Brief Encounter #7

wet wet wetMarti Pellow

IT was a rainy day in Glasgow, but in March it is always wet on the west of Scotland.

This particular March day in 1997 it was a very wet day outside and decidedly wet, wet, wet on the inside.

I was enjoying an afternoon music shopping in the city with my eldest son when we decided to visit Tower Records at the end of Argyle Street.

It was about 2pm as we entered the store and I was surprised to find it almost empty. Two heavy set men in black jerkins were prowling the front of the store. Searching for some Bob Dylan related CDs we made our way to the back and began browsing the shelves.

Suddenly I was aware of four arty haired guys looking at CDs a few rows in front of us. They seemed strangely familiar.

Gradually one of the young men stood next to me and glanced at the copy of the Dylan CD I had in my hand.

“Hey he’s cool,” he suddenly remarked, smiling at me.

I glanced back at him and smiled blankly.

The guy moved on and the faint recognition became more solid. I turned to my 12 year-old son and asked quietly: “Do you recognise him, Ben?”

My son looked back at me and quipped: “Yeah, I think he is the singer with Wet, Wet, Wet.”

You mean “Marti Pellow?” I asked.

“Yeah I think that’s his name,” replied Ben.

Before the “Oh my God” sensation sunk in, I looked up to see the four members of the band leave the store with a black jacketed security guard and jump into a car parked outside.

I looked in bemusement at my son before buying a copy of Ian Hunter’s You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic and continue back to our own car.

I later discovered that Wet, Wet, Wet had played a widely advertised live gig from the top floor of Tower Records about an hour before we had arrived. The store had been cleared for them to do a bit of shopping after the gig. Somehow we must have breezed past their rather lax security!


Pardon Monsieur… Am I Hearing You Right? #4

RANGERS - 00MY meeting with England footballer legend Paul Gascoigne was brief, memorable and steeped in humour.

In the summer of 1995, the Gateshead born Geordie had enjoyed three years playing for top Italian side Lazio.

It was no secret that although he enjoyed immense success on the pitch he found the Italian language a little tricky.

Many football punters tipped him to return to England and maybe re-sign for Spurs or even Manchester United or his home team Newcastle United.

So his transfer to Glasgow Rangers for £4.3 million that summer shocked everyone.

On the July day his transfer was to be formally announced, I had been tasked by my newsdesk to attend a Rangers training session and then a press conference at Ibrox to try and grab a word with the great player.

So I spent an hour with my photographer watching a lithe, tanned and fit Gazza train with his team-mates before making our way to Glasgow G51.

The stadium was mobbed by Rangers fans daubed in blue and white, hoping to get a glimpse of their new hero.

I picked my way through the crowd, past a cordon of police officers and showed my press pass at the players’ entrance.

Once inside, the assembled press pack was treated to prawn sandwiches, croissants and coffee before being ushered into a bustling meeting room.

Rangers’ manager Walter Smith and club chairman David Murray sat at the top table next to their new superstar.

The formal press conference lasted about 35 minutes before we were led out pitch side for a photo opportunity.

Gazza was beaming and in a playful mood with the press photographers.

I had not yet managed to ask him a question so waited for my moment.

It wasn’t long before the chance came.

It had crossed my mind that if this Geordie had found the Italian language difficult to deal with, how would he manage broad Glaswegian?

So as Gazza sat in the stands for a final picture opportunity – and remembering my own Tyneside roots – I called to him: “Do you think you will cope with the language here, Paul?”

Quick as a flash, he turned to me and shouted back; “Whey aye man, dyer think thaal understand me. Ye knaa what ah mean leik.”

Both of us broke into a chuckle.

Twenty minutes later as we made our way out of the stadium a couple of my colleagues asked: “What did Gazza say to you?”

I shrugged and lied: “Didn’t understand a word!”