What Christmas is all about?

Do you ever see something on your TV so annoying that you feel like throwing a brick at the screen?

Me, too!

So, if you’re fond of your TV, never let me into your house if I’m carrying a brick.

Currently top of my loathe list are Christmas adverts for supermarkets and department stores.

Usually filmed in August, most of them feature a smiling family wearing reindeer-patterned jumpers, crammed around a table so enormous an entire forest was felled to manufacture it, tucking into a mountain of turkey, beef, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, beer, wine, fizzy pop and indigestion tablets.

No, it’s not like that in my house either. I never buy fizzy pop!

Before these ads were unveiled, several newspapers claimed viewers ‘couldn’t wait’ to see them.

I suggest that’s hype, fuelled by the PR companies behind the stores.

I can’t believe that even 10 percent of the population lead lives so dull they get excited about Christmas TV commercials, made to persuade us to part with our money.

These ‘tinsel and turkey’ commercials pale into insignificance compared to one for a well-known electrical goods superstore which I couldn’t believe the broadcasting authorities allowed on our screens.

It features a shop assistant trying to sell a customer a 50-inch HD TV with 360 degree Surround Sound. The assistant cheerfully says, without a hint of irony or one iota of shame . . .

“It’s what Christmas is all about”!

Seriously?

I’m aware not everyone’s religious these days and that atheists, Pagans, agnostics and Jedi Knights don’t believe that centuries ago in Bethlehem a certain baby boy (and not a sausage roll, as a chain of bakery stores recently suggested) was born in a manger.

Fair enough.

But, until shops start selling Christmas cards featuring “50-inch HD TVs with Surround Sound”, most of us know what Christmas is really all about.

Pass me that brick!

Local achievements

Unforgettable event highlighted the good in our communities.

Last week, I hosted a very well attended local and special community awards event, the Business Network International (BNI) Annual Awards Dinner at the Diplomat Hotel, Llanelli.

This event was another extremely well supported success, with prizes donated by the business community in order to raise money and help the local community.

In addition to the fund raising, worthy members of the BNI Group were awarded for their outstanding contributions to the Llanelli chapter’s success.

The very worthy winners were:

Graeme Fox of Davies Craddock Insurance Brokers

Tim Phillips of Fuse Box Electricians Wales

Gary Davies of Dyfed Fencing Services

Steffan Thomas Property Maintenance

But there was one very special award made on the night, with a £1000 prize contribution collected from the BNI chapter.

This went to Bo-K of Tumble, who won the Business Benefiting our Community award 2017.

They offer a service for children’s funerals unlike any other florist in the whole of the UK and their compassion and understanding shone through on the night.

There is so much good out there in our local communities and we are surrounded by people who make this world just a little bit better every day.

I was lucky enough to meet so many of them on this unforgettable evening.

Variety show host claim surprise

We hear a lot these days about ‘Fake News’.

’ll hold my hand up here – which isn’t easy when you’re typing a newspaper article – and admit that I’m not really sure what ‘Fake News’ is.

I often wonder if the complaints about ‘Fake News’ are themselves fake and just a clever distraction to take the public’s eye off the real story that might shine a spotlight on the misconduct of whoever’s complaining about ‘Fake News’. It’s a possibility . . .

While I’m unsure what ‘Fake News’ is, I know that ‘Incorrect News’ is down to inadequate research, as illustrated by the recent story featured in the national newspapers and their online platforms about comedienne Miranda Hart ‘Breaking the glass ceiling’ to be ‘The first ever female to host the Royal Variety Performance’. Wrong!

Cilla Black had the honour of being the first female performer to host the RVP – in 1993!

Surprise! Surprise!

You’d think Ms Hart would know this as she regularly admits that she’s always loved TV variety shows. As a 20-year old in 1993, presumably she was one of the 10 million viewers who watched Cilla hosting the RVP.

As she loves TV variety shows so much, chances are she’s also watched those ‘Best Of The Royal Variety’ compilations that ITV 2 or 3 continually repeat, which contain clips of Cilla hosting that 1993 RVP, as well as interviews with her in which she talks about how she felt on the night.

And surely someone who loves TV variety shows would remember that Emma Forbes hosted the 2001 RVP and Cat Deeley did the honours in 2003!

To give Miranda the benefit of the doubt – remembering her clumsy TV sitcom persona – maybe as she was ‘Breaking the glass ceiling’ she received a head injury which caused her to lose her memory moments before she made that announcement to the Press. It’s a possibility . . .

Gearing up for the festive season…. already?

Is it just me, or does it feel like Christmas is arriving earlier each year?

Over the weekend, I attended two dinner functions and was amazed at the fact that Christmas trees and all the trimmings were on display. The only thing missing was Christmas crackers and hats. The world has gone mad.

Personally, I’m not at all ready for the festivities due to work demands, but shops, hotels and restaurants are gearing up for the silly season. It’s great to see so many venues already booked up for Christmas. We live in interesting times.

I am currently preparing to entertain a Dublin audience that are ready to start their festivities in less than one week. On the plus side, the comedy material virtually writes itself at this time of year as stories of old tend to get resurrected.

One thing is for sure – you won’t catch me dressing up like a Christmas tree and wearing a silly Val Doonican cardigan anytime soon.

Right then, I’m off to start my Christmas gift list.

No More Kisses On The Bottom

How do you sign off your e-mails?

Cheers? Best wishes?

They’re acceptable, if you’re e-mailing a relative, friend or close colleague.

However, when e-mailing someone you don’t know that well – say an employee of your bank – perhaps you sign off formally with Yours Faithfully or Best Regards?

Here’s a tip.

You’ll increase your chances of obtaining a bank loan by signing, “Yours Grovellingly”. Don’t laugh. It worked for me.

Here’s another tip – for my male readers. The allegations of inappropriate behaviour (and much worse) pouring out of – and tainting – Hollywood, the BBC and Westminster have created the first ripples of what could well be a long-awaited sea change in attitudes and behaviour between men and women.

This has happened over a matter of weeks and since those first allegations against a famous movie mogul it’s gathered momentum like an express train hurtling down a mountain side.

So, gentlemen, from now on it’s probably unwise to sign any e-mail to the opposite sex with an ‘x’ – unless it’s to your girlfriend, wife or mother.

Given the horrendous accounts, allegedly I might add, of men in powerful positions taking advantage of young women, my suggestion might sound trivial, especially if you’ve never ended an e-mail with an ‘x’ at the bottom, something which men and women have been doing for years.

It’s accepted shorthand between people who know each other well and doesn’t mean you’re sending out an actual kiss to the recipient.

But to prevent any misunderstanding, I’ve stopped doing it completely.

I wouldn’t want to make any woman feel uncomfortable or think, “This is a bit creepy!”

So, if you’re one of the few ladies I’ve sent e-mails to in the past that ended with a ‘x’, the next one you receive won’t.

Don’t be offended and don’t blame me. Blame Hollywood, the BBC and Westminster. We do live in interesting times.

The Festivities Have Started

Is it just me, or does it feel like Christmas is arriving earlier each year?

Over the weekend, I attended two dinner functions and was amazed at the fact that Christmas trees and all the trimmings were on display. The only thing missing was Christmas crackers and hats. The world has gone mad.

Personally, I’m not at all ready for the festivities due to work demands, but shops, hotels and restaurants are gearing up for the silly season.

t’s great to see so many venues already booked up for Christmas. We live in interesting times.

I am currently preparing to entertain an audience in Dublin that are ready to start their festivities in less than two weeks’ time.

On the plus side, the comedy material virtually writes itself at this time of year as stories of old tend to get resurrected.

One thing is for sure – you won’t catch me dressing up like a Christmas tree and wearing a silly Val Doonican cardigan anytime soon.

Right then, I’m off to start my Christmas gift list…

My own addition to the awards season

As what’s known in show business circles – and certain London squares – as ‘The Awards Season’ will soon be upon us, I’m creating my own award.

The nominees will be people in positions of power – whether it’s at Westminster or the Police Force, Local Government or Civil Service – who make harsh decisions that affect millions of us, whilst making very sure that they themselves aren’t affected.

I did consider calling the award The Cheeky ‘B’.

Instead, I settled on The Brassy – as in Brass Neck – and I might hand them out several times a year rather than annually.

Although not as glitzy as the Oscar, the Emmy or the Bafta, The Brassy could become just as popular.

Ladies, gentlemen and the gender neutral – my first nominee is…  Sir Robert Devereux.

I immediately hear cries of “Never heard of him!” and “Who is that man?” and “Where did I leave my mobile phone?”.

Sir Robert Devereux was the person at the Department of Works and Pensions who increased the retirement age for men from 65 to 66 in 2020 and to 67 in 2028. He’s retiring next year . . . at the age of 61!

You might not have heard of him, but if you’re a tax payer, he’s certainly aware of your existence because he’s relying on you to keep paying tax to keep him in (artisan) bread and dripping for the foreseeable future.

His pension pot will be £1.8 million – a figure most of us can only dream about.

Not that we’ll have much time for dreaming as we work into our late 60s to pay taxes that bolster his annual pension of £85,000.

Sir Robert ‘One rule for you. One rule for me’ Devereux is the first recipient of The Brassy.

Although in his case, The Cheeky ‘B’ might be more appropriate.

Show should run and run!

There are some amazing people in our community.

Why would you learn and practice to perform a show for the best part of six months then only show it over three nights?

Who comes up with these crazy ideas?

Let me explain my grumble. Llanelli Little Theatre are about to finalise their latest production which will be performed at the Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th November.

This time they will be presenting the comedy classic that is ‘Allo ‘Allo, based on the hugely successful British television series that ran for seven seasons.

If you have ever experienced the talent of this local theatre company, you will know that the production will be hilariously funny and of the highest standard.

I’m a keen supporter of the group and have said on many occasions that the quality and level of acting is better than what is dished out night after night by the soaps.

These shows could fill the theatre far and wide for weeks, easily, hence my moan that they are only running for three nights. I bet there was a committee involved!