Scooter incident worthy of a sketch

Some people amaze me, but often for the wrong reasons.

There I was, minding my own business walking through Swansea last week, when out of nowhere I was almost knocked off my feet by a rather, shall we say ‘large lady’, in control (and I use that word loosely) of a mobility scooter.

What I’m sure didn’t help with her control issue was the fact that she was smoking a cigarette with one hand whilst trying to talk on her mobile phone with the other, in between trying to steer her transportation.

Adding to this was the fact that there were carrier bags full of shopping hanging off the handlebars and front basket, a Jack Russell wedged behind a Wilkinson’s bag… not to mention the oxygen cylinder that was firmly secured to the rear of her scooter, which I can only assume was to assist with her breathing difficulties, in between cigarettes.

Make what you may of this but believe me, at some point in the future this sketch will without a doubt form part of one of my future shows. Unbelievable!

The first mention of the dreaded C-word

Last Saturday, I sat in a Llanelli town centre cafe having a quiet cup of coffee (Well, the coffee itself was quiet, but I was making loud slurping noises, watching the world go by).

Not the entire world obviously, as that would take several months and not everyone in the world has the inclination, the air fare or enough holiday entitlement to parade past the window of my local town centre cafe, so I could stare at them as I drank my way through 5,000 cups of coffee.

Regular readers will know I spend a lot of time in cafes and it’s not because I have a ‘thing’ about shapely, thirty-something waitresses in pastel-coloured Rayon overalls that crackle as they place a plate of beans on toast in front of me and say in that provocative, ‘Continental’ fashion . . . ”Yer u are, luv!”

Years ago, I used to go out with a waitress, but I packed her in when I found out her toes were so tiny, you could barely see them.

Our relationship would never have worked because I’m lack-toes intolerant!

Sitting in cafes enables me to overhear people’s conversations.

Sometimes I have to strain my ears while I’m listening and until people get to know me, I do get the odd glance as I pour coffee into my lughole, swish it around and pour it back into my cup.

Some people are unaware that they’re talking so loud, their ‘private’ conversation can be heard by customers on the next table, passers-by in the street and holiday makers boating on Loch Ness.

For comedians needing ideas for routines, such conversations can be Manna from Heaven. Manna from Devon arrives quicker, but as it comes up from the West Country it costs £6.50 extra, to cover the Severn Bridge toll.

So, there I am, listening to the lady on the next table talking to her friend and I heard her say those words that many of you will hear over the coming months, but rarely in mid-August.

“I’ve done all my Christmas shopping!”

I wanted to ask her “Madam, if you’ve already done all your Christmas shopping, what on Earth do you do in November and December? Buy Easter Eggs and hot cross buns?”

But, before I could speak, a shapely, thirty-something waitress in a pastel-coloured Rayon overall crackled past me…and I became lost in an exotic mist of bacon fat and grilled tomatoes…

No man is an island

I am thankful for the ever growing network of caring, loving and inspiring people that continue to support me and what I do, as these people, often unsung heroes, have contributed in some way to help me bring and share what I do to a much greater audience.

Many have taught me valuable lessons and I’m sure will continue to do so.

It has often been said that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with, which includes those that we spend the most time with.

Once I read “that to move forward in life and to have peace and calm in all that we do and to grow and live life to the full we must help people and thereby attract the right people into our lives, which often means letting go and moving away from disruptive influences”.

My good friend, the late Rev Mostyn Williams from Clydach was a firm believer in this theory and I often think about the many conversations I had with this wise and humble soul.

The right people enrich the journey beyond words.

Yes, it’s all about the people; all the rest is just ‘stuff’.

Cooking up hot summer headlines?

Do you remember back in the Spring, national newspapers confidently predicted a ‘Barbecue Summer’?

Yes! Like those mornings when you wake up regretting you bought the kebab that looked so delicious as you staggered back home from the ‘pub a few hours previously….it’s all coming back to you now!

If anyone did manage to light more than one barbecue in the last couple of months, it was to keep warm during the most disappointing summer since…err…last year’s disappointing summer.

It’s not been exceptionally wet. It’s just been exceptionally ‘blah’.

A warm day, followed by several cloudy, humid days, then a few wet days…

What we’ve missed out on are weeks of uninterrupted sunshine in the day and long warm evenings when we can sit out until late, helping us to recharge our batteries.

In fact, when we have had hot summers, I took the batteries out of my household appliances….lined them up in the garden…and recharged them.

It’s a cheap way of doing it, but does have its downside.

I overslept every morning while my alarm clock battery was stretched out on the back lawn, sunning itself.

Daily, events happen here and around the world worthy of filling newspapers, so sometimes it’s difficult to recall what the important headline story was last week.

Try remembering what the big story was a month ago and it’s absolutely impossible.

Newspapers rely on us forgetting, so every Spring they adopt a cavalier approach and print predictions about ‘barbecue’ Summers and every Autumn they predict that the worst Winter for decades is on the way, bringing with it power cuts, food shortages and worst of all…a specially extended Christmas edition of “Eastenders”!

Brrrr!

But I don’t forget those headlines and have a crazy conspiracy theory which for legal reasons I need to stress, is so preposterous, only a comedy nerd like me would ever come up with anything so ridiculous.

Those over-optimistic Spring headlines were created after supermarket bosses who desperately needed to shift barbecue equipment and charcoal; burgers and baps; sausages and onion rings; paddling pools and sun loungers, had clandestine meetings with newspaper bosses during which plastic ‘Bags For Life’ stuffed with fifty pound notes were handed over. No questions asked. A nod is as good as wink.

As dear old Arthur Daley would say “A nice little earner”. *

To reiterate, it’s just my crazy theory that has not one grain of truth about it.

It just makes me laugh.

I hope it tickled your funny bone, too.

George Cole R.I.P.*

A communication breakdown

The exam results are out. But are good results enough?

My close friend and successful business coach from Llanelli, Donald Melrose, is a firm believer that all children should be taught marketing skills at school and I couldn’t agree more.

So many people lack the ability to effectively communicate and gain rapport with others in everyday situations.

Marketing skills give us the edge to engage on so many levels, thus making us more employable, unveiling greater opportunities and instilling confidence to grow and achieve.

The education system needs modernising to help children deal with the challenges they will face in an ever-changing world.

Social media is robbing children of the important tool of being able to look someone in the eye and really communicate.

Marketing is not just for businesses and celebrities, it is a subject that must be introduced early to establish habits that will develop and grow stronger throughout our lifetime.

We all market ourselves every day by either drawing people towards us or pushing people away, but have a limited understanding of the process.

Living in a safe haven

An interesting report out this week revealed the places in Wales with the lowest crime rates, with  Dyfed-Powys coming out on top as one of the safest places to live.

But hang on a minute, surely by revealing these figures it is a bit like inviting your stripey T-shirted, eyemask-wearing blokes with a swag bag over their shoulders round for a bit of a get together?

It’s like the Jobs Pages for burglars!

“Look, these places haven’t been burgled yet, why not pop round?”

On a more serious note, I think it’s more likely to be a vigilant and robust police force in these areas and it is reassuring to see that a lid is being kept on crime.

Which reminds me of a poster in the window of the village police station in Llangadog some years back, which read “this police station is only occasionally manned, Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings.”

Yes, only in Wales!

Why people are getting fatter

If you’re over 40 it’s a safe bet that throughout your school years there was always one overweight kid in the class – usually male – who was rarely seen without a Cornish pasty, sausage roll or chocolate bar.

Sometimes all three, if it was pocket money day.

It certainly happened in the schools I attended and when we started to notice that (let’s call him Terry Jenkins, even though his real name was Colin Williams) looked a bit ‘rounder’ than the rest of us, some skinny kids became verbal bullies.

Being 7 or 8 their command of the pithy put-down was quite limited, so the best insult that was thrown in his direction was “Fatty”.

Had they been aware of the term ‘Morbidly Obese’ back in the day, then perhaps the more educated amongst the bullies would have pointed at him and jeered “Oi! Morbidly Obese Williams!”

It may not be PC to say so, but today there are more and more obese children and adults everywhere.

What’s particularly sad is when you see a morbidly obese mother shopping with her teenage daughter who’s already morphing into the same rotund shape as her mum.

I feel like telling the mother off for filling her trolley with sugary drinks, crisps, burgers and giant packs of sweets –but it really isn’t any of my business.

There are many theories explaining what’s caused this epidemic of enormously enlarged epidermis.

The explosion of fast-food outlets; fizzy drinks; take-away meals delivered to your front door; lack of exercise; TV programmes that promote the baking of sugary, creamy cakes …..etc. etc.

But I have a new theory why people are getting fatter.

I blame the TV remote control.

We sit on our sofas every night, remote in hand, hopping from channel to channel in the vain search for something entertaining.

But imagine if we had 500 channels and the remote hadn’t been invented.

We’d have to get up, walk across to the TV, change channels, walk back to the sofa, sit down, watch for a couple of minutes, then get up again, walk across to the TV, change channels…

Repeat that 500 times every evening and in a fortnight not only would you have a deep groove in the carpet between the sofa and TV, you’d have shed a stone and a half.

So, let’s all dump our remotes and reconvene in a month to compare weight loss!

 

 

 

Here’s one for Dr Beat

With five minutes to spare this week, what better way to spend my time than sitting and reading the news, a rare thing for me!

Talk about laugh out loud when this story popped up which read “playing music in a hospital operating theatre can be disruptive”.

Now, every time our favourite hospital dramas come on the TV, there is always soft classical music playing in the background, lovely and relaxing, so what’s the problem?

This report states, and I quote “music was played in 16 out of 20 observed operations……dance music and drum and bass were often played very loudly”.

REALLY?

This sounds more like Wind Street in Swansea on a Saturday night!

Hang on though, there must be some money to be made here, maybe a collection of “Now That’s What I Call Surgery” CD’s!

Now then, my track list, let me see…..

I just died in your arms, Footloose, Groove is in the Heart, Smooth Operator, You’re So “vein”, Dr Beat, Bleeding Love, The First Cut is the Deepest….

Ok, I need some help here, guys, get in touch with your suggestions!

A rising star to watch out for

If there’s one thing that makes me proud, it’s hearing about young home grown talent doing their country proud.

My coffee shop meeting certainly didn’t let me down this week.

She is only 16 years old, but Lauryn Davey who lives very close to me in my little fishing village of Ammanford, is the best all round athlete in Wales at her age.

Within six months of starting triple jump, she is the most promising female triple jumper that Wales has had for many years.

She won her age group Welsh Championship easily, taking the bronze medal at the Schools International with a leap of 11 metres 42cm, the fifth longest jump by a junior in the UK this year.

Amazing, I find it difficult to even jump off a bus these days!

All too often, youngsters get labelled as lazy and uninspired, but Lauryn is proving that hard work and determination really does pay off.

Competing in a total of nine events, she is certainly one to watch out for in the future!

You heard it here first!

Church, football or comedy?

“There are lies, damn lies….and statistics!” goes the old saying. But I’m not sure that’s true. Otherwise, The Office For National Porkies would stand right next to The Office For National Statisics in Newport.

So, you can take what I’m about to tell you with a pinch of salt, unless you suffer from high blood pressure.

I recently read that in Britain, more people go to Church than attend football matches.

Monthly attendance at Church Of England services are around 1.7 million and the Catholic Church has similar numbers – so if you include followers of other religions, then probably 4 to 5 million people attend church regularly.

Compare that to the average weekly attendance at Premier League matches (680,000) and the average weekly attendance at non-league games (162,000) and it would seem that statement about church attendance is correct.

Although . . . .if we include football fans who watch a match via Sky Sports down their local pub, the total figure probably exceeds Church attendances.

That’s where football has an unfair advantage over religion because I’ve never walked past a pub that had a sign outside that said, “See Live Sunday Services On Our Big Screen TV! Enjoy A Sermon, A Steak and A Selection Of Fine Ales”.

I wonder how many customers that would pull in off the streets on Sundays?

But, here’s a fact that I found even more fascinating. Apparently, more people go to watch comedy than go to Church!

Why? Maybe comedians offer more spiritual sustenance and a more optimistic view of the human condition than your local vicar or parish priest.

What’s certain is this: although comedians come in all colours and religions, when we’re alone on stage with only the audience’s laughter to justify our existence, we’re all Christians in the Circus Maximus in Ancient Rome.

Some nights when the audience is restless or more interested in their own conversations, it feels like we’ve been thrown to ravenous lions.

Other nights, when the atmosphere is more combative, more gladiatorial, it only takes one strong blow with our sword – in the shape of a good joke – early on in our act and we can turn things around and survive to fight another day.

People have commented on my startling likeness to Russell Crowe, so next time you come to see me, my opening line could well be….

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions!