The second national lockdown in England has ended. We now find ourselves in a selection of different tiers. It is almost as if they have based the latest policies on a sketch from The Frost Report in 1966 featuring John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. I am in a Tier Two area. It will not change what I have been doing since March. I am still working on the policy the less people you come into contact with the less chance you have of catching or passing on the virus.
I will admit I am being extra cautious but as an Asthma sufferer I feel this is a sensible approach to take. I do not really have the desire to return to a pub or even the theatre until they are more like how they used to be. When you could order a beer stood at the bar or sit next to other people. Plus the whole point of going to the pub was to have a break from the people you live with. Dragging them there with you just defies the reason for going in the first place.
I hope whatever situation, you find yourself in you are coping with it all currently. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this and at some point things will return to normal. And we will be able to go back to doing the things we love. We just need to be a bit sensible still and to respect each other. Like everybody else I have lost pretty much a whole year’s worth of events. My diary is the emptiest it has been for years. But on the plus side I have seen many more films this year than in the last ten!
I took part in my first ever online Zoom Games Night recently. It was organised by a friend and former radio colleague of mine. He got in touch with everyone using the new way to liaise about every event now by setting up a “WhatsApp” group for it. He did oversubscribe it a little as there were only eight places available on the night. These were allocated on a first come first serve basis and I made the cut for the inaugural edition.
The way it worked was we had a Zoom Meeting that we all signed in to using the secret ID of course. Therefore we could all see and chat to each other. Once we had finished catching up we got down to the business in hand. For the games the person hosting had set us up on an American website that offered online games. We could see the screen on the Zoom Call. Then we also had to log into the website Jackbox Games on our own mobile phones.
At the start of each game we got given a special code to enter which connected us all to the same one. The way it worked was we could put our answers into our phone and then when the time was right these would be displayed on the main screen for everybody else to see. We played three different games, although they were all along the same lines. We had to fill in missing words or give joke meanings for phrases. Then two of us were randomly pitted against each other with the rest of the players voting on who had given the funniest or best suggestion.
It was a bit weird at first and took a little getting used to but when we got the hang of it, it was a good laugh! The games we played were quite silly and simple. Light hearted fun and the chance to have some interaction with other people. I am ultra-competitive so I was a bit disappointed that I did not win any of the games. That said they were not quizzes with exact answers more like parlour games designed for a laugh. I would definitely do it again. Plus it gave me the chance to use my green screen and put up some different backgrounds, simply to amuse myself really.
I watched yet another film last weekend making this year a record breaking one for me on that front. I normally average at best five of them in any twelve month period. I am definitely into double figures now, as ever though I am still a bit behind the times with my movie selections. They do also have to fall into a certain category to make me want to put them on and commit to them. This latest one was written by Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle. As I have in the past enjoyed both of their work this convinced me to at least give it a try.
The film was “Yesterday” which was released last year. That for me is like watching something almost brand new. The premise of it is that a strange synchronised event happens at the same time worldwide. Kind of like the year 2k bug that never materialised. The outcome of this is that nobody remembers The Beatles and there is no record of them existing. The star of the piece somehow avoids the meltdown of the planet and he still remembers them. He is a musician so then starts releasing their music pretending that they are all his songs.
This leads to him supporting Ed Sheeran on tour. Ed appears in it as himself. It is a Richard Curtis film so obviously ultimately there is a massive love story at the centre of it. The best thing about it for me was all The Beatles’ songs that it features. It does have a great cast to. I appreciate when you put the plot down in writing it does sound a bit odd but it all kind of makes some sense when you are watching it. Apart from one bit towards the end which seems to put a massive whole in the concept of it. I will not spoil that here though, you will have to work that out for yourself.
I would say it is an easy film to watch and enjoy. You do not really have to concentrate too much. It does you could argue have a fairly predictable ending. But then you could make that argument about a lot of movies. I did find that when it had ended that I had to listen to all the other Beatles songs that it did not include. It really put me in the mood to hear their music and that is never a bad thing.
Owing to the fact that I am so rock and roll nowadays I have been playing a few games of Scrabble during the last couple of weeks. It has now turned into a bit of a Sunday afternoon pastime. I had not played for years until a few of weeks ago I challenged my girlfriend to a game. It was all going very well by which I mean I was winning and managing to use up lots of my letters. Then she put down the word “Phoenix” on a triple word square and then in that one move I basically lost the game. I did keep playing until the bitter end but it was all in vein. I was defeated!
After that I was not overly keen to play again but the following week we found ourselves going head to head once again. This time it was a timed game as I made it very clear that we had to be finished before the Chelsea v Tottenham game started. It is important to have your priorities right in life. This time the letters and the board worked in my favour. I managed to make two decent words including a Z both on extra points squares. I went on to win and level things up in the series doing so five minutes before kick off. I suspect we may have to play the decider this weekend as we are both very competitive. We may struggle to leave it as a draw.
I have enjoyed this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. It has been different with it being at the castle but they have kept the key elements the same the best they could. Ant and Dec have been on top form throughout it. They are more relaxed at the trials so are laughing at the camp mates a lot more, may be because they are in Wales and not being bitten by bugs in the jungle. I was pleased that they all got on with each other. They have all supported and helped each other when they have been struggling. That has been great to see.
I never had a favourite this year so was not bothered about who won the crown. It has just been a bit of fun and a nice distraction every night. Just like catching up with old friends or more accurately eaves dropping other people’s conversations. Having now worked in radio myself for over twenty years I have got a fair few showbiz stories to tell. I am not sure if I should hold on until I can get into the jungle to spill them or maybe I will just write my autobiography. I have already got two titles standing by for it either “The Real Neil” or “Power On Basically” If you want to know why “Power On Basically” is one you will have to read the book that technically does not exist yet.
I finished a run of four brand new episodes of my online Pop Quiz last Tuesday. I did them weekly during the last national lockdown. I also did sixteen of them during lockdown one. They are all still free and available to watch on my Facebook page. Each one is about half an hour. It is just me having a bit of fun and asking some music based questions. Here is a link to the latest edition, if you fancy checking it out. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164325111415591/
As things stand at the minute Tottenham Hotspur are still top of the Premier League. It has been a long time since that has been the case at the beginning of December. I am not getting carried away or too excited as there is still a long way to go. But as someone who likes to live in the moment I am enjoying it right now.
We have another huge game tomorrow with the North London Derby against Arsenal. It is a match that could go either way. I am looking forward to it and hope we can take maximum points from it but it will be tough. COYS!
It is my birthday this coming Thursday 10th December. I do like to try to take the day off for it when I can. That will seemingly not be a problem this year. I am somebody who embraces and enjoys my big day. Every year you complete in this game called life is always worth celebrating. Although events this year mean it will be pretty low key. I think I might just stay in cook myself a nice meal and may be have some drinks.
Staying in is the new going out. Plus Tottenham are playing at home in the Europa League that night so I can watch that on the television and pretend I am there. That is where I would have been if the world was normal. Just to clarify for the 19th year in a row my showbiz age will remain at twenty-five!
You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.