The stuff that doesn't fit into my main blog Random Radio Jottings

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Bit of a French Brew

Moving to France I think many friends thought we’d be surrounded by vineyards. That’s not exactly the case. When we look across the lane to the side of the house all we see are sheep. We’d need to travel about an hour to the nearest wine regions of the Loire or the Haute Vienne.

With all this viticulture is easy to forget that the French have a thriving brewing industry too. Admittedly you’d be hard pressed to find, at least in this part of France, the real ale and micro-breweries now so popular back in the UK, but yesterday I spent a rainy April afternoon learning about the process and, more importantly, tasting the local brew.

Based in a former diary in the picturesque village of Coulon here in the Deux-Sèvres department is the Brasserie du Marais Poitevin. Using locally sourced wild hops and organically grown grain the brasserie supplies a range of beers to suit to most discerning palate: wheat beers, lagers and what we English would recognise as a good old bitter (la brune or l'ambrée).

On visits back to the UK I usually bring back a few bottle of bitter – one of the things I do miss is a pint down at my local. At least now I know I can top up on supplies locally. Cheers!  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grand National 1997

Yet another of the sporting “crown jewels” disappears from the BBC TV this year when they cover their last Grand National. At least this time it will remain a free-to-view event over on Channel 4.
The BBC has only been covering the Grand National on TV since 1960, you’d have thought it would’ve longer somehow. Radio coverage dates back to 1927. 
Here’s part of the coverage of the 1997 National, the one that didn’t happen. It was to have been Peter O’Sullevan’s last commentary on the Aintree classic. As he told David Gillard in the Radio Times “I’m 79 and this will be the 50th Grand National that I’ve covered for the BBC, so it seemed the perfect punctuation point. I think it would be almost obscene to be commentating when I’m 80.”

In this clip the Grandstand presenter is Desmond Lynam and he chats to Peter about his preparations for the race. We also learn that the binoculars that he’s used to call the races over the years originate from an old German submarine.
However, the 1997 was momentous for another reason. A coded message was received that indicated that a bomb had been placed at Aintree. The Clerk of the Course had no option but to evacuate the course, and eventually to postpone the race.
Commentator Jim McGrath takes over the coverage whilst Des and the team are relegated to broadcasting from the car park where he interviews, amongst other, former BBC commentator Julian Wilson and a very tearful Jenny Pitman. Meanwhile Richard Pitman and Peter Scudamore resort to commentating tucked away inside one of the OB trucks.
As the recording ends Des hands back to the Grandstand studio and Gary Lineker, who presumably was hanging around since Football Focus (and preparing for that evening’s Match of the Day).
The race was postponed until the following Monday afternoon when it was won by Lord Gyllene.

This Radio Times cover (right) dates from 1963. That year BBC TV coverage on Grandstand was hosted by David Coleman. The race commentators were Peter O'Sullevan, Robert Haynes and Peter Montague-Evans with Clive Graham in the paddock. Over on the radio commentary was provided by Peter Bromley, Tony Preston, Michael O'Hehir, Michael Seth-Smith and Roger Mortimer.