Tag Archives: comedy

Stand Up And Dance

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy and good fun. I did take at least one day away from a theatre or a stadium to go Horse Racing with my dad. We went to Warwick Races for an afternoon of jump racing. It was my first time there. It is a lovely and friendly track with a really nice feel to the place.

I did actually randomly bump in to someone else I knew. While I was there. It was his birthday. He is a massive racing fan. And although he lives in Liverpool. He had travelled down for the day. I did have a few celebratory drinks with him. It would have been rude not to. Mind you that was the only thing that we had to toast all day. Neither of us picked any winners. Fun day out in the fresh air, though, so all good.

Warwick Races
Warwick Races

After I got home from the races. I then made a random last minute decision to go and see Jason Manford at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. I interviewed him probably about twelve years ago now. He was brilliant, very easy and fun to talk to. I actually spoke to him the day before he was going to be on Jonathan Ross’s chat show for the first time. I hope, I proved a useful warm up for that.

Anyway somehow I had never actually managed to see him perform live. I had been hearing really good things about his current Muddle Class tour. So I decided to go along and take a look. He had a warm up act on called The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. I was aware of this duo but had not seen them before. They were brilliant. Their whole act is set to music and is very clever and very funny. They did their thing. Then there was a short interval before Jason came on.

The main show was fantastic. I like his style. How chilled and relaxed he generally is with the audience. That said though, he will deal with any hecklers in a robust way, if required. His first job was as a glass collector at a comedy club. When he was only sixteen. Therefore he is very experienced. And has seen it all before. It is a very relatable subject for most of the audience. Well it was for me certainly. I am pretty sure that I am Muddle Class.

It is a very funny show. Mostly story telling from things that he has come across in his life. Focusing on relationships with family, friends and the people that we all randomly encounter in life. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see why it has been getting such great reviews. I also think Jason Manford is a top bloke, nice fella.  Who does not like to spend an evening laughing?

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which is why I was delighted that I managed to get a ticket for the Absolute Radio Comedy Night in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. Which was at the London Palladium. It was a couple of Sundays ago. That theatre has so much history and nostalgia. I love going there. And as referenced by the performers. The ashes of Sir Bruce Forsyth are now interned in the building.

The charity event was hosted by possibly my favourite comedian Frank Skinner. He was brilliant. As he always is. He came out first and did about fifteen minutes. Before he introduced the opening act Chris Ramsey. I had seen him once before about six years ago at the Limelight Theatre in Aylesbury. That was right before his sitcom was  launched. After which he became a more regular face on television.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

Both the times, I have seen him now, he has been excellent. And very funny. As comedians get older, like us all, our life experiences change. Therefore their material alters to fit in more with what is happening in their life. That is particularly noticeable when you have a long gap in seeing a comics live show. A quality set from the cheeky Geordie. Who always makes me feel like I want to be his friend. When I watch him live.

After a bit more from Frank Skinner. Next up it was Nish Kumar. I have seen him record an episode of Newsjack and also at the Old Rope Comedy in London previously. He was as with every time I have seen him, very good.  Clever with topical gags. These sort of gigs, they only do a small part of what would be an hour or so show. Nish’s set was quite ranty at the start. Which I liked and was fine with because it was funny. I fear a few people were missing the joke. And possibly oblivious to the fact that he was doing it a bit for effect.

The next comic on was Glenn Moore. He is part of the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show team. But is an established comedian in his own right. After previously working as a newsreader in commercial radio. He was really good on the night. He does have his own unique style to telling his jokes. I expect to see and hear more from him over the next few years. I do not just mean on the radio reading the sports news.

Closing the first half was the brilliant Rob Beckett. I have been a fan of his for a while. But this was my first chance to get a look at him in the flesh. And he did not disappoint. Really amusing and yet again someone who just feels like a mate telling you a few stories. Which I like in my comedians. He is getting ready for a new tour. Which on this evidence is going to be fantastic.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

We then had a short interval. Before Frank Skinner came back on and got things moving again. By bringing on Matt Forde. Who I really like.  I saw him do a small warm up gig in Berkhampsted once. And I did enjoy his latest full show at the Edinburgh Festival this year. He is best described as a Political comedian. Which means there is lots of material around for him. But because everything keeps changing all the time at the moment. He is constantly re-writing his show.

He was hilarious on the night. What I liked as well. Is that you could tell he was loving it. Having the chance to play to a full house at the London Palladium. Who would not want that opportunity. His jokes were right on the money. And his impressions of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are scarily good. It is like they are the in the room. The only worrying thing is that his Trump says more sensible things that the actual one.

Then it was Jo Caulfield’s turn to take to the stage. She was totally amazing. It was such a wonderfully funny set. I think she had me laughing more regularly than any of the other acts on the night. I would now like to see her full show. Therefore I will be keeping an eye out for when she is next playing in London. Top quality stuff.

The penultimate act was actually the first show I saw when I got to the Edinburgh Festival this year. It was Gary Delaney. He is the master of the one liner. He is just a huge gag machine. There are no stories or anecdotes. Just quick fire jokes. He is great. Clever to, because sometimes the shortest jokes are the toughest to write. I enjoyed his set immensely. There are always a few groaners in there. But I do like the odd one of those.

Closing the show it was Jon Richardson. I like him and think he is really funny. He did an excellent job finishing off the night. With as always, some wonderful stories and observations. It was a lovely evening spent laughing in a beautiful theatre. While raising money for a marvellous cause. What is not to like? Great fun from start to finish.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

The night after that I found myself in another historic London theatre. I was at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It is such a nice experience there. It is beautifully designed.

The spiral staircases look stunning. Plus there is lots of space. Which is something that cannot be said for all theatres. I was there for the sensational 42nd Street. Which was a show that somehow I had not managed to catch before. I mean, it has only been around since the early eighties.

This version starred the exquisite Bonnie Langford. She was brilliant. As were the whole cast. It is such an all singing and all dancing show. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder. It is a proper old school big production musical extravaganza.

The story line itself is pretty straight forward and basic. But that does not matter at all. It is more than super seeded by the energy, the colour and the whole spectacle of that many performers dancing around the stage. It of course does contain some classic and well known songs as well.

I am so glad I have now seen it. The choreography for those big group dance numbers was insane. Plus I do admire tap dancing greatly. It looks and sounds amazing. When done properly.

It has several sub plot stories running through it. But I think the main message is to dream big, work hard and be nice to people. Which seems like quite a good motto to have towards life in general to me. Another top night out at the theatre. And finally for the record the Rioja there was very nice.

42nd Street
42nd Street

I was probably one of the last people in the country to see it. But I have made for me what is a rare trip to the cinema to see The Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” I believed that I loosely knew the story of the band and its legendary front man Freddie Mercury. However having seen the film. I now realise that there was quite a bit that I was not aware of.

I thought the casting was perfect. All the main characters looked and as far as I could tell acted exactly like the people there were being. I also liked how the story was told in an intelligent and sympathetic way. An insight was given into what was happening with the viewer left to make the leap and fill in the gaps in their own head. Without it being graphically explained to us.

I felt it showed that like a lot of outstanding performers. He clearly had some issues with being at ease with himself and who he really was. Not helped by some of the people he trusted and invested in. But he was the ultimate showman. If not a little troubled at times during his career.

While watching I developed a new appreciation for John Deakin. He may be my new favourite member of Queen. Even if at one point when having a pop at Roger Taylor, Freddie uses the line “If you were anymore boring you would be Deakin”.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I liked how they pitched it and told the story. You could tell the band, despite their differences clearly all cared for each other. All in all, it just worked out for them.

Add in of course that sensational sound track. Queen did produce a plethora of top quality songs over the years. And they sounded good on the cinema surround sound. Finally I must of course mention the way they recreated the Live Aid scenes. That was all very clever. Looked and sounded excellent. And felt very real. I am glad I went to see it in the end.

School of Rock
School of Rock

Over the last two weeks I have experienced the classic highs and lows of being a football fan. Tottenham beat Chelsea three-one at Wembley. We played brilliantly from the start and honestly could of had six or seven.

A few days later we managed to nick a one nil home win against Inter Milan. To just about keep our hopes alive of going through to the knock out stages of the Champions League. At that point everything was looking rosy. We were all smiling. Confidence was high!

Then last Sunday we were fairly beaten by the better team on the day in the North London Derby against Arsenal. Which is never a game you want to lose. But specially when it means your biggest enemies leapfrog above you in the league. So that was a little bit disappointing to, say the least.

It was frustrating as we played so differently to how we performed only the week before. Then just a few days later we beat Southampton. Climb back up to third in the Premier League ahead of the Gunners. And all is good again. You have got to love football.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

It is my birthday on Monday. Which of course I am very much looking forward to.

I think I am just going to have a quiet day at home and catch up with my family. But these things are always subject to change, so we will see what happens.

General Lee
General Lee

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

Entertainment Connoisseur

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably very busy but lots of fun. Two weeks ago today. My dad and I attended a Wine Tasting in London. It was a gift that I had bought him for Fathers Day. That just happened to be an experience for two. So therefore I joined him for it. Solely to aid his fun and enjoyment, of course.

It was run by the company Wine Cottage. Who supply a lot of the big London hotels and restaurants with all their exclusive wines. It was held at the luxurious Number 8 Northumberland Avenue. Which is a pretty classy venue, to say the least. We got there a little early, so we treated ourselves to a little drink in the bar. To get us warmed up for the main event. Like the total professionals that we are.

When it is time to get things underway. You are shown in to a stylish function room. Where you are welcomed at the door by the person hosting things. Who then shows you to your seat’s. There are several round tables of eight laid out. Already set at each place is a selection of glasses, cheeses and chocolates. Ready for the tasting. We were sat with two lovely married couples and two friends. We all had a nice chat before and after the event and also during any gaps in the proceedings.

Red Red Wine
Red Red Wine

It is all presented by Kam Zadeh. Who is the Managing Director and Wine Adviser of Wine Cottage. He was fantastic.  And gave basically a beginners guide to all the things you need to know about wine. And the wine making process in general. I found it really interesting. Plus I actually learnt quite a lot. His assistant then goes around and pours the drinks. While he is talking to the group. You get to try six drinks. A champagne, two white wines and three red wines. Each one has either an accompanying cheese or a chocolate to enjoy with it.

My dad and I both thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours. That it lasted. All the wines and food were great. We met some top people. And I know a lot more about wine, than I did when I walked into that room. They even present you with a little certificate. To prove that you have attended. Sadly I am not quite a wine  connoisseur but I can assure you I only drink the right amount of red wine for a gentlemen.

Wine Certificate
Wine Certificate

I went along to see The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I am like pretty much the rest of the planet. A big fan of their music. The red wine there was perfectly acceptable by the way. And I did have to have two glasses of it. Just to make sure. The show was exactly as you would expect from the title. There was a full band on stage. Then the  two main performers. Sam O’ Hanlon who is Paul Simon and Charles Blyth who is Art Garfunkel then take centre stage.

It is more of a music tribute show than anything else. The cast take you through all of the duos classic back catalogue of songs. While using the video screens on stage and narration in between to tell their musical story. So unlike for example Buddy (The Buddy Holly Musical) it is not a play about their lives. It is just a fitting tribute to their music with a nod to both their personal and their professional relationship.

The cast are great. The two leads look and when they are singing sound like who they are supposed to be. It is all nicely presented. In a chronological order. Which leads you through all the aspects of their career.  Therefore if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and their music. Then this show is definitely worth seeing.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
The Simon & Garfunkel Story

I recently paid my first visit to the Waterloo East Theatre in London. To see a former colleague of mine from Wembley Stadium appear in the play called The Greater Game.

It is a true story about a group of footballers from Leyton Orient. Who all went and fought in the First World War together. And all ended up being involved in the Battle of the Somme.

Waterloo East Theatre
Waterloo East Theatre

It focuses on the then League club’s first team. Who all signed up together to help the country’s war effort. As you can imagine the whole thing is an emotional roller coaster. We follow them from the dressing room banter at home to their experiences on the front line at one of the bloodiest battles on record.

It really does bring home to you the helplessness and huge cost of wars. Both to the people who were doing the fighting and those who were left at home. It is I suppose quite laddish in many ways due to the football element. But so poignant and thought provoking at the same time. Especially when you remember all the characters in this piece are real people.

The cast are all excellent. As well as my mate Jack Harding, who I thought was fantastic. It also features Michael Greco, probably still best known for playing Beppe Di Marco in Eastenders. And James Phelps, who was in the Harry Potter films. The entire recent run of this play sold out, so I was very lucky to get a ticket. If it does return to the stage. I would certainly recommend that you do go and see it.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I am hoping this does not shatter too many illusions. But sometimes even during live television shows. Some sections will be recorded in advance. This can be for a number of different reasons. If you were watching Children In Need this year. You might have seen Sheridan Smith singing her latest single on it.

That performance was actually recorded the day before the event. In the Children In Need studio at Elstree. And I was lucky enough to be there, when it was. I have been a fan of her work for quite a while. In fact I did try to see her when she was starring in the musical Funny Girl in the West End. But she was not performing on the night. That I managed to get a ticket.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl

Seeing her live has been on my to do list for a while. It was great to finally see her in person. A group of us filled the front of the studio by the stage. She came on with her band. And then performed the song twice. Accompanied by the audience clapping and dancing around each time. When the director and producer were happy with what they had. She then left the studio, as did we.

Then on the night that was inserted in to the programme. If you did not know, you would not realise that she was not there on the night. Well unless you spotted me on camera dancing. As I was no where near the place on the actual night. It was lovely to see her looking and sounding so good. After her recent and well documented issues. But she is back with a new album. In a good place in her personal life now. And I suspect ready to come back and win more awards.

Children in Need itself was another huge success this year. Since it started it has now raised over one billion pounds for charity. Which is an amazing achievement. As ever there were some excellent and unusual collaborations. The team behind it have done another top job once again. Yet they still do not appear to have raised enough to get Pudsey’s eye fixed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get myself along to a small and exclusive gig recently. Russell Brand this week has been performing a three show run of a new theatre show at The Old Vic in Bristol called “Russell Brand My Life by William Shakespeare”. The Friday before that very first show. The comedian decided to do a full rehearsal of the “play” at a secret venue in High Wycombe.

The day before this was due to happen I got hold of a ticket for it. There were about forty of us in this relatively small room. When the unmistakable figure of the actor and presenter walked in. It was a pretty informal affair. He had a chat to us all. Before explaining what he was doing. And a little bit about the show we were going to see.

He is naturally very funny, extremely cheeky and to be honest very self deprecating. The show is simply him telling his life story. Then linking each major part to a speech from a Shakespeare play. It is all very honest and upfront about the problems he has faced. And how he has dealt with them. The explanations he gives are of course very funny. Then he pauses to perform each one of these classic pieces of English literature, perfectly, with such poise and meaning.

It is worth seeing just for the way he performs these segments. He totally immerses himself in them and that really shows. He is such a good orator. And When he speaks he is mesmerising and some what hypnotic. You just cannot take your eyes off him. He does have a real presence about him. The whole show just works perfectly. And for me because he is such a great wordsmith the Shakespeare parts do fit in so naturally.

It went down a storm with forty odd people on a Friday afternoon in High Wycombe, so I suspect when he performed this in that theatre in Bristol. He probably took the roof off the place. At the end I did manage to grab a quick chat and a picture with him. He was great, such a nice friendly and welcoming person. I suspect this show may be back for more performances at some point in the not to distant future.

Neil Quigley & Russell Brand
Neil Quigley & Russell Brand

I was at Wembley for the last two England games. Therefore I got to say farewell and thank you to our record goal scorer Wayne Rooney during the game against USA. I was also at the game when he passed Bobby Charlton’s goals tally.

I was sitting behind the goal in to which he scored the penalty. To claim the title. He came on as sub against America and did not look out of place at all. That said it was good on the night to see a few new young England players making their debuts. We scored three good goals. It was a decent win.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

This was actually my first time sampling an International game in the Club Wembley area. I really liked it. Before and after the game there are a couple of nice bars. Where you can get some drinks and food. While also enjoying some live music. Plus you do get a padded seat to sit on while watching the match. The bars are open for an hour after the final whistle. Which means you can relax in comfort as the crowds and queues to get home disappear.

I was back at the National Stadium again in Club Wembley, just a few days later. To watch England progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA  Nations League. After an exciting two-one victory over Croatia with a certain Harry Kane getting the winner with five minutes to go. It was a good afternoon. The atmosphere at the end of the match with Three Lions blasting out was brilliant.

England V Croatia
England V Croatia

I had a nice day out and catch up with my good friend Andy Holmes in London last weekend. In almost a very elaborate remake of the West Wing. We went on a sight seeing walk. While having a good old chat about everything and anything. We walked from Westminster to Marylebone via Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, The Globe theatre, Fleet Street and Leicester Square.

On our travels we managed to clock up a rather impressive fourteen kilometres. Powered only by a Subway and a cuppa. Until just before catching the train home. We had a nice meal in Zizzi’s, just off Baker Street. It was a relaxing afternoon. I like strolling around the capital because there is so much to look at. You do not realise how far it is that you are actually travelling.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Simply The Best

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to admit I have never really been in to Halloween. Even as a child I never dressed up or went trick or treating. It does not interest me in the slightest. And it never has. May be because I do not believe in ghosts or have never watched any horror films.

Every year I try to avoid it completely. By always going out for a meal at a local pub with the family. I am happy for others to enjoy it. But it is just not for me. It was a nice evening. It is good to actually sit down and eat together round a table. And talk to each other. Which you do not really do, if you meet up in a house. In the same way.

We went along to the Red Lion in Longwick. As it happened my dad’s cousin was doing the cooking. So it was nice to see him to. We went for a main and a pudding. As all of us have a very sweet tooth. I had a pint of the local Chiltern Brewery Ale. Which went down very well with my meal. By the time I arrived home all signs of Halloween had  disappeared. Therefore as far as I was concerned. It was yet another very successful night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did not end up going to any firework nights this year either. In the past working in radio. I have ended up attending, working and also organising a lot of them.

I have had some great times doing that. It was always hard work but lots of fun on the actual night. Plus there is something pleasing about leading the countdown to the start of the display. Which were mostly set to music and always spectacular.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

Personally I prefer going to a big organised event, if I can. Although I think the really big displays seem to be in decline nowadays. When I was younger. I remember going to a few little family displays at my Nan and Gramps. With lots of my cousins there. The ladies would be in the kitchen making soup and Jacket Potatoes. And the men would be up the garden. Helping my Gramp set off the cheap rockets and traffic lights. That we had clubbed together to buy. And stored in a old biscuit tin.

I would normally just watch through the window or if I was feeling slightly braver from the door way. When I was a child. I was a bit scared of fireworks. I liked the pretty colours, just not the big bangs. I do remember once a rocket slightly misfired and a spark from it somehow managed to find its way into my Mum’s trainer. Which gave her a little burn. And did not help to ease my concerns about these multicoloured explosives.

I do enjoy going to displays and watching the fireworks. But then again if I do not go to any, like this year. I am perfectly fine with that to. The best display now seems to be in London on New Years Eve anyway. A couple of years ago I got to witness the whole thing. While I was standing on the roof of Broadcasting House. Which I must say was a brilliant and yet slightly surreal moment.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

Last Thursday I took my mum, dad and sister to see the Tina Turner Musical. I had heard brilliant things about it. Since it had opened. So I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. It is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London. Which is a lovely venue situated just off The Strand. And for the record I can confirm that they do a perfectly adequate Merlot there. Which I sampled before the show and during the interval. Well that is all part of the theatre experience, right?

The show itself is amazing. We already know all the huge songs from her career. Therefore before it starts. You know the music is going to be great. It is a very fast moving production. A lot seems to happen to her in a very short space of time. And most of it is horrendous. I guess that in real life and real time. What she had to live through and deal with was even worse. When you consider how much they may have had to leave out.

Her life story is as amazing, as it is inspiring. It just shows what an incredible and strong women she is. Both parts of the show tug on all of your emotions. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I must be honest I did not realise how much she was actually struggling before she properly launched her amazing solo career. It was a real fight to get to where she did. At times sadly, literally.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

The cast were sensational and all brilliant. But special praise has to go to Jenny Fiztpatrick. Who was sublime as Tina. As I am sure you can imagine with it being her life story. She is always involved in the action. And by default has to carry the whole thing. Including belting out all of those huge classic hits. Which of course she does brilliantly. She has a truly sensational voice.  Plus she has all of the recognisable Turner mannerisms down to a tee.

I can totally see why it has been getting so many five star reviews. It is an excellent show. It is endorsed and supported by Tina herself. It is very dark and deals with a lot of issues and situations. But happily it is ultimately a success story. It finishes with a party style sing-a-long with the cast. Which is a fantastic way to end any theatre trip. If you can, I would say go and see it.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

After the show we went for dinner at the wonderful Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. The staff and service are always top class. And the food is delicious. I personally think the place has a really nice atmosphere to.

While I was there I sampled a bottle of their 2011 Reserva Rioja. Which was very nice. My dad and I then finished the meal by having a Champagne Cocktail each. Which was a top way to round off a lovely afternoon/evening.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games a Wembley until at least the end of December now. So I am going to have to wait till next year to see and sit in my season ticket seat for the first time. I am still getting to all the games at the national stadium. I was there to see us lose to Manchester City. We played well. But unfortunately one mistake and then one missed golden opportunity cost us a draw. Which I think we would have just about deserved. But alas it was not to be.

The pitch was not quite at its best having had three weeks worth of American Football games played on it. Including one the day before. After a very wet weekend. It was very bare and odd seeing the NFL pitch markings so clearly. I was lucky enough to play a charity match on the Wembley pitch a few years ago. At the end of the season. Just before the pitch was about to be relayed. I think it may have been in better condition for my match, than it was for the game against City.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went to the must win Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven. Which happily for Spurs we did. But for a long time it looked like it we would not. And it would just be one of those nights. It did not help much going one down in the second minute. Then we had lots of chances but they were not going in.  Finally Harry Kane managed to inspire us to two late goals and the three points.

That win keeps us in with a chance of making the next stage of the competition. If we basically win our last two games. One of which is an away trip to Barcelona. Fair play to the PSV fans. They were brill. They never stopped singing, bouncy and clapping all night. Mind you I did bump in to a few outside before the game. And I think that they were making the most of the London hospitality. The Dutch know how to enjoy themselves.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Last Saturday night I went to my cousin’s wife’s 40th Birthday Party. It was held at a pub in Towersey. Well it was in their function room. Which was a lovely little barn. It was a brilliant night. Great to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for a while. I do come from a pretty big family. And we do not get the chance to all meet up. That often nowadays. So it is always nice, when we do.

I was also pleased to discover that the pub served Rebellion IPA. Which is one of my favourite beers. That was a bit of a result. The disco was really good. Top music all night. Played at just the right volume for the size of the room. Which I know does not sound like a massive compliment. But that is an easy thing to get wrong. And this guy did not. He was spot on with it.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself. She took lots of photos. And using one of the many apps you can get nowadays. She made a montage of them all. Which was set to music. She posted it on her Facebook page. For us all to see. Which I think is a brilliant idea. I might have to steal that idea for my next party. Which will not be for at least another eight years, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I had my final day working for the BBC. There were a few of us leaving on the same day. So we went out for a few drinks and some food.

We actually found a pretty new and fairly cool bar. It is just along the road from the BT Tower. It describes itself as an US Dive Bar.

BBC
BBC

It serves American beer and Philadelphia style food. We had booked a table in there. And I must say the food and service was really good. I would certainly go back there again. It is not a very big place. So it can get quite cosy in there, quite quickly. Buy I really liked it. It is called Passyunk Avenue. I think it has only been open for about a month. But it is worth checking out. Specially if you like traditional style greasy American cuisine.

From there we moved on to a more traditional English Pub. Which was one of our normal go to “work” pubs. It was ace to see everyone who managed to pop along for a drink. I have had a great couple of years working there. It was fun, interesting and exciting. But now it is time to move on to my next big adventure.

BBC
BBC

For Father’s Day this year. I bought my dad a Red Wine tasting experience for two people. Today me and him are heading up to a posh hotel in London to partake in this. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as sampling the wines. We also get to enjoy some accompanying cheese and chocolate. It sounds like a perfect couple of hours to me. I will tell you what it was like next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Magical Mystery Tour

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably busy and fun. The other weekend I went up to Liverpool. To see my mate who lives there. This is not unusual, as I normally go and see him two to three times a year. More often than not these visits tend include a football match or a day at the races.

This time however there was no event as such. Although there was a certain exhibition I wanted to see while I was there. Which I will tell you more about later. As ever, I let the train take the strain to make my way up to the North West. I arrived about half past six. And as is the tradition. He met me at his local train station. Then we headed to the nearest pub to have a few drinks and catch up.

As someone who goes out drinking in London and therefore is used to the premium prices you pay for this privilege. I still find it very odd that I can order two pints for under four pounds in the particular bar we go to. Anyway after a few very reasonably priced beers. We went back to his place to have some food. Before enjoying a lovely cup of tea. While listening to some top quality music. Before bed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next morning he had decided to take me to a very nice cafe for breakfast. It was in an area of Liverpool. That perfectly lent itself to his very own Beatles inspired Magical Mystery Tour. Which I loved by the way. The first stop was the Church Hall. Where Paul met a certain John for the first time. It was also where the band use to play and rehearse in the very early days.

We then quickly nipped across the road to the Church Yard. To see the grave stone of Eleanor Rigby. From there it was on to the gates of Strawberry Fields. The park is actually closed at the moment. But it is being refurbished and it is expected to re-open in a few years. I think it is brilliant that they are doing that. Another nice tribute and nod to the band. And its two main song writers.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields

Next I was driven down Penny Lane. While my mate was pointing out all the things that are mentioned in the song. Fair play I must say the description of it in the song is very accurate. I mean talk about writing about what you know about. I must also add that during this personally guided tour. That I was being treated to. All the relevant songs were playing in the car at the relevant times.

He then took me to see John Lennon’s child hood house. Which was actually pretty big and on quite a main busy road. We then went to see where Paul McCartney grew up. Which was on a council housing estate. It is hard to comprehend the huge songs that were written in that little house in Merseyside. And then from there what they both went on to achieve in their careers.

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

That brought to a close the Beatles VIP Tour. It finished with a really tasty breakfast in a lovely little cafe. I had poached egg on toast with spinach and mushrooms. Which was delicious. Next on the agenda was kind of the main reason for my visit. To see a new free exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.

The museum is at The Albert Docks. We had a quick walk around there. I have been there many times before. It is always busy and bustling there. With some nice restaurants and shops. And of course it is famously the place that This Morning used to come from. Before it moved to London.

Albert Docks
Albert Docks

The exhibition called Double Fantasy did keep on with the Beatles theme of the day. As it is all about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It tells the story of both of their lives, how they met, how they worked and lived together. It also features lots of personal possessions. Like the outfits they got married in, a pair of John’s glasses, original hand written lyrics and lots more.

It is fascinating. I certainly learnt a lot about the pair of them. That I did not know. He was a very unique and special individual. There are some great photo opportunity’s. Including your chance to join their famous “Bed In” for peace. I found it really interesting. It did also highlight issues they had. That I was not aware of. For example at one point the authorities wanted them out of America. And made it very hard for them to get VISA’s.

Give Peace A Chance
Give Peace A Chance

If you can. This is an exhibition well worth seeing. It is on in Liverpool until April next year. Then it may well move around the country or even around the world. It is of course such a tragic shame how and when John Lennon died.

He was still so relatively young. We have all been robbed of at least twenty years of amazing songs. And I would also guess some thoughtful quotes and observations about the world in which we live.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had some drinks in London after work the other night. We started off in the BBC Club for one. This is a bar actually located in Wogan House for staff. A place to relax in and grab some food, if required. I however decided to eat at Byron. Which is my burger place of choice when I am in London. And in need of a fairly quick meal. I think I have tried everything on their menu. And it is all good!

Next up was a pub on the Marylebone High Street. That is always a pretty classy place to hang out. There are some decent bars and restaurants in that area. That do offer a good selection of drinks. Specially, if you like me, do enjoy trying different ales. It was a fun night. There is something in having a few drinks straight from work that somehow makes, what you are drinking taste even better.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

It was nice to see Tottenham continue where they had left off before the International Break with a win at West Ham United. Our next league game is against Manchester City on Monday Night. I am off to see that game at Wembley.

The way the table is currently poised, if we could somehow beat them. It would really put us back into the mix to be challenging for the top spot. But I would definitely take a draw and a share of the points in this one. Let us just gloss over the whole Champions League thing at the moment.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

For the first time this series I managed to watch the whole of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday. It is still a very entertaining show. All the dances were really good, I thought. A lot of praise needs to go to the professional dancers. For not only coming up with brilliant routines every week. But for also teaching them to their celebrity’s in under five days. They must have the patience of saint’s.

There are a couple of really good celebrity dancers this year. But then everybody else appears to be at more or less the same level. Which makes it a very exciting competition. Meaning it is extremely hard to predict. Who will leave the show every week. Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer are for me the best two dancers. I like Danny John-Jules. For a man of his age. He is quite the mover.

I also think Joe Sugg is very good. I will be honest I had no idea at all who he was when the show started. But he seems like a really nice and decent chap. He could do well in the competition, I think. It was Vick Hope who was voted out last week. She was maybe a little bit unlucky to go. Although once you are at the bottom of the leader board. You will be up against it. If you end up in the dance off.

I like Seann Walsh. Not the best dancer, but his performances are I think quite watchable. I think he could well be the next to go mind. Since the shall we say incident between him and his partner. Things and the atmosphere just seem a bit odd around them both. And the other cast members. It all just seems awkward. I am looking forward to the Halloween Special tonight. It will be another cracker for sure.

Evita
Evita

I had another fantastic night seeing the brilliant Evita at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It stars Lucy O’Byrne, Glenn Carter and my mate Mike Sterling. It is a spectacular version of a classic old school musical. The staging is perfect. It is basically a touring West End production. It is that good.

It was wonderful to catch up with Mike both before and after the performance. He is brilliant in this show. It was opening night in High Wycombe, so I gate crashed the cast drinks for one with him after. He has been full on busy recently.

As well as the current tour. He has also performed in Swansea with the Moody Blues and in Sweden with some musicians who played with ABBA. Which is pretty cool to say the least. Great to spend time with him as always.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I have mixed views about the upcoming Only Fools and Horses Musical. I cannot really imagine anybody else playing Del and Rodney. Other than Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst. That will just seem really weird.

However the fact that the additional sketches are written by John Sullivan’s son and Paul Whitehouse. Does give me hope that it will not tarnish the show. And it will be a nice homage to it. Plus some of the completed songs have been co-written by Chas Hodges. So they will be good. Despite my reservations. I will definitely have to go and see it. When it opens next February in London.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As I have said before spending some time working at Broadcasting House. Can often mean seeing a few familiar faces around.

Recently I have found myself in a lift with Ian Wright and Evan Davis. Also in a studio with Danny Baker and Kirsty Gallacher. Plus I have seen Tom Daley, Scott Mills and Matt Forde just walk past me.

BBC
BBC

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

Edinburgh Fringe

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. I spent one week recovering from my epic trip to America. Learning to live in England again. While getting used to working and not spending all day sightseeing. Then once I was in the groove again. I went up to Scotland for the weekend.

I had wanted to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a long time. I managed to find a gap in my schedule. That fitted in with the month long event. Well a few days of it at least. When I was considering the idea. I stumbled across what I thought was some reasonably priced accommodation. So I booked it up online there and then. And the decision to go was made.

I then had to work out how to get there. I was thinking of the train at first. But I only had a few days. And that mode of transport would of have eaten in to my time. In the end I decided to fly from Luton to Edinburgh. I managed to find a suitable return flight with Easy Jet.

I knew a few people who were performing there. Who I had met through the Comedy Night. I did as part of the Tringe Festival, six years ago. That is the point where my interest in going to Edinburgh increased further. But it still took me all this time to make it happen.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I flew out from Luton late on the Thursday afternoon. Thanks to a small delay with the flight. I did not arrive in Scotland until after six.  As I wanted to get to the Bed and Breakfast. As quickly and easily as possible. I had ordered a meet and greet Taxi.

He was meant to be there waiting with my name on a board. When I got there. He wasn’t. It took me a good ten minutes to find him. Mind you when I did. He was holding the board with my name on. I will be honest it was not as magical, as I Imagined. I thought it might be a bit like Love Actually. But it very much was not.

Anyway we got through the Edinburgh traffic. He dropped me off at the Bed and Breakfast. That I had blindly booked on price alone. I did think it looked possible to walk to the City Centre from there. Once I did a little bit more research on the place just before I went.

I was met by the owner. Who was brilliant. He checked me in. And then offered to run me in to town in his own car. I cannot see Basil Fawlty doing that. I dumped my bag in the room and off we went. It was possible to walk there in about twenty minutes. But this was my first night. And as time was very tight. I wanted to get things going a soon as possible, so I accepted the lift.

He dropped me just before the Royal Mile. I needed some food. The first place I saw was a Pizza Express. So I was straight in there to get myself a table. A few days before I left I had made a list of a few acts I would like to see, if I possibly could. I wanted to see one show on the first night. I chose to see Gary Delaney from my list.

While I was waiting for my food. I ordered a ticket online for his show. The more well known comedians tend to sell out. So turning up at the venue and hoping for a ticket is risky. It is easier to book it online. There are several places where you can print out and collect your tickets. One of them was near me on the Royal Mile. I finished my Pasta dish. Then went to find it.

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

My first experience of the Royal Mile during the Festival was crazy. It was packed with people, street performers and littered with small stages with things happening on them. I located the ticket place and went in. A very helpful lady showed me what I needed to do to print out my ticket. She also gave me a handy map featuring all the venues. And she scribbled the route on it. That I needed to get to where Gary Delaney was playing later.

He was at the Pleasance. Which is one of the main venues. Of which there are about four or five. They all have multiple rooms of differing sizes at the same location. They are all surrounded by their own little village’s with bars and food outlets. Plus seats and tables to meet people at. I got there in good time for the gig. So I thought I would try a pint of the Edinburgh Festival Ale. Which was actually pretty nice, to be fair.

Pleasance
Pleasance

The show was in the Pleasance Beyond. The ticket gets you in. Then depending on where you were in the queue. It will determine where you sit. Before the show started. He had some music playing. With jokes from his Twitter feed displayed on a giant screen on the stage. These were already making me laugh. So I knew I was going to be in for a good time.

I had seen him a few times of various television shows. I was also aware of his work from other shows that he has written for. He is married to Sarah Millican. And he wrote for her TV Programme. He is  a teller of short, smart and snappy jokes. So reels off a lot of very funny and clever one liners.

He breaks them up a little. By using the screen on stage for a few bits and pieces. He had an actual paper pile of gags. That he had removed from the show for being potentially borderline in taste and decency. Every time a joke got a big ooh from the audience. He selected one of these jokes to read at the end. We were having such a good time. We were just reacting in that way for fun. And to hear some more jokes at the end.

The show was very funny. He admitted himself that he used to be a dead pan comic. But now he is enjoying telling the jokes so much. He even makes himself laugh on occasions. Which I think is great.

It was an excellent start to my first Fringe. I just happened to be outside having another pint of the Fringe Ale. When he left the venue to have a well deserved drink with some friends of his in the courtyard. It is not all rock and roll this comedy.

I saw quite a lot of comedians walking about. While I was there. Most are only doing one or two shows a day. So they have lots of time on their hands. Plus all comics love comedy. So they are also trying to see as many shows as they can. And catch and support all their mates performances.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I saw Marcus Brigstocke, Sarah Pascoe, Nina Conti, Lucy Porter and Hal Cruttenden to mention but a few. I just saw the one gig on the first night. I thought I would ease myself in gently. So after I had finished my beer. It was back to the B & B to grab some sleep.

I was up reasonably early the next day. After enjoying a full Scottish Breakfast. Which appears to be an English fry up. Just in Scotland. I went back to my room to plan my day. I wanted to see Silky’s show called Zuiq. Plus fellow former Tringe Rover Olaf Falafel’s “There is No I in Idiot. And the man behind the Tringe Festival himself Ben Moorhouse. Who is there putting on intimate gigs in his vintage cinema van called Audrey. Under the guise of the Reel Comedy Club. See what he has done there.

I booked tickets for Silky and Reel Comedy via the Edinburgh Fringe website. I also got one for Matt Forde for that evening. I had seen him do a very small warm up gig in Berkhampsted about five years ago. Since then he has got his own television and radio shows. So I thought it was time for me to see him again. Olaf’s show was part of the Free Fringe. No tickets are required. You just arrive at the venue and hope there is room to get in.

I messaged Silky before I left the hotel to tell him I was coming to the gig. He suggested I see Alex Love perform at a venue right next to his. Before his show began. I had the time to do it. So I left for the City Centre. This time taking the lovely walk through the park to get there. I picked up all my pre-ordered tickets for the day. From my now usual box office along the Royal Mile. Then went to where Alex Love was playing.

I managed to get a ticket for his gig there. His show was called “How To Win A Pub Quiz.” The first half was his tips on how to achieve this. With plenty of jokes of course thrown in. The second half. He put us in to teams. And did a little fun Pub Quiz. My team finished fifth. The whole hour was good fun. It was nice to see someone new.

I had about five minutes to get to Silky’s gig. However that was just over the road. So I made it in plenty of time. I have seen him perform quite a few times in Tring over the years. He is always brilliant. I have been lucky enough to have a pint and chat with him to after gigs. He is a top fella. The show he is doing “Zuiq” is a lunchtime reverse Quiz.

He gives the audience Trivial Pursuit Cards. Puts them in to teams. There are then several funny rounds. Where people read out their favourite answer from their cards. While Silky either has to give the correct question or make the audience laugh with his made up one. If he achieves either. He gets a point. Every team can get points. It is in a way the whole room against him. He won!

It is all done in such a fun, inclusive and extremely entertaining way. The atmosphere is so relaxed. He also plays the guitar and sings. So there are some musical interludes.

It is basically just lots of fun. And I must admit it was educational to. I actually learnt a few things. If you are in Edinburgh before the end of the Festival. You must check this out. It is on everyday 1.15pm at The Stand Comedy Club.

Silky is also doing a full stand up show at night. I really wanted to see this to. But annoyingly I simply ran out of time. I really cannot stress how many different and brilliant shows are on up there. You cannot possibly get to see everything you want to. Either because they clash time wise. Or as you cannot get between the venues in time because some of them are so spread out.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

Talking of which I only got the chance to have a really quick chat with Silky at the end of his show. Before I had to dash off for the twenty minute walk. To see Olaf Falafel perform at the Pear Tree. I saw him do his previous Edinburgh Show at the Museum of Comedy last year.

So I was looking forward to this new one. It did not disappoint. I have been lucky enough to gig with him a couple of times over the years.  He always goes down well with the audience. He has a very good act.

His latest show is funny, amusing, entertaining and surreal. There are some very good and clever actual jokes in it to. He does seem to always manage to get one of his jokes. In the best jokes lists of the Festival.

He is such a confident and assured performer. Which is great to see. I really enjoyed it and would recommend seeing it. If you fancy some silly and joyful fun. I managed to grab a quick word with him after. It was really nice to catch up, albeit very briefly.

My Dead Funny Badge
My Dead Funny Badge

Next there was just time to grab a bite to eat in Bella Pasta. Before strolling across Edinburgh to The Assembly Rooms. Where Audrey the Vintage Cinema Bus was parked. I arrived there and grabbed a quick drink. Before seeing its proprietor and curator of comedy Ben Moorhouse. It is a lovely little cosy venue. Their were four comics and a MC on the bill. For the comedy gig that I had booked.

It was basically comedians doing about ten minute set’s. As a bit of a teaser for their full solo comedy shows. They are doing elsewhere.  Like everywhere at the Fringe. The atmosphere was fun and friendly. Apart from one bit of good natured heckling from a gentlemen in the audience towards the end. Heckling is actually quite rare at gigs.

I had a catch up with Ben. He was looking very dapper in a stylish waist coast. He was really enjoying the Fringe. And having a great time. Seeing so many comedians come and play in his lovely little mobile venue.

Audrey
Audrey

Finally for my fifth and final gig of the day. It was back again to The Pleasance. To see Matt Forde’s “Brexit Through The Gift Shop”. It was a hilariously brilliant show. He is an excellent comedian. And a really good impressionist of Politicians and World Leaders.

His take on Donald Trump. Is truly a thing of wonder. I was even more impressed. As everyday now there is a new political scandal seemingly. So to keep a show like this topical and up to date. He must have to re-write bits of it every other day.

I am not the worlds biggest political expert. But I understood everything he was talking about. And most importantly found it very funny. It was a top hour of entertainment. I am glad that I made the decision to see it. As it is fair to say that there was quite a bit of competition in that time slot. Great fun!

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

At this point I decided I had probably had enough comedy for one day. Therefore I went to find a couple of bars with some live music. I had a drink in a pub on the Royal Mile. That had a guy playing guitar and singing in. Then I stopped off at the Grey Friars Bobby Pub for one. To see another singer in there on my way “home”.

I am a big fan of Frank Skinner and he used to do a very funny routine. Questioning the loyalty of Grey Friars Bobby. When I was in the pub having my drink. That is the first thing that sprung to mind. After a full day of enjoying live performances. I decided it was time to call it a night.

My first mission on the Saturday was to find a Sports Bar. That I could watch Newcastle against Tottenham Hotspur in. I managed to find one. Which was no easy feat bearing in mind that Hearts were playing Celtic at the same time. Luckily I found a place. That had at least two of their televisions showing the English game. I was very happy with the three points away. We rode our luck but a win is a win. It was a great start my day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

After my Sporting interlude. It was back to the comedy. Before I went to Edinburgh, as I said. I had picked out a few shows. That I would like to see, if I got the chance to. One of these was from a comedian and impressionist. Who also does parody songs called Naomi McDonald. I spotted her gig somewhere. It seemed a bit different. Therefore I tracked down the venue she was playing at and caught her performance.

I thought she was brilliant. Her impressions were spot on. She does a fantastic Fearne Cotton and Katie Price. Plus she does talking and singing Adele impressions. Both of which are amazing, It was a fun and entertaining show. I will definitely keep an eye out for her in the future.

I had about an hour before my next show. So I popped in to a London favourite of mine. And went to Bryon Burger. The service in there is normally very quick. But as they were so busy. It was a bit slower than I was expecting. Which meant I was tight on time getting to my next location.

To make it on time. I had to jog there. It was on the way there. That I decided to get into the spirit of the Fringe. With some Performance Art of my own. As I was running I tripped on the pavement. Shouted “penalty”, for a moment it looked like I would recover and stay on my feet. But then I went crashing to the ground. Somehow I managed to break my fall. And get away with a slight bruise on my hand. All those years watching The Fall Guy, as a kid must have paid off.

I jumped straight back up and continued on my way to see a show. I had been wanting to see for ages. It did a long run in the West End of London. But I never managed to see it there. It won an Olivier Award to. However in Edinburgh. I finally got a ticket. And made it there for the start of the performance.

It was Show Stopper – “The Improvised Musical”. And it was brilliant. It does exactly what it says on the tin. They take the title suggestions from the audience. The audience also get to say where it is set. And they can give four different musical styles that the songs the show contains have to be performed in.

Then it is over to the amazing cast. Who have to improvise a whole sixty minute musical. Making up dialogue and song lyrics on the spot. The one I saw was based around an Australian Hen do. It was ace. I have watched less entertaining musicals. That have been written and produced. The actors are top quality. Super talented people. It is another one well worth seeing. If you do ever get the chance.

Next it was Pete Firman with his latest comedy and magic show. That was brilliant. He is a really funny and likeable performer. And a top quality magician. Prior to this I had not been to a magic show for  years. And with this one there was the added bonus of the laughs along the way to.

I grew up seeing Paul Daniels on television. This is possibly the closest I have seen to that. I hope that Pete Firman takes that as the compliment. It is meant to be. It is a feel good show. He is taking it on tour later this year. And it is one you should try to catch. The tricks are great and you will have a good laugh.

Fringe Arty Shot
Fringe Arty Shot

Finally I went to The Gilded Balloon. To see the late night Set List Show. This is where four comedians come on to perform a brand new act. But they have no idea what it will include. Until they walk on stage. The subject of each routine. They must do. Is flashed up on the screen behind them on stage. They see it at the same time as the audience do. Then they must try to come up with jokes about it.

It is obviously a little hit and miss. But that is the whole point of the game. It is a challenge for them. And fun for the people watching. The best two on the night were Carl Donnelly. Who opened the show. And Marcel Lucont who closed it. I am not sure if it is something I would like to try. It looked pretty stressful for all of them. But it was a good giggle. And a fitting way to end my first Edinburgh Fringe experience.

There were so many shows that I wanted to see. That either clashed with each other. Or the venues were so far part. That I could not get between them on time. But you cannot go wrong. The chances are anything you see will be entertaining. Plus there is something nice and rewarding in taking a punt on something or someone new and enjoying it. There is so much talent in that City for the month.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh

After a final night in the Bed and Breakfast. It was time to head to the airport and fly home. I chose to take the Tram there. Which was only six pounds. And actually quite a fun and relaxing way to get to my plane. I had a brilliant time at The Edinburgh Fringe and would love to go back there again. If the opportunity ever arises.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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