‘Awful!’ but it lifted the gloom

Grey, cold January getting you down?

Broken your first resolution?

This news story I spotted might just put a smile on your face. An audience member who attended a performance of  “Jack And The Beanstalk”at the Neeld Community & Arts Centre, Chippenham, Wiltshire described it as…”Awful!”.

You might think that was just one person’s criticism of a professional pantomime company, until you consider that promised in their advertising were ”Sparkling sets and glittering costumes to bring festive joy!” when in reality, there wasnoscenery, sparkling or otherwise.

There were only three cast members – and according to another audience member “None of them could sing or dance!”

Makes you wonder why they weren’t auditioning for The X Factor instead of spending December in Wiltshire.

But it gets better.

Apparently, to make it appear there were more than three people in the cast, the trio on stage occasionally spoke into the wings and backstage staff whispered their answers.

Excuse me while I wipe these tears of laughter from my eyes.

It reminds me of the Morecambe and Wise sketch set in a Foreign Legion fort. Eric and Ernie walk in dressed as Legionaires and just before he closes the door, Eric looks outside and says “You two hundred men stay there and we’ll call if we need you!”

Another ”Jack And The Beanstalk” audience member remarked “It was pretty terrible. My kids were bored. Luckily I found the bar”.

Amazingly the show completed its three day run, but there were so many complaints that all 651 ticket buyers who’d paid £7 each were given a full refund. A loss of £4,557!

To be honest, the show sounded so hysterical, I’d have willingly handed over seven quid to have seen it.

I wonder where the same panto company – who you’ll notice I’ve not mentioned the name of – will be next Christmas?

If I find out, anyone want to organise a coach trip?

Just don’t forget Valentine’s Day – perish the thought!

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.

Comedy kings’ legacy lives on

It won’t have escaped you that there’s a new film on release about Laurel and Hardy’s British theatre tours of the late 40s/early 50s. It’s called “Stan and Ollie”.

They came over here when the Hollywood studios, which had made pots of money out of the duo in their heyday, turned their back on them.

Here’s a warning to anyone thinking of entering showbiz. Buy yourself a warm overcoat, because there’ll be times when it can get terribly cold, even if you’re a comedy genius.

The two actors who play Stan (Steve Coogan) and Ollie (John.C. Reilly) have been tirelessly plugging the film all over the media. In fact, they seem to have popped-up on almost every TV show in the schedules apart from Dancing On Ice– and that’s only because they had a prior commitment on the other side of London to bake a cake for Mary Berry.

Hats off to them for sounding so unflaggingly enthusiastic about the film, with no sign of ‘anecdote fatigue’ which can easily set in by the second day of back-to-back press junkets in a London hotel, with PR people timing each allotted 10-minute chat with a stop watch.

Although I – and I’m sure you, too – knew that Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, some interviewers hadn’t realised that he was British until they’d seen a preview of the film. Which makes me wonder if their knowledge of cinema history only goes back to Star Wars.

Until he went out of favour with studio bosses, Stan was one of the three most popular and influential comedians in Hollywood.  The other two were Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope. All British.

Bob famously said, “I left England at the age of four when I realised I’d never be King”. He was wrong. Hope, Chaplin and Stan Laurel all became Kings of Comedy.

Right. Clear off! You’ve had your 10 minutes with me.

Who’s next? And get me some fresh coffee!

This pet subject is a tonic for hospital patients

These days, it’s not unusual to open the newspaper and see the NHS getting a bashing over something or other. Social media is awash with negative stories, but how often do we see the absolutely amazing things that NHS staff do 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

I came across one such story this week that wouldn’t fail to melt even the coldest of hearts!

Morriston Hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Officer Nicci Evans and health care scrub support worker Kelly Elt came up with the fantastic idea of introducing a ‘Pets as Therapy’ dog, Jax, to the patients and staff at the hospital. Jax is Kelly’s cockerpoo, known for his gentle nature.

After a chance meeting in the hospital, Nicci and Kelly came up with the idea of bringing Jax into the hospital as a therapy dog. Jax was assessed by charity Pets as Therapy and passed with flying colours.

His visit went down so well with patients and staff alike, that the girls are now hoping to make it a regular event in the hospital.  It’s well known that our pets have a healing and therapeutic effect on us humans, and here is the proof. Well done!

Nugget of information gave me food for thought

I thought I’d give you the benefit of my meticulously-researched analysis of the current Brexit situation. Just kidding!

While the ‘B’ word isn’t the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, I’m reminded of it as soon as I start feeding my pet pooch his kibble – they’re both dog’s breakfasts.

Talking of food, as one of my hip and trendy readers with your finger on the pulse of what’s happening, you’ll be aware we’re well into ‘Veganuary’ the month, when we’re encouraged to give up meat, dairy and fish.

If we give up drinking tea next month, will it be referred to as ‘Feb-No-Brew-Up-Ary’?  Maybe not…

I was staggered to hear that a well-known chain of High Street bakers (I’m not allowed to name them, but it rhymes with ‘eggs’) have started selling vegan sausage rolls.  Presumably, made with real vegans. Yum!

I was double-staggered to hear on the very same day that a fast food chain famous for their burgers and fries has started serving children’s vegetarian ‘Happy Meals’ containing yellow split peas, rice, sun-dried tomato pesto and herbs. It’s a great idea, but how many children will be ‘Happy’ to hear that?

Again, I can’t name the company in question but it’s the same as the old man who had a farm in the children’s song.

I’ve never understood why that song hasn’t been banned by teachers.

Because every time the word ‘FARM’ is mentioned, it’s spelt out as ‘E.I.E.I.O’. which must cause confusion among kids struggling with the complexities of English grammar

However, I was treble-staggeredto learn the ‘Vegetarian Happy Meal’ contains 209 calories while the normal chicken nugget ‘Happy Meal’ only has 173!

That fact got my mental wheels turning (luckily they’ve recently been steam cleaned!) and a load of thoughts came to me.

The main one being . . . “What part of a chicken is a nugget?”

I’d ask Old MacDonald but he can’t even spell ‘FARM’…

Any drive to make our roads safer must surely be a good thing

I was amazed to read this week that the police road safety campaign, Operation Snap, has received 2,300 items of dashcam footage of video or pictures relating to driving offences, all taken by members of the public.

This has apparently led to action being taken in more than 650 cases in Wales over the last year, including 100 fixed penalty fines, 83 court prosecutions and 90 drivers sent on awareness courses.

I know, from speaking to friends and family that this way of catching these drivers out has a very mixed reaction. I have seen friends get very irate on social media when a speed camera is lying in wait in a lay-by to catch unsuspecting drivers speeding.

Personally, I do like speed, but am reminded that the speed limit is there for a reason!

Being unable to handle a car or motorcycle at high speed is known to cause so many accidents and surely any measure that will slow drivers down is a good thing, if it means our loved ones are getting home safely every day?

Not a week goes by when there is not a bump on the M4, so I’m all for backing anything that makes our roads a safer place.

This topic is not everyone’s cup of tea, but do let me know what you think…

All revved up for exciting competitive challenge

( Picture courtesy of Neil Jennings, Motorsport Pics Wales ).

The weekend between Christmas and the New Year is a proper chill-out time for many. Well, for those who are not working that is . . .

For me, there was a lot of preparation and planning, building up to what was something of an exciting challenge, something that I had not been part of for more than 35 years.

Last Sunday, I took the plunge, and competed in a tarmac rally event at the Welsh Motor Sport Centre, Pembrey, alongside my co-driver Dean Wiltshire from Ammanford Motor Club.

Well – that’s one way to burn off some of the additional Christmas calories, I suppose!

Despite the damp and foggy weather, this turned out to be a very well-attended event, with close to 80 rally cars competing – and motor sport enthusiasts were out in droves supporting the competitors.

Carmarthen Motor Club renamed the annual Christmas Stage rally ‘The Jaffa Stages’ in memory of Gareth Roberts.

Gareth “Jaffa” Roberts was a superb rally co-driver from Carmarthen, who was killed in an accident while competing in the Targa Flora rally in Sicily in June, 2012, while sitting alongside Irish driver Craig Breen.

The camaraderie among the rallying community is like no other. Long may the memory continue.

Ban – definitely no laughing matter!

2018 saw me busier than ever, writing these articles every week; gigging; creating new material for my act; arranging stand-up shows for myself and other comedians; and generally making an honest living.

I also spent too much time watching Piers Morgan’s selfish “This show’s all about me!” breakfast TV rants that went on so long, the national and local news bulletins were regularly pushed back by 10 minutes which meant the final guest only had 90 seconds to plug their new CD/film/TV series/tour before their face was suddenly replaced by Lorraine’s, peering from under her fringe.

I’m not making any New Year Resolutions as I already lead a life free of vices.
If you don’t believe me, ask Cledwyn, who owns the chippie, Mehmet Caradoc-Jones who runs the kebab shop next door and Mrs Betty Evans, the landlady of my local pub.

However, I would like to make a New Year Resolution for The School Of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), who booked comedian Konstantin Kisinto do an unpaid stand-up show this month (proceeds to UNICEF) and then e-mailed him a ‘Behavioural agreement form’ containing a long list of subjects he couldn’t make jokes about, including ‘Ageism, anti-religion and anti-atheism’ and insisted his material had to be ‘Respectful and kind’!

My printable 2019 resolution for SOAS is ‘Grow up!’
Have they never been to a comedy club or watched comedians on TV?

Do they not realise that every jokehas a victim – including comedians when they’re self-deprecatory about their own failings?

Comedy club audiences can get a little wild after a few drinks and expect and demand strong material that’ll make them laugh – not ‘respectful and kind’ tales to send them home reciting poetry.

Students who graduate from SOAS will have to leave their intolerance behind, otherwise they’ll find the real world a verydifficult place to survive in.

Ironically, Konstantin left his native Russia to escape repression and came to Britain, the land of democracy where ‘freedom of speech’ was respected by everyone.

Not quite everyone obviously, eh SOAS?