Tag Archives: Blog

Who’s Zooming Who?

We are still in Lockdown in England then but on the plus side we are nearly through January, which is historically the longest month of the year. I am all about the positives. This latest round of restrictions is slowly starting to have the desired effect of easing the pressure on our fabulous NHS. The key vaccination programme is now being ramped up meaning the most vulnerable are continuing to get their jabs.

Nobody is enjoying the situation but it is a means to an end. We will get past this and the good times will return. I am looking forward to what will be our version of the roaring twenties around a century after the original post Spanish Flu madness. We just need to still be responsible and sensible in our current choices to protect those we love and our communities as a whole.

Talking of which, I developed a bit of an annoying cough the other week. I did not have any other symptoms but I thought I better get myself tested just to be sure. I went on the NHS COVID website and managed to very easily book a test later that same day. I decided to use the drive through test option. They do give you a choice of that or a walk up option at different locations.

The Staff there were brilliant. It was all nicely organised and well run and most importantly completely safe. I had to do it myself in the car. They hand you the kit and the instructions through your window on the way in. It is a little tricky at first and to be honest not that much fun but it is also simple and straightforward. I mean I managed to do it despite thinking that I had messed it up twice. Side note, it would seem that I have quite the gag reflex. You have to take a swap from the back of your throat and then from up your nose.

Then you carefully follow the simple instructions and package it up as required. That is quite key and important. You hand it to someone on the way out. It is all linked together using a unique QR Code you get when you make the appointment. I got the results back via text and email within eighteen hours. Happily it was negative, so I was fine and the cough disappeared in a couple of days but I felt better for getting it checked out. This is not a virus to take any chances with in my opinion.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have joined in with another couple of Zoom Games Evening’s that are organised by a friend of mine. I have mentioned these before. We all connect on Zoom so we can chat and have a laugh on that while we play. He uses this American website that offers some interactive games that you can play on a mobile phone or tablet. He sets the main page of the site up on Zoom for us to see. At the start of every game it flashes up a unique code which we enter to enable us to join in together to play.

It has an odd selection of slightly strange and weird games loosely based on more familiar games you might recognise. However they are all of course legally different to these so therefore not quite as good, to be fair. But they are perfect for a group of lads to virtually meet up and mess around with. In the last get together we played one that was a bit like “Would I Lie To You”. And another one that is a little bit like Dingbats.

We also played this new one where each player firstly has to draw a design on a T-shirt, which is not easy just using a finger on a mobile phone, even more so when like me you have no artistic talent at all. You then get to enter as many different slogans as you can in a set time. In the first round the game randomly selects which go with which. That was quite amusing but then in the next round you get to choose a design and slogan for a T-shirt using your competitors offerings.

It was all very childish I will happily admit that but there was one particular combination that almost had me in tears of laughter. It is far too rude to repeat here sadly but the picture and words worked perfectly for me. At the end of the game it gives you the chance to actually order the T-shirts you made. I was so tempted to order this one. But in the end I was strong and didn’t. It was a good giggle while still in the comfort of my own home, which is ideal at the minute. It is not the same as meeting up in person obviously but messing around with people on video calls can be great fun!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see “The Play That Goes Wrong” one afternoon about seven years ago. I still think it is the most that I have ever laughed in a theatre. It was my introduction to the Mischief Theatre Company. I have been following them closely since. I have managed to catch all but one of the new shows they have done. I have always seen them early enough that they have the main members of the company in. Over the years I have talked to a few of them after performances.

They have a very unique style and flavour to all of the things that they do. It borrows from a lot of traditional comedy elements but they put their own stamp on it. I am a big fan of theirs. In the last couple of years they have been doing stuff on the television. That has been ace and provided some very funny moments of madness. Like all theatre companies at the moment they cannot perform as they would normally do.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

They are doing a series of online live stream improv movie nights at the moment. I watched one of these last Saturday Night. It costs ten pounds for a ticket. They email you an individual link to be able to see it. You log on at 7.30pm for the pre-show countdown. This is when you can put forward your suggestions for what sort of “Movie” they will be making. For example what type of film it is, where it is set and even suggestions for some of the characters in it.

They select a few of these ideas then they make up a play of a movie lasting about an hour or so off the top of their heads. They do have a “director” style character. Who can stop things and play with what is going on a bit to keep the actors on their toes and help them if they start heading down a comedy Cul-De-Sac. The night I saw it was an 80’s musical disaster film set in a library in America. It was brilliant! If you are looking for something reasonably priced to do during the evening I would totally recommend it. Just good old fashioned silly fun!

Mischief Theatre Company
Mischief Theatre Company

I have been watching quite a lot of comedy on television recently. I must admit I am partial to a good panel show. “Would I Lie To You” is such a simple yet effective idea, that is fun to watch and play along with. I love it anyway but it always seems to go up a notch when the great Bob Mortimer is on. He is so good at making the truth sound like a lie and a lie sound like the truth, scarily good at it in fact.

I like “Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown”. That is usually good value for a laugh. You cannot help but play along with the numbers and the words rounds without feeling as thick as you can do if you play along during the original version. It seems like most comedians have a similar level of intelligence to me. That does make me feel a bit better about myself and add to the feel good factor of the show.

I am not saying we have all been stuck at home a lot during the last year but I have just completed the whole of “The Big Bang Theory”. I was very late to the party with this one but I randomly managed to catch the pilot episode on a channel that was showing it daily at a time that coincided exactly with my lunch break. Every day while I was eating I saw one episode. I have now watched it all from start to finish.

Needless to say it is very clever and very funny with some great performances. Such a quality talented cast. They could do it all. I even eventually managed to get over the fact that “Blossom” was in it as a neuroscientist. The amazing thing is that Mayim Bialik is actually a neuroscientist in real life. That is very impressive. She left acting to study and then returned to play the role of someone who matched her qualifications. Genius!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am still doing my weekly Pop Quiz on my Facebook page every Tuesday at 8.30pm. Just for some lockdown fun. It lasts around thirty minutes and contains thirty music related questions. You can play along however you like in a large group as one team or on your own.

The way it works is that you are only really playing against and testing yourself, although some people play against each other using their own online chat groups. Here is last week’s quiz if you fancy having a look at it before you decide if you are going to join me live for it one week. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164567407325591/

Neil Quigley

My football team Tottenham Hotspur are doing alright. We are still in the FA Cup having beaten Wycombe Wanderers this week. I used to watch the “Chairboys” when I was a teenager and played for their under sixteen team for a season. However there was only one team I wanted to win. I am one hundred percent Spurs. We play Everton in the next round. Another team and ground I know well as I my mate Jeff supports them and I have been with him to Goodison Park quite a few times over the years. That will be a fun contest with plenty of banter flying around I am sure.

In the Premier League we are still hovering around the Champions League places. I am not convinced we will win that competition. But I am hopeful we might be able to be successful in one of the cups that we are still in and lift a trophy this season. That would be brilliant. It did used to be lucky for us when the year ends in one, although the last time this was true was 1991, so it has been a while since that has been the case. I am enjoying watching the team on the television. It is a nice distraction from things, although I am looking forward to being back at the ground when allowed.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

I Get Locked Down But I Get Up Again

Here we are then back in Lock Down for the third time in England. When you consider that it is only about two months until the first anniversary of the initial one it does highlight how long this terrible virus has been a huge issue. The nature of the disease it being a Flu variant meant we all knew it may be a bigger problem sadly during the winter months. Possibly early estimations of when the threat might be averted were a little to on the optimistic side from some areas. But here we are again and it has to be the right and sensible thing to do.

We are all missing seeing family and friends. It is hugely frustrating to be missing out on so many things and events we would normally all do during the year. However what we are being asked to do at the minute annoying though it is, is a small sacrifice really compared to what our Grand Parents and Great Grand Parents went through for us. See it possibly as our chance to return the favour by looking after them this time. I would take staying in the house over being stuck in a ditch somewhere while being shot at any day of the week.

The new variant has made the situation worse but we now have several vaccines that are being rolled out to combat this thing to enable us to be able to ultimately get our lives back. The work of those scientists to produce these injections so quickly is amazing. It shows just how far medical research has come to be able to get to this stage in such a relatively short space of time. We need of course to protect the vulnerable first. And generally I think they are doing it in a fair and sensible way. That said as soon as it is my turn to be offered it I will be straight down to the Doctors with my arm out ready.

The main issue driving the government’s decisions has not changed from the start as far as I can see. Making sure the NHS can cope with all medical emergencies has to be a priority for all of our sakes. The Staff of that organisation have done a super human job over the last year. I cannot even imagine how tough it has been for them, but I do appreciate their “Herculean” effort. I would obviously like to thank them all so much for what they have done and continue to do. We will get through this thing by working together and looking after each other. It will be under control and we will be able to return to the things we love doing at some point.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

After seeing Joe Wicks had returned with his PE lessons, I had no choice but to bring back my weekly Pop Quiz. I enjoy doing it and I know people have fun playing along with me. I do not take myself or it too seriously. It is simply meant to be a bit of fun every Tuesday night at 8.30pm. If you have not done it before why not give it a go? It lasts around thirty minutes and it is just me asking some music based questions and having a laugh.

It is called “Quigger’s Plays Pop”. If that title does sound familiar I believe there was once a music quiz on television hosted by the ace Keith Chegwin called “Chegger’s Plays Pop”. Any similarities are of course purely coincidental and if you think the theme tunes to both sound almost identical but for a few subtle tweaks then you are spot on. But let us look at it as a nod and a tribute to that programme just in case there are any lawyer type people reading this. Here is a video of the latest episode, so you can watch that and then decide if you to want to get involved next week. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164496880380591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am trying to use the current situation to get as fit as I possibly can. Between me and you I am trying to get the six pack back that I had when I was eighteen but that may be out of reach. I am pretty sure all I had to do back then to achieve that was just ten sit ups a week. It appears a little more effort is required in your forties. I am running for nine miles three times a week. That is followed by forty-minutes on the exercise bike. On the other three days I do weights and home Pilates sessions. Then on all of the days I do Yoga and sit ups. I treat myself to a day off on Sundays.

Towards the end of last year I got one of those resistance bands not really knowing what they were about, if I am honest. Anyway from this month I have added a twenty minute evening online work out with the band to my routine. I have not quite mastered the use of it yet, plus I did not realise they come in different sizes so mine needs to be stretched quite a lot to do the moves. I figured another bit of exercise a day cannot do any harm but I am not sure if I like working out with it or not yet. If nothing else I will burn a few more calories.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As my girlfriend’s quest to try to find “Neil Friendly” films, continues, alongside her aim of exploring the entire back catalogue of Quentin Tarantino. We watched Django Unchained. It did manage to keep my attention, which is a positive as it is a long movie. I enjoyed it. And it was clearly his take on a slave movie come western, I think. Like a lot of his stuff it had a pretty high body count. There was plenty of blood everywhere. He seemed to kill almost everyone off including himself during his own brief cameo appearance.

Earlier in the day she had given me a beautiful green jumper as a present. As we were watching the film we were having a few wines. As I said it was a very gory film with lots of people getting shot. After it had finished and I am still not sure how I managed to achieve this I somehow threw my glass of red wine in the air! It went everywhere over the sofa, over her and also over my brand new top. It looked like I had recreated a scene from the film there was that much claret in the room. Is that what they mean about things you watch having a subconscious effect on you or am I just a clumsy idiot? You decide!

Neil Quigley

I thought I would give the television show Staged ago this week. It features David Tennant and Michael Sheen basically on Zoom chats talking about a fictitious play they are meant to be rehearsing online. Their other half’s both make appearances and there are some pretty good cameos.

Each episode is only about fifteen minutes. They are very easy to watch. In a way it is basically about two actors having mini breakdowns at home. They made two series one in Lockdown 1 and the next in Lockdown 2. I have nearly finished the final one but I suspect they might try to make the trilogy as they will now both be stuck at home once again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

One of my horses “Force Ten” had a run at Exeter last Sunday. Sadly he did not put in a very good display. He got too excited before the race and shot off to quick meaning he faded near the end. He came in seventh out of eighth, which is not ideal. He is getting his flu jab and therefore a bit of a rest this week.

The important thing is that he came home safely. We need to calm him down before his races. Does anybody know of any good relaxation podcasts that they can maybe recommend? It is all part of the fun of being involved with racing.

Force Ten
Force Ten

It has been quite a decent fortnight for my team Tottenham Hotspur. We have reached the final of the League Cup beating Brentford to secure a place at Wembley in April. We have made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. In the third round we played Marine at their ground which backs on to houses, people were watching the game from their back garden’s which was a bit strange. We won 5-0 with sixteen year old Alfie Devine becoming the youngest player to not only play for the club’s first team but to score for them to. It was nice to see some of the young players getting a chance.

In the Premier League we are in sixth position. Things are generally going alright but not as good as they could be. We continue to drop too many points when we are winning games and that is costing us dear. This season is a bit odd with games mostly played with no fans or when it allowed just a few thousand supporters. I think that has had effect on some results. It is looking like being potentially the closest title race in years. That should make the next few months exciting and action packed. Plenty more highs and lows to come my way I am sure. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

On a slightly separate note I was delighted to see that the great Mauricio Pochettino has been appointed as the new PSG boss. He was one of my favourite ever Spurs manager’s. I was actually sad to see him go. I liked his style and the way the team played under his guidance.

It was such a shame he did not win a trophy with us. I wish him all the best in his new role. He has inherited a great squad there. I am also very pleased that he did not end up at another English Club or I would have found it tough when we played his team.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Happy New Year 2021

I hope that you had a nice and enjoyable Christmas however you spent it, all things considered. I suspect your celebrations were more than likely a little bit different this year. I had a very quiet one at home without a few of the things that had become a staple part of my day. For example this was the first year since I was eighteen that I have not been to the pub to meet some members of my family for a quick pre-dinner drink. That was always a highlight and set me up for the afternoon nicely, but for obvious reasons that did not happen.

This did mean that I did not have any deadlines to meet or places to be, which in turn did lead to a much more laid back morning. I had a big fry up with sausages, bacon and eggs for breakfast as has always been the tradition. I have not been to Church on Christmas Day for many years since the morning I went with my dad while I was still a bit drunk from the night before, which was not ideal. This decision was unaltered by the current conditions. Therefore with no places available to get alcohol either the pub or the church I made myself a cup of tea and opened my presents.

Neil Quigley

I am always extremely grateful for any gift I receive I got a few things that I needed and had requested like a new dressing gown and tie in the team colours of the horses that I own shares in. I had also asked for the latest Dolly Parton Book. It is basically her life story told with the help of the lyrics of one hundred and seventy-five of her songs. I expected it to be a normal sized book that you could read on a train or in bed. I was wrong it is the size of a suitcase and weighs a ton. I am going to need to buy a crane or a music stand to read it. That said I am very much looking forward to completing it.

Neil Quigley

I did make a lot of phone and video calls. It was great to see and catch up with people albeit of course not in person. We still had a good chat and a bit of a laugh. I will admit that I made sure I had a decent supply of red wine to help move the day along a bit. I did also try to message online or text as many people as I could in case they were on their own, so at least they could have a bit of interaction with somebody on Christmas Day.

Morecambe and Wise are always a massive part of my annual festive celebrations. I could just watch them all day long. They are fantastic. It has been quite tough for some this year, but for some perspective when the two comedy greats were starting out in the early days and working in the theatres. Long before the big television shows. They on occasions spent Christmas Day alone together in their lodgings and were struggling so much at that time dinner would be a can of tuna between them. Christmas was not what we wanted it to be this year but I suspect yours was hopefully still better than that! It does highlight the old adage that it is not where you start but where you finish that is important.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did watch the Queen’s Speech which I thought was perfect. She has a nice calming voice and she says simple things which seem logical and also make lots of sense. I have said this before but I do wonder if any of our politicians have thought about trying this approach. I did spend the rest of the evening watching television as to be fair there was not much else to do. I took my first look at Michael McIntyre’s new game show The Wheel which is quite good fun if not a little bit random. I then watched the new one off version of Blankety Blank hosted by Bradley Walsh. That was quite enjoyable and nostalgic. He did a great job and the panel were all good on it to.

Royal Mews
Royal Mews

I ended the day with the Britain’s Got Talent Special. That was easy to absorb and entertaining, which is what is required when you are full of chocolates and grapes by that time of the evening. It was nice to see the judges joining in with the acts and some familiar faces on it. It was filmed with a Zoom audience which meant we did get a bit of laughing and clapping. I then went to bed only to have a pretty similar Boxing Day the day after. It was more low key than normal that is for sure but I still feel that I enjoyed this year and made the best of it.

BGT London
BGT London

During the last twenty-five years I have spent a lot of New Year’s Eve’s doing gigs or working on radio shows. This included a run of ten in a row. They were always great fun and as a DJ it is very hard to have a bad night as everybody is well up for the party. When I was at the BBC I did manage to watch the fireworks on the South Bank of London from the roof of Old Broadcasting House. That was a pretty surreal experience. As I worked a lot on this night normally when I did not have a job I was more than happy to just stay in and have the night to myself. Therefore staying in and doing that this year did not really bother me at all.

I had a nice relaxed evening listening to music while enjoying a few drinks. I stayed up until after midnight to welcome in the New Year then went to bed and just slept until I naturally woke up. I suspect my neighbours were relieved that I did not do what I did seven years ago and have a four hour karaoke marathon with a mate of mine. To be fair to them they never complained but sadly I am tone deaf and cannot sing a note so it would not have been a good listen, although I did actually really enjoy it.

Happy New Year, have a brilliant 2021. Things will improve for us this year, patience and empathy to each other will I think be the key. We will get there!

Neil Quigley

I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago. I never really stuck to them and my view was that if I thought that I had to make those changes to my lifestyle I should do them when required and not wait for a certain date. That said I do often try to eat more healthily for January. Sometimes I will try to take a month or so off the booze, depending on what events I already have in the diary.

As I have got older I have tried to exercise and eat more sensibly. I think setting goals for the year is a good thing whether that is personally or professionally. But nobody will be able to change their life in any way unless they really want to. And if you have been putting it off until now may be you do not want it enough.

We all have lots of challenges ahead of us during the next twelve months some of them we know about and some of them will appear out of nowhere and take us by surprise. All we can do I think is deal with them the best we can. We are obviously still trying to get the virus under control, which we will have to work together to achieve. It will also be our first year outside the European Union for more than forty-five years, so that may take a while to adjust to. I am a very positive person, so let us all have a successful and productive year that we can all be proud of.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I watched the Christmas Special of Upstart Crow during the festive period. I am fan of both Ben Elton the writer and David Mitchell who stars in it, I think they are great. It was as ever very clever. What Ben has always done with this show is although it is about the life of one William Shakespeare he has always woven in lots of topical jokes. He just makes them fit in with the time that the play write was alive. It was a double header episode with David and the brilliant Gemma Whelan set during The Plague. Therefore a lot of the jokes were of course actually about the current situation that we find ourselves in.

I have been to see a recording of one of the previous episodes. Ben Elton came out and did a bit of stand up as part of the warm up. The whole cast are fantastic. David Mitchell is so good at remembering and delivering those ace monologues that are written for him. I do like that each show is also linked to a particular one of his plays. It is almost too genius for its own good. I was looking forward to seeing the stage version of it in the West End but sadly due to you know what its run was cut short before I had the chance.

The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre

Just over two years ago now I got a very excited phone call from a mate of mine telling me that he had managed to get invited to a low key secret gig at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. It was all very cloak and dagger. He found out about it at the last minute. And then got to witness a private concert by Sir Paul McCartney at the place where things really started to take off for him and his band “The Beatles”. (Yes I know the current Cavern is not the original as it was knocked down years before the replica was built but it was the best he could do to keep it traditional).

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was shown on the BBC over Christmas and is still on the I-player now. I have been to the Cavern quite a few times and it is a tight, small and cosy venue. My friend had managed to get himself right at the front just to the left of the stage. At the end of the first song the camera cuts to him and it looks like Paul thanks him personally. He is understandably made up about that. It was a great gig he does some Beatles songs, a few from his Wings days and a selection of his solo tracks. He is playing with his actual band. That plays with him on all of his Arena Concerts.

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

He is such a talented musician and performer and as ever he moves effortlessly from playing the bass, to the guitar to the Keyboards and back again. It was a pretty similar set to the one I saw him play at the O2 Arena about four months later. My mate pops up on screen a few more times at random moments. At one point claiming it was his big Birthday when it wasn’t. That happens for him this year. He is a huge McCartney fan so to see him play this gig in his hometown is one of the highlights of his life. If you did not catch it and you are a fan of his it is definitely worth watching.

Sir Paul McCartney's place
Sir Paul McCartney’s place

Things have not quite been going so well for my team recently as we managed to jump from first to eighth place in the Premier League in a week. However as a Tottenham Hotspur fan I am well used to this sort of thing and it never surprises me. We appear to be having a bit of a dip I just hope it does not last for too long.

On the plus side we are still doing alright in all the cup competitions. It would be nice to win a trophy this year. After all it has been a while now. We have a lot of big games coming up, I will as ever watch the matches support them and see what happens.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Happy New Year! Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Forty-Four Is The New Twenty-Five

It was my birthday on Thursday 10th December. I am just putting the full date here in case you missed it so that you do not make the same mistake next year. It is often difficult to know how to mark an occasion like this when it is not a landmark age. This year I decided to stay in and spend the day at home. Annoyingly this was exactly what I did last year to. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if possible never waste an opportunity to go out on your special day. That said I did have a lovely time.

The morning was exactly the same as any other day, apart for me opening my cards over breakfast. That is a once a year occurrence. I must say I was very lucky and extremely fortunate to receive all the cards I did. I appreciate the world is not normal and a simple thing like buying and sending a card could be more complicated depending on your circumstances. There were some very funny ones, which I am a big fan of. Yes being all sweet and nice is lovely but what can I say I just love a laugh!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I got some great presents. One of which was Philip Schofield’s new autobiography “Life is What You Make It” wise words Phil. I think I have mentioned this previously I only read autobiographies and I am really looking forward to reading this one. Probably in January as I tend to make the first few months of the year my main reading time. I remember watching him as a kid and I have seen him present shows while in television studios myself and he is a master at it. I wonder if there will be any unexpected twists in it. Yes I know there will be. I do follow the news.

I got a new pen and a special book to put all my passwords in. At the minute I have them all written in an old diary in a random order and sometimes it can take hours to find the one I need. Why is it you now have to have an account for everything you use online? I swear even Johnny Five could not remember all my logins in his head. Anyway I am looking forward to becoming more organised on this front. I also got a special black book in which to log my horse racing bets to help in my quest to find a better system than the one Derren Brown used on his television show around ten years ago.

In the afternoon my girlfriend came over to basically chat and have tea. As I am proper rock and roll on my big day. She got me a Yoga mat that I had asked for by the way. It was not just a subtle hint from her. Not something I thought I would need before 2020 but I have started doing regular sessions online since April. I am quite literally out of control. She also got me an Elvis Presley Face Mask and Elvis themed card and cake. I guess constantly showing her pictures of my trip to Graceland and owning a white Las Vegas style jumpsuit may have led her in this direction for gift giving.

Neil Quigley

Then in the evening I had a Dominos take away, which I of course got delivered. That is the law if you order from them surely. I try to eat healthily in the week normally, so Pizza on a Thursday was a big treat for me. I washed it all down with a very nice bottle of red wine. For reference it was a Rioja Grand Reserva which I prefer to be six to eight years old, just in case you are ever in a position when you might need to buy me some wine. You are welcome!

Like we all do I over ordered on the Dominos front, so I was still eating the Pizza for lunch and dinner on the Friday. This may be an unpopular opinion but I think it tastes even better cold the next day. To top off my birthday Tottenham Hotspur won their final game in the Europa League and progressed as group winners. A wonderful end to arguably the second most important birthday in December! I had a great day and might have to stay in next year. Although I hope that will be more of a personal and free choice by then.

Neil Quigley

The Saturday Night before my special day I got given a pre-birthday surprise from my girlfriend. She had booked us an online Cheese and Wine Evening. It was organised by a Cheese company based in York. They send you the food and drink in advance. The cheese and wines are all numbered so you know which order to consume them in and which pairs go together. We set up all the cheeses and wines in the correct order. Then at 8pm the couple who own the company do a Facebook live. That you log on to.

Cheese Selection

They then take you through each of the Cheese and Wine pairings telling you what you should smell and taste from each, as well as a bit of background information about them. It is pretty low key and laid back. They just hold it from on the sofa in their living room. It does feel a little bit like you have gate crashed their evening but it makes it feel very inclusive. On the particular one that we were doing all the Cheese and Wines were from England. It was a varied wine selection. We had White, Rose, Red and a Port with Sloe Gin combination. The Cheese’s covered quite a spectrum to including soft and blue.

It was fun to eat and drink online with them. The portions are quite generous but we still managed to finish all of the wine and most of the cheese. The whole thing lasts about an hour and an half. It did feel a bit like having a night out yet while still being at home, which in the current climate is great. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we have signed up for another one at the end of January. The company that runs it are called Love Cheese. They are it seems quite a small business who started doing this for customers in York at the start of Lockdown. It has now built up and gathered pace from all around the country. Best of luck to them!

Cheese and Wine Tasting Online

I watched The Royal Variety Performance on the TV the other week. I normally watch it every year obviously things were a little different for this one. It came from a theatre in Blackpool which was in Tier 3, so they could not have an audience there. To get round this they had a Zoom audience and put them on big screens in the stalls, so that all the performers could see them and at least feel they were playing to an audience. Although due to the delay I suspect they all had to try to adjust their natural timing slightly. It looked a bit like a Science Fiction film where the machines had taken over and they were all performing to save their lives.

It was hosted by Jason Manford. I thought he did a brilliant job. It was always going to be a bit strange and tough but the pitch and the tone of it was perfect. I interviewed him once and he was fantastic so friendly and easy to chat to. I also saw his last stand up tour and that was very funny to. The line-up as you would expect for such a show was top class. I enjoyed all of the acts. All things considered it all worked out really well. Even with people having to quite rightly make sure they socially distanced on stage, unless they were in a bubble. It was ultimately fun and uplifting which is something we can all use at the moment. Thanks and well done to everyone involved.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday I enjoyed some online live streamed theatre. The Old Vic in London is staging a production of “A Christmas Carol” over the festive period. The classic story which surely is a staple part of most people’s annual celebrations stars Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge. It is very clever how they are doing it. There is obviously no audience in the theatre. All the cast are performing in a socially distanced way. They have lots of different cameras which are all mixed together to give the illusion of the actors being next to each other.

Obviously you know what happens it is a narrative that everyone is familiar with. They do it very well and even though it is on screen I must say they keep you captivated and it does have that live feel to it. To be able to watch it you have to purchase a ticket online. Then on the day of the performance they send you a link via email. You then watch it from your home on Zoom.

It is proving quite popular there were four thousand people seeing it from all over the world on the night we saw it. It was great and sadly the closest that I will get to the theatre this Christmas. My favourite version of this age old story is The Muppets take on it. That is the only version to my knowledge that has comedy rats it in.

A Christmas Carol

At the time of writing my team Tottenham Hotspur are still second in the Premier League. The one slight disappointment of this is that due to circumstances that I am sure you are aware of I cannot take my usual season ticket seat and cheer them on inside the stadium. Typical of Spurs to be doing better than usual with no fans in the ground! I do miss my days out at the football. It has not been all plain sailing. And I suspect there are still plenty more twists and turns to come yet.

This season so far has left me with that age old conundrum. We are possibly not playing as consistently exciting football as we were a couple of years ago but we are winning more games. Do not get me wrong we are playing some great stuff in patches and have so many amazing players. I have no complaints at all. But there is always that thought about if you would rather your team played brilliant football or were winning football matches. You think you want entertaining games but if you are honest you really just want them to win the match!

We of course have the busy Christmas period to come and there is still a long way to go this season but even to be in contention still is a huge positive. Personally I just hope that if we are at least still in the running for the title in April and May. That I will be able to safely go to see the last home games. I have admitted before that I had never really been a Mourinho fan prior to his appointment at Spurs. But clearly he does have something either top tactical knowledge or a philosophy that works, as he has definitely had a big effect on the squad and their attitude. I cannot believe I am saying it but he might actually be special you know!

Neil Quigley

This will be the last time we speak before Christmas. Unsurprisingly I am planning a quiet and low key one this year. It is what I feel is the most sensible and safest thing to do. Whatever you do and however you celebrate this year have a fantastic time. Do stay safe and look after yourself and each other. This year do make sure you call or text people who either you would normally see or who you think might be alone. They will really appreciate it and it will make you feel good and give you a nice warm glow.

It has not been the year any of us wanted or intended. We have all had things cancelled and been massively restricted in what we can do. However I have had as ever a good laugh, still done some cool and new things. For starters I had never even heard of Zoom and now I have an account and a green screen for my backgrounds. An example of taking something forced on you and making it fun and personalising it.

Things will improve and get better we are moving in the right direction. Look at it this way this Christmas will possibly be more memorable than most. However you choose to spend it. Have fun! Festive best wishes to you and yours!

Neil Quigley

My good friend Mike Sterling has a charity single out in aid of the DKMS, Anthony Nolan and The Aplastic Anaemia Trust charities. It is available at all major online music stores. In honour of a little girl he knows called Evie, who happily thanks to This Morning found the Stem Cell donor she needed. It is a cover version of Mariah Carey’s Hero.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

A very Happy Christmas to you! Thanks for reading the blog this year. Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Online and Doing Fine

The second national lockdown in England has ended. We now find ourselves in a selection of different tiers. It is almost as if they have based the latest policies on a sketch from The Frost Report in 1966 featuring John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. I am in a Tier Two area. It will not change what I have been doing since March. I am still working on the policy the less people you come into contact with the less chance you have of catching or passing on the virus.

I will admit I am being extra cautious but as an Asthma sufferer I feel this is a sensible approach to take. I do not really have the desire to return to a pub or even the theatre until they are more like how they used to be. When you could order a beer stood at the bar or sit next to other people. Plus the whole point of going to the pub was to have a break from the people you live with. Dragging them there with you just defies the reason for going in the first place.

I hope whatever situation, you find yourself in you are coping with it all currently. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this and at some point things will return to normal. And we will be able to go back to doing the things we love. We just need to be a bit sensible still and to respect each other. Like everybody else I have lost pretty much a whole year’s worth of events. My diary is the emptiest it has been for years. But on the plus side I have seen many more films this year than in the last ten!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I took part in my first ever online Zoom Games Night recently. It was organised by a friend and former radio colleague of mine. He got in touch with everyone using the new way to liaise about every event now by setting up a “WhatsApp” group for it. He did oversubscribe it a little as there were only eight places available on the night. These were allocated on a first come first serve basis and I made the cut for the inaugural edition.

The way it worked was we had a Zoom Meeting that we all signed in to using the secret ID of course. Therefore we could all see and chat to each other. Once we had finished catching up we got down to the business in hand. For the games the person hosting had set us up on an American website that offered online games. We could see the screen on the Zoom Call. Then we also had to log into the website Jackbox Games on our own mobile phones.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

At the start of each game we got given a special code to enter which connected us all to the same one. The way it worked was we could put our answers into our phone and then when the time was right these would be displayed on the main screen for everybody else to see. We played three different games, although they were all along the same lines. We had to fill in missing words or give joke meanings for phrases. Then two of us were randomly pitted against each other with the rest of the players voting on who had given the funniest or best suggestion.

It was a bit weird at first and took a little getting used to but when we got the hang of it, it was a good laugh! The games we played were quite silly and simple. Light hearted fun and the chance to have some interaction with other people. I am ultra-competitive so I was a bit disappointed that I did not win any of the games. That said they were not quizzes with exact answers more like parlour games designed for a laugh. I would definitely do it again. Plus it gave me the chance to use my green screen and put up some different backgrounds, simply to amuse myself really.

Neil Quigley

I watched yet another film last weekend making this year a record breaking one for me on that front. I normally average at best five of them in any twelve month period. I am definitely into double figures now, as ever though I am still a bit behind the times with my movie selections. They do also have to fall into a certain category to make me want to put them on and commit to them. This latest one was written by Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle. As I have in the past enjoyed both of their work this convinced me to at least give it a try.

The film was “Yesterday” which was released last year. That for me is like watching something almost brand new. The premise of it is that a strange synchronised event happens at the same time worldwide. Kind of like the year 2k bug that never materialised. The outcome of this is that nobody remembers The Beatles and there is no record of them existing. The star of the piece somehow avoids the meltdown of the planet and he still remembers them. He is a musician so then starts releasing their music pretending that they are all his songs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

This leads to him supporting Ed Sheeran on tour. Ed appears in it as himself. It is a Richard Curtis film so obviously ultimately there is a massive love story at the centre of it. The best thing about it for me was all The Beatles’ songs that it features. It does have a great cast to. I appreciate when you put the plot down in writing it does sound a bit odd but it all kind of makes some sense when you are watching it. Apart from one bit towards the end which seems to put a massive whole in the concept of it. I will not spoil that here though, you will have to work that out for yourself.

I would say it is an easy film to watch and enjoy. You do not really have to concentrate too much. It does you could argue have a fairly predictable ending. But then you could make that argument about a lot of movies. I did find that when it had ended that I had to listen to all the other Beatles songs that it did not include. It really put me in the mood to hear their music and that is never a bad thing.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields

Owing to the fact that I am so rock and roll nowadays I have been playing a few games of Scrabble during the last couple of weeks. It has now turned into a bit of a Sunday afternoon pastime. I had not played for years until a few of weeks ago I challenged my girlfriend to a game. It was all going very well by which I mean I was winning and managing to use up lots of my letters. Then she put down the word “Phoenix” on a triple word square and then in that one move I basically lost the game. I did keep playing until the bitter end but it was all in vein. I was defeated!

After that I was not overly keen to play again but the following week we found ourselves going head to head once again. This time it was a timed game as I made it very clear that we had to be finished before the Chelsea v Tottenham game started. It is important to have your priorities right in life. This time the letters and the board worked in my favour. I managed to make two decent words including a Z both on extra points squares. I went on to win and level things up in the series doing so five minutes before kick off. I suspect we may have to play the decider this weekend as we are both very competitive. We may struggle to leave it as a draw.

Scrabble

I have enjoyed this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. It has been different with it being at the castle but they have kept the key elements the same the best they could. Ant and Dec have been on top form throughout it. They are more relaxed at the trials so are laughing at the camp mates a lot more, may be because they are in Wales and not being bitten by bugs in the jungle. I was pleased that they all got on with each other. They have all supported and helped each other when they have been struggling. That has been great to see.

I never had a favourite this year so was not bothered about who won the crown. It has just been a bit of fun and a nice distraction every night. Just like catching up with old friends or more accurately eaves dropping other people’s conversations. Having now worked in radio myself for over twenty years I have got a fair few showbiz stories to tell. I am not sure if I should hold on until I can get into the jungle to spill them or maybe I will just write my autobiography. I have already got two titles standing by for it either “The Real Neil” or “Power On Basically” If you want to know why “Power On Basically” is one you will have to read the book that technically does not exist yet.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I finished a run of four brand new episodes of my online Pop Quiz last Tuesday. I did them weekly during the last national lockdown. I also did sixteen of them during lockdown one. They are all still free and available to watch on my Facebook page. Each one is about half an hour. It is just me having a bit of fun and asking some music based questions. Here is a link to the latest edition, if you fancy checking it out. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164325111415591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As things stand at the minute Tottenham Hotspur are still top of the Premier League. It has been a long time since that has been the case at the beginning of December. I am not getting carried away or too excited as there is still a long way to go. But as someone who likes to live in the moment I am enjoying it right now.

We have another huge game tomorrow with the North London Derby against Arsenal. It is a match that could go either way. I am looking forward to it and hope we can take maximum points from it but it will be tough. COYS!

Neil Quigley

It is my birthday this coming Thursday 10th December. I do like to try to take the day off for it when I can. That will seemingly not be a problem this year. I am somebody who embraces and enjoys my big day. Every year you complete in this game called life is always worth celebrating. Although events this year mean it will be pretty low key. I think I might just stay in cook myself a nice meal and may be have some drinks.

Staying in is the new going out. Plus Tottenham are playing at home in the Europa League that night so I can watch that on the television and pretend I am there. That is where I would have been if the world was normal. Just to clarify for the 19th year in a row my showbiz age will remain at twenty-five!

Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.