Monday, 27 October 2008

Where have all the Policemen gone?

We have hundreds of traffic laws but no policemen to enforce them. Newports’ traffic police are too busy polishing their patrol cars ready for the 2010 Ryder cup, to do their proper job.

Every day I travel through the centre of Newport, usually by car or push bike & I am getting increasingly angry about the bus lanes being flooded with arrogant oafs who will continue to ignore the law. Whilst I sit there in my car, during peak times, obediently obeying the law and queuing up alongside a bus lane, many, many cars use the bus lane and regardless of the rest of us playing by the rules.

The general speed of cars has increased also. Many a Chav can raz his Corsa as fast as his fake Nike trainers can press the pedal, with no real worry that anyone is going to stop him. Around town where there are so many children and old people, speed limits should be 20mph everywhere. At the moment the actual average speed feels more like 45mph.

In London, the bus lanes have cameras and fines as an incentive not to ignore them. In Newport, the only restricting factor is your own bravery. Will you be brave enough to face the anger of your fellow motorists as you nip up the inside and save yourself 10 minutes?

When was the last time you saw a police car stopping a criminal motorist in Newport? When was the last time you actually saw a proper traffic car.

Here is my solution; either, get rid of all the bus lanes and speed limits and in true Darwinian style, it will become survival of the fittest. Or properly enforce the laws that you, the authorities, established in the first place.

Alternatively you could allow citizen power to sort the problem and I will mount a machine gun on the roof of my pick-up truck and open fire on the next ignorant arse who ignores the law and thinks that bus lanes are shortcuts and speed limits are quaint traditions which should be treated with absolute contempt.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Edinburgh Fringe Pt1 - flying lessons

Edinburgh Fringe 08 was such babble of high res stimulus.. that had I been attached to one of Bransons balloons, he would have managed to circle the globe 3 times before being forced to land just to empty the chemical toilet!

Over 25 days I did around 70 performances, 46 pints of Guinness, 14 pints of Heineken, 8 cuban cigars, 20 single malt whiskies (just one lump of ice in each,) 20 litres of coke (coca-cola not coca-caine!) & 1 glass of orange juice (but only because I thought it had Gin in it!)

Each day started around 2 pm when I would leave my campervan and a walk half mile of countryside and then fly 20 mins on the top deck front seat of the Midlothian Omnibus. The first show of the day, a panel show, was at 4 pm preceded by an hour of giving-out flyers and taking-in copious amounts of coffee and crepes. After show 1, then off to several other venues around the city to perform guests spots on other peoples shows. After a hearty meal of haggis I would then casually saunter down to the White Horse by 8-30 for more flyers and streetwise banter. At 9-30 the lights warmed the cheeks of a verbally semi naked double act between David Mulholland & I. Quick dash to another guest spot, then roll into the Library Bar around 1am.

The Library Bar was the place to book if you are in any way involved in the Fringe. It was fun and full of Luvvies dancing Jazz hands through the cold air of their insincerity. Once tired of air kissing drama students, I would head up stairs to the very much more exclusive (don't you know!) Loft Bar. Now, the Loft Bar was mainly access by special pass only.... after a deft 10 minutes of charming a hot authoritative lady, my cooling words landed said special pass and heavens doors were opened to me. The rest of the story is just verbal mud wrestling in seas of Pimms bubbles with the rich and famous. By 5am my hobnobbing climaxed and networking would be satiated by the haunting call for last orders. The night bus, (back seat bottom deck,) would then deliver me safely back to the womb of my little bungalow on wheels.

This is one days routine... I did this pretty consistently over 25 days, with a few parties and an occasional afternoon in the M&S food hall just to break the monotony a little. After such a gruelling and relentless routine, I was glad to come home just to give my liver time to forgive me and my head time to repent. Arriving back in Newport felt like peace had been declared. The cacophony of Edinburgh made Newport seem like a sleepy village, Newport outdoor market became a village fete and a Newport saturday night seemed like a loud whisper in a reading room.

The adjustment has been genuinely difficult, but Im glad to be back.... making plans now for next year - my first solo show 'Come Fly with Me.' ?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Why the long silence?

This year has been really tough. The silence in my blogs is a reflection of the silence in my head!

After the heady success of last year and my swift progress in the funny world, this year landed with the lifeless thud of an autumn apple.

I spent so much time and money pursuing gigs last year (sometimes up to 5 a week at opposite ends of the country) that after Christmas I had to get back into the real world and work hard at my day job to pay the bills.

Between January and August this year I have only done around 40 gigs. By comparison, at this Edinburgh fringe during August, I did around 70 performances in 25 days. At least the shows I am now getting are paid gigs and thus the rewards are beginning to match the effort.

Not being constantly in the limelight and needing to work hard doing a very physical job, left me feeling flat and without enough energy. Not even enough to come into this blog confessional booth and ask for absolution.

Another issue which has stifled my cerebral cosmic juices is my constant fight against Manic Depression. This year has been tough because for the first time ever I have had a long period of very flat, almost apathetic moods. I have never had a moment in my life when I have not been passionate about something, raving and behaving in reaction to whichever wind blows my way. So to feel nothing and be neither up of down is a very strange place indeed.

12 years ago the doctors told me I was bi-polar and I would need to be on drugs to stabilise my mood, probably for the rest of my life. During the 3 years of taking the medication I formulated a series of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in order to manage my condition myself. I have self managed (without medication) for 9 years and have battled (successfully) to remain stable. I have worked hard in all areas of my life and have continued healthily, financially & socially quite successfully.
However, as with every battle, there is one draw back. You see, I have to be on my guard and constantly, I need to carefully monitor my behaviour and motivations in order to counter the mood swings before they happen.
The draw back is ,that it can be quite mentally tiring, it can drain you of at least half of your energy, whilst earning a living and caring for the family, takes up the rest. I have always been determined to keep working and have never ever claimed benefits of any kind. Whilst this sounds a little noble, its actually an important part of the solution. Having focus in life and routine is one of the many weapons used in controlling the beast.

During the last 5 years I have helped mentor several other people with the same condition. Helping them understand that there is a future for them, a future where self respect, control and stability are actually possible. Through using the techniques which worked for me, and tailoring them to the needs and circumstances of each individual there is always a vast improvement.

This years Edinburgh fringe was a great boost for me. I am now an better comic than I have ever been and I have even more determination to make it a full time career. With the renewed energy, confidence and enthusiasm, I am ready to start causing trouble again.

I have set myself new goals for the year ahead before the next Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe has become my Christmas and New Year all rolled into one. I have so much fun up there and gain so much, in so many ways that it is now my official year end and thus September is now my January and here are my new years resolutions.

1. Complete the records of my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methods which help to combat Bi-Polar disorders and make them available to others.

& Be an even better Comic and write a one-man show for next years Edinburgh

5& Be a better person than I was last year.

I guess that will do for now.... tune in this time next year and if I am not dribbling in the corner of a psychiatric ward somewhere, I may be a little more content than I am now with a few more goals achieved.

What are you going to do? C'mon speak up!

Monday, 12 May 2008

When beautiful meets stupid they move to Bournemouth!

There's an ancient Chinese saying; Wise man say - There is only one thing prettier than a Bournemouth Girl - and that's a Bournemouth Boy!

I spent this weekend in Bournemouth. I had a gig on Saturday night in a club by the pier. It wasn't my best gig, and wasn't even fun. Before the gig, as always, I spent some time watching the crowd (in a non creepy sort of way.) They were a lively energetic bunch, many Hen Nights and Stag Parties and blokes who had spent the day cooling hot heads with icy beer.

When I think that I have the measure of the crowd, I delve into my notebook and select a selection of gags and stories I think will suit the audience. The mistake I made on Saturday night was assuming that a lively crowd was a clever crowd.... oh how far from true that was. Great one-liners that have never ever failed me, suddenly died horrible deaths. Stories which have been honed and perfected, smothered blank faces like damp pastry on cold rhubarb.

I came off stage feeling completely gutted, never in over 130 gigs had I ever had such a bad response.

The headline act for the night did very simple, rude and basic gags (for basic read 'groin and toilet.) His 16 years experience really showed and he worked the audience like a true pro and made the rest of us look like complete beginners. He had clearly met this species before.

The whole experience seemed very indicative of the general difficulties that I have communicating with anyone in Bournemouth. The twilight pavements are pebble-dashed with young and beautiful people, manicured and quaffed with just one thing in mind; Themselves! They have just one goal in life; Money!

Within the first sentence of any conversation, you must mention that your Daddy has a big boat, or that your Maserati cant be with you as its in being gold plated by celebrity artists. If you fail to make it over this hurdle, their eyes will glaze over and they will wander off, mid word, seeking more glamorous prey to bank.

I travel the country from coast to coast conveying mirth and devilment to all types of people from all over the world. I love chatting to new people and have a diverse group of friends. Never in my experience have I met such a collection of two dimensional, empty headed orange tanned ballerinas.

The failure to amuse the audience was completely mine. The failure to to develop into well rounded and interesting individuals is completely theirs!

Before I go on stage in Bournemouth again, I will clear my mind of all intelligent thought and refuse to use any words of more than two syllables... perhaps then, the poor bejewelled invertebrates will laugh their little hollow souls all the way back up their superficial bottoms.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Vote for your pocket

Yet again the Bank of England has stepped in to save financial institutions who have overstretched themselves and now cant pay their bills. Wondering how to vote on May the first??? I have a the answer, a sure method of picking the right candidate..... read on.

For around 8 years now banks have been shoving credit down our throats like an insecure grandmother stuffing her very chubby grandchild with ever more chocolate pudding. With mortgages up to 5 times earnings and credit cards scattered like confetti at the feet of people with neither the income nor the intellect to manage them, its hardly surprising that the financiers are now struggling to pay their bills. They are conveniently blaming the American financial crash on our current situation. It is obvious to anyone with even a profiterole for a brain, that the banks have been playing a dangerous game for too long and their downfall is by their own hand.

I am angry that the banks and other financial institutions have had the free reign to force feed the nation on unsustainable credit. They have done this using clever marketing which focused us all on the ever upward spiral of our house values and a Utopian view that the economy was never going to be anything other than glorious. They have encouraged bad risk in order to increase profit ts and penalised those who pay their bills on time.

I have an Aunt that several years ago inherited some money, around forty thousand pounds. To her and her family, who had always struggled financially, this was a massive amount of money, an amount beyond their wildest dreams. Here was a chance to purchase their council house, pay off some debts and put themselves on a proper stable footing for the future. Instead, they booked extravagant holidays and filled the house with the best Twinkly Tat that QVC could offer. In no time at all the money was spent, the debts were piling up and they were on the beg for family money to bail them out. It was entirely their choice to spend their fortune in the way they did, however, now that they cannot pay their bills they should not be assisted by those who have been careful.

This should be true for the banks also. They ave partied hard and gorged themselves paiying no attention whatsoever to their future financial needs. Like an alcoholic fire eater they have been mixing business with pleasure and swallowing too much of their own nonsense which really isn't fair and should be stopped.

Here's my way of making this whole thing equal again. Find a bill that has been nagging at you for a while, maybe a gas bill, council tax or that overdraft you just cant seem to pay off. Photocopy the bill and pop it in an envelope along with a polite letter and post it to all the major political parties. Whichever one of them pays your bill first, that's the one to vote for. After all, what is a few hundred quid to them to buy your loyalty, when they have promised billions to irresponsible bankers who have given no assurance of future support and no promise of good behaviour.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Smokers are saving the world.

Smoking can actually improve your health, whilst benefitting all around you.

Being forced to smoke outside is also such an unexpected bonus for socialising and networking.

I am a cigar smoker. Holidays and Birthdays its big old Cubans... the rest of the time its little slim Cafe Cremes'.
I have tried to give up several times. If we were still allowed to smoke indoors then I would probably be smoke free by now because the social issues and peer pressure would have extinguished the habit long ago.

The fact that we have been banished like lepers is soooo cool.
Here's why;

1. I have a short attention span and I fidget. Having a regular excuse to walk out on a conversation helps in so many ways.
If the conversation is slow (read boring) it gives you time to re-group your thoughts and start afresh on a new tack.
I also get some exercise and fresh air hence calming my restless limbs.

2. I like meeting new people but I am very shy!
When with the rest of the outcasts, you meet people and have conversations that never otherwise have happened. I have made several new and very cool friends as a result.

3. Economic Benefits;
Old people find it the hardest to give up smoking.
Forcing them out into the cold, with an already weakened immune system and dodgy lungs, hastens their demise and thus reduces the strain on the health service and releases inheritances, houses, and jobs at B&Q onto the next grateful generation.

4. It will catch on;
Once everyone realises the fun us smokers are now having outside, (the flirting, the banter, the camaraderie and the release from meandering emptiness of a conversation cul-de-sac) then everyone will join in and start smoking outside. When this happens the Breweries will move the bar into the street to be closer to the customer. Then every night will be like a great big street party, the whole world will become friends and stress will be a thing of the past.

........and we all live happily ever after....
oh except that global warming thing... I have a solution to that, but it will keep for another day

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Is Global Warming the new religion?

Religion is the opium of the people, so penned some notable nobleman. Religion is dying and its influence receding. Has global warming become the new means by which our great leaders keep us drugged and pre-occupied?

For century’s vicars, priests and other religious leaders have dished out the doctrine and made sure congregations have always been kept under control by a rule structure that’s not quite attainable and punishments for failure, which leave you cold!

Seemingly in our brave new world of atheism and materialism, the ability of religion to subdue the masses is dwindling fast. The only time most of us set foot inside a place of worship is for weddings and funerals.

The rulers of this wonderful planet realised some time ago their ability to control us by means of our own feelings of inadequacy at failing to tread the path of righteousness, have long gone.

Whether Global Warming is real or not is quite irrelevant in this context. It has become a central issue around which the vast majority of the people throughout the world can be brought together in a singular cause. Whatever the language, whatever the religion or social background, this is marketed as a universal issue which affects all.

Just like religious doctrine, the whole issue of Global Warming is based on half-truths and heavenly mysteries. There is much scientific fact used to support it, but there is equally as much speculation and conjecture to fill in the missing pieces. It has been cleverly constructed to play on the issues most tender to us – the future of the world our children will inherit. In a strategy that a 12th century Pope would be proud of, the ruling parties have told us that we are all individually to blame for the predicament the world is in. Once we have been made to feel guilty enough for our actions, the collection plate is handed around and taxes are disproportionately increased in order to offset our guilt.

Governments not only benefit due to increased taxation. Whilst we are pre-occupied in atoning for our sins and pointing the finger at our neighbours 4 x 4, we are failing to notice the fact that big business and oil rich nations are seeing great increases in profits and yet make only a token effort to solve the problem. Like a magicians trick, we are watching the one hand whilst the other gets away with the deception.

We as individual citizens are being ‘told off’ every single day. We feel guilty every time we throw a glass bottle in a general rubbish bin, or take an unnecessary trip in our car. We are racked with guilt when we return from holiday to find the TV has been on Stand-By for a week. Our homes are becoming dull and lifeless due to those awful insipid energy saving light bulbs and buying a tomato, out of season is tantamount to treason due to the air miles it may collect.

I agree wholeheartedly that we should all reduce our consumption. I also agree that we should re-cycle and be more aware of the footprint we leave behind. I hate seeing anything go to waste and support every effort to make the air we breathe a little cleaner. What I am waving an angry fist at is the way we have been hoodwinked into believing every other issue is secondary and the only way to solve it is by taxation.

I drive a 4x4 as a working commercial vehicle and the next time I go to confession its going to cost me very heavily in increased road tax and if I want to take into central London, I would probably have to sell my house first. I would happily make all the sacrifices and pay all this extra penance, if I could just see the money being spent on sound alternatives and not simply bolstering poor economic management by those that Lord it over us.

And here endeth the end of the lesson. Amen and praise be to the recyclers and all those righteous ones in tiny wind powered cars, because they will inherit….. very little! The taxman and the Wealthy will get it all!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Personalised number plates! Harmless fun, or a wicked abuse?

We all want to be a little different; we all want to stand out. I don’t care what people spend their money on. I don’t care how tackily flash, or how aggressively expensive your style is, you are entitled to wave it around any way you like.
This feather ruffling behaviour is especially true when it comes to our cars. Many of us choose to express ourselves by means of the vehicle we drive. I myself drive a big black pick-up truck with lights on the roof and a number plate that sort of spells HORNY!! I also must admit that there is something quite impressive when a big slinky car rolls past and the plate is only a couple of characters long, like JC 1,.... you nust know that he has as much in the bank as he does in his trousers.

What I do care about are those people who mess around with the font and style of the lettering on their number plates.
Some people do it to emphasise a particular spelling or initial set. There’s someone in Newport with a Mercedes 4x4 and they have faded out the numbers on the plate and emphasized the letters so that at first glance all you see is M ERC.

Some people simply add a coloured screw cap to turn 8’s into Zeros and R’s into P’s.

There are those other people who have italicised letters or graphics hidden in the font, which makes them impossible to read by speed cameras and number plate recognition devices.

This phenomenon seems to cover all areas of the UK and across every social type. This isn’t just a dig at Chavs. In fact, it’s more of a problem with the Bovis Homed, People Carrier clad, restless and pretentious middle classes, than it is with the neon lit Council Estate Buzz Boxes.

Whatever the reason, however innocent the motivation, the outcome and the consequences are exactly the same. People who mess with their number plates should be treated with great suspicion and fined very heavily. In London, those who tamper with number plates are treated harshly. In a Capitol constantly on alert for terrorists and serious criminals, a number plate, which cannot automatically be checked can cause a real headache and literally put lives at risk.

The final group of drivers who really get my goat are the Johnny Foreigners who come over here in their foreign registered cars and flout British traffic laws. This is because it’s a well known fact that penalties and infringements incurred will not be perused due to the excessive costs of tracing cross border number plate ownership. The law stated that you are allowed to drive for a maximum of about 6 months (I guess) on foreign plates. But if they are not recorded and not perused, how do we know that they are complying with the requirements. There may be some people who have been driving round the UK, free of charge for years and we wouldn’t know a thing about it.

To those people whose motivation is to avoid speed cameras… don’t speed! If you do, then take the consequences.

To those Cheap Skates who add dots and screw-caps to make your plate something it is not! Get a job, save up and get a proper private number-plate.

To those people who don’t pay their insurance or tax; get off the road and stop putting my premiums up.

To those people who re just paranoid that Big Brother is watching you a little too much!, Stop pretending your away on business when you are 2 miles up the road in a cheap hotel with a cheap squeeze!

To those people who need to prove they are a little better rest of us by crassly spelling their name onto their number-plate; wake up, you look like a Div!

To those from foreign climes ignoring the law of the land; go home or get into line in the post office and pay your way just like the rest of us civilised types have to do!

To those people heading into central London with a bomb on board, if you want the world to too see your point of view, persuade them, talk to them, run for Office! Blowing them up sort of eradicates your key audience!

My number-plate sort of says HORNY, purely by accident, if you squint. I bought the truck with it on and it amuses me very much.
I don’t care that there are cameras recording every step of my life. I am a law-abiding citizen and on the rare occasion I get caught not ‘law-abiding,’ I get a bit angry and then pay the fine. That’s how the system works. Why should you be different?

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

The End of the beginning

I went to a party last night, the same eclectic house party I go to every year. I retreated to the garden with my celebratory cigar. As its Smokey entrails kippered my faculties, moments of lucidity between the hazy clouds helped me reflect on the past years journey. This time last year I was forlornly pondering my future whilst licking the weeping wounds of my business, which had collapsed during that previous year. I had no idea where I was heading and lacked any real energy to even debate it.

During March a friend told me about a BBC competition looking for new comedic talent from within Wales. I applied at the very last minute and had no confidence that I stood any chance of even getting through the door.

I sat down the night before the competition and read the rules (it’s a bloke thing, we don’t do instructions!) To my horror it said that the jokes had to be my own and original! One or the other would have been ok! The big pink ‘1000 Jokes for every occasion’ was hurled at a passing nun and I set about trying to create something funny at 12 hours notice.

Needless to say, I didn’t write a masterpiece of comedic verbal revelry on that sleepless night. Welsh chuckle bones were safe from sprain or fracture for the time being.

The day of the competition arrived, blinded by my own ego and deafened by internal self-delusion – I missed the fact that the audience weren’t laughing too much. I did make the Semi finals though, which gave my great momentum to carry on and try and make something with this tiny glimmer of talent, which someone there believed existed.

I drove forward on this new quest with enough energy and a passion to ensure I succeeded. I listened to the mountains of advice, which tumbled my way as I quickly climbed up the comedy rock face. I have been prepared to write, re-write and sacrifice loads of material in order to create a Set, which works, as it should. Whilst it was my ego, which drove me onto the stage, I had to stifle it many times in order to progress and guarantee my position could be sustained.

In just one year I have done over 80 gigs and performed at my first Edinburgh Festival. I have also set up Newport’s first regular fringe comedy night. Just before Christmas a big Comedy promoter agreed to start supplying me with a regular flow of ‘paid’ gigs. This is quite an unusual step as most comics have to do at least two years slog before paid gigs start to arrive.

I have worked my socks off and spent much money this year gaining the experience and stage time to put me in just this very position.
However – now looking forward to the year ahead, I am quite scared. I am scared I will fail. I am scared that now I am actually being paid to be funny, audiences will stop laughing! I am scared that all the hard work was for nothing as the next time I step on stage I will be found out as a fraud…. and not even a tragic hero dying in battle, just a plain old unfunny flop!

What does the next year hold for me? What does it hold for you? Is this the End?