The fight back is on

Hola. Hope you are well.

I’ve had a pretty varied week.

Yesterday ‘Her With One Permanent Job’ and I ended up going to the Notting Hill Carnival. We had planned to go to an art gallery and then in transit decided to go to the carnival, as you do. Our carnival experience included a lot of time queuing for food, a fair bit of wandering around, a lone bagpiper and handful of people doing an Irish jig. All things you’d expect at a carnival.

On the Sunday, we went to see Stomp, which was really good, it was also funny, which is pretty impressive considering there are no words in the show, it’s all percussion. It’s more impressive to me as I’ll freely admit there have been times when I’ve been on stage, with the advantage of having words and not got laughs.

Regular readers of this blog will know I struggle to stay awake in theatres, cinemas and planetariums but I made sure I had a coke before the show, plus as it was a show that had people banging on drums and pans, so surely I’d have no problem staying awake. Wrong, during the middle section I was feeling my eyes closing, which I think is quite impressive considering the conditions.

The only other thing to say about Stomp, was that after the show a couple of tourists approached me to take a picture of them in front of a poster of the show. I’m not sure why they would want a picture of themselves in front of a poster but that’s not the point. The point is I took two good pictures for them, so I was a little surprised and hurt that when I next saw them they were in front of the very same poster getting their picture taken by someone else. There should be some etiquette about things like this.

On Sat eve I watched a film about Bill Hicks and then after it, I wanted to become the new Bill Hicks, in the same way after I watched Nowhere Boy, I wanted to be a young John Lennon and after watching any Rocky film, I want to be a boxer who speaks like they’ve had a stroke. And some people have the cheek to say I’m suggestible.

On Friday my new passport arrived. The delivery company had a facility that allowed you to track your item on the internet, so I took advantage of this so I’d be able to see what time it would arrive as opposed to sitting around all day waiting for it. So I put my postcode in and the long item number and clicked the submit button only to see it say your item will be delivered on said date and that was it. That’s not tracking the item, that is barely following it.

One thing I did know was that I was supposed to have ID and sign for my passport when it arrived. The only problem was I don’t have any photo ID, as I don’t drive therefore don’t have a driving licence. I envisaged a scenario where I would be saying, “My passport, is in the envelope and that will prove my ID”, whilst the delivery man would be telling me, “I couldn’t open the envelope until I provided valid ID”. In my head the conversation was going to go on like this for a long time. As it happened, the delivery man never asked to see any ID.

On Thurs, I did a comedy gig as the 3 Prong Attack (my double act). This gig had the potential to go wrong for a number of reasons but as it turned out it was our best gig so far. What was a bit weird is that we go on stage with headphones on our heads, amongst other things it makes us stand out, so you can imagine how surprised we were to see the second act on wearing headphones, spooky. Luckily he didn’t do any of our act.

Things are also looking up in other 3 Prong news, our previous ‘business plan’ was based around the fact that Prong 2’s housemate  subscribed  to Timeout magazine, so we were able to find gigs through that. But he recently moved house, so we were snookered but the other day I found out that my local library stocks Timeout, so we are back on track. I wonder if any other acts success is based on such flimsy foundations?

Last Monday, I had my best week answering questions on University Challenge but before anyone thinks I’ve become a boffin, the answers I got were Norman Wisdom (comedian), Roman Abramovich (Chelsea owner), Carson Yeung (Birmingham City owner) Sheikh Mansour (Man City owner), John W Henry (Liverpool owner) and Frankie Dettori (horse rider). I think that sums up my area of knowledge.

And Finally… last week I said I was going to use the trains 8-13% less, well the fight back is on as I am going back to Manchester today on the coach. A return ticket on the coach has cost me the same as the cheapest train ticket one way. Admittedly the coach takes longer but I’m not too concerned, it’s not as if I’m a ‘Time is money’ kind of guy, time is just time to me, in fact these days money is not money to me.

Til next week, stay safe!

It’s not where you’re from…

breaded haggis balls

Hola. Hope you are well.

I was in Edinburgh for the weekend, mainly for the festival, purely as a punter this year. My one objective on this trip was to try some haggis. Regular readers of this blog will know I don’t like to set myself too challenging of tasks, at the start of the summer, one of my objectives was to eat potatoes. Anyway, yesterday (Sun 21st) I had haggis for the very first time. It was breaded haggis balls, which ‘Her With One Permanent Job’ said was “cheating” but I liked it and will definitely have haggis again, should you be wondering.

Despite all the arts and culture on show, I did manage to find a pub and watch some football, which in some people’s eyes will reflect badly on me, but what can you do? Towards the end of the match, I decided to top up my pint by ordering a half, which in some people’s eyes will reflect badly on me, as it happened the barmaid poured me a pint and I was too pussy to point out the mistake so I accepted the pint. My conclusion was that there is no such thing as a half  in Scottish pubs.

The other thing to happen to me in the pub was one of the locals approached me and asked me “Where I was from”. So I said, “Manchester”, cos that’s where I was born but I could tell from his reaction that this wasn’t what he was asking. That and him saying, “I thought you might be from Africa”. We had a bit of a conversation, which wasn’t easy as he had quite a strong Scottish accent, so I couldn’t pick every word and he had a hearing aid so probably couldn’t pick out every word I was saying. We are however meeting again next year to put on a show, naturally I am joking, although it’d be fair to say anything we could come up with wouldn’t look out of place at the Fringe.

Normally at the Edinburgh Fest I see quite a few celebs, this year the only famous people I met were, Justin Moorhouse, who I had a brief chat with at the train station, as we were heading home and he had just arrived. The other person I think I saw was, ex Corrie actor, Danny Young, although I’m not sure it was him. To be honest I’m not sure you can be described as famous if people aren’t sure if it’s you or not.

Talking of trains, (I met Justin at the train st) I was reading about how train prices are set to go up by between 8-13%. This is a bummer for me as I regularly use the train. I have come up with a plan to fight back against these price increases. I am going to start use trains 8-13% less. That’ll learn these multi-million pound train companies, as I’m hitch hiking somewhere in Doncaster. In all seriousness ‘HWOPJ’ and I are being forced to get the coach to Newcastle next month because the train prices were so expensive. A     6 hour coach trip is never ideal, especially when the reason you are going to Newcastle is to run a half-marathon. Alternatively we could have done what Brad and Angelina recently did and hire an entire train. 

On last week’s blog post, I mentioned how my passport pics were rejected for being too blurry. The owners of the photo booth, where I took the pics were very accommodating and sent me a cheque for my £5. I am definitely going to cash it, but it made me wonder what is the smallest value of cheque you have either cashed or written. For any young people reading this, ask your parent what a cheque is.

This Thurs, 25th Aug I will be doing an open mic gig as part of my double act 3 Prong Attack. It is at Dr Ink’s, 52 Stamford St, London, SE1 9LY. Time 7:30 and It’s Free. Nearest station, Southwark. If you are thinking of coming along let me know, just so the organisers know we have brought some audience. Cheers.

And Finally… As all the fallout continues from the riots, I saw that an 11-year-old boy looted a bottle of wine. The fact he took a bottle of wine seems quite sophisticated for someone so young. I didn’t start drinking wine regularly until my 30’s. So I suppose that’s something positive to come from the recent troubles.

Til next week, stay safe!

A quiet week

David Cameron and Boris Johnson at the Bullingdon Club

Hola. Hope you are well.

So anything happen last week?

Oh yeah there were the riots up and down the country, I don’t know if you saw it mentioned anywhere. Where I live there wasn’t much trouble, the electrical store at the end of the road had its windows smashed in and the 2 supermarkets closed early on Tues. Luckily for occasions like this, where I live is mainly populated by takeaways, so unless the rioters suddenly get the urge for jerk chicken, I should be ok.

Just for the record, should anyone be holding a public enquiry into the events, can I say that Dave and Boris coming home early from their holidays didn’t make the streets of London appear any safer. Something tells me the people out looting wouldn’t be intimidated by the two former Bullingdon club members.

For the first few days of the riots I was smugly able to say there was no trouble in Manchester, that soon changed. The troubles in Manchester did however come after the police announced they would be moving some of the M’cr police force to help in London and then what do you know there’s trouble in M’cr. I’m no police expert but if you are going to do something like this don’t announce it, just do it.

There was however no trouble in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Of course if there was trouble in Edinburgh, with the festival currently running, the rioters would either get arrested or a 4 star review in the Guardian.

There’s been plenty of talk as to what should happen if this kind of thing happens again? Some people are big fans of introducing water cannons onto the streets and Cameron mentioned that they were on standby at 24hours notice. Does anyone see a problem in this strategy? What are they going to do to entertain the rioters whilst they are waiting for the water cannons to turn up? Ideas on a postcard, and send to 10 Downing St.

I do think that the riots are all part of the strange times we are living in, where MPs are unsure which house they live in when it comes to claiming expenses, journalists listen into the voicemails of missing teenage girls and the police turn a blind eye to it, where financiers bring down banks for personal gain, high-powered business men and businesses exploit loopholes to avoid paying taxes, top footballers  are accused of paying £2000 a night to sleep with prostitutes and Swagger Jagger by Cher LLoyd, officially one of the worst songs in the history of songs managed to get to number 1 in the hit parade.

There’s been a lot of losers due to the riots, but I’m an optimist so I like to look at the positives and I would say the big winner of the troubles is Blackberry. As someone who has a third hand, old phone to communicate with, I can be described as being behind the times when it comes to technology, but even I now know that Blackberry messenger is the rioters choice of communicating because the police can’t view the messages. So should it kick off again expect to see more of the rioters using Blackberrys and as it happens there should be quite a few more flying around after the recent looting of phone shops.

And in other news, I think my boiler may have been fixed at about the 5th attempt (fingers crossed). In the last 6 weeks I’ve had more handymen round to the flat than the average 70’s female porn star, purely to fix the boiler. Each gas man has looked at it done what they needed to do, got it working and then not long after it would break down. So when this guy came round even I thought he was just going to say it was knackered and we needed a new one, which would be in their interests, but to be fair to him he stayed for around 2 and a half hours and identified the problem was the gas valve, which none of the others had mentioned. It just goes to show on some occasions it’s good to get a 6th opinion. The good news now I can trust the hot water is working, is that I can now use marigolds to wash up, which will only be of benefit to my hands.

And Finally… I’ve been having a little passport trouble. I’m currently in the process of getting a new passport although things are not going smoothly (do they ever?) because the pics I got from a booth guaranteeing passport standard pics have been rejected by the passport people for being out of focus. To me the pics are fine and look like me, but maybe I have a face that is naturally out of focus.

Til next week, stay safe!

Brothers in arms

sam and joel tomkins

Hola. Hope you are all well.

I’m not doing too bad. I’ve managed to escape any of the troubles that are happening in London town, although it has spread to near(ish) where I live but not enough for me to be worried. To be fair, I’m the kind of person who won’t get worried about the riots until they are happening outside our flat and even then I’ll be like, “It’ll pass” even as the flat is on fire.

I have been following a bit of what has being going on, mainly on 24 hr news channels. At one point one lady who lives in the Tottenham area said, “Things were looking up in the area, we’ve recently got an Asda in the area”. I feel like someone should have made this point earlier, because if we all knew they had an Asda in the area, we could have condemned these riots sooner, because everyone knows that a community that has an Asda, has no need to protest. (In the spirit of fairness, there are other supermarkets available).

Away from the riots and back to me and more specifically the 3 Prong Attack (the double act I belong to)  who had a gig last Thursday on a barge, that was a first for me. Not only was it on a barge it was also a variety night and we were the only act that did any speaking, the other acts were either singing or taking off their clothes (Burlesque, I believe it’s called in polite society). It’s hard to compete with people singing and taking off their clothes but our set was well received. And in an evening where young women were taking off their clothes it was me who got groped. It was the woman’s birthday so apparently that makes it ok.

We are back on stage this Thurs, 11th August, at the Camden Head pub, 2 Camden Walk, Islington, London N1 8DY, It’s FREE!!! Doors 7:30, Show starts 8ish. Nearest stations, Angel Tube st and Essex Road Rail Station. I’m hoping to avoid being molested.

Talking of radio (3 Prong Attack is me and my mate as hospital radio DJ’s), I read in the week that 91% of the country tune into radio every week. That still leaves 9% of the population who rarely or never listen to the radio. So I thought you the readers of this blog could get that figure of radio listeners up to 100%. So if you don’t listen to the radio or you know someone who doesn’t listen to the radio, start listening or get them to listen. Alternatively we will have to deport non-radio listeners from the country.

Onto my domestic life and ‘Her With One Permanent Job’ bought some weighing scales last week. I’m always saying to ‘HWOPJ’ and anyone else that will listen that weight is not the best way to measure a person’s health, the real test is how fit they are. Having said that, as we had the scales in the flat I weighed myself and found out I’m only 9 and a half stones. That I estimate is the lightest I’ve been since I was around 18. It would appear between Quorn, running and London living I’m slowly wasting away. I don’t know if it was a direct result of this but I did dust down the dumb bells over the weekend, the lightest ones but it’s a start.

I also upped my Northerness points over the weekend by watching some rugby league, St Helens vs Wigan. I used to be really into rugby league when I was growing up but not so much these days but ‘HWOPJ’ was out charity shopping on Sat, so being home alone I took advantage and watched 26 men bashing into each other. One of the things that I noted is that Wigan have two brothers playing for them  Sam and Joel Tomkins (see pic at top of the blog). What was quite striking is how different they look, not just facially but also in their physicality. I reckon Joel might have nicked some food of Sam’s plate when they were growing up.

And finally…. At last someone is going to jail over the recent phone hacking allegations, it’s Jonathan May-Bowles, who threw a foam pie towards Rupert Murdoch. He got a 6 week jail sentence. It’s nice to see justice being done,I’m sure all the victims of the phone hacking can now move on.

Til next week, stay safe!

 

Quorn to run

Platform

Hola. Hope you are well.

I have had a varied week. On Weds I performed as one half of 3 Prong Attack. This was quite hard work, we were the 15th act of 15, a spot where people are just thinking about getting home, including us. I’d say it was the hardest of the 4 gigs we’ve done recently, we got laughs and the audience seemed to go with it but there did seem to be some energy lacking. I do think there is something slightly disheartening about my return to the open mic scene. I think part of it is because you put a lot in for not much return, for example I didn’t get home til after 11:30 and that was for 5 mins of  stage time. In many ways this is opposite to the beliefs held in the book I hold dear 59 Seconds. Having said that, 3 Prong Attack are back on stage this Thurs, 4th August, on a barge. It’s at The Battersea Barge, Nine Elms Lane, Vauxhall, SW8 58P. Doors 7:30, Show 8pm. Price £7. Nearest Tube Vauxhall (exit 6), and Battersea Park Rail St.

On last weeks blog post, I was talking books, this week I’m going to continue on this theme, as I just finished Platform by Michel Houellebecq. I enjoyed it, although I did think it was like a sex manual, with a plot behind it. There’s all kinds of sex in it, sex with Thai prostitutes, S&M, wife swapping, threesomes, sex in public and erm underage sex. In addition to this it is also a manual for anyone interested in the workings of the leisure and tourism industry, so you could say there is something for everyone.

Slightly inspired by the amount of sex in this book, and there is a lot, at times it feels like there is sex on every other page, so with this in mind I have devised a new game, ‘Sex or No Sex’. You the readers of this blog can choose a page number between 3 and 362 and I will tell you if there is sex or no sex on this page in my copy. So if you want to choose a page number you can  via the comments page. This game will be sweeping the nation in the next few weeks.

Also last week, I talked about how I was planning to run during my downtime. I managed to get out twice last week, including yesterday (Sun) which proved hard going. It probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I had gone out for a few drinks the night before and ended up having several pints of lager, some glasses of wine and a vodka cocktail. In addition to this I don’t think I ate properly before the run as part way through all I could think of was Burgers. As I was running I kept thinking if Fearne Cotton was watching she wouldn’t be impressed by me (see last week’s blog post if you have no idea what I am talking about). But despite all this, and I don’t know how but I managed to do the 7 miles in just over an hour, which means I’m on for a sub 2hr time in the Great North Run. Although I must at this point say that I’m not advocating the drinking thing before a run.

‘Her With One Permanent Job’ is also on the whole fitness tip and I know this because left to do the internet shop on her own, she ordered Quorn. I’ve got to be honest I have never had Quorn before, and I don’t think I will be having it again. Even now after eating the mince, I still don’t know what it is. I’m a simpleton, I understand what a chicken. cow and sheep is, even if I don’t always know which part of that animal I am eating.

And Finally… Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black is back at No1 of the album charts 8 days after she passed away. I do find this kind of thing quite fascinating because that was a big album when it first came out so you would think every fan would have had it by now. It has made me think if a persons death increases sales in other industries. For example, I wonder if your local milkman died would there be a sudden increase in people getting their milk delivered?

Til next week, stay safe!