Time to count our blessings

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.

So sang John Lennon in 1971 – and if you’ve been listening to the radio, and shopping in supermarkets and department stores in the last couple of months, you’ll be aware he’s still singing it, 35 years after his death on December the 8th 1980.

It’s become as familiar as every other Christmas-themed song, from Slade’s raucous “Merry Christmas Everybody” to the gentler “Last Christmas”, yet it’s only recently that I’ve taken any real notice of the lyrics of “So This Is Christmas”.

Maybe it’s because I’m no longer in the first – or even second – flush of youth, but the opening verse strikes more of a chord ( no pun intended ) with me now.

Or perhaps this year’s terrible events in Paris, Tunisia and elsewhere have given it an extra dimension?

While we’re able to look back at what 2015 presented us with, many young, vibrant people died needlessly and tragically this year.

This is not a pious “Thought For The Day” lecture.

That’s not my style.

In fact, people often look at what I’m wearing and conclude I have no style.

But it might do us good, amid the pre-Christmas madness, to reflect on what we’ve achieved since 2014 – especially the fact that we’re still alive and kicking.

When I was a nipper, older relatives used to say to me “Count your blessings!”

I never understood what they meant then – but I certainly do now.

Those of you who’ve had a bad year health-wise or financially may wonder if you have any blessings to count.

But just think about the thousands of people whose homes have recently been flooded to such an extent they’re going to be uninhabitable for months – they might not even be habitable this time next year.

Unless it’s happened to you, it’s impossible to take in how utterly devastating on every level it feels when your home, furniture, clothes, electrical items and Christmas presents you’d bought and wrapped weeks ago, have been contaminated by an unstoppable wall of stinking, muddy brown river water.

Flood victims won’t be having much fun on December 25th, so when we’re tucking into our Christmas lunch or eating turkey sandwiches in front of the telly, let’s spare them a thought, wish them luck in 2016 – and count our blessings.

Merry Christmas!


Why don’t Christmas shoppers really look like they do in the adverts on TV?

Smiling families, matching jumpers and scarves, calmly strolling around the shops, snow gently falling around the town (they never seem to carry ANY bags though, have you noticed?)

Now, here is the reality…city centre is packed, people all walking in different directions (always the opposite way to me) men being dragged around shops they obviously don’t want to be in, children screaming….all surrounded by the same jolly Christmas music in every shop.

Then we have department stores doubling up as saunas, it’s freezing outside so you have to wrap up, but as soon as you walk into a shop it hits you like one of the other half’s midlife flushes!

It’s the children I feel most sorry for, strapped firmly into their pushchairs with only a Jenkins pastie for company, so many shopping bags hanging on the back of the pushchair, both child and pastie are in danger of tipping backwards and being catapulted across Debenhams.

Happy shopping, my friends!

A well-deserved award

The last of my pre Christmas Party Events was held on Friday at the now ever popular Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.

I was immediately greeted at the main entrance by a very friendly and extremely tall glamorous young lady. I had never before met such a tall woman.

Then it was pointed out to me that the said lady was on stilts which was part of the themed nights entertainment.

Rather embarrassed and not immediately willing to admit my foolishness I immediately said, “yes I knew that”.

Everyone was ready to party and experience the music, acrobatics and comedy magic that was part of the evening’s experience.

But, for me, the highlight of the evening was a surprise presentation awarded to a student of the now ground-breaking Llanelli G.I. Joe Personal Training Academy.

A very surprised and emotional Claire Bancroft received the well deserved award, as she has managed to lose an amazing 7st 10 lbs in just 12 months with the help and guidance of G.I. Joe Williams.

She looked fantastic.


This time of year, there are four words mentioned in newspapers and magazines and heard in TV advertisements that chill me to the bone.

“It’s the party season!”

With the exception of those that start at two pm, feature jelly and ice cream and ‘Pass The Parcel’ before finishing promptly at four pm with goodie bags handed-out to the little ones as they’re collected by their parents, I cannot abide parties.

I’m a tolerant person, who appreciates a joke – whether I’m telling it or hearing it – and I enjoy a good night out.

But I’m hyper-allergic to those excruciating ‘fun’ celebrations of enforced jollity, surrounded by obnoxious, boozed-up people, as loud music blasts our eardrums while everyone stands around making small talk – something I have never been able to master the ‘art’ of.

I know very little about football or rugby, so I can’t join in any sporty conversations.

Heavy topics like religion and politics should be avoided as party-chat, because the combination of heavy alcohol consumption and strong opinions usually ends in fisticuffs, broken furniture and someone’s 60-inch plasma telly being covered in taramasalata.

I also know very little about another subject discussed at parties – popular television shows.

Of course I watch the telly, but as I have absolutely no interest in 75% of what’s shown on TV, you’ll understand why I find it so difficult joining in most gogglebox gossip.

I don’t watch any soaps and I’ve never sat through a complete episode of the following….

Strictly Come Dancing.

The X Factor.

The Great British Bake Off.


Celebrity Masterchef.

The Great Pottery Throwdown.

Big Brother.

Celebrity Big Brother.

The Voice.

I’m yawning like a hippopotamus basking on the banks of the Limpopo just thinking about those shows.

As for “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”, I genuinely cannot see the appeal of watching a group of ‘celebs’ I’ve never heard of, bickering around a jungle clearing night after night, chewing kangaroo testicles and sticking their heads inside a box of rats.

Does the word ‘dignity’ not appear in their dictionaries?

If John Logie Baird had foreseen how his invention would become so dumbed-down, he would have burnt his blueprints and we’d now be spending our evenings listening to the wireless, eating jelly and ice cream and playing “Pass The Parcel”.

Maybe you’d like to include this theory amongst your small talk at the next party you attend…

So does music heal?

Not often do we witness miracles, but I’m told they do happen.

Let me explain . . .

Recently, I was at a celebratory function and I couldn’t help but notice a lady of retirement age manoeuvring into the function room by the aid of a modern looking three-wheeler Zimmer frame.

Clearly, it appeared that walking any distance was a challenge and by the look on her face she was in some discomfort.

As the night went on, it could be seen that friends, family and staff were assisting in every way they could to accommodate her needs.

Food brought to the table, drinks delivered from the bar and friendly banter in copious amounts from all concerned. The ideal party atmosphere was developing. We all felt for her.

Then when the disco started, what I saw next amazed me.

The lady in question got up to her feet and started jiving around the dance floor, not a Zimmer frame in sight, to the sound of ‘Rock around the Clock’.

Now, every day, I ask myself this, “did I witness a miracle?”

A forgotten gift

Yesterday, I went up the attic looking for the tree and decorations, whilst praying that the Christmas lights would work first time (that’s if I could even find them!).

I know that most of you reading this will already have done the decoration ritual long before now, but my comedy work commitments have prevented me – and to be honest my attic is not a place that I enjoy visiting.

I’m not a great fan of spiders, cobwebs and long lost relatives.

But isn’t it amazing what you find?

Yes, I found a gift from last year that I had totally forgotten about.

Bit late now, though.

My girlfriend would have loved that puppy.

Words of advice for restaurants

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I don’t believe it.

If I’m lost on a lonely road in the Scottish Highlands and want to get back to civilisation, I’m not going to show a shaggy-bearded, kilted local a signed photo of Lloyd George astride a Bactrian camel.

I’m going to ask, “How can I get back to civilisation?” and hope the lady knows the answer.

Words are important.

We use them to communicate in texts, e-mails, telephone calls and one-to-one conversations.

In my twin capacities as a comedian and a South Wales Evening Post columnist, I make sure the words I use are so clear and concise, my audiences and readers know exactly what I’m about talking.


University-educated people have a vocabulary of around 30,000 words.

The rest of us have a vocabulary of around 17,000 words.

And the guests on the Jeremy Kyle Show have an average vocabulary of two words – the second of which is ‘off’.

Far too many words are overused today – like “Awesome!”

Witnessing the sun setting over the Caribbean is awesome.

An ‘X’ Factor warbler murdering a power ballad in the key of ‘N’, isn’t awesome. Despite how certain tin-eared judges describe it.

Some people use words without thinking.

Like the other day when I was in a cafe and the waitress asked me if I wanted sugar with my tea.

When I declined, she said “No problem” – inferring that not having to bring me any sugar wasn’t going to cause her a problem.

Does that make sense on any level?

In restaurants, it really gets my goat – even if I’ve ordered lamb – when waiters bring me my meal and say, with all the oily sincerity of used-car salesmen who sell dodgy time-share apartments on the side… “Enjoy!”

What gives them the right to say that?

They didn’t grow the wheat, raise the livestock or pick the vegetables and herbs that went into my meal.

They didn’t prepare it. Chop it. Cook it. Fry it. Boil it or broil it.

All they did was carry my plate from the kitchen and put in it front of me.

And they have the nerve to go over the heads of all the people who worked so hard to create my meal…and tell me to “Enjoy!”

As the waiter turns away, under my breath I usually mutter a couple of over-used words of my own.

Borrowed from the Jeremy Kyle Show!

Black Friday – a poem

You’ll see them up and down the land

Descend on bars and clubs

They’ll knock back drinks from 1pm

And pack out all the pubs


They start off looking tidy

From the office they’ve come straight

I’ll only have a few

Because I’m not to be home late


But one leads to another

By the time you go bar hopping

You forget you’d told the Mrs

That you’d help her with the shopping


And now you’re on your 7th pint

You check your mobile phone

12 missed calls and 13 texts

So many ways to moan!


You hear your friends “just one more pint”

We’ll just try one more bar

It’s only there across the road

But your legs won’t walk that far…


The time has come, you can’t stand up

You really need your bed

Your eyes are seeing double

There’s a banging in your head….


You call the wife to pick you up

But don’t know where you are

Your friends have gone, it’s very late

And you’re holding some bird’s bra


So if you want a quiet life

And Christmas full of cheer

Help the Mrs with the shop

And stay away from beer!


‘Tis the season for some reflection

As the year draws to a close I’m so looking forward to the week between Christmas and New Year as this will be the time for me to relax and recover from the festive demands that many performers are so familiar with.

As I look back on the year, which passed so quickly, I’m amazed at how much was packed in, there is so much more to achieve in the New Year – and that is something that I am really looking forward to.

The past 12 months have created many memories of joy, but have also been tinged with sadness.

One of my oldest mentors would say to me, “take time to reflect, enjoy the memories and move forward into the New Year with a new passion for life and stand firm for what you believe in as your values will define you, even though at times not everyone will agree with you”.

Wise words that I hold dearly.

Laughter really is the best medicine

Doctor Phil Evans, specialist in humour-ology, here!

At your service 24/7.

Do step into my consulting room and take a seat.

No! Not that one! The cat was just sick over it.

What caused it to be sick? How do I know? I’m a doctor, not a vet.

It’s often been said that laughter is the best medicine.

Although if you’re diabetic, I wouldn’t advise you to chuck out your insulin and binge on a boxed-set of Dad’s Army DVDs . . .

However, it’s on record that people with serious illnesses can be helped back to recovery by having laughter therapy.

In one American study, heart attack patients were divided into two groups: one half was placed under standard medical care while the other half watched comedy DVDs for 30 minutes each day.

After one year, the ‘humour’ group had fewer arrhythmias, lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones, and required lower doses of medication.

The non-humour group had two and a half times more recurrent heart attacks than the humour group.

Apparently, there’s also a type of therapy called ’laughter yoga’, but surely if you watch a Laurel and Hardy classic while standing on your head, the combination will cause hiccups and indigestion rather than giggles?

That’d be another fine mess . . .

Medical studies also reveal that even if you have no real reason to laugh – like when you’re listening to any Radio Four comedy show – even if you force yourself to chortle, giggle or guffaw, it’ll release endorphins in your body that are excellent for your health.

This evidence strengthens something I’ve always believed –

That in today’s world, the ability to make people laugh – and for people to be able to laugh as often as possible – is more important than ever.

We take life too seriously, in the main because of what we read in our newspapers and see on the TV news. Or by something that affects us, our relatives or our friends on a more personal level.

From the brief evidence I’ve presented, it does seem laughter’s an important part of a healthy life, both mentally and physically.

We all feel depressed and visit dark places at times, but for many of us there is always someone close, who can lift our spirits and make us smile.

Why not make an effort to be that person who lifts people’s spirits when needed?

You could start by lending me your boxed set of Dad’s Army DVDs!