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The One Where I went to the Zoo

Depending on what happens between now and then we are possibly just over two weeks away from the United Kingdom taking the next step along the roadmap. I am not totally sure how I feel about that if I am honest. I obviously would like things to return to as near normal as soon as they can but we have all made quite a lot of sacrifices over the last six months. I would like to make sure everything is all under control before we take the brakes fully off.

I have been closely following the science, the latest figures and the rules. Things do look in a much better place at the minute but as we have seen in other parts of the world that can change quickly. It does seem that the vaccination programme is having the desired effect. I have had both of my injections. It just makes sense to help to protect yourself and those around you. I take regular Covid tests so I know I do not have the virus when I am meeting up with family and friends.

It has of course been a testing time but we can do so much more now than we could even a month ago. This thing is not suddenly going to disappear sadly but as long as it can be managed so the NHS is not so overwhelmed and fewer people are dying from it. Then it will just be like living with the normal flu. I have been having my jab for that for the last fifteen years, which is why the latest vaccination for me just seems like almost normal practice. The weather has improved and so has our ability to socialise and interact with people.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am starting to venture out a bit more again now to I will be honest mainly outdoor events and attractions. The first of these was the other week when I went to see a showing of the original Star Wars film at a “Drive In” movie held in the grounds of Knebworth House. It was the second time my girlfriend and I had been to one of these here. The first one was Back to Future last summer. I am still not sure if I am a fan of this way of watching a film or not. But as a massive fan of Star Wars I was not going to the miss the opportunity to see this masterpiece on a big screen!

Drive In

I have seen all of the episodes of these films several times. There is no other film franchise that I have watched as many times. As I am sure you can imagine I was extremely excited to watch one of my favourite movies in the dark in our own private booth or to put it another way the car. When you arrive they give you a speaker to put in the motor that is tuned to the channel the film audio will be on. Then they show you to your parking spot. We got there nice and early so that we got a good space. Like the actual cinema you can get food and drink. Just to prove how rock and roll I am I had a cup of tea.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

When I discovered we were going to this I told Lynda that I would be wearing my Star Wars T-shirt and bringing my Lightsaber. I am not sure if she thought I was joking but that is exactly what I did. I really enjoyed it, it is still brilliant. Hopefully I was not too annoying when occasionally saying the lines along with the characters. This was the first time I had seen the new director’s cut where George Lucas has added in some new bits including Han Solo meeting Jabba the Hut in person, which I did not think added anything to the story. I thought it was more fun to see him for the first time in Return of The Jedi.

Neil Quigley

The thing I like about all of the Star War’s films is that there is so much going on in every scene, it has a nice gentle humour running through it and thanks to the music of John Williams it is instantly obvious who are the good guys and who the bad guys are! I am even happy to concede that the plot of all of them is more or less the same but I see that as a plus point rather than a negative. It shows that the struggle in life is real and often repetitive and people often make the same mistakes over and over again. It was a top night out watching a classic. I always get emotional when Han and Chewbacca reappear to complete the mission and always cheer when Luke destroys the Death Star!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

The first Saturday after the last set of rules were relaxed. It was my girlfriend’s Mum’s birthday so she held a barbeque in the garden for her. It was at the point just before the weather started to improve. There were only six of us in total but we all sat outside in our coats and jumpers using the parasol on the table to keep the occasional light rain showers off us. At one point Lynda did find herself under an umbrella while cooking. That made it feel like a proper English event to be fair.

That was my fist barbeque of the year and the first since my Coeliac diagnosis. She very kindly had got gluten free burgers and sausages so I could have them, but it is the first such occasion I have been to where there were a few things that I could not eat. That is of course perfectly fine, however as somebody who used to eat and like trying everything it was a bit weird. It is just something I need to get used to and will always generally have to bring my own “special” food and beer to these gatherings in the future.

We had a great time just sitting around drinking, eating and chatting. It was nice to be around people and hear laughter again. It felt good. The time flew by and it was gone eight o’clock before we realised it. Human beings are basically pack animals so we like being in groups and seeing each other’s faces and reactions. We have all been a bit starved of this during the last fifteen months now. I do feel like I am catching up on lost time so plan to get to as many barbeques as I can this year to make up for it.

Neil Quigley

Last Saturday Lynda and I went to Whipsnade Zoo. I had not been there for a couple of years. It is mostly outside and always a nice way of spending some time. Therefore it seemed like a good location to reacclimatise to being around random people again. When we got there the car park seemed very busy which did unsettle me a little bit. Then as you would expect the walk way and the entrance were quite crowded but we had our masks on as requested anywhere inside. We sorted out our tickets and went in.

Neil Quigley

It was still quite crowded at this point but everybody is outside and generally not that close to each other. Once we had been there a while it was then easier to pick ourselves a route round to see the animals where there were not too many people. There is plenty of space there to keep in your own groups. We managed to find some of the Rhinos out in their field. Every time I tried to take a picture of them they tended to face away from me, which became a running theme with my photography throughout our visit.

Rhinos

Next we spotted one sleeping Tiger in his enclosure. They really are just like house cats in that they sleep all day and just ignore you. It was then off to the Elephant house to see a selection of them and to enjoy their rather distinctive smell. We then ticked off the Camels, Wilder Beasts and the Flamingos. I remembered those pink birds being bigger and was actually surprised by how small they were. I then took my best picture of the day when I actually managed to get two Giraffes looking at the camera.

Giraffes

We were at the Zoo for about three hours and also saw a Bear, a Wolverine (who looked nothing like Hugh Jackman) but who was deceptively fast and two Otters fighting over a pair of children’s pink sunglasses. Somehow while they were fighting one of them actually flicked them on their face and they were wearing them for about ten seconds but we could not get a picture quick enough. Lastly we saw the Lions. We had to come back to them as there was a queue to get into their viewing area and I refuse to queue for anything!

Anyway predictably when we did get to see them they were all lying down. Then one of them started roaring. A loud and terrifying noise when you are looking right at it. She did this for about five minutes before getting up and walking inside. I imagine saying “that is your lot; you have had the show, now go away”. While we were at the Lions Lynda managed to get a picture of one of them pulling such a good face I will be using it to reply to certain social media comments for at least the next year. It was a lovely afternoon out, helped by the sunshine. You cannot beat a nice Zoo visit.

Lion

I did go to another barbeque on Bank Holiday Monday. See I told you I was going to go to loads of them this year. It was a party for Lynda’s cousin this time, she was celebrating her birthday. It was a Mexican themed do so we turned up wearing giant Sombreros. This was as it turns out a useful headwear selection for someone who has no hair on his head, while he is sitting out in glorious sunshine. The chef at this one very kindly cooked me my own special gluten free meat and I of course brought my own drink with me.

It was a fun afternoon chatting, eating and drinking in the sun. Three of my favourite things while enjoying my preferred weather option. To keep with the theme there was a Pinata. The birthday girl got to play with that if that is the right word. I thought basically you had to destroy them with a stick, but this one had more of a school summer fete appeal to it as you had to pull ribbons from the bottom of it but only one of them would release the trap door and the sweets inside. The only disappointment was that I did not get chance to have a go at it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have watched the Friends Reunion. Like everyone in my age group I went through a stage of being a massive fan of the show. I think that I have seen almost every single episode. I have always followed the cast since it ended to see what they have been up to. I even went and watched the play Matthew Perry wrote and starred in when it came to London. A few years ago I went to Friends Fest in Milton Keynes. That was good and I got some brilliant pictures from it.

The End Of Longing
The End Of Longing

I enjoyed the special it was clever how it started with them one by one returning to the set as we later discovered in the order that they were cast. I learnt a few little behind the scenes things that I did not know. It was nice to see them all back together. They clearly do have a special bond and connection having been through what they all went through together. When the programme suddenly took off it does sound like it really was a roller coaster ride.

It was also nice to hear from the writers and how they decided to pursue the Monica and Chandler relationship after the reaction it got from the studio audience. When they got together for what at the time was meant to be just a one off. Until they realised what the public wanted was for them to get together. There were some pretty decent guest appearances to including Lady Gaga appearing to do a duet of Smelly Cat with Phoebe.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

They all seemed to find it quite emotional looking back on it all. They were basically all unknowns when it launched, now they are all big stars. It was a fun and easy watch. Did we learn anything ground breaking not really however it was certainly a decent tribute to an extremely well put together television comedy!

It has aged and bits of it are of course a bit dated now but there are some great lines and situations in it as there are in all comedy classics. I personally think they are right not to make any new episodes and just leave it there frozen in time for us to enjoy re-watching when we need a laugh.

Neil Quigley

The Premier League football season ended then with Spurs beating Leicester City. It was probably the most animated that I had been watching a game all season. There was not much riding on it except for one thing which was the chance to finish above Arsenal. Overall the season has been disappointing but to fall below them on the last day would have been hard to take.

Luckily we won the game despite still not being totally at our best and with a great late swansong from Gareth Bale. We have qualified for the Europa Conference league but I will be honest I am not sure exactly what it is or why it has been created.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Domestic football is finished for the summer so I am now all about the National Team. The Euro 2020 Championships start a year late this Friday. The tournament is being played all over Europe for the first time rather than all in just one country. That was the plan before Covid became a thing as it happens. That means England will get to play all of their group stage matches at Wembley. It will also be the venue for the semi-finals and final of the competition. That hopefully should give us an advantage as it almost did back in 1996.

I will be watching all the games and supporting the team. I like Gareth Southgate. I used to see him around quite a lot when I was at Wembley and he was always very personable. I wish him all the best. The squad selection is a bit of a surprise with a lot being made of the four right backs but they can all play in different positions. For me the bigger surprise is the lack of experienced midfielders, great to give youth a chance but I wonder if he could have used a spot for a player with more tournament game time. That said I am fully behind the manager and the squad. Fingers crossed for a good showing and some much needed excitement. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

May Be Getting Better

We are just over two weeks away from the next potential easing of restrictions; I have still only taken a slight advantage of the previous relaxation of the rules so far. I am perfectly happy to slowly return to doing things when they become more accessible and less controlled. The situation in the United Kingdom appears to be improving nicely as all the key numbers have dropped significantly during this latest lockdown. The vaccination programme so far seems to be delivering excellent results in our fight against this horrible virus.

It is impressive how many people have received the injection. Both my sister and girlfriend have now had their first jab, which is great. I am expecting my second one by the end of this month. The big test will be of course when we all start mixing inside once again. There have been some test events to decide the best way of achieving this and work out the risks. If everybody is honest and considerate with each other by isolating with any symptoms then taking a test when it is required, we can keep it under control, which has always been the aim of the game.

I am optimistic that we can still have a great summer within Britain. Personally I am looking forward to a lot of barbeques to see family and friends. The situation in some other countries is still a little bit of a concern as regards to new variants appearing, which could hinder the progress that we have made. That will make travel overseas a potential risk but if people are careful and follow any quarantine rules, hopefully it will all be fine. Meaning we can look ahead to a more normal winter this year. I still think the key is to concentrate on what we can do rather on what we cannot.

Neil Quigley

I must confess just for ease I have been avoiding shops for most of the last twelve months and buying pretty much everything online. The other week I just needed a couple of extra things for the Bank Holiday Weekend so I ventured out to one of my local Supermarkets. I only needed four items so I grabbed them very quickly. There were only two tills open and I always pick the wrong one, which was the case once again.

One of the cashiers had a problem with her till and the manager was there looking at it, so I joined the other queue behind a gentlemen who was doing his weekly shop and had a trolley full. I was minding my own business while socially distanced from him patiently waiting for him to finish. Then all of a sudden I got splashed in the face and head with something. I looked up to see the cashier had dropped a can of lager and it had exploded everywhere! I laughed and shook my head then realised she was completely soaked.

Therefore she had to mop herself up then wipe down every single item he had bought which had also been covered. The till next door had been fixed and two more customers served before it was at last my turn to pay. To add insult to injury from this issue the lager was not even gluten free so I could not even lick my lips. Mind you luckily for me when it landed on me I had my mouth shut for a change!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have just got a new mobile phone this week. I have been with O2 for over twenty years mainly because it feels like it would be a pain to change provider and they have never done anything to annoy me. Out of the blue I got a call from a member of their loyalty team who said they were rewarding me for my long term commitment to them with a special deal on a new phone and contract. Owing to last year’s iPad incident where I accidentally cancelled my phone contract and had to buy a sim only deal to get myself back in the telephone game, I thought I would just buy my next phone outright.

I was thinking about looking for a new phone when the guy rang me, how do they do these things, have they got a sixth sense, or am I that predictable? Anyway he was really nice, helpful and friendly. I had a very long chat with him. In the end he did offer me a decent deal on a new mobile contract which included a brand new phone with a very reasonable discount on it. It was the first time as a loyal customer of that company that they had ever called with such an offer. Therefore I took the deal and the new handset arrived a few days later. As I use the brand of phone that pretty much self-destructs after two years, I did need to get a new one!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My girlfriend and I had a couple of nights away just prior to the last Bank Holiday Weekend. We booked an Airbnb Shepherds Hut just outside Trowbridge. It was a very cosy straightforward little place. That was basically situated at the bottom of a vegetable garden at the back of a row of cottages. It was nicely furnished and heated by a log burner. I was briefly in the Cubs but never became a Scout. I put myself in charge of keeping the fire burning. You would not believe the pride and satisfaction I felt when I managed to get it going from scratch on day two. I just sat there staring at the flame smiling at my excellent work.

The Rumple Hut

There was one other thing that attracted us to this place for a little two night break and that was it came with a log fired hot tub. The hosts were great and very kindly made sure it was heated up so we could use it both the days we were there. We did not get there until after seven on the first night, so by the time we had eaten we did not venture outside to the hot tub until after nine. It was nicely lit and so peaceful. It was a bit chilly getting in and out of it at that time but we offset that issue by enjoying a couple of glasses of Champagne while we were in there.

Neil Quigley

We then enjoyed another outside soak the following afternoon once again accompanied by some fizz. It is so relaxing and invigorating to be at one with nature, while in the bath. The Rumple Hut to give it its rightful name also had a projector. On our final evening we set it up and using my girlfriend’s lap top we watched Star Wars “The Rise of Skywalker”, the final instalment in the epic series of movies. I am a huge fan of the franchise, so had already seen it the day that it came out in the cinema. She had only seen the first three original films but agreed to give the last one a go.

We set it up on one of the big white walls of the hut and I must say it looked and sounded really good. I enjoyed seeing the movie again. I do not watch that many films but I can happily watch any of the Star Wars films over and over again. There are some nice twists and turns as it wraps things up and tries to answer all the outstanding issues from the whole of the story, which is no mean feat. Plus it is great albeit very briefly to see nearly all of the main original characters make at least a small appearance in it. It was a cool way to spend our final night in the Wiltshire countryside before we headed home.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

It was of course May the Fourth Star Wars Day in the week. As a fan I do always celebrate and mark this occasion. I currently own a Star Wars T-shirt and a child’s Lightsaber. I used to have a big box of the original Star Wars figures and toys including the Millennium Falcon. I sold it all at a car boot sale about a year before they made the first of the final three films, which I will admit with hindsight, was very bad timing. I went to a Star Wars Exhibition at the O2 Arena about five years ago, which was brilliant. May the force be with you!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I had a great Bank Holiday Weekend relaxing while having a few drinks and enjoying some delicious gluten free food. As ever I was spoilt. We had two nights of steak firstly with potato salad then with pesto pasta the next night. A lovely prawn risotto dish with a bit of a homemade Chinese feast to round things off on the Sunday. All of this food was of course made by Lynda, who is an excellent cook. But I did contribute towards the pudding. I made a banana with whipped cream topped with hundreds and thousands. Do not knock it until you have tried it, tasted great I will have you know.

Neil Quigley

We also watched the most recent Russell Howard Netflix special called Recalibrate. I really like him and have seen him live quite a few times. In fact I saw him do a very early small work in progress gig for this very show at the brilliant Bill Murray Pub in Islington. From that I could tell that this was a much more angry and frustrated Russell than normal. That was clearly how he needed to pitch this show to make it work. The finished performance was hilarious there is one bit where he talks about what his Nan said at his Grandads funeral that made me cry with laughter. Well worth seeing if you simply need a good old fashioned laugh and we all need that sometimes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have just about recovered from the disappointment of Spurs losing the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley to Manchester City. They are a brilliant side, but I do not think we really went for it enough, we sat back a lot, when I would have liked to see us attack a bit more. That said it is no disgrace to lose to them. Since that defeat we bounced back beating Sheffield United four nil with Gareth Bale scoring a hat-trick. We started that game with the closest to the team I would like to have seen start for the last four months.

We still have no idea who our manager will be next season. All of the ones I really want already have jobs that I suspect they will not be leaving to come to us. Ryan Mason is doing a great job under the circumstances. We have just four games remaining starting with a trip to Leeds United today. Even if we win all of these matches there is only a very slim chance that we will qualify for the Champions League. If we fail to achieve that then it will be harder to attract new players and tougher to keep the players we have. I think depending on how the season pans out there could be quite a lot of changes at the club during the summer.

Neil Quigley

My weekly Pop Quiz has celebrated its first birthday. I marked the big occasion by presenting a special hour long version of it. I just added a few extra rounds some of which were there when it all began during lockdown one last April. I have had a lot of fun doing the quiz and trying to keep people entertained and amused when they were unable to leave their house or socialise with other people.

It has given me chance to chat and catch up with a few people which has been great. I have decided though as things will open up further in a few weeks I am going to do the final one of Tuesday 18th May. That means there are just two weeks left for you to get involved. Here is a link to the anniversary edition of “Quigger’s Play Pop” in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164966924145591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Art of Management

I still have not taken advantage yet of any of the relaxations of the rules. Due to the unique way that it grows I have been cutting my own hair for over a year now. I have no fashion sense so I have not rushed out to the shops to buy any clothes that do not suit me. Plus I still have a pretty impressive supply of wine at home. Add to that the fact that I have not quite got the desire to sit outside fully wrapped up while having a pint of cider. However if you have quite reasonably been out and about more sampling things I hope you have enjoyed it and felt safe.

It is nice to see a lot of my friends now getting their first jabs as well as my parents and older relatives receiving their second injections. I should get my next one in another four weeks, which I am obviously looking forward to. The more protected I am the better as far as I am concerned. As a long time sufferer of Asthma and also someone who needed several pints of blood after a nasty haemorrhage when I was nine I have been happy to rely on medical science to keep me alive. I can confirm that my opinion on its worth has not changed.

I will slowly ease myself back out into the world, seeing friends and going to pubs when I feel the time is right. Everybody can decide to do things again when they want to and at their own speed. As long as we continue to look after ourselves and each other the new roaring twenties are just around the corner. That is going to be some decade of partying. I am branching out a little bit, my girlfriend and I are off to stay in a Shepherd’s Hut in the middle of nowhere next weekend for a slight change of scenery, which we are both looking forward to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the Grand National a fortnight ago today. I am usually up in Liverpool for the event and I hope to be back there for it next year. It was a bit weird watching on the television with no fans at Aintree. It always amuses me when they travel over the Melling Road as I have driven up and down that road lots of times, although not on a race day of course. The big race itself did not disappoint. It had as much drama and excitement as always. It is arguably the most challenging course for jumps horses and one of the biggest tests of stamina that the animals involved will probably ever face.

It was won this year by a horse called Minella Times, which is trained in Ireland by Henry De Bromhead. It was ridden to victory by the ace Rachel Blackmore, who in doing so became the first ever female jockey to win the race. She has already established herself as one of the top riders in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Both of them had already had a brilliant Cheltenham Festival, which is the other really big meeting in the jumps racing calendar. I happily had backed her to win so that earned me a few pounds. I also had the fifth placed horse on an each way bet, so it was a decent afternoon for me.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The evening then got even better. One of my horses that I have a few small shares in Stage Star was running in the final race of the day at Aintree. Therefore after I had celebrated my Grand National win I settled down to watch this race. Originally Harry Cobden was due to ride him but he got injured after falling in an earlier race and had to go to hospital. Then Bryony Frost was lined up to do it but sadly she also had a fall in the National and ended up in hospital to. In the end Harry Skelton ended up taking the ride. It was a big step up for Stage Star but he had run well in his last race at Ascot just being beaten by his stable mate Knappers Hill.

He started well and was travelling nicely in the middle of the field. It was a big race with twenty runners. With about three furlongs to go his jockey gave him a shake up and he went to the front. At this point I was screaming and shouting getting very excited. As it looked for a few moments like he could win it but he was overtaken once again by Knappers Hill in the final furlong and then passed by a second horse as he ran on to finish third. It was a great run from a horse that we hope has a lot of potential.

He went off at a price of 22/1 and as I had an each way bet on him he did win me a little bit of cash. It was a National Hunt Flat race but the plan is to run him over hurdles in the autumn, which we think will suit him better. That will be after he has had a well deserved break this summer. I am looking forward to a time when I can once again see my horses run in person at the track. The adrenalin rush you get watching them challenge for the lead in a race is brilliant. Not to mention the feeling when they win!

Neil Quigley and Stage Star
Neil Quigley and Stage Star

It is pretty easy to manage my Gluten Free diet at home. It simply means that I have to think about my meal choices a little bit more in advance. Or if I want something particular I have to hunt down the Gluten Free version. I have just found a food company who produce and do home delivery of their own products. Mainly I have used this to expand my snack options like biscuits and bars. Although I have found a new cereal to try, it is the closest to my old favourite one that I have found.

Thanks to my girlfriend I had my first experience of Gluten Free pasta last Saturday in a Lasagne she made. It tasted amazing and I would challenge anyone in a taste test to be able to spot the Gluten was missing, you honestly could not tell. The week before it was a Gluten Free Pizza to try, which again was lovely. She is basically working through the things that when I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I thought I would no longer be able to eat.

Gluten Free Lasagne

After we had finished our food we had another online comedy night to watch. It was hosted by Laura Lex, who I once saw do the warm up for Ben Elton’s Upstart Crow. And perform as one of the headline comics at the Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. She was great and did a top job setting the tone for the show. The first act on was Tez Ilyas who was excellent, really enjoyed his set. Then it was Troy Hawke, who is a character act, which I honestly think some of the audience did not realise. To be fair it did take me a bit of time to get on board with it, but he did make me laugh.

The headline act was somebody who I really like. I have seen him live twice at Glastonbury and then doing some new material at the Old Rope Comedy Night in London. It was the hilarious Ed Byrne. He has such an entertaining way of telling his stories, while doing very unique and individual to him jokes. He knows the craft of comedy inside out and is so comfortable on stage. He even added an extra couple of jokes to his performance as he was not happy about the laugh that his last planned joke received. He told the audience exactly what he was doing and blamed us for it, which I thought was great. Top fella!

Ed Byrne
Ed Byrne

I recently watched Shaun of The Dead for the first time. I appreciate as ever with regards to films I am a bit behind the times with this one as it was released in 2004. It has a great cast and is good fun. It was a bit weird watching a Zombie Apocalypse after the year we have all had. Many aspects of it in a way strangely seemed quite familiar. There are some great quotable lines in it. Plus a lot of good cameo appearances. I will hold my hand up as someone who does not like horror or any blood. As a result there were a few bits that I found too gory and had to look away from the screen for. I am so bad I cannot even watch Casualty. I hate anything injured body or flesh related.

The film starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It was directed by Edgar Wright. Three years after this one the three of them teamed up again for a movie called Hot Fuzz. A lot of it was shot on location in Wells in Somerset. I was working for Ivel fm in Yeovil at the time. After the big London premiere they then decided to have a smaller one in the cinema in Wells. One of the journalists who worked at the station with me got wind of this and managed to get hold of the person who was organising it. He tried to get us tickets to see the film but the cinema there is pretty small, so all they could offer us were two tickets for the after show party in a bar next door.

We went along of course, even though it was a midweek event. I think he drove us there so I had a few beers. The place was packed Nick Frost and Edgar Wright were both there but Simon Pegg was unable to make it. They both gave a short speech. Then the DJ took over. As it happened he was somebody I knew anyway, so I got all the gossip about the film from him. It was a strange night to be honest so we did not stay too late. I have still not seen the whole film. I did once almost get invited to the London Premiere of a Guy Ritchie film but that is a story for another time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tim Lovejoy formerly of Soccer Am and currently of Sunday Brunch on Channel 4 is doing quite a few podcasts at the moment. One of these is a football one called A-Zidane of Football with a Derby fan mate of his called Blake. I make a brief appearance on the S episode edition talking to them about my team Tottenham. This was prior to the two big pieces of news to come out of the club in the last week. It was fun to do and good to talk to the both of them. If you missed it and fancy having a listen here is a link to the one that I was on. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ep-235-a-zidane-of-football-letter-s/id1196671475?i=1000517361706

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Well where do I start with the last two weeks in the life and times of my team Tottenham Hotspur? As I feared we were well beaten by a not even firing on all cylinders themselves Manchester United team. Then we drew away to a similarly lacklustre Everton Side. The game was so bad that both sides deserved to lose. At the end of the match to add injury to insult Harry Kane limped off with what looked like an ankle injury. I did apply to be one of the two thousand fans at Wembley to watch us play Manchester City in the League Cup Final tomorrow but I was not successful in the ballot.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Although with hindsight, what has happened during the last seven days makes that pale into insignificance. First there was that “big” announcement about the so called big six clubs in England wanting to be part of a new European Super League in their eyes replacing their involvement in the Champions League and Europa League. I am ashamed to say Spurs were one of these clubs. This proposed league was fixed with always with the same teams and no promotion or relegation. Therefore completely pointless, it was totally driven by greed and they massively misread why fans support their clubs. It is now not happening thankfully after all the English clubs pulled out after pressure from their fans.

I have not renewed my season ticket yet. This latest money driven elitist stupid failed plan means that I will have some serious thinking to do to decide if I will renew it or not? I was already on the edge with VAR ruining things but this could well be the last straw. I love going to the match and cheering on the team, I want to see them win things. Not play in a pointless midweek European non-competition. That will not be the case now, but even so the way it came about has left a bitter taste in the mouth. Realistically I will probably renew it as I enjoy it and it did take me over forty years to be able to get one.

The day after that story broke Tottenham then decide to sack the manager Jose Mourinho. I was not a fan of his before he joined us and I would say to anyone who would listen before he came that I did not like or enjoy his style of football. And that I did not want him as our boss. I was a huge fan of Mauricio Pochettino and was upset when he was fired. I had grown to accept Mourinho as a man but the way he had the team playing and that fact we were not winning were hard to accept.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

The timing of the dismissal was crazy. It should either have been done a month ago when we were still in touch with the top four or at the end of the season. Doing it the week before a Cup Final in a competition he has a good record in seems mad. It would have been a huge ask against City but he has pulled off some big shocks over the years, so to relieve him of his duties now is very hard to justify. There does not appear to be any one lined up so Ryan Mason and Chris Powell are stepping up from the Under 23’s to take control until the end of the season.

They are both great guys and I am sure they will do a good job but it is not the ideal preparation for a club looking to win their first silver ware since 2008. I will be watching the action from Wembley on my television tomorrow and cheering the team on as always. No one is really expecting us to win but stranger things have happened. Jose did not seem to have a clue what his best side was seventeen months into the job. I hope the two new coaches can make firm decisions a lot quicker and find I hope a more attacking formula. To Dare is to Do! Come on your Spurs!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Amazingly my weekly lockdowns’ Pop Quiz is one year old this Tuesday. I started doing it around a month into the first national lockdown purely as something for people on a Tuesday night to do. Everything was shut and you were not allowed to socialise or visit anybody. It gave me something to work towards and prepare each week. I had a lot of fun putting it together, designing the rounds and writing all the questions. Lots of people were joining in and enjoying the music based fun, which was great.

The first series lasted until the end of lockdown one. I stopped doing it when we were allowed back out. I honestly thought that was it and I had put it to bed. Then in November the second national lockdown happened, so I brought it back on the same night and in the same time slot as before. It was great to see all the old participants return for the latest version. This one only lasted about five weeks but did also lead to me doing a Christmas Special during the festive period.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I thought that it might be a fitting way to end it but then in January this year lockdown three occurred. Therefore what else could I do but bring it back for a third series. During the last twelve months I think I have written well over one thousand questions. I dressed up as Elvis Presley for the end of series one as I did think that one could be the last ever quiz. In all of the other shows I have worn the same grey jacket. In every one Pinky Punky from Mallet’s Mallet has sat just behind me.

For the anniversary programme I am going to do an hour long special of “Quigger’s Plays Pop” starting at the earlier time of 8pm. As well as having more questions than usual I will bring back a few of the old rounds and may even test people’s memories with some of the same questions I used during the heady days of the first series. It should be a good laugh. As ever as well as the quiz itself I will try and throw in some facts or stories of some of my encounters with people from the world of music. Join me this Tuesday at 8pm for the birthday pop quiz. If you missed it here is the link to last week’s show. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164939561950591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley


You can listen to me on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Jump Around

I will be honest I am still pretty much just keeping myself to myself despite the easing of the lockdown regulations. I am happy to wait a little bit and see what happens as people mix in controlled situations together. Plus as we can only meet outside at the moment I am also waiting for the weather to consistently warm up a bit. I am not a fan of the cold. When the temperatures start averaging around twenty degrees then I will start catching up with people.

There are more business’s being allowed to reopen from Monday including hairdressers. I appreciate that some folk are very excited about that but as I have been cutting my own hair for a year now I no longer require their services. Pubs can serve food and drinks if they have an outside area or beer garden. However I think I am going to once again wait a bit to see how that is going before I sample it. I am still being extra careful but also as much as I want to go to pubs I do want it to seem like a place of fun rather than having a drink in your local doctors’ waiting room, if you know what I mean?

Everything so far in the United Kingdom looks quite encouraging as we slowly unlock things. The latest measures in place appear to have been working and hopefully if we are sensible and courteous we can keep things under control going forward. As much as I would love to head off on holiday somewhere exotic, some other countries do not appear to quite be on top of things yet. I understand how if this is not managed properly it could undo a lot of our hard work. Frustrating though that is for everybody. It could be the year for exploring those parts of Britain that you have been meaning to but never got round to.

Neil Quigley

I hope you had a fantastic Easter Bank Holiday Weekend and got to eat lots of chocolate, it is what Jesus would have wanted. Mine was brilliant, even though I did not set foot outside at all during the four days. I did however manage to find plenty of things to do to keep me entertained. On Good Friday evening my girlfriend got us a ticket for an online comedy night. It started quite early I thought at 7pm. Mind you I was already on the red wine by then to be fair. The event was hosted by Kiri Pritchard- Mclean. She was excellent and did a top job warming up an odd gig with a small Covid safe live audience there in the room alongside the now normal Zoom audience online.

Neil Quigley

First on was Daliso Chaponda who if you remember was on Britain’s Got Talent and has since had his own show on Radio 4. He was ace as he has been every time I have seen him, very funny and clever. Then it was a comic who I actually discovered via TikTok. He is a one liner comedian in the style of Tim Vine and Milton Jones. That style of comedy is a lot harder than it seems and requires an exceptional amount of wordplay skill and the ability to be very economic with your words, which is why I could never do it. His name is Mark Simmons and I really enjoyed his set it had some lovely lines in it.

The headline act was Nina Conti. I have been trying to see her live for a while and this is the closest I have managed so far. When I was in Edinburgh last I wanted to see her show there but it was totally sold out. She is an amazing Ventriloquist who mainly performs with her trusty sidekick Monkey. But she also has a bit in her act where she gets people up from the audience and puts puppet masks over their faces and makes them talk, which is always hilarious. As ever I thought she was great!

I have been a fan of ventriloquism for years as a child I used to love Roger De Courcey and Nookie Bear, as well as Ray Allan and Lord Charles. The gig was a wonderful start to the long weekend. All the performers were good despite the strange way it was set up and the fact that none of them had performed live for a while, obviously. I do hope that they do more of these gigs as we build up for the return of actual live comedy with some bigger audiences. There are so many brilliant venues I regularly used to visit to see top comedians do their thing. I cannot wait till these reopen and I am once again able to laugh out loud with a room full of strangers.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

On Saturday afternoon we ended up watching Shrek. It is one of those films that you can watch over and over again and it does not require too much attention, which is always a winner for me. It is a brilliant film with a great singalong soundtrack. Which character are you? I think I am definitely “Donkey”. It is hard to believe it is twenty years old this month. I spotted something watching it this time that I think I had seen online somewhere and then totally forgot about.

The logo lettering for the ruler of the town of Duloc, Lord Farquaad is a white f on a blue background. It does look kind of familiar to how a well-known social media networking website looks. Facebook was launched in 2004! Mark Zuckenberg would have been I guess about seventeen years old when the movie was released. Even if he did not mean to I reckon at the very least he saw it and subconsciously used that for his site design. Or that is what I would have told my lawyers anyway!

Neil Quigley

Later on that evening we watched Creation Stories which is loosely based on the life of Alan McGhee, who was the man behind Creation Records. Irvine Welsh helped write the screen play and apparently did shall we say embellish certain aspects of the story. It is directed by Nick Moran who was in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I do think that you can detect the influence of that film and Trainspotting in this one.

It is mainly about how Alan achieved what he did while seemingly being constantly out having a great time. That in a way does make his success even more impressive and surprising. His record label’s biggest discovery was probably Oasis. They do get referenced in this but they are very much on the fringes of things. Paving the way for a biopic of the Gallagher brother’s, which if they make very soon they can use all the actors who played the band in the McGhee story and save a bit of time during the casting process.

Neil Quigley

It was for me an unusually film heavy weekend. But we did also enjoy lots of top quality food, some decent red wine and in my case a bit more Gluten Free Beer. The final movie we saw was the Spike Lee directed Blackkklannsman. It is based on a true story about a black police detective who wants to infiltrate his town’s branch of the Klu Klux Klan. He makes the initial contact with them via the phone and then speaks to the leaders of the group on the phone throughout the movie. But for obvious reasons he could not meet them in person, so another white but Jewish detective pretends to be him to get in with the organisation.

It is a fascinating and terrifying story. It was very cleverly told and although a massively serious subject there is a lot of comedy in it. The main man Ron Stallworth is played by John David Washington. The character is kind of like the original Beverley Hills Cop in style and brashness. Adam Driver plays his colleague who has to pretend to be him when meeting up with the white supremacists.

I felt quite a bit of tension throughout it and you so want the good guys to win and there are moments when you fear they will not. At the end of the film there is some footage that shows the language that these guys were using back in the seventies appears to be the same as what Donald Trump was reciting in a lot of his speeches. Certain key words and phrases really stuck out. Having just seen the movie it definitely struck a chord with me.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It is the Aintree Horse Racing Festival this weekend culminating in The Grand National later this afternoon. The event did not even take place at all last year. Before that it was always a highlight of my year. I would travel up to Liverpool on the Thursday afternoon to go to my mate Jeff’s place. We would then get all dressed up in our suits and go to Ladies Day at the course on the Friday. That was always a top quality occasion and if I am honest quite a big day on the alcohol front.

Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan
Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan

Then on Grand National Day itself we would find a nice pub in or around Liverpool to watch the race in both of us hoping to have backed the winner to justify the party we were actually going to have regardless of the result. This will be the second year I have missed but hopefully things will be at the stage by next year, where we can restart this wonderful tradition. It is always such a funny and lively weekend. Plus a great excuse to get dressed up and cheer on some of the best horses in the country.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

One of my horses “Stage Star” is actually running in the final race of the festival, which takes place after the main event. He is set to run in the 6.20pm at Aintree. It is a National Hunt Flat Race and only his third appearance at a track. It is a big step up even though the first couple of appearances were encouraging this will be a much bigger test. I hope he runs well, enjoys himself and comes home safe. If he does happen to win I will be celebrating, that is for sure. It is a shame that under the current restrictions I cannot be there in person but I guarantee I will be watching from home.

Neil Quigley and Stage Star
Neil Quigley and Stage Star

I have really settled in to my Gluten Free diet now. Generally it does not cause me any real issues but every now and again there will be something that I discover I cannot have. Or more accurately I will have to hunt down the Gluten Free version of. There does seem to be one for pretty much everything, which is nice.

As a result of my Coeliac Disease diagnosis I had to have another vaccination this week. It is recommended that sufferers get the Pneumonia Vaccine due to an increased risk of complications if it is contracted. Quick simple and painless as with all these things and I now have the little bit of extra protection I need.

Gluten Free Food

There was a break from Domestic football as the International scene took centre stage for a few weeks. England managed three wins out of three. That means we top our World Cup Qualification Group. Harry Kane managed to add to his goal tally and is at number six on the all time scorers list, six goals behind fifth placed Michael Owen and nineteen goals behind first placed Wayne Rooney. I certainly would not back against him beating that record the man is a goal machine!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham returned to action last Sunday. You can always rely on them to ruin a decent weekend. The performance was actually not too bad but we conceded a goal in the last ten minutes to draw away at Newcastle. A win would have put us into the top four. That has kind of been the story of our season so far, we have very much flattered to deceive.

We face Manchester United at home tomorrow and I have no idea how it will turn out. I fear the worse but hope for the best. Whatever happens I will be fully behind the team cheering them on. As that is what supporting the team means to me.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

My Pop Quiz continues every Tuesday night at 8.30pm still. I plan on keeping it going at least until we are allowed to sit back inside pubs and restaurants again. That seems like it will be at least a month or so away.

Since I started it last April I have set and asked over one thousand questions. Here is the latest episode of “Quigger’s Plays Pop” in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164882543415591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have now been doing my Saturday Show on Radio Ninesprings in Yeovil for over a year. That seems to have gone very quickly. If you have listened in at any point thanks very much I hope I made you laugh or at the very least made you shout at your radio! You can listen to me on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil

Park Life

It has now been over twelve months since the United Kingdom had its first National Lockdown. We are now in Lockdown three and like The Police Academy films ideally we would have all liked them to have ended after the initial one. They both basically followed the same story and sadly did become a little less entertaining. However we are hopefully moving in the right direction and starting to get on top of the situation regarding this very nasty virus at last.

The real test of course will come when everything slowly starts to open back up again. Then we will get the chance to try to remember how to order drinks in a pub, sing at football matches and purchase a ticket for the theatre. We are not quite there yet and it will not just be enough to get things under control here. For things to truly begin to get back to somewhere near to normal the whole world needs to be able to contain this thing together. Sadly it does seem that some Countries are faring better than others at that.

Obviously nobody is totally enjoying the current situation. Life I think is about how you look at it. Try to concentrate on the things that we can do over the next few months rather than the things we cannot. Then make the most of everything you can still do within the rules. People will also begin to allow themselves to do things at their own speed when they feel comfortable enough. Some will jump back to it straight away some may wait a bit and see what happens. Each to their own! We all have to make the right decisions for ourselves.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have now been Gluten Free for over a month after being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Happily I am still finding it easy to adapt my regular diet accordingly and do not really feel that I am missing out on too much. I still get way too excited when I check a bar code on my phone application and the smiley face appears telling me that it is safe for me to have it. My girlfriend is doing a sterling job giving me Gluten Free desserts as my general motto when it comes to food is that you should always end a meal with something sweet. I feared that I might have to stop with that philosophy but it is still possible even with the new restrictions I have.

I can no longer have standard Lager, Beer or Stout so I am on a little bit of a mission to find the best Gluten Free version of these options. I have already found an early leader in the Lager category. It is called Daura and made in Spain by the people that make Estrella. It is so far the closest to the real lager taste that I have found. It is completely fine for me to drink, in moderation of course. It is actually approved by Coeliac UK and has their emblem. That sign is basically a big tick for me on anything I see it on. I have studied food labelling in the last month more than at any time during my entire life.

Gluten Free Lager

For the first time since I was eighteen there was no Guinness for me on St Patrick’s Day this year, as I am no longer allowed to drink it. For many years I went to Waxy O’Connor’s in London, had a few pints of the black stuff, enjoyed the live Irish music and basically had a great time. I did not get to go last year which was a real shame. That place is my favourite pub in the Capital and I am looking forward to going there when we are allowed to once again. I will have to find a new drink to enjoy there of course.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

I have always felt I qualified to celebrate because not only do I have a name with Irish origin “Quigley” but my Granddad was actually born there. The family had a small holding in County Mayo. I have not had the chance to go there yet, my Uncle has and sadly the actual farm is no longer there. I would like to visit one day. I imagine it would be a bit like Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey and it would turn out that I was in some way related to everybody in the local pub. This year I raised a cup of tea to St Patrick, while wearing my green rugby shirt that I won in a competition at Waxy’s about seven years ago.

Neil Quigley

I hope you somehow managed to give your Mum a nice little treat on Mother’s Day this year. I appreciate this may not have been easy and there is a chance you have not seen her for a year or possibly longer. I ordered mine a card from a well-known greetings card website. Their name rhymes with “Spoon Wig”. It has been a tough year for everyone so I thought I would splash out a bit as she deserves it. As I was placing the order I saw an option that said giant card. I thought I would get her that. I did not bother looking at the dimensions as I honestly presumed giant meant A4 size. Why would you need one bigger than that?

Anyway I also sorted out some chocolates and arranged to get them delivered to her on the day. That afternoon she sent me a picture of her holding the card and it was massive! It was almost as big as her. It looked like one of those oversized cheques that they mock up to give big prize winners. My Mum liked it but my sister was annoyed as she got a normal sized card, so it looked like I had tried to outdo her in the appreciation stakes. That was not my intention. In fact it was simply due to me not really paying attention. I just hope she does not think all of her future cards will be this size or she is going to be very disappointed.

Giant Card!

I am generally very clumsy. In fact it is a bit worrying how often I seem to catch my arm on door frames or hit my head on cabinet doors. I often compare myself to a cross between Frank Spencer from “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave’ M and Mr Bean. I sometimes think that I could have been a slapstick comedy superstar like Norman Wisdom or Charlie Chaplin. I reckon I could easily have fell through that bar like Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. I am not sure how I seem to manage these things.

The other week I was just walking down the stairs to get a glass of water albeit with nothing on my feet. When I tripped and somehow fell forward on to just one of my toes, which buckled under me and for a brief moment had all my weight on it. At this point it made a bit of a strange noise as I regained my footing. I thought I had broken my toe initially but now I think I might just have sprained it. Either way it has gone a very impressive colour and I have had to rest it. There is nothing more annoying than injury yourself doing something simply unexpected and ridiculous.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the Cheltenham Festival recently. I am a big horse racing fan so this is always one of the highlights of my year. I normally try to go on the Wednesday, obviously I could not do that this year and sadly I did not manage to get there last year. Although as that was when the Pandemic was starting to take hold of the country I was totally fine with that situation with hindsight. I watched all of the races from the comfort of my home this time. The television coverage is very good to be fair. They do it really well and make it as inclusive as possible.

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival

The racing is always top quality at this event. It takes place at the home of National Hunt Racing. The course is set in the countryside of the Cotswolds and looks stunning. As part of the meeting there is a competition between the Irish Trainers and the rest of the United Kingdom. Ireland ran away with it this year. They had the winners of pretty much all the big races. Ireland’s Rachel Blackmore became the first female leading Jockey at the event, riding the most winners over the four days.

When it comes to any gambling the golden rule is never bet more than you can afford to lose. For example when I actually go to the races I budget in any stake money as part of the cost of the whole day and expect to spend it. If I have any winners and return with some money that is just a bonus. I had quite a good Cheltenham. I saw and had a bet on every race and ended up fifty pounds up for the week, which I was obviously very happy with. Next up in a couple of weeks it is the Grand National Festival at Aintree. I would normally be there but of course cannot do that this year. However one of my horses might be running there, which is very exciting.

Neil Quigley and Stage Star
Neil Quigley and Stage Star

I watched the film Wild Rose last weekend. Unusually this one was kind of my suggestion for a change, much to the surprise of my other half. It is about a young Scottish woman who is desperate to make it as a Country singer. That is what peaked my interest as I am a fan of that genre of music. Plus I had heard some good things about it. The cast list is impressive it features Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo and Jessie Buckley who plays the title role. It was quite a good watch. I was hoping there would be more music in it than there was. It has a pretty gritty and real storyline.

The king of the UK Country scene Bob Harris makes a brief cameo appearance in it as does his real Radio 2 producer. The best bit for me was when Rose-Lynn goes to Nashville. I have been there and I loved it there, so it was great to see it on screen. It brought back lots of memories of my trip there. I would happily go there again. Such a cool place with live music pretty much everywhere all of the time. I do not want to spoil the ending but they kept the movie true and pretty realistic, I would say.

Nashville Broadway
Nashville Broadway

I started my weekly Pop Quiz during the first Lockdown thinking that I would do it for a few months and that would be it. It has had a few breaks but we are now on series three. Within the next month it will celebrate its first anniversary. I am planning on doing a one hour long special birthday programme. It began as a bit of a distraction and some music related fun on a Tuesday night. I never intended to still be doing it now but here we are. I am still doing it and enjoying it.

You can join in with the latest episode this Tuesday on my Facebook page at 8.30pm. As ever there will be thirty questions spread over six fun and different rounds. There is always an audio round to test your skills for recognising songs from short clips of them. I always wear the same “showbiz” jacket when I present it. I might give that away on the very last show. I really enjoy doing it but when I have to stop that means everything is back open and we are out socialising again. Here is last week’s Quigger’s Plays Pop to enjoy in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164825151995591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It has not been the best few weeks for Tottenham Hotspur. We were beaten by Arsenal in the North London Derby, which means both of us won our home games against each other this season. We then got knocked out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb despite being two goals up from the first leg. We lost three nil after extra time. It was such a disappointing lacklustre performance it almost made me angry.

We did thankfully manage to beat Aston Villa away before this latest international break. That leaves us still sniffing around the top four places in the Premier League. We need one big final push between now and the end of the season.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can still listen to me on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.