Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Night Out

Last week, I found myself billeted in close proximity to the Edwardian elegance of the Southsea King's Theatre.
I noticed there was a show by the Cornish comedian "Jethro" on Wednesday night.
I couldn't resist, and immediately snapped up a ticket at the box-office.
Support live comedy and all that kind of thing!
I was in the stalls quite near the front, and was enjoying feeling relatively youthful compared to the bulk of the audience.
The lights dimmed.
A bald man with a beard wearing jeans and a waistcoat walked on to the stage.
I assumed he was going to make sure the guitars on stage were in tune, before the arrival of Jethro.
I was wrong.
He immediately started singing the Bill Withers hit "Aint No Sunshine" to a pre-recorded backing track.
He had a pretty decent singing voice.
However, I was utterly hypnotised by the way he moved the mic away and back from his mouth during the song, depending
on whether he was at a quieter bit or a crescendo.
I've never seen microphone technique like it, and I've seen a lot of microphone technique in my time.
I used to get told to move the mic away a bit when I shouted into it, but decided to stop shouting, as I kept using the technique in reverse.
He got a polite smattering of applause, then said "Thank you, and this is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs ever written",
and then sang "Vincent" by Don McLean.
Just as he finished that song and started heading off stage, another man walked on.
I was surprised to hear him start telling jokes.
The reason I was surprised was that there was no recognition applause whatsoever in the fairly full theatre.
I was puzzled.
It all seemed very intros for anything...just a sequence of unannounced events.
Jethro's act was something of a mixed bag...
He has a number of undoubted belters, but also a large number of jokes which were likely shared by the crew of HMS Victory in the days leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar.
There were also a few uncomfortable moments in terms of
So anyway, a few weeks ago I was invited to appear in a Pro-Am Golf tournament at Prestonfield Golf Course in Edinburgh.
With a small crowd watching, the starter cheerfully announced
"next on the tee...Jim Park!"
ending with an upward inflection in the instantly recogniseable style of Ivor Robson, (who introduces all the players at the British Open).
I found this all very amusing, and it felt like the realisation of my dreams as a very keen, child golfer.
Unfortunately, I then hit possible the worst tee shot in the entire history of golf...the ball squirting off to the right and coming to a halt 50 yards from the tee.
My next shot was equally catastrophic.
I actually played quite well after that, but to the watching crowd on the clubhouse balcony, the damage had been done.
I was a rubbish golfer, unworthy of further attention.

I wondered at the time if this experience was a portent for my upcoming participation in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with Graeme Thomas in "Last Tango In Harris".
Well, not really....
I must admit that my main motivation for doing a Fringe show was to make money.
How's that for artistic integrity?
Of course, I'd hoped to improve as a comedian by doing a load of gigs in a short time period...but that was really just a bonus.
I wasn't really interested in reviews...(I've had many good reviews and many bad reviews, and find I neither get excited nor upset any more by the two extremes).
We hadn't put in a programme entry (possibly, in hindsight, a grave mistake), so we weren't likely to get much attention from reviewers anyway.
I thought 7.30pm would be a pretty good time, but early on in the run we had a lot of trouble finding an audience.
I had many theories on what the problem might be ;
Possibly people are more amenable to take in free shows during the day then maybe splash out on a higher profile "name" at night.
We also found that 7.30pm seemed to be the time when the restaurants in the are were at their peak of business.
Rick Molland thought that our flyer was a bit ambiguous, and that "Last Tango In Harris" could be construed as a "comedy play", which is a slightly harder sell than pure stand-up comedy.
The last few days were pretty busy though, and right through the run, the contribution per person was reassuringly high, even though the overall bucket donations were down on my original Fringe projections.
We only really had one bad show, and that was because the gig was wrecked by a bunch of arseholes who we had to stop the show and ask to leave.
Raymond Mearns did exceptionally well though, and he is the uber-flyerer of The Fringe.
My enjoyment and amazement at watching his unrivalled style, was slightly tempered by the fact that his show was on at the same time as ours!
But hey, I can still appreciate a master crafteman at work.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Fast Show

I'm now into week 2 of the intermittent fast diet.
I know I've lost a fair bit of poundage, but I'm avoiding getting into the realms of scales neuroticism,
(going to weigh myself after a month).
All I know is that my trousers nearly fell down when I ran to catch a number 26 bus yesterday.
That signifies progress.
I caught the bus as well.
Can life get any better?
The downsides of the fasting are experiencing lack of physical energy on the fast days, coupled with
some  difficulty in getting to sleep in a hungry state.
The positive aspects are , as well as the apparent weight loss, that it forces me to abstain from alcohol completely for at least 2 days a week, (alcohol while fasting makes the hunger uncontrollable, ie "kebab syndrome"),
I feel a heightened sense of mental sharpness on the fast days for some reason, and as a result I 've got a loads of shit done I'd normally avoid, (making myself really busy diverts my mind from thinking about food).
 Also, I'm less prone to snacking in general now, as having survived the fasting seems to have given me a new discipline in terms of refueling.
Of course, this is unlikely to last.
I expected to wake up the next day after a fast absolutely ravenous, but this has not been the case.
The fast seems to trick the body into assuming that you had your normal calorific intake, and it just resets the next day to the normal level of craving...although food tastes great after a fast day, and I haven't held back.
Can I sustain it?
That is the question...
I'd say there's more chance of succeeding with this regime rather than intermittently quitting alcohol or getting into all these shitty, overpriced "weightwatcher" products.

I'm enjoying not watching football, and don't miss my football gambling/Sky Sports regime.
The novelty of live football has finally worn off for me.
I've gorged on it because my childhood years were marked by football-on-tv deprivation.
But now I'm fasting on it as well, (do you see what I did there?).

As a football mad kid, there were only 2 opportunities a year to watch football live on tv....
The European Cup Final and the Home Nations Scotland v England game.
That was your lot.
I remember that if the FA Cup Final went to extra time, we were allowed to see that...
Imagine the excitement.

Like many of my generation, hearing the phrase "except for viewers in Scotland" (announced as English viewers were getting information about an upcoming  live match), still makes me want to punch someone.
The SFA bigwigs Ernie Walker and Jim Farry and their Stalinist principles drove me mental.
They are now a "Spinners" tribute band.

I've deserted the football betting punters, and instead have bought shares in "William Hill Ltd" and some smaller gambling companies with my ill-gotten gains.
It's a classic case of poacher turned gamekeeper.
It's going well so far...   (famous last words)
However, I've made more cash buying and selling these shares in the last week than I have in 6 months of football betting.
The William Hill shareprice in particular has almost doubled in the last year.
Of course, for all this to work, you need to exercise "discipline", ie take the profits regularly, and sell if the share drops to a pre-determined price.
And, I may well have missed most of the action as the price is possible peaking before an inevitable correction.
I don't know seems to me that people hardly go out any more, and a night in watching sports whilst making a couple of bets "to make it interesting" is becoming more mainstream.
I've heard a lot of rationalising about this practice that "it's still cheaper than a night on the town".

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Brief Extract

I got a wisdom tooth out on Thursday.
I wasn't looking forward to it as my previous experience was an hour long nightmare, after which I felt like I'd been severely beaten up.
By comparison, Dustin Hoffman's treatment at the hands of Lawrence Olivier in "Marathon Man" was like a relaxing Spar Weekend Break.
Although, saying that, I'm always surprised that some people find shopping in a fairly rubbish supermarket chain "relaxing".
Each to their own.
It was all fine this time, over very quickly, and I had to ask the dentist "Is that it?" to confirm that he'd whippedthe tooth out.
The operation was carried out with the quiet efficiency of a professional hit.
I was very impressed.
I've been treated by a few rubbish dentists over the year... and so, it gives me great pleasure to announce that "Haymarket Dental" in Edinburgh is definitely by far the best, in my experience.
The music playing in the background whilst my tooth was removed was "Pride" by U2.
It was never one of my favourite tunes, so the future association of dental treatment with that song did not trouble me greatly.
It must be terrible though if a horrible dental experience is soundtracked by one of your favourite ever songs.
Gerry Rafferty must have had mixed feelings about "Stuck In The Middle With You" being used for that scene in Reservoir Dogs.

So that's a week with no bread.
Yes, be impressed...what an amazing achievement by me.
I am truly incredible.
Of course this is no Atkins Diet schtick...I'm eating rice and couscous and that sort of thing.
Judging by the looseness of clothing, I have lost a bit, but am not going near scales for a month.
I either find out I've lost more than I thought and then get cocky and lose focus, or am disappointed (particularly when I've actually put on weight since a diet started), and lose resolve.
This is all fascinating stuff, huh?
Oh well, just a writing exercise if nothing else.

I got heckled by a friend at a Burns do last night for using "outwith" in conversation.
My first reaction was to be impressed by this, because it is a very specific complaint.
I think I was talking with another friend about politics and there was some point I was making about events "outwith Scotland".
She maintained it was one of our indigenous Scottish words that she found really annoying.
I'd actually no idea that this word was used solely by Scottish people...and immediately disputed this.
However, after some googling. it turned out she was right!
"Outwith" is only used up here.
If I remember rightly, the point being made was that you could just as easily substitute the more popular (and admittedly less wanky) "outside" in any context.
I think "outwith`" can help creating the illusion that you know what you're talking about it.
It sounds a bit more formal.
I don't know how often I actually say this though.
I'm now monitoring it.
I either picked this up from "Newsnight Scotland", or possibly from Joe Jackson's big hit
"Is She Really Going Outwith Him".
Not sure which though.

Today is a day that I am mightily relieved that I quit football gambling.
It's been a weekend of huge upsets, and the UK is now like the aftermath of a vicious battle, with wounded and bleeding gamblers, lying moaning in the fields where they made their last bet.
The guy who died while attempting an armed robbery in a bookies in Plymouth  is actually an accurate analogy of how this weekend has played out for gamblers in general.
Meanwhile bookmakers themselves, are dancing with joy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darwin Awards Nomination - Jim Park Comedian

I went for a jog a couple of nights ok, in spite of noticing that the pavements were a bit icy.
"Should be ok" I thought to myself.
I'm not one for the New Year Resolution, but in 2013 I think I'll resist doing something when I think to myself "should be ok".
When this occurs there's obviously an alternative health & safety viewpoint to be taken into consideration, which is being largely ignored.
What happened was , while jogging, I slipped sideways on the pavement  and banged into a parked car, hitting it with my shoulder, and ending up in a heap.
This then set off the car alarm.
Thankfully, I was uninjured.
I fall over quite a lot and am now quite accomplished at making a good paratrooper-style landing.
I wasn't sure whether to hang about or just continue running.
I decided to wait a couple of minutes in case the owner appeared, so that I could explain what happened, as running away looks suspicious behaviour.
It's times like this that I'm grateful that I don't live in Texas.
I'm sure that seeing someone dressed all in black, including a  balaclava, standing next to your car with the alarm going off, fully warrants a volley of semi-automatic fire from an assault rifle.
Any judge would see me as a "tangible threat to the life and property" of the shooter, and he would be automatically aquitted of all charges.
Hopefully, there might be a small demonstration by comedians outside the court protesting at the verdict?
But that would be it.
In the end, no-one appeared, although there was a fair amount of net curtain twitching going on.
I decided to take no further risks, and walked home after that.
I went swimming the next day instead.
The car park and overflow car park for the Commonwealth Pool were jammed, yet for 45 minutes I was the only person in the pool.
I was hoping people in the viewing gallery would presume I was an eccentric billionaire who'd paid to have exclusive use of the pool for an hour.

I worked out that my farcical "soup diet" of 2012 (put on 4 pounds) failed because I was eating approximately 500 calories of bread with every bowl of soup.
I genuinely never realised that the bread I was eating was so calorific.
What a clot.
I'm now giving bread a miss for a while.
It's no big deal to me, I can take it or leaven it really.
However, I'm having to write an low-carb version of the Lord's Prayer though, which is a bit of a hassle. (settled on "give us our daily oatcake")
I'm not one for faddy diets (I am ), but my latest weight loss technique is to have a big healthy breakfast every day.
It comprises of a glass of beetroot juice (aquired taste) and a large bowl of raw oats,fruit salad, natural yoghurt, hemp seeds, sultanas & pine nuts.
Other than that, just the normal diet (without the bread)
I'm not obsessive about this (I am).
I just want to get rid of a stone.
I was always 12 1/2 stone . Always.
Then one night the lardy fairy visited me. and overnight I became 13 1/2 stone.
Just want to get back to my fighting weight, then it'll be back on the fried bread rolls to celebrate.
Watch this space.

It's disappointing to see Colin Murray getting the boot from "Match Of The Day", while Lawrenson, Hansen & Co continue with their apparently "jobs for lives".
It reminds me of the apocryphal tale of some golf club in which lady members sitting on a balcony overlooking the 18th green complained to the club committee about the foul language used by gentlemen members playing the 18th green.
The committee reacted by banning women from sitting in the balcony.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Running Man - Jim Park Comedian

It's time to start running again...
My normal route has been clogged up with all the New Year Resolution idiots trying to get fit in 2013.
Thankfully, most of them seem to have given up  now, and it's once again time for the proper athletes to take to the streets.
I expect the regret they're experiencing, in terms of their failure to maintain their new fitness regime, has led them to break their vow not to drink alcohol in January.
Before they know it, they'll be back on the drugs again.
It's a slippery slope.
I consciously increased my alcohol intake in the first 2 weeks of 2013,mainly to annoy my friends who are on the wagon, but am now reining it in a bit, and have decided not to drink at home.
I found a loophole though, in which I can stand in my back garden and drink a can of cider during advert breaks on the television.
But I've decided that's just stupid.

Other change is that I have retired from gambling and have shut down my Betfair account permanently.
I was actually doing pretty good overall, but I'm just really fed up watching shit football matches.
The problem is that I make a rule of only betting on football matches which are live on TV and which I can monitor continuously.
I do this as I like to continuously adjust my betting position throughout the match.
ie immediately lay off the stake I've bet on a team to win the match, if they go into the lead, and always bet on a draw if there is only one goal in it with 10 minutes to go.
I find this is the only way I can make a decent profit in the long term.
The past few months have been really good, and I reckon I have just about made enough to cover a trip to Mayrhofen for some snowboarding and comedy festivalising in March.
But in spite of this, I've had enough.
It's too many hours sitting watching too much rubbish.

The straws that broke the camel's back were probably the last two Hibs/Hearts encounters (the fact I backed Hearts in both matches to win didn't help).
I've never seen such awful, turgid excuses for football matches, totally devoid of skill.
I experienced something of an epiphany and decided that life is too short to carry on watching this type of stuff.
(There were other clunkers, but these two matches really stood out for all the wrong reasons)

So it's goodbye Virgin Media and SkySports, and it's hello Freeview.
Interestingly I get the Glasgow version of "Scotland Today" even though I live in Edinburgh.
Has Freeview worked out that as I am Glaswegian by birth, I should watch the local news from there rather than from my adopted city?

There was always a thought at the back of my head that this wasn't the most honourable way to supplement my income anyway.
What would my ancestors have thought?
Not a lot.
 (btw I'm not related to Paul Daniels)
I'm still obviously affected by "parental approval" issues.

I want to do some make a have more in common with George Bailey than Mr Potter, if you catch my drift.
I want to lassoo the moon!

But more importantly, I wrote a few new jokes and they all worked pretty well.
So THAT"S good.

And, yes Lance Armstrong was wrong, but I still regard him as an incredible athlete, who would probably have still won all his titles if everyone was "clean".

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy New Year

2013 began disastrously for me with a burst pipe last Sunday.
This wasn’t just any old leak…this was a fountain of water on mains pressure spraying from under my sink.
If I was selling the animation rights to this story (which I am, if anyone is interested?), I would be portrayed as bobbing up and down on top of a giant, gushing torrent of water, as might be seen in an episode of “Top Cat” when Benny Ball opens up a street hydrant, with hilarious consequences, much to the disdain of Officer Dibble.
The next hour is a blur of me filling buckets and basins with water, trying to get hold of emergency plumbers and trying to shut the mains water off, (something I’ve never needed to do before).
I got a hold of one plumber who said he’d send someone round, but then called back to say it wouldn’t be for 8-10 hours.
I cancelled, reasoning that in 8-10 hours I would be starring in a tribute episode of “The Undersea World Of Jaques Cousteau”.
Eventually, I found another one who could be round in less than an hour.
An hour later, the plumber and the “cancelled” plumber both arrived simultaneously, (he maintained that the cancellation message hadn’t been passed on to him).
There then followed an argument of about 20 minutes as the cancelled plumber demanded a call-out charge, with the other plumber waiting to start the job, with me arguing and simultaneously emptying buckets of water into the bath.
Eventually, the cancelled plumber left (no payment, not my fault), and the pipe was fixed.
It was at this point that I could have reasonably expected Jeremy Beadle to appear, were it not for the fact that he is sadly no longer with us.
Happily,  it was a snip at £150, (well it did take half an hour, so fair enough)
It turns out, that you can isolate the mains water by adjusting valves under the combi-boiler ; but regrettably I didn’t know that, (I do now).
I have to look on the positive aspects of all this…at least I was in when it happened.
If I’d been out the result would have been catastrophic.

I’m still gobsmacked by all the Jimmy Savile revelations…
I have to confess as liking him a lot when I was a kid.

He was the first person that I saw in real life whom I’d only previously seen on television.
I was 9 years old, and on a family holiday in Scarborough ; he was fooling around in the main street, on the back of a lorry shoving bales of hay around with a pitchfork (no idea why!).
A crowd had gathered around to watch and he was bantering away with everybody much to their amusement.
I was mesmerised by this.
Jimmy Savile! The guy who presented “Top Of The Pops”. Jimmy Savile off of the telly! …in real life! There…right in front of me!
I bored my classmates at school for months afterwards with my celebrity spotting lifestyle anecdotes.
This was a time when there were relatively few people on television, and as a consequence “tv celebrities” were much more revered.
Of course nowadays every bastard is on tv and the associated Hollywood-esque glamour has drastically faded.
I hated “Jim’ll Fix It” (too twee), but liked his radio shows, and generally
regarded him as a one-off, harmless maverick.
But this now seems on a par with saying that Hitler could paint a bit.
I always thought I was a fairly good judge of character.

In the early 80s, a friend of mine, Fiona, assured me that it was common knowledge “in the business”, that he was a necrophiliac.
I remember laughing uproariously about this and taking great delight in repeatedly rubbishing  this “fact”.
The necrophiliac allegation hasn’t been proven, (possible problem with witness testimony?), but I’m treating this as a “no smoke without fire" scenario, and I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to Fiona for my summary dismissal of the veracity of her initial claim.

I’m currently keeping my fingers crossed that Eric Morecambe and Tommy Cooper will survive unscathed in the current climate of “entertainer

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Once more unto the breach

I've been eating incredibly healthily for the last few's been all salads, vegetables, fish etc. No junk whatsoever.
However, not an ounce has been lost.
I did some research and worked out that since Euro 2012 started, I have consumed 20 cans of Strongbow cider.
That's over 9 days...don't judge me!
However, that works out at approximately 5000 calories, which is 2 days worth of calories for an adult male.
I think I can see what the problem is here.
I will have to pick 2 days out of every 9 that I will not eat anything at all.
If my resolve weakens and I drink a can of cider on one of these days, I will need to go on a 2 mile run to burn off the 250 calories.
No more mucking about for me, I am now serious about weight loss.
I'm not morbidly obese or anything like that, but a stone lighter would be good.
Hopefully then the calendar work might pick up again.
I am a lot fitter than I've been for a while, although last week I knackered my knee as I inadvisedly ran down a steep slope in the Pentlands.
I was supposed to be going away on one of our traditional wild camping endurance events this weekend (to Ben Alder and surrounding tops), but sadly had to call off.
I also managed to do my back in 2 weeks ago.
Falling apart.
I did some gigs for the legendary Agraman down south which were ridiculously great fun.
Before that there was a gig near Dundee which went so badly that the promoter avoided making eye contact with me at the end of the evening.
It was just one of these nights that happen every now and then, when the audience just does not know what to make of me at all, and the gig becomes akin to me making a 15 minute speech at a sombre memorial service.
I also recently did a comedy tour of a Degree Show at Edinburgh Art College.
I loved doing this, and it went really well, but the paranoid part of my brain still worries that I offended some of the artists with my cheeky remarks.
I probably didn't, but part of me will continue to believe that I did.
Because that is the way I am wired. Ken.
I'm doing a show at The Fringe this year with the incredibly talented and funny, Graeme Thomas.
It'll be on at The Beehive in the Grassmarket August 1-19 at 7.30pm.
The show title is still being decided...the frontrunners are "Not For The Easily Amused" or "Last Tango In Harris".
Any preference? (directly addressing person who regularly reads this even though it hasn't been updated for 4 months. You know who you are)
Why not follow me on Twitter on @jimpark99? (btw that's a rhetorical question)

Friday, February 10, 2012


I'm now back in Edinburgh after my 3 month tour of duty in Portsmouth.
The first thing I noticed on my return was that the big plant pots outside my front door had been moved around.
I considered that there were two possibilities as to why this had occurred.
Either a kindly stranger had observed that my Feng Shui was a bit screwed up and had deigned to correct this, or, more likely, an opportunist crook was looking to see if a key had been concealed somewhere.
From what I gather there have been a few prowler incidents in the 'hood.
It made me feel a bit of an arse for putting updates on Facebook to the effect that I was working away from home in Portsmouth.
This may have had nothing to do with the incident, but it made me ponder on the wisdom of talking shite on the internet in relation to your movements .
So anyway, hear this, you crooks and ne-er-do-wells...I am NEVER leaving Edinburgh again...

I've also been getting pissed off with all the flack Billy Connolly has been getting for the heckler incident.
Most reports neglect to mention that he'd already been on stage for approximately 2 hours, and had just ended the show abruptly, rather than doing a Roy "Chubby" being heckled then walking off at a gig in Glasgow when he'd only been onstage for about 5 minutes.
I've been enjoying the "Late'n'Live" show on BBC1, although at the same time it does slightly glorify the act of heckling.
I know that it tries to take a balanced view, and has comedians describing how idiotic heckling can ruin what could potentially have been a great show...but you just know that a certain number of twats will watch and take this show as a validation of their annoyingly crass behaviour at comedy clubs.
I totally sympathise with Connolly's exasperation.
I remember going to see Chris Rock at The Edinburgh Playhouse, and having to stand up every 2 minutes throughout the whole show to let people get past...either to go to the toilet or go to the bar.
It seems that no-one can just sit and watch a performance these days without drinking or taking pictures on their mobiles.

Anyway, was supposed to be writing some "good" and "bad" stuff for a podcast.
I'd thought of referencing an experience I had in Arrequipa in Peru with 3 of my friends.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and we decided just to go our separate ways for a couple of hours and meet up later.
When we met up, my 3 friends were sitting ashen-faced and obviously upset.
It turned out that they'd all been subjected to a "choke mugging" in three separate incidents.
This basically involved, a gang coming up behind them, and then being grabbed round the neck by one of the gang, and held in a head lock until they passed out due to lack of oxygen.
They were unconscious for less than a minute apparently, but this was enough time to rifle through their belongings and grab any cameras, cash etc that they were carrying.
Of course, I thought this was all a big wind-up at first...but their demeanour indicated otherwise.
I was just glad that they all seemed ok, and that what they had had stolen was not too disastrous.
Of course, I initially felt relieved that I had not been targeted as well.
However, I began to ponder why I was the only one who was not considered worthy of a "choke mugging".
Had my natural scruffiness and tramp-like holiday sartorial elegance come to my aid?
I couldn't understand it...especially as I alone had visited the dodgiest part of town.
I also had a tinge of regret, that my friends now had a killer after-dinner anecdote from the trip.
This is all a mixture of "good" and "bad" really...neither one or the other.

Anyway, we went ot the police and were surprised to find out that the police are generally not working on Sunday afternoons.
So it turns out that obvious tourists walking around Arrequipa on a Sunday afternoon are like hens being guest speakers at a foxes convention.
Thankfully, I was later involved in an terrifying extortion incident with the Colombian Military Police, and did get my anecdote in the end, but that's another story.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Flying high!

I was quite surprised when the announcement came through to board my flight to Southampton from Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday morning.
It was all beginning to get a bit hurricanish outside, and I'd more or less convinced myself that I was going nowhere.
Then el capitano announced that the flight was likely to be "a bit bumpy".
Shortly after this slightly unsettling news, a male passenger decided that he didn't want to fly any more and disembarked.
I can now understand why deserting in the face of the enemy is viewed as such a serious military offence.
It IS very bad for the morale of those left behind.
I'm sure I wasn't the only person imagining this man being interviewed on television later that day answering questions such as,
"So Mr Custard, what made you suddenly decide to leave the doomed flight shortly before taking off into gale force winds?"
Although, on reflection, it probably was only me that was thinking this, as I have quite a warped imagination.
His action just seemed wrong though.
Surely one of the flight attendants could have forced him to sit down and then slapped him hard across the face.
I paid a bit more attention to the safety demonstration than usual.
It was a horrible being trapped in a cocktail shaker for an hour and a half.
I wondered if I might make it on to the front page of "Chortle"?
Probably not.
I particularly disliked the take-off as we were swaying violently from side to side on the runway before getting off the ground.
I was reassured to notice that a baby was on board.
Everything was going to be ok.
Helpfully, the baby seemed to find the worst turbulence moments hilarious.
Southampton has never looked so (relatively) beautiful as we landed (after some impressive aeronautics on approach).
I kneeled down to kiss the tarmac in classic John Paul II style, and then got a bit of a surprise when a flight attendant
pretended to kick me on the arse and told me to get into the terminal.
And we all lived happy ever after.

Monday, January 02, 2012


So anyway, for me, the funniest moment of the Festive season occurred when my brother brought my sister a cup of tea, and on presentation of the aforementioned hot beverage, inquired "Is that too much milk for you?".
My sister replied "yes".
Cue a hilarious look of resignation on my brother's face as he turned around to take the cup back to the kitchen, in the knowledge that he would have to make another cup.
It was the most fantastic, non-verbal "Oh, for fuck's sake!" I have ever witnessed.
A truly beautiful moment, and one which ,for me, captures the true meaning of Christmas.
In situations like this, one should follow the lawyers' rule of thumb, ie never ask anyone a question that you don't already know the answer to.
My brother also gave me the idea for a film.
We were all having dinner, and the other five people had been struggling for a couple of hours to get a word in.
This prompted me to suggest the idea of a film called "Talk".
It would be inspired by the Sandra Bullock film "Speed", except in this case there would be a bomb under a dinner table which would go off if there was ever a one second gap in the conversation.
My brother could play the film's hero, by talking continuously without stopping to take a breath, for 14 hours, at which point the police bomb specialist manages to disable the device.
I also had an argument with a confidence trickster in Juniper Green over whose round it was in a pub.
(This is an annual's a beer nativity play)
I was lucky this year, and narrowly managed to escape by just paying for the same number of beers that I'd consumed.
And, yes I am "Ebenezer Scrooge".
He was livid!
Tomorrow, I am heading back down to sunny Portsmouth, to resume my hard labour custodial sentence.
I've managed to get out of B&B purgatory and now stay in a lovely house with two amazing people,
(I have to be careful...they might read this).
I've been pretty sober for most of this Festive time, having been slightly put off Mr Booze, by an ill-advised cider frenzy
(on an empty stomach) with some work colleagues before Xmas.
The following day brought the worst hangover I've ever experienced since I drank a whole bottle of advocaat when i was 14,
(the yellow bottle still strikes fear into my soul when I see it).
This day was rounded off with a severely turbulent flight back to Edinburgh.
Cruel and unusual punishment does not begin to describe it.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Read All About IT

Last Friday got off to an inauspicious start.
My trusty old Ford Mondeo broke down on the M8 and was later officially pronounced dead by a mechanic.
Unlike many people, I'm not a big fan of hanging out on the hard shoulder of a busy motorway.
The RAC man who came and towed me away told me that the organisation lose a man every year on hard shoulder recoveries.
You just want to get the hell out of there as quick as possible.
It's the general speed, your proximity to the vehicles, the mental tailgating which goes on and the fact that the drivers tend to look at you as they drive past rather than the road ahead of them.
It all fosters the fear that you could be inadvertently caught up in a big pile-up.
Then there was the gig in Glasgow.
Boom boom...good start...but then one of the front tables started shouting out comments to everything I said.
I tried to engage with them to shut them up.
I asked one woman what her favourite packet of crisps were as part of a funny joke thing.
She said "salt and vinegar" and I said "ah, "prawn cocktail", interesting you should say that...!"
Of course, I deliberately misquoted her for an intended comic effect.
It's the kind of thing that people who do stand-up comedy do.
The technical term is "fucking about".
Most people go with that,..
Not this lot...she and her friends kept shouting indignantly "She didn't say that! She didn't say that!"
It's weird because paralytically pissed post-menopausal women are very much my target demographic.
(check that impressive alliteration, huih?)
But not tonight.
I battled away, but it got to the stage that the venue staff had to intervene and escort one of them away from the table and out the room.
Of course, it's difficult to hold the audience's attention when everyone is rubbernecking the spontaneous drama of a shouty drunk woman being led out the room by security.
You can't compete with that.
My other shock was when a frankly idiotic routine advocating "votes for voles" (as well as all other animals) was deemed hugely offensive by another couple of tables.
It was an unexpected Sadowitz/Hicks moment in my comedy career.
I'm pleased to say that I finished reasonably strongly, but I knew that in spite of this I'd been sabotaged by the shouty ladies of old Glasgow toon.
I've gigged all over Britain, but it's always Glasgow that delivers gigs like this for me.
(although also some of the best as well)
I don't really understand it....
I still love you though (blush).
..and I still had fun at the gig was just disappointing because I wanted to impress the management.
Never mind.
On a more positive note, hats off to Helen Bywater and her fantastic new "Another Fine Mess" comedy club in Edinburgh last Sunday.
Great room, great crowd...a hugely enjoyable gig and the my battered old comedy mojo is back...oh yeah!
Down in Portsmouth, I've been ill all week.
I caught a bug on the plane on Monday morning...just felt my throat starting to get croaky.
Of course, I am a freelance worker which means I am never ill no matter how ill I's been a rough few days.
I've been living in Hayling Island this week.
I don't want to seem uncharitable, but it can sink into the sea as far as I am concerned.
I think I'm going to try and live in the centre of Portsmouth to see how I get on there.
I'm going to see a room for rent above a "Dog Fighting Club" tonight (joke).
Rent seems reasonable...but I'll see what I think.
The work is good IT work is storming it every day. so there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Tour

So anyway, the hotel is a bit grotty...not horrendous but I shall be vacating it shortly and seeking alternative options.
My room is basically a low-budget version of Gaddafi's drainpipe hideout.
The owner bears a striking resemblance to renowned serial killer Dennis Nilsen.
I won't name the hotel until I've left in case he really is Dennis Nilsen.
I wouldn't want to upset him whilst I'm a resident here.
"Will you be out after 11.30?" he asked me, in a tone that suggested doing so would put him to enormous inconvenience...
"We don't have a night porter, so we'd need to make special arrangements if you were".
Thankfully, I can't think of any reason to be out after 11.30pm in Havant.
"Will you be dining in the restaurant during your stay? I'd recommend booking..."
Now I'd say, that the restaurant can accommodate 200 people, and I've only seen one table being occupied in the last three nights, so perhaps the warning about the need to book in advance is slightly overstated.
I went out briefly last night for a quick pint.
I tried two pubs, but on both occasions walked in, then did that "pretending you're looking for someone thing" and immediately walked backed out again.
Incredibly rough pubs...
"The 6 Bells" in particular was one of the weirdest pubs I've ever been in...a lot of people shouting at each other for no apparent reason.
It really reminded me of the pub featured in the last episode of "The Boys From The Blackstuff".
The bar that really fascinates me is "The White Hart" which has had a grand total of zero customers in the several times I've walked past it in the last 3 days.
It's not even open tonight!
In other news, I had a very enjoyable weekend of gigs at the Edinburgh Stand last week.
The previous week, I had a slightly less triumphant gig at the Frog and Bucket in Preston.
I kind of forgot that there was a "gong" element to the gig, and fooled around with my notes on the clipboard before I got going.
I made it half-way through the first joke, and oh fuck bloody shit, I was gonged off.
I don't think I even made a minute.
Oh dear...
I never even noticed any cards going up.
If I was going to compare this gig to an historic event, it would be the assassination of JFK.
I never saw it coming...
Too bad as I had written some hilarious observations about Preston based on my afternoon there.
I headed to Manchester after the gig to help my brother prune his wine cellar.
In spite of everything, I love the way that stand-up comedy is always capable of severely punishing any hint of complacency.
The folk where I'm working for a few weeks are very friendly and good fun, so that's good.
Tired though...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nights drawing In etc

Ted the Cat had a traumatic afternoon today.
The trip to the vet is never one of his favourite experiences at the best of times, but this one was especially upsetting due to an enormous rottweiler unexpectedly bounding up to his catbox window and loudly barking in his face.
A comparable human experience might be a T. Rex sticking its head in your living room and roaring in your face while you are watching "Deal Or No Deal", (I don't actually watch "Deal Or No Deal").
The rottweiler became the third dog that he had to share the waiting room with.
When I got back home and released him, he really did seem to give me a look that said "What the fuck are you trying to do to me, you stupid bastard!".
It was writ large on his face.
I tried out some new jokes at Red Raw this week.
You tend to get advised to slip new bits of material in between "bankers" when you try them out, but I think you have to really expose them on their own to get an accurate impression of whether they have any future.
I started off with some old was going down a storm..big laughs, applause breaks...and then I told 3 clunkers in a row.
I'd lost them...
It's fascinating, that no matter how well a gig is going, you can just lose the audience belief in an instant.
I did some old stuff to finish up with, but couldn't get the reaction back up to the level it was at the start.
It was as if I was a juggler and dropped my balls (steady...) half way though my act, and even though I did some reasonably impressive tricks at the end, all they could think of was that messy bit in the middle.
Or maybe like kids watching a magician saw a lady in half, when the front panel of the box falls off, revealing a woman in each half of the box to the audience (sorry "Magic Circle").
No matter what magic trick he's does after that, the spell for the kids is catastrophically broken.
I like this makes it all interesting, and that's why testing big chunks of new material is always a slightly nervy experience for your common-or-garden stand-up comedy person.
The next night I was flattered to be asked to take part in "Breaking News" at The Stand in the highly esteemed company of Vladimir McTavish, Sian Bevan, Keir McAllister & Mark Nelson.
As the title of the show suggests it's a topical-based show, with rounds involving making up headlines, odd one out, what do they all have in common, putting forward a motion.
I had a few awkward moments, particularly during the "odd one out" pictures round, where my inane remarks created some classic tumbleweed audience reactions.
Luckily, everyone else was hilarious for this bit.
I fared better in the individual stand-up bits, and also in presenting my motion "Animals Should Be Allowed To Vote".
I have to admit I was bricking it bigtime on the day of this show...but it's a great learning experience to get out of your comfort zone.
In other news, I managed to win the "Stirling University Old Boys Golf Championship" at the weekend in Milnathort.
This was no mean feat, as amongst the field were such golfing giants as Richard Arnott, Billy Wilson and Alastair Johnson.
(The Big Three)
This was probably my greatest achievement of the whole weekend.
The major talking point amongst my Stirling buddies was when I described the Ipad as "an awesome piece of kit".
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had made a terrible, terrible error.
I will never hear the end of this.
Why didn't I just say "it was a reasonably impressive gadget".

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Good grief!

As I suspect many of my fellow countrypeople did, I found watching Scotland v Czech Republic an extremely painful experience.
We are brilliant at finding new ways to embrace failure. It's almost impressive.
The aspect of the game which led to the most inane shouts from me at the television was the fashion in which we played when we regained the lead with 7 minutes to go.
There was no composure, a complete inability to retain any semblance of control and some utterly brainless decision making.
It reminded me of my recent gig in Uddingston.
I got particularly animated when the Czechs punted a long hopeful ball from their own half which was heading out for a goal kick.
However, rather than let it run out and use up some of the dwindling remaining time, our keeper stopped the ball before it crossed the line and then kept play going.
I just can't imagine any other team doing that.
It wasn't the streetwise, canny thing to do.
When will we learn.
A production of "Macbeth" I saw during the Fringe was a light-hearted romp compared with this torture.
The penalty was no surprise...a dive yes...but a leg was stuck out and that's just asking for trouble.
It's the footballing equivalent to sticking your head out of a train window.
The referee was demonised, but overall I thought he had a decent game and was very lenient to Scotland on a few occasions, with his interpretation of some of our more "enthusiastic" tackles.
At one point in the game, the camera zoomed in to a Scotland player.
"Who is "Roam" I said "I've never heard of him."
I was in a pub, and unfortunately was operating in speaker mode rather than just thinking this to myself.
It turned out it was "Adam", admittedly in quite an unusual font.
This precipitated an hour of Jim baiting.
My eyesight is sadly failing.
I decided not to watch Scotland v Lithuania, thus ensuring a narrow victory for the Scots.
I think we're out though.
And yes, I know this is one of the latest match reports ever.
It does look like the IT Contracting market for me is's been flatlining for 6 months.
I'm not getting enough comedy gigs to live off so it's time to diversify.
I know people who used to do the same job as me and are now working in call centres.
Fair play to them, but I think I would finally go completely insane if I was to try that.
So instead it's painting and decorating, comedy, gardening (business cards being delivered tomorrow), low class escorting,
football betting and car boot sales for me.
It's actually quite an interesting experiment to try and live entirely off your wits rather than working for the man.

Monday, August 15, 2011

and now for something very similar...

So anyway, I'm not one to walk out of a show unless the circumstances are particularly extreme, but I have to confess I only lasted 10 minutes in a lunchtime play today.
Luckily, I was sitting right next to the exit and was able to discretely leave the room.
It was very painful viewing and the thought of spending an hour of my life watching it to completion was too much for me to bear.
My "go to see other stuff apart from comedy for a change" policy is hitting quite a lot of turbulence.
I'm going to see "King Lear" tomorrow, performed in Mandarin with subtitles.
THAT'S a proper Edinburgh Festival show.
In other news, I've found myself in the front row of comedy gigs in the past few days, not by design, but because these
were the only seats available.
And boy, I've been getting dogs abuse from the performers.
I have to admit, I've not really enjoyed it... quite vitriolic stuff.
And yes, that does make me sound a big hypocrite, I know...although, in fairness, any contact I have with the audience is generally inoffensive, knockabout banter rather than personal abuse.
I've never been a fan of aggressive compering..I can't really be bothered with it anymore.
It's fair enough if someone is being an annoying twat, but other than that it's tedious stuff.
The most recent one was a female questioning my ability to get laid during the Fringe. Outrageous.
I took comfort from the fact that whilst the profile photo on her Twitter page makes her look like a young Kate Bush ; in real life she bears more than a passing resemblance to Bella Emberg, best known for her "Blunder Woman" character, in the "Russ Abbott's Madhouse" tv show.
She was very funny though...see, I'm not bitter or anything like that.
I spent yesterday evening playing drums with legendary Samba/Punk combo "Bloco Vomit". Hugely enjoyable.
And tonight I will be seeing the legend that is Neil Hamburger. Oh yes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

more Fringe stuff

So anyway, I went to see American comic W. Kamau Bell, good , entertaining, thought-provoking stand-up.
I didn't agree with everything he said, but I don't ever really expect to agree with everything a comedian says.
It's interesting watching an American comedian get to grips with a typical Fringe audience though.
I suspect they're generally quieter than your typical US club audience, and you could see it was taking him a little while to get used to our slightly more passive nature.
Edward Aczel's pre-show music included "South American Getaway" from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", so he had me onside well before he made his shambling entry on to the stage.
This is anti-comedy at its most inaccessible, and I love it.
It was a pretty tough gig for him though, as the majority of the audience didn't seem to know what was going on and watched in bemused silence, whereas I was reaching for my inhaler.
I then went to see a play about a comedy double act.
Again, I realised within 30 seconds that I wasn't going to enjoy it.
Of the double act itself, one of the actors was very good, but the other one wasn't.
To successfully portray a top comedy double act, you have to capture the magical chemistry between the two comedians which makes the act work.
There's not a second in this play where you feel that, so the whole piece is torpedoed below the water line.
I've done a fair bit of shit acting in my life, so feel qualified to notice it.
It mainly involves thinking about your next line and when you're going to say it, rather than giving the impression of "listening" and then reacting naturally to your feed line.
I was notorious for this, and it produces that distinctive wooden acting, which we all know and love.
A pity, because I find the dynamics of double-acts fascinating, and was looking forward to this play.
Next it was on to Michael Legge's hilarious one man show on Sir Walter Raleigh.
Top notch stuff, and even though I was familiar with most of the material through reading his blog, he performs with such great gusto that I'm roaring with laughter anyway.
Just before his show I walked past a group of obvious Fringe performers having an impromptu pavement meeting.
I heard one say "Yes, that TOTALLY changes the whole dynamic of the scene."
Now, what I reckon has happened here is that the first few performances of their play have been absolutely disastrous, but they've now agreed that by getting one of the characters to wear a hat in a scene, and also drop one of his lines ; the play will be saved!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's that time again...

So anyway, rather than the usual pre-Fringe week of panic and trauma arguing about show format, and fretting about box office sales, I spent a relaxing week in sunny Spain.
I'm now back and am without a show for this year's Fringe...I can't say I'm too bothered about'll be the first time in 6 years, I'll be experiencing the event purely as a punter.
My first day got off to an inauspicious start when I stuck a cotton bud in my ear, compacting wax and rendering me completely deaf in that ear.
I know that medical advice is overwhelmingly in favour of not sticking cotton buds in your ear, but I like it too much, and just accept the risk that this sort of outcome occasionally happens.
It's very disorientating, and seems to affect my balance.
Thanks to Boots almond oil though, I was quickly cured and rejoiced in the restoration of my hearing.
It was like getting out of prison (I imagine)...ear majesty's prison? ha ha ...oh fuck off, I don't care any more.
My first Fringe thing that I noticed was my that upstairs neighbour has failed to let out his flat for the festival ("to let" sign still on window).
This is unprecedented, (that means it's never happened before).
Usually I can hear lots of excitable drama students shouting "OMG" at the top of their voices, as their Fringe experience begins.
It's like seeing sheep high 5 other sheep as they arrive at the abattoir.
Like relaxing in a jacuzzi until the first one star review catastrophically diverts the untreated sewage pipe into it.
I walked down my street and noticed that all the little hotels had the "vacancies" sign up.
Again this is unusual, and I wondered if Fringe visitor numbers are down this year.
I've been having this recurring dream in which I'm in the audience of a comedy club.
A comedian leaps onstage saying "I know what you're thinking...!".
I then stand up and blow his head off with a single shot from a bazooka gun.
I've had this dream analysed by experts, and as a result have been advised to take a short break from the comedy scene.
Cocking a snook at stand-up comedy, I went to see "Ed Reardon : A Writer's Burden" at the Pleasance.
The audience enjoyed it, but it wasn't my cup of tea.
I was expecting something a bit darker, but it was more a Terry Scott style, buffoonery characterisation.
I must try to do a bit more research before I part with my precious cash.
Liam Mullone's show "Down To The Bone" was great, and I'll be surprised if I see a more impressive hour of stand-up this Fringe.
I had an idea of doing a paid ticket show next year and then doing a collection at the end as well, hoping that a reasonable percentage of the audience will forget that they've already paid for this show.
It's the same principal as restaurants having a "gratuity" option on their card machines even though service is already included in the bill.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

HP Sauce

The title refers to the gratuitous shots of Hermione Granger's cleavage in the latest, and last, Harry Potter film, "The Deathly Hallows Part 2".
I've only ever seen the the first Harry Potter film, so I thought I'd symbolically repeat my 2001 cinema visit and see the last one in the series.
I was banking on an update at the start of the film to explain what had happened, but sadly, it was not forthcoming.
There then followed a very confusing couple of hours for yours truly.
At the start of the film Harry was in attendance at a grave, so I managed to work out that someone must have been killed in the first part (I should get a job in the Metropolitan Police with skills like this).
I was touched that the cinema chose to mark my 10th anniversary of Potter watching by selling sweets in the pick'n'mix which were first put on display in 2001.
I'm pretty sure that spending extended periods of time being confused and eating foosty jelly beans is valuable preparation for the experience of being moved into an old folks home.
I always look for the positives in any situation.
I still enjoyed the film, and it was the first time I've been to one of the modern era 3D films.
The pre-film 3D adverts worked the best, but in general the effect is very impressive...although it probably doesn't justify the huge premium on the ticket price.
I couldn't help thinking what lucky bastards the 3 actors who play the central characters are.
They're 21, and are multi-millionaires...and can do jack shit for the rest of their lives.
I don't begrudge them the cash at all...I just find it funny that the level of acting required from them is so slight for such enormous reward.
Harry delivers the majority of his lines in a fairly deadpan, competent manner, whilst the other 2 spend most of the film perfecting their concerned, anxious look.
There's no real character development from their initial blueprint.
Fair play to them though..take the cash...I certainly would.
The highlight of the film for me was the impeccable comic timing of Dame Maggie Smith. Legend.
I'm wearing my 3D glasses all the time now, and the effect is quite remarkable.
They're quite flattering as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Olympics Preview

So anyway, the good news is that I am NOT pregnant after all.
I’m quite relieved about this as I was worried about taking responsibility for a child when I am not currently working (all that much).
I did some research and it turns out that the cider I’d started regularly consuming contains an additional 50 calories per pint in comparison to my normal tipple of lager.
That explains everything.
Goodbye cider…you’re dumped.
It’s not’s me.
I didn’t apply for any Olympic tickets, principally because the Olympics are rubbish.
Rubbish? Why?
I’ll tell you why.
First of all, I can’t stand the swimming events due to a childhood trauma.
Aged 10, I qualified for the 50m breaststroke in the West Lothian Swimming Championships.
This sounds mildly impressive, but there weren’t very many good swimmers in my Primary 6 class in South Queensferry Primary School, and just having the ability to swim at all made me a hot favourite to secure a place in the glittering final held in Bathgate, the jewel in West Lothian’s crown.
The deafening cacophony of hundreds of schoolchildren screaming their partisan support in the pool complex was terrifying to a sensitive young boy like me.
The race itself is now a blur, but I remember clearly that everyone else had finished the 2 lengths of the race before I had completed my first length.
That solo length of shame was the most humiliating experience of my life (up till that point…it doesn’t even make the Top 10 now.).
The final indignity was one of the officials shouting at me to hurry up as he wanted to start the next race.
Hopefully these days they have a minimum qualifying time to achieve before you are allowed to compete in the final.
But let me borrow your DVD of “Great Swimming Races” and I might change my mind about the whole thing.
What? You don’t have one..? I didn’t think so….
Ok, that was quite a convoluted reason for disliking swimming competitions…I’ll keep the others succinct.
The javelin?
You see someone throw it, then you see what could be the same stock footage, which has been used for the last 20 Olympics , of a javelin flying through the air and landing.
Do you have a “Great Javelin Throws” DVD? No, I didn’t think so…
Table tennis?
Now I actually quite like this sport, but the constant accompaniment of squeaking footwear renders it completely unwatchable.
Badminton and Squash also fall victim to the aforementioned “squeak syndrome”.
A scuffle outside a pub on a Saturday night is much more entertaining, (and easier to judge)
Do you have a “Great Judo Fights” DVD? No, I didn’t think so…

Too easy to score.
It’s like playing golf with a hole the size of a dustbin lid. I’m not going to extend this metaphor.

3000m Steeplechase.
The most ludicrous event of the whole Games.
A water jump? Why?
Do you have a “Great Steeplechase Races” DVD? No, I didn’t think so…

Would be more entertaining if fancy dress was compulsory.

if it’s in the Olympics, which it shouldn’t really be anyway, it should have to adhere to “Jim’s Rules”, ie you only get one serve and you only get to sit down and eat a banana after you’ve you’ve played a set.
It’s ridiculous that you have these poor bastards running 26 miles without stopping in one event while you have the pampered tennis players sitting down every five minutes to have a rest and some elevenses….

To be continued….

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Land of Concrete Cows

So anyway, there's a possibility of contract work, but it's in Milton Keynes.
Ok Milton Keynes isn't exactly Barcelona...I know that.
However, I won't be able to turn it down if I get offered it, as I need to do something to reverse the exlusively outward movement of cash from Jim Park Inc.
They've got concrete cows there and everything.
It would probably be a positive thing for the comedy angle though..more clubs..more possibilities...
Talking of comedy, I had a blast at the "Jo Caulfield Comedy Collective" night at The Stand...and good to see a big crowd along for the first night.
Other news...Aberdeen has a rival for the title of "World's Worst Fish And Chip Shop".
I thought the one round the corner from me was way out on its own, but I was shocked and stunned to find out that it has a north-east rival.
Microwaving items which had been already deep-fried, was certainly an unusual touch, and the batter on my fish was approximately an inch thick.
I don't know what surprised me more...was it seeing a deep fried king rib (haven't seen one for ages), or was it seeing one of my party order it.
I was up there playing terrible golf on fantastic golf courses.
I'd compare it to hiring a vintage Les Paul guitar for the weekend and spending the allotted time playing "3 Blind Mice" (badly) on the fucking E string.
I lost all 3 matches for the third year running.
I can't believe I was seriously thinking of turning pro 4 years ago.
What happened?
In other news, I bought 4 new wheel covers for my car, and was down to 3 within one day.
This almost reduced me to tears, but not quite.
Milton Keynes.
It's not the end of the world.
The money's good?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Afternoon

I thought I'd rip off the "Do Not Resuscitate" notice from the end of my blog's bed and write a new entry.
So anyway, I was in Ireland last weekend for the glorious wedding of Padraig & Muireann.
I've known Padraig for 6 years since he beat off opposition to win a role in the acclaimed 2005 Fringe show, "Park's Circus".
There may only have been one other applicant, (who, I was advised by a number of independent sources, was a complete cnut), but this should in no way detract from Padraig's achievement in convincing Tony and I that he was the man for the show ; and what an asset he was.
The weekend got off to a difficult start as I couldn't find my wallet.
I decided to go to the airport anyway, resigning myself to reinforcing Scottish stereotypes by borrowing hundreds of pounds off other people at the wedding.
My last hope was that I'd left it in my local shop...and it turns out that I had (even though I gave a ludicrously wrong description of its appearance to the shop assistant).
No free drinks or food on the plane though ...and 2.5 euros for a cup of tea with the dreaded UHT milk...scandalous.
The wedding was great...Muireann was beautiful...Padraig was just about but not quite as beautiful...the sun shone...there was a tsunami of champagne and guinness...hilarious speeches...songs...dancing...fantastic food.
In Ireland they adhere to the "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing" mentality, and the next day there was the Day 2 party.
We had an eclectic mix singers, musicians, dancers...funny comedians and also me talking about kissing hen's arseholes and stuff like that. (I kept on repeating "I don't know if this is appropriate" through my set)
I hardly saw anyone smoking all weekend ; I seem to remember a lot of weddings I've attended as smoking festivals.
I remember as a smoker, smoking more than I usually did, and then also seeing people who didn't usually smoke at all just deciding to have a couple of ciggies since it was a wedding.
It really does seem to be on the way out...and as I approach my 4th month of abstinence, I think I've finally beaten the addiction.
I'm currently in the Filmhouse Bar trying to write jokes for my appearance in the inaugural "Jo Caulfield's Comedy Collective" show which starts at the Edinburgh Stand on Wed 1st June.
I'm really looking forward to's going to be a bit different.
There's a man called "Hugh Carr" on his mobile phone in's like some Shakespearian actor appearing on stage...his voice booming round the bar...everybody has stopped talking and are craning their heads to check who this Foghorn Leghorn personification is.
In some ways I admire his dedication to the art of lack of self-awareness....
As I said earlier, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
The gigs are going well but there's not enough of them and sorties down to England are very expensive for the journeyman stand-up...what to do...what to do?
I'm also working on a show about Golf...hopefully giving it some runouts during the Fringe.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Here Comes The Summer

So anyway, I had a bit of a health scare 3 weeks ago.
It turns out I'm completely fine and I came through my medical MOT last Wednesday with flying colours.
I can't help wondering whether I would have made it onto the front page of "Chortle".
Probably would have to have been a relatively slow news day in the world of comedy.
Obviously I'm glad that I didn't of course..
One of the benefits of having a health scare is that it panics you into making big lifestyle changes that you are
likely to keep.
I didn't drink for 3 weeks...ate incredibly healthily...charged up mountains and all that kind of thing.
I've lost a stone and feel fitter than I have done for ages.
I haven't smoked for 3 months either.
It's interesting how quickly my alcohol tolerance has now deserted me.
To celebrate my medical news, I went to Chris's birthday drinks at the Stand on Thursday.
I had 4 pints and was absolutely out my face, talking slurred shite to all and sundry.
I can't even remember what I was talking about most of the time.
I'm now on my way to Manchester to visit my wacky brother.
I've managed to get a couple of gigs to coincide with my trip.
I've got a spot tonight at the "Lass O Gowrie" comedy night, and another tomorrow night on Toby Hadoke's "New Stuff" night at the Comedy Store.
I've done a couple of Red Raws in the last month trying out some new ideas.
It's nervy doing a whole set of untested stuff, but I reckon it's the only way to really check if it works.
Bookends new bits with bankers doesn't quite expose it to the uncomfortable glare of reality.
Although, in saying that, if doing hundreds of gigs has taught me one thing, it's to shamelessly mug my idiotic stage persona to milk laughs out of the most crap and awful pieces of material.
It's a survival strategy learnt from dying spectacularly on one's hole of an evening's comedying.
And of course, Red Raw is primarily a new act night, so it's generally a fairly sympathetic audience.

After my (cough) "performance" , quite a few people came up to my afterwards to say how much they enjoyed the show, prompting the hard-bitten comedians present to laugh and kindly inform me, that all these people were assuming that my ramshackle nonsense was my first ever gig.
I couldn't really argue against this.
But hey, a laugh is a laugh.
I then came under a sustained micky take form these aforementioned comedians, which I genuinely found highly amusing.
However, in a scene reminscent of Muhammad Ali bouncing off the ropes to knock out George Foreman and reclaim the World Heavyweight title in 1974, I began to return fire.
I have to say that for one comic, the teddy was thrown out the pram with such ferocity that it had to be admitted to the Edinburgh Rpyal Infirmary with severe concussion.
I think it's hilarious that in a profession in which "taking the piss" is such a fundemental aspect, some comedy people can be very touchy.
In case you're interested, my new material subjects covered were ; Norman Wisdom's gravestone, being mistaken for a waxwork dummy, imaging the volcano supporting Edinburgh Castle erupting during the Festival Fireworks Concert, and talking sheep in Peebles.

Monday, February 07, 2011

London trip

As I headed down to London on the train from Edinburgh, on two occasions I spontaneously burst out laughing while reading the paper.
I find that when you do this, you can sense the other people in the carriage are putting you on a period of "nutter watch" ; as lone laughers can be unsettling.
The bits that got me going were....
An article in the Guardian on Simon Pegg in which he references political correctness in the 1980s, recalling an anecdote about someone getting fired from a feminist theatre company for saying "Shall I be mother?" when they were pouring the tea.
The other guffaw was caused by the "Q&A" feature on Patrick Stewart.
When asked "What was your most embarrassing moment?".
He mentions shouting out "What trumpets that?" too early (a page too early to be precise) during a speech Eric Porter was making in the role of King Lear in a production staged in Cornwall.
Porter was just pausing.
The kicker is that Stewart did the same thing on two consecutive nights.
I kind of had a giggling fit imagining the look on Eric Porter's face when it happened a second time.
I remember him as a very stern, brooding actor...(certainly, most of the characters he played fitted this description).
Apparently he never forgave Stewart for this.
No matter what line Patrick shouted out, this was still going to be a funny story.
But "What trumpets that?" is just such a ridiculous line, that it really soups up the funny in this tale.
I've almost got a temptation now to actually go and see a production of King Lear and shout out that line in the wrong place as a tribute to Patrick Stewart for making me cackle with laughter on the East Coast Line for a good 10 minutes.
But obviously, that would be wrong.

I had a couple of gigs on Saturday at Sohoho Comedy and the late show at the Comedy Store.
There were 3 hours between the gigs though, so I had quite a bit of time to kill.
It's difficult finding something to do on your tod in the West End of London on a Saturday night.
The pubs and restaurants are jammed, so there's not really anywhere you can just grab a seat and chill out for a couple of hours.
And Piccadilly Circus is total mayhem.
In all seriousness, I felt more isolated wandering around Piccadilly Circus on my own on a Saturday night, than when I
was lost up a mountain on my own overnight last year.
I found it an unremittingly grim experience.
The Sohoho gig was decent and very enjoyable, but I had a real cracker at the Comedy Store, which I celebrated by quaffing a few pints in the immediate aftermath.
This was all fine and dandy ; but crashing out in the hostel and then having to continually get up repeatedly in the middle of the night, and make the journey to the gents to process the late flurry of pints was something of a pain.
It's not all glamour.
I decided to get moving early on Sunday and got to Piccadilly Tube station at 7.30am
Apart from a couple of people coming up the escalator as I headed down, the station was completely deserted.
It was surreal in comparison with the heaving mass of humanity who were there the night before.
As I sat on the empty platform, I saw a mouse scurrying along towards me.
It stopped briefly, acknowledged my presence, and then ran off down the tunnel.
I thought about writing a poem based on this experience but I had a sore head and didn't feel up to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coining it in...

I had to abandon my loose-change-carrying fitness regime due to treacherous conditions underfoot throughout December ; but I’m now very much up and walking again.
I carried £70 worth of change 2 miles today, including up and down Dundas Street.
It left me feeling sleepy afterwards and my back was aching slightly, but “no pain, no gain” and all that sort of thing.
In addition, psychologically, it feels good to get a cash payment at the end of the workout.
It’s as if I’m not only avoiding gym membership fees, but am getting paid to do my alternative workout.
Of course, I realise that it’s my money to begin with, but it seems to assume a different status when it is magically transformed into cash.
I don’t know how I managed to accumulate such vast piles of loose change.
I definitely didn't rob any charity collections...well, I certainly don't remember doing so?
It’s ridiculous…I don’t know where it all came from.
By the time I’ve finished carrying it all to the bank, I will be greasing up and appearing in my nearest “Mr Universe” heat.
I won’t win, but as is the case with comedy competitions, it’s all about taking part.
I walked past one of these slightly dodgy looking “cash loans/cheques cashed etc” emporiums today on the way to work. It hadn’t opened yet, but there was a queue of about 15 people waiting outside, looking a bit down on their luck. It all looked very grim, and reminded me of old black and white photos documenting the Great Depression in America in the 1930s.
As well as feeling physically uncomfortable carrying a rucksack full of loose change, seeing this depressing scene made me feel a bit guilty. Although, in fairness, it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll be back to being a “full-time” comedian next month, so I’ll probably need my converted cash to supplement the haphazard comedy earnings.
I’m definitely vulnerable to attack though when I'm carrying this burden.
I'm like a wildebeast with a torn hamstring shuffling across the plains.
It’s hard enough walking with a rucksack full of loose change, so running is right out, and I tend to avoid walking along the canal paths, or break dancing on harbour walls.
It’s all about being aware and adapting accordingly.
In other news, I reckon I’m now saving approximately £100 a month by giving the deli shops a body swerve and making my own deluxe sandwiches.
I’m not saving money overall though…I’ve been splashing out buying snow shovels, various gardening tools, more than one lifetime’s supply of dvd box sets and comedy stuff on Amazon.
You know, stuff that’s ultimately a little bit more rewarding than a sandwich.
The other benefit of making your own sandwiches is that you avoid the temptation of buying a jumbo-sized bag of
kettle crisps to supplement your lunch sandwich.
I find crisps difficult to resist when I can see them fluttering their eyelashes at me from behind the counter.
But now that I don’t see them, I don’t think about them.
So that’s about 1500 calories a week saved in one fell swoop.
I’m scared to weigh myself though, in case crushing disappointment acts as the catalyst to an outburst of comfort binge eating.
I thought I was doing really well in the first week of the year by not eating between meals, exercising regularly and doing a lot of long walks.
However, I was surprised to see I’d put on 3 pounds.
The moral of the story seemed to be that not eating between meals and exercise are good things, but if your meals are dustbin lid size portions, then you are still going to put on weight.
So anyway, it’s all about “portion control” now.
This had better work.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy New Year

Whenever I was in an Art Gallery as a child, I was always more impressed by the picture frames than anything else on display.
From my perspective, the actual paintings were upstaged by their intricately, carved golden frames.
I can’t remember if I actually thought they were made of real gold , but this is a distinct possibility.
Around the same time, I remember watching some heist action film on television, and being totally confused when I saw
the robbers cut out the paintings from the frames with stanley knives, rolling them up and then make their escape whilst leaving the frames in situ.
One one level, I could present this as a touching tale, illustrating how an innocent child can find beauty in an unexpected source.
Alternatively, you could present this as a demonstration of an early indicator of my somewhat confused and idiotic view of the world.
I’m sure Picasso and Dali would be raging if they found out that I was more impressed by their painting’s frames than the work itself.
To make matters worse, it was likely the case that neither of these artists had any input in the actual selection of frames
for their paintings at Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
It would have been an interesting finish to this anecdote if I went on how to describe what a talented painter and artist I have gone on to become in later life.
Alas, I remain completely useless at arts and crafts, to this day.
Although, it is still one of my remaining ambitions in life, to present an exhibition of picture frames during the Edinburgh Festival.
It would be a dream come true.
It would to a certain extent, mitigate the disappointment I felt when the tv series “You’ve Been Framed!” appeared on our screens.
I didn’t want to see people falling off hammocks or kittens playing a piano, I wanted to see a documentary on picture frames.

Coincidentally, I remember at school there used to be great big fights between all the boys called John against all the boys whose proper name was John but who were in practice referred to as "Jack".
It was as if the Jacks were seen as a threat by the rest of the Johns to the integrity and survival of the John forename.
I always got on ok with the James and Jimmys, but found the Jamies a bit odd.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Now is the winter of my 2-man tent

So anyway, I was reading the Guardian "Film & Music" section.
There was an article on Eli Wallach, best known for playing the part of "Tuco Martinez",
the "Ugly" in "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" spaghetti western.
Spaghetti westerns exert a strange power over me.
If I stumble across one on the telly while channel hopping, I will always watch it...even though I am likely to know the screenplay off by heart.
They are curious films, in that often some of the characters speak in English to other characters who are speaking Italian, but have been overdubbed in English.
Often the actors involved didn't understand any of the language that the other actors in their scene were speaking.
It must have just been a case of waiting for the other actor to stop speaking then get your line in.
I think this works in the films favour though, and gives the action that unique stylised stilted feel, which all we spaghetti western lovers know and love.
Anyway, Eli is 95 years young and still working in the film industry.
David Coleman would describe this as "quite remarkable!".
I was intrigued to read on and discover that he is also a prolific composer, writing some "50 operas, including mini-operas for children and full-scale works in the grandest tradition".
He also collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical "Blondel", which was a "resounding success'.
I was amazed at this secret hinterland of the scheming "Tuco" from "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly".
But then I discovered that in skipping from column to column in the article, I'd failed to notice that the Eli Wallach article had ended and the column I was currently reading was a memorial article to the late classical composer Stephen Oliver.
It just goes to show that folding a newspaper in a certain way can cause hilarious misunderstandings.
This was definitely the closest my life resembled an episode of a traditional sitcom yesterday.
Last evening I answered a knock at my door to find a slightly dodgy looking young man wearing a rucksack.
He was displaying something in his right hand which was obviously purporting to be some sort of official id.
The first thing I noticed was that it didn't have a photo on it, which is quite unusual for an id card.
On closer inspection it was just a piece of cardboard with writing on it.
I couldn't make out exactly what it said.
I inquired what he was wanting, and he replied "I'm selling things".
I then said that I was on the phone to someone in America (I wasn't, and I truly have no idea why I said that rather than just say that I wasn't interested in buying any "things")
He didn't say what the things were, but asked if he could come back later and I just said "no".
This was definitely the closest my life resembled and episode of "The League of Gentlemen" yesterday.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Why isn't October the 8th month of the year?

I'd parked my car in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh, and approached a ticket machine to buy a parking ticket.
On the machine I noticed that there were 3 parking tickets stuck on to it.
These tickets were yet to expire and had been attached to the machine by kindly motorists, who hoped that they would possibly
be re-used by people about to buy a ticket.
I found this sight strangely moving.
It was a nice bit of philanthropy in the midst of the usual I'm-all-right-jack urban mentality.
Something of a polite insurrection against the ridiculous parking charges now in force.
We were sticking it to the man.
I would have taken a picture of it, but I'd deliberately left my phone at home as an exercise in non-connectivity, to combat my
OCD internet excesses.
Anyway, I quite liked the way it was in the old days when people announced their phone number when they answered the phone.
Not only do I still do this, but when people knock on my door, I open it and then announce my address.
It's called "doing it right", ok?
Also, why don't they show old episodes of "Tomorrow's World".
It's be fascinating to see some of the ridiculous predictions and new technologies that they featured.
I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC had scrubbed them all.
Of course, they never predicted the rise of the Internet though. The idiots.
I remember being taken to Art Galleries as a young child and always being more impressed by the ornate golden frames than the paintings themselves.
I was baffled watching a heist film in which robbers cut round the painting with a knife, stealing it but leaving the frame in situ.
I thought they were mental, but apparently it was me who was in fact mental. So there you go.
Why has K2 got such a boring name for a mountain?
Has anyone ever had a pencil and kept using it until it was just a little pointed cone?
I was down in London traveling on a bus with the atheist slogan on the side, ie "There probably isn't a God, so just enjoy your life!".
I was quite comfortable traveling on such a bus, but would feel a greater sense of unease if the same slogan was written down the side of a plane I was traveling on.
I know it's irrational.
If you're worried about the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb, then I find it helps relax if you think of the Iranian Prime Minister as Mr Claypole from "Rent-A-Ghost".
I have gone 5 weeks without smoking, so my latest stopping smoking venture is going well.
As a reward for this achievement, I've treated myself to a reverse lipo-suction operation, and have had 2 kilos of goose fat pumped into my midriff (on the NHS, of course).
It's a good look.
My other idea is a show, with alternate endings to famous films.
eg Steve McQueen jumps over the wire in his motor bike and escapes in "The Great Escape" ;
President Charles De Gaulle gets his head blown off in "The Day of the Jackal" (ok, or maybe just gets his hat shot least that would be funnier)
"Thelma and Louise" fly away like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" but then get shot down by Tom Cruise in his fighter jet;
The Nazis capture all the Von Trapps at the end of "The Sound of Music";
James Stewart rushes in to the house at the end and catches his wife in bed with Mr Potter on Xmas Day in "It's A Wonderful Life"
"Billy Liar" ; Tom Courtenay GETS ON THE TRAIN and goes off with Julie Christie...why wouldn't you, you idiot!
etc etc
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" they open the Ark and a big jack-in-the-box thing springs out which looks like Hitler.
Right, that's enough, I'm going to lie down now and hum to myself for a few hours.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Afternoon.

I haven't written anything in this blog for ages.
However, as I'm languishing indoors with some kind of flu bug, I might as well take the opportunity to regale you with some fresh shite.
The Fringe came and went ; the usual cocktail of highs and lows, the usual emotion-themed rollercoaster.
In summary, I felt we put a pretty good show on.
It had all looked a bit worrying after Traverse-gate. (our first proper preview)
But anyway it's hats off to the Edinburgh Evening News for giving us not one, but two, bad reviews.
The first was one was our first preview at a free gig in a pub. They failed to mention that it was a preview, slagged us off and put a big 1/4 page photo of us alongside the review.
Tragically, neither of the reviews made it onto the internet.
Other than that we had a fairly typical mix of good and bad press coverage.
As of last year, it was a great honour and pleasure to again be part of The Stand's Fringe programme.
We had to work a bit harder for the audiences this year, compared to the 2009 sellout-fest.

I've just finished doing a little Scottish tour organised by the Gilded Balloon supporting Hattie Hayridge.
I was very flattered to be asked to do it, and I was obviously very keen not to make an arse of things.
I'm really happy with the way all the gigs went, and Hattie and Viv were a delight to work with.
All the gigs were on huge expansive stages which were totally crying out for some expressive, dance-based stand-up.
Maybe next time.

For some unknown reason, the film "The Naked Prey" came into my mind.
I remember watching it on television as a kid and being quite shocked.
The story concerns a group of British people on safari in Africa, going around shooting elephants for their ivory.
Some tribesmen appear and hint that they'd like some gifts as a payment for using their land to pursue elephant atrocities.
The safari leader tells them to piss off.
This turns out to be a bad move, as the tribesmen return and take out their vengeance on the hunting party.

It's the inventiveness of the executions which stuck in my head as a kid.
For one bloke a crowd of women dress him up like a chicken, chase after him, then dozens of them stab him with little pointy sticks.
Another is covered in clay then roasted alive in a spit over a campfire...
Then another is tied to the ground and a snake is scared by flames and then bites him in the face...
The rest of the film is about the surviving safari member being given a sporting chance to run away and then be hunted down..
(he was in favour of giving the tribesman a present at the beginning, so they are more lenient with him)

To my surprise, the whole film is on youtube.
It's disappeared from tv showings, that's for sure.
I think I was 8 when I watched it on tv.

I'm now suffering from some delayed Fringe-Flu lurgae type thing.
It's an injustice.

I've got a few new bits of pieces of stand-up which I'm trying to batter into shape.
I was trying to find a way of using my experience at the waxworks museum in Amsterdam.
I was in a "politicians" section and saw Margaret Thatcher.
I was quite transfixed by the Thatcher model (not in a sexual way) and just stared at her for quite a while.
As I moved away, I became aware of a gasp behind me.
And (I swear to god this is true), behind me was a Dutch man who thought I was a waxwork dummy, and was startled when
I suddenly moved.
(he established this through acting out a dummy coming to life)
Unfortunately, he didn't speak English (I Holland??? bizarre!), so I wasn't able to discover who he thought I was.
Denis Thatcher?
Another European political leader? Charles De Gaulle?
Anyway, I started telling this story at a gig recently, and people seemed to be liking it, but it didn't really go anywhere.
Like a broken down bus.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fringe Magnet

It's fair to say that after the first couple of "The Silence of the Trams 2" previews, I was seriously considering renting a Cessna 206 six-seater light aircraft, inviting the rest of the cast to join me, then flying it into the Scottish Parliament building.
It just seemed appropriate.
Of course I would do it at night when there was no-one working in the building.
I wouldn't want to be accused of having a selfish disregard for other peoples' lives.
It's just the symbolism I was interested in.
Anyway, after the wreckage of the Illicit Still and Traverse previews we had a cracking one in Burntisland, and another
at Stand 1 last Monday to an unexpectedly big crowd.
All of a sudden we were cock hoop!
It's such a fickle business.
Apart from last Saturday where we had a very low-energy, cold audience that you get every now and then at a Fringe comedy show, it's been ticking along nicely.
Yesterday a man who had apparently been drinking came down and sat beside me, hesitated, then asked if I knew of a nearby
I immediately worried that this was some kind of obtuse threat to my well-being.
But he seemed quite non-threatening, so I explained that I thought there was one in the Cowgate.
I didn't ask him why he was looking for a mortuary, or even make a joke saying the one at Cowgate is in the "dead centre" of Edinburgh.
He went way quite happy with my information.
Shortly afterwards, I was approached by incredibly grumpy-looking, elderly American tourists.
"Can you tell me where the tourist office is?" said the man, with a cheeriness reminiscent of the way Clint Eastwood asked his soon to be victims if they're "feeling lucky, punk?"
I started giving them directions which were quite complicated, given their current position.
I realised half-way through my speech that he'd mentally switched off.
He waited for a pause then said "Thank you" and headed off.
Surely he needed to run through what I'd just told him, to make sure he'd got it.
I felt like I'd been buzzered off on a kind of "Giving Directions X Factor" show.
I think the hotel that they book into are going to have a tricky time keeping these 2 happy.
As usual I am rapidly losing weight during the Fringe ; as usual I will put it back on after the Fringe as I become
Mr Creosote for a few days.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hello again

There's been a bit of a layoff on the blog writing.
This is mainly due to working on computers during the day and consequently feeling uninspired to start typing on a different computer, at the end of the day, as Alan Hansen might say.
It seems all wrong on a number of different levels.
Anyway, I am feeling quite smug because I haven't smoked for 6 days.
No matter how fucking ridiculous and unwarranted the smugness is, I still am.
It's totally pathetic...
How many times have I been down this road?
I have by now now fully paved the road to hell with my good intentions, and am just concentrating on routine maintenance work these days.
I have no credibility in this area, and you are completely within your rights to sneer and guffaw in my general direction.
I deserve it.
This latest health stint is on the back of being a bit ill for the last week.
Emerging from a good prolonged bout of illness always represents an ideal opportunity to embark on a half-hearted new health regime.
I did 4 nights at The Stand last week, each night feeling awful, and genuinely concerned that I might faint on stage with the heat.
I had a really good run of shows though. There's obviously something intrinsically funny about appearing ill and slightly out of sorts.
Re the coffin nails, I was doing quite well, Oct 2009 - March 2010, not a single gasper.
The stress involved in doing a show at The Stand in Edinburgh then driving through to Glasgow to do a solo show at the Comedy Festival ended in a reckless couple of sneaky fags, and I've been back as an occasional puffer ever since.
I will obviously just have to avoid any unnecessary stress for the rest of my life.
I have also been giving thought to quitting booze as well.
I got rather drunk last week and crashed my bike on the way home.
I was ok but my bike was seriously injured.
The handlebars are now at a 45 degree angle to the front wheel.
Unless I manage to adjust them I will be unable to ever get anywhere on my bike and will just have to content myself with cycling in a small circle.
I could say that I'm hilariously satirising my life?
At least it'll still be good exercise.
I was really mad with myself the next day. I should have moved on from participating in this sort of fucked up behaviour.
Maybe I should just give up cycling.
The World Cup group stage was turgid crap, but the knockout matches have been excellent.
I think in future I'll just start watching it when it gets to the last 16, and avoid the preamble.
I felt sorry for Ghana last night.
The handball thing left a bad taste in the mouth.
The problem is that there is no real disincentive for the man on the line at that stage of the game to not punch the ball away.
He gets sent off, but the match is over anyway, so being reduced to 10 men is a meaningless sanction.
He gives away a penalty, but that's better than a goal and certain elimination.
I can't think of any other sport where you could deliberately cheat like that and ultimately secure victory for your team.
It's true that most players would probably have done the same thing ; although not if it had happened early on in the game, rather than the last minute of extra time.
Did anyone honestly think that Ghana were going to stand a chance in the penalty kicks?
Psychologically they were shot to pieces because they knew they'd missed a golden opportunity.
FIFA know that seeing someone who's just cheated and been sent off, being carried off shoulder high in triumph by his team mates, is a PR disaster for football, and they'll feel that a rule tweak may be required.
Mark Lawrenson continues to drive me insane with his whiney drivel, closely followed by Mick McCarthy and Chris Coleman, while Alan Hansen has really perfected his "clubhouse bore" persona.
Do they have jobs for life at the BBC?
Mind you, if you ever want to cheer yourself up, search on Twitter for "Mark Lawrenson" and "Alan Hansen" during a match broadcast, and be comforted in the knowledge that you are far from alone in considering them annoying bellends.