Spice Up Your Life

Life is for living and to be enjoyed. And I think to be seen as a great big adventure. For me personally going out and having fun is a huge part of that. Therefore once again I have had a pretty busy couple of weeks. Doing lots of diverse and different things. As I do believe that variety is the spice of life.

For starters I had a brilliant night out with some very good friends of mine. Believe it or not it was the first time that we had all been in the same place at the same time this year. Which is impressive given that we are now half way through it. But we are all so busy, just getting on with our own lives. That finding a date when we are all available, is to say the least a challenge.

However we finally managed it. Meeting up at a local pub that was in a central location for everyone. For some food and a few drinks. I am always the first one to turn up to these things. I really hate being late for anything. So I normally turn up ridiculously early. I am not saying I was keen. But I arrived an hour before the agreed time. I have spent a shocking amount of time in pubs by myself waiting for people over the years.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other three turned up. I had been pretty good and was only one drink ahead when they arrived. We made our way to the restaurant area. As we are grown up and organised nowadays, We had booked a table. We had a very civilised three course meal. Washed down of course with a few more drinks. A splendid evening catching up on all the current news. While taking the mickey out of each other. And as ever reminiscing about days gone by.

After dinner there was a singer performing with a guitar in the bar. We stayed and listened to him for a bit. Before heading up to the other end of town to try another pub. We had a couple more there before calling it a night. You really cannot beat spending time with friends. It is very good for the soul. But not that good for the head the next morning, sometimes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see a fantastic new musical recently. Well I say new, but it has been in the West End since the end of January. And has won four Olivier Awards. But compared to the more established ones. It is still possibly, lesser known. It is actually set around the time of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11. It focuses on knock on side effects from the actual incident. That I must admit, I had not really thought about.

Based on a true story. It explains what happened to a small Canadian suburb. When seven thousand stranded air passengers from all over the world ended up there. After the terrible tragedy. All flights were grounded and American Airspace was closed. Gander International Airport in Newfoundland offered to house inbound flights coming from Europe. The whole community then came together specially to look after these weary and confused travellers. Many of whom are a long way from their planned destination.

It is called “Come From Away”. Because “Come From Away’s” is what the residents of the towns and villages, who took them in called their guests. The show itself is fantastic. It is wonderfully staged and very clever. The whole cast each play at least one of the locals and one of the visitors. But credit to them, as you always know which one they are in every scene. The songs are catchy and memorable. And are all performed in an Irish musical style.

There are so many layers to it. You have of course got the backdrop of the actual horrific incident. The story of how the locals cope with the population of the place suddenly being doubled for a week. Then there are the individual tales of the passengers themselves. Who are suddenly stranded. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I thought it was amazing. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would certainly recommend seeing it, if you can. It is well worth it. As well as being an interesting story. It will restore your faith in all human nature. Just in case it is lacking a bit at the moment. It runs straight through with no interval. Luckily though I was aware of this so I took a nice glass of Rioja in with me. “Come From Away” is on at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Go and see it!

Come From Away

A mate of mine took me to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s in London for the first time the other Sunday. He is a member there, so goes a lot. It was yet another place I had been wanting to experience for a while. And it did not disappoint. We arrived, put our jackets in at the cloak room. Then we were shown to our seats. Like a theatre show you buy tickets for certain areas. Either on the round tables right at the front of the stage or at the straight tables to the sides.

We were at the straight tables. But like all the others, they still come with a table lamp and waitress service. You order all food and drink from your seats. Then they bring you the bill at the end of the night. It was the Blues Explosion Band performing. Which is made up of great musicians, who have played and toured with many of music’s biggest stars. The songs were excellent. And the second half was a tribute to the great Blues legend Dr John. It was a quality evening. I look forward to going back there again soon.

Ronnie Scott’s

As part of my Dad’s seemingly never ending birthday celebrations. We had a night at Windsor Races. They have meetings there most Monday’s during the summer. Normally with some sort of theme. This particular evening it was their Irish Night. It was not a nice day weather wise. It had been raining heavily all afternoon. When we got there it was still throwing it down.

I was not convinced we were going to see any racing at all. And I was expecting the meeting to be abandoned at any moment. I had a curry to try to warm myself up. Before the first race. And a couple of cups of tea. It was such a dreary night. That sadly not many people turned up. Although all the racing still went ahead.

The races were quite exciting, possibly due to the weather. Mind you I did not have any winners. We left before the last race and the live music. To get home and dry out. I hope you are also making the most of the Summer, so far to.

Windsor races

I went to the Spice Girls first ever tour at Wembley Arena. I was at the 02 for the last reunion tour. I even went and watched the short lived musical featuring their songs called “Viva Forever”. I did all of these with my sister. Therefore we both just had to go and see their latest show, when it was at Wembley Stadium.

We went to the opening night of the three. That they were doing in the Capital. It was actually the first music concert. That I had been to at the home of the national team. I have of course been to countless football matches there in the past. I will admit the walk up from the train station was slightly different to that of a standard match day. It was a bit more chilled and relaxed. With the same amount of Union Jacks but a lot more leopard print around than normal.

Spice Girls

We got inside the stadium. It was impressive how many people had dressed up as their favourite Spice Girl. I say people, as there were a lot of men dressed up to. We had a burger and a soft drink. I am not turning into Paul McCartney but I did have the Veggie Burger. Which was delicious. I had managed to get us in the Bobby Moore seats. In my opinion these are the comfiest seats in the place. Plus they gave us a decent view of the stage.

The support act was Jess Glynne. She is a fantastic artist. Who has had six number one’s in the UK herself. And sells out her own shows. But I thought she was the perfect choice for the gig. Her stuff is well known and upbeat. The right person to get things started and up and running. Although judging by the reaction when the DJ played C’est La Vie by Bewitched. May be they should have booked them. Joking aside, Jess was brilliant. And looked to be enjoying herself out there. Which was good to see. Great work!

Jess Glynne

Then we came on to the main event. The backing dancers came out nice and early. To get the crowd warmed up. The Spice Band appear and start playing. The big screens at the side of the stage kick into life. Then suddenly the four girls appear from nowhere right at the front of the stage. They launched in to Spice Up Your Life. And we were off and running. The party had well and truly started.

They then go through all of their brilliant back catalogue of songs. There are lots of outfit changes. These breaks in the action were often filled by their excellent dancers. Sometimes with individual routines. We got the usual onstage banter. You would expect from the ladies. Which was often hectic, lively and a little bit fruity. But which was also sincere, honest and real. Containing plenty of good humour.I felt it was all delivered in a very positive way.

Spice Girls

They are all older. They have all been through a lot. They are more emotional than they used to be. Which if anything shows how they have matured. After going off to rapturous applause. They returned for the encore. To perform Stop, Mama and of course the song that kicked things off for them back in 1996 Wannabe. We had fireworks at the start and at the end. It was a bright colourful and a thoroughly entertaining show.

They did of course reference the missing member of the band a few times. The same way a group of mates would, if one person could not make the get together. It was a proper big production. I am around the same age as the Spice Girls, well except Geri, of course. So we have kind of grown up together. Their concerts are just fun and full of lots of positivity. I do not think they try to be anything else. Just live in the moment. And have a good time. Top work all round!

Spice Girls

Next Sunday sees the start of the Tringe Festival. A three week long comedy event in Tring. It features lots of top comedians previewing their new show’s ready for this Summer’s Edinburgh Festival. Now in its tenth year. It is curated by Ben Moorhouse, Most of the events take place at The Court Theatre in Tring.

The first event however takes place across four pubs in Tring. I know this, as I have done it twice. Once in 2012 and then again in 2017. It is The Roving Comedy Night. A group of wannabe comedians work with the comedy guru Logan Murray for eight weeks. Doing weekly three hour sessions.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which I must say from my own personal experience are so much fun. Basically you spend the whole time laughing with new found friends. Then somehow at the end of it. You have five minutes of brand new stand up to perform to four different audiences on the same night.

The added bonus of this night for the upcoming comic is that you get to work with a professional comedian. You go around all the pubs in groups of three or four with your professional comedian. In each of the venues you all do your five minutes and then the pro headlines your little show. So not only do you get to do your first four gigs in one night. You get to see a seasoned performer handle four separate audiences at close quarters.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

The first time I did it. I had completed the course. And did my debut stand up performance going around with the great Tony Law. When I did it the second time round. It was a selection of comics from all the past classes. I was delighted to be able to represent my year. I Had so much fun both times, I did it. I would honestly recommend anyone to do it. Just for the amazing experience of it all.

Some of the comedians who have attended a Logan Murray course at the start of their career include Josh Widdicombe, Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies. To mention but a few. In fact quite a few of the Roving Comedy alumni have gone on to win awards and perform their own show’s in Edinburgh.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I am looking forward to seeing this year’s Roving Comedy “Trainees” in action. It is always a great night. And once again I hope to catch up with one of the stalwart professional comedians of this night. The marvellous Silky. And hopefully the legend that is Logan Murray to. This event is sold out.

But if you want to check out the other gigs on at the festival. Click on the link. https://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have once again been to Royal Ascot this year. It is always a fun and interesting event.

And a very good excuse to put a nice suit on. I will tell you all about my two visits next time we speak.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Dungeons and Add On’s

It has been another roller coaster of a fortnight. I have as ever been pretty busy. As in all of our lives, some things have gone to plan and others have not. But more on that later. I hope you have had a fun and interesting couple of weeks. Last month I was in Rome looking at some ancient and historic buildings. And more recently I was just down the motorway from my home. Visiting one that was originally used by none other than William The Conqueror.

I went to Warwick Castle for the first time. It is only about an hour or so away from me. So I am not sure why it had taken me so long to go there. I met a friend of mine there. We parked in a public car park in the town centre. Right next to a lovely park. Which had a nice cafe, a splash pool and a mini golf course. None of which we actually used. As we did not really have the time for it. Before we went to the main attraction. We had lunch in a quality local pub in the town. Never go exploring on an empty stomach. That is my motto.

It was about a seven minute walk up to the castle entrance from the pub. Luckily it was a gloriously sunny day. I had bought the tickets in advance online. As it was slightly cheaper. Martin Lewis would have been proud of me. Once we got inside. The first thing we did was go to the main part of the Castle. Where we climbed the highest tower. Using the very narrow and winding staircase. Which at one point I must admit I did not think was ever going to end. On the way back down I managed to catch my head on the stone door frame. Which I can confirm did hurt a little. I am so clumsy.

Warwick Castle

As well the standard general entrance ticket. I had also pre-booked us on the Dungeon Experience. Which I thought was just a look at the Dungeons. Where you could see exhibits and learn about what went on there. That was not quite the case. I had booked us on it for 2pm. We arrived there on time and were shown through to a waiting area. There a member of staff, then came out and said we were the only two booked on it. And it is much better to do it in larger groups. Would we be prepared to wait until 2.30pm and go with the next lot? We said yes, no problem.

But then they sent two more people down to us. Who wanted to do it there and then. They were a mother and her young son. I should caveat this with the fact. That I am not a fan of horror films, spooky or scary stuff. I say this, as by this point it became apparent. That it was an interactive show. And there would be some scary bits during it. So the four of us set off. After being invited into the court yard by a Jester. Who got it all started with some terrible jokes. And warned us of what lay ahead of us.

We were shown in to the first pitch black room. Suddenly out of the dark and out of nowhere a white faced figure appears in front of us. This causes my friend scream out loud. Making me jump. A few more other surprise moments occur. Then as we are getting ready to leave this room. The little lad is now so scared. He wants to leave. Him and his mum are taken out. Leaving just us two, alone. For the rest of the performance. We were both pretty scared. And wanted to leave. But it had started now. And I thought it would be a little unfair on all the waiting actors. If we went. So we continued.

I said this was an interactive experience. The bloke before we went in had said it would be better in a bigger group. And he was right. As I was picked on in every single room. I had my vital organs removed by a rogue doctor. I was tortured. Then executed. And finally appeared in court. Before being sentenced to death. I mean it really was not my day. As I was in the performance at every part. I almost asked for a credit and a fee at the end. There was some more screaming from my friend at the end. But I stayed surprising cool. Or I was possibly just too scared to scream.

I will be honest it was not the sort of thing I would usually do. And if I had realised what it had involved. I would probably not have booked it. But I thought it was very cleverly done. It was pretty educational and it definitely made me jump a few times. I think it is quite a new attraction there. But probably not suitable for any young or nervous children.

Warwick Castle

After the Dungeons we had a nice walk around some of the gardens. We also saw a bit of the Birds Of Prey show. Which I must say was very impressive. The size of some of the birds, that they have there.

We had a sit down in the Peacock Garden. Which was a very relaxing end to the visit. It was great fun. And I would go there again. As they often have different special themed weekends and events.

Britain’s Got Talent

I managed to watch most of the Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finals and the Final. There was a nice variety of acts in it. However I do still feel they do not really need some of the novelty performers. By that last stage. I always feel some of them take up places. That other people who also got four yes’s could fill. Which could improve the overall standard of the show. And actually make the live shows much more competitive. I managed to predict the top three acts virtually every single night.

I did think a few acts actually hindered their own chances. By some of the choices. That they made with their performances. Impressive though it is performing your own song. I do always think the general public will respond better to a song they know. Either done well or with a slight twist or individual stamp put on it. I think that ploy may well have cost Chapter 13 a place in the final at least. Also I did love all the magic acts. But in the Semi-Finals four of them all basically did the same trick. Just in a slightly different way.

I have not particularly liked the fashion this year to use the judges as part of the performance. They are there to watch it and decide what they think of it. That is harder to do when you are actually in it. Plus Simon Cowell walking off when asked to Can Can. Should never have been allowed to happen. Unless it was a publicity stunt for the show. Which they are known for to get press coverage. And that may have been the thinking behind it.

I have never met Simon. But I could of told you that he would be well out of his comfort zone. And flatly refuse to do it on stage. So surely the producers of the show must have known that. Yet they still went ahead with it. If you are trying to win something. Trying to humiliate one of the judges seems an odd way of going about it. And even if it was suggested to the act. They should have said no and refused.

BGT London
BGT London

I was delighted for the winner Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery. It was actually heart warming and encouraging that people voted for him. And he can really sing. You cannot argue with that. I thought his performances were great. What an amazing man. You will not find a more humble winner either. The best of luck to him. The exposure of reaching the final will help a lot of the other acts to. It will give them a lift. Or at least get them more gigs, if they already do what they do professionally.

The judges are basically the ultimate dysfunctional family. The way they argue and bicker with each other. Ant and Dec are the men you need at the helm of that madness. From dealing with the contestants to the judges. They are basically producing and directing that show from on stage, as well as presenting it. Far from an easy show to hold together and keep on track. Great job as ever, fellas.

Applications are already open for next year. I wonder if any of this years semi-finalists are thinking of coming back next year. But with a mask on like X did!

Mix 96

The other week I had a fun morning doing some filming in Aylesbury with an old friend. Mix 96 celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday earlier this year in April. I was at the radio station for around seven years in two spells. I was born there and loved presenting on my local station. Richard Carr, who I worked with at Mix 96. And who is now the man behind Bucks TV is currently making a documentary to mark the big occasion.

I met up with him for a cup of tea and a chat first. It was lovely to catch up with him and talk about old times. I cannot lie working in radio is great fun. But the most amusing and sometimes funniest things often happen off air. And behind the scenes.

So it was great to swap stories and reminisce about the old days. Fair play to him. He has managed to get a lot of former employees from the station, all together for this project. Including somebody, who now works on Breakfast television.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

After we were both fully refreshed. We went to film my bits outside the Waterside Theatre. I just talked about my memories of Mix 96, how I got to be on air there and any stories I could remember from my time there. I do really enjoy doing things to camera.

Hopefully I supplied Richard with enough good footage. And will make the final edit. He is currently still working on it. I will let you know when it is completed. And how you can see it. I cannot wait to see it. I hope I get an invite to its Premiere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday night it was the Champions League Final. Over the last few years I had not been too bothered about it. But this year I had been looking forward to it for nearly a month. Simply because my team Tottenham Hotspur had made it to the final. For the first time in our history.

After the madness of the way we got past Manchester City and Ajax. I was just delighted to be there. For the first time since 2008. There were two English teams in the final. With Liverpool our opponents. After they got past Lionel Messi and Barcelona in their semi-final.

Tottenham Hotspur

As this was such a huge and historic match for my team. I had really wanted to get to Madrid for it. But although I am now a season ticket holder. I did not have anywhere near enough points to qualify for a Spurs ticket.

Which by the way, I am fine with. The fans who have had these tickets for years and who go to all the away games. Rightly have the most points and therefore deserve to go. I must confess, I was so desperate to go. I did look at a few secondary ticket websites. But they were all charging way too much. And seemed a bit dubious to me. So I did not risk buying one.

It was shocking how the airlines raised the flight prices. The week before and the week after the game. You could get a return flight to Madrid for around one hundred pounds. To fly there and back over the final weekend. It would have cost you over a grand. Which was also about the going rate for one night in an half decent hotel in the Spanish capital.

A few of the people I know went there with the travel company associated with the club. They flew in on the day and out straight after the game. This was fairly reasonably priced. But I understand it was not very well organised. There was lots of delays and confusion. Which is a big shame for such a special event for the fans. Who just wanted to enjoy the occasion.

As I could not get to Madrid. I figured the next best place to watch it was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club decided to hold a screening there. They were selling the tickets for ten pounds. And managed to sell the whole place out. Which to basically sit and see the match on giant televisions is pretty impressive.

Tottenham Hotspur

I optimistically booked a hotel in London. As I did not want to have to rush home, if I was celebrating. Plus if we won. There was to be a bus parade on the Sunday afternoon. And I did not want to miss that.

The atmosphere as I walked down the Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station was electric. The closer that you got to the ground. The louder and more spine tingling all the singing and chanting was. I got in the ground nice and early and met a friend in there.

We had a pint and a pie before the game. Then we made our way out to sit in our normal season ticket seats. To watch the teams walk out. As well as the four screens in the corners. They had also put an extra six giant screens on the pitch. So we had a good view of the action.

Neil Quigley

As the teams walked out. The noise in the ground was deafening. This was our first ever Champions League Final. I was nervous and excited. The game kicked off to a massive cheer. Then twenty five seconds later. There is silence and confusion as Liverpool are given a penalty for handball.

Which though, I appreciate I am not exactly a neutral. I thought was very harsh. Moussa Sissoko was pointing to his team mates. While closing down the Liverpool striker. The ball then hits his chest, then bounces down his arm. Which I do not think he can help. I have no idea how that can possibly be deemed as deliberate hand ball. The Reds scored from the spot. And we were instantly one down.

The game was pretty poor. I do not know if that was due to the three week break between the end of the Premier League and this game. Or that with Liverpool scoring so quickly. They were just happy to sit back, let us have possession. And then let us try to break them down. We were one down still at half time.

My mate and I watched the second half in a bar at the Stadium. Spurs huffed and puffed and had a few chances. Which if they had taken one of them. Could have made things a bit more interesting, But as it was, Liverpool grabbed a well taken second late on. Which killed us off. And meant they went on to win the game and claim the trophy.

Tottenham Hotspur

It was obviously disappointing to lose in such a big final. But for the team to even get there was a magnificent achievement. It has been a roller coaster of a season with highs and lows. We have won and lost games in the last minute. We have suffered lots of injuries this year. And had to play technically all of our games away. Until the last few months of the season.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I am so proud of the players, the coaching staff and the fans for what they have all done this year. It has been great. It is time now to have a rest. And come back stronger and even hungrier next season. Come on you Spurs.

I did stay for a few more drinks with all the fans after the game. For a season debrief. Then I made my way back to the hotel. It had a very nice bar. That was open until 2am. And had top live DJ’s playing. So I thought it would be rude not to have a drink in there. Before I went back to my room via the space and galaxy decorated lifts. To get a bit of sleep.

Neil Quigley

I went to see the musical The Book Of Mormon for the second time last Tuesday. And once again I really enjoyed it. It is written by the people behind the popular television adult cartoon South Park.

So it really does not pull any punches and it is packed full of swear words. Which I guarantee you will hear in very few other theatre shows. It had a bit of a shock factor the first time I saw it. But I was of course prepared for it this time.

The Book Of Mormon

As well as being very funny. It is quite a clever show. It takes a look at religion and beliefs. As you may have guessed from the title. It takes them apart and then kind of puts them back together. And although the religion in its title were not overly pleased. When it launched. It does not really offend. Plus there is a worrying amount of truths in it. The cast are fantastic. And there are so many weird and wonderful little bits of mischief in it to.

It is not meant to change the world or your views on it. Basically it is a bit of fun. I guess in a way it is a modern version of a Life of Brian. It does have some really good and catchy songs in it to. It has now been running at the same theatre in London for over six years. If you get the chance. I think it is worth seeing. Plus the Rioja they serve in The Prince of Wales Theatre is very nice.

The Book Of Mormon

I am looking forward to seeing the Spice Girls at Wembley Stadium with my sister this week. It will be the third time that I have seen the ladies live. And they always put on a really good show. I will tell you all about it next time.

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

When In Rome

Time flies when you are having fun. I cannot believe it is two weeks since we last spoke, already. During this time I have ticked off of my list, yet another Country. That I wanted to visit. More on that later. I am as blind as the proverbial Bat. Therefore I need to wear glasses to see anything at all. But I mostly wear contact lenses. As I prefer them, to having frames on my face all of the time.

I have been regularly wearing lenses since I was about twelve. When my eyesight got so bad, that I could not see to play football properly. As part of my eye care. I need to have a yearly check up. To make sure my eyes and my lenses are healthy and comfy. It starts like a normal eye test. To make sure the prescription is correct. And then it turns into the torture room from the Baddie’s lair in a James Bond film. As they make you put your face in this contraption. And shine a bright light in to your eyes.

That said my Optician is lovely. She always does a very thorough job. And let us face it. I think we can all agree. That it is important to look after your eyes. Happily my lenses fit perfectly. The prescription is correct. And my eyes are perfectly healthy. The whole process takes about half an hour. It is like a quick MOT for you sight. So I now have another years trouble free seeing. Which is always a good thing.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was my sister’s 40th Birthday Party a couple of weeks ago. We hired the local Community Centre for it. I had not properly been in there for years. It bought back some great memories. I used to go football training in there during the winter. When I was seven. Yes I can remember that far back. Just about, thanks. It was a bring your own drink and food, kind of do. So no problems with the pop up bar not having your favourite tipple. As you supply it yourself.

It was a brilliant night. I got to catch up with a lot of family members. Who I had not seen for a while. Which was fantastic, as ever. We are all so busy nowadays with our own lives. We do not seem to get to all meet up, as much as we used to. I was in charge of taking pictures on the night. Which was a brave move by my sister. As I am possibly the world’s worst photographer. I take about one good shot in every ten.

I did manage to find a bit of time to hit the dance floor and show off my moves. And just in case there was any doubt. I can confirm. I have sill got it. Taking my turn to perform centre stage in the family circle. We were dancing in. After only a tiny bit of encouragement from the rest of them. It was a fun night. I hope my sister had a fabulous time celebrating this big milestone in her life.

Party

On my sister’s actual birthday. I took her to Whipsnade Zoo for the afternoon. I had not been there for six years, at least. However I do remember our parents taking us there a few times. When we were both kids. So I thought it would be a fun and nostalgic trip. Plus it is only around forty-minutes from where we live. I drove and despite my awful directional skills managed to get us parked in the free car park over the road from the entrance.

It was a week day afternoon. Therefore it was actually very quiet. I got us two tickets. We then made our way inside and took a look at the map of the Zoo. To decide what we wanted to see in the time we had there. I let the birthday girl choose most of the animals. As we were right by their enclosure. We thought we would check out the Lemurs first. But as it was a bit of a damp afternoon. They were in their house, so we had to peer at them through the windows.

We then went and caught the Sea Lion talk starring Dominic. He was named after the newsreader from the Chris Moyles Show. As fans of Radio One and now Radio X, would probably already know. He was joined by two females and a couple of pups. They are exceptionally clever and versatile creatures. They were very impressive and the information about them was pretty interesting. The first time I ever went to Whipsnade. They had a Dolphin display. Which gives you a good idea of how long ago that was.

Dominic The Sea Lion

Next we headed to the Tigers. As we arrived at their enclosure. They were all hiding. We then moved around to get a better vantage point to try and spot them. As we did that, four of them appeared right by the glass window. We had been standing at moments before.

We had the last laugh, though. We walked back down there. And got a great view of the young ones play fighting. And the parents telling them off.

Tigers

We also saw the Elephants, the Hippos, Chimps, Flamingos, Zebras, Meerkats and Bears. Then we had a special moment with the Lions.

We were the only ones there. When five of them came right up to the viewing area. And had a mini roaring competition. The noise of which was amazing. It was really cool to be up so close and see them behaving like this.

Lion

Lastly we made the trek to see the animals hidden the furthest away. Why they are so far away from the rest. I have no idea. As far as I am aware they are not that dangerous.

They were the Penguins. As they seemed to be mostly hidden away nesting with just a few swimming. It seemed a little bit disappointing. We had a quick look around the gift shop. Before I treated her to a KFC on the way home. That is not me being cheap. That is her number one choice of food.

Peguins

I was of course at Tottenham’s final Premier League game of the season on May 12th. To bring to a close my first full season as a Season Ticket holder. We were playing one of my favourite other teams Everton. It was a typical Spurs performance. We went one goal up early on. And looked totally in control.

We then conceded two in a short space of time in the second half. Requiring Eriksen to rescue a point for us with a brilliant free kick. The draw meant that we finished fourth. And have qualified to play Champions League football once again next season. Meaning we had achieved what we wanted to that afternoon. A season where we had to wait until March to get home. And in which we suffered so many injuries to key players. I think this was a fantastic achievement.

Tottenham Hotspur

After the match had finished. The awards were handed out for “Goal of the Season” and “Player of the Season”. Both of which were given to Heung-Min Son. Then the players and coaching staff came back out for a lap of appreciation.

It was great to see them all with their families coming round to clap the fans. While we were all having a good old fashioned Tottenham sing-song. This however is not the end of our season of course. We still have one more massive match to play.

Tottenham Hotspur

The Champions League Final on Saturday 1st June against Liverpool in Madrid. It still feels odd writing those words about my team. With a group that included Barcelona and Inter Milan. If I am honest, I was not sure we would get out of the group. Let alone make it to the very last game of the competition.

It will be by far the biggest game, that I have ever seen my team play. I really cannot wait for it. I am sure it will be a memorable night, whatever happens. And wherever I end up watching it.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go to visit Rome a few weeks ago. I had never even been to Italy before. And their capital city is somewhere I had been keen to explore for a while. So when the chance came up. I jumped at it. I flew from Heathrow.

Using the Heathrow Express Train for the first time. And staying the night at a nearby hotel. To make it easier to get my mid-morning flight. It takes about two hours the journey. Plus the Italians are an hour ahead of the UK. So I touched down about half past two Central European time.

There is a train that runs from the airport to the main station. From there it was only one stop on the Metro. To get to within just a ten minute walk of the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at. It was a lovely little place. Down a side street. It only had four rooms in it.

You keep the keys for your entire stay. So you can come and go, as you please. And they deliver breakfast to your door every morning on a hostess trolley. For you to help yourself. It was a perfect base camp for the three nights, that I was there.

Once checked in and unpacked. I was straight out to see what it had to offer. On the way from the Metro station. I had already witnessed the first well known landmark. The famous Spanish Steps.

Next up it was just a short walk to Pantheon. Which is a former Roman Temple turned Church. It is simply stunning to look at from the outside and the inside. From here I had a stroll round a few of the many Piazza’s packed with restaurants and street entertainment. While taking in lots of spectacular and beautiful buildings along the way.

Rome

One of these was their official court building. Which was just huge. From here looking down the river. I got my first look at Vatican City. After a nice walk round. It was time to get some food. The first thing I tried was some of the famous Italian Ice- Cream. Which was lovely.

After this short pit stop. I continued walking around trying to find my bearings. It has a nice and relaxed feel to it. There are lots of tiny cobbled streets. But it does appear that all vehicles can go down any road they like. No matter how big or small.

Rome

For my main meal that first night. I went to the place that the lady at the B&B recommended called Alfredo’s. Handily it was just around the corner. It was packed out and I only just managed to get a table. The food was great. I had Beef Fillet with grilled vegetables washed down with a nice glass of Italian beer. It is obviously quite a popular place. As there are signed pictures all over the walls of some of the famous people. Who have previously eaten there.

I was up relatively early the next day. The Pope makes two public addresses, most weeks. One on a Sunday afternoon. And one on a Wednesday morning. If you happen to be in Rome. When he is on stage doing his thing. You really have to experience it. The breakfast was delivered as expected. Cereal, yogurt, cheese and ham plus a pastry. All included. And all eaten. Well if you are going to spend the whole day exploring. You need to keep your energy levels up. With my calorie intake complete. It was time to head to the Vatican to see Pope Francis.

It was about a twenty minute walk from where I was staying. Once you are across the river though. You can see Vatican City from a long way in the distance. It is free to see the Pope’s weekly service. To get in to the seated area. You do need a free ticket. Which you can order online in advance. I did not do this, but you can still get close enough. To see and hear what he and his other Cardinals are saying. Some of the Ceremony is in Latin, some in Italian and some in English. So with my limited language skills. I only understood a limited amount of it.

Rome

It was a very wet day. After seeing the Pope. I decided to do the tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. I found one that combined all three, had a tour guide. And that could jump the queues to get in. So I booked myself on that. We each had radio’s with earpieces. And the guide had a mic. So we could clearly hear all that he had to say.

He started off with a general introduction. Before we made the long walk to the entrance of the museum. It took us a little while to get in and get going. The place is so busy. You cannot really stop at all. You have to keep moving and just take in as much as you can. As you are speeding along. It is packed with so much history. There are so many original Roman artefacts. As basically when ancient Rome was being demolished. The Pope at the time cherry picked much of the original items for the Vatican.

This includes some original Roman mosaic flooring, pots and many statues and busts. The actual building itself is amazing, as are some of the ceilings. They are so colourful and intricate. There is also a section with ancient tapestry’s. Once he had taken us through the entire museum. Our guide then led us into the world famous Sistine Chapel.

Rome

The only place on the tour. You are not allowed to take any photos. My word that artwork on the ceiling by Michelangelo is so stunning. And hard to believe that it was painted over five hundred years ago. There was a very special atmosphere in that room. It made you feel very spiritual. Just being in there. I am so glad that I got to see it and experience it for myself.

The final part of the tour was a look inside the hugely impressive St Peter’s Church. It is so ornate and luxuriously decorated. As well as being the resting place of many previous Popes. It is considered the spiritual centre of the Vatican. It is the most noticeable part of the place from a distance. With its massive dome. I am so pleased I got to see the Pope preach and look round this stunning place. That is filled with so much history.

Rome

I was brought up a Catholic. I cannot pretend to have ever been a good one. But my Grandad, Patrick used to attend Church every day. He was a very devout follower of the religion. He even had a framed picture of the Pope on his living room wall. Although he died a long time ago now. I think this visit to the Vatican. And to see the Pope was also for him, as well as me. It took well over three hours to look around it. So if you are planning to do it, one day. Do allow plenty of time.

It was still raining heavily. But with limited time and a lot to see. I kept on sight seeing. There were street sellers everywhere offering you Umbrellas for five Euros, I refused. Then I found a shop where I got one for only three Euros.

The art of the deal. I think I should have written that book. I had a good look around some of the shops. Then I visited the stunning Trevi Fountain. Before finding a small cafe. To have my first ever Latte in. I am normally a big tea drinker and never have coffee but when in Rome.

Rome

After a bit more walking and exploring. I thought I better try a piece of Italian Pizza in another small Cafe. Then I went to the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars. Which was as weird and strange as it sounds. I have never before seen so many actual human remains on display. It was a very odd and confusing place. But historically from the Monks point of view at least, very interesting.

For my main meal that day. I visited the Hard Rock Cafe. Which as it turned out. Seemed to be the place that was trickiest to find in the whole City. But I made it there in the end. To enjoy some very nice Italian Beer with American Style Tupelo Chicken Strips and Fries. Which I must say were scrumptious. Plus it was cool to listen to some good music, while eating. This bought an end to night two.

Luckily the weather improved for day three. After heavy rain the whole of the previous day. Blue sky and warm sunshine was the new backdrop for the latest expedition. And the focus was very much on the Romans. With the mission for the morning to visit the Coliseum. I set off on the thirty minute stroll from my base camp. On the way I had a quick look around the Military Museum. Which is housed in a massive and very imposing looking building.

From there I could see the famous Amphitheatre in the distance. On the way to it. There are some actual original Roman remains. I had a quick look as these, as I went past. I then got to the Coliseum. And I booked a tour that took you inside it and also in to the Roman Forum ruins next door.

The benefit of the tour, like at the Vatican was that you got to queue jump. See some different areas. And get a guide to explain it all to you. The guide was fantastic. He really knew his stuff. And was very entertaining. I learnt a lot from it. Including that at its prime it held sixty thousand people, entry was free. And the entertainment was available from sunrise to sunset. For around six weeks during the Summer.

It just demonstrated how far advanced and clever the Romans were. They even had several trap doors all over the arena. They loved their special effects. They were such show men! I got plenty of pictures in there. I bet it was a crazy place to be in its hey day. We then left the Coliseum behind. To meet our next tour guide for the Forum part of things.

He was a great guy called Alex. Who also goes by the name of The Gladiator Guide. He spends half the year working for the British Museum in London. And he also works with the Discovery Channel. Producing and presenting some of the history based programmes that they make. Checking him out on Instagram. he has a few well known “friends”.

He was brilliant. He escorted us through the remains of the Roman Forum. Sadly only two percent of the original buildings are actually still there. They were all buried under ground for hundreds of years. Until would you believe Napoleon, of all people. Did the excavations in the eighteen hundreds. Mainly because he actually believed that he was a Roman.

It is amazing how close the Romans seemed to live to the way we do today. High Street’s, running water, central heating, roads. He told us that at its height the Roman Empire ruled sixty million people. Let us not forget that at one point the United Kingdom from Hadrians Wall down was all under their control. Very powerful, yet brutal people.

Rome

As it was such an unexpectedly hot day. I got a little bit caught out. I did not have any sun cream or a hat on me. It is fair to say that my head is a little bit exposed nowadays. I realised that it was getting a bit too hot. While we were queuing to get into the Forum. There was a street seller flogging hats. Before I got to him. I sneaked a five Euro note out of my pocket.

He came over. I tried on a hat. I asked him how much? He said fifteen Euros. I said that was too much. He then asked for ten Euros. I shook my head and offered him the five Euros in my hand. He said no, so I put the hat back and said that was all I had on me.

He then takes the five Euros and gives me the hat. For the price I was prepared to pay. That my friends is how you haggle. Forget Donald Trump. As I said earlier, I should have written the book “The Art of The Deal. I might enter the Apprentice next year.

Rome

Wearing my new hat. After I had finished at the Forum. I stopped for a quick snack. Before heading back to see a few things that I saw in the rain the day before. But this time in the Sun. To try to get some better pictures. I then found a popular Gelato shop. That did over one hundred and fifty different flavours, so I thought it would be rude not to at least try a couple of them. They were delicious.

For my final night there. I went to one of the Piazza’s. I found a lovely traditional Italian Restaurant. Where I enjoyed some Spaghetti and Meatballs “Roma” style washed down with a couple of glasses of red wine. Italian of course. I was sitting outside. And there were various Street Performers doing their thing. Including a Michael Jackson impersonator. Which was something I did not really expect to see, if I am honest.

Rome

The last day had arrived. I was flying home late afternoon. So I still had a bit of time left in the city. I worked out there was one part that I had not seen within walking distance. So I strolled out there.

There was a Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in that area. So I had a look round that. It was fascinating. He was such a clever and talented guy. There did not seem to be anything that he could not do. He was certainly well ahead of his time.

Mona Lisa

Then I just had time for one more quick look around. My second and final cup of Italian Coffee. And of course my traditional gift shopping for the family. I got myself a t-shirt. I originally just bought it as it was white and had a nice picture of a Roman soldier on it.

It was not till I got home that I realised it had some Latin writing on it. I wore it over the weekend. And my sister pointed out it actually says “I came, I saw, I Conquered”, so I actually like it even more now. I flew back in to a very rainy London. Therefore bringing to an end my latest adventure. I liked Rome. It was a lovely City with lots of things to see and do.

Rome

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Man of La Fun-Cha

Spring has well and truly sprung. And we now find ourselves in May. Which means we have just enjoyed another Bank Holiday Weekend. I trust you had an enjoyable one, making the most of the extra free Monday. I returned to normality with a bit of a sharp jolt. As I had my annual dental check up on the Tuesday. I have always got my teeth checked regularly. How people can leave it five years or more. I just do not know. That would terrify me.

Anyway this most recent visit resulted in me requiring my first two fillings in years. Which the Dentist said she could do there and then. I would like to point out though that one of them was only a tiny hole in one of my Wisdom teeth. And the other was some remedial work on a chip in my front tooth. That I acquired in the school playground. When I was tripped up one lunchtime. In my own school days not last week or anything.

I had to have an injection for one of them. It had been so long, I must admit I forgot how much that numbed your mouth up. For somebody who likes to talk and eat a lot. It was pretty limiting for a good couple of hours afterwards. But I must say the Dentist did a great job. I got a good boy sticker and have not got to go back for another year. It was probably all the chocolate at Easter. That pushed the teeth over the edge.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

When they were first released I booked tickets to see a new revival version in the West End of Man of La Mancha. Mainly because I like seeing shows I have not seen before. And because it was starring Kelsey Grammer. Who is just such an amazing actor. He of course played the legendary Dr Frazier Crane in Frazier. And before that in Cheers. It was not a play I was familiar with and it had not been on in London for years, prior to this production.

As I had secured the tickets months ago. It was actually quite a nice surprise when this event came up in my diary recently. This brand new version of the musical is on at the London Coliseum Theatre. I had no idea what the story was about or even the concept behind it. I never like to know when I see something for the first time. I like to see it completely fresh. And try to work things out for myself. As I sit there and watch it.

Man of La Mancha

At the theatre before the show started. I discovered two huge plus points for me. The cast also included Nicholas Lyndhurst. Which as a massive Only Fools and Horses fan. Meant I was very excited to see him in the flesh. Also Cassidy Janson is in it. She played Carole King in the musical about her life “Beautiful”. She was stunning in that and has an amazing voice. This all added to the fun and intrigue of seeing the play.

It is a very deep and meaningful play. It is basically set in a prison, yet it requires a leap of imagination to absorb yourself in the story. And what is actually happening. It looks at the difference between reality and perceived reality. At how we act, behave and how the decisions we make can affect others. The whole thing holds a mirror up to life and the way people deal with and create situations.

Man of La Mancha

It was written in the mid nineteen sixties. But all the main points and nuances still apply in today’s world and society. The stand out song in the show is “The Impossible Dream” which the show’s star Kelsey Grammer sings fantastically. He was excellent in the main role. In my opinion. Great to see him on stage.

And I might be biased but Nicholas Lyndhurst was amazing. There were some comedic moments in it. And needless to say his timing and delivery was perfect. Always getting the big laughs. The rest of the cast and the full thirty-five piece orchestra made it a memorable evening out.

It is the first time this show has been performed in the West End for over fifty years. And it is only running for six week. So if you do fancy seeing it. You will need to be quick. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed it. And it makes you leave the theatre in a reflective mood.

Man of La Mancha

I have now watched a couple of episodes of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent. They have I think managed to get a better cross section of variety acts. Previously it just seemed to be a succession of dancers and singers. The overall standard may be does seem to be getting a bit better. But that may be due to producers inviting some acts they have seem perform in the past to go come along and audition.

You still get a small scattering of the truly delusional people, who are terrible. But think they are great. There are also quite a few acts that have nowhere to go moving forward. Once you have seen it. That is really it. No surprises are left. And the judges seem to be getting a bit softer. Even the boss Simon Cowell is being less nasty or less honest. Depending on your viewpoint.

BGT London
BGT London

They do also seem to be saying yes to a lot of people. There are only a set amount of spots for the semi-finals. Which means lots of people will be whittled down and then thrown off the show. Despite getting through originally. Which I think is worse and almost crueller than the judges dismissing them at the initial audition. As the saying goes “It is the hope that kills you”

Ant and Dec do not seem to feature as much this time. The chats with contestants before and after seem quite a lot briefer. And the atmosphere around them does not seem the same. Hopefully I am totally wrong. And on the live shows. They will be in unison and as together as ever. I have offered my services as a Judge for next year to Simon Cowell. So now I guess I just sit back and wait. I reckon I could pick an act out that the Royals’ would enjoy at their variety show.

BGT London
BGT London

Well it has not been a great couple of weeks for my team Spurs in the Premier League. Yet we have still managed to all but qualify for the Champions League for next season. Despite conceding our first goal and losing our first ever game at our new stadium to West Ham United.

Then getting beaten away at Bournemouth. After having two men sent off. But we move forward. I will be at our final league game at home against Everton tomorrow. To celebrate what has been an interesting and exciting league season.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I went to my first ever Champions League Semi-Final against Ajax. They beat us one nil on the night in the first leg. We did not play very well for whatever reason.

But it was a great occasion to be at. We all gave it our best. But it did not work out exactly how we wanted. Yet we still gave ourselves some hope for the second leg. With just a one goal deficit to overturn.

Then in the ninety-fifth minute Dele flicked the ball to Lucas Moura. And he completed his hat-trick. Sending me leaping in to the air screaming like a madman with excitement. And Tottenham through to the Champions League Final in Madrid on 1st June.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

What a second leg it was in the end, away in Amsterdam. Trailing two – nil on the night at half time. Not playing particularly well with not much going our way. But then in the second half. We come back to drawing two all. The players gave their all. And it still looked like we might just miss out.

What a match, what a night and what an amazing achievement for a team. That have only signed one player in the last two years. Been without a home for a year and a half. And who have suffered their fair share of injuries during this campaign. Mauricio Ponchettino really is magic you know. So proud of my club.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I have been back at the BBC again recently. Leaving one evening. I found myself in a position that Alan Partridge had been in. I ended up in a lift with Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

If you saw “This Time” with Alan. You will get this reference. For the record she was lovely. I also ended up working with a TV newsreader and several of the reporters on various productions. As ever, it was all good fun.

Neil Quigley and “friend”

It was my sister’s 40th Birthday this week. As well as putting lots of embarrassing pictures of the both of us on social media. I did also get her a present. My mate Leon and I went and saw the Spice Girls turn on the Oxford Street lights in the late nineties. My sister and I went to the first Spice Girls tour at Wembley Arena. We also went to the re-union tour at the 02 Arena together.

Therefore what else could I get her other than some tickets to see the Spice Girls at Wembley Stadium next month. And yes I got two and will be going with her. What can I say? They do always put on a really good show. Girl Power! Plus I had to complete the trilogy. I am going to her birthday party tonight. Which will be good fun. I think it might involve some dancing.

Neil Quigley

I am slowly trying to travel more and see more of the world and Europe. Next week I am off to spend a few days exploring Rome. It will be the first time that I have been to Italy. I am considering trying to set up an audience with the Pope. I think a nice chat could be good for the both of us. Anyway I will let me know how I got on next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Silky Skills

Hello, Happy Easter for last weekend. Are you still wading your way through a mass of chocolate? Or did you just have a massive binge on it last Sunday. I think Easter Sunday is the only day of the year that you can just about justify having chocolate for breakfast. I hope you had a lovely long Bank Holiday, enjoyed the weather and got to catch up with the family.

I actually had a pretty quiet Easter, much like Jesus did really, to be fair. He did not really do much after the Thursday evening. I did go to a family barbecue on Easter Sunday. Which was very enjoyable. And pretty civilised for this sort of affair. It was my first Al Fresco dining of the year. Well in England. In the Caribbean in January I was eating outside pretty much all of the time.

I am still delighted by the fact that my parents still insist on buying me an Easter Egg. Every year I say I am fine. And that they do not need to get me one. Yet every year I am so happy and pleased that they do. It always gets eaten within a day or two. Well my theory is if I leave any chocolate lying around the house. It will only get eaten. So I might as well eat it as soon as possible.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I recently paid my second visit to one of London’s premier comedy pubs. The Bill Murray in Islington. It is part of the Angel Comedy Club. Along with the Camden Head. Which is just down the road. Between them they put on lots of great gigs. Pretty much every night of the week.

A lot of well known comics use it to do work in progress and warm up shows. Where they are trying out new material. As a comedy fan who does some stand up. I do find these shows fascinating. As I like to see their thought process. How they structure the joke. And if I can work out the writing game that they may have used to come up with it.

But mostly I like going to these things, as they are in small rooms and are very funny events. Previously I saw Eddie Izzard there. This trip was to see Russel Howard do some new stuff in preparation for a big arena tour. He is doing later in the year. I have seen him a few times before. Doing a full show in Yeovil and a warm up one at The Phoenix in London. I have been a fan of his for years. I really like his topical television shows to.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

He had a warm up act with him Steve Hall. Who also writes a lot of his TV shows with him. Steve was also doing new material ready for his Edinburgh Fringe Show in August. From what I saw and heard it will be worth catching if you are up in the Scottish capital during the festival. He then introduced Russell to the stage.

I am not sure if it was something he was trying out for this gig only or if the new show’s content and set up will require it. But it was a little more abrasive and even angrier Russell, in places. Than I had seen previously. Still very funny and clever with his jokes and delivery. It was quite an early gig with people having come straight from work. So maybe as a whole audience we were not possibly as receptive as he was hoping.

It could even have been a challenge from Steve Hall to play the gig that way. Just for a bit of fun. I really enjoyed it and thought he was fantastic. But as I have said earlier it was a different vibe to what I was expecting. Part of the structure is that he is getting older and grumpier, so he may be tapping in to that to set the tone for some of the subjects he is addressing.

Either way by the time this hits those big arenas. I have no doubt it will be a fully formed hilarious show. If you are a fan of comedy. It is worth keeping an eye on the Angel Comedy Club. As they do have some cracking gigs on there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the first time this year. I went to see the final of The Musical Comedy Awards. The reason I went was that somebody I knew was in it. And I went along to support them. That man was the brilliant Paul “Silky” White. I first met him when I made my Stand Up debut at the wonderful Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I ended up giving him a lift back to his hotel. He is a lovely bloke and an extremely funny guy.

I have seen him perform several times since. I made sure I went and caught his Edinburgh show. When I was up there last year. He is a comic that does jokes. But he also plays the guitar and does some musical comedy. Hence why he was appearing at this event. After quite rightly storming through the heats to the final.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

It was held at The Bloomsbury Theatre. Which is actually a lovely venue. It was the first time I had been. I was very impressed with the place. Randomly as I was on my way there I bumped into Silky, so got to wish him the best of the luck for his performance. Which was a nice bonus. It was great to see him, albeit very briefly.

When I got inside I met up with the man behind the Tringe Festival Ben Moorhouse at the bar. He was also there to support Silky. He was telling me that the line up is almost finalised for this year’s event and once again it is top quality. There will be some great acts coming to Tring to perform. Plus watch out for the marketing campaign for it which is going to be brilliant. Nice to see him and have a quick catch up.

I actually had front row seats for the show. I had found out that Silky was on first. So I made sure I got to my seat nice and early. So I was ready to laugh, clap and cheer for him. Previous finalists of this event have included Abandoman and Rachel Parris. The host for the night was Nick Horseman. He came on first. And got the crowd hyped and ready for what was ahead.

Bloomsbury Theatre

Silky came on first. He started with a tribute to the comedian Ian Cognito. Who had recently died on stage. While performing at a comedy night in Bicester. He then went into a couple of very funny musical songs. He was getting plenty of laughs. I thought he was, as ever great. It is always tough to go on first in a final. But I thought he did an excellent job.

Then we had The Dragprov Review who tried to improvise a musical. I thought they did alright. But I have been lucky enough to see the Show Stoppers. Who are amazing at doing just that. So for me the bar has been set very high for this type of act. Other performers on the night included Jamie Finn, Huge Davies, Louis Burgess, Matt Hutson, Joe Jacobs and Charlie Patridge.

Apart from Silky, who I know and think is great. The act that I really enjoyed the most were Maris Piper. They are a duo who do topical parody songs of well known records. Their lyrics and subject choices were smart and funny. The punch lines were sometimes obvious but that was mainly down to rhyming. And the famous tunes that they were using being so familiar. They did make me laugh out loud.

The Step Dads came on last. They were very off the wall and quirky. It was all a bit surreal. They were certainly the most different act of the night, in my opinion. My favourite act was Katie Pritchard. She came on as a self proclaimed tour guide. Then performed parody songs explaining some big historical attractions. In a funny, clever and amusing away. Plus she really did put everything in to her performance. She was totally going for it.

While the judging panel made their decisions. We were treated to a performance by the act that had already won the Best Newcomer award Hadfield and Swan. They did a couple of very funny numbers. Again I thought this duo were great and worth keeping an eye out for.

Then the headline act The Brett Domino Trio came on. I have been aware of them for a long time. I have heard them on the radio and seen them on TV. So it was great to witness them live at last. They were brilliant. Everything I expected them to be. Great fun!

After this final performance the winners were announced. In third place were Maris Piper. In second it was the Step Dads and the act that won the title was Katie Pritchard. Who I think on the night did deserve it.

I thought Silky should have been top three. Then again I would think that. A very entertaining night out seeing some funny people doing their thing. I already plan to go again to next years’ finals. Well done to the organisers and everyone who took part.

Neil Quigley doing Stand Up
Neil Quigley doing Stand Up

A very Happy 25th Birthday to Mix 96 for the 15th April. It is my local radio station. And it was an absolute honour to be able to work there in several spells over the years.

I actually ended up doing my work experience from College there for two weeks back during its first twelve months. As a result of that I went along to the station’s first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. With all of the presenters. Which was brilliant fun.

Neil Quigley

It was the Mix 96 presenters who suggested that if I was wanting to get into radio. I should get involved with Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. Which I did spending around seven years there. It was doing this that enabled me to get on to Mix 96. Firstly just assisting on the Sports Show.

Before going on to present that and then host Drive Time, Mid Mornings and the Evening Show over the years. I would have presented my first show there in 1998 and my last show was in 2012. Mind you I had a five year break from the Buckinghamshire airwaves. When I was working in Somerset.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

I have some great memories of being there over the years. Including helping to carry Kim Mazelle to and from the stage at a very muddy Fireworks Night. Being involved with the radio “Big Brother” we did called The Big Lock Up. All the County Show outside broadcasts.

Interviewing Victoria Pendleton. And just the laughs that we would have on and off air. It was a time of my life that I am very proud of. You absolutely cannot beat broadcasting on your home town radio station. There is nothing like it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I hoped it would happen. I knew we could do it. But the way the second leg panned out away against Manchester City was crazy. I have never watched a match like it. I was emotionally drained by the end of it. Shocked and delighted that we had made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. One minute we were out and then thirty seconds later after VAR stepped in. We were through to face Ajax. Now just two games away from a place in the big final in Madrid.

City got their revenge in the league game the following Saturday. In a one nil win. That I thought we probably just about deserved a draw out of. It means the fight for a top four finish and Champions League qualification for next season is still a bit too close for comfort. But with two out of our final three games at our new home. I think we can do it. And finish the season on a high.

Our situation was also helped by our home win against Brighton on Tuesday. We left it late. The eighty-ninth minute to be precise. The joy and relief around the stadium when Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the back of the next was palpable.

We have now won all four games at the new place and not even conceded a goal yet. Before the game I also had the pleasure of meeting two Spurs Legends in Tony Galvin and Pat Jennings. They were both fantastic.

Neil Quigley and Pat Jennings

I have been back at the BBC recently doing some work there. It is always a fun place to be. You never know who you are going to end up working with or who you could randomly bump in to.

I saw the current host of the Radio One Breakfast show Greg James leaving as I was on my way in to the building the other day. One of the people I work with looks just like him, so at first I thought it was him. And I could not work out why he did not acknowledge me. So Greg, sorry for looking at you a bit weird.

BBC
BBC

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Neil Quigley Presenter