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