Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with lots of fun stuff going on. During the last two weeks I have celebrated my forty-first birthday. It is fair to say that this year was a lot more low key than the massive party I threw myself last December. I think I have now reached the age where I will only be holding major events to mark these statistics every ten years now. But that as ever is subject to change.
I was working on my special day this year in London. Which meant I could not do the annual drinks down my local, which I normally do. Which was a shame as that is generally a last minute random gathering. That is lots of fun and a good excuse to see people who I have not seen for a while. Plus I can just walk home from the pub at the end of the night.
Although obviously you can’t not do nothing to mark this monumental occasion, so when I had finished work in London on my birthday. I went for a few drinks in one of my favourite bars, with a view in the capital. That is the Radio Roof Top Bar at the ME Hotel on the Strand. I have been there a few times before. I like it because although you can just walk in there off the street. It still does feel quite classy and exclusive.
They let you in and then you get the lift up to the bar. As I was walking out of the lift to go in to the bar itself a Will I Am look-a-like was just walking in. There is a resident DJ playing some pretty funky dance and house tunes, stunning views of London and most importantly it serves some very nice wine at reasonable prices.
It is often quite busy, so finding a table can be difficult unless you reserve one. Which I was not organised enough to do, so we ended up sitting at the bar. There were about three or four private parties going on scattered around the room. Which provided a lively, fun and vibrant atmosphere. Perfect for a celebration.
Although it was a little bit more sedate than the previous year. It was still a very enjoyable way of commemorating another year spent here on planet earth. Thanks for all the cards, birthday wishes and presents I received. I appreciate it. I am very grateful. When you get to my age most presents either consist of something you can wear or something you can drink.
Being born in December you do kind of have to share your celebrations with the birth of someone else later in the month. That most of the county also seem to celebrate. I have in the past been to Christmas events on my birthday. But I do try to distance myself from it a little bit and keep my birthday as the main focus.
I refuse to do anything for Christmas until after my birthday. I never do my present shopping until after it. But four days after is fine. Which was when I got all of this years’ Christmas shopping completed within just over two hours.
I employ the same plan every year. Where I either deal directly with the recipients or decide in advance exactly what I am getting everyone. I will then make a list. Which I take with me along with a pen. I then normally go to a shopping centre and do my entire shop in one single visit, crossing off the items from my list as I buy them. This plan is aided by the fact that my immediate family make lists of what they want. Then the rest of the family liaise with each other and we all buy from that list. That way we all get what we want but we just don’t know who it is coming from and which items we will or will not get until the day itself.
It works for us and it certainly works for me when it comes to the Christmas present shopping. I have now got it down to a fine art. There is something very pleasing about starting and finishing it all within a couple of hours. Even better I have now already got it all wrapped up ready for the big day, so with a few days to spare I am ready. I do always go a bit over the top with my wrapping. I put ribbons and bows on everything. I also use a lot of Sellotape, so people have to work hard to get into their gifts. It can sometimes take ages. Which I must confess amuses me and makes me think they are getting their moneys worth out of the situation.
Life just seems to be so busy nowadays. There is always something that needs doing or something you have booked to do ages ago. As a result of everyone’s lives being like this. It can actually be quite hard to organise meeting up with family and friends. The other week I did manage to catch up with some very good mates over dinner and a few drinks. After no word of a lie having to change the date and time of it at least once. And after some complicated three way negotiations. That I suspect would make the Brexit talks seem simple. But the important thing is we managed to get ourselves together at the same place and time. We of course had a brilliant night.
The thing with really good friends is you never run out of conversation, you normally have so much news to catch up on from each other. And finally because you know each other so well you can tease each other and have a right laugh at each others expense. The pubs we went to served decent drinks. The meal we had I thought was excellent. But we could have been anywhere doing anything. We would still of had as good a night. As the most important factor in these things is the people you are with. It flew by so quickly. Which is always a good sign that you are having fun. We all have stress and challenges in our lives. But I really do think a regular night out with your best mates should be prescribed on the NHS. How can that not be good for you? As a way of relaxing and losing yourself in laughter for a bit.
I am not a frequent visitor to the cinema. I am not good at sitting still for long periods of time. I probably average one trip there every two to three years. It has to be a film I really want to see to get me there. That movie came out ten days ago now. I am and always have been a massive Star Wars fan. Ever since I saw the first one as a kid.
I saw all three of the originals. I even had a whole box of Star Wars toys. Which I got when I was ten and sold at a car boot sale about six years ago. Just before they bought back the original cast. It is all in the timing. Among those toys was a replica of the Millennium Falcon. Which I used to play with a lot. I had Luke Skywalker in every outfit that he ever wore and several different versions of all the main characters.
Therefore I of course had to see the latest Star Wars film The Last Jedi as soon as I could after it was released. I had really enjoyed the last one. Which was bridging the old and new characters and the story together. It was called The Force Awakens. Or I guess you could subtitle it the Han Solo story. Funnily enough that was the last time prior to this latest trip that I had been to the cinema. The way it was made in the old traditional style and seeing all those characters I grew up with back together again made me feel like a child again. I had a big smile on my face throughout. So as you can imagine I was really looking forward to this latest offering. Specially as I knew from the tease at the end of the previous one. That we were going to see more from Luke Skywalker in this one.
I was way to excited about seeing this film for a man of my age. I booked the tickets about two weeks in advance to watch an afternoon showing. I was so keen to make the most of it that I splashed out an extra two pounds to secure a premium seat right in the middle of the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that again it was all done lovingly in the style of the original trilogy with some nice one liners and bits of comedy. Like there were in those first three films.
But as well as this nod to the past this film still moves the story forward and gives us chance to learn more about the newer characters. For them to really establish themselves. I am never going to tire of seeing X-Wing Fighters and the Millennium Falcon fly through space. It features a powerful performance from the wonderful Carrie Fisher. It reminds us of what a brilliant actress she was.
The film is two and an half hours long but it kept my attention all the way through. Which is no mean feat at all bearing in mind how few movies I will sit and watch. I loved it! In a way it was like catching up with some old friends. Them still behaving like they used to. Doing what you would expect them to do. It still makes me feel like a child watching them.
I did watch and like the three prequels that were made in the middle. I did venture to the cinema to see them all. But personally I prefer the first three and these latest two. As they remind me more of the Star Wars that I first became engrossed in. I do like the new characters and their links with the past. I already cannot wait to see episode nine. When that is released.
I went along to the Old Rope Comedy Club Christmas gig at The Phoenix Pub, which is just off Regents Street in Central London. It is a new material night that takes place on a Monday. Nish Kumar was hosting and it featured performances from Eleanor Tiernan, Aisling Bea, Tiff Stevenson (whose comedy night it actually is) and a headline performance by James Acaster.
It was another top evening. Everyone was on good form. But for me Nish and James were the funniest. On Nish’s part because he really was treating it as his Office works do. And Mr Acaster is right on the top of his game at the moment with his everyday surrealism. You know it is a good night when your cheeks hurt from laughing. I will be back for more fun times there next year.
It has been another up and down couple of weeks for my team Tottenham. We have had some good wins and some deserved but annoying defeats. But that is football and in general life. You have to enjoy the good times and get through the bad times.
It was nice of the club to send me a birthday card signed by Mauricio Pochettino and the rest of the squad. That was a nice little touch. I still plan to get to as many games as I can at Wembley until the end of the season. Starting with West Ham United on the 4th January.
A very Happy Christmas. Have a brilliant festive season and I will speak to you in 2018. Cheers Neil