Unexpected results from kindness

None of us have ever felt such a heightened sense of anxiety.  Some people cope with medication, others by consuming more alcohol than they normally would.  I’ll make no comment, other than quote the words of John Lennon. “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright”.

In this current climate, it’s more important than ever to treat everyone with respect and kindness.  If you notice your elderly neighbour’s bins haven’t been put out on collection day, check if they’re okay – standing six metres from their front door.

And if you see the bin men and recyclers, who are all doing a fantastic job for us, have left the same neighbour’s bin out on the pavement, why not just put it inside their front gate or on their driveway?  Then, when you get home, wash those hands!

Acts of kindness or a demonstration of good manners, performed without the expectation of a reward can lead to unexpected results.

In London’s East End, in the early 50s, a none-too-well-off mother wanted her teenage son to get on in the world and thought that ladies’ hairdressing could be his door of opportunity.

She and her son took a tuppenny ‘bus ride ‘Up West’ and door-stepped several hairdressing salons, trying to interest each owner in taking the boy on as an apprentice – without any luck.

By late afternoon she was exhausted but thought she’d have one last try at a famous Bond Street salon where she managed to speak to the owner in his private office.  The owner was sympathetic but told them he had no openings for an apprentice.

The mother and boy thanked him and stood up to leave. As they did, the boy opened the office door for his mother, allowing her to leave first.  Seeing this, the owner called them back and said “Young man, your good manners indicate to me you’re respectful of women.  You can start here tomorrow!”

The young man’s name was Vidal Sassoon and that act of good manners opened up a world of fame and wealth that he and his mother could never have dreamed of.

Things that I should be grateful for and often take for granted

When writing this particular item for the paper, I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling my usual self.

We all get off days and it’s very difficult to be positive and upbeat all of the time. More so lately during the pandemic lockdown.

But when these niggling doubts creep in, it’s time to reflect on the things that I should be grateful for and often take for granted.

For a start, I woke up this morning, I could see out of the bedroom window and I can breathe in fresh air. Well – do you know what,  that’s a great start.

There are so many things that we all take for granted.  No doubt we are all guilty of taking people and relationships for granted at times and I am sure I’m not alone in having more time than ever to reflect on how lucky I am over the last few weeks.

Then I read that the Chelsea Flower Show’s been cancelled. Well, let’s be honest, we don’t need it this year, we’ve all got show gardens by now anyway with the amount of time we have spent in them!

A tree-mendous new attraction?

Although summer’s a little way off, what attracts you to the various seaside resorts we’re blessed with around the Welsh coast?

Does a particular beach appeal because the water’s clean and safe to swim in?

Do you like a choice of places to eat and drink along the promenade?

For some of you it’s important there are nearby attractions like a fairground or mini-golf or even a zoo to keep the children and grandchildren entertained when they become bored with burying you up to the neck in sand and pouring buckets of salt water on your head.  Though some children never get bored with that!

So…would you take a day trip to a seaside resort to gawp at a 72 foot tall metal palm tree?  No, me neither.

But the good burghers of the Lincolnshire resort of Cleethorpes have granted planning permission for such an ‘attraction’ to be erected on the sea front.

They believe people will come from miles around to gaze up at the steel fronds in awe…provided of course it’s not pelting down with rain and there’s no gale blowing in from the North Sea.

Cleethorpes is not known for its sub-tropical climate.  If you thought the concept of the tree itself isn’t bizarre enough they also intend to collect rubbish off the beach every day and place it underneath the palm tree to represent its ‘shadow’.

As sure as eggs is eggs some likely lads, bored with burying each other up to the neck in sand, will kick it all over the prom.

There must be something strange in the Lincolnshire air because along the coast at Skegness the town council is considering getting rid of its famous Jolly Fisherman mascot costume, worn by volunteers who greet visitors, on Health and Safety grounds.

Not only that, the animal rights group PETA wanted to ban posters and postcards of the Jolly Fisherman because ‘He evokes images of cruelty to fish!’

The Jolly Fisherman was created in 1908 along with the slogan “Skegness is SO Bracing!”

In 2020 maybe it should be “Skegness is SO like Cleethorpes!”

We should all embrace and celebrate our differences

Well – I’m glad Easter is over, there is only so much chocolate one can eat.
Safely.

Personally, I didn’t have any Easter eggs, but everywhere I went there were chocolate eggs for sale.  I didn’t buy any as I didn’t consider them an “essential item” as I performed a 10-minute dash around the store in order for the next two people to be let in.

Now I know how Noah’s animals felt!

For the record, I’ve picked a few up today after Easter at a fraction of the price they were last week. I love a bargain.

Was it worth an hour wait, two metres apart from any other human  Probably not.

Don’t judge me on this. We all like a bargain from time to time. We all have our funny ways and if we were all the same, life would be so flipping boring, and I wouldn’t have anything to write about every week.

We should all embrace and celebrate our differences.  Let’s face it, we have enough time to think about them at the moment.

Many of the greatest people in history often didn’t fit in, which turned out to be a huge asset for them.  They didn’t know at the time, but by being true to themselves, they stood out and greatness was achieved.

Maybe this is something we could all think about?

Masterclass in comedy writing

A question I often get asked is “How do you come up with ideas for jokes and routines?”

A question I get asked even more often is “Why do you come up with ideas for jokes and routines?”

So, now might be as good a time (I’m writing this at half-past three in the morning) as any to give you what some comedians with a high opinion of themselves would pretentiously refer to as a ‘Masterclass In Comedy Writing”.

So, here’s my “Masterclass In Comedy Writing”….I’m just joshing with you. Get over yourself!

You may have heard certain jokes referred to as ‘one-liners’.  While there certainly are jokes that only contain one line, as in “Did you hear about the karate expert who saluted and knocked himself out?”, 99% of so-called ‘one-liners’ are constructed of two lines known as ‘The Set Up’ and ‘The Pay Off’ – which is sometimes called ‘The Punchline’.

A good joke is similar to a magician’s trick. He uses mis-direction and sleight of hand to ensure you’re looking the other way before he produces the playing card you chose earlier from inside a lemon.

Similarly, a comedian initially takes the audience in one direction so they expect the joke to end a certain way and then suddenly changes direction with the pay off which, hopefully, takes the audience by surprise and causes them to split their sides.

An old example of this type of joke is…

SET UP: “I was in a restaurant last night and amazed the waiter by ordering every course in fluent French!”

PAY OFF: “It was a Chinese restaurant!”

An even simpler way of getting laughs is to add the words “…as the Actress said to the Bishop!” after an opening comment.  Why an Actress and why a Bishop, who knows? But it’s a formula that works, as I’ll prove.

“I’ve never seen one that bends in the middle….as the Actress said to the Bishop”.

“It works just as well the other way around….as the Bishop said to the Actress!”.

Don’t blame me.  It’s all in your mind!

Whole street wakes up to find out where noise is coming from

Don’t you just love nature and waking up on a sunny Sunday morning to lawnmower and petrol strimmers howling in the background? Yes, I bet you do.

Sunday morning is the only chance I get to have that extra hour of quality rest to recover from the demands of the week – but clearly others among us have their own ideas at this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to a well-kept back yard and a neatly-trimmed bush, but a few of my neighbours have taken this too far and have invested in those high powered, turbo-charged, petrol-driven hedge cutters.

Their enthusiasm for these new gadgets has meant that the whole street wakes up early to find out where the noise is coming from.

I honestly thought that a Formula One racing team had relocated their practice sessions to Ammanford – and broken the non-essential workforce rules.

But, don’t worry about me, I’ve sorted it and will be ready for next weekend as I’ve invested in a large box of ear plugs.

They all deserve a gold statuette

In a recent edition of this newspaper you’re holding – or reading through the bars of your budgie’s cage, where it performs a helpful function – I questioned the significance of the Bafta Film Awards, Golden Globes, Oscars etc in our everyday lives.

Now, just weeks later, they’re as unimportant as an old copy of this newspaper placed at the bottom of a budgie’s cage.

That the 2020 Bafta TV Awards have been postponed won’t concern anyone – not even the nominees.  Because although we need light relief to distract us from the current situation, we can do without watching wealthy actors, pop singers, TV presenters and sports stars being handed even more shiny prizes.

But!

We should hold a very special British awards ceremony when we get to the other end of this period in our history,

Awards for bravery and tireless dedication in the face of unprecedented circumstances should go to everyone working in the NHS – nurses, doctors, surgeons, consultants, mental health specialists, radiologists, dentists, ambulance crews, paramedics, receptionists, porters, cleaners and volunteers.  Plus those retired medical professionals who’ve offered to return to work.

I hope I haven’t left anyone out.  There are many other worthy winners.

Farmers, fruit pickers, lorry drivers, warehouse workers, shop and supermarket staff including shelf-fillers and home delivery drivers are just as important, because without them the NHS would face an even bigger challenge than the enormous one they’re tackling now.

Not forgetting local pharmacies that manage the huge daily task of providing customers with their prescribed medication as well as everyday over-the-counter items we all need, from painkillers to plasters, eye drops to ibuprofen.

Each and every one of them deserves a solid gold statuette, a bag full of expensive goodies and their shining moment on the red carpet, surrounded by the paparazzi.

If this doesn’t happen it will be the biggest injustice ever!

From my heart I send you all a huge “Thank you!” for working so hard to keep me and those close to me (at a distance of two metres) safe and for allowing me to have food on my table. Diolch, Phil

‘Essential travel only, unless you ride a Harley Davidson’

Over the years I’ve written much about the great and the good that the ‘biker’ community do. I am also a biker. Well, occasionally these days, as free time has been limited.

However, on Saturday morning, I was amazed to see at least 15 bikers ride through Ammanford.  I must have missed the Prime Minister’s briefing on “essential travel only, unless you ride a Harley Davidson”. The rules obviously didn’t apply to these bikers.

Just stop and imagine for a moment, that just ONE of these bikers is carrying the virus.  They stop for a toilet break, to buy a coffee, fill up with petrol, grab a bite to eat . . . you are spreading it, simple as that, which is why you have been told to stay home. Simple, eh?

My partner works at Morriston Hospital.  She is coming home every night mentally and physically drained.

She has to place her uniform, which she has had to carry home in a sealed bag, into the washing machine.  She then has to shower before I even get my cwtsh.

Her colleagues do the same, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So, what makes you think it’s ok for you to ride around the countryside spreading your germs?

Stay at home, because if you don’t it’s going to be YOU and your family she is having to shut the corridors down for and wheel to Intensive Care.