Tag Archives: christmas

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.

Happy New Year 2020

The Monday before Christmas my mum and I went to The Royal Albert Hall to see a performance of their Annual Carol Concert. It was actually one of her presents from last Christmas. She had not been to the famous venue and wanted to go, I said I would take her and gave her the choice to see whatever she wanted there. She then opted for the carols, which meant in the end she had to wait almost twelve months for this gift.

We arrived at the iconic building forty minutes before the afternoon show was due to start, having walked up there from the High Street Kensington tube station. It does look very imposing from outside. I made sure we had some decent seats, so for the first time ever when I have been there I walked down the stairs on entry to the floor level. Then we enjoyed a glass of wine each, well we had to loosen up the vocal cords before all the singing.

The Royal Albert Hall

We took our seats ready for the concert to begin. On them waiting for us was the words to all the carols and songs, that we would be invited to join in with. The music for the afternoon was provided by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Cooke. It goes without saying that they were amazing.

It was all hosted by the wonderful Greg Beardsell, who did a totally brilliant job of it. There was a mixture of performances from the Orchestra on their own along with the two choirs involved. But then for certain songs we all would stand up and join in, sometimes conducted by the Maestro.

The Royal Albert Hall

The show was in two halves with an interval in the middle. During which, yes I did have another glass of wine, well it was Christmas. During part two Joe Stilgoe came on and did a few swing numbers with the orchestra, which were great. We also had the Royal College of Music perform on the hand bells and Bugle players from the Royal Grenadier Guards Band. The Orchestra were really getting in to it. A special mention to the two members who dressed up as Rudolph and a snowman, you were both hilarious!

It was a fabulous afternoon spent at one of the best places for music in the world. It was lovely to see my mum really enjoying herself. She was joining in with all the carols and songs, having a brilliant time. It is a beautifully presented show and feels very Christmassy. They set it perfectly for it, the lighting and the trees are wonderful. Full of the spirits for the festive season we had a very nice meal at The Potting Shed opposite Marylebone Station, before we got the train home. It was just a totally joyful day spending quality time with my mum.

The Royal Albert Hall

It was a pretty text book Neil Quigley Christmas this year. It started with the traditional Christmas Day fried breakfast, which I find does set the day up nicely. We then got together and gave each over our presents, while enjoying a nice cup of tea. I did very well this year, I got a Spurs coaching team top, a luxury wine tasting evening, copies of Elton John’s and Billy Connolly’s new books and a voucher for the Tottenham Hotspur Club Shop.

Neil Quigley

We then toasted the day with a nice glass of Champagne, before I went to the pub to meet my Uncle and Cousin. That is something I have been doing since I have been old enough to drink. I have a few pints, which I find puts me in the perfect mood for the rest of the fun ahead of me. I always like to walk to and from the pub as it is the only exercise I do on the day. Plus I think it creates more space ready to fully enjoy the Turkey with all the trimmings dinner that we always have. My dad was head Chef this year and the meal was splendid. It was washed down with a very nice red wine. All finished off by some Chocolate Cheesecake and lastly Cheese and Biscuits.

Once the food had been digested it was then time to get the games out. My dad had looked out the old Wii for us to play, although he could only find one working controller and two games for it. They were Ten Pin Bowling. That we could all play against each other on. I think we each won a least one game. And a table tennis game which we had to take turns battling the computer on. I do not think any of us managed to win against it. We were all clearly a little bit out of practice. I reckon we probably played these games for a couple of hours. One thing it proved was that we are a very competitive family, although to be honest I think we already knew that.

Neil Quigley (The Wii version)

After my dad and sister had taken her dog for a walk we played a new game that I had purchased specially for the occasion. It was the “Who Am I Game”. You take a card and put it on your forehead then you have to guess who you are by asking the rest of the family lots of questions. It was a good laugh and if I do say so myself I reckon I was the best at it.

We had a nice early supper while we were watching the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing. I thought the lovely Debbie McGhee and Kevin Clifton were the deserved winners by the way. This pretty much brought to a close another fun and dare I say successful Quigley family Christmas.

Neil Quigley

I have been a massive Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. As a child I used to have a huge collection of Star Wars figures that included a Millennium Falcon. I am still a bit gutted that I decided to sell them about five years ago, to be honest. I have always loved the original three films.

I dutifully watched all the prequels even though for some reason they did not have the same feel as the other films. Then in the last few years they gave us two new films continuing the original story and for me crucially featuring some of the original cast members and characters. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi made me feel just like a little kid again, when I watched them. The nostalgia there was real!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

Therefore when the final ever Star Wars film The Rise of Skywalker was released I had to see it on the very first morning. I had booked a ticket in advance to see it at eleven thirty at the Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury. I was feeling very excited when I bought the ticket, so I pushed the boat out and paid the extra two pound fifty to have a deluxe seat, right in the middle of screen. I did not know completely what to expect as I had avoided all the gossip about it, so I could see it with no preconceived ideas.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I am not going to give any spoilers away. I really enjoyed it as it was in the same style as the previous two and original three films as far as I am concerned. The thing they all have in common is that despite all the adversity that is going on there is a nice humour that just runs through it.

There are some nods to all of the original films in it. It is a little bit like a love letter to the brand in lots of ways. There are a few twists and turns that I must admit I did not see coming. The ending for me was perfectly acceptable. It was never going to be an easy thing to try to tie up after nine films spanning over forty odd years.
It is a shame it has all come to an end in a way though. But all good things must come to an end at some point!

Star Wars

I enjoyed going to watch Tottenham play Brighton on Boxing Day despite the early kick off. That meant there was no lie in for me. The game itself was not brilliant but we won and I had a few drinks with some friends, which is always a winner, at this time of the year. We then managed to draw away to Norwich and lose at Southampton, which leaves us in sixth place in the Premier League at the moment.

With a bit of luck we could have been a bit higher up but we could of quite easily been a bit further down it to. A week today I will be at the Stadium to see us play the Premier League Champions elect Liverpool. That is going to be a very tough game to say the least.

Tottenham Hotspur

In between Christmas and New Year I was at home one evening when I suddenly started hearing some loud bangs. I was curious as to what it was, so I opened my front door to have a look. For probably about twenty years now Jay Kay from Jamiroquai has lived in the same area as me.

He is known for occasionally throwing some quite lavish parties. I suspect he was that night, as I stood outside for ten minutes watching the most spectacular fireworks display. It was amazing and as good as you would see anywhere on New Year’s Eve itself.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

A mate of mine is a big Wycombe Wanderers fan so I went with him to see The Chairboys play Coventry over the festive period. We did make a day of it and had a few drinks in High Wycombe before and after the match. That as it turned out was the highlight because the home team did not play very well at all. They went one down early in the game, got back to one all then gifted the visitors a goal about a minute later. The Sky Blues went on to win the contest comfortably.

It finished one – four. It was the second time I had seen them play this season. The previous time they beat Southend United and deserved to. Since then they have gone on to top the table and even after a testing Christmas period are still four points clear in League One. I do feel that to maintain that position they need to play better than in the last game I saw. But I understand they are missing several key players through injury. It would be an amazing achievement if they did reach the Championship. I wish them luck for the remainder of the season.

Wycombe Wanderers

I did not really do much for New Year’s Eve this time. I met up with a friend and we just had a few drinks in a couple of local pubs. It was a decent night joking around and listening to music. At midnight we all did the traditional Auld Lang Syne bit. Then we wished everyone a Happy New year, before heading home. I will be honest when I did get in I actually ended up having a couple of glasses of wine, while listening to music, so I still did not get to bed until gone two. It was for me the perfect way to see in the new decade. I totally enjoyed it!

New Year’s Day I cooked dinner for my parents and sister. We ate in the evening. I rustled up a roast beef dinner. That was pretty good. I would not say I am a brilliant cook but I can put together a decent meal. I was particularly impressed with my roast potatoes light and fluffy on the inside with a slight crispness to the outside. Before the food I opened a bottle of Champagne, so we could properly toast the New Year. Start as you mean to go on, drinking bubbly. Cheers!

Personally I have not made any big plans or set any real goals for the next twelve months. I aim to eat a little bit more healthily in January, to normalise slightly after Christmas eating. I guess I do plan to be a better person than I was the year before. I do like to try to progress and improve as time goes forward. I want to see and do as much as I possibly can. I want to do lots of things that I enjoy and that make me happy. Resolutions normally get broken, while I think loose goals can always be met, just to different levels of success, depending on how you do. Whatever you want to achieve this year, I wish you all the best with it and I know you can do it!

Neil Quigley

Tonight I am going to an old mate’s fortieth birthday party. We first met when he was just eighteen years old. The strange thing is that he always looked older than he was, so all these years later he does not actually look any different. It is sure to be a fun night, hopefully with a few familiar faces that I have not seen for a while there. Plus who does not like an excuse to actually go out on the first weekend of the New Year.

Neil Quigley

Have fun, Happy New Year all the best for 2020. We will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Birthday Fun

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. It was not a landmark one, so I did not do anything spectacular to mark the occasion. I started off the day with my usual morning work out before opening my cards and presents with a cup of tea, proving once and for all that I am the king of rock and roll. I got a bottle of very nice red wine, which I have already enjoyed. My sister got me a ticket to see one of my favourite comedian’s Frank Skinner in the West End in January. I am obviously really looking forward to that.

I had a quiet and relaxing day at home. Then in the evening I went for a meal with my sister and my parents. Nothing to fancy we just went to a local pub for some food. We only had a main as I had been given a chocolate cake, so we had that for pudding after. I then went for a few glasses of Rioja with my sister at our local Wine Bar, bringing to a close possibly one of my most low key birthdays ever. When you consider I have been at Pantomimes, on a River Boat cruises and also out gigging with “The Drifters” on previous ones’, it was certainly quieter. I had a fabulous day though, which is what it is all about.

Neil Quigley

The night before my birthday I was at a charity event at The Comedy Store in London with a friend of mine. It was in aid of the MS Society. Ivo Graham organised it and he was the compere for the night. It is something close to his heart as his mum is affected by the disease. He had managed to put together an excellent line up. The comedians were all performing for free. It was nice to see them support a fellow comic in this way. Despite what you might think about most wanting a rival to fail, so they can seem better, in my experience everyone is helpful and very supportive of each other.

This may seem a very obvious thing to say but The Comedy Store is a perfect venue for comedy. The closeness of the seats to the stage for starters makes you feel part of things. The stage is just the right size to focus your intention but still feel inclusive. Even the sound system in there is brilliant, so you can clearly hear everything, which trust me is not always the case at Comedy Nights. Add to that the fact it is one of the most iconic venues for the genre in the country. It is a real goal and honour to get the chance to perform there as a comedian.

The Comedy Store

Ivo Graham came on and started the night talking to the audience as all hosts should and do. He was fantastic throughout. First on it was the lovely Catherine Bohart. I had heard very good things about her recent Edinburgh show, so I was looking forward to seeing her. She was excellent, original and funny with an inclusive friendly style. I would definitely see her again. Then it was Russell Howard, who I have seen several times before and who I really like. He was on top form. He is so good at making topical jokes that are relatable to his audience. As always he was extremely funny. He has brilliant energy while on stage. He almost hypnotises you.

Next up it was a man who I had previously seen perform in the final of the Musical Comedy Awards earlier this year. His name is Huge Davies. He has a massive keyboard strapped to him to provide his own musical accompaniment. He is different and unique in his style. He was great, if you have not heard of him yet, I expect that you will soon. The final act of part one was another comedian who I had seen before Rhys James. I really like him and think he is very funny. I like the way he covers a lot of topics, sometimes some very dark ones with a smile and cheekiness. That enables the audience to relax and enjoy the jokes, a very clever and funny man.

Neil Quigley

After the interval or as it should be called at comedy gigs the chance to go to the toilet and get a drink without being singled out by the person on stage. I took the opportunity to have a pint of Goose IPA. Well it was the night before my birthday. There is always a decent atmosphere at The Comedy Store. It seems to attract a lot of people who know and really understand comedy.

The act that kicked off part two was someone I had been looking forward to seeing, having enjoyed watching them on television for many years. It was Alan Carr. He was predictably brilliant. His life is quite mad with the people he knows and the circles he moves in. He has some fantastically funny stories. I am pleased to have finally got round to seeing him.

Next on the bill it was Sarah Keyworth, who I had seen there before. She was good, as she always is. She is another comedian who talks about difficult subjects in an inclusive way. The penultimate act of the night was Alfie Brown, yet another comic who I was aware of but had not seen. He does have quite a purposeful awkward style, which for whatever reason did not quite catch fire on the night. That said he handled it all expertly and got quite a few big laughs. I liked it and he seems like a top bloke. I mean he was doing the gig for free to help out a mate’s charity night. That is plenty good enough for me.

Neil Quigley

The headline act was a man who had recently run into a bit of bother at a charity dinner. You might well have read about it, as it became a big story. Nish Kumar had a bread roll thrown at him while doing a lunch for the Lord’s Taverners. As a comedian you have good and bad gigs. They finish and you just forget all about them, however sadly for Nish this one ended up all over social media. A reaction he found staggering, admittedly it did not go well, but as it turned out they were not really his audience and it would seem made up of some rude individuals. He was talking about the incident on stage and of course joking about it, as that is what all comedians do, tell jokes.

Nish was quality as he always has been when I have seen him live. He does do quite a bit of politics and social stuff. His style of comedy can I guess be quite angry at times, but that is just part of the act, simply to try to get bigger laughs. He closed the show perfectly, although he did possibly still seem a little bewildered by recent events.

It is alright to not find something funny or not agree with it without you being offended or getting angry, just do not laugh, that is fine. People are allowed different views to you. That is one of the things that is so great about the world. It was a hilarious night at arguably one of the best comedy venues there is.

Neil Quigley

I have been very lucky over the years to work with some wonderful and very talented people. I do not always speak to them or see them as often as I would like, but it is always lovely when I do meet up with one. The other week I managed to have an overdue lunch with Amy Lewis.

We met while we were both working at Ivel fm in Somerset. She is an exceptional journalist, who has deservedly worked at Sky and now is at ITV. I remember going with her once to interview a large group of travellers who had moved on to a local cricket pitch and set up camp. That is the nearest I have been to feeling like Ross Kemp.

I was also very proud to help produce in a small way some audio that led to her winning an award. Anyway we met up in Marlow the other week. It was great to see her and her son. It seems odd but when you have worked with someone at a radio station, you do always seem to have a certain bond.

It was fantastic catching up on each other’s lives. Towards the end of the meeting we worked out that we had not seen each other for around fifteen years. Although neither of us of course looked old enough for that. We have said we will try not to leave it so long next time.

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

I had my annual trip to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park last week. I think I have been every year for about the last five now. This time I met up with one of my cousin’s there. I arrived a little before him, so had a quick walk round the place. I am not really a fan of fairground rides, so I avoided them.

There are lots of other stalls and attractions to look around. It is free to enter the site and walk about. It does cost more if you want to ice skate or go into some of the specialist areas. While I was waiting I got a snack. I found a place that did fresh mini pancakes. That I had with lots of Nutella. Let me tell you, they were amazing, so nice.

After my food I then went in to the Bavarian Village. That is the main reason I go there. I was starting to feel a bit Christmassy plus it was a little bit cold. Therefore the first thing I did was treat myself to a nice mulled wine. I must say that certainly warmed me up in every sense of the word. It was lovely.

Neil Quigley

I then got myself a pint of Bavarian Gold, the lager that they serve there. You can have it out of a cheap plastic glass or pay a five pound deposit to enjoy it out of a slightly thicker plastic glass with a handle. I went for the latter option. As I was drinking that, my cousin arrived and got himself one.

Neil Quigley

We mainly hung around the German area having a chat and a drink. While enjoying a live band that were playing in a kind of Oom-Pah group style. Lots of party songs, shall we say slightly re-imagined. We left the Bavarian Village for a stroll as my cousin had not been there for a few years. He also thought he had spotted a better bar but when we got to it, we had a beer there but both felt where we were originally was more fun. We went back there for some food. I had the classic Bratwurst and chips. That I must say was very nice.

Winter Wonderland

After dinner we found another bar area where a man wearing some leather trousers and an earring was performing classic reggae tunes. I know I had enjoyed a few beers by this point, but I am not making this up, it actually happened. It was pretty good for the record. He was getting the crowd going. I think we left about nine o’clock to beat the crowds away, as it closes at ten. I had a top time there. I do enjoy it and it is always a good giggle. I do fully expect to go and visit again next year.

Neil Quigley

I have talked before about my Christmas Shopping regime. As far as I am concerned Christmas does not exist before my birthday, so I do nothing for it until at least the eleventh of December. I always pick one day to do my entire present shopping. I then compile a list of everything I need to get. Lastly I pick a place that I am going to go to get everything. This year I went to High Wycombe. And in just under three hours I completed all my Christmas Shopping. All I have to do now is wrap everything. Yet again another triumph for this plan!

Neil enjoying a Mince Pie
Neil Quigley

I went to see the Pantomime at the legendary London Palladium last week. It is the third year in a row that I have been and once again it did not disappoint. I do not know this for definite but I think it must have the biggest budget for any Panto in the country. They really do throw everything at it. For starters the lights, sets and the overall staging are themselves spectacular. You will not see a better looking show anywhere. It looks so bright, fun and Christmassy. I make no secret of the fact that I am a big kid and love panto. However this production is as much for the grown-ups, as it is for the children.

London Palladium

It is Goldilocks and The Three Bears this year. Not that the narrative of things is ever that important in this show. The whole thing is just one huge variety show, perfectly fitting for the venue in which it is being performed. The cast are all exceptional. This year wonderful Paul O’Grady plays the baddie. A role he has played brilliantly for a long time now in his angry and fed up way. He is just so good at it and knows how to get the “boos”. While still also getting plenty of laughs, which is no mean feat. Paul Zerdin is back in the comedic role with him and his puppet Sam, doing several very funny routines during the show. He is a total star.

Gary Wilmot returns as the Dame. He is such a talented and amazing man. Every year he has his own bit, which he writes and produces. It is always a big highlight. These have included a song featuring all the London Underground Stations and one with many of the legendary stars who have appeared at the Palladium. This year he did his own special medley of songs from the musicals. He has a fantastic voice, the range of which was fully demonstrated during this song, it was
mesmerising. I lost count of how many well-known tunes it featured. He rightly got a huge round of applause at the end of it. Brilliant!

London Palladium

Matt Baker from Countryfile and The One Show was also in it. He was excellent. It is based in and around a circus, during the show he has to ride a unicycle, juggle and walk the tight rope, as well as the normal acting and singing of course. Nigel Havers appears as Daddy Bear. He is in it every year and happily sends himself up and is very funny. Baby Bear is played by Lauren Stroud who tap dances. Then Mummy Bear is played by Janine Duvitski from Benidorm, who is great. Goldilocks is Sophie Isaacs, she is an excellent all round singer and dancer.

The cast is completed by the innuendo queen that is Julian Clary, who plays the Master of The Ring, insert your own jokes here, he certainly does. His outfits get more outrageous as the show goes on. He is just so good at making everyone laugh both the audience and many of his fellow actors. There is one part where he, Paul Zerdin and Paul O’Grady have a long chat about a pleasant plucker and I am sure you can guess how that goes. They also do one of the best and funniest Pantomime set piece song routines I think I have ever seen.

This show also includes a roller skating act, an amazing magician and four motorcyclists who do the wall of death on stage together. You will not see another show anything like this, anywhere in the United Kingdom over Christmas. It is totally brilliant. It is such a good laugh. I really felt that a visit to this properly kick started my Christmas. I already know I will be back to see next year’s show because simply why would you not go and see it.

London Palladium

I watched the Strictly Come Dancing Final. It has been another ace series. There have been so many memorable dances from lots of the contestants. The last three standing were the correct choices in my opinion and all deserved to be there on merit. I personally felt the right couple won. Kevin and Oti have been sensational. I have been entertained and impressed by all of their performances. They have been brilliant and thoroughly deserved the Glitter Ball, so well done to the both of them.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Amazon have certainly picked the right season to make a behind the scenes documentary about my club Tottenham Hotspur. It has been full of drama with many twists and turns so far. Despite an annoying defeat against Manchester United. Somehow we find ourselves fifth in the Premier League, just three points behind Chelsea, who we face at home tomorrow afternoon. Add to that the fact that we are in the knock out stage of The Champions League. You could say that things are not going that bad.

If you had told me we would be in this position by now, six weeks ago, I might have thought that you were crazy. As it is we are! I am looking forward to being at the match tomorrow and seeing what happens next. I mean if we could end the Christmas period in the top four, which would be amazing. Either way I will have a fun couple of trips to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium over the Festive period.

Neil Quigley having a go at conducting the Orchestra
Neil Quigley having a go at conducting the Orchestra

Have a very Happy Christmas and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Happy New year 2019

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you had a fantastic Christmas period. You ate, drank and were merry. And found joy in the giving and the receiving of presents. I had a lovely and quiet Christmas. It was the first one for a couple of years. That I had not been working.

I will never admit to getting older but in previous years I have been desperate to go out on Christmas Eve and to party. This year I just stayed in listening to music and having a few glasses of red wine. And you know what. I really enjoyed it. It is the simple pleasures in life. That are often the best.

On Christmas Day itself. I went round to my parents first thing in the morning. It is a family tradition to start the day with a nice big fry up. And there was no way I was missing out on that. Once the kitchen is tidied up and a cup of tea has been enjoyed. It is then time to move in to the living room for the exchanging of presents. This year with the added bonus of a nice glass of champagne each. To help us with the proceedings.

Neil Quigley

We are pretty clinical in our present buying. We each make a list of what we would like in November. This then gets passed around to the other three. We then liaise to get each other things from the list. The plus side of this is you generally get what you want. The down side is there are rarely any surprises. I was delighted with my gifts. Which included a new alarm clock, thermal socks, a tie with horses on it and some leather gloves.

After the presents have been given out. I then get ready to head to the pub. This has been a sacred family tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child I remember all the adults going there and then coming back slightly merrier. I have been every year since I was old enough. The venue has changed over the years. So now me, a couple of my uncle’s and a few of my cousin’s all meet up at The Red Lion in Whiteleaf at Midday. We have a few drinks. Then we return home to our own homes ready for dinner.

We always have a full traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and all of the trimmings. I love a Christmas meal with the stuffing, pigs in blankets and brussel sprouts. Things I do not normally have at any other time of the year. This is washed down with some nice red wine. The meal is then topped off with a delicious pudding. That must be accompanied by cream. We then have a little bit of a brief rest and a chat. To let the food go down.

Once we are all ready the afternoon of fun and games begins. This year we started off with some Karaoke. This is my annual apology to my parent’s neighbours. Or anybody walking past the house at the wrong time. Who may have heard me trying to sing. Sorry.

Dog joining in with the Karaoke

I then hosted a Pop Quiz. Which I have to say the rest of the family were rubbish at. Lastly we played a game of Charades. Although this was not your usual version. It was a risque variation on the normal theme. That my dad had found. Which did make for a few awkward moments in front of the parents. But it was all good fun!

We finished the day by watching Michael McIntyre. While enjoying some cheese and biscuits with a nice glass of port. It was another fun family Christmas. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just as I was sitting at home reflecting on the day. Before I went to bed. I had a small bottle of Baileys. That a very good mate and his wife had very generously got me. Well it was the birthday of our lord and saviour. The only day of the year. When it is acceptable to drink as many different drinks, as you possibly can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Before Christmas Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio celebrated its 40th Birthday. They had a small party. Which was attended by the station’s Patron Ken Bruce, singer Tony Hadley and the voice of the X Factor Peter Dickson. I would like to say huge congratulations to the station for what it has achieved during the last forty years. And for the hours and hours of entertainment that it has provided to the hospital’s patients and staff.

I was a member there for around seven years. I had a fantastic time there. And met some lovely and amazing people. It was lots of fun. I am happy to say that I am still really good friends with many of the people I met during my time there. I did my first proper radio show on the station. It was in their studios that I got to practice, grow and improve. It definitely helped me to launch my radio career.

Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio with Martin Kinch

It was volunteering at the Hospital Radio. That enabled me to get my first paid radio work at my local commercial station Mix 96. Based in the town I was born, Aylesbury. I started off reading the local sports results on the Sports Show. Ringing around all the grounds and then delivering the scores on air.

I then got to present the sports show. I did some weekend shows. I then covered the evening show. Before eventually getting to present both the Drive and Morning shows on the station. None of which I would have achieved without Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. I wish them all the best for their next forty years of broadcasting.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get a ticket to see Sir Paul McCartney play the O2 Arena in December. I had seen him in concert three years ago in Birmingham. And as you would expect he was fantastic. I was a bit undecided about if I should go and see his latest tour. But I did like his latest album Egypt Station. And he only really tours the United Kingdom every three years. So in the end I made sure that I was there.

I met up with a mate of mine and his girlfriend. Who were also going. We had a few drinks around the Greenwich area. Before we made our way to the venue. We had a quick drink at the Arena. Then it was time to make our way to our seats. There were however, still a few people filtering in. When there was suddenly a light in the crowd and some scrambling in the floor seat area. As it was the last night of the UK leg of the tour. Paul had lots of family and friends in. And he had popped out quickly to see them before the show.

The stage erupted when his band started to make their way out on to the stage. Then the place went totally ballistic. As the main man walked out and put on his guitar. Before launching into the Beatles classic “A Hard Days Night”. Which is a sensational way to kick off any performance. He then spends nearly three hours effortlessly playing Beatles, Wings and his own solo stuff. Seamlessly moving between several different guitars and pianos.

Sir Paul McCartney

The pyrotechnics they were letting off during Live and Let Die were astonishing. I thought they were actually trying to blow the place up. It was an amazing spectacle. He then follows that with the immortal Hey Jude. During which he has the whole audience in his hands. And has us singing along to every note. As he stands there conducting us. What a moment! At that point you thought this gig could not get any better. But it could.

Not only does he come back on for an eight song encore. But before the third song in this section. He brings on two special guests. Firstly the Rolling Stones guitar legend Ronnie Wood. And then much to everyone’s surprise his Beatles band mate Ringo Starr. At which point the whole place goes crazy. Ringo takes his place behind the drums. And the three of them perform Get Back. I could not believe it!

Paul, Ringo and Ronnie

That is the closest I am ever going to get to seeing the Beatles play live together. For obvious reasons. This was a huge deal. This has not happened in this country since the band split up. Even Paul as Ringo was walking off said “let’s just take a minute to soak up what has just happened”. My mate who is a massive McCartney and Beatles fan was literally in tears when Ringo appeared. It meant that much to him. The three of them sounded great together.

Paul then goes on to play another five songs. Brilliant as they were. It could not top that version of Get Back featuring half of the members of arguably the best band we have ever produced. He finished the show with The Beatles song “The End”. I am hoping this does not mean that it may be his last UK arena gig. It is just a sensible song to end any performance with if you have it in your repertoire. Although in the unlikely event that is his final gig on home soil. I am so pleased that I was there to witness it. Sir Paul McCartney you are a legend!

Sir Paul McCartney

During that really odd period between Christmas and New Year. Where you eat what you like for Breakfast and have no idea what day it actually is. My sister and I went to see the pantomime at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It was Snow White. Which was the same story that I saw at the London Palladium just before Christmas.

The Buckinghamshire version starred former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Brendan Cole, Mandy Muden who was on BGT, Jason Sutton and the ventriloquist Kieran Powell. It did share some of the script and skits with its London sister production. So I did know what was coming a lot of the time. But that is my fault for seeing the other one and not theirs.

It was fun and entertaining. Everyone got time and a bit of space to showcase their talents. Mandy did a few magic tricks. Keiran got to do some stuff with his “friend”. And Brendan had the opportunity to display his amazing dancing prowess. Plus a bit of his singing to. Fair play to him. They worked him hard on the dancing front. They had him doing pretty much every kind of dance move you can imagine.

It was a good and proper family pantomime with nothing missing. I am glad I went and saw it. The cast were great. Nice as ever to see the children getting involved and shouting at the characters, when required. Pantos will be a lot of kids first experience of the theatre. Therefore I like to see them have a great time. As they are then more likely to support live shows and go to the theatre more often when they are older.

Panto

It was generally quite a good Christmas period for my team Spurs. We had good wins in the game before Christmas away at Everton. Then on Boxing Day at home to Bournemouth. But then things did go a little wrong last Saturday at Wembley. When we lost to Wolves. But then we beat Cardiff away in the next match. This week we have the first leg of the League Cup Semi-final against Chelsea. And play Manchester United in the league next Sunday. A win in both would be very nice.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

A friend of mine is a big train enthusiast. For the last six months from my local station. They have been running weekly Steam Train rides. I despite this attraction being so close. May never have got round to it. But the mate in question said he was coming down from London to take the trip. And he asked me if I fancied joining him on New Years Eve afternoon for a ride on the Steam train. So I did.

As it happened they had a special offer running . Which meant if you lived in a certain postcode area. Which I did, that you could get the ticket for half price. And this deal also included a cup of tea and a mince pie. You cannot argue with that kind of value. The train runs between Princes Risborough and Chinnor. It uses an old route, That has not been in operation for many years. But that the society who run the steam train managed to get restored.

The journey there takes about twenty five minutes. It is a lovely experience. As you can hear the engine and see the steam pushing you along the countryside. It is actually quite serene and relaxing. When we got to Chinnor we walked to the nearest pub and had a quick pint. Before catching the next train home. But this part is of course purely optional.

The journey back is actually by Diesel train. At the moment they have no way of turning the train around. So the Steam Engine pulls all the carriages to Chinnor and then the Diesel Engine on the other end returns you to Princes Risborough. It was a fun experience. I would say give it a try, if you get the chance. It is a nice flavour of how train travel used to be.

This New Years Eve my good friend and I, Andy Holmes went to my local wine bar in Princes Risborough called Dukes. I have been in there a number of times, since it opened. And always found it to be a wonderful place to enjoy a drink. It was an all ticket event. It started at 7.30pm. And as it happened Andy and I were the first to arrive. I had no idea how busy it would be. So I thought the best plan was to get there early and secure a table. Which we did.

It was a great night. Everyone there was lovely and friendly. And of course rightly in good spirits. They kept bringing around nibbles. I must admit I had a few every time they did. I find it impossible to turn down food. They also had live music. Just a bloke with a mic and a guitar. But he was fantastic. He had a great voice and played all the right songs. He had us all dancing and singing along by the end.

The whole night was washed down with several glasses of a very nice Rioja. The perfect way to see out the old year and welcome in the new one. Here’s to a healthy, happy, positive and fun 2019. A very Happy New Year to you. I hope it brings you everything that you want it to.

Have fun. I will be taking a mini-break from the blog. And it will be back in a month. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will find out why in the next week or so. Cheers Neil