Tag Archives: star wars

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.

Star Wars A Solo Story

Hello there, I hope that you and your families are safe and well. It is a very unusual situation we still find ourselves in, I trust that you are dealing with it the best you can. I am still somehow coping with it all much better than I thought I would. I am finding plenty of things to keep myself amused and entertained. I might be going a little bit stir crazy but it is hard to say as I was quite inventive and productive before this all began.

Alan Partridge and Neil Quigley

Last Monday it was Star Wars Day, as it is every year on the 4th of May or as the Americans say May the 4th, which makes it fit much better with one of the movie franchises catchphrases and supportive salutations. I am a massive Star Wars fan, so I do always try to mark this occasion in some small way. This year I produced a video of me on a Star Destroyer pretending to be a Jedi on a fact finding missing, as you do. I assure you this is perfectly normal behaviour for a man in his forties.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I have watched all of the Star Wars films and enjoyed them, although the three prequels that were made in the middle not quite as much as the others. I think that is more to do with the fact that the original characters are ingrained in me from that first film I saw as a Kid, so they resonate with me more. Plus the final three were shot more in the same style as the initial trilogy. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker but fear in reality I am probably more of a Han Solo.

When I was a child I had a huge Star Wars toy collection including all the main characters, a Millennium Falcon, Jabba the Hut’s Throne, a Speeder Bike and an AT AT. I sold them all at a Car Boot Sale about ten years ago, just before they announced a new movie featuring some of the original cast. It is all in the timing, if I had waited a bit I probably could have sold it all for a lot more. But it went to a good home and let us face it I was getting a bit too old to play with it.

I own a Star Wars T-shirt with all of the main original characters on it. A few years ago there was a big Exhibition at the O2 with lots of items from the films like costumes, models and other memorabilia. It was ace. I had a brilliant time. I had never been that bothered about going to Disney World before. But now that they own the franchise and have a Star Wars themed area called Galaxy’s Edge where you can go on board the Millennium Falcon, I now have to go there!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I am missing the live theatre at the moment. Sadly it looks as if it may not be back-up and running in London’s West End until next year at the moment. Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming some of his shows on his YouTube Channel every Friday Night at 7pm. I have seen a few of them and while it is not the same as actually being there. It is the closest experience to it we can get at the minute. If you are a fan of musicals I would recommend watching these, they are all great to be fair.

School of Rock
School of Rock

I mentioned this last time but The National Theatre is also showing some of their productions on their YouTube Channel. Last weekend I watched their version of Frankenstein starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. There were actually two versions to choose from as they alternated the two lead parts between them. That is not only unusual but meant they both had twice as many lines to learn. I saw the performance with Jonny Lee Miller as the Monster and Benedict Cumberbatch playing Dr Frankenstein.

I am not normally a fan of horror but this is very nicely done and not too scary or gory. What I did not realise is that it is more of a story about society, perceptions, responsibility, accountability and love. Than it is a creepy and frightening play. It does really make you think and lots of the dilemmas and misconceptions that exist within it are sadly still relevant today. I found it very interesting and I am glad I watched it. The cast were great. It is well worth seeing if you have a couple of hours spare at the moment.

Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks funny take on the story.

I have just started reading Timmy Mallet’s new book. It is a diary of a cycling pilgrimage he did in memory of his brother combined with an autobiography of his life story. He has a degree in History and The History of Art therefore it also contains a lot of interesting historical facts. I discovered that the supposed mummified hand of St James, one of Jesus’s Apostles is actually at St Peters Church in Marlow, which is just down the road from me. It is also near to him to, which makes things a bit strange when you know that the final destination for his trip is to see the burial site of St James in Santiago in Spain.

The book is excellent you do get an insight into Timmy’s upbringing and career, you discover more about his love of art and history. But it is actually more than that. It is quite philosophical and inspiring. I am really enjoying reading it. I have been lucky enough to meet him a few times in the past. He is such a friendly and lovely man who is happy to chat to anyone. Yes he is a bit for want of a better word wacky but he is a really good guy. You always feel better for having run into him.

I ordered my copy directly from his website and got it personally signed with a message from the great man himself. While I was on there I noticed he also had Pinky Punky’s available, his little Mallet friend on Wacaday. At that point the big kid in me took over and I had to have one! Therefore I got myself one along with the book. When it all arrived the first thing I did was take a picture with it. In fact I also made a video pretending to be Timmy at the start of a game of Mallet’s Mallet. In my defence we have all been stuck in our homes a lot at the recently. I am really looking forward to finishing the book.

Neil Quigley

For the last couple of Tuesdays I have been hosting a Pop Quiz live on my Facebook page. I was just doing it for a bit of a laugh and to give people something to do of an evening. I delivered the questions and then the answers just leaving people at home to play along how they wanted to. They could use my scoring system of one point for every correct answer or create their own. The idea was that it was a bit of fun for people to get involved with.

I had fun writing, producing and presenting it. I called it Quigger’s Plays Pop and even made a theme tune slightly ripping off the old Chegger’s Plays Pop theme, thank you Keith. They are still available on my Facebook. Each one lasts around thirty minutes. The idea was for them to be short, sweet and amusing. I am not sure if I am going to do anymore or not. I think I might continue doing them during the rest of lock down, if people want me to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Yesterday was 75th Anniversary VE Day. I still find it impossible to truly imagine what it would have been like to live through and be involved in the Second World War. Not to mention the feeling of joy and relief when Victory in Europe was achieved. I hope you marked the occasion in any way you could and saw fit to. We to will be able to party and celebrate when this particular situation will currently face passes, which it will.

VE Day 75th Anniversary

I am currently presenting on Saturday afternoons between 2pm- 4pm on Radio Ninesprings. It is lovely to be back on the air in the Somerset area. You can listen online at www.radioninesprings.co.uk

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Happy New Year 2020

The Monday before Christmas my mum and I went to The Royal Albert Hall to see a performance of their Annual Carol Concert. It was actually one of her presents from last Christmas. She had not been to the famous venue and wanted to go, I said I would take her and gave her the choice to see whatever she wanted there. She then opted for the carols, which meant in the end she had to wait almost twelve months for this gift.

We arrived at the iconic building forty minutes before the afternoon show was due to start, having walked up there from the High Street Kensington tube station. It does look very imposing from outside. I made sure we had some decent seats, so for the first time ever when I have been there I walked down the stairs on entry to the floor level. Then we enjoyed a glass of wine each, well we had to loosen up the vocal cords before all the singing.

The Royal Albert Hall

We took our seats ready for the concert to begin. On them waiting for us was the words to all the carols and songs, that we would be invited to join in with. The music for the afternoon was provided by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Cooke. It goes without saying that they were amazing.

It was all hosted by the wonderful Greg Beardsell, who did a totally brilliant job of it. There was a mixture of performances from the Orchestra on their own along with the two choirs involved. But then for certain songs we all would stand up and join in, sometimes conducted by the Maestro.

The Royal Albert Hall

The show was in two halves with an interval in the middle. During which, yes I did have another glass of wine, well it was Christmas. During part two Joe Stilgoe came on and did a few swing numbers with the orchestra, which were great. We also had the Royal College of Music perform on the hand bells and Bugle players from the Royal Grenadier Guards Band. The Orchestra were really getting in to it. A special mention to the two members who dressed up as Rudolph and a snowman, you were both hilarious!

It was a fabulous afternoon spent at one of the best places for music in the world. It was lovely to see my mum really enjoying herself. She was joining in with all the carols and songs, having a brilliant time. It is a beautifully presented show and feels very Christmassy. They set it perfectly for it, the lighting and the trees are wonderful. Full of the spirits for the festive season we had a very nice meal at The Potting Shed opposite Marylebone Station, before we got the train home. It was just a totally joyful day spending quality time with my mum.

The Royal Albert Hall

It was a pretty text book Neil Quigley Christmas this year. It started with the traditional Christmas Day fried breakfast, which I find does set the day up nicely. We then got together and gave each over our presents, while enjoying a nice cup of tea. I did very well this year, I got a Spurs coaching team top, a luxury wine tasting evening, copies of Elton John’s and Billy Connolly’s new books and a voucher for the Tottenham Hotspur Club Shop.

Neil Quigley

We then toasted the day with a nice glass of Champagne, before I went to the pub to meet my Uncle and Cousin. That is something I have been doing since I have been old enough to drink. I have a few pints, which I find puts me in the perfect mood for the rest of the fun ahead of me. I always like to walk to and from the pub as it is the only exercise I do on the day. Plus I think it creates more space ready to fully enjoy the Turkey with all the trimmings dinner that we always have. My dad was head Chef this year and the meal was splendid. It was washed down with a very nice red wine. All finished off by some Chocolate Cheesecake and lastly Cheese and Biscuits.

Once the food had been digested it was then time to get the games out. My dad had looked out the old Wii for us to play, although he could only find one working controller and two games for it. They were Ten Pin Bowling. That we could all play against each other on. I think we each won a least one game. And a table tennis game which we had to take turns battling the computer on. I do not think any of us managed to win against it. We were all clearly a little bit out of practice. I reckon we probably played these games for a couple of hours. One thing it proved was that we are a very competitive family, although to be honest I think we already knew that.

Neil Quigley (The Wii version)

After my dad and sister had taken her dog for a walk we played a new game that I had purchased specially for the occasion. It was the “Who Am I Game”. You take a card and put it on your forehead then you have to guess who you are by asking the rest of the family lots of questions. It was a good laugh and if I do say so myself I reckon I was the best at it.

We had a nice early supper while we were watching the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing. I thought the lovely Debbie McGhee and Kevin Clifton were the deserved winners by the way. This pretty much brought to a close another fun and dare I say successful Quigley family Christmas.

Neil Quigley

I have been a massive Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. As a child I used to have a huge collection of Star Wars figures that included a Millennium Falcon. I am still a bit gutted that I decided to sell them about five years ago, to be honest. I have always loved the original three films.

I dutifully watched all the prequels even though for some reason they did not have the same feel as the other films. Then in the last few years they gave us two new films continuing the original story and for me crucially featuring some of the original cast members and characters. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi made me feel just like a little kid again, when I watched them. The nostalgia there was real!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

Therefore when the final ever Star Wars film The Rise of Skywalker was released I had to see it on the very first morning. I had booked a ticket in advance to see it at eleven thirty at the Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury. I was feeling very excited when I bought the ticket, so I pushed the boat out and paid the extra two pound fifty to have a deluxe seat, right in the middle of screen. I did not know completely what to expect as I had avoided all the gossip about it, so I could see it with no preconceived ideas.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I am not going to give any spoilers away. I really enjoyed it as it was in the same style as the previous two and original three films as far as I am concerned. The thing they all have in common is that despite all the adversity that is going on there is a nice humour that just runs through it.

There are some nods to all of the original films in it. It is a little bit like a love letter to the brand in lots of ways. There are a few twists and turns that I must admit I did not see coming. The ending for me was perfectly acceptable. It was never going to be an easy thing to try to tie up after nine films spanning over forty odd years.
It is a shame it has all come to an end in a way though. But all good things must come to an end at some point!

Star Wars

I enjoyed going to watch Tottenham play Brighton on Boxing Day despite the early kick off. That meant there was no lie in for me. The game itself was not brilliant but we won and I had a few drinks with some friends, which is always a winner, at this time of the year. We then managed to draw away to Norwich and lose at Southampton, which leaves us in sixth place in the Premier League at the moment.

With a bit of luck we could have been a bit higher up but we could of quite easily been a bit further down it to. A week today I will be at the Stadium to see us play the Premier League Champions elect Liverpool. That is going to be a very tough game to say the least.

Tottenham Hotspur

In between Christmas and New Year I was at home one evening when I suddenly started hearing some loud bangs. I was curious as to what it was, so I opened my front door to have a look. For probably about twenty years now Jay Kay from Jamiroquai has lived in the same area as me.

He is known for occasionally throwing some quite lavish parties. I suspect he was that night, as I stood outside for ten minutes watching the most spectacular fireworks display. It was amazing and as good as you would see anywhere on New Year’s Eve itself.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

A mate of mine is a big Wycombe Wanderers fan so I went with him to see The Chairboys play Coventry over the festive period. We did make a day of it and had a few drinks in High Wycombe before and after the match. That as it turned out was the highlight because the home team did not play very well at all. They went one down early in the game, got back to one all then gifted the visitors a goal about a minute later. The Sky Blues went on to win the contest comfortably.

It finished one – four. It was the second time I had seen them play this season. The previous time they beat Southend United and deserved to. Since then they have gone on to top the table and even after a testing Christmas period are still four points clear in League One. I do feel that to maintain that position they need to play better than in the last game I saw. But I understand they are missing several key players through injury. It would be an amazing achievement if they did reach the Championship. I wish them luck for the remainder of the season.

Wycombe Wanderers

I did not really do much for New Year’s Eve this time. I met up with a friend and we just had a few drinks in a couple of local pubs. It was a decent night joking around and listening to music. At midnight we all did the traditional Auld Lang Syne bit. Then we wished everyone a Happy New year, before heading home. I will be honest when I did get in I actually ended up having a couple of glasses of wine, while listening to music, so I still did not get to bed until gone two. It was for me the perfect way to see in the new decade. I totally enjoyed it!

New Year’s Day I cooked dinner for my parents and sister. We ate in the evening. I rustled up a roast beef dinner. That was pretty good. I would not say I am a brilliant cook but I can put together a decent meal. I was particularly impressed with my roast potatoes light and fluffy on the inside with a slight crispness to the outside. Before the food I opened a bottle of Champagne, so we could properly toast the New Year. Start as you mean to go on, drinking bubbly. Cheers!

Personally I have not made any big plans or set any real goals for the next twelve months. I aim to eat a little bit more healthily in January, to normalise slightly after Christmas eating. I guess I do plan to be a better person than I was the year before. I do like to try to progress and improve as time goes forward. I want to see and do as much as I possibly can. I want to do lots of things that I enjoy and that make me happy. Resolutions normally get broken, while I think loose goals can always be met, just to different levels of success, depending on how you do. Whatever you want to achieve this year, I wish you all the best with it and I know you can do it!

Neil Quigley

Tonight I am going to an old mate’s fortieth birthday party. We first met when he was just eighteen years old. The strange thing is that he always looked older than he was, so all these years later he does not actually look any different. It is sure to be a fun night, hopefully with a few familiar faces that I have not seen for a while there. Plus who does not like an excuse to actually go out on the first weekend of the New Year.

Neil Quigley

Have fun, Happy New Year all the best for 2020. We will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Empire Strikers Back

The new Premier League Football season starts next weekend. I am as always looking forward to it. It has been nice to have a bit of a rest from it. But now I am ready to go again. When I was seven years old I was so desperate to play for a football team. I begged my dad to get a bloke he knew to let me join the under ten side that he ran, which he did. They were my local team called Risborough Rangers.

After training with them for a while I made my debut while I was still just eight years old. I kept moving up the age groups with the same team. So I spent my entire time in kid’s football, playing a year above my actual age group. Apart from a two year hiatus I took when the family moved to London for a bit. I played for every age group from under ten to under sixteen. We had a decent team and reached a few cup finals.

When I was fifteen I went to play for Wycombe Wanderers Lions Under sixteen’s. Remember I was playing a year above, therefore could play another year in that age group. It was a nice set up. We had our own team tracksuits to wear to games. And a couple of the players were already training with the Youth Team. There were, as you would imagine some very good players in the squad. So my game time was sometimes limited there.

At the end of the season I had a trial game for the Wycombe Youth team. But I sadly did not get selected. Undeterred I went and had a trial with the Aylesbury United Youth team, which happily I did get selected for. I had a brilliant time playing for them for two years. It was a very professional set up. And we got to play our home matches where the first team played at Buckingham Road.

As it happened the first Allied Counties League match we played was away against Wycombe Wanderers. They played in Beaconsfield. As I was new to the squad. And one of the younger members of it. I will be honest I really did not expect to start that game. But fair play to the manager Bob Rayner, he picked me. I nearly scored in a goalless draw. Which having not been selected by Wycombe, would have been a very sweet moment. Especially as I knew their goalkeeper from my time with the Wycombe Lions.

During my time with the Ducks. We reached the final of the Berks and Bucks Cup. I scored quite a few goals. I had county trials for the Buckinghamshire Team. But I was played out of position at left back. And did not get in the squad. We also played against the first team in a training match. It included the great Cliff Hercules. The big centre half Matt Hayward was also playing. He ended up volleying the ball into my face from point blank range, giving me a nice split lip. Happy days!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did play one pre-season friendly for the Aylesbury United reserves away at Enfield. But sadly things did not work out there. So I ended up back at Risborough Rangers. Playing for the reserves and then for a short spell the first team. A few weekends ago Risborough Rangers were playing Aylesbury United in a pre-season friendly. I thought it would be a good opportunity to relive the past a bit. And see both of them in action.

The manager of Aylesbury United is Ben Williams. And their longest serving and most senior player is Greg Williams. I went to Aylesbury College with both of them. Therefore this also seemed like a great chance to catch up with them. All three of us did play together a few times for the College team. When I was playing for the Aylesbury Youth Team. Greg was playing for Thame United’s so I played against him a few times back then to.

I also knew the new Risborough manager Mark Eaton. As I used to speak to him regularly when I was at Mix 96. And he was the boss of Aylesbury FC. Plus there were lots of familiar faces from over the years at the game. Including my old Aylesbury boss Bob Rayner. He also managed Risborough for many years to. The game itself was a reasonable watch. The Ducks won 4-1. Showing why they are the team that play at the higher level. I wish them both the very best of luck for the coming season.

I did get to see Ben Williams for a bit after the game. It was lovely to catch up. And find out what had been happening, since we last saw each other. I had a lovely long chat with Greg Williams to. He has had an amazing career. I mean for starters he is my age and is still going. He is just twenty games short of five hundred appearances for the Ducks. It was brilliant to see him. They are both top people. I hope they both achieve their personal goal’s over the next nine months.

Risborough Rangers v Aylesbury United

To get myself in the mood for the new Premier League Season I did the brand new Tour at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium recently. As as season ticket holder I have obviously already been to the place a fair few times. But I wanted to see the bits I would not get to see on a match day. You need to book your tour in advance. Then on arrival you check in for it at the Club Superstore. Therefore if you get there early, you can have a browse round, while you wait.

It starts with a welcome video to wet your appetite. Then you head off behind the scenes to the first stop the VIP hospitality entrance. It is a guided tour with knowledgeable and friendly guides leading it. I learnt a lot about the new home of the Spurs. We then went to level nine, to a hospitality area, which is basically a huge bar with great views of the whole stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

We were then taken to level four. To an amazing room with leather booths. Where people have food and drink. Before they get to sit in the comfiest seats. I have ever seen in a football ground. Amazingly they are even heated for those cold January nights. Needless to say my season ticket seat does not have this feature. Mind you I am not Alan Sugar or Adele.

Next up it was the bit I wanted to see most, the player’s area. First it was the Mixed Zone. Where the players and manager will do all the television interviews. Then the massive but very plain away dressing room. It all still has that lovely new smell to it, everywhere you go. The home team have a big warm up room. And a special Ice Bath area for after matches. That they have to be in for six minutes at a temperature of thirteen celsius. Rather them than me.

Tottenham Hotspur

The Spurs dressing room itself is amazing. Every player has their name in lights above their place. I had to have a picture sat in of course Harry Kane’s and Lucas Moura’s spaces.

They pump in the air from inside the stadium, so that the players are used to it by the time they head out to play. So they can already smell the atmosphere and the grass.

Tottenham Hotspur

We then took a break from being players to pop in to the Tunnel Restaurant. Which does what it says on the tin. There is food and drink in there. You have great seats behind the bench to watch the game. Plus there is a massive window into the tunnel, so you can see the players and they can see you.

We then got to walk out of the tunnel to pitch side. That was a nice moment. The pitch has just been relayed and looks perfect. I had to of course sit in Mauricio Ponchettino’s seat in the dug out. And just pretend for a brief moment that I was the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. We had plenty of time to take in this area and grab lots of photos there.

Tottenham Hotspur

Then it was the Press Conference Room. Which I have to say is nicer that the one at Wembley Stadium. The seats for the journalists there are ace. I took my dad along with me for the tour. We had a picture taken up on the stage. And I think we both look quite at home in the hot seat.

Tottenham Hotspur

I thoroughly enjoyed having a look behind the scenes of my football club. It truly is a fantastic stadium. I have now decided that if I ever win the Lotto. I will be getting myself some seats in those top quality hospitality areas. The season starts at home against Aston Villa next Saturday. I will now be able to picture in my head where the players are and what they are up to before and after the game. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur

I paid my first ever visit to the Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End last week to see the play The Starry Messenger. It is a comedy drama about real life, the universe and everything else in between. It stars Matthew Broderick. (Who of course was the lead in one of the most memorable films from my childhood “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.) And Elizabeth McGovern. Both of whom are brilliant. As are the rest of the cast.

It is a very clever three set play. That looks at how our lives can be connected by random chance. While showing that we all have our own challenges and issues to address. All set against the back drop of the infinite wonder of the Universe. It is very real but also very funny with a lot of laugh out loud moments. You get, understand and feel for all the characters.

It is actually quite a long play in duration. But it is so well written and performed. That you do not feel it drags and are actually surprised it comes to the interval and end of the show, so quickly. It is a perfect piece of traditional theatre. With a slight modern day twist. It is only
on for another week. So you will need to be quick, if you want to see it.

The Starry Messenger

It is not a secret that I do not watch many films. I have to really want to see them. I average about one trip to the cinema a year. Therefore for me to see a film once is an achievement. But to actually want to see one again or even multiple times is almost unheard of with the exception of one franchise. I am a massive Star Wars fan. I can watch these films over and over again, especially the original three films.

Over the last few weeks on a Sunday afternoon ITV 1 have been showing those original three films. As a kid I had all the figures to play with including a Millennium Falcon. And last Christmas while buying a Lightsaber as a gift for a friend of mines son. I also bought myself one. Even as a man in his forties. I still think that I want to be a Jedi, when I grow up.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

It is quite scary how many of the lines I can remember from these films. I can sill deliver them seconds before they do on screen. As I get older you can see new things and angles on the plot and acting.

Like for example I am pretty sure I was not aware of the tension between Princess Leia and Hans Solo. when I was a kid. Plus I had forgotten how many times she had kissed Luke Skywalker. Before they discovered they were sister and brother.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

None of these things effect my enjoyment of them. Neither does the fact that each of the trilogy is jut basically the same story told in a slightly different way. It is escapism and entertainment, as far as I am concerned.

The other thing from my childhood that I can happily see over and over again is “Only Fools and Horses”. I am now starting to think my general philosophy in life is a combination of Del Boy and Yoda. As you can imagine I am really looking forward to the latest Star Wars film due out in December. This will constitute a rare trip to the cinema for me.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I have been back once again doing some work for the BBC. There is never a dull moment there. Louise Redknapp was serenading me with her brand new single outside the building one evening.

Laura Whitmore was being lovely and smiley as ever, when there for her Sunday morning Five Live Show. You never know who you might see, bump in to or end up in a lift with. Which really does add to the fun of being around the place.

BBC
BBC

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

Another Year Older But Still No Wiser

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with lots of fun stuff going on. During the last two weeks I have celebrated my forty-first birthday. It is fair to say that this year was a lot more low key than the massive party I threw myself last December. I think I have now reached the age where I will only be holding major events to mark these statistics every ten years now. But that as ever is subject to change.

I was working on my special day this year in London. Which meant I could not do the annual drinks down my local, which I normally do. Which was a shame as that is generally a last minute random gathering. That is lots of fun and a good excuse to see people who I have not seen for a while. Plus I can just walk home from the pub at the end of the night.

Although obviously you can’t not do nothing to mark this monumental occasion, so when I had finished work in London on my birthday. I went for a few drinks in one of my favourite bars, with a view in the capital. That is the Radio Roof Top Bar at the ME Hotel on the Strand. I have been there a few times before. I like it because although you can just walk in there off the street. It still does feel quite classy and exclusive.

They let you in and then you get the lift up to the bar. As I was walking out of the lift to go in to the bar itself a Will I Am look-a-like was just walking in. There is a resident DJ playing some pretty funky dance and house tunes, stunning views of London and most importantly it serves some very nice wine at reasonable prices.

View from Radio Rooftop Bar
View from Radio Rooftop Bar

It is often quite busy, so finding a table can be difficult unless you reserve one. Which I was not organised enough to do, so we ended up sitting at the bar. There were about three or four private parties going on scattered around the room. Which provided a lively, fun and vibrant atmosphere. Perfect for a celebration.

Although it was a little bit more sedate than the previous year. It was still a very enjoyable way of commemorating another year spent here on planet earth. Thanks for all the cards, birthday wishes and presents I received. I appreciate it. I am very grateful. When you get to my age most presents either consist of something you can wear or something you can drink.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Being born in December you do kind of have to share your celebrations with the birth of someone else later in the month. That most of the county also seem to celebrate. I have in the past been to Christmas events on my birthday. But I do try to distance myself from it a little bit and keep my birthday as the main focus.

I refuse to do anything for Christmas until after my birthday. I never do my present shopping until after it. But four days after is fine. Which was when I got all of this years’ Christmas shopping completed within just over two hours.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I employ the same plan every year. Where I either deal directly with the recipients or decide in advance exactly what I am getting everyone. I will then make a list. Which I take with me along with a pen. I then normally go to a shopping centre and do my entire shop in one single visit, crossing off the items from my list as I buy them. This plan is aided by the fact that my immediate family make lists of what they want. Then the rest of the family liaise with each other and we all buy from that list. That way we all get what we want but we just don’t know who it is coming from and which items we will or will not get until the day itself.

It works for us and it certainly works for me when it comes to the Christmas present shopping. I have now got it down to a fine art. There is something very pleasing about starting and finishing it all within a couple of hours. Even better I have now already got it all wrapped up ready for the big day, so with a few days to spare I am ready. I do always go a bit over the top with my wrapping. I put ribbons and bows on everything. I also use a lot of Sellotape, so people have to work hard to get into their gifts. It can sometimes take ages. Which I must confess amuses me and makes me think they are getting their moneys worth out of the situation.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Life just seems to be so busy nowadays. There is always something that needs doing or something you have booked to do ages ago. As a result of everyone’s lives being like this. It can actually be quite hard to organise meeting up with family and friends. The other week I did manage to catch up with some very good mates over dinner and a few drinks. After no word of a lie having to change the date and time of it at least once. And after some complicated three way negotiations. That I suspect would make the Brexit talks seem simple. But the important thing is we managed to get ourselves together at the same place and time. We of course had a brilliant night.

The thing with really good friends is you never run out of conversation, you normally have so much news to catch up on from each other. And finally because you know each other so well you can tease each other and have a right laugh at each others expense. The pubs we went to served decent drinks. The meal we had I thought was excellent. But we could have been anywhere doing anything. We would still of had as good a night. As the most important factor in these things is the people you are with. It flew by so quickly. Which is always a good sign that you are having fun. We all have stress and challenges in our lives. But I really do think a regular night out with your best mates should be prescribed on the NHS. How can that not be good for you? As a way of relaxing and losing yourself in laughter for a bit.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am not a frequent visitor to the cinema. I am not good at sitting still for long periods of time. I probably average one trip there every two to three years. It has to be a film I really want to see to get me there. That movie came out ten days ago now. I am and always have been a massive Star Wars fan. Ever since I saw the first one as a kid.

I saw all three of the originals. I even had a whole box of Star Wars toys. Which I got when I was ten and sold at a car boot sale about six years ago. Just before they bought back the original cast. It is all in the timing. Among those toys was a replica of the Millennium Falcon. Which I used to play with a lot. I had Luke Skywalker in every outfit that he ever wore and several different versions of all the main characters.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

Therefore I of course had to see the latest Star Wars film The Last Jedi as soon as I could after it was released. I had really enjoyed the last one. Which was bridging the old and new characters and the story together. It was called The Force Awakens. Or I guess you could subtitle it the Han Solo story. Funnily enough that was the last time prior to this latest trip that I had been to the cinema. The way it was made in the old traditional style and seeing all those characters I grew up with back together again made me feel like a child again. I had a big smile on my face throughout. So as you can imagine I was really looking forward to this latest offering. Specially as I knew from the tease at the end of the previous one. That we were going to see more from Luke Skywalker in this one.

I was way to excited about seeing this film for a man of my age. I booked the tickets about two weeks in advance to watch an afternoon showing. I was so keen to make the most of it that I splashed out an extra two pounds to secure a premium seat right in the middle of the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that again it was all done lovingly in the style of the original trilogy with some nice one liners and bits of comedy. Like there were in those first three films.

But as well as this nod to the past this film still moves the story forward and gives us chance to learn more about the newer characters. For them to really establish themselves. I am never going to tire of seeing X-Wing Fighters and the Millennium Falcon fly through space. It features a powerful performance from the wonderful Carrie Fisher. It reminds us of what a brilliant actress she was.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

The film is two and an half hours long but it kept my attention all the way through. Which is no mean feat at all bearing in mind how few movies I will sit and watch. I loved it! In a way it was like catching up with some old friends. Them still behaving like they used to. Doing what you would expect them to do. It still makes me feel like a child watching them.

I did watch and like the three prequels that were made in the middle. I did venture to the cinema to see them all. But personally I prefer the first three and these latest two. As they remind me more of the Star Wars that I first became engrossed in. I do like the new characters and their links with the past. I already cannot wait to see episode nine. When that is released.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I went along to the Old Rope Comedy Club Christmas gig at The Phoenix Pub, which is just off Regents Street in Central London. It is a new material night that takes place on a Monday. Nish Kumar was hosting and it featured performances from Eleanor Tiernan, Aisling Bea, Tiff Stevenson (whose comedy night it actually is) and a headline performance by James Acaster.

It was another top evening. Everyone was on good form. But for me Nish and James were the funniest. On Nish’s part because he really was treating it as his Office works do. And Mr Acaster is right on the top of his game at the moment with his everyday surrealism. You know it is a good night when your cheeks hurt from laughing. I will be back for more fun times there next year.

Old Rope
Old Rope

It has been another up and down couple of weeks for my team Tottenham. We have had some good wins and some deserved but annoying defeats. But that is football and in general life. You have to enjoy the good times and get through the bad times.

It was nice of the club to send me a birthday card signed by Mauricio Pochettino and the rest of the squad. That was a nice little touch. I still plan to get to as many games as I can at Wembley until the end of the season. Starting with West Ham United on the 4th January.

Neil Quigley Happy Christmas
Neil Quigley Happy Christmas

A very Happy Christmas. Have a brilliant festive season and I will speak to you in 2018. Cheers Neil