It is now over a year since the last time I went to the theatre, which as it happens was to see some Shakespeare at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe. That was kind of the final time I went out and did anything “normal” before the very first National Lockdown began. It has been an interesting twelve months during which I think we have learned a lot about ourselves and others. The situation has been a bit tough at times of course but it is improving rapidly. A little more patience and extra care now will mean that we should have a bit more scope to have a fun Summer and an easier Winter, I hope.
I am almost three weeks in to my new Gluten Free lifestyle after I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. It has taken a little bit of an adjustment to my diet. Mainly just simple small tweaks here and there. The toughest thing if I am honest is not being able to have the biscuits I would normally have after meals. I did have a few dreams about them during week one. Although I have now found a Gluten Free biscuit which I like, so all is good again on that front. I did try to eat reasonably healthily in general previously but now as there are certain things I cannot have, that has actually become even easier.
My family have been very supportive even though when we next eat together I am going to be more awkward to feed. Plus I will insist on seeing all the barcodes on any food or ingredients so that I can check they are safe for me to eat using the Coeliac UK App that I have on my phone. My girlfriend has been brilliant. She has already bought a Gluten Free Cook Book. And so far she has made me Sausage Rolls and a Pie that I was able to eat, not to mention some lovely Brownies to. I am very lucky as she loves baking and trying to make new things, so she now has a whole host of new dishes to master.
Due to the fact I have suffered from Asthma since the age of six and because I now have Coeliac Disease, which can affect the body’s immune system. I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to have my first dose of the Covid Vaccination. Of Course I jumped at the opportunity and booked it in as soon as possible. My Doctors notified me that I could have the jab via a text message. It was all very easy and simple to set up. I just had a link to follow to confirm a date and time. I had it done last Friday.
My local Vaccination Centre was very handily just a five minute walk from my house. I arrived there a few minutes before my designated time. I was then asked to join a socially distanced queue. Everybody was of course wearing a mask. The line moved quickly. Before you enter the actual building you have to answer a few simple questions on your current health. Once inside you are given your own form and then you join another queue. When you get to the front of that one you are called to see one of the Vaccination team.
The one I went to was very well organised there were lots of booths set up in the room. Before you arrive the chair you sit on is sanitised. You then get asked a few more questions and they tell you which of the vaccines you are getting and explain the possible side effects. I had the AstraZeneca. I never look when I have any injections I never have. I did not even feel the needle go in and the person had to tell me when it was done as I did not even realise.
You get a card as proof that you have had the first injection to take away with you. I did not have any real problems afterwards. I just had a sore arm where the needle went in for a few days and felt a little bit more tired than normal. Personally I think that is a small price to pay for some protection against one of the nastiest viruses the world has experienced globally for around one hundred years. I am so pleased and relieved that I have had it. I still of course need to have the second one sometime in the next ten to twelve weeks and I cannot wait for it. Take care, stay safe, keep following the rules and we will beat this thing!
It was my girlfriend’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. I did spend the whole day with her which I did think should be considered a gift all by itself. But just in case she did not see it that way I also got her a few other presents. One of these was one of those wooden bath trays. They sit across it and have several compartments for a book, tablet and your phone. Plus this one had a wine glass holder. It might have been an error as I worry I may never see her again as she will be spending most of her time having a long hot soak. To mark the fact that she is developing my film education I got her a cool print from a famous scene in Pulp Fiction. That was one of the first films we saw together.
She is a big fan of crime drama television programmes so much so that she will happily watch the foreign language ones, which are subtitled. As a result of this I think she fancies herself as a bit of a private detective. I thought she might enjoy this online event that I saw so I got us tickets for it the Saturday before her big day. It was an immersive interactive murder mystery experience via Zoom. It cost ten pounds each to join in the fun. It was set back stage at a reality dancing competition. All the characters names did seem to have a passing resemblance to existing celebrities, which to be fair did add to the fun a little.
About an hour before it starts they send you some information through about the murder along with some evidence and details on all of the potential suspects. That email also included the link to the Zoom meeting it would be hosted on. We clicked on it and joined the proceedings. At first you are in one giant meeting with all the people who have got tickets, you can chat and say hello to each other. Right from the start it is very social. Then the actor playing the Detective appears and explains how it will all work.
Everybody will be split into teams and put into different meeting rooms. Each team will have ten minutes to interview each suspect and the chance to see some more video evidence. Actors play each of the characters. They were all great and played their parts well. It was brilliant fun and a good laugh. We may have got sucked into it a bit too much and started taking it very seriously. We possibly began over thinking it a little bit to. You all get the chance to ask questions it is fair and friendly. You are on the same team with about twenty other people mostly strangers but you have to work together on cracking it.
It lasts about ninety minutes. We really enjoyed it. Annoyingly we did not get the murderer correct but we had a laugh doing it. I was really impressed with how they put it all together and presented it. I would happily recommend it if you are looking for something a bit different to entertain you, while we are still restricted to being at home during the weekend. It is being run through Design My Night and you can get your tickets from them. Be warned though it does draw you in and you will start thinking that you are the Police. I was channelling my inner D. I. Burnside from The Bill at one point.
My girlfriend had been keen to see the modern reworking of the classic Charles Dicken’s story Oliver Twist made by Sky and starring Michael Caine for ages. As it was her birthday I ran out of excuses and agreed to watch it. It is called Twist. The lead character is played by Raff Law, Jude’s son. He is basically a street artist living alone on the streets. Like the original he is an orphan. Some of the roles are gender swapped that is a nice touch but does not massively alter the story. David Walliams and Rita Ora are both in it as is Keith Lemon!
Michael Caine plays Fagan with more of an organised crime feel to his empire than the original, more Al Pacino than Ron Moody. It does have a bit of an Ocean’s Eleven feel to it. I quite enjoyed it and it kept my interest and attention. As I know the traditional film version so well I was trying to spot the links with that as the story developed. I think I may have enjoyed it more if I was not so familiar with the book. As a stand alone film it was pretty good but I was constantly doing a bit of a comparison and trying to work out how true they were being to the original in my head.
I only got around to seeing the first Coming to America film a few weeks ago mainly in preparation to be able to see the new follow up. It was funny if not a bit dated in places but then it was released back in 1988. I watched Coming to America 2 last Saturday. It was quite fun to see Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise all of their roles from the original. Also no film is made worse for having the great James Earl Jones in it. It does also feature plenty of great cameos.
I was fine with the story line and the set up. All the flashbacks were cleverly done, although of course it was still pretty fresh in my mind.
There are no real surprises and you can see what is going to happen a mile off. There are some nice set pieces in it. Plus you get Wesley Snipes playing an interesting General with the strangest walk that I think I have ever seen. Like the original for me some of the best bits are when Eddie and Arsenio are playing the weird and wonderful peripheral characters like the guys in the Barber’s Shop for instance. It is not going to win any awards but it kept me entertained and it did make me laugh. Silly stupid fun with a slight hidden message behind it is what I think it is. And it does not pretend to be anything else.
Due to obvious reasons I had not done this for a while but I got a call from a production company I have worked with a few times before recently. They were looking for someone to help them out with the development of a particular gameshow that I have been involved with before. It is one that they have created and are looking to sell to a television company. To get it made and on to our screens. They needed to record a version of it to use as part of their pitch for a rather large channel.
Therefore I helped them out by playing one the contestants on it. We did it over Zoom so it was all compliant with all of the current rules and regulations. I cannot give any exact details as it is still in development. I think it is a fun and exciting game, which is not like any game shows currently. It will really get the audience engaged and playing along at home. It was such a fun afternoon doing the recording I had a great time. I have really missed doing things like this and look forward to returning to them on a more regular basis soon.
This year as part of Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer Fund Raising. They did a two part stand up comedy television special. It featured some random celebrities trying their hands at being a comedian at a one off gig where they had to perform a five minute set. They each had a professional comedian as their mentor to help them through the process. The celebrities were Shaun Ryder, Curtis Pritchard, Katie McGlynn, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and the Reverend Richard Coles.
The comedians helping them were Judi Love, Nick Helm. Zoe Lyons, Jason Manford and David Baddiel. I thought they were pretty harsh as they only gave them a two week period to prepare and in that time they only got to meet up a few times. Standing in front of people and trying to make them laugh is tough. It is even harder when it is your first time doing it. It reminded me of my comedy debut and brought back a lot of memories from that time. Just because you are a good public speaker does not necessarily mean you are going to be funny. It is a whole different ball game.
I did an eight week Stand Up course with the comedy guru Logan Murray before my first gig. Each session was three hours and we had homework to do as well. That was not an issue as the whole process was so much fun. We just got together and had a right laugh. It was building up to the wonderful Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. Where we all made our debuts performing our five minute sets four times in four different pubs in small groups with each one led by a professional comic. I was with the fantastic Tony Law.
It was a wonderful experience I enjoyed it so much the adrenalin rush from the night was sensational. I have gone on to do a few gigs since but you never forget your first one! The latest show proved how tough it is and some of them faired a lot better than others. It was all in aid of a very important charity and that is the main thing. I cannot see any of them switching careers mind. When everything starts to reopen again I am very much looking forward to watching some live comedy. Hopefully I will get the chance to do some more stand up myself.
It has been a decent few weeks for my team Spurs. We managed to put some nice wins together. A few of our players now seem to be hitting a good bit of form as we begin to approach the business end of the season. We on paper seem to have a reasonable chance of now making the Europa League Quarter finals at least. Plus we are also starting to play much better and more consistently. All that goes out of the window tomorrow though as we face Arsenal in the North London derby. Form and league position counts for nothing, we just have to hope it goes our way. Come on you Spurs!
Quigger’s Plays Pop my weekly quiz on Facebook continues. I am having a lot of fun producing and writing the show. Plus it is great to have a reason to dress up and talk to people on a Tuesday evening at eight thirty. Here is a link to last week’s show if you want to see how much fun it is! https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164765615675591/
You can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.