Sunday 12 December, 2004

Well, just as I was setting an excellent example, by managing to complete my diary on a Sunday – as I should be – I’ve allowed my discipline to slip once again and now find myself sitting in our Berlin Hotel on Thursday 16 December, trying to catch up. So, here we go…

I believe I left you last week, on Sunday evening, when I was staying at the magnificent Cliveden Manor hotel in Buckinghamshire. What a history this old building has – definitely worth checking out on the Internet. Anyway, we checked out of there early on Monday morning and made our way to West Wycombe Estate, where the “This Morning” TV programme has re-located up until (I believe) Christmas. Oh, how the other have live – or, used to live.

This is what I can’t figure: how did they manage to paint such detailed scenes on the high ceilings of the main rooms in those grand old mansion houses? Some chiropractors must have made good money in the 18th Century, trying to straighten artists’ spines and necks every evening after work!

However, I digress. We drove back into London early afternoon and some of the lads used their remaining free time that day to scurry into the centre of London to snap up various Christmas presents for their loved ones (….. listen, lads, I’ll be happy with a second hand Aston Martin – really, don’t go to the trouble of this years’ model). I doubt Beverley’s shopping for one, after my culinary assault on her “domestic goddess” abilities, last week. It’s not the cooking that appeals.

On Tuesday we undertook two press interviews and photo shoots at the hotel (most notably Ireland’s Sunday World) before flying out to Berlin in readiness for next day’s appearance on the German TV show “Hit Giants” – also featuring Jimmy Somerville, Kevin Rowland and Carl Douglas: you’ll have to be one of the more “mature” Westlife admirers to recognize all three of them!

We traveled back from Germany on Thursday morning and then made our way directly to our London hotel for an extensive meeting to plan the outfits the guys will wear for next year’s tour – and some very interesting styles evolving, the medley in particular looking very colourful!

Before leaving for Scotland – overnight on the tour bus – the lads paid a visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton and spent some time with many of the children on the various wards, some of whom are facing spending their Christmas away from home. You think things are tough to deal with sometimes? You won’t after you’ve had first hand knowledge of what some of those young children have to come to terms with.

On Friday the lads appeared both in Glasgow and Kilmarnock, to support the Radio Clyde “Cash for Kids” appeal, before the three Sligo lads winged it home – direct from the hotel car park at Kilmarnock – by helicopter. Me? I wallowed in the unaccustomed luxury of two consecutive days in Scotland. Now I hope you’ll forgive me as I desperately want to listen to the live website commentary from Edinburgh, in the hope that my beloved team (Hearts, of course!) can progress to the next round in Europe where, I might add – we are now the only Scottish club left: I pray that situation remains the same in two hours from now. Auf Wiedersehn, Frauleins.

Sunday 5 December, 2004

... and it actually is!!

Yes folks – as evidence that the promotional treadmill is finally slowing, I sit here in the idyllic setting of one of England’s finest country-house-turned-hotel property, deep in the Berkshire countryside, in preparation for tomorrow’s (on location) of the TV programme “This Morning”.

This past week has been easier than most, starting with two fairly quiet days on Monday and Tuesday: I was of a mind to sneak home on Monday afternoon, to Scotland, however as Shane stayed in London – for those two days – he decided to leave for Cologne on Tuesday evening and asked if I would return to London to accompany him on the flight.

So, instead of detouring through Edinburgh, I instead opted to take a train journey, on Monday, to visit a friend of mine who lives on the outskirts of Manchester (and a fine woman she is: however, I’m sworn to secrecy as I promised Beverley that her name would be withheld, to protect the guilty). By the way, Beverley, you’ve definitely now got the measure of salmon teriyaki, but three times in a row, love? Be brave, oh petite one – Captain Birdseye will surely come to your rescue.

As it happened, Shane changed his arrangements at the last minute to accommodate a business meeting in London on Tuesday evening, so I found myself traveling alone to Cologne, sans Artiste. All the guys therefore arrived the next day for the “Viva” TV Special and, being the fast workers that we are, we managed to catch the last flight into London that evening.

Thursday evening heralded our annually predictable appearance on “Christmas Popworld” at Wembley: personally I think that should be our last (and, of course, I’ll happily expand upon that view – and many cynically-tinged others – upon the occasion of my autobiography).

The main part of Friday was spent in tour-related meetings, about which this much I will say: if we broadcasted an afternoon of typical Westlife meetings, fly-on-the-wall style, it would deem the likes of “At Home with The Osbournes” on a sensationalist par with The Magic Roundabout.

Saturday, as many of you may have witnessed, was the “Record of the Year” performance. Some interesting developments, as the voting progressed: most notably, for me, Brian failing to make the closing stages and Anastacia featuring so highly in the final ratings. She’s all woman, that one.

Last night also coincided with our bi-annual appearance at the “G.A.Y.” show at London’s Astoria, where our lads entered (literally) into the spirit of Christmas, to give a rousing performance to a very mixed audience. Then back to the hotel for a quiet drink. Not. Not.

Well, I’m off to the bar here, to swap my mortgage for a couple of beers, in the process offering up a toast to the fact that, before the year ended, I was (just) able to publish an edition of my diary on the actual day I’m meant to do so. As for Beverley, word has it she’s downed utensils, in protest. Fear not – I’ll bring her round. What girl can resist the world-renowned Scottish charm?


Sunday 28 November, 2004

Another manic week to report: and, of course, another week reporting it all late (again).

Most of last Monday 22nd, was taken up with the rehearsals and pre-recording of the Christmas Mania TV show – I believe the show airs on Wednesday 1 December.

After a brief lunchtime interview, Tuesday midday, with Steve Wright at Radio 2, we were off in the tourbus up to Birmingham for a radio event at “The Jam House” in Birmingham – some of you may have been present at the show, where the lads were in particularly good form. We had to return to London right after the show as Wednesday heralded the first day of rehearsals last week, for the “She’s The One” show.

We actually rehearsed in a quaint old church (“The American Church”) on Tottenham Court Road, in London with Joanne Hindley - the girl who was chosen to sing “The Way I Feel Tonight” with the lads, on the “She’s The One” show.

On Thursday we scheduled another tour meeting at the hotel and then, in the evening, we attended the premiere of Kevin Spacey’s latest movie “Beyond The Sea”, the story of Bobby Darin’s life in which Kevin Spacey plays the lead role – as well as directing and producing the movie.

At the post-premiere party, the lads even joined Kevin Spacey on stage for a rendition of Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife” – one of the songs, of course, featured on the new Westlife album.

Next morning, Friday, we were on the first flight to Copenhagen to take part in the “Big Danish Christmas Show” where we performed with a 60-piece live orchestra. Amazing Sound. We returned to London the next day on an early flight again (relentless stuff this, eh?) where we, firstly, rehearsed at the BBC for “Strictly Come Dancing” in the morning. We then scooted across town to undertake further “She’s The One “ rehearsals, before returning to the BBC at 6.00 pm to prepare for our live appearance on “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Sunday was of course a very important day in the Westlife calendar as we were pre-recording our own TV special, “She’s The One” which, by the way, will be aired on a Saturday in December, either the 11th or the 18th. Watch this space.

Apologies for this week’s somewhat insipid diary. Our promotion schedule is finally on the downhill run (only seventeen days left!) but the last three months have proved to be a long slog and we’re all in need of a break. Fatigue might just be a constituent of writers’ block.

Continued thanks for all the e-mails that continue to flow onto the website. I do read them all and I’m ever hopeful that, with the benefit of the Christmas break, I will have a chance to reply to the backlog of enquiries. Might even squeeze in the time to erect a tree and a few lights. Adios.

Sunday 21 November, 2004

Today’s diary entry probably heralds a “first” for me, as I’ve actually made a start to it today, Saturday 20, as I’m sitting on our “Citation 2” jet, Oslo bound - and all the sandwiches scoffed.

Last Monday, 15, was notable as the release date for the “Turnaround Tour” video although (as you will note from the final entry in last week’s diary), we actually woke up in Stockholm that morning, in preparation for our appearance on the Swedish Sports Awards – I’m wondering if Nicky’s past association with Leeds United might have prompted the idea for us to appear there.

Now, at this point, I could claim that (similar to Milan) the lads demonstrated exemplary discipline and retired early to the hotel. However, if that was my claim, then I would be hard pushed to explain the following day’s tabloid press shots depicting Kian apparently “biting” the ear of our long-time sound engineer, John “Grubby” Callis. Back home, John’s wife was as perplexed as everyone else as to what Kian was doing.

Thankfully, I can clear up any confusion resulting from said incident, by informing you that Kian was merely trying to make himself heard to John (above the typically thunderous sound system) by announcing “It’s your round, mate!” Thank God for Stockholm’s 24-hour McDonalds, we all say.

Even with a few delicate heads on Tuesday morning, our lads resolutely worked their way through Tuesday’s promotion schedule in Stockholm, culminating with a late afternoon in-store signing at the city’s largest record store. “Megahits” (where Jakey took a slight fancy to the – shall we say, engagingly mature, Manageress: if only my watch had a movement like that!).

However, being the consummate professional that I am, I dutifully climbed back on the last flight to London with the lads (we’re making quite a habit of this) and checked the lads into one of the Heathrow Airport hotels, as they were keen to catch the first flight out to Dublin the next morning (Wednesday) to maximize their upcoming two days off.

For my part, I managed to catch the London-Edinburgh sleeper that leaves Euston at 11.45 pm – and conveniently delivers me to Edinburgh’s Waverly station at 7.30 the following day. I often wonder if it’s worth scurrying home on these occasions, only to have to turn myself around thirty-six hours later and head South again. Naturally, the reason I do so, is to ensure that my son isn’t on the verge of malnutrition, having deftly skimmed his “housekeeping” allowance to augment his social life. On this occasion, I had to undergo some long-overdue root-canal work. In spite of being stuffed full of Novocane (do they still use that nowadays?) it nevertheless feels like they are boring into your jawbone as they prepare the canal for filling.

On Friday we of course appeared live on the nationwide “Children in Need” programme, then traveled overnight to Scotland to undertake a promotional event for SRH radio holdings: then immediately onto the private jet and heading for Oslo to appear on the Junior Eurovision Song contest, beamed live to a multitude of European countries. Sunday, thank the Lord, is a day off!

Sunday 14 November, 2004

As (they say) honesty is the best policy, I should confess right now that I’m actually writing today’s diary entry on Saturday 20 November as I sit on my (well, not actually my) private jet on the way to Norway – but more about that “next” week, if you see what I mean.

So, back to last Monday 8 November: in fact, the album release date of “Allow Us To be Frank”.

Ironically, a relatively quiet day for Westlife, with only a live radio appearance for Simon Mayo at Radio 2, in the late afternoon, after which we retired to one of the lads’ favourite London eateries [sorry, no names - to protect the guilty!] where we raised a few glasses to the new album.

On Tuesday we pre-recorded a performance on the Paul O’Grady show, then recorded an interview for the “Brits are Coming” programme, then back to our London hotel for a production meeting in relation to next year’s “Red Carpet” tour. A rare day-off followed on the Wednesday, and I was able to return home to see my daughter and son, who (raise the roof!) has now found some gainful, part-time, employment at a retail outlet in Stirling. This means I can now rest easier, safe in the knowledge that bankruptcy may now evade me.

I have to say that Stirling is a fairly cool campus (for those of you that know the area!) and it may be that my son’s original intention to transfer to St. Andrews after his initial university year is no longer the priority it once was.

Back to the Westlife Extravaganza and Thursday evening, the 11th, finds us in Birmingham performing a short set to commemorate BRMB’s thirty years in business, as one of the UK’s leading radio stations: we even had the honour of UB40 (whom you may be too young to remember) sitting smack bang in front of the stage. Respect. Then straight back on the bus to London, for us.

Friday morning prompted a hectic seventy-two hours: press and promotion in London during the day before boarding the last flight to Milan for Saturday’s European showcase at the Magazzini Generali club . Now I’m sure that, under normal circumstances, a few of our lads would have been itching to check out Milan’s thriving nightlife. However, one look at the schedule (8.00 am flight to London) ensured that sense prevailed and, after a brief nightcap in the hotel foyer, it was off to bed for the lot of us.

Just before take-off the next morning, from Milan’s Linate airport, I happened to glance over my shoulder in the cabin to see all the lads fast asleep already! Upon landing at Heathrow, we were whisked directly to a sound-check at the “New Player’s Theatre”, near Charing Cross, in relation to a late afternoon performance for the GWR radio group: however, in between said sound-check and actual performance time, we snuck away to take part in Channel 5’s “London Pops” programme.

Think that was it for Sunday, do you? Not in the world of Westlife, I’m afraid, as we were again on the last flight out, this time to Stockholm. Want to know what happened next? ZZZZZZZZZ

Sunday 7 November, 2004

Now hear this: I did actually have the time to write this on Sunday afternoon, however I became so carried away with having time to myself that I didn’t managed to start it until now (Monday lunchtime, the 8th).

So, where did we leave off last week? Lost in Liverpool, I believe: so “lost” that we actually didn’t make it back to London until Monday evening – thankfully, with nothing to do that night.

Tuesday certainly made up for Monday as we recorded an “Inside Tracks” programme for E-Map in the morning, followed by a pre-recorded appearance on the UK-Living channel’s “Celeb Extra” programme (including a performance of “Mack The Knife”). Our final promotional involvement of the day was up at the MTV studios, where we recorded several short interviews for insertion into various programmes.

A frantic dash to the airport ensued, to catch the last Heathrow flight to Belfast at 7.40 pm where, upon arrival, Nicky, Georgina and myself drove south to Dublin and the rest of the lads made their way home to Sligo.

Wednesday was the closest thing I’ve had to a “day off” for a long while, therefore - with the exception of a trip to the dry cleaners with all the rat-pack suits – I was able to catch up on my petty cash accounting and mail all the documentation to our accountants in Limerick.

There I was: all ready to hit the nightlife of Dublin on the Wednesday evening when I decided I might as well watch one of the TV movies before venturing out. Fatal mistake. Next thing I remembered was waking up on the hotel-room couch at around 3.30 in the morning – fully clothed - with my neck stuck in a sideways position. So much for tearing up the town.

All the lads returned to Dublin early Thursday evening (short trip for Nicky) to undertake a few major press interviews that night, as we could not fit the originally planned press schedule into the one day.

This still meant an early start the next day, based at the hotel, but the lads industriously worked through a tough schedule which meant they were finished by 6.00 pm that night and ready to transfer to the RTE studio, in preparation for their “Late Late Show” live appearance.

On Saturday we took a 12.40 flight to Bristol where the tourbus collected us and then drove to Minehead for the show at the Butlins complex. The guys certainly welcomed the opportunity to be playing live again and also to have the chance to preview the four “Rat Pack” songs in concert.

Personally, I’m sure I could have made up for the disappointment of being unable to make it out in Dublin on Wednesday night, had we stayed on in Minehead. However, being the consummate professional I am, I duly returned direct to London with the lads after the show. Damn and blast!


Sunday 31 October, 2004

Once again, the date on this week’s entry may require to be filed under “economy of the truth” as I’m actually sitting here on Wednesday evening.

Where did we leave off last week? Copenhagen, I believe: from where we returned on Tuesday morning, direct to Dublin and then on, by road, to Enniskillen to record the John Daly show.

I somehow made it back in time to Dublin airport in time to catch the last flight to Edinburgh, as the boys all returned home for a couple of days of well-earned rest. I’m spending so little time at home nowadays that (and I may have mentioned this in a past edition of the diary) I’ve had to “retire” my old, faithful, BMW – still, no complaints, as I owned it for ten years and managed to amass 217,000+ miles on the clock. I recall parting with girlfriends that was less painful.

Following a day of frantic catch-up domestic duties, I caught the train back to London on Thursday afternoon in preparation for the most ridiculous TV call-time in the history of the world: my alarm rang at 4.15 am on the Friday morning at which point I was conjuring the thought that the River Thames might just have been considerate enough to flood it’s banks overnight – preferably right in front of the GMTV studios.

Back to reality: somehow managed to pile the reluctant ranks of Westlife (who wouldn’t be?) into the cars and thread our way through the London’s deserted early-morning streets. That little exercise heralded the commencement of a long, arduous, day – culminating in 3/4 hours of “new media” promotion, located at the infamous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London’s Soho district. We then had to rendezvous with the tourbus up in St. John’s Wood and managed to clear the city just ahead of the Friday evening rush hour, en-route to Liverpool.

We actually reached Liverpool just after 9.00 pm and (being the socially conscious types that we are) welcomed the opportunity to sample something of the local nightlife – which somehow transposed itself into (early) morning life, before you could say “let’s try another club”.

I’ve always been a great believer in the “work hard – play hard” doctrine and last week was evidence of that: having Saturday as a virtual day-off allowed me the opportunity to re-charge my batteries (I actually had time to peruse a couple of newspapers – ah, those days gone by).

The week ended with a regional radio event at The Liverpool Empire, on behalf of the Radio City/EMAP organization. Great to see Lisa Stansfield there, amongst others: good on you girl – if Westlife are still around fifteen years after they started (as Lisa is) then they will have no complaints. I actually did an outdoor show in Glasgow in 1991, when Lisa was featured on the bill.

Finally, my passion still burns for my football project - so don’t forget me if your Lottery numbers come up this week: we could change the world of football for it’s eternal, overdue, good. Au Revoir.

Monday 25 October, 2004

Greetings from your favourite (Euro-hopping) Tour Manager. I’ve probably got more air miles than George Bush.

So, what of the last week?

Well, as you know, we started the week in Cologne by appearing on the German TV show “Taratatta”, the format for which was similar to the UK music programme “An Evening with Jools Holland”, where all the musicianship is grouped around the artists – which gives a very intimate, relaxed, feeling to the whole thing.

The show producers were kind enough to furnish us with a 21-piece orchestra, therefore the lads seized the opportunity to sing “Smile” and “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” totally live. What a sound! The fact that one of my heroes (Joe Cocker) was also on the show – in addition to The Corrs and Beverly Knight – made for a very enjoyable day.

We spent most of Tuesday doing press and promotion at the hotel and then caught a Lufthansa flight back to London early evening. On Wednesday, we pre-recorded “Mack The Knife” (live recording again) as we were scheduled to be out of the country on Saturday. The general reaction to The Lottery show seems very positive, so the mood in the camp at the moment is one of feverish anticipation, as we approach the 8th November album release date.

Thursday morning was spent with “New” magazine, doing an interview and photo shoot, after which the lads made their way to the studio to record the B side for the planned single release in December (sorry, can’t divulge the title of the song!). It’s a classic.

On Friday we flew to Oslo, to take part in Saturday’s Nordic Awards show. We were indeed in hallowed company as Robbie Williams, Tina Turner and Kylie were also appearing on the show. The boys did a rousing performance of “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” but – wait for it – also received the award for “Best International Act”: quite an achievement when you consider they were up against the likes of Outkast and The Darkness.

All the other three Artists, as mentioned above, returned directly to London after the show however – as we were on our way to Copenhagen – we were able to enjoy the rare treat of being able to attend the after-show party where, in typical fashion, the guys were the life and soul of the evening and also the very last to leave! The lads reminded of the famous Frank Sinatra quote: “You only live once but, if you’ve lived like I have, then once is enough”. Good on you Frank.

On Sunday we took the short one-hour flight to Copenhagen, in preparation for a busy day of Danish press and promotion on the Monday. Finally, apologies that I’m kinda “throwing the diary together” over the past couple of weeks. I keep telling myself it will all calm down one day. When?

Monday 18 October, 2004

First off, it’s actually Tuesday: I’m just desperate to get back on track – and actually write this piece regularly on a Sunday – that I’m now relying on the economy-of-the-truth method.

If you have any idea of what we’ve been up to the last week, you’ll understand why I’m sitting here with my London hotel-room window wide open, fighting to stay awake. Yes, we’ve just completed the UK regional radio tour from hell: all very beneficial, but all very exhausting.

We left London Sunday past (10th) and traveled down to Swansea, in preparation for the first day’s radio station visits the next day, which comprised Swansea, Cardiff and Bristol – Morgan’s Hotel in Swansea is worth checking out if you’re ever down that way.

Once finished in Bristol, we drove to Nottingham to be ready for Tuesday’s activities, which included Nottingham and Birmingham, checking in that evening to the Manchester hotel. Next day (Wednesday) it was Manchester, Bradford and Leeds before heading off for Glasgow to check in that night. We did plan to stop off at O’Neil’s Irish bar in Preston to watch the Irish world cup qualifier however, as a result of an accident on the M62, we ran short of time and had to pull into the services on the M6 and watch it on the tour bus satellite system.

This meant pulling into the Glasgow hotel at 1.20 am in the morning - with a breakfast show appearance on Radio Clyde planned for seven hours later at 8.30 in the morning. Somehow we made it. After an appearance at the Radio Clyde Charity Awards (at Glasgow University’s Bute Hall) we caught a late afternoon flight to Belfast, in preparation for Friday’s press/promo schedule there and also an evening appearance on the Kelly Show.

As our call time for CD-UK was 9.00 am on Saturday morning, we had no choice but to travel back to Scotland on the Belfast to Stranraer ferry at 10.00 pm on Friday night and then “overnight” it on the tour bus (which had “followed” us to Belfast via the ferry on Friday afternoon) down to London. Next day, Sunday, we flew off to Cologne for German TV.

I’ll have to double-check, out of curiosity, but when I last added it up, I figured that I’ve only been home eleven days since 1st July (I don’t want to think about that too much).

Once again, many thanks if you’ve taken the trouble to e-mail me. I do read them all however, as you can see from last week’s schedule, above, I just don’t have the time I would like to sit down and respectfully reply to all the mail.

On a closing note (because, after all, the original intention of this web-site was to draw attention to the investment required for my football project) have you been following the Paul Stretford/Wayne Rooney story, over the last few weeks? Can you see now why I’m determined to introduce an innovative, professional, company to the world of football player representation? Don’t let any young, aspiring, footballer you know sign with any agent until their parents talk to me first. I’ll set them straight for absolutely no cost or commitment.

Sunday 10 October, 2004

Guess what? I’m actually writing this on a Sunday: we’re on our way to South Wales (it’s currently 9.45 pm) so I’ll hopefully upload this page when I arrive at the hotel in a couple of hours.

Well, we’re back on the promotional trail to support the upcoming release of the “Allow Us To Be Frank” album. So, what has happened in the last week or so?

I drove down to London early last Tuesday morning in order to drop my luggage at the hotel, hand my rental car in - and then head off to Heathrow to meet the lads.

Later that afternoon we attended a playback session at BMG’s headquarters in Fulham just to say thanks to all the staff, let them hear the tracks and generally mingle (and drink). Simon Cowell said a few words, as did Tim Bowen, who currently heads up the UK operation. Before leaving the building we had a brief meeting with the marketing department, to discuss various aspects of the upcoming promotional campaign.

An early night was had by all, as the next day (Wednesday) the lads were up early to prepare for two photo shoots, first for “Company” magazine and, secondly, for “Star” magazine. When we are unsure of the facilities at the shooting locations, we always play safe and get ready at the hotel.

On Thursday, we traveled out to Wembley Arena to announce the 2005 tour and as well as the on-site photo shoot, we undertook a few interviews, most notably “London Tonight” - which, by all accounts, turned out pretty good. In the afternoon we returned to the studio to begin work on the b-side for the first single off the album: apologies that I can’t give away too much at this time, in respect of the name of certain tracks (but you won’t be disappointed).

We treated ourselves to a few drinkies that evening in a local hostelry, not far from the studio. The form for these sort of evenings rarely deviates: we sneak into a corner of said bar, order some food and a few drinks and generally try to keep ourselves to ourselves. Fat chance.

As the evening wears on, word always gets around that we are “in the house” and, naturally, people want to come over and say hello. I have to say that Westlife are as accommodating in this respect as any act I’ve ever worked with and always make time to have a quick chat or sign a few autographs. However, in Chelsea it never fails: enter the Sloane Rangers. I tell you; if those were the last women on Earth and I was the last guy I’d probably shoot myself. Dress sense and common sense are generally in equally short supply when those girlies are flitting around.

Friday was also spent in the studio and Saturday was of course the day of the Ireland/France game and a “lively” evening in a local Irish bar, the rest of which, I’m afraid, will have to remain under the heading “classified”. Now – come on – I can’t tell you everything. See y’all next week.

Monday 4 October, 2004

I can’t lie: I’m writing this from a nightclub.

However, before you presume that it’s finally all got to me and I’ve taken to bar-hopping to relieve the stress – I should point out that it’s 11.00 am in the morning and we’re on a photo shoot for “Company” magazine (and it’s actually Wednesday morning, the 6th). Late again.

So, providing I’ve not totally confused you by now, what news of the last week?

To be honest, it may rank as one of my “quietest” weeks ever, since I started with Westlife. Last Monday and Tuesday was taken up mostly with production meetings relating to the 2005 tour. I then escaped back to Scotland to catch up on various domestic/household duties.

Someone (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) then treated me to a weekend at the fabulous Gleneagles hotel. I can only figure it’s my endearing Scottish charm and my enthralling company that leads to such invitations!?! Seriously, that’s the first time, since I started working with Westlife on 3rd March last year, that I haven’t opened my briefcase for two consecutive days. However, I couldn’t resist twenty minutes on the business-centre PC.

Being the sort of hotel it is, I observed (purely by accident you understand) a few rather stylish women perched at the bar, with – shall we say – rather imaginatively stimulating footwear. Well, that was my weekend made, wasn’t it? Good job I was carrying a spare set of batteries for the pacemaker.

At last, I can tell you that the public sale of tickets will commence this coming Friday, 8th October, which is the same day the first two Dublin shows are announced (although those two particular shows, 8 & 9 February, will not actually go on sale until the 16th of this month). I believe there will be a pre-sale ticket offer through our website, from tomorrow morning, Thursday 7th, at 09.00 am. The ticket hotline number is (0870) 400 0688.

We have a brief photo shoot tomorrow morning, Thursday 7th, at Wembley Arena, to announce the tour and to highlight the temporary construction of the “new” Wembley Pavilion – which is the venue in which we will stage our shows next year.

Our promotional activities start for real this week, so I should have a few anecdotes in time for next week’s diary. The new Westlife website looks particularly good at first glance and I know the designers plan additional features over the coming months.

Much as though the “Rat Pack” theme is radically different from anything the lads have done before, there is a genuine level of excited anticipation, from everyone around us, for the new project - particularly with the look of the new videos (thank you, Las Vegas).

Right, time to rock ‘n roll. So, in keeping with that, where’s the bar? Same place next week?


Monday 27 September, 2004

They seek me here – they seek me there.

You would argue that of all weeks, this week’s diary should have been on time!

After all, I arrived back in the UK, from Las Vegas, last Monday afternoon and although our flight departed over two hours late from Los Angeles (as we couldn’t fly direct from Vegas on the Sunday), we still arrived at Heathrow only ninety minutes behind schedule: it’s amazing what promising the pilot of a couple of concert tickets can do for your journey time.

So, I was back in Edinburgh by six o’clock on Monday night, enabling me to dash up to the University at Stirling to see my son for a couple of hours. The plan was to have a relaxed dinner, however the minute he saw me with a vehicle I was hi-jacked for the weekly Tesco food run: the £5.00 he saved on the normal return taxi has no doubt been put towards another over-priced toiletry (or an extra hour on his cellphone?!).

Next day, Tuesday, was something of a washout. For those of you who have either experienced it personally (or know someone else who has), driving your body relentlessly for days on end - and sixteen hours a day at that – comes with a price. I sincerely believe that I have few reserves of energy left at this stage: all that happens is that my adrenalin levels rise sharply when I am on the road and this alone allows me to deal with the excessive hours on the job.

However, once you return from such trips, and subsequently slow yourself to the pace of most normal human beings (at which point you can no longer rely on the adrenaline rush) then your body comes looking for some serious payback.

On the odd occasions I return home nowadays, it can take almost a day just to eradicate the various domestic chores, which still have to be dealt with. That, therefore, took care of Wednesday. Thursday saw me back on the Westlife office treadmill, sifting through the various arrangements requiring to be confirmed for the ITV Awards on Sunday and ongoing after that.

As I was still suffering from the traces of jet-lag come Friday afternoon (even old hands like myself can’t ever escape its clutches) I decided just to drive my rental car overnight to London, arriving at the hotel at around 9am on Saturday morning. The lads arrived later that day from Ireland.

Ah, the ITV Celebrity Awards, which was due to be screened on Wednesday 29th: I made many observations last Sunday evening – both at the awards themselves and the post-show party – not the least of which was that Amanda Donoghue (correct spelling?) needs to employ the services of a stylist. Also, that American Silvia(?) women (you can tell she made a big impression on me) can rest easy now that Concorde’s out of service.

A few more brief thoughts here: 1) can somebody tell 40% of the world’s female population just how un-sexy it is to be drinking straight from a Budweiser bottle 2) where were all the really famous people? 3) My old Nana would freak at the amount of overt sexual themes on “Corrie” nowadays – kinda sad - and 4) Jakey’s still got the hots for Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz (this last one may be lost on our younger readers).

In closing, we’re hoping to have the UK tour up for sale by next weekend (8th/9th October) – I should be able to confirm that on Sunday. Again, many thanks for all your e-mails, all of which it would be impossible to answer. However, rest assured that I do read them all. Hopefully back on schedule with the diary this week!

Sunday 19 September , 2004

McCarran Airport, Las Vegas

Well howdy there folks, it’s your ol’ pardner Jakey, still out here on the lonesome trail, down in Las Vegas: where there’s some mighty fancy hotels, some mighty bright lights and – dare I say – some mighty pretty women (“Jake, honey, I just love your accent. Keep talkin’ to me”). In the interests of Anglo/US relations, I was compelled to oblige.

Now, for all of you who have been beside yourself with worry, since my last diary entry, then fear not: the tour bus did turn up. Gillian and Georgina were into their pyjamas before you could say, “that’s my bunk”.

Now, I know there is this impression that our lifestyle is all glitz and glamour? Not today, it’s not.

Our flight from here to Los Angeles is already delayed over an hour, on top of which our homeward bound flight from L.A. is also two hours delayed.

Nevertheless, we really have little to be aggrieved about, as we have spent a fabulous six days in the world’s gambling capital.

Am I any better off than when I arrived here six days ago? Of course not. How do you think this city was paid for? However, I’ve no doubt that my six-day, $200+, deficit is chicken feed compared to the loss that certain high-rolling individuals experience. I’ve little doubt that although everyone flies in here, there’s a few that end up taking the bus home!

(I’m now at thirty three thousand feet on the homeward bound transatlantic flight, as my laptop ran out of power and we had a tight connection at LAX)

So what can I report of our stay in Vegas? Well, the work schedule was certainly heavier than back in L.A. proven by the fact that after arriving overnight to the Vegas hotel at 6.30 in the morning, the guys were having their hair done by 10.00 am, ready for “Cosmopolitan” and “M-Celebs” photo shoots in the afternoon.

Next day, Wednesday, saw us attending The World Music Awards at The Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas, where we were honored with the award for Best Irish Act. At this point it’s probably worth clearing up the controversy surrounding a report published on Thursday last in the “3AM” section of the UK’s Daily Mirror.

Westlife were always aware that they would not be featured in the main part of the show, rather their performance was to be recorded for inclusion on the worldwide edit of the programme: therefore the claim that we were “snubbed” by the main US broadcast is pure fabrication on the part of the 3AM girls, whose sense of journalism is matched only by their sense of dress.

On Thursday we spent the day filming additional footage for the video; on Friday we were interviewed by GMTV as part of a special Westlife feature they were doing. That finished at 2.00 pm, which meant the lads had the next day and a half completely to themselves.

Well, we’re about to land at Heathrow, from where I’ll be flying to Edinburgh and then driving up to Stirling to visit my son and see how he’s adjusting to University life. Apologies if the diary appeared a little disjointed this week.

Monday 13 September, 2004

Damn, missed my Sunday deadline (and I was doing so well for a while).

I write to you this week from sunny California, where we are in the midst of the video shoot for the new single, the name for which I am currently sworn to secrecy.

We arrived here last Thursday evening, 9th to be greeted by eighty-two degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I’m sure you know me well enough by now to know that I don’t mention that to rub it in (especially as I’m not a lie-by-the-pool sort of guy) rather just to keep the diary factual!

The Mondrian Hotel on Sunset appears to be a long-standing favourite of the guys and we spent the late evening relaxing in their Sky Bar (located on the ground floor – only in America!) reflecting upon just how lucky we all are to have the opportunity to enjoy such times.

As Georgina and Gillian were with us on the trip, they dragged their reluctant husbands off to The Beverly Centre shopping complex on La Cienega Boulevard for most of Friday, while Mark made a beeline for the Apple Store at The Grove on Fairfax and Third, leaving Kian to rent a car and make for the beach, surfboard strapped to the roof. Jake did his best to sort out his petty cash accounts (how glamorous does that sound?).

Saturday was chill day (shades of a normal existence) then we all trooped out to a lovely restaurant called “Dolce” on Melrose and Sweetzer, after which we checked out a couple of recommended Hollywood clubs. Now, contrary to popular belief, Hollywood is not an “all-night” type of town and everything (bars and clubs alike) closes down at 2.00 am. Something of a culture shock to a couple of Westlife members!

On Sunday afternoon we ventured down to Santa Monica and Malibu beaches, the press shots from which you may have already seen in the papers. There’s a great relaxing vibe just p0addling about on the shoreline, just as the sun sneaks below the horizon. Mark had the idea of renting an open-top ’69 Cadillac for the day therefore a great time was had by all, hanging out of all sides of the car while cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Last night, Sunday, upon returning from the beaches, the lads were involved in a couple of brief meetings relating to today’s video shoot. Give the lads their due, they all retired fairly early last night, cognizant of the long day ahead of them today.

Due to our heavy press schedule in Las Vegas tomorrow, Tuesday, I’ve rented an American “Prevost” tour-bus for the 278-mile trip through the desert overnight tonight (we won’t finish before midnight).

This is the first time to Vegas for a couple of the lads (it’s my ninth time!) so I shall try to look at things freshly through their eyes. More about Vegas at the end of this week.

My son started University today at Stirling, although I haven’t heard from him yet (he’s obviously O.K. for money) because he supposedly has a poor cell-phone signal at his halls of residence.

Next time I go home to the house, it’s going to feel sadly empty. Any of our (careful here, Jake) more mature fans have any advice for me, as to how to deal with this? There’s some days that I’m thankful I’m so busy.

Well, better go and see if my tour bus has turned up. Y’all have a nice day now folks. God bless America.

Sunday 5 September, 2004

Firstly, apologies that it may be Monday before you actually have a chance to read the diary this week: my laptop was undergoing some minor modifications over the weekend but, hey, my baby’s now back!

As it’s impossible for me to form any normal type of relationship when I continually work 16-hour days away from home, I’ve decided it’s time to get “closer” to my computer (gives a whole new meaning to the word laptop!). Sure, it’s not the same thing as a warm body, however my Mac rarely seems concerned if I occasionally flirt with a PC. Love-bytes without the marks? E-femail? Playing hard (drive) to get? Mmmm

So, what of the last week? Well, on Tuesday past we traveled to a “secret” location to surprise the winner of the “You’re The One” competition. Can’t give too much away at this time, only to say that she was taken completely by surprise – as well as everyone else who happened to be there at the time – as you will see when the T.V. show airs in December. However, the biggest surprise of all is how amazing a voice this girl has: I’ve always said that many a star of tomorrow is just not getting the break today and this girl goes a long way to strengthening that theory.

While it must be disappointing for all the other girls who attended the auditions - but didn’t quite make the grade- I trust they nevertheless enjoyed a memorable, if somewhat nerve-racking, experience and I’m sure they will wish the lucky winner all the best for the future.

Well, the lads have all but completed the recording of the album and, different as it may be from anything they have done previously, it still sounds amazing. Many of our more youthful followers may not immediately recognize some of the tracks - however these are classic songs given the Westlife treatment and, as such, will re-awaken fond memories for some of our not-so-youthful followers (and their parents!).

The week ended on a serious high for the lads as they headlined the “o2 Party in the Park” at Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Saturday afternoon. Ninety thousand concert revelers were treated to a forty-minute “snap shot” of the 2004 touring show, on a fine sunny afternoon.

We all gathered at the new Crowne Plaza Hotel beside Dublin airport and, as all the lads decided they would drive their own cars to the concert site, so we turned up like a presidential cavalcade!

As Girls Aloud and Brian, amongst many other familiar faces, were also appearing at the show it made for a great atmosphere and a very enjoyable afternoon.

Incidentally, as you are probably aware by now anyway, today (Monday) also sees the release of Brian’s first single: I sincerely wish him all the best. There’s plenty room in this world for Brian and the lads to continue to enjoy great success. Healthy competition never did anyone any harm.

On the football front, the transfer deadline closed last Monday (31st August) and I suppose the most noteworthy last-minute transfer was that of one Mr Wayne Rooney. I’m sure most of the football fraternity would find this strange coming from a licensed agent such as myself, but that’s just too much money to pay for one player, I’m sorry. I don’t want to make millions: I want to make a difference (and a living). I have to believe that my time (and someone’s investment!) will come - to prove that many of my theories as sound and beneficial to the game. To hell with football’s endemic “circle the wagons” mentality. BFN.


Sunday 29 August, 2004

I like to think I have a positive outlook – but, oh, today was a difficult day to deal with.

Today I said goodbye to my son before I left for London (as I normally would, on the odd occasions that I now get home) however with one major difference this time – he won’t be here when I next return.

He starts Stirling University (where he will stay in the student halls of residence) on 11 September and that’s him, pretty much, for the next four years.

Now, I’m convinced this can’t be an easy time for any parent (we witness such occurrences regularly in films and books but never really focus on it happening to us) however, as I have spent a substantial portion of my working life away from home, this time has come all too quickly for me. I’m gutted.

In a strange sort of way, I particularly welcome the return of “Westlife World” tomorrow, if only to save my mind wandering back to thoughts of what might have been ….

Anyway, what of last week?

Monday and Tuesday past were consumed with the auditioning process for “You’re the One”, the first of the two days being spent in Manchester and the second day back down in London.

I can’t say I was too impressed with the debacle which ensued outside The Lowry hotel, late morning on Monday, when the boys were filmed arriving in front of the hotel, as part of the filming process for the above-mentioned television show.

Although we were assured by the record company that the website had not committed to a signing session, that is not what the majority of people outside the hotel had been led to believe. Hence, as a result of the melee that followed, many people who had patiently waited outside the hotel (in the rain!) were afforded no more than a fleeting glance of the lads.

There are obviously stringent security concerns regarding such events, however we should have handled things better than we did, if only out of consideration and respect for those people who had taken the time and trouble to attend. The lads are now aware of the aftermath of the situation and agree with me that, in future, we must become more involved in the planning stages, so as to avoid such calamitous scenes – irrelevant of how good it may look for television.

After the London auditions, on Tuesday, it was back to the hotel in London for a string of meetings that evening, mainly regarding the general ideas for next year’s tour.

Taking a few days break from the studio, the lads then flew back to Ireland on Wednesday, for the rest of the week, and everyone will re-convene tomorrow, Monday, to continue working on the new album.

Well, “that was the week that was” (ask your parents about that as well) – I hardly picked up a newspaper or watched the TV news, although I did manage to catch snippets of some of the European games on the telly. Ah, well - time to catch up with what’s happening in the big wide world out there. Wish me luck.

Sunday 22 August, 2004

I’m sure it’s no worldly secret that today finds me up in Manchester, ready to begin the first “You're The One” auditions, which will take up all of tomorrow. We are then in London on Tuesday for the second phase.

Will we uncover the next Michelle ……….? Will be spoilt for choice? Will it prove a difficult decision to select the final overall winner? Will I manage to secure a date with one of the girls’ mothers? Ah, only time will tell.

I traveled up last night on the tour bus, from London with Shane, Nicky and Georgina after the lads finished in the studio yesterday afternoon around 6.30. Apologies to any of the girls who were waiting outside the London hotel, for the lads to return, to board the tour bus.

We were pushed for time and therefore I went back to the hotel, loaded the luggage and then had the tour bus meet us outside Hammersmith Odeon (where, incidentally, the “Les Gray Memorial Show” will be staged this coming Wednesday – those of a reasonably tender young age that read this column will have to ask their parents about Les Gray).

Although the lads are reasonably careful with their diet (non-alcoholic beers, etc – not) all culinary caution was thrown to the wind as we plunder the “Golden Fry” in Hammersmith before setting of for Manchester.

Part of the entertainment on the journey was a live video of Billy Connolly (recorded, incidentally, at Hammersmith Odeon) so thankfully I was on hand to translate certain passages.

Otherwise we just spent the time chatting about such wide-ranging subjects as mushy peas; next year’s tour production; Alan Smith’s wonder goal against Norwich yesterday; exorbitant concert booking fees and – just to lighten the mood somewhat - my worrying fascination with women’s shoes.

Everyone with the exception of Kian (who, very impressively, turned in early because he was first into the studio next morning) trooped along to Earls Court on Thursday evening to witness the Madonna extravaganza. Now, Madge definitely knows how to turn out a great show – some of the production elements were particularly slick – but at £166.00 a ticket (including the above-mentioned, thorny, subject of a booking fee) I couldn’t help thinking that most people would have to fork out half their weekly wages just for the opportunity to be there.

To be honest, I think that, at £26.50, the Westlife show is exceptional value – surely if Madonna can charge £150.00 per ticket, we can charge £35.00? Am I way off base here? I only mention this because, as you can no doubt imagine, our show is very costly to stage and we want to try to retain the same standard.

Now look what’s happened: I didn’t even have a chance to talk about football this week. Suffice to say that I’m undertaking a fairly comprehensive press “e-mailout” this week, just to bring continuing notice to my intention to sort out this (generally) murky business of player representation.

The best of luck to all those who will audition for “S.T.O.” over the next two days – may the best woman win. A final, special, mention to Lisa Cribley, who owns our tour-catering firm Snakatak. Without saying too much, Lisa was a little poorly there for a bit, but she’s just been given the all-clear, Hurry back, Lisa!

Monday 16 August, 2004

Almost managed to update the diary by yesterday, as my original intention was always to have it done on a Sunday: however, as I managed to bring all my accounts right up to date this week, I may just manage to get back on track by this coming Sunday.

And, what of the last week?

Well, the lads have been spending a fair amount of time in the studio, this last week, as the new album starts to take shape – what I’ve heard of it so far sounds excellent. Of course, as many of those songs were very much what my parents grew up with so I’m very familiar with many of those famous tunes.

Before I go any further, can I just take this opportunity to thank anyone who has recently sent me a message via this website. I do read them all! It’s just that I rarely have the time to pen a reply, as a result of trying to keep track of four very energetic lads.

I can honestly say that I save all my website e-mails in their own directory, telling myself that one day I’ll have a chance to sit down and work my way through them and pay you guys the courtesy of a reply – that will probably coincide with the day I retire!

We all managed to attend the Manchester United/Chelsea game yesterday at Stamford Bridge (a special thanks to BMG for their invitation) and experience first-hand the atmosphere that such an occasion generates. Although the game itself probably wasn’t one for the history books, it was nevertheless a great buzz to be there.

I would have to say there were a couple of fuzzy heads amongst our lot yesterday – as a result of a rip-roaring Saturday night out in true Westlife style – but that in no way hindered their enjoyment of the afternoon, although we probably broke some sort of record for the amount of bottled water consumed in an a Chelsea hospitality box on a Sunday afternoon!

My daughter spent the last few days in London with me, and my son is due down this week so it’s great to see one’s children, especially as I’m not getting home much these days.

On the football front, one of Nicky’s mates (Paul Lally) is playing in a trial for the Scottish Second Division side Forfar Athletic, tomorrow evening in a reserve league game at Forfar so, if by chance, you happen to live in the area – and you’re something of a football fan – then pop along to the game and surprise the hell out of him. Hopefully a contract will follow.

Now, if only Celtic took a fancy to him at some point in the future...

Monday 9 August, 2004

I’m still trying to figure out where the last ten days have gone.

We finished our run of outdoor dates with the show in Exeter last Tuesday, where an audience of over thirteen thousand made for a great evening, set in the grounds of Powderham Castle.

All in all, we can have no complaints about the weather during the recent shows as, even though we experienced rain before/after a couple of the shows, our actual performances were thankfully spared.

We are now firmly into “recording mode” for the rest of this month and, if what I’m hearing from the studio in the early stages is anything to go by, I’m sure everyone will be surprisingly impressed by the “new” material. The buzz in the studio is electric, as Westlife appear to be well on course to adding another chapter to their record-shattering career (think I could get a job as a record company biographer?).

Of course, Friday past, we had the welcome diversion of Jodi’s 21st birthday party, the pics from which will no doubt hit the newsstands before the end of this week.

As you will see from the said glossy magazine spread, the event was held at rather a unique location in a cool part of London - with a glittering array of guests in attendance.

I left the proceedings at around three in the morning, at which time the place was rocking and, in true Westlife fashion, it was a good few hours before the lads were seen to leave the premises – don’t ya love it when you know you have nothing too important to do the next day?

Brian was also in town – as he was booked to feature his new single on CD-UK on the Saturday morning – and was good enough to join the party for a few hours. Of course, he was welcomed into the proceedings with open arms and for a while there it was just like old times (apart from the fact that Brian was first to leave because of his commitments the next day!).

As I’m now “resident” in London for the next three weeks or so, I’m hoping to catch up with a few of my football contacts just to see if I can stir up some more interest for my ideas.

I’ve obviously taken more than a passing interest in the events of the last ten days, surrounding the mini-scandal at the F.A. It comes as no surprise to find that certain of the individuals charged with the responsibility of governing our footballing industry are just as badly behaved – off the field – as many of the footballers upon whom they are called upon to judge for their questionable behavior on it.

Once again, glaring proof that, in certain shadowy corners of that Soho Square building, there remains the football the belief that football is a law unto itself. The apparent arrogance of Colin Gibson beggars belief.

The likes of Graham Bean and Adam Crozier gave it their best shot (within their respective departments) while in the employ of the F.A. but, in doing so, ruffled the feathers of many a comfortably-ensconced committee member – not forgetting the odd Premier League chairman – and that was the end of that. Of late, I’m afraid, F.A. might just stand for Fannying About.

This week’s closing thought? “The bigger they come, the harder they fall”.


Sunday 25 July, 2004

This morning finds me sitting on the tour bus, in the car park of a resort hotel in Kent, waiting for our hotel rooms to become available.

I had figured we would not arrive until around midday today (our drivers, Trevor and Jamie, were obviously not hanging around last night) and therefore, as folks are never in a hurry to check out of their hotel rooms on a Sunday morning, we’re having to demonstrate some patience.

Not that it’s of too much concern to the Westlife boys, as they are all well snuggled up in their bunks right now, not wishing to be disturbed until the early afternoon, at which point they will go shower and change – and then we’ll be off down the road to today’s outdoor show at Broadstairs in Kent.

We played the first of seven shows, on this “outdoor” run, in my hometown last night, at Edinburgh Castle - a spectacular setting, a great show and – to top it all off – a fairly colourful fireworks display at the end of the performance.

The boys own (no pun intended) dressing room was actually in the castle itself and their was a plaque on the wall, stating that the room had been remodeled in 1878!

We now hold the record for the fastest sell-out (4 hours) of any Edinburgh Castle show since the inception of the event, twelve years ago I believe. This year has already seen Tom Jones and Cliff Richard perform there and tonight they host James Taylor – more my scene, that would have been.

Tonight, at Broadstairs, we have the bands D’Side, Pop and Fixx as support acts and we’re due to go on at 8.30 after which we are overnight back to London for a day off, before heading up to Liverpool on Tuesday morning.

After the two shows in Liverpool, we’re off to Ipswich, Romsey (Hampshire) and, finally, Exeter.

That will signal the end of the boys’ live work, for a fair while, as the next couple of months will be spent preparing for a new album.

On the football side, my Namibian player (Pepe) is starting to make progress at Ayr United therefore I’m hoping we may yet be able to fix him up with a professional club. He is the holder of an Italian passport; therefore this avoids any work permit issues, should he be offered a permanent position.

Another couple of football players, that are fit and available, have been mentioned to me, but I’m running some fairly exhaustive checks on them before I think about sticking them on a plane, to come halfway across Europe.

There is currently a fair amount of activity within the UK transfer market, as the new season fast approaches: of course, I would like to be involved – however, I’m convinced my time will come. I continue to believe that many of my ideas are original, innovative and workable. Time will tell.

Sunday 18 July, 2004

The circus is on its way back to town.

Tomorrow sees the start of a series of meetings over the next few days, to plan the upcoming campaign, which will soon herald the release of a new album, backed – as always - by an extensive promotional campaign.

As far as concert work goes, we have seven “outdoor” shows (two of them are actually in a big tent, in Liverpool) between 24 July and 2 August, before returning to the studio to lay down the tracks for the forthcoming album, release details to follow by way of the official website.

Personally, I have just returned from a holiday Stateside with my family where we rented a motorhome and drove through the southern US states, being lucky enough to be in New Orleans for 4 July: the Americans are not known for half-hearted celebrations therefore, typically, the evening firework display was spectacular (“honey, that was awesome!”)

My son, who had kindly volunteered to arrange the holiday, while I was in the middle of touring mayhem last month, had assured me that my driving involvement would be minimal (“we won’t go far each day, honestly”). Thank goodness for my early experience as a truck driver as, when I arrived in Atlanta, I was greeted with the site of a very large motorhome – only about five feet shorter than one of our tour buses!

As for the driving, I somehow managed to rack up over 2400 miles in two weeks - however we certainly witnessed much of the deep south and it’s unique culture: to go where no motorhome has gone before…

Back home, all the guys seem to be in great spirits, as a result of a month away from their normally grueling schedule – but now they’re refreshed, and excited about the months ahead.

As for me, I obviously continue to enjoy my involvement with Westlife, however I’m determined to expand my contact network within the football world (being in London so much is certainly advantageous in this respect) as I’m determined to source the necessary investment to enable me to launch a player-management company that will decisively eclipse the majority of the current fly-by-night operations.

On the footballing side, I was very impressed to receive an E-mail from Russell Osman, the noted Ipswich and England international player, who was kind enough to praise my efforts in challenging certain of the questionable methods that exist within football agency (however, obviously not that impressed - as I managed to wipe Russell’s E-mail during the download!).

So, Russell, if you happen to read this diary page again, please re-send your contact details, as I was certainly looking forward to giving you a call.

Finally, I have a Namibian player (with an Italian passport) on trial at the Scottish club Ayr United, so fingers crossed that something works out for him. He’s come a long way to seek his fortune!

Edinburgh Castle here we come. Even I have no spare tickets for that particular show…


Friday 25 June, 2004

Thought I’d forgotten about you all, huh?

Being both the Tour Manager and the Tour Accountant for Westlife leaves me with so little personal time (I now realise the need to review that situation in future) that when the tour ended I was left with only four days to file all my accounts, before sneaking off for a five day break in Perthshire.

As you may know, my original intention was to revise this diary entry every week and hopefully I can revert to this in the very near future.

With the help of my son, I have managed to catch up with the majority of domestic tasks that tend to accumulate when one spends so much time away from home.

The lads are deservedly sunning themselves in various parts of the world, resting up for the remaining seven live shows in late July/early August and then the recording of the next album.

Of course, I’m looking forward to playing a show in my hometown, when we appear at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday 24 July. I’m actually most relieved that we have a sold-out show, so I can put my hand on my heart when any “old” friends ask for tickets and honestly say that there’s none available.

This five day break has given me time to crystalize my thoughts as regards the months ahead – and, as mentioned previously, I want to continue to do a good job, however I have to find a little more time to myself in the coming months.

Our tour caterers have fed me up too well, so a few visits to the gym are in order.

While I continue to enjoy working with the lads, I have made a couple of positive contacts on the football front and will look to follow those up when I return from holiday with my children, in mid-July.

As much of Westlife’s recording and promotional work is based around London, it gives me the ideal opportunity to meet up with prospective investors for my football project.

So, there’s much to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead. I’ve just witnessed England being cruelly eliminated from the European Championship (and this coming from a Scot!) to remind me that it’s an incredible game. Does it not mirror life itself?

Must surely be heading for a Portugal v France final now.

Well, that’s all for now folks. Living it to the max, with those wild Westlife boys while, at the same time, not letting go of the dream. Luck will play a great part in the eventual outcome, I suspect.


Friday 28 May, 2004

I’m finding that it’s not so easy to update my diary page on a regular weekly basis, as I first imagined it would be.

Just as it appeared I was managing to find the time each week, (originally planned for a Sunday), my mother became very ill two weeks ago – and when this happens, suddenly nothing else matters.

Shane, Nicky, Kian and Mark were so supportive of my situation and immediately dispatched me to Wales to spend time with my mother. For three or four days they, and our security officers Dave Last and Tony Cave (not forgetting the redoubtable Maria, the boys personal assistant) all shouldered part of the Tour Management functions, until I was able to return to Birmingham.

Sadly, my dear old mum passed away last Friday morning and was cremated earlier today, in a picturesque setting on the outskirts of Tredegar, in South Wales.

As I have spent a considerable amount of my career time traveling the world, I naturally regret not having as much time as I would have liked, to have been able to visit her more often.

However, when I return to Edinburgh mid-June, I intend to take a day with my children and visit many of the places that she frequented and also where she took us as children.

Anyway, my mother would be the first to chide me for brooding (it’s hard not to do so) and so I must stay positive and keep busy with my work (that’s never a problem). Onward and upwards.

Depending upon when you manage to read this, you may have witnessed my inclusion on a TV programme on BBC 1 in the UK - “Fergie and Son” which airs tonight, Friday 28 May at 11.35 pm (I believe it was also shown last night, Thursday, on BBC 3 at 9.30 pm).

Everyone within the football business is well aware of the transfer wrongdoings at Manchester United, relating to Sir Alex Ferguson and his unlicensed agent son, Jason. The trouble is that because Manchester United is such a powerful force in football – in more ways than one – the media shy away from confrontation with the manager, as such daring risks banishment from weekly press conferences etc.

Well, I’m not beholden to football and/or Manchester United for my livelihood and I therefore felt compelled to put my views forward in the programme so that the football-fan-in-the-street (who, along with his hundreds of thousands of compatriots, ultimately foots the bill for football’s gross fiscal ineptitude) can actually understand what is going on behind his/her back.

Manchester United’s own internal review of transfer policy over the last three years, published on Tuesday evening past, does not delve deep enough into the activities of Sir Alex Ferguson and his son, in both their attempts to directly and indirectly (with the collusion of certain other unscrupulous agents) line their own family pockets. When will football get its house in order? Only when sanctions (as per FIFA’s own regulations) are meted out to the likes of Manchester United, will the majority of illegal agent activity cease. I’ve no sympathy for either of them: they arrogantly thought they were above the law. Indefensible greed.

Friday 14 May, 2004

Did you miss me?

London was typically London: frantic. Hence almost missing a whole week of my diary.

Now we are in Dublin, having completed three out of ten shows at The Point Depot.

Strange feeling when I arrived off the boat at Holyhead on Monday morning - almost like a homecoming. That’s probably because I’ve spent more time in Dublin than I have in my own hometown of Livingston.

If the truth be told, this is one of a handful of cities that I feel empathy towards and where (if circumstances decreed) I could comfortably live. Other worldly cities that fall into that bracket are Vancouver; New Orleans; Capetown and Santa Monica.

The weather has been excellent the last couple of days here in Dublin and, being the Tour Accountant as well, I am thankful for multiple dates in the same city as it allows me to sneak into the venue during the day and catch up with my work.

During last week’s Wembley run, I was interviewed by one of the satellite TV channels, relating to a programme they are producing to investigate the troubled state of British football. I can’t say too much at this point however, as I’m passionate about a more full-time involvement in football in the future, I’m hoping that, as well as raising awareness of the issues which are disabling our game, it will also do no harm in raising my profile within the industry.

This time next month will actually be our last UK date after which I’m definitely looking forward to a short break.

Before then, of course, we have three dates in Birmingham, a ten-day spell in Europe and then the final four UK shows of this phase. That first show in Belfast, on 29 March, seems so far ago now.

I trust that everyone who E-mails me regarding Westlife will understand that I have very little time to reply. The point of my website, to be perfectly honest, is to raise awareness for my future football management (“agency”) project, in the hope that I can attract the significant investment required to finally demonstrate to the football industry that there is a highly organized and professional alternative to what is generally on offer to most young, talented, footballers.

So much for my “day off” today, being that I’ve hardly moved from my hotel room. I always tell non-touring people that there are no such things as days off; there are only show days – and “non show” days. Ah, maybe on Monday ……

Thanks for listening. The dream lives on – as does the tour.

Saturday 1 May, 2004

Apologies for my prolonged absence: we’ve just undergone a fairly intense period of shows over the last two weeks.

Additionally, my web site designer (Scott Currie of Hot Stuff Web Design) was on vacation for a short while – and I’m certainly no way competent enough to update my own content!

Newcastle, Birmingham and, presently, Sheffield have all gone particularly well and we’re off to Manchester tonight, after this last Sheffield show.

We celebrated Kian’s birthday last night (in true Westlife fashion) and a great night was had by all – as witness to that, there’s a few fuzzy heads aimlessly wandering the backstage corridors this afternoon.

With a bit of luck, I’ll be ensconced in my Manchester hotel (or to be more technically correct, my Manchester hotel’s bar) before the stroke of midnight tonight.

We recorded our tour DVD at the Manchester MEN Arena last year, as the atmosphere is electric when there’s upwards of 14,000 fans on a sold-out show.

About one o’clock this morning, Eric Clapton’s crew checked into our hotel (they had been playing at Birmingham NEC last night) and I was able to re-acquaint myself with a few old pals from previous tours.

The BBC made contact with me this past week as they are producing a one-off programme on the scurrilous activities of certain football agents and they are looking to talk to a reputable licensed agent (me, that is) to ascertain my views on improving the standard of service for young, talented, football players.

Naturally, most football agents are reticent to discuss the true nature of the business, fearing (correctly) that it may have a detrimental outcome on their future dealings. To be honest, if I relied purely on football to pay my bills, I would no doubt find myself in the same position.

However, considering the perilous financial state of many of the professional clubs, I welcome the opportunity to put the record straight as to why so much money has disappeared from the game and why the (literally) poor, unsuspecting, football supporter ends up footing the bill every time.

Not sure when the programme airs, so keep an eye on this space.

Time to go now, as the show starts in a couple of hours: I also now have the additional responsibility of coping with the inimitable Maria Barry, Westlife’s personal assistant – a bundle of energy; a rush of activity; a voice of note but, thankfully, a heart of gold. See ya.


Monday 5 April, 2004

Well, may all weeks be as successful as the last week in Belfast, where we started the tour: seven sold-out shows and two more shows already on sale (for June 6 & 7) as a result of the phenomenal reaction to the “rejuvenated” Westlife.

I opted to leave Belfast directly after the show and managed to scrape onto the 9.55 pm ferry to Stranraer, from where I drove overnight to Nottingham, arriving just after seven this morning.

The lads are determined to elicit the same fantastic reaction to the new show, on the UK mainland, as was evident over the last week in Belfast.

Following two shows here in Nottingham, it’s off to Brighton for three shows at the weekend and then up to Cardiff on Sunday for a day off – also to celebrate my son Bradley’s 18th birthday - he is out on the road with me at the moment and eagerly hinting at a host of prospective birthday presents.

There has always been this rumour connected with Nottingham as to the women of the town far outnumbering the men (5 to 1 some say - how could that be?). Pity I’m so damn busy, or I could have conducted some form of market study (all in the aid of statistical research you understand).

An old scouting friend of mine, Jacob Amaning, called me from Namibia yesterday to alert me to a young player who is on the books of one of the major South African teams and who, fortuitously (because it enables him to play in the UK without the need for a work permit) is the holder of a UK passport. Jacob sent me a Namibian player a few years ago, who was subsequently signed to Motherwell FC in the Scottish Premier League and who was indeed an exciting prospect – until he opted to transfer to a Chinese club for a substantially increased deal.

It will be interesting to see how this “new” player turns out – as Jacob definitely has the ability to spot talented players.

Well, it’s time to run down to Nottingham town centre, with my son in tow – and my credit card close at hand – as he attempts “birthday bankruptcy” on me.

Finally, many thanks to Holly “Miss Cosmopolitan” Day, from our wardrobe department, for the fine hand-washing job, undertaken on my prized cruising shirt.

See you all soon.


Sunday 28 March, 2004

Staring out over the waterfront in Belfast this Sunday evening, The Odyssey venue sits quietly shimmering in the late evening haze, not more than 800 metres in a straight line from me.

We have seven shows in Belfast this week, before heading off for the UK mainland to start in Nottingham a week on Tuesday.

Early start for the crew tomorrow morning (6am) as it’s the first city on the tour. The crew have put in some long hours over the last few days of production rehearsals and will no doubt be relishing the thought of a few refreshments on Wednesday evening, after we have the first three shows under their belt.

I spent many years on the production crew side of the touring business, before earning my Tour Management spurs and therefore, I like to think I can empathise with most of our crew guys - knowing what’s involved in tipping eight trucks of sound, lighting, video and stage equipment into a large arena and being ready to open the doors to the public ten hours later.

Even after all these years, I still thrive on being part of such a well-oiled machine and (old fashioned as it may sound) there’s a definite buzz about contributing towards something that sends thousands of concert-goers home happy, every night.

The response from our Belfast audience is nothing short of fanatical, although the average age of Westlife’s audience here (and everywhere) continues to rise. The lads know they will be warmly welcomed back here to Belfast and, even in the wake of Bryan’s departure, everyone in our organization, having the benefit of having been around rehearsals for the last week, are convinced that Westlife can still do the business (in every way).

I have watched the past week’s rehearsal run-throughs with increasing fascination and I’m quietly confident that the lads can continue as strong as ever, for years to come: whether I’m around for all that time remains to be seen - as I’m more determined than ever to launch a sports development/management operation at the earliest opportunity.

In fact, I’ve now promised myself to make at least one phone call/enquiry every morning, relating to the above project.

On the football side, I’m still trying to fix up a young Irish footballer (Liam McSweeney) with a Scottish club before the end of the season, but things are so tough in football at the moment. The majority of clubs are looking to off-load, rather than augment. The fact that the “transfer” deadline is this coming Wednesday makes it nigh on impossible to find a suitable position for Liam.

Well, back to reality, as here we go with the revitalized Westlife, world premiere, line-up tomorrow night!

P.S. Thanks to Karen (and, in particular, her Mum) for the introduction of fig biscuits during the production office tea/coffee break. An acquired taste, indeed, but I fully intend to persevere!

Sunday 21 March, 2004

The final stretch!

One week tomorrow, we commence this year's tour with a run of seven shows at Belfast's Odyssey Arena.

For any act on the verge of such an extensive arena tour as Westlife are about to undertake, there will be little sleep in the final seven rehearsal days - for artistes, management and technical crew alike.

On Tuesday, we move into the final phase of the rehearsal schedule - full production - when every one of our nine 45 foot tractor-trailers are emptied out onto a large sound stage and then systematically pieced together to resemble the sort of spectacular show that Westlife have produced on a year-on-year basis since their first 'Coast To Coast' tour in 1996.

I think it's fair to say that Steve Levitt (Westlife's long standing - possibly long suffering! - Production Manager) and myself have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the Westlife touring extravaganza makes it out of rehearsals and up to the first show, on time.

Between now and next Sunday evening, when we load out of production rehearsals, there is a myriad of logistical detail to overcome and process. Our touring operation numbers in excess of sixty personnel including artistes, management, sound and lighting crews, carpenters, caterers, bus and truck drivers and our own merchandising team.

Our technical crew has the enviable capacity to empty all nine trucks from 6am one mornong; set up the whole show; put Westlife on stage; tear it down later in the evening and then start all over again at the next city, 250 miles down the road! Minimal rest. Maximum satisfaction!

Our first week in Belfast includes six evening performances and one matinee show on the afternoon of Saturday 3 April. Save some seats that may be available once the stage set is finally positioned, we are practically sold out. Yes, they love Westlife in Belfast!

I have a fair amount of 'number crunching' work to complete this week, as part of my responsibility to my 'second' job as Tour Accountant, therefore my social calendar (always limited) will look particularly blank over the next seven days.

Hoping you found those notes of some interest and I'll do my best to update you some time next week.

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