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Musical Fun

Hi there, here we are again then. They do say that as you get older time seems to go quicker. I cannot believe two weeks have gone by already, since we spoke last. I have actually had quite a busy time. Which is exactly how I like things to be. I mean for starters it keeps me away from the news and other serious things happening at the moment. Music and comedy, I think is the way forward.

Neil Quigley

I must admit I have been to Las Vegas and I am certainly not adverse to a bit of gambling. However during my latest trip to a Casino. I did not bet a penny. I was at The Rialto in Leicester Square recently to see my mate Mike Sterling perform in his “Stars Of The West End” show. Alongside Karen Mav and Jenny Fitzpatrick.

Stars Of The West End

It was actually the first time I had been there. It is quite a nice and cool place. Not just for a gamble but also for a drink and a bite to eat. When I arrived they had a brilliant pianist and singer performing in the bar area. I got to meet him later on in the night. He is a top class bloke. He was in the original cast of the musical Rent. He also plays in a few different bands. Just a really nice and talented guy.

Then came the start of the actual show. Mike was on first. He did a selection of songs from various musicals. Including of course from Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. The two shows in which he has played the lead role in the West End. As ever he was sounding sensational. He does have an exceptional voice. He did about thirty minutes. Then there was another interlude with the pianist Richard doing some more songs.

Mike Sterling

Next up on stage was Karen Mav. She was on the X-factor in 2015 and she played Effie White in Dream Girls in London. She did a few songs from that musical. And a few Whitney Houston numbers. She also has such a great voice. She was fantastic. Mike Sterling also did a duet with her. Then it was back to the hardest working man on the night, Richard. For some more tunes from him and his keyboard.

Karen Mav

Lastly we had the lovely Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Blues Brothers, Sister Act and Ghost. And most recently she was sharing the lead role as Tina Turner in Tina the Musical. I was lucky enough to see her in it and she was phenomenal. On this particular night she mainly did songs from that latest show. Mike joined her on stage to do “Proud Mary”. She was amazing. Her voice is just so strong and powerful. The evening ended with all three of them doing Queen’s “A Kind Of Magic”

Jenny Fitzpatrick

I managed to have a quick chat with Karen and Jenny after the show. They were both so nice and very friendly. I have always liked being around performers. There is a certain vibe and energy that they give off. Which I really love. They then had to dash off home as they were both working the following morning.

I finished the night having a drink and a chat with Mike and the rest of the crew. It was a wonderfully entertaining evening. With three amazing performers singing in what was a relatively small venue. It always makes me feel proud seeing a mate on stage killing it to. Yet another top night out in the capital.

Stars Of The West End

I have mentioned this place before. The Museum Of Comedy is such an great small venue in the Bloomsbury area of London. It has lots of brilliant comedy memorabilia on show. Also Logan Murray my top comedy teacher runs Stand Up Courses there. And quite a few well known comics use it to do warm up or work in progress gigs. This is the reason why I was there the other week.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I always like trying to see comedians that I have not seen live before. I am such a huge comedy fan. There are lots of comics that I like. I was therefore pleased to be able to tick Frankie Boyle off that list finally. I have been aware of him since his appearances on Mock The Week. I do appreciate he is not to everybody’s taste. And shall we say some of his jokes can be a bit near the knuckle. But in my eyes if I find something funny, as far as I am concerned it is funny.

The Tommy Cooper Room at the Museum of Comedy holds about eighty. It was absolutely packed awaiting the Scottish comedian’s appearance. He had a support act on first. That was the excellent Tiernan Douieb. He falls in to the category of people I was aware of but had not seen before. I enjoyed his set. He then introduced the man himself Frankie Boyle to the stage. I cannot repeat the words he greeted the audience with. But let us just say those three words set the tone for the night.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

I thought he was brilliant. I was laughing a lot. My face was hurting by the end. Yes it is true some of the subjects could be described as sensitive. And as you would expect nothing was off limits. But this was a comedy gig with a comedian known for hard hitting material. I heard nothing that I did not expect to. It was in a room full of people who had chosen to be there. And as with a lot of comedy there was often a social or other point to the joke. Regardless of what it was about.

Believe it or not seeing him on stage during a warm up gig. Where he was chatting between bits and setting things up. And I do not want to spoil any illusions. But he is actually quite a nice and thoughtful man. I am really pleased I saw him.

He was working on new material for both his next big tour and his upcoming television series. And from what I saw both of these things are going to be worth seeing. If you enjoy having a laugh. Hilarious ninety minutes in a delightful venue is how I would sum up this experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Totally by chance I ended up going to the Comedy Store in London on International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion they had an all female line up. I had already seen most of these comics live before so I already knew they were good. By the way if you have not been it is your classic London Comedy venue.

Anybody who is anybody from the world of comedy. Will have performed there at some point. The set up and sound system is perfect for comedy. As you would expect. I am not saying a lot of comics are recovering alcoholics. But they do the best selection of soft drinks from any bar I have seen. I enjoyed a pint of Pineapple Juice while I was there.

The compere for the night was the fantastic Laura Lexx. Who I had previously seen doing the warm up for an episode of Upstart Crow. And who I bumped into very briefly at the last Tringe Festival Roving Comedy night. She was great, as always. The first act on was Sarah Keyworth. I had not seen her before. She was hilarious. Really good. Got the crowd on side and some big laughs from the off. I suspect we will be seeing more of her over the next year or so.

Then it was an American comic, who I was not familiar with called Spring Day. She is from New York. After spending sometime living and working in Japan. She has been performing in England for over five years now. She was really good to. A very different style of act from the opener. But with some topical and clever gags.

The final act of the first half was the amazing Kerry Godliman. I had seen her before at a comedy club. We went to on a friend’s Stag Do. You may know her from Ricky Gervias’s Derek or After Life. Or from Bad Move with Jack Dee. She is a powerhouse of a performer. I like her and think she is really funny. Her stuff is so conversational and fast paced. After her set there was of course the obligatory twenty minute interval.

Comedy Store Players
Comedy Store Players

Comedy clubs, football stadiums and theatres are places where you will more than likely have to queue to use the Men’s toilet. We are slowly nudging nearer to equality with women on this one, I feel. In the second half after Laura Lexx had got the audience fired up again.

It was Jen Brister on first. I had seen her before headlining at a sadly short lived comedy night in Aylesbury. Once again this time around. She was fantastic. It is worth seeing her show. Just for the brilliant impression of her mother, if nothing else.

The headline act was a comedian, I really do like. I was lucky enough to see her perform one of her Edinburgh Festival Shows at the BBC Radio Theatre. A couple of years ago. Which was excellent. She is the ace Suzi Ruffell. I think that she is a fantastic performer. You really cannot take your eyes off her. When she is on stage. She has a nice rapport with the audience. And most importantly she is very funny,

It was a perfect fun Friday night. Spent laughing at the Comedy Store. It just happened to be a line up of all women. I think a lot of women are funny. And I think a lot of men are funny. I could not honestly care. Which bathroom you chose to use. If I think you are funny, you are. The only factor I will judge people on is their jokes. As ever a night at a comedy venue. Always makes me want to get back on stage myself.

The Comedy Store

I had a fantastic day out at the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday. If you are a huge fan of horse racing like I am it is a brilliant spectacle. The course and its settings are amazing. The races are of the highest quality. And the Guinness there is pretty decent to.

I went with a few of my mates. We took the train there. It is a nice journey with lovely scenery to enjoy, While we were queuing for the shuttle bus to the course. I spotted none other than queen of cakes Mary Berry behind me.

Cheltenham Festival

We were in the Club Enclosure. Which gives you a fantastic view of the whole course and is situated right on the finishing line. The races were all close and exciting. There were two stand out performances on the day. Altior in the Champion Chase was astonishing. Not at his best. But such a desire to win and be the first across that line. A truly beautiful horse.

And also Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. We watched that from the middle of the course. He eased to victory in that so easily in the end. Which explains why he is now considered as one of the favourites for this year’s Grand National.

Cheltenham Festival

It was a brilliant day out. The racing was top class. As well as the company. I was the only one of our group not to have a winner. But that did not matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day still. I am already looking forward to going there next year.

Although Aintree awaits next this year. And that is always good. Special thanks goes to my friends wife. Who picked up four slightly merry gentleman and gave them a lift home from the course.

Alan Partridge is back on our TV screens again fronting a BBC show. After the slight incident on his first first ever series in the ninety’s. When a guest got shot dead in the last episode. I am a fan of Steve Coogan. As someone who works in radio and television myself. I can of course see a bit of Alan in me. Sometimes unintentionally, we have done some of the things that he makes a habit of. On my last holiday I read “his” last book. Which was brilliant.

I am really enjoying the new series. There is nothing missing from it. In fact there is so much going on in every scene. That you need to see it a few times. Or you will miss some of the gags. Especially the visual ones. I am finding bits of it quite odd. As some of it was filmed at Broadcasting House in London.

If you saw the first episode. The lift he was in. Is the one I use every time I am there working. And I have often used the toilets he was loitering outside. Sadly I did not bump in to him at all. When he was filming the show. I am looking forward to watching the rest of series.

BBC
BBC

As ever there is never a dull moment being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. We lost away to Southampton last weekend. Which means we are just about hanging on to third place in the league. We now have a few weeks break to regroup. Thanks to us being out of the FA Cup and the following international break. In that time there should be two test events at the new stadium. Which if they go to plan means that our next Premier League home game will be played there.

Finally it looks like I will actually get the chance to sit in my season ticket seat. When that game is. Depends on some FA cup results that involve other clubs. The next game though, will be away at Anfield against Liverpool. Always a tough place to go. But we do really need a win. I am hoping the rest and a trip for the squad to Barcelona. Can help us finish the season strongly. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sad news the other week as my local commercial radio station. And the place that I made my professional broadcasting debut Mix 96 has been sold. It had been owned by UKRD.

It is now part of one of the two largest radio groups in the United Kingdom called Bauer. I fear it may mean the end of the Aylesbury station, as we know it. My thoughts and best wishes are with my friends and former colleagues there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. An occasion I always try to mark in some way. Using my very loose Irish links and my surname to just about justify me having a few pints of Guinness.

I will let you know where and how I celebrated this event. When we talk next.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

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

Lovely February

Hello again, how’s things with you? I am still trying to come to terms with reality again after my holiday. Although some people may well argue that has been a longstanding issue of mine. Nevertheless I am still sporting a slight sun tan. And I am trying to make the most out of the year so far. By that I mean I am experiencing as much as possible, while having a lot of fun along the way.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was a new David Bowie documentary shown on the BBC the other week. Which mostly focused on his early days. When he was still trying to make it in the music industry. A few days after this was on I found myself in a Cocktail Bar in Covent Garden. Which had just been given a new name and a total makeover inside.

It is called Blame Gloria. After a women who is alleged to have once owned a B&B in Covent Garden. With rumours and stories about her teaching David Bowie how to put on make up and of once dating Jimi Hendrix. Well I say alleged. As I think, it might be technically a character that has been invented to give the bar its theme. Although David Bowie did once dress up as a women to play a joke on his then band mates calling himself Gloria.

Anyway the place is actually pretty cool. They do a wide variety of Cocktails. A few of which I was familiar with. And many that I was not. Some of them are certainly originals. And their own special creations. The decor is very Bowie inspired. it is fair to say.

The music was brilliant. A really nice mix of sixties, seventies and eighties tunes. They also have a two for one happy hour between five and seven, every evening. Which may be worth keeping in mind if you happen to be in the area around that time. It is a chic venue with a relaxed atmosphere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I popped in to see some friends on their daughter’s third birthday. I actually arrived there early. And they were still out somewhere. As it happened my mate’s wife’s Mum was there and let me in. When they arrived in the end. There was actually a small group of people there to welcome them home.

It was a little gathering. That I kind of gatecrashed. But it was nice to see all the birthday presents being opened and played with. I ended up helping with a little bit of painting. And laughing at my mate, as I watched him try to put together a big new toy that needed building.

There was also a birthday tea on offer. I thought it would be rude not to at least have some of the Peppa Pig Cake. Prior to that I did get stuck in to the cheese and biscuits. In the process discovering that you can get pickle with no bits in it. Who knew? I certainly did not. I had to ask what it was.

I think the star of the show enjoyed herself. Although when you asked her if she had, had a good day. She always answered no. But I am sure with a slight smile at least. It was a lovely afternoon. Which may have continued on slightly in to the night. As I stayed for a beer after the children had gone to bed. To catch up with the parents.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last weekend I was at another family house party. This time it was a surprise sixtieth Birthday celebration for my Auntie. My two cousins had organised it with military precision. They had taken their mum out for the afternoon. Leaving one of their husbands alone to get the house ready. And cook the party food. Then to be there to let all the guests in ready for when the birthday girl returned home.

We were all told we had to be there before a certain time. Everyone was there when they should have been. When we got a message to say they were running a bit late. Therefore the party started a bit before it was meant to. As we all had a drink while we were waiting.

We got word on when they arrived, so were all silent in her living room waiting for her to walk in. When she did we treated her to a rendition of Happy Birthday. I can honestly say, I do not think she was expecting it. As she did look quite shocked.

The food was amazing. One of my cousins is a very good baker. So there were about six different sweet options of which I tried at least five. They were all delicious but it was a tough night for the waistline. Her sister then hosted a fun selection of different games throughout the evening. The first a straight forward game of bingo. Then a quiz that was based on the year my Aunt was born.

Next we each had to write a memory of her down. My cousin read them out. And my Auntie had to guess who had written it. She got mine straight away. When I was a young child, she took me, my mum and my sister to a fireworks night where she worked. I spent most of the night trying to hide. As I was terrified of all the loud bangs. For the record I am a little better with them now.

There was also a quiz about my Auntie’s life. And one where we had to decide if you she was older or younger than a list of certain people or things. And lastly a photo round for us to identify my Auntie in. I did very badly in all of the quizzes. It was a good laugh, though. I had a nice evening catching up with the family. Some of whom I had not seen for a while. Once again I think the Birthday lady enjoyed it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I had a great time seeing my friend Mike Sterling the other day. He has most recently been on tour with Evita. Which he was brilliant in by the way. He also appeared in the West End for many years. So knows his way around London. Which is where we met. Mind you I chose the meeting point. Which is why we started the proceedings off with a few pints of Guinness in Waxy O’Connors. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is my favourite pub in the capital.

We then decided to get some food. We chose to have a stroll around to Piccadilly. And got ourselves a table at The Terrace. It is a nice and classy place. They had a full jazz band playing. While we were eating. I had the Chilli Calamari for starters, a T-bone steak with Red Wine sauce for my main and cheesecake for dessert. The meals there were excellent. As was the Italian wine. We had on Mike’s suggestion.

Our final stop was at the Phoenix Theatre Bar. It used to be called the Wentworth Club. It was somewhere Mike used to visit quite a lot when he was starring in Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis in the West End. I had been there a few times before. But never this late in the evening.

In a back room they occasionally do musical singalongs. There is a piano with a pianist. And you can go up and sing any song from any musical that you wish to. The standard was pretty high for the hour or so that we were in there. I really like the place. It has a very show business and arty feel to it. I would definitely go again. Had a quality time catching up with a good friend.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I managed to get some last minute tickets to see Ricky Gervias do a warm up show for his upcoming tour “Super Nature” in Aylesbury at the Waterside Theatre. I went with Andy Holmes. I also watched one of the very early warm up gigs for his last massive tour “Humanity” in London. That went on to become a huge success. If you are a user of Netflix. It is still available on there.

This new show he is working on at the moment has already been signed up by Netflix again. I am a big fan of his and have been since the days of The Office. Which was even more relevant at the time for me. As I was working in a small Sales office. With a few possible David Brent’s. I have seen all his television comedies. I will be honest I have not seen all his movies. But that is more down to my lack of ability to watch films, than anything else.

The show in Buckinghamshire was brilliant. I saw him on the second night of two that he did. Bearing in mind this was just a warm up gig. He sold out the theatre both nights. A lot of comedians would give their right arm to sell out an one thousand seat venue for a proper show. Let alone just a warm up one.

He does seem to have a lot of fans in England. He has never changed his stand up style. He has a lectern with some beer on it. And walks around the stage with a one of those head mics on. He had a support act with him called Sean McLoughlin. It was the first time I had seen him. I was very impressed. I thought he was great. I think he may be worth keeping an eye out for.

Ricky Gervais was funny as always. He has a unique way of attacking any subject and making it funny but not seem awkward. Which is not always as easy as it sounds. The finished version of this show. I have no doubt will be hilarious. Much of it I guess follows the same chain of thought of his previous stand up specials. And when he finishes the tour. May be he can do a series of TED Talks about the subtlety of offence. Another fun evening out at one of my favourite theatre’s.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

I also managed to get myself a ticket last week to go and see one of the preview performances of the brand new Only Fools and Horses Musical. Well I say preview. It was the full actual show performed to a sold out paying audience. But they have not had their official opening press night as yet. I will be honest I had mixed emotions about seeing it.

I am a massive fan of the television series. I can still happily re-watch any of the episodes. And I guarantee it will make me laugh and in many instances cry. I really wanted to see the show, though. But I was worried that it would be odd not seeing the actors you instantly associate with those roles not playing them.

Only Fools and Horses Musical

It is on at the fantastic Theatre Royal in Haymarket. Where for this particular show. They do serve Del Boy Pina Coladas in the bars. Although slightly disappointingly I did not see anyone order one. It starts with a song. Which makes a lot of sense for a musical. But all through the opening number. I was just waiting to get a glimpse of Del and Rodney. They obviously do appear during it.

As do pretty much all the regular characters from the classic television show. It is actually quite good fun spotting them all as they walk out. The thing to remember I think is, it is very much a stand alone musical. But with many classic lines, sketches and moments from the timeless sitcom in it.

The songs for me all work. There are some very familiar ones. Which you will recognise from its previous incarnation. And some new ones written especially for this project. For me they are in the same style the show always had. It has a story to it of course. Which is kind of a mixture quite a few of the different things. That happened to the Trotters on our screens. The cast are all fantastic. Each one of them have got the character of the person they are playing to a tee. While still making the roles in this their own. The wardrobe and sets are brilliant.

The whole feel to it is quite nostalgic. It bought back a lot of great memories for me of sitting at home and laughing my head off at the television. It was an idea that the writer of Only Fools and Horses John Sullivan was working on before he sadly died. It was finished by his son Jim and the excellent Paul Whitehouse. Who plays Granddad faultlessly. And some of the additional songs  were co-written by Chas Hodges from Chas & Dave.

I really enjoyed it. And if you are a fan of Only Fools and Horses. It is certainly worth seeing, As you would expect from a project initiated by the shows creator. Nothing is missing from it. If I am completely honest. The only slight issue I still had was trying to come to terms with the fact Del, Rodney, Trigger and Boycie were not being played by David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Roger Lloyd-Pack and John Challis.

That is not a slight on the amazing cast. That is just my issue. As all those actors for me are so part of the DNA of those characters. This is of course something the production can do nothing about. It is a lovely warm overview of a great British Institution. That is played out in front of your eyes. And with that great writing. It is of course very funny. Lovely Jubbly!

Only Fools and Horses Musical

Tottenham Hotspur have been doing alright recently. Quietly going about our business and winning our Premier League matches. I have been at Wembley to see us beat, Watford, Newcastle and Leicester.

All of which have been tough games. Not made any easier by the fact we are still without Harry Kane and Dele Alli. I am enjoying things at the minute. But we will just see how the next few weeks go. I am not going to lie the match day experience is more fun when you win.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

The quality Radio 4 Extra weekly topical news comedy programme Newsjack has returned for a new series. Once again I will be busy writing jokes for it.

I will also be doing my own weekly news comedy podcast for the next five weeks. Which you can find on my You Tube channel or on Apple Podcasts.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Busy few weeks coming up. I am finally getting round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers. I know I am very late to the party on this one. But have heard nothing but great things about it.

And of course next Wednesday it is the BRIT Awards. Which is always a fun and interesting night. Plus I am going to my first ever immersive theatre performance.

School of Rock
School of Rock

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

Happy New year 2019

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

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

Dog joining in with the Karaoke

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

Sir Paul McCartney

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

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

Paul, Ringo and Ronnie

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

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

Sir Paul McCartney

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

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

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

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

Panto

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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