As it’s almost Christmas, I asked South Shields’ man of music and mystery, Wavis O’Shave, to come up with his favourite festive tales involving his own eccentric exploits.
He kindly sent me the following seasonal stories for your delectation.
“It wasn’t the world’s best kept secret that every Christmas Eve, singer Sting would return to Wallsend to visit his parents – or where they lived.
“Nor was it a secret that Beeb radio DJ Anne Nightingale had a soft spot for the former Police -man, and so I whipped an empty milk bottle off Sting’s doorstep when he was there, wrapped it up and sent it to Anne – despite it being a case of “No message in a bottle”.
“I can’t imagine that many people know that Abba’s 1980 “Happy New Year” single had the original working title of “Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk On Xmas day”.
“My own Abba involvement though, was with Anni-Frid.
“In 1992 I had written a script that was £7,000 short of receiving funding from the European Script Fund, and so I did what any red-blooded male fan of hers would do – asked her for a loan! Any excuse to get in touch!
“I tracked her down through her old record label and her agent – she was living in Switzerland at the time. To cut a very long story short, my proposal was eventually rejected, but left me with a legacy of four personal letters from her.
“I reasoned that her DNA must have been on the stamps she’d licked to send them to me, and so I slept with a carefully peeled off stamp – such sweet dreams!
“At the start of the 1980s, I had become close friends with pop star and actress Toyah Willcox.
“I would visit her each Christmas-time whenever she was on tour – I was the only person she would see after a show. In 1981 she was being pressurised by her record company to come up with a cheesy pop song for a hit, but she hated the idea of being too commercial.
“I suggested she wrote a song about me! Well, whether she did or not, the result became her most famous hit “It’s A Mystery’.
Bonnie Tyler once sang about being lost in France. I can beat that. Try being lost in Central London in Christmas week during the rush hour.
“I had gone with a local band to take a demo to Virgin Records. We left Shields, by car, at 10pm eventually, arriving in London about 5am.
“After a long day, and just before we left, I asked if it was okay if I quickly nipped to the New Musical Express offices to see some friends there, as it wasn’t too far away from where we were parked. I set off and saw them but when it was time to return – rush hour no less – I’d forgotten the way back.
“Worse still, and with no mobile phone, I hadn’t noticed the name of the street we were parked in, and hadn’t even noticed what type of car we were in – not even the colour!
“How I ever did find my way back was almost certainly my own miracle on 34th Street, or whatever street we were on.
“Every year, I’m asked to record a limited ‘off-the-record record’, a strictly ‘under the counter’ comedy festive CD for some naughty staff at various companies, having a poke at any controversial events of the previous year.
“I record it as Ranter Santa, and one year did ‘Stars on P45’ for a company who were under threat from redundancies.
“This all started by pure accident in 2004, during a conversation, and requests have continued ever since by word of mouth.
“‘Make cakes not war’ was done for a Nottinghamshire cake factory and the CDs had to be smuggled in and out the factory undercover – hidden inside the staff’s wellies.
“I filmed for C4’s The Tube on Christmas Eve 1982, and the show went live in front of four million viewers at 5.15pm.
“My slots were rehearsed at 2pm in the afternoon to ensure that the cameramen, sound and lighting crew would get their angles right, and know exactly what I would be doing. This was too tempting an opportunity to catch them out, so although I went through the routines and script I knew that when we went live I would switch it about a bit!
“The show borrowed a tank from the army in which I would arrive as Hard Father Xmas. I was to be whacked over the head by one of those special bottles they use in the movies that actually don’t hurt you, to shut me up.
“I told presenter Muriel Gray not to worry and whack me as hard as she could.
“When I arrived, I threw all the crew into chaos by not sticking to the rehearsed version, and they could hardly keep up with me. When Muriel bopped me, she did it that hard that the fake bottle did actually cut me – the show’s insurers almost fainted!
“The original clips from the show can now be seen on YouTube under: ‘Wavis O’Shave, Hardest Man in the Universe, Feeling Nowt…’”