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?