Look out – I’m on a mission

I’ve tried my best, I really have. Despite my weekly efforts to inform the world (well, this part of it anyway), it feels like I’m doggy-paddling against a tidal wave of indifference.

But I won’t walk away from my mission.

“What is your mission?” I hear you ask.

Which isn’t easy to answer, as I’m in Coventry having my toe-nails clipped by a chiropodist named Dimitri as you read this.

My mission is to correct irritating errors made by TV, radio and the press – including . . . . gasp . . . this esteemed publication.

The Post recently ran a story about a flood at the Grand Theatre Swansea which caused two ‘showings’ of “Aladdin” to be cancelled. Showings?

I almost spilt my avocado-on-toast flavoured latte. Cinemas have ‘showings’. Theatres have ‘performances’.

If someone said to me, “We’re going to a showing of Rigoletto at the Welsh National Opera tonight”, my response would be, “When did the WNO open a cinema?”

Because that’s the sort of razor-sharp, killer repartee I’m known for.

Media sources, including BBC News, stated that Fire and Fury, the new book about Trump, was released four days earlier than planned. No, it wasn’t!

Films, CDs, prisoners and racing pigeons are released. Books are published.

That’s why we have publishers and not ‘releasers’. Ever read that a new musical or play was ‘premiered’ in the West End?

It wasn’t. Films have premieres. Stage shows have ‘first nights’.

Even broadcasters who should know better (“Hi Elaine!”) often refer to a stage musical having a ‘soundtrack’ album’. It doesn’t!

Films have ‘soundtrack’ albums. Stage musicals have ‘original cast’ albums.

Bearing in mind the state of the world, you may consider my mission is of no importance.

But, consider this . . .

If broadcasters and journalists can’t be bothered to use the correct terminology in trivial stories, might they do the same with the bigger stuff?

It’s time to get fit…but maybe I’m a lost cause

Clearly, many of us need to exercise more – and this time of year is an ideal time to start. I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. Well, to be honest with you, if I had any loose-fitting clothing, I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place.

Then I had a note and a plastic bag delivered through my letterbox, asking me to donate my unwanted clothes to the starving people of the world. I don’t know if this is legitimate or not, but one thing is for certain: anyone who fits into my clothes at this time is not starving.

Even a brisk regular walk in the park is a step in the right direction, I suppose, but the weather doesn’t help.

It’s been so cold here in Wales lately – while I was walking in Parc Howard, Llanelli last week I’m sure I saw a squirrel salting his nuts.

I think the answer for me is to visit my mate GI Joe Personal Training in order to get fit and healthy.

I’ll give him a call to meet up and discuss this over a big slice of cake and full fat caramel latte with chocolate sprinkles.

See, I’m a lost cause . . .

Things that drive me crazy

As many more things irritate me now than 10 years ago, I think I’ve developed something that’s not mentioned in any medical dictionary – Low Tolerance Syndrome.

While I can tolerate background music in restaurants, I become infuriated when music from a radio in the adjacent kitchen creates the teeth-grinding cacophony of two different tunes playing at the same time.

Because it’s absolute torture to me, after only a few minutes I’ve been known to blurt out, “You’ll only get my name, rank and serial number, you Nazi swine!”

Restaurant staff are oblivious to it, because when I complain they tilt their heads to one side . . . listen . . . and say, “Oh, yes. I can hear it now!”

Other drivers drive me crazy, too. Driving a car during busy periods in Swansea is like being in a war zone because, in a war, you never tell your enemy your next move. That’s probably why most drivers don’t use indicators.

Please tell me I’m not the only one seeing this. Is it any wonder that road rage is on the increase?

Very few road users have the time and patience for cyclists who whizz along our roads . . . and our pavements and canal tow paths, too, from what I’ve seen!

Motorists are in such a rush, safety goes out the window. I’ve seen some ridiculous overtaking manoeuvres this week – the drivers in question risking their lives and those of other drivers just to get one space ahead. It’s part of today’s “I’m more important than you, mate!” selfishness.

But things could be changing . . .

North Wales Police have introduced a scheme named ‘Operation Snap’ that encourages drivers to submit dash cam footage of bad and reckless driving, including another thing that drives me crazy when I see it – idiots using their mobile phones when driving.

Let’s hope this idea is rolled-out throughout the UK, lowers accident figures and keeps us safe on the roads.

Left in limbo after the decorations came down

So, the Christmas decorations are all down and safely stored away. When you think about it, Christmas is just a cardboard box in the attic now!

By the end of this week, it is most likely that I would have broken at least three of my New Year resolutions – and probably four of the Ten Commandments.

Why is it we head into January full of good intentions, yet find it so hard to stick to our goals?

On the 31st December I filled the fridge with salad and ironed my running vest. By the 2nd January, I’m sitting in a well known coffee franchise, writing this column while sampling their freshly baked goodies and cream topped hot chocolate. At least I lasted one more day than last year.

For many, January is the time of year when we feel in ‘limbo’. The fun and excitement is over and the harsh reality of paying for an elaborate Christmas hits home.

There’s one question I always ask myself during the Christmas period: Whatever happened to soap on a rope?

A bit of de-cluttering I think

And so we say “Farewell” to another year. Or, if you’re a Welsh speaker . . . “Hwyl Fawr!”

If you’re a Russian sleeper spy who’s been living undercover in West Wales for decades disguised as a Welsh speaker, you might whisper “Doh-Svee-Dan-Ya” in a Ceredigion accent – not something you hear every day.

Except at chucking-out time at Lampeter’s so-called ‘Stamp Collectors Social Club’ which is actually a front for a cabal of Soviet spies – something the locals have known since they discovered that to become a member (A) you have to complete the application form in Russian and (B) membership is only open to people who’ve been awarded the Order Of Lenin.

Something I have heard every day lately is, “I didn’t think much of the TV programmes over Christmas and New Year!”

It’s difficult for me to make a judgement, mainly because I sat down with my mammoth Christmas edition of the Radio Times and a pen on December 24th, ready to plan my viewing over the next week – and by the time I’d gone through its 292 pages (a small forest was sacrificed to make every copy) filled with thousands of TV and radio programmes and marked-off what I wanted to watch and listen to, it was New Year’s Eve.

I found the enormous line-up of old and new films, Christmas ‘specials’, game shows, sitcoms, comedy panel shows, children’s animations, music shows, ballets, documentaries etc completely overwhelming and absolute proof that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

I’ve wanted to de-clutter my busy life for some time, so made the first move on January 1st. Even though it contained details of programmes yet to be broadcast, I dropped the Christmas Radio Time into the re-cycling.

Yes it took courage . . . but I did it!

Why don’t you de-clutter your life in 2018?

At least until December when the Christmas Radio Times arrives . . .

Heeeere we go!

Waitresses and waiters have a tough job. Like me, they aim to give people an enjoyable experience.

However, when I finish my act, no one’s ever given me a tip . . . except once in a club in Ruthin’s notorious downtown quarter when a bearded, six-foot seven audience member with cauliflower ears (wish I could remember her name) said “I’ve got a tip for you, Phil. Change . . . your . . . occupation!’

In cafes or restaurants my comedy radar’s always picking up the unintentionally amusing things people say, whether they’re fellow diners or waiting staff.

Recently I went out for a meal with three friends. Our young waitress was pleasant and professional – but every time she brought a dish to our table, she’d say “Theeere you go!” in a high-pitched voice.

And as we all had three courses, that’s a lot of “Theeere you gos!”

By the time we got desserts I was biting my knuckles, because even when we’d asked for a clean fork or a spare napkin, when she brought it she’d squeak. “Theeere you go!”

After leaving a generous tip – because waiting at table is hard work and she was very attentive – we walked to the door and I turned to her, smiled and said . . . “Heeere we go!”

Could music be the answer to help heal those in pain?

So does music heal?

Not often do we witness miracles, but I’m told they do happen. Let me explain . . .

Recently, I was at a celebratory function and I couldn’t help but notice a lady of retirement age manoeuvring into the function room by the aid of a modern looking three-wheeler Zimmer frame.

Clearly, it appeared that walking any distance was a challenge and by the look on her face she was in some discomfort.

As the night went on, it could be seen that friends, family and staff were assisting in every way they could to accommodate her needs.

Food brought to the table, drinks delivered from the bar and friendly banter in copious amounts from all concerned. The ideal party atmosphere was developing. We all felt for her.

Then when the disco started, what I saw next amazed me. The lady in question got up to her feet and started jiving around the dance floor, not a Zimmer frame in sight, to the sound of ‘Rock around the Clock’.

Now, every day, I ask myself this, “Did I witness a miracle?”

Panto never goes out of fashion

We’re in the middle of pantomime season and, in theatres and village halls, girls are dressing up as Aladdin, Peter Pan or Prince Charming and defeating the baddies with a swagger.

I tried to defeat a baddy with a swagger once, but he grabbed it and hit me with it.

Back in PantoLand, men struggle into outrageously ornate frocks, slap on OTT make-up and wear enormous wigs decorated with flashing Christmas lights.

At curtain-up, the cast sing the biggest pop song of the year, to the delight of the kids and the bemusement of the adults accompanying them, before telling jokes that were old when Dan Leno was a lad.

They’ve lasted because silly humour never goes out of fashion.

At the end, good defeats evil, there’s usually a Royal Wedding (which unlike Harry and Meghan’s won’t clash with the FA Cup Final) and everyone leaves the theatre with a smile on their face.

Well, not everyone. Pantomimes often contain a few double-entendres to keep the adults happy and baffle the little ’uns.

But you’ll have read that “Dick Whittington” at Manchester Opera House, features a relentless barrage of gags related to the title character and at one point Jimmy Krankie pokes a finger out of his trousers, pretending it’s ‘his’ . . . . well, you get the idea.

One teacher who took her class to the pantomime said it was a step too far and made her and her pupils feel very uncomfortable. That’s the last thing a family pantomime should do.

As veteran panto performer, writer and director Roy Hudd says “Pantomimes have always contained innuendo, but my yardsticks for writing  panto comedy are Laurel and Hardy and Dad’s Army, which made adults and children laugh.”

If you’ve seen a pantomime this year which you thought contained too many rude jokes, let me know. I could do with some new ones.

How the reality of Christmas shopping is nothing like the festive scenes on TV

THE REALITY OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING:

Why don’t Christmas shoppers really look like they do in the adverts on TV?

Smiling families, matching jumpers and scarves, calmly strolling around the shops, snow gently falling around the town (they never seem to carry ANY bags though, have you noticed?)

Now, here is the reality . . .

The city centre is packed, people all walking in different directions (always the opposite way to me), there are men being dragged around shops they obviously don’t want to be in, children are screaming . . . all surrounded by the same jolly Christmas music in every shop.

Then we have department stores doubling up as saunas. It’s freezing outside so you have to wrap up, but as soon as you walk into a shop it hits you like one of the other half’s midlife flushes!

Oh yes – you can relate to this, can’t you?

It’s the children I feel most sorry for, strapped firmly into their pushchairs with only a Jenkins pastie for company (other pastie providers available), so many shopping bags hanging on the back of the pushchair, both child and pastie are in danger of tipping backwards and being catapulted across Debenhams.

Happy shopping, my friends!

Selfish people on their phones at the theatre – talk about rude!

HOW TO BEHAVE WHEN ATTENDING THE THEATRE – A GUIDE FOR THE EASILY CONFUSED.

It was recently reported that during a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Old Vic, a female (I hope the gender neutral among you won’t object to me using that old-fashioned description) member of the audience used her mobile phone not once . . . but twice!

Then, unbelievably, when a male member of the audience asked her to stop talking on the phone (because it was distracting from what was happening on stage) the woman’s male partner turned around and hit the complainant!

To behave that rudely and disrespectfully in a theatre, the woman and her male partner were either drunk or were so dim they couldn’t grasp the concept that when you’re watching a play, a musical, a panto, an opera or a concert, you switch off your phone/tablet and refrain from using them until the show is over.

I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the Old Vic, but know it has 1004 seats.

So you’d think more than one person would’ve been annoyed enough to tell the woman to desist from talking on her phone.

And as the often unpredictable Rhys Ifans was in the play, I’m surprised he didn’t stop the action, grab the phone from her and stick it up Bob Cratchit’s proverbial chimney.

People using mobiles and tablets in cinemas have been a right pain for years.

I have anecdotal evidence from a friend that when he saw ‘Gravity’ in 3D, the person in front of him was checking her tablet every 10 minutes . . . . and continually had to take off her 3D glasses to do so!

Yes, that’s how my friend described her, too.

But as this selfish behaviour has now spread to theatres, I’d like to provide a helpful, simple guide to anyone not completely sure whether they’re allowed to make phone calls or text during a live performance.

OF COURSE NOT – IDIOT!