The funeral has taken place in Birmingham of my former BBC Radio Birmingham colleague Ken Dudeney who died in January.


Order of Service: Ken Dudeney RIP

Order of Service: Ken Dudeney RIP

My tribute to Country Ken was based on the song ‘Four Country Roads’, the last of them being the final journey at the end of Ken’s 70th year (he was 69). May he rest in peace. As it was Saint Patrick’s Day, I ended my tribute to Ken with the short prayer known as St Patrick’s Breastplate, which is sometimes sung or heard as a hymn:
Christ be with me,
Christ be beside me,
Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
Christ be at my right hand,
Christ be at my left hand,
Christ be with me everywhere I go,
Christ be my friend for ever and ever. Amen.



In order to celebrate the 45th birthday of the Irish Post newspaper in Britain I have republished this article and photo from Birmingham. The picture was taken by fellow Dubliner and photojournalist Brendan Farrell outside the beautiful headquarters of BBC in the Midlands at Pebble Mill. I had just started working in 1975 for BBC Radio Birmingham as a reporter (News Producer was the official title as it covered a multitude of roles).


Brendan Farrell also persuaded me to become involved with the local Rose of Tralee selection. On a number of occasions I performed the same role as Gay Byrne, asking the prospective Roses all sorts of questions about themselves! But no-one offered to perform a jig or a reel for me!


Congratulations to the Irish Post on your 45th Birthday and Many Happy Returns!



Howard Waldron (left) & Dave Ireland at York Racecourse June 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Howard Waldron (left) & Dave Ireland at York Racecourse June 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

I am taking a trip back in time across the Irish Sea. My first journey for 2014 involves a flight to Birmingham this afternoon (Thursday). A good friend died after Christmas and his funeral is tomorrow (Friday) at Robin Hood Crematorium. My obituary for Howard Waldron (RIP) will hopefully appear after I have spoken at the service.

With Marie & Howard Waldron & Dave Ireland on the walls at York, where we parted for the last time in June 2013  Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

With Marie & Howard Waldron & Dave Ireland on the walls at York, where we parted for the last time in June 2013 Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

Howard and his (then girlfriend) Marie were among the friends I got to know in Birmingham when I came to work there for BBC Radio Birmingham (now WM) in 1975. Elsewhere on these pages you will find my story about the Boomtown Rats, one of the many Irish groups I got to meet. The Dubliners and Horslips are among the others I interviewed at Pebble Mill, one of the finest broadcasting centres in England, sadly now demolished.

With Howard Waldron at York Racecourse, June 2013

With Howard Waldron at York Racecourse, June 2013

My journey on Friday evening will bring me back to London, where I grew up (1954-67) and where my younger daughter is now based. On Saturday I will get the first chance this season to see my football club AFC Wimbledon in action. They take on Torquay at Kingsmeadow in League 2. At the moment the Dons are in mid-table and hopefully after a good 3-0 win last weekend they can build on that form as the last thing we need is another end-of-season relegation scenario.

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

As it happens, this is also a very important weekend for the Sacred Heart parish in Wimbledon where I used to live and go to school. After running the parish for over 100 years since they founded it in 1887, the Jesuits are handing over the administration to the Archdiocese of Southwark at a special Mass on Friday evening. The new Parish Priest is Monsignor Nick Hudson, a former Rector of the English College in Rome, who was ordained a priest in Wimbledon. There will still be a Jesuit presence in the parish, however, both at the schools (Donhead and Wimbledon College), at Jesuit Missions in Edge Hill and at a nearby Jesuit residence.

One of the reasons the Jesuits are handing over what was regarded as their most prestigious parish in England and Wales is the lack of voacations. They do not have the manpower to continue serving the normal parish needs. It is therefore interesting that my current parish of St Brigid’s in South Belfast will shortly be welcoming a Jesuit who is at his Tertiary stage, a period of reflection and parish experience that comes after ordination and before he makes his final vows.

Fr Nick Austin is a college professor lecturing in moral theology in London. He is a native of Coventry, an area I explored soon after I moved to Birmingham in 1975, visiting the Anglican Cathedral. It was bombed during the second world war but a new structure was designed for the 20thC and was consecrated in 1962. By coincidence I met at a friend’s house in Wimbledon on another occasion a relative of the late Keith New (died February 2012), who designed some of the stained glass windows for St Michael’s Cathedral. Coventry was also a city where Howard Waldron used to work.

In Bath with Dave Allen, Marie & Howard Waldron March 2013  Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

In Bath with Dave Allen, Marie & Howard Waldron March 2013 Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

The wheel will come full circle when I travel to Dublin next week, on my return from England.


Boomtown Rats

Boomtown Rats

The reformation of The Boomtown Rats gives me a chance to boast about my first broadcasting scoop. It was 1977 and no-one had ever heard of this pop group with the strange-sounding name. I interviewed the band (except Bob Geldof) for radio and ensured their first ever broadcast on the BBC. At that stage their single “Looking after No 1” had just appeared on a New Wave LP (first track on the “B” side) along with songs from The Ramones (“Judy is a Punk”; “Suzy is a Headbanger”) and various others of the punk rock variety. John Peel gave it an outing.

I was able to go one better, thanks to my sister in Dublin who knew this up and coming band from the Dún Laoghaire area. The group had completed an Irish tour in 1975 and the following year moved to London. I was working at Pebble Mill as a News Producer (reporter/presenter/producer) with BBC Radio Birmingham at the time. Being a local radio station, it meant that I could contribute to the sports programmes at the weekend. Nuneaton v Wimbledon was my first sports report. But I was also able to do interviews for various music programmes including Norman Wheatley’s “Gentlefolk”. I got to meet The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Frank Patterson and Eily O’Grady and Horslips when they came to the heart of England.

Malcolm Jay presented a Tuesday night rock show, “Heavy Pressure”. When I mentioned that this new rock band from Ireland who had appeared a month earlier at Birmingham town hall with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was coming to Wolverhampton and I might be able to get an interview with them, he sounded interested. So on July 20th 1977 my sister came over from Dublin and we drove to the La Fayette night club near the centre of Wolverhampton.

We arrived early and there was no sign of anyone. Eventually a van arrived with five of the Boomtown Rats and their gear. Lead singer Bob Geldof travelled separately. So while the band waited in an empty club, I sat down with the group, having been introduced to them by Carolyn. I had brought my UHER reel-to-reel tape recorder that we used for interviews. I spoke to each in turn, including the man with the funny name. Pete Briquette. Bob Geldof eventually turned up and said hello. The group performed that night to a crowd of less than 100. A few days later the interview (which I still have a copy of) was broadcast, along with Looking after no.1 and another track as well (possibly Mary of the fourth form).


I am glad I spotted the potential of the band at an early stage and followed their progress over the years. Then this morning courtesy of the John Murray show on RTÉ Radio 1 I listened to Pete Briquette explain the plans by the band (or at least himself, Geldof, Simon Crowe and Garry Roberts) to get back together again in time for the Isle of Wight festival from 13th-16th June at Seaclose Park. The Rats will join a line-up also featuring The Killers and Bon Jovi, who have already been announced as headliners for the first major festival of the summer.

A Tonic for the Troops

A Tonic for the Troops

The BBC reports that Bob Geldof said: “I’ve always fancied playing the Isle of Wight Festival ever since I hitched there in the good/bad days when I was a kid.” The band have been playing live in recent years without Geldof. The Boomtown Rats were  the first Irish band to have a UK number one hit with Rat Trap. They followed that up with another number one with I Don’t Like Mondays, which was a hit around the world. They recorded six albums, three of which made the UK top 10, before splitting up in 1986.

The band’s last major live performance was at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley, organised by Sir Bob Geldof.