Brian Trueman’s memories of Sidney Bernstein

Sidney was notorious for living on the premises! You know when they built the new block he had the Penthouse on the roof and begins … Sidney was known as “Fiddler on the Roof”! So he would patrol the building – in the evening – but he would patrol the building during the day with poor Mr. Pook, Dennis Pook, who was office manager’s sidekick something! He was trailed behind him with a notebook and SLB would say “Cigarette ends in the sand bucket!” all sorts of minor details, fleck of paint off. Poor chap had a terrible life! But he’d go around at night as well and secretaries used to come in and find a piece of somewhat created carbon paper on the desk with a little note on it saying “This could be used again. SLB”. So talk about micro-management, wasn’t in it! And someone, I can’t remember who – might have been Mike Parkinson or Dennis Pitts – he saw someone in studio wearing socks which had spots on them and he phoned down and said “Who was that wearing those socks? Never, never let me see a spotted sock in my studio ever again!”   They were out.

On one occasion he came round, he had different approaches to his relationship with Germany, naturally. No doubt there might have been people in his family who had been persecuted by them, by the Nazis, but it was a bit variable. For instance he came round the studio and said “Very good. Yes, what are these microphones? Whose are these microphones?”

“Sennheiser.” “Sennheiser?” They said “Yes, and they really are the best microphones.”

He said “Are they German?” “Yes…” “Get them out! Get them out! I want British microphones in here. Get them out!” “But, but …. “   So they went.

They fished around but there weren’t any decent British microphones – there were things like the Clarion, I don’t know what. They stuck these microphones up and about 10 days later there was another angry phone call from SLB, who watched all the programmes going out, saying “What’s the matter with the sound in my studios? It’s appalling.” And they said, “Well, it’s the microphones.”

“What’s the matter with them?” “They’re British mics and not very good.” “What are the best microphones?” “Sennheiser” “Well get the damned things!”

And then before you know it, you were staring at a new car in the car park. It was a Mercedes. He was a bit confused.

There was a newly appointed secretary who’d just come to work, been there about three to four months, and her mother got seriously ill and she was desperately worried about her. SLB was going around sometime and she was trying to catch up on her work. She’d been to see her mother in hospital or something and she was typing away in the evening. SLB saw her and asked “Why are you here? Why are you working late?” “Because my mother’s ill” and she just started weeping. He said, “There isn’t a problem. You must look after your mother, forget the job, look after your mother.” “But I need the money”. He said “We’ll pay you so just said come back when your mother either unfortunately passed on or better.” That’s incredible. You can’t imagine anyone doing that these days but of course he owned the shop. Could do what the hell he liked.



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