New NHS joke book ‘will have you in stitches!’

Like many of you, I sometimes get overwhelmed by continuing news reports about Covid-19 and the rules we must continue to abide by to stay healthy and take the burden off the NHS.

So, it’s a pleasure to find amusing news stories like this one…

Out of 2000 people surveyed about song lyrics, nine out of 10 had been singing incorrect and often hilarious lyrics ever since they originally mis-heard them.

The line in the classic 60s pop song “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (now The Quite Elderly Rascals) ‘….you and me endlessly, groovin’, was being sung by some as ‘…you and me and Lesley, groovin’!

Abba’s lyrics were often misheard. The line in “Dancing Queen” ‘Feel the beat from the tambourine’ was mis-heard and mis-sung as ‘Feel the beat from the tangerine’ which makes no sense.

Then, there’s the line from “Knowing Me, Knowing You” that some heard as ‘When I called you last night from Tesco!’ when the call was made in Glasgow.

Presumably, some people’s hearing isn’t too good – perhaps due to singing incorrect lyrics at the tops of their voices at karaoke sessions.  Otherwise, why would so many think Adele sang “Chasing Penguins” when she was actually “Chasing Pavements”?

I had an elderly relative who thought the cowboy film star Roy Rogers song “A Four-Legged Friend”, dedicated to his horse Trigger, contained the line ‘He’s on a stand….faithful!’ when the actual line is ‘He’s honest and faithful’.

Of course, since Trigger died and Roy had him stuffed and mounted in a cowboy museum, he really is on a stand…and couldn’t be more faithful!

While you’re still smiling at that, let me tell you about a new joke book called “Gags For The NHS”, which I put together with my friend Dilwyn Phillips.

It’s published by Y Lolfa at £3.99 and can be purchased from their website as well as all top class book shops…and one or two that could do with a lick of paint.

Profits from sales of the book in the UK go to the NHS.

As a top surgeon remarked: “The humour’s as sharp as my scalpel, it’s a cut above other joke books and it’ll have you in stitches!”

Use it or lose it – now we can’t argue with that!

As we get older it’s so important to keep exercising in order to stay fit, flexible and healthy.  I’m sure I am not alone in hearing the snap, crackle and pop when I jump out of bed in the morning.  Unfortunately, it’s not my breakfast cereal, it’s my knee joints warming up!

We are told to keep mobile by so many medical professionals on a daily basis, but how many of us manage to fit in some form of daily exercise?

Use it or lose it, is the motto.  Now we can’t argue with that!

Unfortunately, the challenges of today’s daily living and poor weather conditions does not help with the motivation needed to wrap up and get out there for some fresh air.

We can clearly see that phones are getting much smarter and thinner. People, not so much.  Before you ask – I weigh 13st 6lbs naked. That’s if the scales in Boots The Chemist is anything to go by.

My case comes up next Monday!

Do you know where Preston is?

For those of you who don’t know me or know much about me, I’m Welsh and speak Cymraeg – as best I can – though that doesn’t make me anymore ‘authentically’ Welsh than the majority who don’t.

Most Welsh people, like you my loyal reader, are broad-minded, well-travelled, well-educated, well-read, insightful and intelligent.

They can never be accused, as the Welsh occasionally are, of being insular, parochial and having a chip on their shoulders about ‘England’ as if it were still some sinister medieval fortress designed to keep us out.

Numerous rail and road links having been taking us back and forth for decades.

All over the world, Welsh people are working and often innovating in business, science, education, IT, manufacturing and the media.

Likewise, thousands of talented, industrious people from outside Wales have settled here from other parts of the UK and further afield.

That’s how it should be – otherwise we’d end up marrying our own cousins. And as pleasant a bloke as my cousin Stan is, I wouldn’t want to share a bathroom with him.

All that said, I might be poking a stick into the proverbial ‘hornet’s nest’ by telling you about a recent BBC Radio Wales news bulletin which I thought contained a hidden message that some Welsh people are ignorant about the other side of Offa’s Dyke.

Most listeners probably didn’t pick-up on it, but ‘Old Radar Ears Evans’ was astonished when the newsreader said “The lockdown has not yet been lifted…in the English town of Preston!”

Oh! You mean as opposed to the Transylvanian town of Preston?

Give me strength!

The previous hourly bulletin had simply referred to Preston.  What happened during those intervening 60 minutes?

Did the Radio Wales News bods suddenly panic that we uneducated plebs might not know where Preston was located ?

Or had they not considered the possibility that many of us venture outside Wales sometimes – and may have visited the Lancashire town?

Call me over-sensitive…
“Phil! You’re over-sensitive, mate!”

…but as I don’t like being talked down to by local radio news, I now only listen to the BBC national news broadcast from London.

You know. The one in England.

Phil Evans
News At Ten

That fleeting thought – shall I change gueues?

There are two possible queues in the supermarket . . .

Why is it the one you decide to go for is always the slowest to move?

There is always that one customer in it who has picked the only product in the whole store with no price on.  Or the checkout operator decides to plonk the ‘checkout closed’ sign right before your shopping pile.

Does this only happen to me?

It’s the same at the cashpoint.  I always end up standing behind the person who decides now would be a good time to print out and check a monthly statement, check the balance on all four of their accounts and then print out receipts for each transaction!

Then, there is that fleeting thought that goes through your mind . . . shall I change queues?

You battle with this little voice inside your head telling you “NO!” as you know that, as soon as you move, your original queue will move at the speed of light!

So, you move queues anyway, despite the little voice and Yes, your original queue starts moving quicker than Usain Bolt off the starting blocks . . .

Please tell me this doesn’t only happen to me?

Tale of a happy dog

The pandemic has affected many businesses – and almost every day we read about yet another company announcing it’s shedding employees or going into liquidation.

The fact this has all unfolded in a matter of months, indicates just how precariously close to the financial edge we’ve all been living, without realising it.  We can’t even relieve ourselves of pandemic-related stress by being entertained by live performances.

There’s no plan at the moment to re-open venues in a way that’s safe for audiences and performers, while creating much-needed revenue to pay wages and running costs.

Actors, singers, comedians and musicians ,who regularly tour the UK (or the world) for months on end, have had to stay home and twiddle their thumbs. Which is frustrating for every performer except professional thumb twiddlers who needed the practice.

Performers, however, are fickle animals and when they are touring or in long West End runs, it’s not unknown for them to complain their work has separated them from their homes and loved ones.

Here’s a story that illustrates the lengths a performer will go to keep a lonely ‘loved one’ happy at home while he’s working.

When Tommy Copper was appearing in a West End show, he noticed that one of the other acts on the bill always ran to use the stage door telephone as soon as he finished his act, dialled a number but never seemed to get a response. This went on for weeks until Tommy asked him what was going on.

The performer explained that every night he had to leave his dog alone in his flat a few streets away and the sound of the telephone ringing cheered him up!

A couple of nights later, as the performer went on stage to do his act, Tommy entered his dressing room.‘borrowed’ his keys, ran around to his flat, let himself in and waited for the ‘phone to ring.  A few minutes later the phone rang and the lonely dog suddenly sat up and excitedly wagged his tail.  On the third ring, Tommy picked up the ‘phone and went, “Woof! Woof!”

And if that didn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will!

We are all longing for some sort of normality

Last weekend I ventured out of Wales and stayed in a well known hotel chain near Oxford.  My first night away in a hotel since February this year.  Not that I miss spending time in hotels – but a road trip following lockdown was a novelty indeed.

So much has changed and everywhere you go now has strict rules in place, making popping out for a bite to eat or a quick pint quite a daunting task.

After the long drive, we checked into the hotel, where social distancing was quite evident, but on leaving our room and coming down to breakfast on Saturday morning, the new rule of everyone having to wear a mask had come into effect at midnight in England!

Just goes to show how quickly things can change and how difficult it can be for people to keep up with the new rules.  On the way back, we stopped at a the services over the bridge in our homeland and no masks were being worn at all.

The roads are busier, shops and salons are starting to open back up with precautions in place to safeguard staff and the public.  I think we all long for some normality with a passion.

We need more good people around

People are funny.  By ‘funny’ I mean unpredictable.  Even those closest to us can behave in ways we find disappointing, especially, when it comes to the lending or the borrowing of money.

An elderly aunt warned the 12-year old me: “Phil . . . neither a borrower or a lender be!”  Being a fan of the 1960s American singer nick-named “Little Miss Dynamite”, what she actually said in her slightly confused manner was “Neither a borrower or a Brenda Lee!”

When it comes to doing a good turn for someone, we should always do it without expecting anything in return.  One selfless example involved legendary Hollywood actress Olivia De Havilland, who recently passed away aged 104, and Welsh actor Victor Spinetti, who’d just opened on Broadway in “Oh What A Lovely War”, which had transferred from London.  Not long arrived in New York, Victor entered a famous show-business restaurant to have lunch with a Hollywood agent who was considering taking him on.

As Victor walked to his table, he was amazed to see Olivia De Havilland waving at him from across the room, calling his name.  As he’d only ever seen her before on cinema screens in “Gone With The Wind” and many other films, he was in a mild state of shock as he approached her table where she spoke to him as if they were old friends and introduced him to her influential lunch companions.

Later, after Victor’s meeting with the agent was over and the actor was sitting alone, Olivia walked up to him and said “ I know we’ve never met before today, Vic, but I thought you were marvellous in ‘Oh What A Lovely War’ in London. I made a fuss of you in front of all those people because that sort of thing is important in this town. I hope it gives your career a boost over here. Good luck!” – and then she left.

There’s enough ‘funny people’ around today who enjoy doing people bad turns, so it’s a comfort to think there’s (hopefully) some ‘good people’ around with hearts as big as Ms De Havilland’s to balance things out.

We don’t need any more adverts, do we?

Those astute readers amongst you will realise that I have been writing a newspaper column since June, 2014.  The time has flown and so much has changed, including me.  I’ve gained a stone in weight (that’s coffee and cake shops for you) and my hair is a few shades lighter, but it’s still attached to my head, thankfully.

When I was approached to become a regular contributor to this well-established daily paper, it was a total surprise.  Up until that point, it was not something that I had even thought of adding to my repertoire!

Would I be able to deliver content on a regular basis with rigid deadlines?

I am so glad I agreed to take up the challenge, the amazing positive feedback I get (not only off the readers in Wales but as far afield as Ireland, Switzerland, Canada and America) makes it all worthwhile.

I meet so many fascinating characters with interesting stories on my travels (not that I have been able to travel since lockdown, I might add, but you get my drift, I’m sure).  Without them this space would probably contain a crossword or more adverts – and we don’t need more adverts do we?

Finishing on a song would not work – would it?

Someone considerably wiser than me (there’s a long list) once commented that the most melancholy of all thoroughfares is ‘The Road Not Travelled’.

From time to time we all come to a crossroads where we have to make a decision that could alter the course of our lives.  Sometimes we take the right one . . . sometimes we find ourselves regretting the path we took.  If we’re lucky, we can retrace our steps and start our journey again.

When I started out as a comedian, I used to feature songs in my act, having had singing lessons from that talented vocalist from Neath, Mister Alun Davies.  I sang in my act because at that point I didn’t have enough comedy material to fill an hour, which was the time I was expected to do on stage.

I was fortunate that in most of the places I worked back then, the audiences appreciated a half-decent singer.  In today’s comedy venues – that is, when they were open – comics rarely mix jokes with songs, if at all.

Can you imagine Frankie Boyle winding-up two hours of hard-edged, often vicious, stand-up by saying “I’d like to finish with a beautiful song dedicated to all the lovers in the room. It’s featured on my latest CD “It’s Not True I’m Married To Susan Boyle” and it’s called ‘I Will Always Love You’ . . . hit it, maestro!”  Or Alan Carr ending his act by belting out “The Impossible Dream”?  It just wouldn’t work would it?

Unless they’re spectacularly multi-talented, entertainers have to decide whether they want to be a comedian or a singer.  I was no exception in my younger days and had to make a decision whether to stick with solely with comedy or keep the songs in the act and see if I achieved success that way.

I decided to take the comedy route to fame and fortune.  I’m still on that same route, but due to encountering a few diversions, roadworks, red lights and the occasional immovable object along the way, I haven’t reached my destination yet.

Is it too late for me to start having singing lessons again?

The good thing is, I stopped sleep walking

Sleep. We all need a good night’s sleep to recharge the batteries and to maintain good health.  How else will our bodies repair?

Some of you reading this will, without doubt, have a few sleep challenges, which can range from insomnia, not needing much sleep, to needing more sleep than most.  But for me, it’s vivid dreams on an extremely regular basis.

This could be down to the fact I have an over active mind or the fact that I don’t relax or unwind before bed time.  Either that or there could be a much more serious underlying cause. Who knows?

One thing is for sure, my disturbed dreams could easily be part of a documentary on the subject of sleep and the source of many after dinner stories.  In fact, I could easily dine out on my back catalogue of vivid dream for many years to come.

The good thing is, I stopped sleep walking many years back, but if you do spot me walking the streets in my pyjamas late at night, don’t wake me up – just point me in the right direction home.