Monday, 18 September 2017

'University Challenged 2017/18: Volume Nine (18.09.17)'


Tonight’s University Challenge wasn’t an overly gripping affair, although I did enjoy the serious intensity of Oxlade.

Everything he said - as I mentioned in a tweet - appeared to be in inverted commas, and it wasn’t so much as if he enjoyed taking part; more that he was driven by some inner urgency to compete, like the world would end if he didn’t answer each question as best he could.

The episode was also notable for Howe’s terribly quasi-psychedelic jumper, which looked like it had been knitted (or ‘knat?’) by George Harrison’s mum as an outfit for his trip to Height Asbury. It really truly wasn’t a good look.

See below for today’s UC-based Twitter ramblings:

Leicester Vs. Fitzwilliam - Cambridge.

8:02PM: Aldred with his egghead.

8:02PM: Howe's jumper is a sensory explosion.

8:03PM: Tindall's severe, Bond villain eyebrows.

8:04PM: Oxlade speaks like he's doing a voice-over, while pulling his best voice-over face.

8:05PM: Howe's jumper is officially a war crime and should be tried as such at The Hague.

8:06PM: Even Gyles Brandreth wouldn't wear that jumper; a jumper so bad, I don't need to point out who's wearing it.

8:07PM: French isn't.

8:08PM: Howe's jumper looks like an Opal Fruit's vomit.

8:08PM Oxlade would like to be Roger Moore.

8:10PM: Just when you think Howe's jumper isn't bad enough... ...his shirt.

8:11PM: Oxlade says everything "LIKE THIS".

8:12PM: Oxlade could out-stern Paxman.

8:16PM: The person who knitted Howe's jumper was attempting to document a late-Sixties acid trip in wool.

8:24PM: Howe's magical mystery jumper is waiting to take you away, 
waiting to take you away, 
take you today. 
(I buried Paxman.)



8:25PM: Howe's depressed face doesn't sit comfortably with his choice of outfit.

8:26PM: Oxlade.



8:28PM: Oxlade says "pass" like it's an answer.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

'Ear, 'Ear.


I’ve been deaf in my right ear all day today, thanks to some kind of Eustachian tube shenanigans, either caused by a low-level infection or just a build-up of earwax (lovely image) and it’s really been getting me down.

I had similar problems off and on towards the end of my time in Edinburgh, which I took just to be illustrative of me being run down. I’d fully intended to see the doctor when I got home, only to find it had seemed to clear up - until today that is, when I’ve spent the whole day feeling like I’m underwater; it’s disorientating and irritating in equal measure, and may result in me buying an ear trumpet (which is the best kind of brass instrument).

I’ve had a long history or ear problems, from suffering terribly painful infections as a child resulting in me having grommets fitted, to being hit with labyrinthitis in 2010: a condition that has never really gone. I’m not thinking for a moment this instance will be anything as bad as the two others already mentioned, but it’s still irritating; I wouldn’t mind if I’d been at high altitude or 20,000 leagues under the sea.

The fact this problem fell in the middle of the weekend led to the inevitable attempt at a solution (i.e. turning to the internet). I’ve tried all kinds of tips and tricks to no avail…until literally a few minutes ago, when a few subtle jaw movements resulted in a slight, almost negligible improvement, but I’m holding onto it; this might be all I’ll get out of my right ear for ever more; I may change my name to Brian Wilson.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Exaggerate! Exaggerate!


I take issue with people who describe themselves as ‘award-winning’ on social media when the statement is about as vague as you can get.

This admittedly comes from someone who mentions his inclusion in a couple of ‘funniest jokes at the Fringe’ lists in his byline on Twitter, but at least he (or I) isn’t (or am not) alluding to an accolade without bothering with specifics; when someone does that, I assume they’re missing it out on purpose, and the prize in question was probably a swimming certificate.

Actually, the slightly boastful nature of my Twitter bio makes me a little uncomfortable if I'm honest, as I find any self-aggrandizing a bit smug and egocentric; the best and most talented people don’t feel the need to big themselves up as their ability speaks for itself, though in my case, I’m more likely to stray too far into putting myself down territory.

In reality, I know I’m over-thinking it, as you can’t be a performer without a little self-promotion. That said, I’m still a realist and know it’s all nonsense; none of it means a thing - and that's coming from the bassist of the Best Band in Hertfordshire 1998.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Once a Pedant...


This sign’s just plain offensive.


I’m surprised something so politically incorrect got past any council debate. I know it's been put up to protect the kids in question, but there’s still no need to cast judgement; they can’t help not being as adept or intelligent as their contemporaries. How can they expect to improve their mental capabilities if they’re forced to stay amongst their own?

I suppose at least it acts as a precaution, and gives anyone driving through the neighbourhood a heads-up. While the choice of language is questionable, the motivation was sound; if it prevents just one slow child from being mown down, it’s been justified.

All joking aside, it’s things like this that prove why punctuation is so important, as without it, the meaning is lost. It’s also vital to consider the choice of wording. It reminds me of a poster I spotted outslde my local hospital that said ‘Stop Smoking for Free’; it’s not like cigarettes are any better for you if you pay for them. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Foiled Again.


One mystery I never solved while in Edinburgh last month was why the window to the flat opposite my digs was completely covered in tinfoil.


I can’t help but wonder if the motivation for this chintzy curtain-substitute was nefarious. Were they growing weed? Or were they trying to protect themselves from being spied on by Major League Baseball, like Bart Simpson on his anti-ADHD medication? While it may have just been insulation or to help black out the sun so they could sleep, this seems unlikely, as aluminium's not the easiest material to take down quickly if you’re too hot or it’s time to get up.

Funnily enough, my last run-in with a tinfoil-covered window was in Edinburgh too, when the people running the venue where I teched my friend Fraser’s show last year decided this would be the best substance to block out the daylight and give the option of a blackout, without taking into account the First Rule of the Fringe: any room where there's a show on will be hotter than the Earth’s core as a matter of course. Their solution to this second problem was equally poor: to open the window and drape the foil back over the gap, thus resulting in the noisiest curtain since records began; just some black material would have been better.

I’m amazed curiosity didn’t get the better of me this year, for me to hammer on their door demanding an explanation. Maybe the room was just packed from floor-to-ceiling with Kit Kats.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

'GBBO 2017: Week Three (12.09.17)'


Week Three of the Bake Off and - judging from my blog - it’s clearly the time of year when I’m most likely to be found live-tweeting along with some TV competition or other.

The theme for tonight’s show was bread, which inevitably led to Paul Hollywood ruling the roost, what with it being his forte. Perhaps surprisingly, he seemed in a particularly good mood and wasn’t particularly scathing of anything; he even went so far as to trade places with Steven, gleefully threatening to go home after being faced with his immaculate baked handbag (a sentence I never thought I’d write).

See below for my Bread Week twitter commentary (or elsewhere if you’re not interested):

8:01PM: Three minutes in and Stacey's fingering dough; I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this.

8:02PM: James: "I'm not a great one for Bread Week"; has he done this before?

8:05PM: Liam, snorting cinnamon on prime-time television; this is as bad as that Bacon feller on Blue Peter's druggy past.

8:06PM: No-one wants to be a "trainee" stuntwoman; I use that as an excuse when I fall over.

8:08PM: I love Yan's way a bit.

8:09PM: Noel's hair tonight's a bit Farrah Fawcett.

8:10PM: Tom, swimming in a loch, like your average Scottish person.

8:11PM: Flo's false teeth get bigger with each progressive week.

8:12PM: What with Paul, Flo and Kate, this year's series should be called the Great British Scouse Off.

8:18PM: I like 'em big and flat too, Prue.

8:22PM: I'm starting to wonder if Prue's as much of an alkie as Mary.

8:24PM: "How do you make a cottage loaf?" INSERT YOUR OWN PUNCHLINE HERE.

8:24PM: I hope someone makes a lion.

8:25PM: I'd like to watch Paul Hollywood drive his finger down through...etc.

8:28PM: Watching Stacey pushing her fingers into the dough made my buttocks clench.

8:41PM: If I were taking part, I'd slam a loaf of Warburton's on the table, give Paul & Prue two fingers & force my way through the tent wall.

8:48PM: I like to wear a bread hat (with a butter shirt and jam trousers).

8:50PM: I do like a phallic bread snail.

9:01PM: Steven's rocked the signature bake two weeks' running.

9:03PM: Can something taste tasteless?

9:04PM: Tom's centrepiece is BRILLIANT.

9:04PM: Julia's snail makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

9:07PM: Tonight's Bake Off has seen the birth of a whole new fetish: bread porn.

9:10PM: Julia's snail was sponsored by Ron Jeremy.

Monday, 11 September 2017

'University Challenged 2017/18: Volume Eight (11.01.17)'


The result of today's University Challenge was a fair representation of how poorly Sheffield Hallam played, though at least there were partially saved by the inclusion of a waist coat (worn in this instance by the emotionally barren Hanson).

See below for my twitter ramblings tonight:

Sheffield Hallam Vs. Newcastle (11.01.17)


8:02PM: Hanson: once a band, now a psychopath.

8:02PM: Old Father Simkins.

8:03PM: Lowery's hairstyle was the only thatched roof in London at time of recording.

8:04PM: Doyle's eyes have seen things. Bad, bad things.

8:06PM: Waistcoats (Hanson) and bow ties (Lowery) on young people make me deeply suspicious.

8:08PM: Doyle was the only one of the four to show remorse as they stood beside the shallow grave.

8:09PM: That's not hair on Lowery's head, that's a pelt.

8:12PM: A year of sleep wouldn't obliterate the dark circles from Doyle's eyes; the carnage witnessed is too bleak to forget.

8:14PM: I'd kill for five minutes with Lowery and a Van der Graaf Generator.

8:16PM: I got Marvin Gaye; High five.

8:19PM: In his downtime, Lowery plays the spinet.

8:20PM;As ever, I can only answer the popular music questions

8:22PM: Doyle lives inside Simkins like a Russian doll.

8:24PM: Lowery and Hanson have never played Laser Quest..

8:25PM: They'll be building Lowery on next week's Lego Masters.

8:26PM: Short sleeves and a waistcoat though, Hanson? Short sleeves AND a waistcoat?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Mostly Pressing.

See below for the press release I put together for the next Hitchin Mostly Comedy, which takes place just under two week's away. It's a hell of a line-up and an appropriate way to spend the gig before our ninth anniversary date in October; it's testament to how good our bills have become that I almost forgot we had Reginald D Hunter ahead until the other day; it looks set to be a memorable night.


Press Release – 07.09.17

mostly comedy
a monthly comedy club, at the sun hotel in hitchin

While 21st September’s Sun Hotel Hitchin Mostly Comedy with REGINALD D HUNTER has been officially sold out since July, there’s still a good chance of snapping up return tickets on the night.

Hunter is one of the UK comedy scene’s best-known performers and is a regular on such primetime TV shows as Have I Got News For You, QI, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He was born in Albany in Georgia in 1969 and initially travelled to the UK at the age of 27 to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, before becoming a comedian after performing his first open spot as a dare and then turning his attention from acting to stand-up. Since then, his career has taken in countries as far afield as Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Africa and America, and seen him perform in such prestigious locations as London’s West End and Sydney Opera House.

He is one of the few comics to be nominated for Edinburgh Fringe’s prestigious comedy awards (then Perrier’s) for three consecutive years, from 2002 to 2004.

Scottish comic NEIL McFARLANE joins Hunter on the bill. Neil started his career in Scotland 16 years ago, where he remains a regular act at their highly-regarded Stand Comedy Clubs in Glasgow & Edinburgh. He reached the Scottish regional final of the BBC New Comedy Awards in 2001, came third in the Scottish Comedian of the Year competition in 2006 and was a finalist at Jongleurs’ Comic Idol in 2012. This will be Neil’s first appearance at Mostly Comedy in five years.

The gig will be emceed by Mostly Comedy’s custodians: the “polished, natural comedians” (Camden Fringe Voyeur) DOGGETT & EPHGRAVE. Doors open at 7:30pm, with the first act on at 8:00pm. A waiting list will be taken on the door from 7:15pm on the night, with any returns distributed just before 8:00pm on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, wisit www.mostlycomedy.co.uk.

Date:              Thursday 21st September
Venue:           The Sun Hotel, Sun Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG5 1AF
Time:             Bar open all day. Doors at 7:30pm. First act on at 8:00pm.
Admission:   £11.00. Tickets via www.mostlycomedy.co.uk

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Strictly Come Tweeting 2017: Week One (09.09.17)


While I enjoyed tonight's Strictly Come Dancing launch show, it was always going to be overshadowed by the recent, sad passing of Bruce Forsyth for me.

News of his death genuinely upset me; such is my respect for him as a performer. I’ve already written about this subject here more than once, but it’s worth reiterating how extraordinary he was, and how he was the absolute picture of versatility. His early involvement in Strictly helped give the show kudos, thanks to his wealth of experience both as a dancer and a host of prime-time TV; he was the King of Saturday Night Entertainment and that’s a title he'll never lose, as no-one could ever rival him, or even want to.

As is always my way, I tweeted along with the show (like a mouth-breathing teenager with their smart-phone super-glued to their sweaty mitts). See below for what went from my brain to my fingers to the Internet; but was it worth it?

7:01PM: Apologies to anyone who isn't that way inclined, but I'll be tweeting about Strictly for a bit; normal services will be resumed shortly.

7:04PM: Cue the on-beat handclaps, it's the first Strictly Come Dancing opening sequence of the year.

7:08PM: Well, Bruno's as understated as ever.

7:09PM: Anton du Buerk's fivehead.

7:10PM: I still can't cope with the passing of Brucie; LEGEND.

7:10PM: "Country legend, Shania Twain"; you can do that joke in your head.

7:11PM: Shirley Ballast.

7:14PM: After her visit to Hitchin #MostlyComedy a few years ago, @glyndoggett and I can confirm @thedebbiemcgee really, really is lovely.

7:18PM: Ruth Lang(s)ford, not to be confused with Bonnie.

7:21PM: (All the female celebs' inner-monolgues) "Don't give me Anton; PLEASE, not Anton".

7:23PM: Tess Daly, filed under 'insincerity'.

7:25PM: Chizzy's like a female Bruno.

7:28PM: Anton's hair tint has the air of a Heather Mills-era McCartney.

7:31PM: Bruno's castration would be the world's gain.

7:34PM: For anyone who's interested, I'm watching tonight's #Strictly in hotpants.

7:36PM: Is it me, or did the floor have a shade of X-Factor to it then?

7:37PM: Ah. "Banter."

7:37PM: Sales of JLS condoms will go through the roof.

7:41PM: I think my dad drove an Aston Merrygold in the 1980s.

7:43PM: Tess is part-Vulcan.

7:44PM: Davood's my name in past tense.

7:46PM: But where's the H on Simon Rimmer's head?

7:48PM: Aston's facial hair confuses me.

7:49PM: Tess is the dictionary definition of phoning it in.

7:50PM: I don't believe that banjo's mic-ed or plugged in (and neither is Shania).

7:52PM: Fings Twain't Wot they Used to Be.

7:52PM: ...and the prize for least-enthused miming of all time goes to...

7:56PM: I forgot about Ore's identical-to-Karen-Clifton wife.

8:00PM: Bruce Forsyth: LEGEND.

8:05PM: Forsyth was the definition of an all-rounder: anything you'd throw at him, he could do it. He could even insult with a sparkle.

8:09PM: Please: don't sing Hallelujah.

8:11PM: Christ, I hope having a Good Morning Britain presenter on the show won't mean we'll ever see Piers Morgan in the audience.

8:13PM: A year has passed and AJ still hasn't been born yet.

8:14PM: Susan's right: everyone loves Kevin.

8:18PM: AJ, the Glint in the Milkman's Eye.

8:18PM: Rita Ora was my favourite 1980s kids' drink.

8:21PM: I'm in the midst of a 'boiling my arse off and would love to take my jumper off, but I can't because there's a cat on my lap' predicament.

8:23PM: Mollie King's a lot posher than I'd anticipated.

8:28PM: Surely "Good game, good game-face", Tess.

8:30PM: Oti's legs rival the A1 for distance.

8:32PM: I think Brian Conley will be trouble (which will be great).

8:35PM: There's a Footloose joke I'm considering making right now...but I really, really won't.

8:37PM: I like to imagine Claudia's always sucking a very sour sweet.

8:38PM: Oh Bruce.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Dissatisfaction.

There was a woman on yesterday’s Pointless who said she wasn't sure who the Rolling Stones were; I'd argue that if you don’t know that, you shouldn’t go on a game show.

I mean we’re not exactly talking niche information here; we're talking about The Rolling Stones: one of the most successful bands of all time, who’ve been together since rock's year dot, and whose front man Mick Jagger (no-one needs that reminder) is regularly in the news for dating someone who usually hasn’t been born yet. It’s not as if he’s got a face it’s hard to call to mind, particularly when his massive pout-mouth is the band’s logo. I wouldn’t be shocked if this contestant - who was in her twenties at most - owned an item of clothing with this iconic image emblazoned on it (such is its prevalence) without knowing what it represents.

As far as I’m concerned, the Stones are filed under the most general of General Knowledge, regarding popular music at least. I mean: FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Ask anyone with a semblance of a brain to name the five biggest rock groups of all time and I’m certain they'd come up; and if you couldn’t name a single song from their back catalogue, you’d at least be aware they exist (even if you only know about Mick's big lips).

This woman actually shot herself in the foot twice (which would have been an appropriate punishment). All she had to do was name a Top 40 Rolling Stones hit containing the letters A, N, G, I or E (see what they did there?). While I wouldn’t expect her to know what charted and what didn't, I also didn’t think her answer would be ‘Highway to Hell’. That’s not even strictly the right genre. Who did she think wrote ‘All You Need is Love’: QUEEN?



Thursday, 7 September 2017

Missing a Mister.


This morning, I woke up thinking about the fact one of my closest friends is moving away at the end of the month.

To be fair, his new home is only about an hour and a half’s drive away, but that doesn’t take into account the time it would take me to pass my test - which would involve at least a few weeks of intensive training (though I did have a few lessons when I was seventeen) - plus I’d have to save up for a car and be confident about using the motorway and…you get the picture.

(Alternatively, it’s a couple of hours to the nearest town by train, but that’s still an improvement on my above workings.)

I’m, of course, being flippant. In reality, the distance is no trouble at all, and I know I'll visit him regularly (plus he’ll come back here a lot too), but it will be strange to not have him as nearby as he was or be able to meet as often as we have for years now.

That’s not to say I’m not pleased about his recent developments; he’s wanted a new job for ages and has already managed to secure a two-bedroom house that costs the same as his current one-bedroom flat. The changes to his situation are all for the positive, but I’ll still miss him. I guess that’s why his leaving was playing on my subconscious, though I also dreamt about rescuing a herd of elephants from digging a tunnel underground, so God knows how my mind works.