Tag Archives: football

I’ll Be There For You

I have always been a Tottenham Hotspur fan. The first game I ever saw was a Spurs side play Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground in a testimonial match. My team won comfortably with a hat-trick from Paul Walsh. Although I of course remained a Spurs fan, after this trip to see the “Chairboys”. I decided to go and watch them more often, as they were based nearer to where I lived at the time.

At this point they were still in the Vauxhall Conference. And had a light blue home kit which weirdly is similar to the brand new Spurs third kit. Anyway I ended up watching the Wanderers regularly in my teens. In fact I was a season ticket holder there for a couple of seasons. I have always kept an eye on their results and still go and see them occasionally.

As it happens as well as my Dad and Mum both being season ticket holders. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Wembley is also a Wycombe fan. We went along to see them play Southend United a couple of weeks ago. They have actually had quite a decent start to the season and came from behind to win the game three-two in the last minute. I cannot fault the excitement factor they provided.

We did predictably bump into my parents after the game. There are two drummers amongst the Blues singing fans who provide a beat all through the game, although it does add to the atmosphere. I am not particularly a lover of it. But on the plus side they serve my favourite beer Rebellion at the ground. Therefore I would not rule out another trip there before the season is over.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was brilliant to be back at Mix 96 for the day the other Thursday. I was helping them with their coverage from The Bucks County Show. I have been involved in many of these big productions over the years normally on air from the showground myself. But this time I was in the studio pressing all the buttons for the legend that is Mr Nathan Cooper.

I have presented countless programmes from that studio, so it was great to be back in there once again. I felt very much at home. It was fun as ever to work with Nathan and the rest of the team there. This year it is the radio station’s twenty fifth-birthday. Richard Carr, who I used to work with there has just produced a documentary, that I am delighted to feature in.

Neil Quigley

He has released part one. Which I have seen and which is absolutely brilliant. He has also put out a version of the first song played on the station when it launched ABBA’s Dancing Queen with some current and former employees me included grooving along to it. That is epic! Next Saturday there is a Mix 96 Reunion which will also include the premier of Part two of the documentary. I am looking forward to this event. It will be great fun, I am sure.

Neil Quigley

I paid my first ever visit to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre to see their production of Evita. Firstly you will not find a nicer walk to any venue. Than the greenery and scenery you get when strolling to this one. Secondly when you arrive you will find a quality restaurant and a couple of decent bar areas at your disposal. I did my classic thing of a glass of red wine before the show with the same beverage ordered ready for the interval.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I was not sure what to expect. I did correctly guess that they would have very limited scenery options and that they would have to be a bit creative with their story telling. The stage itself was pretty basic and made up of lots of steps. All it had on it was Evita in huge letters. There were normal outside event seats fitted but you can also pay to sit on the grass banks to watch. I had a proper seat on the forth row with a perfect view of the stage.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was brilliant. It had quite a dark and rustic feel to it, which I liked. The cast were fantastic. The costumes were on the whole pretty low-key and basic compared to the normal versions of this musical that I have seen. The lack of sets does not affect the story or your ability to follow and keep up with the narrative. There were some unexpected and you could possibly argue slightly odd interpretations of some parts of the story. But I liked it. And it was performed expertly.

The sound system is faultless. The music and singing so clear. You really could not fault it at all for entertainment. With it being outside they can really raise the pyrotechnic stakes compared to in a normal theatre, which they do. I have just about recovered from the huge explosion right at the start of the performance. They also use a lot of smoke and flares to add to the drama of this classic tale. Along with a clever use of the lighting. I would certainly go and see another show there next summer.


Regents Park Open Air Theatre

My mum has recently celebrated her 70th Birthday. I spent the day with her, which was lovely. We visited a local church, as she wanted to see the grave of one set of her grandparents. We then went for a nice leisurely walk. Before a snack at a chocolate cafe, as a reward for the exercise we had just done and to mark this huge occasion with some cake.

Neil Quigley

In the evening we opened a bottle of bubbles to toast her special day and ordered a huge Chinese Takeaway. We then finished the night by watching the first episode of the new series of QI. Which is fittingly titled Q. This was actually one that I was at the filming of as well, so we spent half the time trying to spot me in the audience. I hope my mum thoroughly enjoyed herself. She does seem to do alright in life. She seems to be out almost as much as I am. That is a pretty decent achievement.

London River Cruise
Mum

I am a horse racing fan and try to get to a lot of the big meetings. It is something I first did when I was living and working in Somerset. You cannot beat a nice day out at the races. Recently I have bought a few shares in a fairly young horse called Stage Star through the Owners Group. They have lots of horses with different trainers offering the chance to buy shares in them for a year at a time.

Stage Star and Neil Quigley

As well as sending you regular updates and videos of the horse. They organise open days at the stables and also at a place they own called Equiprep. This is where mainly the horses go to rest and relax when they are not in training, kind of like a little holiday place. But it is also somewhere they are conditioned and built up so they are sent back to the trainers ready and raring to go and in excellent condition.

I went to one of the Open Days there last Sunday. I got to see Stage Star paraded in the arena and in his stable. It was the first time that I had seen him in the flesh and he looked great. He will be kept there for a few months before he is returned to his trainer Paul Nicholls. He is only three years old and is not expected to run in a race until next year, probably not until the autumn. But I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and to see what he can do.

Stage Star

While at Equiprep we also got to look around the Paddocks where the horses spend the days playing and grazing. Everybody was so friendly. It was great to meet some fellow owners there. I learnt a lot about how horses are looked after, selected and trained. Plus quite a few simple facts about them, like for instance they use their necks for balance. As well as my horse I got to see many other wonderful horses a few of which I remember seeing race. It was a lovely and an interesting couple of hours. It is going to be an exciting involvement. I think.

Stage Star

Like most of my generation I am a fan of the iconic American comedy Friends. Comedy Central is pretty much the home of the show now, as they show it seemingly not stop during the day. For the last few years they have been running an event called “FriendsFest”. Up until now only in London and Manchester. But this year they have added a venue in Milton Keynes. I went along to it with my sister last week to have a look around.

The location for it was Willem Lake. Happily one thing they already have there is plenty of car parking places, as we were driving this made finding a space pretty easy. The whole event is mostly one big photo opportunity with your chance to recreate classic moments from the show. As you walk in you can have your picture taken in a photo frame dressed in known outfits from the show while holding famous quotes from it.

FriendsFest

Next to that you can recreate the floating heads at Monica’s door. They do of course have a replica Central Perk with the till area, the famous sofa and Phoebe’s performance area. They also offer you the chance to stage your own Ross and Rachel Vegas Wedding pictures in the appropriate outfits.

Just along from this is your chance to be in the title sequence on the sofa by the waterfall. They give you this in a seven second video with the music. Which to be honest is pretty cool. In another part you also have the chance to have your photo taken with the Umbrella’s and the Sofa. Again like the titles.

FriendsFest

Next your chance to shout “Pivot” as you pretend to take the Sofa up the stairs recreating that classic scene with Ross. You can have a go in Phoebe’s taxi and witness someone performing all her classic songs in the coffee shop. They show clips from Friends on the big screen. Plus you are never very far away from hearing the strains of The Rembrandts title tune.

Finally they have three complete replica sets for you to get pictures in. These are Joey and Chandlers place, Monica’s apartment and of course Ross’s flat. They have done a good job everything you saw in the show is on this set. It really does feel like you are hanging out in these rooms. It was a good fun day out. I have not taken that many pictures anywhere for a very long time. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time I was there. Great fun!

FriendsFest

I went to see the latest touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The last time I saw it must have been at least sixteen years ago. Jonathan Wilkes was starring as Frank n Furter. I went to see it with Richard Carr when I was working at Mix 96. I remember enjoying it, so I am not sure why it has taken me a decade and an half to see it again.

It was on at the Wycombe Swan, as it was the previous time. One of the reasons I like this theatre at the moment is that they now serve my favourite beer Rebellion IPA. On arrival I had a pint and instantly ordered the same again ready for the interval. It is certainly one of the stranger musicals and I think even Richard O’Brien would also accept this. Few others have the audience participation and also the outfits that this one does.

Wycombe Swan

The cast included Joanne Clifton, Stephen Webb and Philip Franks. Joanne of course is a former winner of Strictly Comes Dancing and now an established stage musical performer. I thought she was ace in the role of Janet. She can dance like no other, sing and act, she has it all. Stephen Webb was brilliant as the corset wearing Transvestite Scientist. I bet that role is lots of fun to play. And Phillip Franks who is probably still best known for The Darling Buds of May was a spot on Narrator bantering with audience and sounding the part. The rest of the cast were fabulous to.

I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Plus I can confirm that I can still remember and perform perfectly every single move of the Time Warp. You never lose it! It is a crazy show and fair play to the many people who come dressed up as the characters. I will try not to leave it quite so long until I see this one again. It was another quality night out at the theatre.

Rocky Horror Show

I am off to see Tottenham play Crystal Palace this afternoon. I will be honest our season has not started quite as well as I would have liked. But that is what supporting a team is all about the highs and the lows pleasure and pain. We have not really got going properly yet despite draws away at Manchester City and Arsenal. I am pleased with the Champions League draw. I look forward once again to watching us play in this competition. They are always great nights.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am going to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. I went last year and it was brilliant, so I am really looking forward to doing it again. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us. I will tell you how it went next time we speak.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

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

Relative Superstar

As a man who likes to keep busy and do lots of fun things. I try not to underestimate the simple and joyful things in life. Like for example a lunch time catch up with a good friend, where you have some great food and a good old fashioned conversation. To get fully up to speed with each others lives.

I managed to do this a few weeks ago now with the wonderful Danny Cox. Not an easy thing to achieve, as it turns out. We had been trying to sort something out for ages. But we had struggled to find a date that we could both do. Danny is one of the hardest working people in radio. And I keep myself pretty busy to. Therefore it was a meeting I had been looking forward to for a while.

We went for a lovely three course pub lunch at The Chequers at Weston On The Green. The food was fantastic. It is a decent, what I would call proper country pub. We had a good couple of hours there just chatting and eating. There are some people in life that you trust. They are the ones who can give you a bit of a nudge to do the things you know you should really be doing anyway, regarding projects and general things that you are working on. He is very much one of those people for me.

Not only did I have an entertaining time in the company of possibly one of the nicest people you could meet. I also came away feeling a lot more motivated to get things I may have been putting off done. May be he should devise a short “TED Talk” to take on the road, to fully harness his powers. Danny was just about to do four days of hosting the main arena at BBC Countryfile Live, when I saw him. I am honesty not sure where he finds the energy from for all the different things that he does.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Despite my love of musical theatre I am slightly ashamed to say that there are still some well-known shows. That have been running for a long time. That I have not seen yet. One of these was Jesus Christ Superstar. There is currently a new version of it on in London. So on the assistance of my sister I booked tickets to go and watch it.

It is playing at the Barbican Theatre. I had not been there before. I went to see the show with my sister. We got front row seats. When we sat down the whole stage was hidden by a cover. So we could not judge where the stage was. At this point I was a bit concerned that I would be staring up and not getting a good view. As it happens when the plastic safety curtain went up and down, we had a perfect view of all the action.

I really enjoyed it. Obviously I was aware of the story, so I knew the ending already. It was a very slick and busy performance with a great cast. There was plenty of action at all times on the stage. I must say it was a very impressive spectacle. Ricardo Afonso was exceptional as Judas, as was Robert Tripolino as Jesus. We were so close we could see all the expressions, nuances and special effects perfectly. There was absolutely nothing missing from it.

The performance received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. It is a quite a brutal and raw version but well worth seeing. The venue itself was really good. I would happily go back there and see something else in the future. It was yet another successful night out at the theatre. Just in case you were wondering the Rioja they serve there is also totally acceptable.

Jesus Christ Superstore

Last weekend I went to visit my oldest friend from school. We met on the first day of primary school and have been mates ever since. He and his wife live right on the English and Welsh border around the Shropshire area. They have a beautiful house right in the heart of the countryside with stunning views. I always enjoy going up there to see them.

I got the train up there on the Friday afternoon and my mate picked me up from their local station. We then went for a walk across the fields, by the river, under a viaduct to one of their local pubs. As the weather was nice we sat outside for a few drinks and a bite to eat. We were joined by their neighbours. We then all returned to the house for a few more drinks. Not too bad for what was meant to be a quiet night.

The reason we were planning an easy Friday was that the main point of my visit was to attend my friend’s wife’s father’s birthday party on the Saturday. That said when we woke up, we all felt fine. My mate is great with his hands. He has built himself a Summer House. That he has recently furnished with a new inflatable Hot Tub. He had said I could try it out when I was up. So I took my swim shorts. And we had a cheeky pre-breakfast soak. I must say it was fantastic, so relaxing.

The party was over towards Manchester way. Early afternoon we headed over there to help set up the hall. My mate was going to do the music himself. So he had bought a pair of speakers, an amp and a little mixer. He already had a laptop. I suggested a great programme he should get. On which you can set up a playlist and then it will auto mix all the songs for you. Therefore you can basically start it running and leave it to do its own thing. He had also purchased a few disco lights to.

I helped him get it all set up. He had done a good job assembling the kit, with just a few little tweaks from me. We had it all sounding and looking great. When it came to the party it all worked a treat. There were people up and dancing most of the night, which in a way is a bit depressing, if like me you are a DJ. I would argue a good one always adds something to a night. But the back to back music mix worked as expected at this party.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a brilliant night there seeing people I had not seen for a while including catching up with my mate’s son. The man whose “do” it was is known for his loud and sometimes Hawaiian shirts. So a few of us myself included tried to wear shirts to fit in with this theme, all in his honour. I think the birthday boy enjoyed himself. Which is always the main thing on these occasions.

We stayed at a local Premier Inn. That was only about five minutes away from the party venue. Annoyingly the taxi we had booked was nearly an hour late picking us up, which was not ideal. But what can you do? These things happen. The following morning we all met up for breakfast. To watch the birthday man open his cards, helped by his Granddaughter. I went for the pancakes, maple syrup and bacon.
Which were excellent and made a nice change to the obvious fry up option.

Then we went back to my friend’s house. We visited the cafe where his wife works. I had their tasty Banana and Toffee milkshake. That evening we had a quick Barbecue. That was washed down with some lovely red wine. That my mate had got given a few years ago for his fortieth birthday. He wanted to share it with me, which was really nice of him. We ended the day back in his hot tub just chilling and listening to music. Living the dream!

Neil Quigley

A wonderful weekend. Time spent talking to people close to you is always time well spent in life. I got the train home Monday feeling relaxed and refreshed. Frank Skinner has been one of my favourite comedians for many years. On the journey home I caught up with some of the podcasts from his Absolute Radio show. That kept me nicely entertained and made me smile quite a lot to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Premier League Season is now well and truly underway, I have a season ticket for Tottenham Hotspur. Therefore I was there for our first game against Aston Villa. It was great to be back in the Stadium. I was excited and apprehensive, as I walked down the High Road to get to the game. The pre-match pint and food seemed to help a little with this. In the bar before the game I had a good chat to Tottenham legend Paul Allen. We both agreed it was a fixture we had to win.

I was in my seat nice and early ready for the kick off. It did not all go entirely to plan. We were one goal down inside the first ten minutes. The first half performance was the worst I have seen from the team in a very long time. Shaky at the back with no cutting edge in attack. For me the moment that changed the game in our favour was when Christian Eriksen came on as a sub.

Tottenham Hotspur

I have been a big supporter of his for many years. I think he is a really important player for us. For me he conducts everything and pulls all the strings. We look much more fluid when he plays. It does look like he might leave the club, which was probably why he was not in the starting line up. Personally I hope he stays with us. But if he wants to go, fine. I definitely do not want any players at White Hart Lane who do not want to be there or whose heart is not in it. As that is no good for anyone.

Aston Villa played well. I was delighted with the win though. We really needed all the points from this one. To be competitive in the league this year I do believe you cannot afford to lose many points at home. We are away at Manchester City this weekend, which will be tough to say the least. I am looking forward to the rest of the season, which will be full of ups and downs, jubilation and disappointment. But that is what football is all about. And I would not have that any other way.

White Hart Lane

It was great to have a catch up with Mix 96 legend Nathan Cooper earlier this week. He is a force of nature. He somehow manages to look a bit younger every time I see him.

I am really looking forward to working with him on a radio show later this month. It will be good fun. A nice way to mark twenty odd years since we first met. Neither of us of course look old enough.

Neil Quigley

I am up in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival this weekend. Which I am really looking forward to. I had a great time there last year. I will tell you how it was and who I saw when we speak next.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Empire Strikers Back

The new Premier League Football season starts next weekend. I am as always looking forward to it. It has been nice to have a bit of a rest from it. But now I am ready to go again. When I was seven years old I was so desperate to play for a football team. I begged my dad to get a bloke he knew to let me join the under ten side that he ran, which he did. They were my local team called Risborough Rangers.

After training with them for a while I made my debut while I was still just eight years old. I kept moving up the age groups with the same team. So I spent my entire time in kid’s football, playing a year above my actual age group. Apart from a two year hiatus I took when the family moved to London for a bit. I played for every age group from under ten to under sixteen. We had a decent team and reached a few cup finals.

When I was fifteen I went to play for Wycombe Wanderers Lions Under sixteen’s. Remember I was playing a year above, therefore could play another year in that age group. It was a nice set up. We had our own team tracksuits to wear to games. And a couple of the players were already training with the Youth Team. There were, as you would imagine some very good players in the squad. So my game time was sometimes limited there.

At the end of the season I had a trial game for the Wycombe Youth team. But I sadly did not get selected. Undeterred I went and had a trial with the Aylesbury United Youth team, which happily I did get selected for. I had a brilliant time playing for them for two years. It was a very professional set up. And we got to play our home matches where the first team played at Buckingham Road.

As it happened the first Allied Counties League match we played was away against Wycombe Wanderers. They played in Beaconsfield. As I was new to the squad. And one of the younger members of it. I will be honest I really did not expect to start that game. But fair play to the manager Bob Rayner, he picked me. I nearly scored in a goalless draw. Which having not been selected by Wycombe, would have been a very sweet moment. Especially as I knew their goalkeeper from my time with the Wycombe Lions.

During my time with the Ducks. We reached the final of the Berks and Bucks Cup. I scored quite a few goals. I had county trials for the Buckinghamshire Team. But I was played out of position at left back. And did not get in the squad. We also played against the first team in a training match. It included the great Cliff Hercules. The big centre half Matt Hayward was also playing. He ended up volleying the ball into my face from point blank range, giving me a nice split lip. Happy days!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did play one pre-season friendly for the Aylesbury United reserves away at Enfield. But sadly things did not work out there. So I ended up back at Risborough Rangers. Playing for the reserves and then for a short spell the first team. A few weekends ago Risborough Rangers were playing Aylesbury United in a pre-season friendly. I thought it would be a good opportunity to relive the past a bit. And see both of them in action.

The manager of Aylesbury United is Ben Williams. And their longest serving and most senior player is Greg Williams. I went to Aylesbury College with both of them. Therefore this also seemed like a great chance to catch up with them. All three of us did play together a few times for the College team. When I was playing for the Aylesbury Youth Team. Greg was playing for Thame United’s so I played against him a few times back then to.

I also knew the new Risborough manager Mark Eaton. As I used to speak to him regularly when I was at Mix 96. And he was the boss of Aylesbury FC. Plus there were lots of familiar faces from over the years at the game. Including my old Aylesbury boss Bob Rayner. He also managed Risborough for many years to. The game itself was a reasonable watch. The Ducks won 4-1. Showing why they are the team that play at the higher level. I wish them both the very best of luck for the coming season.

I did get to see Ben Williams for a bit after the game. It was lovely to catch up. And find out what had been happening, since we last saw each other. I had a lovely long chat with Greg Williams to. He has had an amazing career. I mean for starters he is my age and is still going. He is just twenty games short of five hundred appearances for the Ducks. It was brilliant to see him. They are both top people. I hope they both achieve their personal goal’s over the next nine months.

Risborough Rangers v Aylesbury United

To get myself in the mood for the new Premier League Season I did the brand new Tour at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium recently. As as season ticket holder I have obviously already been to the place a fair few times. But I wanted to see the bits I would not get to see on a match day. You need to book your tour in advance. Then on arrival you check in for it at the Club Superstore. Therefore if you get there early, you can have a browse round, while you wait.

It starts with a welcome video to wet your appetite. Then you head off behind the scenes to the first stop the VIP hospitality entrance. It is a guided tour with knowledgeable and friendly guides leading it. I learnt a lot about the new home of the Spurs. We then went to level nine, to a hospitality area, which is basically a huge bar with great views of the whole stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

We were then taken to level four. To an amazing room with leather booths. Where people have food and drink. Before they get to sit in the comfiest seats. I have ever seen in a football ground. Amazingly they are even heated for those cold January nights. Needless to say my season ticket seat does not have this feature. Mind you I am not Alan Sugar or Adele.

Next up it was the bit I wanted to see most, the player’s area. First it was the Mixed Zone. Where the players and manager will do all the television interviews. Then the massive but very plain away dressing room. It all still has that lovely new smell to it, everywhere you go. The home team have a big warm up room. And a special Ice Bath area for after matches. That they have to be in for six minutes at a temperature of thirteen celsius. Rather them than me.

Tottenham Hotspur

The Spurs dressing room itself is amazing. Every player has their name in lights above their place. I had to have a picture sat in of course Harry Kane’s and Lucas Moura’s spaces.

They pump in the air from inside the stadium, so that the players are used to it by the time they head out to play. So they can already smell the atmosphere and the grass.

Tottenham Hotspur

We then took a break from being players to pop in to the Tunnel Restaurant. Which does what it says on the tin. There is food and drink in there. You have great seats behind the bench to watch the game. Plus there is a massive window into the tunnel, so you can see the players and they can see you.

We then got to walk out of the tunnel to pitch side. That was a nice moment. The pitch has just been relayed and looks perfect. I had to of course sit in Mauricio Ponchettino’s seat in the dug out. And just pretend for a brief moment that I was the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. We had plenty of time to take in this area and grab lots of photos there.

Tottenham Hotspur

Then it was the Press Conference Room. Which I have to say is nicer that the one at Wembley Stadium. The seats for the journalists there are ace. I took my dad along with me for the tour. We had a picture taken up on the stage. And I think we both look quite at home in the hot seat.

Tottenham Hotspur

I thoroughly enjoyed having a look behind the scenes of my football club. It truly is a fantastic stadium. I have now decided that if I ever win the Lotto. I will be getting myself some seats in those top quality hospitality areas. The season starts at home against Aston Villa next Saturday. I will now be able to picture in my head where the players are and what they are up to before and after the game. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur

I paid my first ever visit to the Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End last week to see the play The Starry Messenger. It is a comedy drama about real life, the universe and everything else in between. It stars Matthew Broderick. (Who of course was the lead in one of the most memorable films from my childhood “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.) And Elizabeth McGovern. Both of whom are brilliant. As are the rest of the cast.

It is a very clever three set play. That looks at how our lives can be connected by random chance. While showing that we all have our own challenges and issues to address. All set against the back drop of the infinite wonder of the Universe. It is very real but also very funny with a lot of laugh out loud moments. You get, understand and feel for all the characters.

It is actually quite a long play in duration. But it is so well written and performed. That you do not feel it drags and are actually surprised it comes to the interval and end of the show, so quickly. It is a perfect piece of traditional theatre. With a slight modern day twist. It is only
on for another week. So you will need to be quick, if you want to see it.

The Starry Messenger

It is not a secret that I do not watch many films. I have to really want to see them. I average about one trip to the cinema a year. Therefore for me to see a film once is an achievement. But to actually want to see one again or even multiple times is almost unheard of with the exception of one franchise. I am a massive Star Wars fan. I can watch these films over and over again, especially the original three films.

Over the last few weeks on a Sunday afternoon ITV 1 have been showing those original three films. As a kid I had all the figures to play with including a Millennium Falcon. And last Christmas while buying a Lightsaber as a gift for a friend of mines son. I also bought myself one. Even as a man in his forties. I still think that I want to be a Jedi, when I grow up.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

It is quite scary how many of the lines I can remember from these films. I can sill deliver them seconds before they do on screen. As I get older you can see new things and angles on the plot and acting.

Like for example I am pretty sure I was not aware of the tension between Princess Leia and Hans Solo. when I was a kid. Plus I had forgotten how many times she had kissed Luke Skywalker. Before they discovered they were sister and brother.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

None of these things effect my enjoyment of them. Neither does the fact that each of the trilogy is jut basically the same story told in a slightly different way. It is escapism and entertainment, as far as I am concerned.

The other thing from my childhood that I can happily see over and over again is “Only Fools and Horses”. I am now starting to think my general philosophy in life is a combination of Del Boy and Yoda. As you can imagine I am really looking forward to the latest Star Wars film due out in December. This will constitute a rare trip to the cinema for me.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I have been back once again doing some work for the BBC. There is never a dull moment there. Louise Redknapp was serenading me with her brand new single outside the building one evening.

Laura Whitmore was being lovely and smiley as ever, when there for her Sunday morning Five Live Show. You never know who you might see, bump in to or end up in a lift with. Which really does add to the fun of being around the place.

BBC
BBC

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

Ooh La La

Hi there, how are you? Another two weeks have passed by in a flash. And I think it is fair to say that once again I managed to keep myself fairly busy. St Patrick’s Day this year fell on a Sunday. Not only have I been to Dublin four times. But my Granddad was born in Ireland and I have an Irish surname. Which as far as I am concerned means that I am fully qualified to celebrate this special day. And join in with all the fun.

My preferred choice to spend at least some of every March 17th is at my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connors. As you may have deducted from its name. It is an Irish Pub. Therefore you will not be surprised to learn that it gets very busy on the Patron Saint’s Day. I managed to get there around one in the afternoon. Much later than that and the queue to get in goes right around the block. You can’t buy experience!

St Patrick’s Day

I have said this before many times. But personally I believe they do serve the best pint of Guinness in London. I had to have six of them just to make sure that this assumption was totally correct. I am very thorough when I am carrying out consumer tests. They have great music on the whole time. The place is packed and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone is so friendly and just up for a good time. Certain songs suddenly get the whole pub singing along together.

The best bit for me is that they always have a traditional Irish Band in there playing during the evening. Including a Banjo, a Fiddle and a female singer with red hair. I mean how much more authentic could it be. They do all the classics. Which again sees the whole venue join together to sing them. It is always a brilliant day out. I already plan to do the same thing for St Patrick’s Day next year. You cannot beat it.

St Patrick’s Day

The day before the celebration day of my surname. I was at a dinner at my mates house. To celebrate his birthday. He is from Wales and a rugby fan. It was on the final Saturday of the Six Nations. Therefore I got to his place in time to watch the game with him and his girlfriend. Who is also Welsh. Needless to say they were both delighted with the result. And the Six Nations win.

Even though it was his birthday. My friend was cooking the meal. It was his choice. He enjoys cooking and is really good at it. He made an amazing Beef Stew with triple roasted potatoes and a selection of steamed vegetables. It tasted brilliant. I even went back for seconds. I found out later that it included some Old Speckled Hen. Which may or may not explain, why I liked it so much.

He had a small group of his friends there. We just spent the evening chatting and having a few drinks. It was very civilised. As always tends to happen. I found out some of them shared mutual friends with me. It really is a small world. And I am actually starting to think that everyone does know everyone. It was a lovely day with decent food and quality conversation.

A few Tuesday’s ago I took my very first trip to Paris. I have decided that I want to do some more travelling. And visit more places across Europe and the World. A couple of years ago. I went to Barcelona. Which I really enjoyed. The French adventure came about when I was told of a good offer from Eurostar. They had a bit of a sale on. So I manged to get a reasonable price on a return trip to the Capital of France.

It was the first time that I had used the service. It did feel a little bit weird going through customs and security at a train station. Then you end up in the waiting room. Which is a cross between a train waiting room and an airport lounge. It is also a bit like flying. In that they ask that you are there at least an hour before the departure time. You have your own designated seat. Which to be fair are, I thought, pretty comfortable.

The journey down to the English coast seems to go quite quickly. And what I did not realise is you are only in the actual tunnel that goes under The Chanel for about thirty minutes. The longest bit is the ride through France to Paris. One of the first things I noticed, as we approached the station was that they had Double Decker trains.
That nearly blew my mind. You arrive at Paris Gare Du Nord Station.

My next mission was to work out their Metro system. To get to my hotel. I had already checked out what stations I needed to aim for. But I was struggling to find where the entrance to the right lines were at the station. I then found a planner app on my phone. Which gave me idiot proof instructions. How did we manage to do anything before mobiles? I found the hotel, which was opposite the place that I was going to that evening.

Paris

I checked into the hotel. Then went for a little walk. I know this is so cliched. But I was surprised how many people were sitting outside Cafe’s drinking red wine and smoking. Plus there were lots of folks walking around carrying Baguettes. I had to visit a cafe. I could not see any tea on the menu. So I played it safe. And I ordered a water with a hot chocolate. It was really relaxing in there. It felt good.

I then went on the hunt for food. I found the most traditional looking French restaurant that I could. I am very much for embracing culture and trying new things. I had a glass of red wine of course. But for my starter I decided to experience Snails. I must say they were very nice. Not at all chewy, as I feared. I could not say what they tasted like but they did come in lots of garlic butter. I would be perfectly happy to eat them again.

For my main I played it safe with Duck and Potatoes. Which did of course come with two massive clothes of garlic in it. And I may also have had a second glass of the Bordeaux. I then had to hop back to the hotel. To get showered and in to my suit. Ready for the evening entertainment. I am a huge fan of live performances and big shows. Therefore with only one night to spend in Paris. Where else could I go other than the world famous Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge

The landmark Windmill and those bright neon lights mean that the place stands out. I had bought the ticket online in advance. You walk in. They show you to the cloak room to leave your coat. Then you get taken to your seat. I got very lucky as my seat was right by the stage. I had booked a champagne package. Because I am classy like that. That meant the waiter then delivered half a bottle of bubbly in a ice bucket. For me to enjoy during the show.

I arrived about twenty minutes before the show started. There was a lady from China sitting opposite me. I do not speak any Chinese and she did not speak any English. However she had a translation app on her phone. So we did manage to have a brief conversation. Before it got under way. When we arrived there was already a band with two singers on stage performing. They finished about ten minutes before the main show time.

Moulin Rouge

Then it was time for the actual Moulin Rouge Show. Right from the very start it grabs you. It is a non stop ninety minute extravaganza. The dancers are amazing. All stunning and all ridiculously talented. Some of them also sing. The costumes are sensational. There are lots of different themed sections. Including of course the traditional Can Can routine. Which was one of the things it was famous for from its launch.

The sets are magnificent. The whole thing is such an amazing sight. You cannot take your eyes off it. But there is so much going on. It is sometimes difficult to know where to look. Aside from the dancing. There are also circus acts including a juggler, acrobat, swimmer and a roller skating duo. You just sit there in this amazing venue, sipping Champagne and being blown away by the performers. Oh yeah and it is a topless review show. Which is more of a nod to the venues past than its current.

I am so pleased I went to see it. For me that has to be one of the slickest and best staged shows. That I think I have ever seen. The time flies by. When it ends. They do want you to leave quite quickly. As there is another show straight after. They do three shows a day there. Which in itself is staggering. If you visit Paris in my opinion you need to see this.

Next door to the Moulin Rouge believe it or not there was an Irish bar. I went in there straight after the show for a drink. I tried the 1664 Blanc for the first time ever. It was really nice. So nice in fact that I ended up having a second pint of it. While I watched the duo performing in there. They were singing covers from British and also American artists. They were pretty good to be honest. After I had finished my second pint. I decided to call it a night and headed back over the road to my hotel.

I got up fairly early the next morning to try and get a bit of sight seeing in. Before I had to catch my train home. I literally only had a few hours. I thought I would head straight to the Eiffel Towers. As I figured I had to see that while I was there. To get to it I had to swap Metro Lines. As I was doing this I suddenly spotted an exit for the Arc De Triomphe. So I thought I may as well go and see that. From there I ended up walking down the Champs Elysees. Then I saw the top of the Eiffel Tower, so I thought I would walk to that.

Paris

I will be honest it was a little bit further away than I thought. And therefore it took me longer to get there than I was hoping. I had not had any breakfast at the hotel. So I got two Pain Au Chocolat from a traditional Boulangerie. That I passed on the way there. It was good to say that I had been to it and seen it. But I guess as I had seen so many pictures of it in the past. It just looked so familiar. And did not really astound me too much.

By now time was getting on, so after taking a few quick pictures. I found the nearest Metro Station. And headed to catch my Eurostar train home. Thanks to the strikes by French Customs. It took me a bit longer than I was planning to get back to London. Which was a bit of an inconvenience. As I was heading there to go and see George Ezra at the 02 that night. I had booked a hotel in Canary Wharf. As I did not have time to go home and dump my suitcase.

Paris

Thanks to my travel delays. I just had time to check in to the hotel, get changed and then head off to the gig. I got there about eight in the end. I met my friend in a bar outside and we went straight in to the venue. We had managed to get ourselves into one of the boxes to the side of the stage. We got to our seats as the warm up act was doing her thing. It was Sigrid. Who is possibly best known for her tune “Don’t Kill My Vibe. She was great.

The good thing about watching the show from a box was as well as a great view. There was a waitress who would bring you drinks to your seats. As you watched the gig. I must admit that is something that I could get use to very easily. Between Sigrid and the main attraction. There was about a thirty minute break. Which just gave me time to grab a bite to eat. And then settle down to see George Ezra.

George Ezra

I must say he and his band were fantastic. With those two big albums behind him now. He does have a great selection of songs to play. And he is very conversational between numbers. Often explaining where he was when he wrote them. His mood at the time. And also how the songs themselves actually came about. The set list was cleverly put together with his best know songs spread nicely through out it. His guitar technician had a busy night. As he seemed to change his for each song.

It was a full on performance with predictably Shotgun being saved for the encore. I must say he looked like he was really enjoying it. Which was great to see. He is going to be around for many years to come. I had one quick drink at All Bar One after. Before I returned to my London hotel. It had a lovely Conservatory Bar overlooking the water. Therefore I thought it would be rude not to have a pint and a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps in there. Before going to bed. A busy but great forty-eight hours.

George Ezra

My Dad and I went to the England versus Czech Republic game at Wembley. It was brilliant to see us get a five-nil home win. And it is always nice seeing Harry Kane score. I think it is quite an exciting time for the national team. With so many young talented players starting to emerge. Raheem Sterling was top quality. He deserved the man of the match plaudits for his hat-trick. It was a quality night out at the match. Spending some time with a family member. Which may also have involved a few drinks after the game.

England continued their great start to Euro 2020 Qualifying with a five-one win away at Montenegro last Monday. In a game which saw a couple more youngsters get their first starts for the country. If you do not know this already some of the group matches, the Semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020. Are due to be played at Wembley. Which might make those championships even more interesting and exciting hopefully.

England

Last Saturday Tottenham Hotspur held the first test event at the new stadium. It was an under eighteen game against Southampton. We were originally meant to play our first game there in September. But building works. It is fair to say over ran some what. However I was excited to be able to finally see it for myself. And sit in my own season ticket seat at last. I must confess as I did not want to see it as a building site. I had not been there since the old White Hart Lane was knocked down.

The old stadium was a little bit hidden from the road. But as you exit White Hart Lane Station. You can clearly see the new stadium right in front of you. It looks to me like a giant space ship. It is kind of grey and silver. It does look spectacular. The closer you get to it the more impressive it appears. I got a good look around it. As my entrance is the opposite side from the main road. You head up some outside steps to get in. This is the point where your ticket is swiped and you go through security.

Tottenham Hotspur

Once you are inside the stadium you are free to walk around where you like. There are plenty of different bars and food outlets dotted about. It is a very well designed venue.

Amongst many other unique features . It has its own Beavertown Brewery onsite. Luckily for me I am a fan of their Neck Oil beer. Which is available from all the bars. I had a drink, some food and then a bit of a look round. Just to get my bearings. As it is a place I will be spending a lot of time at.

Tottenham Hotspur

I then went outside to find my seat. And check out the view from it. I have no complaints. I am already looking forward to watching many games from it. The game itself was pretty decent. It was good to see young first team player Oliver Skipp out there with the other young players from the club. Well done to J’Neil Bennett for scoring the first goal at the new place. A decent strike to. Our Academy side ran out three-one winners. An excellent start to proceedings there.

After the game I went back inside to have another drink. The bars there are going to stay open for two hours after the games. Which I think is a great idea. They also have either live music or DJ’s playing. This makes for a bit of a party atmosphere. I am looking forward to going to the next test event today. Where a Spurs Legends team will take on the legends of Inter Milan. And Gazza is playing. I cannot wait.

Tottenham Hotspur

It is always a joy to visit TV Centre. I was there last week to see an episode of QI being filmed. I was impressed that while the audience were coming in. That on the big screens in the studio. They had lots of ace QI facts. It was fascinating and passed the time brilliantly. The host of the show Sandi Toksvig comes out first. We play a fun quiz to find the most intelligent member of the audience. You will not be to surprised to hear. That it was not me.

Alongside Sandi and of course Alan Davies for this episode were Jason Manford and Sarah Millican. Plus a South African stand up who I must confess I was not aware of Loyiso Gola. Somehow we have now reached series Q. It was hilarious, as always. I will be honest a lot of the funniest and best bits will never make the finished programme. As they are often too rude.

It was a fun afternoon. Everybody was on top form. It is such a lovely and relaxed show. The two hours flew by. When the series is on later in the year. Do remember to keep an eye out for my face on your screens. Sandi Toksvig does a fantastic job. Seeing her always reminds me of being a child. As I was a big fan of Number 73.

Television Centre
Television Centre

I was settling down to watch an episode of The Simpsons on Channel 4 recently. When as the announcer was introducing the programme I almost fell off my seat. He said “And now it is time for the Quigley’s, sorry I mean the Simpsons” I never expected that. But at the same time was weirdly pleased to be mistaken for that family. If you do not believe me. Have a listen to the video link below. https://www.facebook.com/neil.quigley/videos/10161418846550591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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