December 8, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Thank you for your comments as usual and it’s great to hear all your thoughts and sentiments as QE2 arrived in Dubai. I will do my best to keep you informed with her progress as she is transformed in to her new life.
Meanwhile welcome to the final part of the TOGS voyage story. Although the voyage ended a week ago it has left all those who took part with some amazing memories, and hopefully, has set the tone for an annual event.
Straight after Sir Terry’s first broadcast of BBC Radio 2’s “Wake Up To Wogan”, with stunning views of the Straits of Messina, from the Commodore Club on board Queen Victoria, he spent some time chatting to TOGS before he had an opportunity to discover Messina for himself, including what I heard was an extremely good lunch!
That evening he hosted the Captain’s table with Captain Christopher Rynd, the Captain’s wife Julie Rynd, Alan, “Barrowlands” Boyd, Janet and John “Boggy” Marsh, as well as four winners of the “Children In Need Auction” from the previous night. It’s a great tradition on formal nights and was made extra special by Sir Terry’s attendance.
The following morning started with Sir Terry entering the Commodore Club to a huge cheer from the TOGS, clad in dressing gowns (and thankfully clothes underneath!) As he prepared for his second broadcast he was fortified by the proud presentation of a curry, (freshly made buy the on board chefs who we met later), by Edina Cloud.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Wake up to Wogan Show”, this was continuing the tradition of sending food in to the show on a daily basis. And yes he did eat it and seemed to genuinely enjoy curry at 8am! During the broadcast he interviewed the Executive Chef Nicholas Ollroyd, and his twin brother Executive Sous Chef, Mark Ollroyd. He had met them at the traditional Chef’s Parade in the Britannia Restaurant the night before, and loved the idea of twin brothers from Yorkshire working on the same ship. He had a lot of fun interviewing them but wasn’t sure if he was seeing double or not.
Since I have been home one of the questions I have been asked most about the voyage apart from; “What was Sir Terry really like” and to that I answer – exactly as he seems; he is very much his charming self. The other question was; “Were the chefs really twins and are they identical?” Well I’ll let you judge that for yourselves:-
Sir Terry’s programme always ends with a “Pause for Thought” and as we overlooked the bay of Naples, Canon Roger Royle used the historic city of Pompeii as his inspiration. It was great to see the team working together and the real fun they seem to have as well as genuine friendship. Somehow having seen the broadcast live, you listen to them at home with a stronger understanding of what is involved, and of course a greater respect for the craft, which they all make look so easy.
Sir Terry had to be whisked off straight after the show as he had a flight leaving less than 2 hours later, and his driver had to negotiate the Naples traffic. That in itself is no mean feat but as we saw the car drive away with both Sir Terry and Canon Roger Royle, we were slightly disturbed to see one of the windscreen wipers held together with cellotape! Anyway they reached the airport safely and in plenty of time despite the driver having to lean over to the passenger side to see through the windscreen. Being forever positive, it did at least provide more material for Sir Terry on his Monday morning show.
With the broadcast over and Sir Terry on his way back to London, we went to lunch in Naples and the home of the Margherita pizza; yes genuinely where this pizza was created for the then Queen of Italy, (this was June 1889 by the way), by Raffaele Esposito in a restaurant called “Brandi”. Although I had been there a couple of times before I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I could remember exactly where it was, but a combination of bluffing and good fortune, we found it and had a fantastic lunch – I can thoroughly recommend it if you ever go there. On the way back Alan “Deadly – Voice of the Balls” Dedicoat, discovered the Italian Lottery – but I am not sure if “Droppa Those Bigga Money Balls” would translate too well to the residents of Naples!
We rushed back to open the TOGS hospitality desk for the last time, and were delighted to be selling more Bears, CD’s and pins, all in aid of “Children in Need”, to not only TOGS but also other guests who have the delights of “Janet and John” to look forward to when they get home – though I’m not sure what they’ll all make of it! That night was a real treat as we got to enjoy a special show featuring the stunning Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers, with a special performance by Clare Teal. Clare is well known to BBC Radio 2 listeners as a presenter of the Big Band Special series. She has released 6 albums and in 2006 she was awarded “BBC Jazz Vocalist of the year” and then “Jazz Vocalist of the Year 2007”, at the British Jazz Awards. She has a superb voice and I would recommend seeing her if you get the opportunity.
The last night of any voyage is always one of mixed emotions and is usually spent with new found friends in a favourite bar on the ship. For many of the TOGS and the remaining members of the BBC Radio 2 team it meant an evening with my good friend Barrington “Barty” Brown, in the Commodore Club, whose quintessentially English style is always tremendously popular. Amongst his extensive repertoire is the Hippopotamus song originally created by Flanders and Swan, but most recently revived by Sir Terry on the Bandaged album. Somehow it became a bit of a theme tune for the voyage. Not satisfied with having performed two shows, Clare Teal also joined Barty and a good night was definitely had by all!
After a smooth disembarkation the following day in Civitavecchia, we kept bumping in to TOGS and guests alike, at Rome airport and even back at Heathrow, with that knowing look of shared experiences!
So there it was, hopefully just the first of an annual tradition of the TOGS voyage, and I’m glad to report that it was a tremendous success, not only for raising so much money for “Children in Need”, but also for being a lot of fun for those who took part. It was great to welcome new guests to the joys of taking a Cunard Voyage and also to introduce the uninitiated to the world of Sir Terry Wogan – your lives will never be the same!
I’ll be back on Thursday with my regular blog hopefully introducing a new guest blogger, but in the meantime I would like to thank again all those who made the TOGS voyage such a huge success. Firstly to Sir Terry and the whole “Wake Up To Wogan” team without whom this wouldn’t have been the voyage it was. Also to Norm, Helen, Kel and all those who work so hard at raising money not forgetting Matt for all his hard work with logistics and so much behind the scenes, things which took up so much of his time. Thanks go to Captain Rynd and his officers staff and crew, (especially Gustavo, Jacqui, Colin, Jim and the Technical Team, and Amanda and her Entertainment Staff), for all they did to contribute to the smooth running of the voyage. Mostly thanks to all the guests on the voyage – TOGS or otherwise – for being there and being fun to be with. I’d better go now before this starts sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech – in my dreams! Cheers for Now – Alastair