Tuesday, 12 December 2017

#SitcomTheBeatles


I’ve never one to pass up a hashtag word game on Twitter, least of all when it involves my specialist subject: The Beatles.

So tonight, in the interest of having an early night as I’ve got Mostly Comedy to contend with tomorrow, I thought I’d share a few tweets I just dashed off for the trending game #SitcomTheBeatles; there aren’t many of them and they aren’t that special, but at least they keep me off the streets:

10:42PM: 2point4 No One.

10:43PM: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Raymond.

10:43PM: Frasier Blues.

10:44PM: Mrs Brown's Boys.

10:45PM: Rising Damp (with Eleanor Rigsby)

10:46PM: Only Fools on the Hill and Horses.

10:47PM: Wait(ing for God)

10:49PM: Goodnight (Sweetheart).

10:50PM: Yes it (Min)is(ter).

10:54PM: Steptoe and Sun King.

10:55PM: Are You Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite?

11:00PM: Baby's in Blackadder.

(Please note: all of those tweets were posted within eighteen minutes; is that something to be proud of or not?)

Monday, 11 December 2017

Spent, Spent, Spent.


Kicking a pint glass of water over a pile of receipts wasn’t the most auspicious start to pulling together my records for my tax return this morning, but it was a start nevertheless.

I actually managed to get a surprisingly large amount done, after stopping briefly to carefully hang the receipts over a clothes airer one by one. This was my second attempt at drying them out, which was more successful than the first (taking a hair-dryer to them resulted in an improvised leaf-blower effect). The fact I had to cancel a casting today as my vertigo was playing silly beggars may have made for a less potentially lucrative end to 2017, but it did at least allow me to make a self-assessment head-start; HMRC would be proud of me (if I’d had my records in order in time for the end of the tax year last April).

One thing I hadn’t accounted for was the Cat Effect; no sooner had I sat on the floor to go through my receipts in more detail than I felt a paw tap me on the shoulder. I turned around to see my cat on the sofa next to me, looking at me expectantly.

A few minutes later, we ended up like this:


Still, at least this was better than having her keep walking through my piles of receipts, inadvertently knocking them into one (that came later, more than once) and while it’s fair to say having her on my lap while cross-legged wasn’t the most comfortably position to be in - when I got up I walked like I’d just been riding a horse - it was nice to have the company; I didn’t mind having her there, really. Does this make her tax deductible?

Saturday, 9 December 2017

'Strictly Come Tweeting: Week Thirteen (09.12.17)


Tonight saw tensions mount in the Strictly studio as the celebs faced their penultimate chance to show the judges and public what they can do.

This evening’s spanner in the works was they each had to do two dances instead of one, so had less time to fit in more training during the week. Everyone came out of this excellently, with all manner of different routines showing off their crazy versatility.

As ever, I tweeted my little heart out: here's what I said:

6:50PM: Sorry for being pedantic, but it's not really a semi-final, is it?

6:53PM: How many "Fuck off, Tess'" tonight?

6:56PM: Every week, before I go out, I watch a rundown of clips from the public on my iPad, telling me how great I am too.

6:57PM: I think Joe's splendid.

6:57PM: Live singers. Not dead: LIVE.

6:58PM:

6:59PM: Bruno gets a bonus in his pay packet every time he stands up. Not a euphemism.

7:01PM: The Glitter Ball always looks like it's been made on Blue Peter to me.

7:04PM: They should have at least one stalker in each of the supportive fan video clips.

7:04PM: Tess Daly is sponsored by Frontal Lobotomy UK.

7:08PM: Did Darcey just say Alexandra had "a wonderful cereal quality"?

7:11PM: Tess doesn't remember any of the past contestants; Tess has never seen any of the dances.

7:14PM: Can they put together a clip for Tess to watch on an iPad too?
"Fuck off, Tess."
"Fuck off, Tess."
"Tess. Fuck off."
"Fuck off, Tess."
...etc.

7:18PM: All the "ahhs" and "ohhhs" from the audience sound like they're watching a disappointing firework display.

7:22PM: Gemma's dress went through the shredder for containing sensitive information.

7:23PM: Darcey's earrings look like glittery onion rings.

7:26PM: I can't stop saying "Torpid" in the style of Craig.

7:31PM: During Debbie and Giovanni's first routine I ate seventeen Crunchies.

7:34PM: I'm still saying it. "TORPID".

7:37PM: Why are the judges all sitting around that strange Perspex table?

7:40PM: That last lift: HOW?

7:41PM: Joe and Katya are either wearing strange bondage gear, or they're about to visit Go Ape.

7:50PM: I think Alexandra's a hugely versatile performer, but I just can't believe her as a person.

7:51PM: I just remembered about Brucie and now I'm sad.

7:56PM: So many candles and not a single joss-stick.

8:00PM: The last thing you'd want if you were crying is Android Tess consoling you.

8:05PM: Picturing the bullies in The Simpsons. #MySharona

8:09PM: Sorry, but you've lost me now; I'll be singing the bass line to My Sharona for the rest of the evening.

8:12PM: Isn't She the Lovely Debbie McGee?

8:12PM: Isn't She Lovely: top, top, top, top song.

Shine On, John.


Today marks the 37th anniversary of John Lennon's assassination, which is almost as long as he lived, which I find difficult to fathom.

For someone like me, who was born a few months after Lennon died, it’s almost hard to reckon with the fact he ever existed, as his icon-like status practically overwhelms the actual person; the image of John with long hair and granny glasses, or Beatlemania John, or moustachioed Sgt. Pepper John, or 1980 New York City John is as ingrained in the public’s consciousness as the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Marley or - dare I say it - Adolf Hitler. John's infamous “We’re more popular than Jesus now” mid-60s comment has an unexpectedly canny after-taste, which his untimely death only served to reiterate; nearly wiping out his more unpleasant characteristics in favour of an elevated, whitewashed version.

It may be different if you’re older than me or you ever saw him in person, but it has always felt strange to have been so influenced by a man who - in my eyes - was dead from the very start; my mum saw The Beatles live twice (the first time right at the brink of their fame) but I bet it’s still hard to link the young guy who shook his moptop as they played on the dance floor in front of her with the man who became so intrinsically linked with the late-1960s peace movement.

I guess that's the effect an early death often has on an artist’s image and longevity: James Dean, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley all suffered a similar fate to the same result. This shouldn’t take away from the fact almost missed in Lennon’s story, in my mind at least; the man was murdered and shouldn’t have died when he did. It’s a sad ending to a life that was genuinely starting over like his final single suggests.

One of the last songs John wrote was Grow Old With Me, which was posthumously released; listening to it has always been bitter-sweet.



Shine on, John.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Ghost Town.


I was only in Stevenage town centre briefly today, to make a connection on the bus to visit my dad, but the few minutes spent there were still a bleak experience.

I say this from the point of view of someone who grew up there for the first sixteen-ish years of my life and didn’t want to leave it, which either suggests I was looking at it through some kind of filter inspired by youth, or that standards have seriously dipped since; I would say it’s a little of each, but mostly the latter, as the town needs serious regeneration to shake its lacklustre image.

The problem with Stevenage new town is it isn’t, by which I mean it’s barely shrugged off its original 1950s architecture to move with the times and find improvement; this makes for a wholly uninspiring, apathetic atmosphere that it’s very hard to change. I think it takes real energy for anyone to sum up the motivation to want to leave it and move on; that’s not they should have to, but it’s not like it’s a town buzzing with prospects.

I was fortunate when I lived there really, as not only was I based in the old town, which was nicer, but I was in a band that I cared about, and also wanted to be an actor; this gave me drive. If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know what I’d have done with myself.

Put me there at 16 now and I’d be completely overwhelmed, which I think is illustrative of the change in my lifetime. People walk through the street looking miserable at best or angry at worst, but can you really blame them? If you live in Stevenage, what is there to do, except visit Fairland’s Valley, Cineworld of the Gordon Craig? It’s like a town with an unbreakable forcefield. around it That said, I’ll be the first to defend it if someone knocks it too much; yes, Hitchin is my home, but I still have a soft spot for what Stevenage represents for me.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Get Up, Get Out.


Yesterday, I finished registering my work-in-progress dates at the Brighton Fringe next May and booked in a performance of ‘Now Who’s a Comedian?’ at the Etcetera Theatre toward the end of January, to plug the gap between now and my show at Leicester Comedy Festival in February, thus setting the wheels creaking into motion for 2018.

It felt good to get back on my feet following last week’s unpleasant review, instead of stewing for too long on it, though I won’t deny, it hasn’t left my mind quite yet; it’s frustrating to be grappling with unnecessary self-doubt as I consider my next move, as any creative person has enough of this to contend with, without someone else sticking their head around the door to shout, “You’re SHIT”, before buggering off again.

It’s just so tiresome. I’m already struggling to face the idea of working up something new to have to waste time bolstering myself from an outsider’s negative commentary; my brain ignores positive feedback in favour of bad as a matter of course, so I don’t need the latter underlined in red pen. It wouldn’t be so hard if there was a little balance to it, instead of it all being steeped one way.

(Oh well, that’s enough coverage of that.)

Another thing I did yesterday was pop to my mum’s in the morning to walk her dog. While I used to do this regularly I haven’t taken him out for months, so it was nice to revisit our old route, with nothing to do except make sure he didn’t snaffle up something bad while following his nose on the street. There’s a lot to be said for spending time with animals; expect a few paragraphs on this in my forthcoming Mindfulness pamphlet. 

Noble dog (above) / silly dog (below).

Monday, 4 December 2017

'University Challenge: Week Twenty' (04.12.17)


While I’ve generally found the current series of University Challenge a little dull, tonight’s show was more fun than usual.


Perhaps it was just Raii’s inspirational beard density that got me going, or Roger Tilling’s particularly enthusiastic voice-overs (though when are they not?). I may have been deeply perplexed by UCL’s complete incapability to identify a song performed by Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave, but that’s the way things seem to go on the programme, if one team’s incapacity to identify a track by the Manic Street Preachers was anything to go by; if a question’s not about something elitist, the contestants basically have no hope.

See below for this evening’s Twitter rundown.

8:01PM: Maybe tonight, Paxman will be all warm, cuddly and approachable.

8:02PM: Just looking at Raii's beard makes a woman instantly pregnant.

8:04PM: There's nothing amusing about Roger Tilling proclaiming "Edinburgh Wang".

8:05PM: Eight students, but only one woman. Classic.

8:06PM: Raii's beard is made from the same material as a letterbox draught-excluder.

8:11PM: I like to imagine Jeremy Paxman in a Wiltshire cornfield in the dead of night, making two massive crop circles that read "COME ON" and "NO”.

8:14PM: You could lose two ferrets in Raii's beard. TWO.

8:17PM: Kylie and Nick, in a cave.

8:21PM: Love's Labour's Lobs.

8:22PM: Stone just gave Paxman a cheeky little wink; Paxman will make her a star.

8:23PM: I identified the picture of Edmund Hillary purely because he looked like Rob Brydon.

8:24PM: I’ve got a Vietnamese Dong.

8:24PM: Stroke Raii's beard to make fire.

8:25PM: Martin Luther wrote Free Willy?

8:26PM: I'm looking forward to when they do the Physical Challenge.

8:28PM: Heaton-Armstrong is wearing such a big denim shirt.

8:28PM: I think Roger Tilling just passed an "Edinburgh Stone".