Thrills and skills on the road left me exhausted!

The highlight of the week for me was something challenging and exciting, but thoroughly exhausting.

Let me explain. My brother thought it would be a good idea for me to brush up on my motorcycle skills and enrolled me on a course with ‘A Skills and Thrills Experience’ motorcycles in West Wales.

When an experienced police motorcycle instructor puts you through your paces like you’ve never been put through before, a realisation occurs,‘why hadn’t anyone else taught me these skills”?

Let’s face it, the roads today are busier than ever and accidents and fatalities are far too common – and with this in mind, extra tuition or advanced skills are an investment, not an expense.

So I stretched on my leathers (they must have shrunk in the wardrobe over the winter) dusted down the motorbike and headed for our first stop,  the Owls Nest Tea Rooms in Llandovery.

There were many coffee and cake stops, during which a detailed debriefing was provided after each section of the course, which covered most of mid and west Wales.

Eight hours in the saddle was not something that I was used to, so if you see me about and notice that I’m walking uncomfortably, please don’t laugh. It was all done in the name of ‘Road Safety’.

Wynne John, you have so much to answer for.

Understanding the confusing world of today’s ‘Jargonese’

You’re well-educated, witty, wise and other flattering words beginning with ‘W’.  How do I know? Because you read my articles.

You probably speak at least one foreign language, maybe even Japanese or Javanese. But how are you with the language we allneed to understand today – ‘Jargonese’?

This is the impenetrable wording used by many organisations from banks to Government departments to ‘easily explain’ complicated matters. In fact they tend to complicate matters that could be explained far more easily.
Jargonese often appears in the ‘small print’ of documents, which makes it so difficult to read, many of us don’t bother – even though a part of our brain is screaming “Read it or regret it later!”

Ads on commercial radio stations for  accident claims specialists or PPI companies end with an actor ‘explaining’  the ‘T’s and C’s’ so  quickly it’s impossible to comprehend what they are – the verbal equivalent of small print Jargonese.

Here’s  a classic example of Jargonese contained in a letter a friend of mine (and thousands of other customers) recently received from the Group Chief Executive of his bank. And I quote…
“Our differentiated, customer focused business model continues to deliver with our multi-brand multi-channel approach, cost leadership, low risk positioning, investment capacity  and execution capabilities positioning us well for sustainable  success in a digital world “ Phew! You can say thatagain! No, don’t! Oncewas enough.

Apart from the fact his comments mean little to The Ordinary Man In The Street or The Slightly Wealthier Man In The Avenue, I’d guess the Group Chief Executive is allergic to hyphens.

Because despite being an expert in Jargonese he left out hyphens  between ‘multi’ and ‘brand‘ & ‘multi’ and ‘channel’. So I put them in.

As I say, it’s only a guess. I’m just being hyphenthetical – a word that would easily fit in the Dictionary Of Jargonese!

When is ‘edgy’ just offensive?

Boris Johnson recently got into hot water (his hair needed washing) accused of making a racist joke. But, from an objective viewpoint, it wasn’t really a ‘joke’ in the accepted sense. (Trust me; I’m a comedian and I know a thing or two about jokes) It was more of a throwaway comment or off-hand remark.

We occasionally get told things about ourselves that we disagree with, but most of us brush them off and move on. That Boris’s comment offended so many, shows certain sections of society are very sensitive. But . . . that wasn’t always the case . . .

I watched a Channel Five programme last year that featured a bunch of ‘experts’ viewing clips from 1970s TV comedy shows. Looking ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’ they said things like “Did people reallywatch this 40 years ago?” and “When do I get my fee for pretending to be shocked and appalled?”

Being just a lad when “Love Thy Neighbour”, “Mind Your Language” and “It Ain’t ‘Alf  Hot Mum” entertained millions, I don’t know whether people were more tolerant in the 70s or less choosy about what they watched.
Although those shows are considered too non-P.C. to repeat, “Are You Being Served?” which features John Inman’s outrageously camp Mr Humphries and constant references to Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy, is being repeated on one of the digital channels during daytime – and nobody’s complained!

In 2018, people – not just the ‘professionally offended’ who demand their five minutes of airtime to complain about whatever’s got up their nose that morning –  appear more sensitive, not only regarding what’s said about them,but about other people. Which makes a comedian’s job doubly difficult.

Audiences expect comedians to be edgy (and funny, too!) but that doesn’t mean they’ll accept every line you throw at them.

An audience is both one unit andseveral individuals.
Upset too many individuals and the unit will fall apart. A bit like society in general. Keep smiling!

Let’s get out and support the creative arts

Having just returned from what has been described as the biggest street party in Europe, I’m pleased to report that I still have the time and energy to fill this newspaper column. Although, I must admit, I only just made the deadline.

At the start of August, the greatest show on earth geared up for its 70thanniversary and the streets of Edinburgh came alive with performers and tourists from the four corners of the world.

For a whole month, the city doesn’t sleep, while more than 3,000 shows take place, with something to suit everyone.

In a few weeks’ time, many of the shows that appeared in Edinburgh will be traveling the length and breadth of the UK to perform.

I have already noticed that Swansea, Llanelli and Carmarthen have pre-booked Edinburgh shows – and you can take it from me that the standard is exceptionally high.

The performing arts and live shows help our economy and instil a feeling of wellbeing among both artists and the audience members. Creative arts are part of the joy of humanity.

But they can so often be overlooked in our current education system in favour of more ‘useful’ subjects such as science and maths. Undoubtedly, there is increasing pressure on young children and schools to achieve outstanding exam results, but, unfortunately, only a few schools see the value of creativity.

Somehow, we need to get the message out there, and to start with, we could all support live entertainment, in all its forms.

Here’s some food for thought

The old saying ‘There Are Lies. Damned Lies. And Statistics’ is pretty much accepted as fact by most people.

There are exceptions, like politicians confronted by TV or radio interviewers with shocking figures that reveal their department’s failings on getting to grips with whatever problems it was set up to sort out.

And I don’t suppose the old saying goes down particularly well with the Office of National Statistics in Newport, Gwent. Having said all that, I want to present you with some statistics. No! Don’t go!

I’ll try and drop a funny line in, I promise.

There’s a report out which reveals that two out of five adults check their mobile phones when they wake up.

The average Briton (Okay, that doesn’t include you because the fact you read my articles means you’re well above average) checks his/her mobile phone every 12 minutes . . . and before going to bed some 60% of over-35s check their mobiles.

Personally, before I go to bed, I brush my teeth and put the cat out.
Although there was one weird night when I brushed the cat and took my teeth out.

However, as the man says in those TV info-mercials for handy home products that we never knew we couldn’t live without . . .  “Wait! That’s not all!”

We’ve all seen families in restaurants who don’t speak to each other, but prefer to look at their phones while they wait for the food and drink to arrive.

Unfortunately, that behaviour has almost become acceptable.
But, unless you’re a doctor on call, what should be punishable by a 20-year stretch in Wormwood Scrubs is the unforgivable crime of making or taking a phone call or checking for messages while everyone is still eating.

While 90% of over-55s would agree with me, only 46% of 18-34s would.
In a generation or two, the words ‘Table Manners’ will be consigned to the dustbin of history . . . along with “Penny Farthing”, “Bowler Hat” and “Severn Bridge Tolls!”

Relax! I can recommend the power of yoga

So, as my regular readers will know, I’m always up for a challenge – and last week was no different!

After a few months of gentle persuasion, I finally gave in and accompanied my partner to her weekly yoga class.

Having appeared on the landing of our home in my leg warmers, sweat band and Lycra shouting “Ta-dah”, I was immediately sent to change into something more suitable.

Now, then, I was quite sceptical, but thought I must try this at least once before I can say it’s not for me.

I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The hour flew by.

I attempted to get into some very challenging positions but thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was so relaxed by the end of the class that I almost fell asleep at the relaxation part at the end!

Yogi Dai, from Yoga FlowWales, was a superb and very patient teacher and I can safely say that, if you want to unwind and relax, yoga is the way forward.

I’m now wondering how I can incorporate stand-up comedy and yoga in one, which I’m sure you’ll agree would make for a very interesting night out.
Namaste for this week, my friends.

I’m not feeling the love!

People fascinate me.

I often sit in cafes and coffee shops listening to conversations, hoping to hear a phrase or comment that’ll spark an idea for a comedy routine – or for this newspaper column. I also do it because I’m a nosey parker!

However, while I’ll happily invest 30 minutes listening to people talk about themselves, I couldn’t watch a bunch of narcissistic, swim-suited ‘wannabes’ jabbering away at each other around a swimming pool on TV every night for weeks on end.

Which is why, despite the fact it was constantly discussed and dissected on various TV and radio shows, I didn’t watch “Love Island” (once again!).
It was one of the TV hits of the summer, even though it was tucked away on ITV2, a channel many of us skip past on our nightly search  for ‘something decent to watch’ before we eventually settle on a 15-year-old episode of “Foyle’s War”, which 10 minutes before the end we realise we saw first time around.

ITV 2 is home of such classic television programmes as “Totally Bonkers Guinness World Records” and “Jeremy Kyle Show” repeats.
I think I’ll keep skipping past it.

The media coverage of “Love Island” was phenomenal – a word I suspect many people who appeared on the show would have trouble spelling.
Now that it’s all over for another year many viewers are missing it.  Not me.

Just as I don’t understand why millions tune in  to watch people they’ve never heard of laze around inside the “Big Brother” house every night, I just don’t see the appeal of watching tanned and buffed young couples trying to get off with each other.

Yet, despite their lack of any discernible talent, apparently several contestants have potentially lucrative TV careers ahead of them.

If that’s the case, where do I fill in the form to apply for the next series?

Only one place you can find a proper Cwtsh

Cwtsh – V – Cwtch:

The Cwtsh versus Cwtch debate continues.
How do you spell Cwtsh?
Well, let me enlighten you.
It’s ‘sh’ not ‘ch’.

Trust me, I’ve done my research on this – and the evidence is conclusive.
You know how you pronounce ‘bach’ in Welsh?

Well that’s how ‘ch’ is always pronounced in Welsh.
Now try saying ‘cwtch’ . . .

I rest my case!

Over the years, I have researched and consulted with people who are considered well-versed on the subject.

I urge you to carry out your own research and then consider the source carefully.
The way I think of the word ‘cwtsh’ is quite simple.
I split it: cwt-shhh.

Like something soft and quiet.
Same as the word Welsh.
Wel-sssh. Not Welch!

So, there you have it, it is cwtsh!

If you are still going to insist on the English spelling ‘cwtch’, you surely need to replace the w (not a vowel in English) with a U.

Also, if you spell it ‘cwtch’ you are making it English – and you can only get a cwtsh in Wales . . .  Just sayin’ . . .

Genie’s out of the bottle and, irritatingly, it won’t go back in!

A national daily newspaper recently printed an article in which eight ‘celebrities’ revealed the Top 10 things in life they find most irritating.

Four of the ‘celebrities’ were unknown to me; three vaguely familiar; one was someone who has saved me money on electricity.
As soon as I see his face on my TV, I switch off.

Strangely, none of them included in their Top 10 that the word ‘celebrity’ is thrown around in such a cavalier manner that it can describe a talented actor like Sir Ian McKellen (who worked hard over many decades to get where he is) and any air-headed dimwit (and I’ve held back from the description I’d really like to use ) with a ‘lifestyle’ series on a digital channel so obscure, only the most dedicated fan of ‘Banality shows’ would risk getting repetitive thumb strain using their remote trying to find it.

There are many common irritations we all share, ‘celebrities’ or otherwise .

From getting cold calls about ‘The car accident you had earlier this year’ that makes you question your memory because you have no recollection of it – to the creeping use of Americanisms in our language.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about the way ‘research’ is now commonly referred to as ‘ree-search’ by all and sundry, including BBC News, who should know better.

That genie will never go back in the bottle.

Though I’m not alone in wanting to squeeze Huw Edwards into it.
But, if we all stand together, we can put a stop to the over use of the words ‘Guys’,’ Buddy’ and ‘Awesome!’.

When these words are used by New Yorkers walking through Central Park, that’s understandable.

When you hear them spoken by a 30-something with a man-bun and a strong ‘Kairdiff’ accent wandering down St Mary Street, they just sound ridiculous.

I do hope you agree with me . . . Dudes!

Surrounding ourselves by the right people can pay off

I am thankful for the ever-growing network of caring, loving and inspiring people that continue to support me and what I do.

These people, often unsung heroes, have contributed in some way to help me bring and share what I do to a much wider audience.

Many have taught me valuable lessons and I’m sure will continue to do so.
Yes, every day is a school day.

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”.

The right people enrich the journey beyond words.

Well, this theory clearly helped the Welsh legend that is Geraint Thomas.
Yes, it’s all about the people; all the rest is just ‘stuff’.

PS: Memo to staff at BBC London and Manchester – Learn how to pronounce Geraint properly. You will need the skill in the years to come.