Unto us a king is born – YES, it IS Saint Bernard!


NEWSFLASH: Voice of the North columnist-cum-educator, musician and now UK champion (former) amateur composer BERNARD TRAFFORD has won the prestigious BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition 2017

A deeply jealous friend writes. . .



BERNARD TRAFFORD IS JUST THE LATEST (friend who got famous, that is) and potentially the greatest

You know how it is: you’ve been rubbing shoulders with someone for years and suddenly they are rich and famous while you’re still scrabbling around looking for second-class stamps in order to send them a ‘remember me?’ Christmas card-cum-begging letter.

It happens to me all the time. In my younger days I spent many a night’s smallest hours at the bar of the London Press Club playing verbal tennis with Kelvin Mackenzie, hurling chunks of Hancock’s Half Hour over the barman’s head at one another.

Kelvin: notorious, yes, but famous!

The future notorious Sun editor was word perfect in whole scenes of Tony Hancock‘s remarkable radio series; all I could do was a passable Hattie Jacques impression with a bit of Kenneth Williams or Sid James thrown in when called for.

We were humble subeditors in those days: Mackenzie hacking his way up through the junior exec ranks of ‘mouse racers’ on the Express, I a hot metal cut-and-paste merchant on the Mirror. Now look at us: he is a millionaire of gargantuan proportion, I am merely of gargantuan proportion.

Before that, as a 20-year-old trainee journalist on a weekly in Warrington, I and my am-dram friends travelled several times to Liverpool to support a struggling and perpetually broke former schoolmate who had ascended from Warrington’s Studio Players unto the modernist heights of the Everyman Theatre. Indeed, the first time I saw Julius Caesar performed in anything other than laurel wreaths and togas it starred my pal Peter Postlethwaite (plain ‘Pete Pos’ to us) waving a Bren gun and his equally talented girlfriend Julie (Walters, don’t y’know?), both of them clad in Salvation Army uniforms.

Anyway, we Old Warringtonians were eventually parted for some years by my heady progress from Warrington weekly to Newcastle daily; the next thing I knew, Pete and the wonderful Walters woman were making films in Hollywood and I was making my way to Manchester in the hope of making good at the Daily Mirror. Alas, MORE famous friends!

Peter Postlethwaite: one minute a mate, the next he was great!

Worse still are the ones who worked for you before going AWOL and getting their collars felt by fame. Nick Ferrari, multiple Sony Radio award winner for his popular LBC breakfast show, is just the latest: I hired him on the Mirror when I was editor, teamed up with him on LBC and Talk Sport (when it was Talk Radio), then had myself invalided into premature retirement only to see the bounder talk himself onto television and, last week, into a coveted – and well-deserved – Journalist of the Year award.

Now it’s my dear friend and fellow columnist Bernard Trafford (of this parish) who has leapfrogged past me into the arms of fame. The popular Voice of the North writer and former headmaster of Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School wangled his way to one of the final six spots on the great podium of life in this year’s prestigious BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition, in a heartbeat away from being crowned ‘King Carol’!

He had been extremely sneaky about it, said not a word to even his closest pals. Were it not for my cultured wife’s annoying habit of switching from the Today programme on Radio 4 to the Radio 3 breakfast classics with Petroc Trelawny (sigh, another now-famous former colleague!) I would never have known.

“The BBC asked us not to spill the beans too soon,” pleaded bashful Bernard when I demanded to know why I was prevented from even KNOWING about his brush with fame, let alone experiencing it!

Since then, however, thanks to my culture-crazed wife I have barely avoided hearing round-the-clock renditions of each of the top six amateur composers’ creations of a 21st-century carol for Sir Christemas, a 15th-century text. Culminating on the eve of Christmas Eve with the R3 Breakfast Show announcement that projected yer another of my friends into fame‘s stellar orbit: “And the winner is . . .BERNARD TRAFFORD!”   Followed by yet another bless-ed airing of his admittedly admirable composition.

I urge you to listen to all six compositions – you can do so here – and then send a note of congratulations (below) to the Bless’ed St Bernard, giving thanks for his coronation.

My own bridesmaid-like felicitations have already been grudgingly delivered through gritted teeth; She Who Must Be Culturally Obeyed saw to that!



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