No matter what the award, there’s always one winner

“AND THE WINNER IS…MY UNCLE SELWYN.”

Were you bowled over by the BAFTAs?

Will you be eagerly ogling the OSCARS?

If watching actors and directors win ornaments that’ll probably end up as door stops doesn’t float your boat, perhaps you find the BRITS a blast or prefer to be grabbed by the GRAMMYS. (Insert your own joke there…)

However, if you’re bored by award ceremonies, you’d better unplug your telly for the next month or so.

Otherwise, as you keep pressing your remote control in the forlorn hope you’ll find a programme or film you haven’t seen at least twice before, chances are you’ll come across a back-slapping, star-sprinkled awards ceremony.

We’re now well into “The Awards Season” when trophies are handed out like sweets. Except in diet-conscious Hollywood, where they’re handed out like shaved carrots.

Apart from those I’ve mentioned, already this year we’ve had the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, the Evening Standard Film Awards and one that was – like the now seemingly defunct British Comedy Awards – originally created purely to fill a two-hour TV slot…The National Television Awards.

It’s amazing how the diminutive duo Ant and Dec manage to pick up a NTA every year, when you consider the award is exactly the same size and weight as them!

Among those still to come this year are the Olivier Awards, the television BAFTAS and the Welsh BAFTAs.

You might think the annual Cardiff-based ceremony is a poor relation to the glitzy, televised affair at London’s Royal Opera House which is packed with Tinsel Town A-listers flown in for the occasion.

But while it’s unlikely that George Clooney, Steven Spielberg or Nicole Kidman might take a National Express coach down the M4 to attend, I’ve been told by friends who’ve been to the Welsh BAFTAs that they’re very special nights, celebrating the incredible talent we have in Wales.

When it comes to excellence in TV and Film production, the Welsh punch well above their weight – especially after a few Friday night pints.

Maybe one year I’ll be invited, which will give me an excuse to send my tuxedo to the cleaners to have the Millennium New Year’s Eve party stains removed.

No one enjoys award ceremonies more than my Uncle Selwyn.

Not that he’s especially interested in films or television.

But he does own the company that manufactures gold envelopes for every award ceremony around the world.

Which makes him a winner…every year!

It’s snow real panic for Italians during cold winter weather

As I write this next item I’m sitting in a small cafe at the top of a mountain in Italy.

It’s 9.30am, the sky is bright blue, pure white snow can be seen for miles across the beautifully unspoilt landscape and I’m looking down on the clouds in the valley below.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Pure air and a place I have found to bring out the creativity in me.

Well as soon as I’ve managed to warm up my feet and defrost the icicles on my nose.

And another thing – despite all the snow there is no disruption, businesses are running as usual and people are going about their lives without any delays.

No one is rushing to buy 20 loaves of bread and there is plenty of milk on the shelves in the local shop. If this snow arrived back in Wales, there would be mayhem.

Pampering our pooches

We have become a nation of obsessed pet owners. Some people are now clearly barking mad and have taken this obsession to new heights as I have just seen a chihuahua trotting down the pavement on a lead whilst dressed in a pink leather jacket and diamanté collar.

The evidence is clearly there. Walk through any city centre in Wales and you’ll spot the pampered pooch. I’ve got a feeling that many pet owners think more of their pet than of their partners. But why is this?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because a dog won’t argue or answer back, their love is unconditional and they never hold a grudge.

I think we should all be a bit more dog like, but I do draw the line at having to wear a diamanté collar!

I’m not saying no to the pink leather jacket quite yet though, I think pink can be quite slimming in the right light.

Here comes the sun – So let’s all hide!

After months of relentlessly wet, windy and depressing weather, many of us have only managed to keep up our dampened spirits by looking forward to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when we can get out into that energising source of Vitamin D3….sunshine!

Oh, just to refer back to a subject I previously moaned…err…wrote  . . . about, although the sun flew off to warmer climes last October, some men are so desperate to expose their saggy-baggy bodies, they doggedly wear ridiculous–looking saggy-baggy shorts all year round.

I saw an example of this macho madness at McArthur Glen shopping centre in Bridgend a couple of Saturdays ago.

While other shoppers were protected from the icy wind by coats, scarves and gloves, one obese, shaven-headed ‘gentleman’ was wearing shorts, a sleeveless tee-shirt…and open-toed sandals!

And, naturally, he was shouting into his mobile telephone as he swaggered around.

To quote Del Boy – “What a plonker!”

Back to the subject in hand . . .

What could be better for your well-being than stretching out on a white sandy beach, listening to the sound of the sea lapping against the shore as your skin turns a deep golden brown?

Well…sticking your head into a whirring food mixer, for a start!

Because according to the latest ‘scientific research that’s meant to make our lives miserable’, there’s no such thing as a healthy tan – and the fair-skinned should spend no more than 10 minutes in strong sunlight.

Just 10 measly minutes lying in the sun every day!

That hardly makes it worthwhile for sun-seekers to spend several thousand pounds on a 14-night luxury break to the Bahamas, the Caribbean or Llandudno.

However, there is a very serious element at the core of that advice.

Even though we all know the dangers of over-exposure to the sun,  obviously we have to keep being told, because every year in the UK there are more than 13,500 cases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

And the incidence is rising faster than any other cancer.

Hugh Jackman recently had skin cancer for the fifth time – now successfully removed – which he puts down to not using sunscreen.

Okay, he’s Australian, but that country knew about the dangers of sunbathing decades ago.

Enjoy your summer holiday, abroad or in the UK, but please slap on the sunscreen, don’t stay out in the sun too long and remember this little motto –

“If you roast…you’re toast!

Now where are my shorts…?

Parking challenge

As I write, I’m in the middle of fighting a parking fine.

In my defence, the ticket machine in question would not take the extra coins needed for the length of time that my vehicle was parked in a small SA1 car park.

I paid for two hours but needed three hours. The machine would not take the money for three hours.

I just knew there would be problems. Not a single car park attendant in sight. How frustrating is that.

My meeting meant that I was unable to pop out and top up, but as luck had it, I only ended up being 12 minutes over my allotted time.

Imagine my surprise to see a parking ticket on my car in this short space of time.

The attendant must have been hiding behind another car counting down on a stopwatch. If machines don’t work properly why should people be punished?

I’m not letting this one rest….have you had any similar experiences of parking problems lately?

I’d love to hear from you if you have.

Cookery Lessons

While chatting over the garden fence with one of my neighbour’s school aged children, whilst retrieving my washing (as most of it had ended up scattered around Ammanford as a result of 80 MPH winds) the conversation turned to “which is your favourite lesson in school?”

Imagine my surprise to learn that he quite enjoyed cookery lessons.

I didn’t think they still taught cookery in schools!

I was quite disappointed to learn that pizza and apple crumble seemed to be the most adventurous creations these days.

Apparently, the apple filling for the apple crumble didn’t have to be prepared as it “was already like a lump of apple sauce in the bottom of the silver tray” that they had to cook it in!

No peeling, coring and chopping like the good old days… it just appeared!

My gran would turn in her grave had she heard this. Gran was a firm believer that children should be taught to cook from scratch. In these days of ready meals and fast foods I’m sure children would love to be let lose in the kitchen. What do you think?

Remake a classic? Is that really wise, sir?

Unless you’ve just returned from a year on a remote Pacific atoll – and if you have, I’m not atoll jealous – you’ll know that a film, based on a 40-year-old television sitcom, is currently on release in cinemas.

“Love Thy Neighbour – The Movie” stars Samuel L. Jackson and Jim Davidson.

Just kidding!

It’s “Dad’s Army”, which boasts a stellar cast, including Swansea’s Catherine Zeta-Jones as Captain Mainwaring.

Just kidding again! She plays a suspected German spy.

Since I first heard it was in production I’ve been puzzled why its producers thought a film based on a TV sitcom set in the 1940s, that was first broadcast (in black and white!) in 1968 and ended in 1977, would be a potentially commercial venture.

Now you may say “Ah, but these film people know what they’re doing”, to which I would refer you to the words of esteemed screenwriter William Goldman

“Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

I hope the “Dad’s Army” film does well, but wonder if fans of the TV series will venture out cold winters nights  to see an expanded version of a TV show that still gets respectable viewing figures for its Saturday night repeats on BBC 2 – which seem to have been running since the original series ended!

Film versions of TV sitcoms were very popular in the 1970s – indeed a “Dad’s Army” film was made in 1971 featuring the original cast and was a modest success.

Just before “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” and their sequels turned our studios around, these big screen ‘spin-offs’, made quickly and cheaply, kept an ailing British film industry busy.

However, most of them were terrible and are almost impossible to sit through today.

There were exceptions like “Porridge”, but there was much dross, like the three (yes…three!) “On The Buses” films and “Are You Being Served?” in which the staff of Grace Brothers all went on holiday to a Spain that strangely resembled a corner of Pinewood Studios.

If the new “Dad’s Army” film makes tons of money, could it start a new raft of big screen ‘spin offs’, such as “Citizen Khan” or “Benidorm”?

No, relax. It’s about as likely as, say, the BBC hiring Hollywood star Matt Le Blanc from “Friends” to co-host “Top Gear”.

Ooops!

How could we forget?

I remember the days when you could only get petrol, oil and bags of coal from the local petrol station. How times have changed!

Today, most petrol stations are as well stocked up as the supermarkets, which is a blessing in more ways than one for many men, especially as St Valentine’s Day is around the corner!

The last minute chocolates, cards and flowers can quite often save a relationship.

Having said that, Welsh men are actually quite lucky – we get St Dwynwen’s Day on the 25th January which I’m convinced was created as a three-week pre-warning just so we don’t forget. Perish the thought!

Last year, I decided to get that special person in my life some lovely flowers for St Valentine’s Day. The landlord of my local was quite touched and displayed them in a vase on the bar.

Use it or lose it is the motto

As we get older it’s so important to keep exercising in order to stay fit, flexible and healthy.

I’m sure I am not alone in hearing the snap, crackle and pop when I jump out of bed in the morning, unfortunately it’s not my breakfast cereal, it’s my knee joints warming up!

We are told to keep mobile by so many medical professionals on a daily basis, but how many of us manage to fit in some daily exercise?

Use it or lose it is the motto. Now we can’t argue with that!

Unfortunately, the challenges of today’s daily living, plus the long, dark winter days and poor weather conditions does not help with the motivation needed to wrap up and get out there for some fresh air.

We can clearly see that phones are getting much smarter and thinner.

People, not so much. Before you ask – I weigh 14st naked. That’s if the scales in Boots The Chemist is anything to go by.

My case comes up next Monday.

You can take the joke too far

I did intend discussing an old show business tradition, but on reflection it’s too rude for a family newspaper, so instead I’ll discuss a different old show business tradition . . .“Always leave ’em wanting more!”

Comedians, whether they’re world famous or Phil Evans, know there’s a chance an audience might become restless or even bored, if they feel that they’re being ‘talked at’ all evening.

Although it’s a comedian’s job to be consistently funny all through their act to get the necessary reaction, an audience can flag a little, tired of continually laughing.

Ken Dodd is now in his 80s and may no longer perform his famous five-hour marathons, but he’s still very generous with his time on stage.

Even so, he doesn’t joke non-stop all evening.

Experience has taught him when an audience is close to being ‘laughed-out’.

So he’ll occasionally pause to sing one of his many hit ballads or introduce a support act – usually singer Sybie Jones – before exercising everyone’s chuckle muscles again.

The legendary Max Miller rarely did more than 15 minutes on stage – but they were pure comedy gold. And he’s still revered today.

He knew brevity was the soul of wit….and heavy innuendo!

I like to include other comedians on my shows because it gives the audience a bit of variety. I’m first on, which allows me to establish myself and gauge what sort of audience is out there!

I introduce the first guest comic and then pop on and off between the acts, before closing proceedings. By performing short-ish, punchy sets, I try not to outstay my welcome.

Yet some comedians feel the urge to take centre stage for hours at a time and without Doddy’s knack of knowing when to ease off the laughter pedal, it can be an endurance test.

Here’s an extract from a review of Eddie Izzard’s current West End show “Force Majeure”.

“As it enters its third hour, it starts to feel frictionless and I began to experience cravings for something un-whimsical. Izzard’s self-delight is evident when he relates why he’s chosen to perform a routine in German or why his gigs in France compelled him to cast a dolphin in a scene about Magna Carta.”

I know Eddie’s a brilliantly erudite performer, but when a comedian is delighted with himself and relies on being whimsical for nearly three hours, it does smack a little of “Look how clever I am!” self-indulgence.

Perhaps his maxim is…

“Leave ’em wanting less!”

PS: Did you know that Eddie Izzard once lived in Skewen?

It’s a totally random fact which has no relevance to the above but could be a winner in the pub quiz!