Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Blackpool v Lincoln City: #Impvasion

  • Friday 28th May 2021

    0600

    I set my alarm for this time so I could listen to Radio Lincolnshire’s breakfast show in full. They were bringing a Lincoln Imp up to Blackpool and taking him on tour to rattle the locals ahead of Sunday’s playoff final.

    This was the first time I had set an alarm in 14 months. I soon realised this was a ridiculous hour that I had no intention of seeing. No radio show could be that good!

  • 0640

    After a fitful night’s sleep, I checked the time and it was five minutes before my alarm. I whispered so as not to wake Lee:

    ‘Alexa – Cancel my alarm’

    She whispered back:

    ‘645am alarm cancelled’

    Whisper mode is ace.

    I tiptoed to the bathroom and turned on Radio Lincolnshire. Roving reporter Harry was just setting off from his hotel to take the Imp on his tour of Blackpool’s attractions.

    I listened in with interest and amusement as they listed some facts about Blackpool.

    ‘Red Rum once switched on Blackpool Illuminations. There are rumours that Shergar faked his own kidnapping so he didn’t have to.’

  • 0745

    This was the time I was expecting a call from Radio Lincolnshire to arrange a time for me to meet the Imp. I was due on Radio Lancashire at 0800 so timing was key here; I didn’t want them calling while I was live on air. But no call. Were they messing with my head, trying to put me off ahead of my on air slot?

  • 0800

    I checked my text messages and there was one from Radio Lincolnshire. I had missed it earlier because I don’t have notifications activated. They were running late and, as opposed to the original plan of 0830, it might be after 1000. So I got up early for nothing! Thank you very much.

    Now, dear reader, my last appearance on the Radio Lancashire breakfast show was the morning after the pubs opened indoors, so I wasn’t at my best on that occasion. I was determined to make a better impression this morning – although I was not feeling great after my (needlessly) early start.

    My Radio Lancashire call was via Zoom, which I had hoped would stop the echo on my voice while I was on air, which is very off-putting. Having nipped out of the Zoom waiting room to check my messages and returned to the same window, this apparently disconnected me, prompting a call from the station asking where I was. I re-entered via the link and waited for the host, Graham Liver, to come to me.

    He soon did – and the off-putting echo was still there. Grr! That doesn’t happen on Radio Lincolnshire… I was also sharing my slot with Christine Seddon, Queen of Blackpool and a regular on the show over the past few years. Distracted by the echo and still not quite awake, I was again terrible and Christine was conversely composed. She was asked a question, I was still rattled by the echo, then the host came to me and asked ‘and what do you think, Jane?’. Shit! What was the question? I mumbled something about the Imp and fluffed my lines and that was that. I don’t think they’ll be asking me on again – indeed I ought to decline if they do. I’m simply not a morning person…

  • 1000

    The Radio Lincolnshire breakfast show has ended. It was a brilliant show and I could well be tempted to listen into it every morning – although I know this will not be possible if the result goes the wrong way on Sunday.

  • 1050

    Still no word from the Imp crew. Wasn’t I meant to be on the breakfast show? I message them:

    ‘Are you still coming or has the Imp been kidnapped?’

    They reply they have been further delayed and can we meet at Bloomfield Road at 1130? And to think I got up at 0640 for this! I am still not awake or feeling quite myself. I have been enjoying no alarm and settled night’s sleep this last 14 months. This was a shock for my body.

  • 1125

    Lee and I arrive at Bloomfield Road and have a mooch round. No sign of the Imp and it’s raining a little – and colder than it looked. After 15 minutes we retire to the car. I find an interview with Vital Lincoln that I’d forgotten I’d done the night before. This is becoming such a whirlwind in the run up to Wembley.

  • 1205

    Finally, the Imp rocks up and we meet by the Jimmy Armfield statue.

    I am interviewed for Radio Lincolnshire (which goes much better than this morning’s effort) and then film a little skit for Look North, the Lincolnshire equivalent of North West Tonight. It still surprises me that Lincoln is in the north, although I’m not sure why, as the people are lovely.

    Some passers-by stop and enquire what is going on, while a man in a passing car sings:

    ‘What the fucking hell is that?’

    The guys remind me I’m on the Radio Lincolnshire preview show tonight, which I’m pleased about, as I had forgotten all about that in the daze of this morning!

  • 1840

    I get the call from Radio Lincolnshire that we’re almost ready to go live. I’m determined to be better on this show that I was on Radio Lancashire this morning – I’m still not feeling quite right but I have just scoffed a big bag of Fruit Pastilles, which ought to help. I don’t like being tired. Right – deep breath – here goes…

    The presenter – Rob Makepeace – was great and put me at ease straight away and allowed me to talk at length. Yes, this was going much better. But then he threw a firework in mid-interview.

    Lee is livid. He’s already annoyed that I’m always on the radio and he never is. And then, when he is… Once I’ve calmed him down, I respond accordingly…

  • 2100

    I receive word that I made the cut for Look North. Yay! I’m on the telly!

    In summary, it has been a fun day of friendly banter with the Lincolnshire folk. They are my people. They are bonkers. This is why I feel so at home over there and why I fell in love with Clee and Lincoln on my visits these last few years. Indeed, I voted Lincoln my top away day of the 2019/20 season.

    I already have my next visit to Lincoln planned – I intend to complete the Lincoln Imp Trail when it gets going in July.

    I love a quirky public art trail – ever since accidentally stumbling on the International Cow Parade in Ventspils in 2007. I’ve completed the Herd of Sheffield, The Big Hoot (Birmingham), The Big Sleuth (Birmingham) and Shaun in the City (Bristol and London). They’re brilliant ways to discover a city and its hidden parks and landmarks and corners that you would never normally see. This is why I was so excited about the Imp coming to town today…

    I’m sad that Sunday’s match and result may impact on relations with Lincoln. The words ‘Torquay’, ‘Bradford’ and ‘West Ham’ still pierce my heart like a dagger – and possibly always will. Lincoln, I hope we can still be friends, whatever the outcome.

    UTMP & UTI.

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