF were at the highest state of alert. The aircraft were all flown to their dispersal airfields from where the attacks would have been launched. The planes were on runways with engines running to allow take off within 2 minutes. Aircrews were told to get their families “out of the way” and to put their affairs in order. Art treasures were stored in a disused coal mine and as the now revealed Soviet spy, Anthony Blunt was on the committee organising this, he duly reported to his Russian masters that we weren’t bluffing and we meant business.

You can listen to the whole interview again right here: – [audio:|titles=Secrets of the cold war]

Later on I was joined by FRANCES CLAMP for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week, and for the next couple of weeks, Frances is looking at the causes of THE PEASANTS REVOLT back in 1381. What struck me were the parallel’s with much of the recent past. Indeed one factor that came up was that those good citizens who turned up to pay their taxes were told that they would also have to pay the taxes for those who had failed to appear. Sound familiar?

Listen to Frances again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 24th July]

Well that’s me done for another week, but I must just thank Alan Johnson and Nikki Mills for filling in for me last week. Enjoy the Olympics – see you next Saturday.


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Well the drive into the studio today was more like a cruise down the Thames than a drive on an A road! With the car producing a bow wave for most of the journey it was certainly not the sort of day for taking a picnic into the countryside, but at least we could enjoy some great tunes in the dry.

My intended guest for the day, David Clark who was coming in to reveal some of the erstwhile secrets of the cold war era, had to “cry off” at the last moment. It’s OK the “spooks” haven’t nobbled him and he should be with us in a couple of weeks.

With NIKKI MILLS under canvas this weekend (rather her than me) I had the bonus of an extra hour to fill which was really good timing as a whole heap of brand new music arrived today.  This bonus was exploited to the full and I enjoyed playing many of the new arrivals today. Keep your ears peeled for new songs from the likes of WillIAm, Noel Gallagher and Train to name but a few.

The always reliable Frances Clamp popped in with the history of Billericay’s ISOLATION HOSPITAL. You can listen again to what she had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 10th July]

I’m not here next week. It’s my wedding anniversary and because I want to see another one, I’m taking my wife out on a special treat. Just hope the weather is better than it was today. Unless you can join me at 11am on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday when I’ll be deputising for Michelle Ward on EAT MY LUNCH I’ll see you again on Saturday week. In the meantime do your best to keep dry.

All the best,


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Well what a week it’s been. Yesterday the Olympic Flame went through Brentwood and coupled with this there were numerous associated celebratory events and sideshows. Mercifully the rain even stopped for a time.

Today saw THE BRENTWOOD BEER AND MUSIC FESTIVAL at the BRENTWOOD CENTRE. I had hoped that one or two bands might make it into the studio but I fear they had sunk into the mud which was the inevitable  result of the rain which unkindly returned in heavy bursts today. But we didn’t care, we still managed to enjoy a hamper bursting full of great songs.

As Frances Clamp had thoughtlessly gone on leave, yet again, I was obliged to step into her shoes with my version of the history of PILGRIMS HALL. You can listen to my efforts again, here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 3rd July]

After this I took my picnic table and set it up in the beer tent at the Brentwood Beer & Music Festival and enjoyed a veritable treat of live music. Great!

Right well I’m now drying myself out in readiness for next week’s show. This has to be the wettest drought I’ve ever known! Join me next Saturday when we’ll learn some of the secrets of the cold war from David Clark and Frances Clamp will be back with the history of Billericay’s Isolationist Hospital.

Look after yourselves and see you next week.


All the best,


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With summer seemingly finally with us – well at least it’s dry and sunny and at a weekend to boot, we celebrated with a show literally bursting at the seams with feelgood music for a sunny Saturday afternoon.

If you missed the show, you really missed out on some great songs from people like Bob Segar, Vanessa Amorosi, Prince, The Beach Boys, Mika, Katy Perry,   Five For Fighting, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, The Doobie Bros, Feeling, Faith Hill,  Bryan Adams, George Harrison and Britney Spears, to name but a few.

Just after half past one, Frances Clamp joined me for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week, although historical, her subject was also very topical as it related to the history of banking, especially in Billericay and with particular emphasis on Barclays. One point that Frances made was that bankers used to be looked down upon because of their charges for interest. Some things never change!

You can listen to what Frances had to say right here: –  [audio:|titles=Bygones 30th June]

That’s it for another week, don’t forget the BRENTWOOD BEER and MUSIC FESTIVAL happening next week at the Brentwood Centre on Friday 6th, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July. Hope to see you there.

All the best,



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On today’s show I was joined by local author and businessman, Patrick Forsyth. Now Patrick is one clever guy as he’s managed to combine all his experience of business travel into writing books, especially on travel. Since many of his business trips have been to areas of South East Asia it’s of no great surprise that many of his books have been centred on countries in that part of the world.

One of his books now regrettably out of print – FIRST CLASS AT LAST contrasted the differences of traveling in economy as against first class between Bangkok and Singapore. It took Patrick a considerable amount of effort to persuade a publisher to take on his work but once the contract was in his hands, Patrick took off for Singapore. Having promised the publisher that the book would include an element of humour, Patrick realised that he had added quite an extra element of pressure. He was therefore thankful that on his first night at his hotel in Singapore, he found himself sharing a table with a couple who were embarking on a fairly colourful row which got him off with a flying start.

Three years ago Patrick ventured off to Burma, a country to which at that time, travel was actively discouraged by the authorities. The resultant book – BEGUILING BURMA – has just been published  and with the recently well reported political changes in that country, the timing could hardly have been better. Patrick outlined some of his experiences in that country and suggested that for anyone considering visiting the country, now would probably be an ideal time to go there before it starts to get too commercialised.

Yet to be published is a book on Thailand to be called, SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED. All being well this book should be available in the autumn. Patrick has also been working closely with a Thai author to produce a book on Thai recipes. Most cookery books featuring Thai cuisine have actually been written by Chinese authors so this publication by a Thai author represents a first truly authentic Thai cookery book.

Patrick’s books are available from all good booksellers, Amazon or directly from Patrick through his website

Listen again to my chat with Patrick right here: – [audio:|titles=Patrick Forsyth]

In the second hour of the show, with Frances Clamp on holiday it was left to me to do the honours on our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week the subject was EVELYN HESELTINE and de ROUGEMONT MANOR. In fact since this subject was first discussed last Tuesday, some additional information was received from Sylvia Kent.  You can listen again to the fuller version right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 23rd June]

Well that wraps things up for another week. Have a good one and I’ll see you next Saturday.

All the best,


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I was joined on today’s show by David Clark, the publicity officer for the Friends of Chauvigny, Billericay Town Twinning Association. No mere mortal is David, however, who apart from his town twinning activities has also served time in the Intelligence Corps and was also closely involved in the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. Hopefully we’ll be able to persuade him to come back on another occasion to throw some light on that shadowy world!

But today the spotlight was most definitely on town twinning. David explained that after Europe had been left devastated by two world wars, the last ending with the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, there was a feeling that another war in Europe could end in similar fashion. In an effort to foster personal developments across the continent therefore, the concept of town twinning was born. The link up between Billericay and Chauvigny was the brainchild of a young French teacher, Elise Paret, who had been enchanted by Billericay during time she had spent here. An earlier attempt to twin Chauvigny with Daventry had failed due to the somewhat impersonal way in which Daventry had approached the issue.

At first problems arose due to the language barrier but this obstacle was quickly overcome.  Chauvigny was and is a very interesting place. During the war it was in the occupied zone of the country, but right on the border with Vichy France. Just before D-Day the RAF dropped a huge amount of ammunition and other military supplies. Whilst the actual material was collected and put to effective use by the resistance fighters, the containers in which this material had been delivered were hidden by the local farmer on whose land the material had landed, only to be forgotten about until recently re-discovered a few years ago! This material is now on display in a resistance exhibition.

Anyone interested can join up for an annual fee of £5, but this is no “free lunch” so if travelling to Chauvigny to stay with local families, must pay for the trip themselves and in turn be willing to act as hosts to guests from Chauvigny and take them around to see the sights here.

You can listen again to what David had to say here: -[audio:|titles=David Clark]

In the second hour of today’s programme, Frances Clamp dropped by to tell us all about Billericay in Roman and Saxon times and once again you can hear what she had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 12th June]

Well that’s another week gone by. See you again next Saturday at 12 when I’ll be talking to author extraordinaire, Patrick Forsyth and in the absence of Frances Clamp I’ll be doing my best to pass on research that Frances carried out on De Rougemont Manor.

Have a good week til then,



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After the long Bank Holiday washout, it was good to see an improvement on the weather front – not much but at least it was something! With so many people away I was fortunate to be given an extra hour today.

In the first hour I was joined by ANDREW SUMMERS who apart from having the distinction of turning down a job offer from Alan Sugar, admittedly when they were both 16 years old and at the same school, Andrew has moved from selling and publishing books, to writing them. Most, but not all, his books are linked to the history of Essex and he is also very interested in theories that the works of Shakespeare may well have a strong Essex connection.

You can listen again to all that Andrew had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Essex Hundred]

Andrew also kindly penned a poem all about PHOENIX FM which is re-produced here: –

In the second hour we heard again from local author and historian, Frances Clamp. For her subject this week, Frances again turned her spotlight on local cinemas, and in particular this week, to THE PARADE which opened in the 1920’s on a site opposite what was at one time the Amstrad headquarters. Once again you have a second chance to hear what Frances had to say on this subject right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 5th June]

Well that’s me done for another week. If you can, please join me next Saturday at noon when we’ll do it all over again. Oh and by the way I’ll be joined next week by DAVE CLARKE who, amongst other things, has been closely involved in Billericay’s Town Twinning activities. Indeed it’s very much Billericay’s turn to be in the spotlight next week as Frances Clamp will be looking at Roman and Saxon times there.

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Another bank holiday weekend and once again the weather seems to know it’s a bank holiday! Mercifully today was dry and the sun even made an appearance for a while to lift temperatures and spirits on his special weekend. With numerous events taking place across our region, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, today’s show was brimming full of music both past and present to provide a right royal feast.

In addition to the fabulous pageant of music on the menu today, we were also fortunate to have Frances Clamp popping in with our Brentwood & Billericay Bygones feature. Her subject today was St Edith’s, an imposing house which, until 1961,  stood in a prominent position on Billericay’s High Street. Although the house no longer exists, St Edith’s Court now occupies a position, adjacent to where the house once stood. Originally a private residence, for a time it became a nunnery before being requisitioned by the state during the second world war. You can listen again to the contribution by Frances here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 29th May]

Well that’s me done for another week. Enjoy the rest of your extended bank holiday weekend, whatever the weather throws at us! See you next week.


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What a fabulous week it’s been and contrary to the forecast earlier this week, the weekend weather is proving to be a real treat. To celebrate this we had an extra large Packed Lunch today – 3 whole ours just overflowing with music. But not just music, we also looked at some of the quirkier items of news and Frances Clamp also popped in to talk about Brentwood’s one time ELECTRIC PICTURE PALACE.

Some of the oddball news stories we reported included the item about a class of school children who got “high” on their chocolate brownies as one of their number had laced the mix with cannabis, the exhibition of absolutely nothing being staged in London, where for a admission charge of £8 you can see ………… nothing and finally news of some delicious meals enjoyed by our ancestors from the Middle Ages that can now be re-created today thanks to a new cookbook just published. Fancy sparrows on toast, or how about live frog pie? Not to your taste? Well how about sautéed tortoise, barbecued otter, imitation entrails, or perhaps chopped brain fritters? Very nice with chips and washed down with a good Claret!

As for Frances Clamp you can listen again to her contribution right here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 22nd May]

But me – I’m off now to sink a couple of jars!

Enjoy the sunshine. See you next week.


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This weekend saw the 24-hour music marathon of CREATIVE SESSIONS involving two dozen local bands performing live at the BRENTWOOD CENTRE. I was fortunate enough to be joined by local boy band, THE FELONIE who came in for a chat and performed a couple of live acoustic sets. The Felonie have been in being for about 2 years. Lead guitarist  Greg, front man, Alex and bassist, Jamie (the son of Phoenix FM’s very own Bob Simpson)  are all 18 with percussionist/drummer, Ross the baby of the group at 17. Whilst the interview and main session can all be heard on our special CREATIVE SESSIONS page, you can also hear this interview and acoustic set here: -[audio:|titles=The Felonie]

In the second hour of the show, Frances Clamp popped in for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES FEATURE to talk about the NEOLITHIC houses unearthed close to NEVENDON discovered in 2009. You can listen again to what Frances had to say here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 15th May]

Well that wraps it up for another week. Hope you can join me on either Monday or Tuesday at 2pm for THE TWO O’CLOCK SHOW, but failing that I’ll be back for an extended PACKED LUNCH SHOW next Saturday at noon when I’ll be with you for 3 hours. Frances Clamp will be joining me at about half past one, to talk about Brentwood’s long defunct ELECTRIC PICTURE PALACE. In the meantime it looks as though the weather should be improving next week so get on out there if you can and enjoy!

All the best,



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Whilst, given the lack of sun and warmth, you could be forgiven for thinking we were in March rather than May, the spring blooms, blossom, lengthening  of the days and the re-appearance of the Morris Dancers prove otherwise. I was especially fortunate therefore to be joined by TONY MOTLEY from Billericay’s very own Morris Dancing Side – THE Mayflower MorrisMen.

Tony explained what Morris Dancing was all about, outlined the history of the custom, such as is known, and explained how one man – Cecil Sharp – took steps to revive the practice which by 1899, had all but vanished from the English countryside. Cecil Sharp toured many Cotswold villages in order to obtain details of the different dances being performed, as these vary from area to area. He then published his first book in 1907 detailing what he had discovered. A second book followed in 1910 and these publications now form a kind of recipe book detailing all the different dances and the accompanying music, which is used today by many of the sides practicing the custom in England today.

Naturally at this time of year many events are being planned and the MorrisMen can be seen performing next at the Red Lion in Margaretting on the 10th May and at the Generals Arms at Little Baddow next Saturday at 2pm. One of the biggest events though, will be taking place in the Square in Thaxted at 5pm on the 9th June. Full details can be found by going to the website

Whilst September is the best time for anyone interested to join a side, there is no reason to hold back until then. The Billericay side meets at 8pm every Thursday evening at the Mary Magdalene Church in Billericay High Street. You can also call the bagman,  Geoff Douglas on 01245 345922.

You can listen again to my chat with Tony here: – [audio:|titles=Tony Motley Interview]

Frances Clamp joined me in the second hour of today’s extended show to talk about Brentwood’s Chess Club which was founded in 1932. My discussion with Frances can be heard here: – [audio:|titles=Mayday Bygones]

I’m off on my hols next week but Bob Simpson has kindly agreed to step into my shoes at which time Frances will be going way back to Neolithic times to talk about the Neolithic settlement which was discovered near Nevendon in 2009. So make a point of joining Bob next Tuesday at 2 and/or Saturday at 12 noon.

I’ll see you in a couple of weeks, meantime look after yourself.

All the best,




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I don’t know about you but I can’t believe that these cold, wet conditions can keep going for much longer. Sooner or later the sun must return to allow us to get back into the great outdoors so we thought it timely to take a look at what steps you might want to take to protect your property.

With this in mind Fred Good, liaison officer of the Billericay Branch of Neighbourhood Watch joined me today. Fred explained what Neighbourhood Watch is all about, it’s aims and how it sets about achieving these. Anybody interested in joining this Neighbourhood Watch can either attend the meetings which are held at 8pm on the second Wednesday of every “even” month at Billericay Town Football Club, leave a message on 01277 633090 or E-Mail Fred at You can also get details from Billericay Police station between Noon and 6pm Monday to Saturday or from your local library. There is no membership fee but Fred mentioned that they do have a number of fund raising activities, one of which coming up soon will be a Fun Walk being held at Barleylands on 27th May.

The complete interview with Fred can be heard again here: – [audio:|titles=Fred Good Interview]

Frances Clamp joined me in the second hour for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. Her subject this week was the RITZ CINEMA which used to be on Chapel Street in Billericay. The Ritz opened its doors for the first time in 1938 but in 1971 became a bingo hall, although a small museum was retained celebrating its earlier days. You can listen again to what Frances had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 24th April]

Well that’s it for me for another week. Let’s hope that next weekend being a Bank Holiday weekend will behave itself and give us some sunshine. Being a special May Day holiday next week, I’ll have a specially extended show. Frances Clamp will be chatting about Brentwood’s Chess Club which was founded in 1932 and we’ve also enticed Tony Motley of Billericay’s Mayflower Morris Dancers, away from the maypole to give us the lowdown on Morris Dancing. All that plus some of the best music around adds up to a show not to be missed. See you then, I hope.

All the best,



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Hello again.

I was thrilled today,  to welcome back JAZZ BLAACK, who had been my very first guest on the PACKED LUNCH SHOW, way back in October. She may be a mere 17 years old but Jazz already has a remarkable list of achievents to her credit.  She has been one of the artists who have supported the likes of LEMAR, OLLY MURRS, DIVERSITY, CHICO and BLAZIN’ SQUAD and has recently performed in front of an audience of 10,000 in Birmingham. The Americans, in particular have fallen in love with her recording style and following a request from the USA, Jazz has just recorded I JUST WANNA BE ME, a song that has already been played quite a few times on PHOENIX FM.

Apart from working hard for her A levels in History, English and Law, Jazz is also working hard on writing songs for a new album and has a number of public appearances booked for later in the year, the nearest to us being at the Colchester Carnival on 30th June.

My interview with Jazz, together with 3 of her songs can be heard again here: -[audio:|titles=Jazz Blaack Interview]

Frances Clamp’s subject for today’s BYGONES feature was CHARLES BELLI, a truly remarkable man who served as the vicar for South Weald, for an amazing 53 years. An amazingly generous man, he finally retired at the age of 85 and spent the final 10 years of his life in Billericay. This feature can be heard again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 17th April]

I hope you can join me again next Saturday when Fred Good will be talking all about the BILLERICAY NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH and Frances Clamp will be providing some historical information all about THE RITZ CINEMA in Billericay. Maybe you met your future husband or wife on the back row of that establishment before it was converted into a Bingo Hall prior to its eventual demolition in 1991.

Hope to see you then, meantime have a good week.

All the best,



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For a second week running our packed lunch was an extra large repast today, spread over a whole 3 hours! I was privileged today to be joined today by Ann Wiseall, a past president of Business & Professional Women and member of the Billericay branch of this organisation. Contrary to reports to the contrary this organisation is not involved in female wrestling!

They are actually deeply concerned with promoting women in the world of business by aiming, among other things to develop their business and leadership potentials. Many different avenues are being used to achieve these goals including regular learning and mentoring programmes, monthly meetings locally as well as annual national events. The organisation has been going internationally since 1930 and in the UK since 1938. Ann is very keen to attract new members, especially from the young. If you are interested call Ann on 01277 623867 or go to the website at

You can listen to the interview with Ann again right here: –  [audio:|titles=Ann Wiseall interview]

In the second hour I was joined by Frances Clamp who was talking about a subject close to my heart – pubs! But not just any pub, but The Crown Inn in Billericay. You can hear what Francis had to say right here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 10th April]

Next week Frances will be telling us about a vicar who served the parish of South Weald for over half a century from 1823 to 1876.

We also had time to take a look at some “weird and whacky” news items including one about a woman who managed to seal herself inside a  flatpack wardrobe she was assembling and another concerning a dramatic stunt employed to launch a new US film channel in Belgium which resulted in “gobsmacked” shoppers witnessing a series of apparent incidents including a gun battle with police, an ambulance crew “accidentally” dropping a patient’s body and a street fight with paramedics!

We also managed to squash in a veritable pile of great music featuring some classic memories mixed together with some of the newest releases around, including the latest song by local singer JAZZ BLAACK – I Just Wanna Be Me. Jazz was one of the first guests on my PACKED LUNCH show last October and I’m delighted to say that she’ll be joining me  again for a re-visit next week. Really looking forward to that.

Anyway that’s me done for another week. Hope to see you again next Saturday at 12 noon. Meantime have a good week. All the best,


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Easter Saturday and what happens, the sun disappears behind thick cloud, a northerly wind sets in and the temperature plummets! Not a good day for heading to the hills with a picnic, but quite a good day for sitting close to a radio indoors,  enjoying a few drinks and a clutch of great music. Well at Phoenix we can’t supply the food or drinks, but music we have aplenty and we certainly dished out a ton of that today including a mixture of new releases from the likes of Olly Murs, current hits by Coldplay and Jessie J to oldies from George Harrison, Dandy Warhols and The Supremes.

In addition to the music we looked at some of the quirkier news stories you may have missed, like the one about the woman who called in the experts to remove a huge snake from her loft only to discover that it was a draught excluder! Then there was the story about the council who have set up special lights that they will hope will deter young troublemakers from congregating in certain areas by emphasising their acne spots. And finally there was the story of the grave digger who fell down, and became trapped in the hole he had just dug! I love it – other peoples’ misfortunes are always funnier than ones own – well I think so, anyway.

In addition Frances Clamp popped in with our Brentwood & Billericay Bygones feature. This week she was talking about a number of landmark clocks that have served Brentwood over many years. You can listen again to Frances on this week’s subject here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 3rd april]

Well that’s me done for another week. Back again next Saturday for another extended show through to 3pm. Next week I’ll have Ann Wiseall with me. Ann will be telling us about an organisation she is actively involved with – Business & Professional Women. Frances Clamp returns with the history of The Crown Inn, in Billericay. All that and much more so I hope to have your company from 12 noon next Saturday. In the meantime try to enjoy your Bank Holiday break in spite of the less than brilliant weather.

See you next week,


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On today’s PACKED LUNCH I was joined by local artist, JIM MERRIOTT and a more talented man would be hard to find. A one-time fireman forced to abandon that career by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, in spite of being in constant pain, Jim was inspired by his artist uncle to pursue this new career, and boy has he embraced the challenge.

He’s had more than 500 watercolours published in magazines such as ESSEX LIFE and HERTFORDSHIRE LIFE, numerous pictures reproduced as greetings cards and calendars; there is even a DVD available demonstrating his work. He gives lectures, does demonstrations, offers private tuition and has even published a book celebrating his life and achievements entitled “WATERCOLOURS – THE PAIN AND THE PASSION”.

From next week, and throughout the spring, you can meet JIM in person and see him at work at INGATESTONE HALL. In spite of all the constant pain he suffers, he still considers himself to be an especially lucky person and must therefore stand out as an inspiration to us all.  If you can, do get along to Ingatestone Hall to see Jim and his work. I can promise you that you will be in for a real treat.

You can listen again to my chat with Jim here: – [audio:|titles=Jim Merriott]

Last week we at PHOENIX FM, celebrated the 5th birthday of our full time broadcasting and to celebrate this Frances Clamp popped in to talk about the very early days of the station. Frances was one our very first contributors, long before we gained our full time licence and you can listen again to her recollections of these very early days here: –  [audio:|titles=Bygones ]

Well that’s me done for another week. I hope you can join me for my specially extended show on Easter Saturday next week. Hope to see you again then, meantime have a good week (two 4 day working weeks in a row coming up – which can’t be bad!).

All the best,


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Well after sitting in yesterday on EAT MY LUNCH, it was back to my regular Saturday PACKED LUNCH SHOW. I’m beginning to wonder if the management keep herding towards lunchtime shows because they think I make a meal of it!

Whatever the real reason I was very pleased to be joined by the Chairman of The BRENTWOOD WRITERS CIRCLE, Colin Taylor, who not surprisingly is a very accomplished story teller in his own right. He has recently published his first book, THE RESTAURANT BEAR which is intended particularly for children aged between 7 and 11, but could appeal to younger children as well. The book is available from priced at £6 plus p&p. Other stories are in the pipeline as picture books. One of these is titled THE PACKED LUNCH MONSTER. I just hope this is not aimed at me!

You can listen to the interview again here: – [audio:|titles=Colin Taylor interview]

Later on Frances Clamp popped in to outline the long history of Warley from the times of the Doomsday Book and once again her contribution is repeated here in case you missed it: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 20th March]

I look forward to next week when Frances will be reminiscing about her early recollections from the start of PHOENIX FM, 5 years ago yesterday the 23rd March 2007. I’ll also be joined by local artist, James Merriott.

In the meantime enjoy the sunshine and don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour tonight.

All the best,


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Having been away from my Packed Lunch for the past 3 weeks I had a welcome return and was joined at the table today by local author Celia Pyke who came along to discuss her books on Rainham & Wennington and Upminster. Some of the interesting people she encountered during her research included a murderer, a lady who worked at Bertram Mills Circus and another lady who had to use a bicycle to go from her house to the outside toilet – it was that far away!

Celia has also just completed a new novel “A DAISY BLOSSOMS” and Celia let us into the secret of how she manages to give and maintain individuality to the many different characters in her books. “A DAISY BLOSSOMS” is a story revolving around a girl who sells watercress on the streets of Victorian London and follows her from childhood until she reaches the age of 21.

Celia also admitted that she is also hoping to publish another book aimed at older boys called “MYSTERY ON THE MARSH”. This may be published via Kindle in the not too distant future.

The entire interview can be heard here: – [audio:|titles=Celia Pyke]

In the second hour I was joined by Frances Clamp for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week the subject was on the Chantry House in Billericay, which due to its connection with The Pilgrim Fathers is one of the haunts favoured by American tourists.

Frances’ feature can be heard again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 13th March]


And, of course, being St Patrick’s Day we just had to play a selection of hits from some great Irish artists such as Westlife, The Corrs and Chris De Burgh. Just amazing that given the size of their population that the Emerald Isle are able to assemble such a huge amount of talent, so after the show it was off to the pub to raise a glass of the dark brown liquid in the direction of Ireland. A happy St Patrick’s Day to all.


That’s all from me this week. Hope you can join me next Saturday when my guest will be another author, Colin Taylor.


All the best,



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After a week off from the show, I was delighted to return today with a very full menu indeed.


Today I was privileged to be joined by DREW-LEVI HUNTSMAN and JAE FROST. Now although still only 19, Drew has appeared in numerous West End Shows with people like Michael Ball and Sir Elton John and has just completed filming for The Sweeney. Jae at just 20 is already working full time in the music business. In addition to working together on a new album, they are both hoping to release new albums individually as well as EP’s. Earlier this week on Tuesday, they released their latest single – SAVE YOU FROM ME, which we’ve already played a few times on PHOENIX.

We had hoped that Drew and Jae would be singing live today but unfortunately they had both been struck down with the dreaded lurgy and sore throats but hopefully we’ll get them next time round!

You can listen again to the interview with Drew and Jae here: –

[audio:|titles=Drew and Jae interview]

Once again Frances Clamp joined me for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature to talk about LAKE MEADOWS in Billericay. Her talk can be heard again here: –

[audio:|titles=Bygones 14th February]

I won’t be here next week as I will be going back to school, but hopefully Frances Clamp will still be heard talking about the history of Brentwood’s Baptist Church.

I will be back on my usual Two O’Clock slot next Tuesday afternoon and hope to have your company then. See you soon.



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Having been “sloping shoulders” for the last 3 weeks, I was really pleased to be back in harness this afternoon, especially as Brentwood based author, PATRICIA POUND came in to talk about her newly completed book called VOICES OF HORNCHURCH.

Based on the recollections of former residents of Hornchurch, some of whom have moved far away to places on the other side of the world, the book provides a unique insight of what life used to be like and creates an exceptional historic record of the heritage of the town for posterity. The recollections included, date back to the beginning of the 20th century so it will come as little surprise that many of the contributors to the book are well into their 80’s and 90’s. For this reason their memories have special significance.

‘Voices of Hornchurch’ is available from all good bookshops, W.H.Smith, Waterstones and Swan Books in Upminster, Amazon online and direct from the publisher The History Press  at £12.99.

The interview with Patricia can be heard again in full, here: – [audio:|titles=Patricia Pound interview]

Not to be outdone, later in the programme, Frances Clamp provided an interesting insight into Billericay’s Cater Museum. Her contribution can be heard again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 31st January]

My thanks go out to Patrick Sherring, Bob Simpson and Dave Turner for doing such sterling work sitting in for me during the past 3 weeks. I’m afraid to say that I’m off again next week, helping my wife out at a local amateur dramatics performance by the Castle Point Players at St George’s Church Hall in Thundersley. My thanks to Paul Golder and Ed Wellman who have kindly stepped into my shoes to handle next week’s show. As this is the day of the move to our new studios in the Brentwood Centre, they will be joined by the Brentwood County High School Choir at 12:30 and by Ben Konstantinovic at 1:30

On my return in two weeks time, two very talented Essex based singer/songwriters, Drew-Levi Huntsman and Jae Frost will be popping into the show. Really looking forward to that!

Hope to see you next Tuesday at 2 or failing that back here with my PACKED LUNCH in two weeks time. In the meantime, do your best to keep warm.

All the best,





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A Packed Packed Lunch! 21 January 2012

‘Twas my great pleasure to sit in for Scott Ross on Packed Lunch today. It went something like this…

EMF – Unbelievable

Intro by me to the programme in which I announced to the world that this week saw Mohammed Ali’s 17th birthday! I should of course said 70th. It was my hope to include a tribute to Ali today but in the end I ran out of time so I’ll do it tomorrow on the Sunday Replay at 2pm.

Alisha Dixon – Do it Our Way

Maverick Sabre – No One

Item to commemorate Captain Scott’s ill fated mission to the South Pole

Fergal Sharkey – A Good Heart

Mark Ronson – Just

The Maccabees – Pelican

Ed Sheeran – Drunk

Mutya Buena – Real Girl

Laura Brannigan – Gloria

Level 42 – Sun Goes Down (Livin it Up)

Train – Drive By

Bananarama – Robert DeNiro’s Waiting

Item – Iraq Wants Suddam Hussein’s Buttocks Back!

Genesis – Invisible Touch

James Morrison – Please Don’t Stop The Rain

CSS – Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above

Item – Sunday Replay Preview

Huey Lewis and the News – Stuck on You

Flowrider – Good Feeling

Item – Brentwood and Billericay Bygones – With Scott Ross and Frances Clamp

Ian Brown – Love Like a Fountain

Jessie J – Domino

M83 – Midnight City

Beach Boys – Kokomo

Thanks for listening!





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For this the first PACKED LUNCH SHOW of 2012 I was joined by local author SUSAN HEGEDUS. Between bringing up her three children, since 2001 Susan has been contributing articles to various publications and websites especially on issues relating to religion and Essex folklore, but has now taken the plunge and written her first book – “THE HIDDEN GREEN MAN IN ESSEX”. Indeed today was a really special day for Susan as a little later on she is to be inducted into the prestigious BRENTWOOD WRITERS CIRCLE.

It was therefore especially good of her to take time out to come and talk to us all about her new book. The full interview can be heard here: – [audio:|titles=Green Man]

but if you would like to listen to Susan speaking about the book first hand, Susan will be on hand at Laindon Library at 11am on Friday 24th February.  Susan will also be attending a Rotary Club lunch in Billericay on 27th February. Signed copies of her fascinating book can be obtained from Susan’s website at www. for a mere £7.99.

Later in the proceedings I was also joined for the first time this year by FRANCES CLAMP for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. This week Frances told us all about the history of St MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH in GREAT BURSTEAD. All good stuff as usual. Her contribution can be heard again here: –  [audio:|titles=Bygones 3rd January]

Now I’m off back to school for the next 3 weeks and our Friday Night LATE NIGHT EXTRA man, Patrick Sherring will be taking care of business for me next week and Bob Simpson of THE SUNDAY REPLAY fame wiil be here in two weeks time. Meantime I’ll be back on Tuesday afternoon at 2 and then again at 6 so I hope to have your company then. Meantime look after yourselves.

All the best,


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Without any guests this week, not even Frances Clamp, today’s PACKED LUNCH was stuffed full of some more of the goodies that made it to PHOENIX FM’s coveted “A”List during 2011.

Last Tuesday whilst covering the DRIVE TIME SHOW, I got through a selection from the first 6 months of the year and so today I started from the Autumn with “Jealousy” from Will Young, “Together You and I” by Dolly Parton, “Collide” from Leona Lewis and “Arlandria” from The Foo Fighters.

It will be of no surprise to anyone that I also played my favourite single of the year – “Stand” By Lenny Kravitz or the single taken from my album of the year by James Morrison “I Won’t let you go”. I also managed to sneak in “Brittle Heart” from Brett Anderson and “We Found Love” by superstar Rihanna and Calvin Harris.

On top of this the computer helped me by playing a host of songs from Phoenix FM’s current “A” list including “Our Day will come” from Amy Winehouse, “See That Girl” from Cast, Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House, Noel Gallaagher’s High Flying Birds with “If I Had a Gun”, the current release by Olly Murrs – “In Case You didn’t Know” and “Kiss The Stars” from Brentwood’s very own Pixie Lott.

A PACKED LUNCH indeed! Frances Clamp returns next week to give us the historical low down on St Mary Magdalene Church in Great Burstead.

In the meantime may I thank you for listening and wish you a very happy, and especially healthy 2012.

Bye for now,



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Well we may have been a bit light on guests this week, but made up for this with a whole sackful of Christmas favourites past and present. One of the oldest songs played was a number one hit at Christmas time in 1956 – MARY’s BOY CHILD by HARRY BELAFONTE. The sad truth is that not only do I remember the song well, I even remember buying it – on a 78 RPM record! We couldn’t let Christmas pass without playing some classics off the Phil Spector Christmas album as well as songs from the likes of Jona Lewie, Bruce Springsteen, The Backstreet Boys, Cliff Richard plus a duet by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, to list but a few. I hope this selection will have really helped to put you in the mood for Christmas.

For the final time this year, FRANCES CLAMP joined me for our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES FEATURE. Her chosen subject this week was linked closely with Christmases of old and in particular medieval times when the a lord of the manor might have passed on the lesser parts of a deer to the poor. These parts might have included the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains. These were known as the deer’s “umbles”. Mixed with whatever else a cook could lay her hands on, they would be made into a pie. The poor would thus eat “UMBLE PIE” which is almost certainly why anyone down on their luck today may be reported as having to eat “HUMBLE PIE”.

You can listen again to Frances telling us all about UMBLE PIE, here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 20th December]

We are giving Frances a week off but all being well, she will be back on 3rd January when she will be giving us the historical lowdown on St Mary Magdalene Church of Great Burstead.

I’ll be back on Bank Holiday Tuesday from 2pm right through until 6. No more Christmas songs, rather we’ll be playing some of the songs that made it onto PHOENIX FM’s “A” List during 2011. If you can’t make it on Tuesday, I look forward to your company next Saturday – NEW YEAR’s EVE. No big long breaks for us radio presenters!

In the meantime have a fabulous Christmas. Try not to eat or drink too much and don’t leave all the work to poor old mum, it’s her Christmas too!

See you next week.


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As an early treat for Christmas, I was joined by local singer KAREN LEE BURNETTE. Indeed I was doubly fortunate as Karen’s mother JAN BURNETTE who made recordings and did a fair amount of TV work back in the ’60’s.

Karen has just released her first album “WITH ALL MY HEART”. This album features no less than 20 songs from which we picked a couple of tracks – FROM THIS MOMENT and BRING HIM HOME. Right now you can obtain a copy of this album free of charge by going to Karen’s website – You will merely be asked to pay the cost of postage, a mere £4.50. You can’t get a better deal than that for an album which has already received much critical acclaim from the world of show business, including many other artists. By the way Karen would love to hear from you and hear any comments you care to make. Karen can be contacted via her mother at Please note the spelling of BURNETTE!

You can listen again to my talk with Karen here: – [audio:|titles=Karen Lee Burnette interview]

Later in the proceedings Frances Clamp provided the historical low down on Brentwood’s HOLLY TREES PRIMARY SCHOOL which was once known as JUNCTION SCHOOL. You can listen to my chat with Frances here:

[audio:|titles=Bygones 13th December]


Of course all this was served up with a whole heap of those familiar Christmas songs plus a clutch of the latest sounds around mixed in with a sprinklingof great oldies from the recent past.

Well that’s all from me for another week. Hope to see you next week for the Christmas Eve show with heaps of Christmas favourites and Frances Clamp talking about Umble Pie. Dion’t know what that is? Well tune in next week and all will be revealed.


All the best,


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Well first things first, must just express my appreciation to Andrew Babicz for doing such a sterling job on my behalf last week.

Yes, last week I spent a couple of days away in Germany followed by a very unwelcome bout of Montezuma’s revenge, not as a result of the trip to Germany, I hasten to add!

Piper with her new book

Anyway I was delighted to be joined by not one, but two local authors today. First off PIPER TERRETT generously took time out on her way to a book signing in BILLERICAY, to pop in to talk about her new detective novel, VICTIM SUPPORT. The story is set in BILLERICAY, loosely disguised as Norsey and features Detective Inspector Sam (Samantha, that is) Cree, who having just returned to Norsey is, together with her boss, Chief Inspector Bill Irons, thrown in the deep end when twin boys go missing from a playground. Things go from bad to worse when first a student and then an elderly woman are gunned down. The race is then on to find the missing boys and the killer before there are any more incidents.  Hopefully this will be the first in a series INSPECTOR SAM CREE stories.

The full interview with Piper is here: -[audio:|titles=Piper Terrett interview]

Anyone lucky enough to have been able to get down to the COACH HOUSE at the BILLERICAY TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES this afternoon, will have been able to obtain an autographed copy of VICTIM SUPPORT at the special price of £6. Otherwise it is available from Norsey Press via Amazon at £6.99.

In the second hour I was joined LIVE by Frances Clamp who made a special unscheduled visit to talk about WEIR POND in BILLERICAY, which has long since disappeared but which used to be located behind THE RISING SUN PUBLIC HOUSE.

This week’s BYGONES FEATURE is here for you to listen again: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 10th December]

I am especially indebted to Frances, who was in some discomfort having suffered from a very nasty fall earlier this week, and had already deferred her normal scheduled appearance from Tuesday, when I was unavoidably prevented from presenting my usual “TWO O’CLOCK SHOW”. Anyway, all being well and assuming that we are all on parade, next week Frances will be telling us all about HOLLY TREE PRIMARY SCHOOL in BRENTWOOD.

Well that’s more than enough from me for now. I look forward to seeing you next week, either on Tuesday at 2pm or next Saturday at 12 Noon. If you are feeling really brave please join me for both shows. Meantime have a good week.

All the best,


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Jim Reeve


Today I was very fortunate to be joined by local author JIM REEVE.  Now Jim has written a couple of books relating to the history of Wickford and Basildon and is currently working on another book – BASILDON PAST and PRESENT. However today we were looking at his book relating his experiences as a child evacuee during the Blitz during the last war.

Although his book is styled as  A SCHOOLBOY’S WAR IN CORNWALL, we learnt that in fact during the latter years of the war he was actually living in Rawreth. Many people listening will, I am sure feel that this book would make an ideal Christmas present and it can be found on Amazon and at booksellers such as Waterstones, however you can also contact Jim direct via his E-Mail address – and if you buy the book via this route you will obtain a signed copy.

My interview with Jim is here: -[audio:|titles=Jim Reeve Interview]


This week Frances Clamp was telling us all about the history of Sainbury’s in Brentwood from October 1924. You can here her talk again here: -[audio:|titles=Bygones 22nd November]

Next week, timed neatly to co-incide with St Andrews Day on Wednesday Frances will be giving the history of St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Herongate. I will be talking to Frances live next Tuesday afternoon at about 2:30.

Now as I’m away next Saturday, PHOENIX FM’s resident gardener, Andrew Babicz has kindly agreed to step into the breach and deputise for me next Saturday afternoon but I look forward to being back with you on the 10th December. In the meantime look after yourselves.

All the best,


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As Nikki Mills, PHOENIX FM’s very own confidante to the stars, was off today (probably hobnobbing  with all her show biz friends) I got an extra hour this afternoon, which was just great.

In the first hour of the show, I was joined by Craig R Smith who has been running his own business involving bespoke kitchen, bathroom and bedroom installations. Craig had a lot of advice to give on the virtues of improving your current home and adding to its value rather than  moving, at a time when the housing market is not so buoyant. One interesting point he made was that regardless of the value of properties involved,  the actual physical cost of moving averages around £15000. Whilst the price of the home improvement is very much a movable feast, the extra value which can be added to the property, can often exceed this figure which could be multiplied still further once the housing market starts to recover. Whilst caution might suggest that hard earned cash should be left in the bank, the present level of interest rates might encourage people to think about this factor more carefully.

My conversation with Craig can be found here: -[audio:|titles=Craig R Smith]

Later, in our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature, Frances Clamp revealed some very interesting facts about ARCHER MEMORIAL HALL in Billericay. This is the old hall that was demolished, not the one that is still there today. Her contribution is here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 15th November]

Next week Frances is going to be looking at the history of Sainsbury’s in Brentwood, which believe it or not, dates back to October 1924. Now I always try to do a little advanced research into Frances’ chosen topic, but since by her own admission she has a direct line on this one, not available to me, I will just have to sit back and listen to what she has uncovered!

That’s all from me for another week. Look after yourselves and hope you can join me next Saturday at noon.

All the best,



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Well another week has gone by. Where does the time go?

A very packed show this week as I was joined by Dorothy Slevin who is a local singer, songwriter and poet. Dorothy, who is also known as Stephanie, suffered from serious abuse as a child but by shear strength of will has at last been able to come to terms with her past and is determined to help others who have suffered from a similar fate. Dorothy has always used poetry as a means of expressing her feelings  but has now discovered a talent for putting the poetry to music. Being able to sing as well is an extra bonus and we were treated to a couple of her songs today, and we learnt that more are “in the pipeline”.

Dorothy was the name given to her by her Grandmother, but Stephanie is her preferred name. What is quite amazing is that Dorothy is now a mother in her own right with 6 children to her credit!

Apart from singing publicly, anyone wanting to listen to her songs can go to YOU TUBE and type in STEPHANIE SLEVIN. Her own website is

My interview with Dorothy/Stephanie can be found here: -[audio:|titles=Dorothy Slevin]


Later in the show, in our historical feature, BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES, Frances Clamp revealed the history of the BARDSWELL SOCIAL CLUB, which was founded in BRENTWOOD by local trades unionists working on the railway. You can hear her contribution again here: – [audio:|titles=Bygones 8th Nov]

Well that’s it for another week. Keep safe and keep listening to PHOENIX 98FM.

All the best,



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This week we started the show an hour later than usual – and not because I failed to adjust my clocks correctly last Sunday! Still two hours long, just running from 1 til 3 rather than the usual 12-2. Should be back to normal next week.

Being a show for Guy Fawkes day, the show was designed to go with a bang, which it certainly did but not quite in the way I expected. I had intended to include a crop of “weird and whacky” stories to spice things up a bit, but there were so many “bangs” on the roads that I was forced to include extra traffic reports. No worries we’ll do those in the future. Being more than a little damp, the weather might not prove too conducive to letting off your fireworks and lighting the bonfire, but at least we had some great hot music from the likes of Beverley Night, Florence and the Machine, as well as some great oldies from Erasure, ABC and Hot Chocolate.  Why oh why couldn’t Guy Fawkes have chosen the summer for his plot? At least we would have had a reasonable chance of better weather for the bonfires and fireworks and a possible BBQ with all the accompanying beer!

In our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature, Frances Clamp provided the low down on BURSTEAD HALL, which was as well since my own investigations proved totally fruitless. Indeed Frances has done it to me again for next week’s subject – The Bardswell Social Club. All I’ve been able to discover is that the club was founded in Brentwood as a working men’s club in 1927 so like you will have to wait until next week to find out what Frances has uncovered. Meanwhile here is what Frances had to say about Burstead Hall.

[audio:|titles=Bygones 1st November]

Well that’s all for this week. I look forward to having your company again next Saturday (or maybe also on Tuesday). In the meantime have a good week and, if you are having one, or going to one, enjoy your firework party.

All the best,


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Well I was a bit light on live guests for this the final PACKED LUNCH show before the clocks go back, but in spite of this the sun was shining and the music mix shone as well, with a collection of some of the greatest oldies from people like Gene Pitney & Marc Almond to Westlife and the great Tom Jones along with some of the best current releases from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Brett Anderson and James Morrison. All guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

On top of this we were once again able to present FRANCES CLAMP with our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature. Before I mention what Frances was talking about this week, I should mention that during the programme I was pleased to publicise the DROP IN being held between 10am and 3pm at BILLERICAY LIBRARY this coming Monday. If you have any memorabilia, photos or similar artefacts, the BILLERICAY HISTORY TEAM would love for you to pop by and see them on Monday. And don’t worry if you only have something recent, because in 30 years time that could be of great interest to a future generation. After all history is made every day.

Anyway back to Frances, this week Frances was telling us all about one of the few remaining Medieval buildings in Brentwood at 63-65 High Street. Here’s what she had to say this week: –

[audio:|titles=Bygones 25th October]

Now Frances knows that I like to appear to have half a brain so I try to unearth a few pieces of information ahead of each programme, but she’s stumped me good and proper for next week. Frances has chosen to talk about Burstead Hall in Billericay which it seems no longer exists, but was built sometime in the 18th century. So far however I can unearth absolutely nothing about this so like you, will have to wait for Frances to reveal all next week.

That’s it from me. Have a good week and don’t forget to put the clocks back tonight!


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PACKED LUNCH – 22nd October 2011



For this my third show, I was privileged to be joined by local singer/songwriter, Chris Hobart. Apart from being lead singer in his own local cover band, 22nd Centur, Chris also performs solo and is currently working on a new mini album, but what makes Chris really stand apart from the crowd is that he has also set up, what he calls, “open mic nights” aimed at getting budding musicians a means of showcasing themselves and meet other musicians in a friendly, no pressure environment. So if you feel like taking that first step in the music world, why not join Chris every Monday evening at THE HAVERING WELL on RUSH GREEN ROAD. The time to be there is between 8 and 11pm every Monday from  the 24th October.

[audio:|titles=Chris Hobart Interview and Acoustic Songs]

Later in the show we enjoyed a repeat of Tuesday’s BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature with local author and historian, FRANCES CLAMP. This week Frances was regaling us with tales of the CHEQUERS INN in Billericay. Next week Frances will be discussing one of the only surviving Medieval buildings in Brentwood at 63-65 High Street.


[audio:|titles=Bygones 18th October]
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Having been away all week, guests this week were thin on the ground with just our BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES feature provided by Frances Clamp. As such the lunchbox this week was crammed full of music with a host of great new releases from our A-List as well as a  sprinkling of fabulous oldies from the past 2 decades.

[audio:|titles=Bygones 10 10 11 Frances Clamp Warley Barracks part 2]



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Today saw the first of my Saturday PACKED LUNCH shows. I was especially excited as for this first show I was joined by JAZZ BLAACK, a young and very talented recording artist from around Burnham-on-Crouch. Since the start of this year Jazz has already released three songs and made many personal appearances up and down the country. Not content with singing Jazz also writes songs as well.

Her latest release features hit guitarist, Jan Cykra from Gun n’Roses. Jazz is already making waves across the Atlantic, where her song America has received critical acclaim following airplay in Nashville.

If singing and composing was not enough, Jazz is hard at work studying for her A Levels in English, History and Law at William de Ferrers School in South Woodham Ferrers where many of her fellow pupils are actively supporting her, featuring in the video of her first release earlier this year. The full interview with Jazz is attached, together with a photograph taken in the studio.

[audio:|titles=Jazz Blaack]

I was also joined by local author and historian, Frances Clamp who has been contributing to my regular Tuesday afternoon slot since last November. Frances presents “BRENTWOOD & BILLERICAY BYGONES” and was talking this week about the history of Warley Barracks up to 1918. Next week, in part two of this talk, Frances will be elaborating on what happened at the barracks between the wars, but she will be talking to Alan Johnson whilst I am away.

[audio:|titles=Bygones Feature]

I hope you enjoyed this first show and hope that, as the name implies, we will be able to get a whole range of guests to come and join us on a regular basis.

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