We can all dream

So there I was, relaxing in an Olympic-sized swimming pool within the luxuriant grounds of the Playboy Mansion as a guest of the legendary Lothario Hugh Hefner, surrounded by a dozen beautiful ladies, all of whom were suffering from ‘Vestiphobia’ – the fear of wearing clothes.

That’s all types of apparel. Not just vests.

It’s a real phobia. Look it up. But not right this minute – or you might not finish reading this article, which would mean I’d wasted the entire six minutes it took me to write.

Oh yes! ‘Dedication’ is my middle name. Something I’ve never quite forgiven my parents for.

Lying there in the pool – which thankfully was very heavily chlorinated, as nobody had got out to visit the ‘loo’ for over three hours, even though they were knocking back copious amounts of booze – I found it heartening to see those poor girls bravely trying to disguise their debilitating phobia.

They laughed, splashed about, bounced up and down in the water and poured themselves large glasses of Cristal champagne.

What guts those plucky gels showed! We could have done with 2, 000 of them at The Battle of Rorkes Drift.

As I looked around the grounds and at the mock-Gothic house that’s been the source of so many eyebrow-raising, trouser-dropping stories over the decades, I saw a Hollywood  A-List actor with whom I’d become acquainted, approaching with his latest squeeze on his arm.

Funny place to have a pimple.

During dinner on the Friday evening he’d learned I was a comedian and asked me to tell him a joke. It went down so well I ended-up doing 20 minutes and had everyone doubled-up. I think it was laughter that doubled-them-up or it might have been the seafood cocktail starter, which I thought was a bit on the iffy side.

He reminded me we were meeting later to discuss a possible movie project that I could be co-starring in and as he left, I lay back in the pool, and ruminated.

Well as I said, the water was heavily chlorinated.

As I sipped my champagne, which I insisted had to be served in a pint glass because I never forget my working-class roots, I thought to myself, “Phil, old son. You are going to be so cheesed-off when you wake up!”

So many benefits to letting the train take the strain

I recently embarked on a train journey from my home town of Ammanford to Manchester, taking in the beautiful scenic route of the Heart of Wales line.

It was a warm sunny day and the views along the way were stunningly breathtaking. This was a journey that I had not done for many years and one that I intend to repeat very soon.

At times, it felt as though our train was going straight through people’s gardens and on more than one occasion I found myself gazing out of the carriage window into someone’s living room or kitchen!

A few of the mountain climbs were so steep, I thought at times that we may all need to get out and push. In Wales, we are blessed with such beautiful picturesque landscapes around us, which quite often we find ourselves driving through and not even noticing.

With the work that I do, it’s fair to say that I am blessed with the gift of travel and I’ve just decided a lot more of it is going to be done by train!

Time to enjoy festival season

As we now enter the summer months I’m convinced that nobody loves a good party or festival more that the Welsh…..And we have so many within a short travelling distance of Swansea, Llanelli and Neath.

The festival scene is booming and record numbers are being recorded up and down the country, despite the fact that the weather isn’t always ideal. If anyone is thinking of going into business in Wales, might I suggest manufacturing wellingtons!

If you haven’t been to a festival or outdoor concert I urge you to give it a go. Take the plunge, take the kids, take your nan… she’ll love you for it!

There are so many to choose from. Food festivals, flower festivals, folk and jazz festivals, and my favourite, comedy festivals. Ok, and the Welsh favourite, the beer festival.

These events are also very important for the local economy and in addition give us the chance to mix, mingle and make new friends. All this and a great day out!  What are you waiting for? Why not join me and explore our local festival scene this year?

Finding the right words is no problem!

You may remember, depending on the length of your attention span and whether you actually read my page or use it for lining the bottom of the budgie’s cage, that a couple of weeks ago I vented my spleen – I’m having the stitches out a week Thursday by the way!

My fury (if you can call it that) was directed at the irritating use of sloppy grammar on TV programmes, specifically the substitution of “Should of” for “Should have” and the emphasis on the first syllable of the word “Research” so it becomes the Americanised “ Ree-search!”

Well, it’s obvious that the presenters of BBC Breakfast, Sky News and whatever  the ITV breakfast show is called don’t have the South Wales Evening Post delivered to their Hampstead houses, Mayfair mansions and Manchester maisonettes, because they’re still at it.

Every morning, they are there, mangling our precious language as I watch the telly in my kitchen with more steam pouring out of my ears than the kettle that’s boiling to make my first cuppa of the day.

And it doesn’t get any better when I leave the house. Forget grammar for a moment. While you’re at it, you can forget granddad, too.

(Because they both know how to speak correctly.)

Wherever I go, whether it’s shops, offices, banks…any business premises, I hear people say things that either they’ve been trained to say verbatim day after day so they’re unable to deviate from it,  or they just open their mouths and speak without thinking.

Much better to think without speaking… methinks!

Take the over-used expression “No problem!”

What could I possibly have against it?

So much! So very much!

The other day I ‘phoned my local taxi office and asked for a cab to pick me up from my house at a particular time to take me to a particular restaurant I frequent because when it comes to food I’m particular.

What did the lady at the taxi office tell me?

“No problem!”

You see, to my mind, that’s a negative reply. The words “No” and “Problem” joined together, hint that there might possibly be a problem.

A more positive response would be “Certainly sir!”

I’d even prefer the classic taxi firm fib “He’s on his way”

If I ‘phoned the butchers and asked them to send a taxi around, that would be a problem…and not only because I was losing it big time.

But I was ‘phoning a taxi firm that employs taxi drivers who drive taxis for a living. So I don’t think that complying with a request to supply a taxi should be a problem!

Or is it me who has a problem?

She’s one to watch out for

Occasionally I do get the chance to be part of an event that doesn’t always consist of other comedians, which is a refreshing change.

On a number of occasions, I have had the pleasure of working with Laura Jane, an extremely talented singer, songwriter and recording artist from Swansea.

Over the past two years she has become a very much in-demand corporate entertainer.

It’s refreshing to see new and young talent making the step from grass roots level of the local pubs and clubs, breaking into this lucrative and more rewarding arena, which is a career move in the right direction.

Clearly, Laura Jane has the right attitude and skills to hold her own in this market as she has served her apprenticeship well.

If you are lucky, you may also catch her performing locally with her band ‘Twenty2’ or possibly as part of the duo ‘Dusty Road’ with Daniel James.

Keep your eyes peeled as this is a great night out for all the family.

First impression’s not very healthy

Last week, I visited a friend in Morriston Hospital and was amazed at the sight that greeted me while walking into the main entrance.

Before my very eyes a nurse had assisted a patient outside in a wheelchair, complete with an intravenous drip attached, coughing uncontrollably while attempting to smoke a cigarette.

What made it harder to believe is that we were surrounded by No Smoking signs. In fact, the whole of the hospital grounds are covered in no smoking signs.

I love our NHS and the hard-working, committed staff that are at the grass roots but something clearly is not right here.

Being in hospital and having a major operation could be an ideal opportunity to make some positive life changing decisions about our health.

To see the No Smoking policy implemented would be a step in the right direction. We all need to take responsibility for our own well being.

Healthy eating, a bit of exercise and even a daily dose of laughter and cwtshes will help. Just a thought…

It’s not always the sincerest flattery!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….

Or is it? It certainly wasn’t in the days when “Spitting Image” attracted huge audiences on Sunday nights, eager to see which politicians, pop stars and actors would be lampooned.

The puppet creators Peter Fluck and Roger Law would study an individual’s facial characteristics and then comically exaggerate their more noticeable features, such as Mrs. Thatcher’s sharp nose, Prince Charles’ ears and John Major’s enormous philtrum.

Before you start wondering if that’s what made him so attractive to Edwina Currie, the philtrum is the ‘dent’ between your nose and your mouth. And the then-Prime Minister’s was – and still is – larger than most.

The more grotesque the rubber caricatures became, the more we laughed. Not just at the puppets but at brilliantly topical lines spoken by the cream of British comedy impressionists.

But like all the best TV shows, it came to an end and around the same time, another ‘imitative’ phenomenon started to creep into the public arena….as well as theatres, leisure centres, social clubs and pubs.

Yes, I am talking about the Tribute Act.

I’d guess that the first one was an Elvis tribute, followed closely by the Abba tribute act, “Bjorn Again” who are still around today.

Actually, that’s quite a funny image. Elvis followed closely by Abba. “Go away Benny. I’m not giving you back your white, sequinned jumpsuit!”

If you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll let you into a secret. There’s more than one “Bjorn Again”.

There are multiple four-piece bands going out under that name, touring the world, entertaining audiences and pretending to be Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and the other one. I bet they earn a decent living and that their shows are spectacular.

But would you want a job that involves pretending to be a member of a band that broke up 33 years ago, dressed in a blonde wig, high heels and hot pants?

And that same question is also aimed at you ladies.

The appeal of tribute acts is that it gives people a chance to see musicians recreating the look and sound of artistes who they’d never normally get to see, either because the originals only appear in massive arenas which makes the ticket price prohibitive…or they’re dead.

Oops! Bit of a downer there. Sorry!

Personally I’m not a fan of tribute acts or those bands who tour under the name of a famous, million-selling 1960s or 70s pop group, but who are obviously not the original members because they look far too young .

In fact, the last time I paid to see one of those acts, the only face I recognised was the bloke playing the drums. It was my postman!

Three Peaks Challenge. Hitting the heights to aid charity

One of my most exciting meetings this week was with a local fitness coach and personal trainer who has a big challenge ahead of him.

Members of the G.I. Joe Personal Training fitness family from Llanelli are taking on the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge next weekend. This will involve walking up (and back down!) Cadair Idris, Snowdon and Pen y Fan in 12 hours or less.

The cumulative totals of distances are mind-boggling –  2864m (9397 ft.) of ascent and descent and about 35km (20miles) of walking plus 180 miles of driving . . . all in some of the most remote landscape in Wales.

Let’s hope the Welsh weather is kind to them!

The team are raising much needed funds for the local charity, Week on The Street.

There are local people from all walks of life and fitness levels taking part, but leading them on this challenge are instructors Joe Williams and Gareth Evans, both of whom have already climbed Snowdon at the start of March in some very poor conditions.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.Good luck, guys!  I’m right behind you…..well, in spirit anyway!

Pay rise is unbelievable

Well. I’m thinking of changing my job. I’m going to become a Welsh Assembly Member.

It’s recently been announced that the Remuneration Board of the National Assembly for Wales has recommended a pay rise of 18.5% on their current salary of £50,000.

At this time of public sector cuts, I find this quite unbelievable and am glad to see many AM’s refusing to accept the pay rise. This pay increase will cost the tax payer £700,000 more next year, yes folks, that’s you and me.

In 2015/2016 NHS workers received a 1% pay increase with 60% of staff subjected to a pay freeze.

I just don’t get it. A study last year showed that Wales had the lowest gross average weekly earnings in Great Britain, yet we have some of the greatest talent.

Time to get the Cwtsh party campaign underway I think….Yes this could work. We have just over four years to get this up and running. Who is with me on this?