Tag Archives: Grand National

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

Festival of Fun

Hello again, hope life is good and you are feeling fine. Last weekend was an annual event in my diary. Which I look forward to every year. It is something I first went to more than ten years ago now. I always enjoy any trip to Liverpool. But being there for Ladies Day at Aintree is brilliant fun. We have been doing it for such a long time now. That we have got the whole operation down to a tee.

I travelled up to Liverpool on the Thursday afternoon by train. On the journey I was catching up on the Gary Lineker and Danny Baker Podcast “Behind Closed Doors.” Which they launched at the start of this year. If you are a fan of football stories and banter. Then take a listen. I enjoyed it and it passed the time nicely. As I went through Birmingham on my way to Lime Street Station. On arrival there I walked past and tipped my head to the Ken Dodd statue by the exit. As I always do.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

Then it was the short walk to Central Station to get the Mersey Rail to meet my mate at his local station. I feel very at home there. I put that down to my Granddad having grown up in that area. As always my pal meets me from the station. And we head to his local pub. To have a few beers and a catch up. I drink in London often, so there is something almost exciting about being able to buy two pints for less than four pounds.

It is then back to his place. Where thankfully he always lets me stay. As hotel prices in the city rocket in price unsurprisingly during the Grand National Race Meeting. Food and some tea. Accompanied of course by some music. And this time a little bit of Alan Partridge. We do tend to get to bed at a reasonable time ready for Ladies Day itself. The next day.

Ladies Day 2019

I do not always, but this year I did treat myself to a new suit. We all dress up. Buying a suit is always an odd experience. As normally the men in those places can take one look at you. Then bring things out in exactly the right size. Something I can never manage. When I am shopping alone. Any way we are all suited and booted. And in a pub just down the road from the famous old course by midday.

Next we head down to the entrance. It is always spectacular when you walk in and see those familiar huge stands. Not to mention the amount of people milling around. As you enter you pass the parade ring. Race horses are such beautiful and amazing animals. We were in the big marquee. It has several bars, some bookies and some huge televisions showing all the races. They also have a live band, who go on in between races. So there is just a big party atmosphere in there all day.

I had three winners, while we were there. Including the first race of the day. Which is always a good start to proceedings. The place is rammed with people having a good time. We leave before the last race. To get ahead of the crowd and get into Liverpool City Centre. If you leave it to late. The queues for the trains are horrendous. We as ever timed it perfectly.

We normally start off in The Jacaranda. Which is yet another place where The Beatles used to play a lot. They have a jukebox and great music in there. So it is always a good laugh. From there we continued the fun in several different bars. As more people we knew, who had been at the races earlier, joined us. We then ended up in an eighties bar finishing the night dancing in there. Once again it was another fantastic day. It is brilliant fun! With good company and venues. Plus a nice vibe to the whole thing.

Ladies Day 2019

The next day is of course The Grand National. We also have a bit of a tradition for this momentous event to. We always spend it with my mate’s parents and sister in a lovely pub, near to where they live. It is such a relaxing and fun afternoon. We have a few drinks, a laugh and watch all of the races including of course the big one.

Well done to Tiger Roll on winning it for the second year running, Which is some achievement. I was at Cheltenham when he won so convincing there this year. I must admit after that performance. I knew that he would be the best horse at Aintree. But that is not a guarantee. That you will win it. It was a great race . When he got in front. There was no way that anyone was going to get past him. I am pleased to say that I did have some money on him. Fair play to you if you picked him out to.

Grand National 2019

I came home on the Sunday afternoon. After yet another amazing weekend. I have already booked to stay with my mate again next year. We did have a drive around the course before I had to head to the station. As you can normally, when there is not a race on, drive down the Melling Road. We did just that and looked back down the course at all those daunting fences. A big thanks to everyone who joined in and made it such a fun and memorable few days. To quote The Beautiful South “You can’t have too many good times.”

Ladies Day 2019

I went and saw a brand new show recently. It is starting in the West End before it goes on tour all over the United Kingdom. It stars four Strictly Come Dancing contestants. Three of who won the show and one who really should have done that as well. Or at the very least got a lot further in the competition than he actually did. They are Harry Judd, Louis Smith, Jay McGuinness and Aston Merrigold. The show is called Rip It Up.

Rip It Up

It is basically a tribute to the nineteen sixties. It is set up like the American music television programmes. That were on during that decade. Complete with over the top US host. There is a band on stage throughout. A company of brilliant dancers. And the four stars who mostly perform the dances. Either in groups or with a partner. They do also all do a bit of singing. Including Louis Smith. Who then demonstrates what a great gymnast he is in one section. Harry Judd does some drumming. Aston Merrigold throws in some back flips.

It is a nicely put together show. Which features some quality songs and some great dancing. It is good fun. And the audience were up on their feet singing and dancing along by the end. Some bits do feel like they are shoe horned in a little. But it is a brilliant night out. It does not take itself too seriously. It pays homage to a great time in world music. Plus they do have some huge musical stars to help with the narrative. I enjoyed it.

Rip It Up

During my time working in radio. I have met a lot of very talented and lovely people. One of these is the wonderful Neil Sands. He toured the country as a professional Wrestler. He was one of the people behind “The Church”. If you ever went to that place on a Sunday afternoon in Kings Cross. As I did on a few occasions. And for many years now, he has been producing and starring in several different touring shows across the country.

His latest show. Brand new for this year is Sentimental Journey. Which I went and saw at the Wycombe Swan a few weeks ago. It is simply a celebration of great music from the forties through to the seventies. It stars Neil himself alongside some other great singers and performers Chelsea Turnbull, Sophie Presley and Szara King. He works with a brilliant backing band called The Golden Times Duo.

He has been a professional entertainer for many years. He has such a nice way with the audience. It is just all so very inclusive and good humoured. Right from the start the audience are encouraged to join in. I took my mum to see it. And we had a very enjoyable afternoon clapping and singing along to all these fantastic songs. Plus any show that features a section on Buddy Holly, Connie Francis and a little bit of Country and Western is always going to be a big hit with me.

It is a show full of memories and nostalgia delivered with love and grace by the cast. It also has a fitting tribute to our armed forces. Which is equally poignant and joyful. I really enjoyed it. As I have all the Neil Sands productions that I have seen. He was sadly feeling a little under the weather. But I did manage to have a very quick chat with him afterwards. It was great to see him. He is such a nice person and extremely talented. Keep an eye out for him and his shows. They are always worth seeing.

Sentimental Journey

I went to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the second test event there. Which was a Spurs Legends side against Inter Milan. It was great to see so many former players back in the famous white shirts and on the pitch. It was a quality line up. Some of them had not played for a very long time. While others were a lot fitter. And dare I say still pretty athletic. I was very impressed with Jurgen Klinsman. He was still strutting around the pitch and looking sharp. Also David Howells deserves a special mention for treating it like a cup final. He was taking no prisoners out there.

It was great to see Robbie Keane score and do his famous cart wheel celebration. Always a joy to see Dimitar Berbartov play. Nayim was a bit bigger than I remember. But still very skilful. Great to see David Ginola out there after his recent health problems. But there was one player I was looking forward to seeing the most. It was the man who I remember running our whole midfield and scoring that ridiculous free kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final back in 1991 Paul Gascoigne.

He was on the bench to begin with. And sadly in true Gazza style, he had managed to damage his Achilles Tendon in the warm up. But fair play to him. He still came on to a brilliant reception from all the fans. The whole place was singing his name. It was clear that he was not moving very easily, so he only lasted about ten minutes. Before he was then replaced. Still great to see him. What a Spurs and England legend. I wish him all the best in his recovery. The game was a good laugh, even though we lost in the end. It gave me another chance to get settled in to the new home.

Tottenham Hotspur

Talking of which I was of course there for the official opening and our first league game at the currently named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The ground opened early. So I took advantage of this by having a pint and a pie there before kick off.

There was a bit of an opening show. We had a local youth choir. Who were ace. They were then joined by the Opera Singer Wynne Evans for a different version of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur

At the end of which there was a big fireworks display on the roof. Something I had completely missed until I saw the footage after. I was looking straight at the pitch only, I never thought to look up. So I missed it. Then I could not work out where this smoke was coming from. Before the match had even kicked off. A tweet I posted earlier appeared on the four big screens inside the ground. I was very happy that my name had already been displayed at the stadium. I managed to get a really bad picture of it.

The game itself was a must win. We had to get the three points. To keep in the hunt for a Champions League place. Thankfully after a bit of dogged resistance from Crystal Palace and a slight deflected shot. We managed to score our first senior goal at the stadium. And go on to win the game two – nil. Which felt great. It is a brilliant stadium. I can tell I am going to have a lot of fun going there over the years.

The Boss

I was at the Champions League Quarter Final First Leg against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The atmosphere in the place was so electric. We won one-nil thanks to another strike from Son. All of the players were immense.

But it is only half time, really. We still have it all to do in the second leg this Wednesday. The only disappointment on what was a very memorable night was Harry Kane going off with an ankle injury. The mood in the ground at full time was delightful.

Tottenham Hotspur

Huge congratulations to the amazing Charlotte Milchard. Who won Best Supporting Actress at the recent National Film Awards. For her role in Best British Film Scott and Sid. I first met her back in Yeovil in 2004. She was playing the villain in that year’s panto. And although on stage she was terrifying. Off it she was one of the loveliest people you could meet. I saw her a few times over the years performing in Somerset. She always popped in to have a chat on the radio. Which was fantastic.

Since then of course I have been following her career on stage and on screen. It is great spending time in her company. Such a talented and yet humble person. She richly deserves any success that comes her way. I was so happy for her when I discovered she had won this big accolade. A great achievement. It seems she had a wonderful night collecting her award. Which also makes me very happy. Well done Charlotte! A pleasure to know you.

Charlotte Milchard

Tonight I am off to see another performer I know compete for an award. I am attending the final of The Musical Comedy Awards in London. To see the excellent Silky perform for the title.

The evening will also feature The Brett Domino Trio. If you not aware of them. They are always good fun. I am looking forward to it. A Saturday night spent laughing at top quality acts. It always a bonus.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

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

Grand Event

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. I have been to Liverpool for my now annual visit to the Aintree Grand National meeting. Which as ever was fantastic.

I arrived on the Thursday night, so I was rested and ready for the main day of madness. Which is Ladies Day on the Friday. Looking very sharp in my lucky suit. I made it to Aintree for around one. It is always such a colourful and spectacular day. You really do see some eye popping and amazing outfits.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

I did not have any winners on the day. But I am still prepared to give the suit another chance at Royal Ascot later in the year. As it gets pretty crazy due to the amount of people there, me and my mates headed in to Liverpool City Centre before the last race. To get ahead of the game. Which worked perfectly, as we managed to walk right in to The Jacaranda, get a drink and find a table instantly.

It is a bar I like. It was one of the first places The Beatles played in their home city. It looks cool and always plays good music, so we stayed in there for quite a while. Then we went on to another bar. Where we had some cocktails and a dance. There was not actually a dance floor there. We just created our own. Well at least we cleared a space for ourselves anyway.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

The day was rounded off how any good day out drinking should be with a burger from a fast food restaurant. Well it was actually a Five Guys one, therefore it was not that fast. But at least you can get your food custom made. I am not saying I may have had a few drinks but I spent far too long trying to throw and catch the free peanuts in my mouth. But I was pretty successful at it to be fair.

On the day of the Grand National itself. We went to a pub to watch all of the afternoons racing from Aintree. Including of course the big race. I won some money on Tiger Roll at Cheltenham. And I was very impressed with how he ran and jumped the fences. Therefore when I got home from there. I instantly put ten pounds on him to win the National at odds of 16-1.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

I did have a couple more each way bets on the race. But they all did nothing. Though that did not matter much when Tiger Roll powered down the final straight and held on at the last to clinch it. It is always nice to pick the winner of this iconic event. It is not easy as mostly it is unpredictable and never goes to plan. I did buy a round of drinks to help celebrate my victory.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

After the horse racing we went straight to a different pub to watch the Tottenham against Manchester City game. Let us just say you can always rely on Spurs to put the dampener on a great weekend. Though they are now the Champions and they deserved to beat us. As is becoming another small tradition now. My National Day ended with a Dominos Pizza. It was not the healthiest weekend I have had for a while. But it was the most fun.

I am already looking forward to returning again for next year. If you have never been to Liverpool, you should. It is a great place with lots of fun and interesting things to see and do. Plus during the National Weekend it is just one big party there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had to go for my first ever MRI Scan the other week. I have had lots of X-rays taken over the years for various things and had some Ultra Sound treatment on one of my knees as a child. But this was my maiden encounter with this particular piece of medical machinery.

I was told not to wear anything with any metal in. As if I did I could just wear my own clothes for it. Instead of those horrible backless hospital gowns. This did mean I had to quickly purchase a new pair of jogging trousers. But I felt that was money well spent to avoid any potentially awkward situations, while I was there.

I was having the MRI scan on my head. You walk in to the room and this contraption looks like it should live in the lair of a Bond villain. The two gentlemen who were doing it were great. They got me in to position. Which as far as I could tell involved putting on a neck brace and sealing my face with a plastic shield. The reason I am unclear on this is that I chose to close my eyes at this point. They then press a button which sends you in to the contraption.

You are allowed to request music to be played while they are doing it. I asked for Radio 2 but either they did not hear me or forgot, as I had no music playing in the end. They did give me a button to press if I wanted to stop it at any time. But all this did was make me view it as like a Bush Tucker Trial on I’m A Celebrity. So there was no way I was ever going to press it. As I was very determined to win all the stars to feed my camp mates. Fortunately it did not fill up with Cockroaches.

I am not going to lie it is not the most pleasant experience in the world. Plus with no music. I could hear every clunk and buzz the machine was making. I am pretty sure at one point it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was bearable and painless but at the same time I was pleased when it was all over. I felt I had achieved something, though.

It was just a precautionary thing. I received the results a week or so later via my doctor. If you do ever have one, do not worry. They are fine but I would make sure the music is working, as that would make it a little more relaxing on reflection.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I spent last weekend with my oldest school friend and his wife. They live in Shropshire now. But came down to Buckinghamshire for a few days. We stayed together in a hotel in Beaconsfield. They arrived on the Friday evening. So we just had a lovely meal and a few drinks in a couple of the pubs round there. Places that I have now been visiting for over twenty years. It is a nice town and I do enjoy spending time there specially with good company.

When we got up on the Saturday. Despite having been going out in the place for years. I had never stayed there before, so I had no idea where to grab some breakfast. Luckily in easy walking distance from the hotel. We stumbled across an old style Tea Room. Which did a tasty one. It worked out well and set us up nicely for the day ahead.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots

The main reason they were down was that we were all going to see Kinky Boots in the West End. I had seen it before but it is one of his wife’s favourite films, so she wanted to see the musical. And it is so good I was more than happy to see it gain. We made a full day of it in London first, though. With me acting as a kind of expert tour guide.

I took them for a coffee outside the BBC for starters. We spotted Ricky Wilson heading in to Radio 2, as he was covering Zoe Ball’s Show that day. Then I took them both for a pint of Guinness in my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connor’s. It was a nice day weather wise and the sun was out. Therefore next up it was a stroll and a cup of tea along the South Bank.

London South Bank
London South Bank

As with any good Theatre trip. We then went for a lovely pre-show meal. Nothing to fancy just a Bella Italia. But I have to say the food and especially the pudding was fantastic. It was Marathon weekend, so the place was full of runners loading up on pasta. Once dinner was over. It was time to head across the road for the main event.

Kinky Boots is on at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. We had some great seats in the third row. I did have my usual theatre red wine. And I can tell you that the Rioja there is acceptable. The show itself was again brilliant. It is so fast paced, colourful and extremely entertaining.

The whole cast are great but I must say I think Verity Rushworth is brilliant as Lauren. She really gets so much extra comedy out of her character. It is the musical that contains the most ordinary and then the most ridiculous stage outfits. Depending on what part you are playing. It is a great fun show and we all had an amazing night seeing it.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots

Tottenham Hotspur have now lost their last eight FA Cup Semi Finals in a row. Which is not a pleasing statistic. I really thought we stood a chance this year against Manchester United at Wembley. I thought it could finally be our year. It would have been a fitting way to end our one off season at the home of English football by winning some silverware there. Well in my opinion anyway.

But alas that was not to be. As we were beaten by Jose Mourinho’s men after taking an early lead in the game. It is possibly even more disappointing this year, I think. We are playing really well currently and have been pretty consistent in the League over the last three years. However we really do need to win some silverware soon, so that we have something to show for it and something to celebrate.

That said now is not the time to panic. The manager and the players are doing a great job. And you cannot win them all. Although I would have loved to have seen my team lift the cup this season. But I have seen them do that before. If this group could actually win a league title. That would actually be something I had not witnessed before and it would be amazing. To dare is to do, on-wards and up-wards.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

While I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil. I ended up featuring in a ITV West Country documentary presented by the great John Nettles. In this Podcast hear what happened when he came in to my studio and what happened when he interviewed me. Click on the link and hear it all via I-tunes. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-neil-quigley-radio-show-podcast-ep12/id1236437663?i=1000409103344&mt=2

Neil Quigley meets John Nettles

As I was arriving at work the other day Bill Gates walked past me. You really do never know who you might see or bump in to. It can often be the most random and unexpected people. I am always a bit concerned about being cornered and then interrogated in a lift by Andrew Marr or Emily Maitlis. That is the beauty and the lottery of using the work lifts. You never know who you might be standing next to.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

At The Races

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy with some fun stuff happening. I am of an age where quite a few people I know are celebrating land mark birthday’s.

So a couple of Saturday’s ago I attended a party to mark such an occasion at a golf club just outside Maidenhead. It was actually on April 1st but it was after midday, so it was not just a big elaborate joke, it was a genuine do.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a lovely night catching up with friends, who I had not seen for a while. The birthday girl seemed to have a great night and really enjoy herself. Which is the main thing of course. I decided to drive but to be honest did not fancy drinking water or lemonade all night. So I compromised by having a few bottle’s of Becks Blue. Which believe it or not is a non-alcoholic lager. Which I would argue tastes better than actual Becks.

I have to confess as a younger man I could not see the point of beer with no alcohol, as that defied the whole object of drinking it. But when you are driving it gives the illusion of drinking beer. And possibly due to some sort of placebo type effect it makes you feel a little bit drunk, even though you are definitely not.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was also some live music provided by a great bloke called Steve Carroll. I had seen him perform many years ago at a pub in Eaton and remember him being brilliant. I can confirm that my memory was correct. This time he was joined by a female singer. It was just them and their guitars playing some belting songs. And fair play they played for two and an half hours non-stop.

The range of songs was so wide and varied. At one point they went seamlessly from Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednex straight in to 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. They were fantastic and had everyone up dancing and singing along. It was an entertaining evening and nice to be able to drive home from a party and not worry about having a hangover the next day.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

Since we spoke last The Boat Race has taken place. It is always a great spectacle and occasion. I do keep an eye out for it and try to watch it every year. After working for a few year’s at the Henley Regatta. I have learnt a little bit more about rowing. So I understand it a little bit better than I did previously.

The training and dedication required from the crew’s is amazing. Bearing in mind they are fitting this punishing regime around studying for some very impressive and tough qualifications. I think makes it even more of a wholesome event. One year I really must go to London, find a nice pub overlooking the Thames and see it. I think that would be good fun.

Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta

One big sporting event that I do always try to attend now is the Grand National Meeting at Aintree. Happily this year was no exception, so for the third year in a row I headed up to see my good mate Jeff Nolan on the Thursday before the big race on the Saturday.

To start to soak up some of the atmosphere already building up in the area. He lives right by the famous race course. So when I got there we headed out for a few drinks at a near by pub to catch up, see and meet up with some of the people who had been at the race course to enjoy day one of the festival.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Everyone dresses up and makes a big effort when they go. So there were some very smart people in the particular pub chain we were in that evening. Which you could argue was different to the norm. We only stayed for a few to make sure we kept our powder dry for the next day.

So it was back home for some nice food and to work on the latest episode of his Chasing 40 Podcast. And then as always tends to happen when we get together to listen to some classic and great music. The selection this time included a live performance by Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We were up early the next morning to get ready for the big day ahead. It is now a tradition that we go to Aintree on the Friday for Ladies Day. So after a hearty breakfast to set us up nicely for the day. We head out to pick up the rest of his mates who are joining us.

Then it is time to get the suits on. This was a debut performance for a brand new suit, which due to a lack of time I ended up having to order online. Which much to my surprise actually fitted fine. I actually must know my own clothes measurements better than I thought I did.

Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley
Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley

The first stop was the local pub which was already full of men in suits and ladies in their best outfits. Shall we say starting to fuel themselves up for the day. Both with food and drink. Then we made our way to a pub which is right by the entrance to the famous sporting venue. This again is full of people drinking and having a good time. There is a fun and party atmosphere everywhere you go over the weekend.

Next it is time to head in to watch the racing. The place is huge with lots of different sections and bars for you to get refreshments and put bets on. For example there is a giant tent with big screens to see the races and a live band who come on and do a few songs in between the races. It is like a giant all day party.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was also a special area dedicated to Red Rum to mark the fortieth anniversary since the legendary horse’s third Grand National victory. There is a statue of him at the race course permanently and there was also an exhibition with photos and memorabilia from his glittering career. Which was amazing and fascinating.

Also for a bit of fun they had a photo opportunity where you could have your picture riding Red Rum over a fence at Aintree. Only an idiot would turn down this great and free opportunity. I jumped at the chance (pun intended) and you can see my picture below.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sadly I only had one winner while I was there and that was a horse called Fox Norton, which came from behind to win an exciting race in the run in. Happily I was outside in the glorious sunshine to cheer it home.

There is something almost magical seeing those amazing creatures thunder past right in front of you, specially when one of them is about to win you some money. It adds to the whole occasion and gives you a nice warm feeling inside. Or that could of course just have been the beer.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

With thousands of people there, it is to say the least a bit busy and the trains after can get a little bit crazy. So as the party continues on in Liverpool City Centre anyway. We left before the last race to get ahead of the crowds and save any queuing at the station. I have been going there for many years now so there are possibly not that many places that I have not been to at least once.

Our first stop was The Crack. Which was John Lennon’s local when he was home. Which gives it quite a cool vibe and you can see how he would have felt at ease there chilling with a pint. It is off the beaten track, so not a busy place. They have a jukebox. Which I was straight on, to choose some songs on as soon as we arrived there.

The Crack
The Crack

Then we headed off to The Jacaranda. Which is a cool bar where The Beatles used to do some early gigs around the same time they were also doing The Cavern. So like a lot of the bars around it has a musical history feel to it.

While we were there the whole pub was involved in an impromptu sing-a-long to The Smiths “This Charming Man”. This included a lot of Morrissey impressions from people up on the dance floor. I am pretty sure there were people filming it, so I would not be to surprised if a video of it made an appearance on You Tube at some point.

Our final destination was The Cavern Club. Which is not the original Cavern sadly that was just down the same road but knocked down years ago. There has been a new thing added to Mathew Street since my last visit and that is a statue of Cilla Black, which I saw as we walked to the Cavern. Now despite it not being the original venue they do still have great live bands there. And quite a few big names have played there over the year’s.

It has a really friendly feel to it and it is always a fun place to just hang out. We had a good old sing along to the band as the party continued. Earlier in the day a famous book maker firm was giving out some freebies including some sun glasses. Which I am modelling in the picture below. It was our last venue of the night. We then headed back to Jeff’s to get a pizza and reflect on another brilliant Ladies Day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We decided to go and watch the Grand National on Saturday in Liverpool. But before that there was one other sporting event I wanted to watch Totttenham were playing at home against Watford in the early kick off at twelve thirty. So we assembled the same squad as the day before in the pub to watch that.

It was a pretty straight forward win in the end. Keeping up Spurs great current run, which for the record I am very much enjoying. I have said before that I do not think Chelsea will slip up but if we can chase them all the way, finish second and win the FA cup. It will have been a brilliant and fitting season for what could be our last one at White Hart Lane.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

So then after a trip to the Bookies to get our bets on for the big race. We went to a big sports bar to watch the action. It was a brilliant Grand National this year I thought, for starters no horses were injured, which is always the main hope. It was an entertaining and interesting race seeing those equine athletes majestically float over those iconic fences. It had everything.

Congratulations to the winner One For Arthur and to you if you picked it and put some of your hard earned cash on it. I selected five horses this year and none of mine were ever really in it. So if you selected the winner you have my up most respect, well done. It is and always will be for me the greatest of all the horse races. I am already looking forward to next year’s.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We found ourselves in the Cavern Pub after the race. Which is just across the street from The Cavern. It had a live three piece band performing. There are lots of signed pictures and guitars up on the walls from some of the famous people who have either visited of actually performed at The Cavern. From here me and Jeff went back to Aintree to meet his cousin James who had been at the Grand National itself. And who had backed the winner.

We stayed out with him to help him celebrate his triumph. Before it was time to call an end to what is always a brilliant weekend. The next day there was time for some breakfast, then it was time for me to catch the train back to Buckinghamshire. Great fun as always, in fact I have already booked up to go back and do it all again next year.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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