You never know you have it ’til it’s gone

I believe the old saying, ‘You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry’ – even though owning a well would be ‘wishful thinking’ on my part.

See what I did there?

But, as my annual water rates cost a fortune, I wouldn’t only miss my supply if it were cut off, I’d be hammering on the front doors of the Welsh Water HQ demanding my taps be turned back on forth-with.

And, if that wasn’t possible, fifth-with!

But I digress…

The old saying means you don’t miss something until it’s no longer there and I was reminded of it while reading an article written by a Phil Colwill, about how his life changed when he was routinely stopped by the police, admitted he’d had a drink earlier, was breathalysed and banned from driving for 12 months.

He explained…

“I always thought of myself as a careful driver but some speeding offences and a drink driving ban suggested otherwise.

“I was supposed to be one of the good guys. When I went to court I felt ashamed and embarrassed.”

His 12-month ban was reduced to nine after agreeing to attend an alcohol awareness course run by the Institute Of Advanced Motorists, where, among other things, he learned that a motorist is four times more likely to have an accident after only one alcoholic drink.

During the ban he had to rely on public transport and he loathed having to wait in ‘so-called bus shelters’ in the rain and sit/stand on long-delayed train journeys.

Okay, millions of people have to do this every day to get to and from work, but believe me, once you’re used to having a car, when you can’t have access to it, even for a day or two, it’s very frustrating.

If you’re a motorist, next time you’re behind the wheel, whether it’s to commute, go away for the weekend or visit friends, consider how time-consuming and complicated that journey would be without your car.

Once his ban was lifted, Phil wanted to redeem himself and took the Advanced Motorcycling Skills course run by South Wales Advanced Motorcyclists where the advice he received from experienced riders helped him to pass with a F1RST grade.

He’s now going for the Institute Of Advanced Motorists car test and I wish him well with it.

Which brings us back to my opening paragraph – because it makes me a ‘well-wisher’.

And you thought these articles were just thrown together…

Showcasing a host of great Welsh talent

Last Thursday, the Manor Park Country House, Clydach, hosted the Welsh Factor National Final talent competition to a sell out audience of more than 600 people.

Here, we witnessed young talent from the heart of Wales who had worked their way up through the heats, beating strong competition in order to share the final stage with some of the best new talent Wales has to offer.

We were entertained by dancers, a choir, singer songwriters, duos and trios.

It would be fair to say that all 27 acts who made it through to this final heat were clear winners in my eyes.

Over the years, I have witnessed the popularity and growth of this event and am yet to see a rival match its commitment to the showcasing and development of performing arts here in Wales.

Welsh Factor was founded by the extremely hard working Miss Anna Marie Thomas from Neath.

Together with a strong technical support team, they are constantly developing and making changes to the business model to ensure that participants gain the best experience, exposure, encouragement and mentoring that is needed to develop our future stars.

Has our spring really sprung?

On Sunday, I was reminded that Spring has arrived. I found some rabbit droppings on my lawn.

This got me thinking. Has winter really gone? Could we be in for some long overdue fine weather?

Well, we have had a few days of clear skies, but for many it’s still too soon to go outdoors without a vest. My gran always advised me to keep my vest on until the end May for some reason. Some of you reading this may be able to clarify this for me and the reason behind it.

So should I start tiding the patio area, painting the decking and possibly investing in one of those modern state of the art barbecues?

Or shall I hang on a bit just in case the snow hasn’t arrived yet?

Only in Wales…….

Just exactly hoodie you think you are?

Every day as we walk, bus, cycle or drive around, we barely notice the million and one things we pass by because they’re so familiar – especially our own face in a shop window. Which is no reflection on us . . .

Some people drive the same route to and from work day after day and frequently arrive at their destination unable to remember how they got there. It’s as if they’re on automatic pilot throughout the commute.

I can’t do that because a comedian must observe the world and the weird, wonderful and sometimes worrying things that go on within it. Every day I look for ideas that might generate a routine or form the basis of this column.

Which brings me to last week – and the lady in her mid-20s I saw wearing a dark blue ‘hoodie’ on the back of which was written the slogan “BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE”.

From her appearance, I assumed that she must ’want to be’ a 19-stone, pram-pushing wobbler who constantly talks on her telephone in between shouting at her young son for running off ahead of her. But I’m prepared to be proved wrong on this.

It was the slogan, rather than the mobile advertising hoarding, that captured my attention. I’m all for motivating people to be the best, whether they’re a barrister or a barrista.

But believing you can “Be whoever you want to be” is not so much motivational as completely delusional. Before the end of the year I ‘want to be’ a headliner in Las Vegas and win £10 million on the Lottery, but my in-built reality checker tells me that’s unlikely to happen. Not unless I buy a Lotto ticket occasionally!

Most motivational slogans come from America where the ‘can do’ attitude is encouraged.

While that’s admirable, telling people (especially impressionable adolescents) they can achieve anything in life, whether they want to be a President or an astronaut, is irresponsible.

Even if they work hard, it doesn’t take into account that millions are after that same goal, so it’s just not possible for everyone to achieve it. Nor does it include the important yet elusive element of good luck.

The eminent psychologist Daniel Kahneman summed-up matters neatly when he said: “Success = Talent + Luck.

Great success = A little more talent + A Lot of Luck.”

And I’m sure he didn’t wear a ‘hoodie’ with this written on the back.

Why suffer just to stay healthy?

One burst of fine weather and everyone is out and about!

Over the past few days I have witnessed more cyclists and joggers on the roads than at any other time I can remember.

Sweating, red faced and panting heavily whilst maintaining that focused and determined look through gritted teeth is not something that I personally feel the need to participate in, but hats off to those of you that do.

A close friend recently challenged me to start training for the next Iron Man competition, which as many of you probably know takes part in West Wales later on this year.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that I don’t need friends like this. My exercise regime is far less strenuous and more of a leisurely pace these days, weather permitting of course. Let’s face it, there’s no point suffering to stay healthy is there?

I’ve been a member of a gym for over a year now, but apparently you actually have to turn up for it to have any effect. Who knew?

Let’s get back to the good old days

As a young lad, I was brought up in the days where everybody in the street on which you lived knew everyone else.

I am sure many of you reading this column can remember this time very well. The good old days.

However, times have changed and, unfortunately, there are so many of us today that don’t know who lives on the street, or in some cases, even who lives next door!

Gone are the days when you would pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar or your neighbour would pop in to share their copy of the Evening Post when they’d finished it.

My grandmother would always make the effort to check on her neighbours and get to know anyone new who moved into the street.

If she were still around today, they’d nickname her “Google.”

Keeping in touch with those around you was second nature. These were life skills and values that would prove useful for all concerned.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to see this sense of community make a welcome return?

Mind your language – I’m on the warpath

Look out! Hide behind your sofas and stick a saucepan on your head for protection. Phil’s on the rampage!

I’m fired-up and hotter under the collar than the time I devoured a vindaloo and chilli pepper curry at my local Welsh-Indian restaurant, The Pentre Khyber.

What’s caused this?

As usual, people’s cavalier, lazy use of English.

I can’t be the only person who’s noticed that many journalists, politicians, experts etc., interviewed on the TV and radio news now routinely begin answering a question with the word ‘So….’ before continuing.

For example . . .

Interviewer: “With me in the studio is the CEO of Amalgamated Chocolate Teapots, Abernathy Farquhar. Mister Farquhar, would you explain why sales of chocolate teapots have plummeted by 500% in the last week?”

Farquhar: “So…what’s happened in real terms is…..”

Was the person who started this linguistic lunacy the same one who first replied “Absolutely!” when answering a question affirmatively instead of using the perfectly adequate “Yes”?

Another affectation that gets my goat (tethered on my back lawn to keep the grass short ) is when a person’s response to something I’ve said is the meaningless “O-kay!”.

That suggests they’re magnanimously giving me their approval while at the same time secretly doubting me.

I don’t know where that one started but it’s definitely not “O-kay” with me.

I’m on a roll now…

If a man said “Good afternoon!” to you at breakfast time, you’d think he was a little odd or had won the ‘Rolex’ he was wearing from a ‘grabber’ machine in a Porthcawl amusement arcade . . . 15 years ago.

Last week, I was in my car, listening to BBC Radio Wales and heard someone say, “Welcome to Good Evening Wales!”

Good Evening Wales?! It was four in the afternoon on a crisp, sunny day!

In my book – available for pre-order at £29.99 – evenings start around seven o’ clock.

BBC Radio Wales must spend so much on doughnuts to keep Wynne Evans happy during his new morning show that there’s no cash left to purchase a clock or two.

That’s a ‘clock or two’. A cockatoo would be a terrible waste of licence payer’s money.

Calling the show “Good Evening Wales” is a conceit, because it sounds much more important, more ‘prime time’ than “Good Afternoon Wales”.

It also makes the presenters appear more important and in regional broadcasting, appearing more important than you are, is really important.

So… rant over, do I feel better?

Absolutely!

On a mission to keep Welsh Stand-up alive

As I write this, a number of my Welsh speaking comedy chums and I have started the first stages of writing new material for a stand up comedy series to be recorded and aired on S4C later this year.

The creative process must produce new, original and quality comedy that must appeal to Welsh speaking viewers.

Following the writing process, shows need to be arranged to road test and hone the material prior to recording, to ensure that each performer is totally at ease with their new act and that laughter is guaranteed.

This exercise can be time consuming, painfully frustrating and at times daunting, but without this process a quality TV recording cannot be achieved.

If you are interested in Welsh stand up comedy, keep your ears open and eyes peeled as we will be performing our warm up shows in many parts of Wales over the next six months and would love you to be part of the experience.

Everything’s looking good

Apparently, it appears that my luck is changing and the future is looking amazingly bright. Let me explain.

On February 29, I received a wedding proposal by email from a Russian lady, 25 years younger than myself, who reassures me that her intentions were honourable and she was very keen to learn to speak English.

I’d have been slightly more impressed if she’d have said Welsh.

She seemed very keen for me to accept her proposal quickly and assured me I was the man for her.

Strangely, earlier that day I also received an email from an overseas legal firm informing me that a legal loophole had been found which meant that they had chosen me to be party to a $2,000,000 inheritance. To proceed I simply needed to supply my full name and bank details.

How amazing is that?

My only initial concern here is that my future Russian bride may have already had access to my emails. She’s promised to send me a picture of herself….watch this space….