Monday, January 31, 2011

Hot Headed Weirdness

The heating was accidentally left on overnight. I was curious as to why I woke up in a pool of myself and Nat and Tom are now complaining of feeling as though someone has baked their heads. I am not going to tell them that in addition to the heating being on, I did try to bake their heads. Its horrible existing in a tiny bubble of warmth, leaving the shower only to feel like you are still in the shower, realising you are still in the shower and then actually leaving it to feel as though you are still in it. What's worse, is that as Nat keeps pointing out, we have to pay for this heat so she is refusing to open a window or door to let it escape. I honestly can't see how keeping it in will help. We won't be able to use it again later. Also I don't trust we'll look after it well. I bet within a few hours we'll have forgotten all about it and it'll have escaped. Keeping heat is something only real adults should do. Then they care for it day in day out until it grows up really big into a fire or a huge gas explosion and everyone admits I should've just opened the door and let it back into the wilderness where it belongs slowly heating squirrels and warming bees.

See? This is already the sort of blog I write when under the influence of a hot house. My evening yesterday consisted of watching a series of odd things on the box all of which haven't helped. Starting with a program called Boob Envy - which wasn't about people who are jealous of Peter Andre - with Tom and us shouting at women who weren't happy with their breastal regions despite having lovely ones. Some uninteresting journalist bloke kept going on and on about how its actually impossible for women to be happy with their bodies, whilst no one at all blamed media or society's stupid obsession with bodies in any way, which was odd. Essentially what it ended up being was a way to make a cheap program with tits in it and make absolutely no statement about anything whatsoever. Still, I have to say, it sort of worked. I don't want anyone to try and fire me from a job at Sky Sports, but I do have to say that sadly, despite shouting, complaining and whinging about the quality of the program and its hugely sexist point of view, this was all sandwiched in between occasional shouts of 'get 'em out' and 'phwoooar', only some of which were ironic. Sorry everyone.

This was followed by King of Kong a film about a man who dedicates a large part of his life to become the highest scorer on Donkey Kong in the world, beating the current champion who has a hair do that makes the 80's shudder. Nat had joined us by this point so we didn't shout for anyone's boobs to be shown at any point. Which I suppose is lucky as most of them would have been geeky man boobs on the bodies of very very sad people. It is a good film, but I was constantly berated by the pair of them for commentating on the loser rating of each and every one of the 40 year old men who still play arcade games from the 70's. Nat insists that at least these people have a passion for something rather than some people she knows that don't care or dream about doing anything with their lives. I sort of agree, but I also think that if your passion is for having a weak moustache, no friends and gaining RSI from a game who's graphics and noises cause migraines, then maybe you should re-evaluate life. I played Donkey Kong for the first time in years when I went to Dublin at the classic games exhibition. Its stupidly hard. Thing is, while something being quite so tough should make being a champion special, it also means that getting good at it requires such a high level of geekdom and studying that I think that it cancels out any coolness you might have for being a champion. There is a point when the main protagonist is being harassed by his little son to help him go to the loo, whilst he's about to get a high score. So he neglects the kid. At no point does anyone say to him 'excuse me, you're letting your kid have a shitty arse because you think its more important to jump over virtual barrels. Please re-asses your whole existence.' Apparently the conclusion is that I'm the dweeby one with the glasses who adjudicates game scores and Tom's dad is the Centipede Champion. Don't ever let it be said that our household doesn't have measured and well made discussions.

Then the evening finished with a quick go on the Dead Space 2 demo, which is the sort of game that would make everyone in King Of Kong cry tears of nerd. There were several screams and jumps across the sofa from fear as half dismembered creatures with blades for arms race towards you wanting to cut off your head and small dead babies try and eat your face. It's worse for nightmares than eating blue cheese with blue cheese dressing before sleepytimes. And with all that in my head my radiator cooked up some sort of mega storms of weirdness, boobs, nerds and scary freaks to make me find myself soaked through and trapped in my own duvet as I woke up. And now I have to go and entertain kids. I can't help but feel today may be difficult.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nanspudbeardfest

I've been to see my tiny Nan today. No matter what possible conversation may occur, be it about something as mundane as - like today - what different shades of paint can do to a room or the benefits of an over 60's oyster card, she will always always pull something out of the conversational bag to prove she is an uber-nan of comedy sorts. Today's remark of choice appeared halfway through a tin of chocolate biscuits where she produced an invite to a birthday party of another elderly lady in the home she lives in. This rather tame flyer was proffered to myself my mum and my dad with my nan asking if 'any of you fancy a rave-up?' Golden. Just golden. I like to think this is where my comedy genes have indeed come from.

Lots to mention today, but with little substance to any of them so here I present all items under individual headings for you to muse over. By that I mean read and think about, not play an alternative rock reworking of 'Feeling Good' over. Had to clarify that.

CAPES AND BEARDS

Every act last night had a beard. Three of the four acts also had a similar peaked hat, a different three of the four had a similar jacket and two of us had very similar scarves. I don't think this was planned but what the people of Leicester experienced was a lovely beardfest, or perhaps, depending on your preference, a bearfest. I'm not sure if that many beards on a stage make a difference to a gig, but it really couldn't have been nicer. Much banter backstage lead to walking onstage with little clue of what would entail but the crowd were so lovely it didn't really matter. Towards the end Ray Peacock made me wear a cape and nobody questioned it. That's how nice it was.



I think perhaps that all people know that those with beards are either very very evil or very awesome and wise. It being a comedy gig there is probably little chance of evil so I reckon they all immediately relaxed into knowing we were all nice. They are of course horribly wrong. Ray Peacock kills puppies, Joe Wilkinson once called an old lady a prick and Sean Hughes spits in people's gardens if they have crazy paving.* I might only do gigs with other beardies from now on. We could even perform some of them upside down and people would think our heads were still the right way up.


OLD FRIENDS

After returning from Leicester I raced to a friend's birthday party last night. Wilz is an exceptionally old chum from school. Old as in I've known him for ages, not that he's 104 years of age. He's been away in Uganda for some time and so last night was a combination of a welcome back and a 'oh shit you're now 30 too ahahahaha'. What was really nice is that lots of other people there I hadn't seen in a long time. Some its only been a year or two, but others about 12 years, since we all left 6th form. This kind of gap in friendship can often be intimidating. Some people, you know it will be fine. My friend Omar and I only see each other once or twice a year then meet up like nothing's changed. This routine works fine with our silly lives and we just know there won't be any awkward chat when we catch up. But with others you just don't know what's happened to them in that time, what sort of person they are now and more importantly just what the chances of them now having transformed into a bellend are? Well they hadn't. None of them. Crap for stories, but lovely for real life. Everyone's scooted off down their own paths and all seem to be quite content. Odd huh? Not at all like soap operas or films? No one had died. No one had lost an eye or killed a man accidentally while driving to their holiday in Palm Springs only to them be chased and stalked by a mysterious killer for the next 6 months. None of that. Well, I mean, I didn't get to chat to everyone. But even those I didn't smiled, so I reckon they were fine.

Don't really have a comment or a message or anything to add to this other than 'haha my friends are awesome'.

BAKED POTATO

Tonight, I'm going to eat a baked potato. This means this has been in my head all day:

BAKED POTATO




THE POETRY TAKEAWAY

Final thing for today. Are you a rich benefactor? Or someone who has at least £5 to spare? Then why not fund this incredibly exciting project:

THE POETRY TAKEAWAY

I've given a whole £15 to get my own poem. You should too. Its clearly going to be better than most things you might waste time watching on the telly.



* none of this is true. Maybe.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ignoraymoose

Wow the world's a mess isn't? Sure that's a rather large and bold statement to make to kick off a blog, and I am probably generalising a tad. I mean, I'm sure in the entirety of the world some bits are probably all a bit lovely. Way deep in the sea for example, or the jungles that aren't being torn down, or even just my room. My room's well tidy. Apart from my desk but I'll do that in a minute. Stop nagging me, you're not my real dad. I just keep fleetingly catching the news amidst my rather busy week of things and feeling as though the people of the world are pretty sick of the way things have been running for a while. Then I stop watching the news, go off to a gig, complain about my height, forget it all for a bit, then put the news on and feel engrossed in it all again. It's an odd one this wanting to care business. I fully and utterly would have liked to have been on the student demonstration against the fees today but once again my day has been filled with Comedy Club 4 Kids and a gig tonight in Leicester making it all unfeasible. Sure, you might say, if you really cared you'd turn down work to be on these things? Well, er, you may say that maysayer, but being self employed things aren't so simple. Essentially its all well and good fighting for rights but if you can't march anyway as due to malnourishment and poverty your legs don't work, it sort of works against any sort of fighting or righting at all.

Yes, this is another blog where, rather than just type about something you might enjoy reading, I am once again providing feeble excuses as to why I'm not being remotely politically active despite pretending that I am. Its been a downhill slope since Christmas and my news knowledge has been swept under the rug a tad. The rug is now on top of a heap of dust, several of Tom's socks and a very useful argument about why any possible reasoning for high tuition fees are good is wrong. I'd like that last one back please. Tom's socks can stay. It's so easy to become overwhelmed with the ever changing policies of people that rarely hold their ground unless its to the detriment of others. I am very good at saying sentences like that though which make me sound like I'm all clever about it when I'm not. Essentially I have the basics ie Tories, filthy rich capitalists, dictators and racists are all bad and evil. Lib Dems are liars. Labour and lots of other people are rubbish and I'm pretty damn good. Ok, not the last bit. Worldwise, I quite like Obama but I don't really know why. I hate the Tea Party even though they sound like they should be lovely, Kim Jong Il is bonkers and the Middle East confuses me. There I said it.

I mean Egypt, at the moment, is horrific. I applaud the people for fighting for a change of regime and I am appalled at the violence of people firing both rubber and real bullets aimed at people's heads who are merely asking for a say in how their country is run. But beyond that, I don't really have a clue what's going on. Again, got the basics. Nobody likes Mubarack because of corruption and poverty caused by him. Mubarack has been President for ages even though no one likes him. He's still President even though no one wants him to be. Essentially it sounds to me like a dictatorship. But all the clever ins and outs I don't know. Sometimes I wish it were as simple as I just put it. Perhaps we scale back politics and just have the news saying 'look he's evil and they're good. But evil is winning' or something like that. Except the news sort of does do that but mostly with confusing messages and lies depending on who owns whichever channel or paper you're viewing. So my idea doesn't really work.

Things like this are very very useful (ta to @Chris_Coltrane for the link):

MOTHER JONES - WHAT'S HAPPENING IN EGYPT EXPLAINED

But ultimately I'm still in the dark. And I've got both my main light and desk lamp on. I constantly question whether or not ignorance is indeed bliss. So far, after much research I think it depends on the levels of ignorance. Today for example if I knew absolutely nothing about anything going on in the world I'd probably feel less guilty than I do knowing about it, but now knowing enough. Still, now in this position I have no desire to go backwards and shall instead keep learning, then never have a holiday again. In the meantime, if you are a student or someone in Egypt who's managed to get access to the internet or in fact anyone who's currently opposing oppression then good luck to you and you have my utmost respect and support. It is so upsetting to know people are being hurt for believing in having human rights and I hope this ever rising dissent from the people who are affected by such happenings indicates a change in the way the Earth is run. However if you're fighting something slightly more complicated than that, I'll have to look it over a few times and let you know once I've worked out if what you're fighting against can be put under my Skeletor or He-Man column on my wall chart of worldly happenings. God, I'm an idiot.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Star Stricken

Warning: This blog is essentially me being a twat. There is more gushing here than at Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. I have gone on about my inability to be cool when meeting people I admire before on this here blog, but yesterday I had a total loser gushfest when meeting one of my comedy heroines of all times. I strolled into Pinewood studios feeling all pretty calm about the notion of warming up 100 kids for Dick and Dom's Funny Business. Far from being a tough job I just get to insult children and make them have shoe races for 3 hours. Its the most fun I could get paid for, and I get tea made for me and a driver. Ok, so the driver bit is awkward. Despite it being a merc with blacked out windows which means passers by think I'm hella famous only to then peer in and feel hugely disappointed with my beardy mug, every driver I've had has had the conversational ability of a dead vole and the hour long drive is spent in silence with me looking out the window like that overly hopeful child from the 80's promotional advert for Milton Keynes. Remember that? Do ya? Funny weren't it? Eh? Cos a kid looked out a window? Remember when kids looked out windows eh? Sorry. Excuse me. Just went all Peter Kay there. So yes, having a driver is awkward. But endless tea rocks, shoe races rock. Having my name on a door like this rocks:



Which is nice. I mean, its slightly down the hall from everyone else's because you know, they get to actually be on the telly whereas I just make children pull faces at each other. So totally fair really. But I still get excited my name's on the door and pretend I'm on the telly a bit. All the people that work on the show are bloody lovely which is another bonus, and as well as the crew, producers etc its nice to have people such as Abandoman and Chris Cox about to banter with as though we were backstage at a gig, only its a gig for mental kids and not drunk twats. Oh and Dick and Dom are properly funny which is a lovely thing to see. I've never watched kids fall about and giggle quite as hard as watching Dom tell them he hates them all and they make him want to sick down his own trouser leg, then take his trousers off and sick down his own leg. Just brilliant. So anyway, what I'm setting up here is that within a few days, I've realised I'm all quite chilled about this rather lovely job.

Until I asked who the guest was for yesterday's show, and I was told it was Jessica Hynes. I almost instantly got a tad too excited and confessed just how much I think she's hella awesome. I am, and always will be, in awe of Spaced. I think it will reign in my time as what I consider to be the best sitcom ever ever. And she was bloody well in it. And wrote it. Then acted in lots of other awesome stuff including Doctor Who. I was a small mess, and asked the producer if there'd be anyway I could meet her. He very kindly said he'd see what he can do and I instantly felt I had crossed the line from being a super cool professional warm up man to goofy idiot fanboy. I was ashamed of such a thing, and decided that in no way would I be annoying and get in the way of everything in order for a selfish snap. At the same time my head kept reminding me that I'd met Pegg, worked with Eldon and Smiley, and now only needed to meet Jessica, Frost and Heap to get the full set (yes, ok there's still Julia Deakin and Katy Carmicheal but I once got a letter from Julia about a pub's licensing issues when I worked for Camden council so it sort of counts). This would then be closely followed by my brain saying in a slightly different tone of voice that I am a huge mega loser.

I found myself in the same green room as Jessica a few times and didn't really say much as I felt like merely the warm-up dude, but she was bloody lovely and friendly. I left fairly sharpish as had to get on with controlling a lot of children to including one mad boy called Tommy who said he knew magic and could make me disappear. When I asked how he would do it, he said he'd push me off a cliff. Lovely. As the show finished I raced back to my dressing room with my name on it to get my stuff and as I walked out she was a few doors down asking Dick and Dom for their autographs for her kids. She didn't have a pen so I gladly lent her my shitty biro and asked in return for a pic. This wasn't really a fair swap. Its a piss poor biro and had I thought it through or had more time I'd have offered my black Pilot pen which is of a much higher standard. Everyone knows where they stand with a Pilot pen. I bet Obama uses a Pilot pen. She was more than happy to do this and I felt like such a buffoon for even asking, but skipped away with this:



And then awkwardly realised I would have to walk down the stairs behind here after mumbling that she was brilliant several times, so stood back a bit and hid till she had left. Such. A. Loser. Though Chris Cox said she did comment on my warm up work backstage and ask what my name was and he promised he wasn't lying. Though that doesn't mean he didn't mess with her mind to make her say that. One day this might stop happening to me. I think the problem is that there are so few people that truly influenced my comedy taste as a teenager that those that are responsible for my current career will always be a bit humbling to meet. Let's hope I never bump into Chris Morris or I will probably wee myself. To be fair, I bet he already has a Pilot pen. Monday's guest is someone I know so we should be back on super cool turf, if I'm allowed anywhere near the stars ever again.


Last note of today's blog. I finally saw 10 o'Clock Live last night and, er, it wasn't bad. That's a fairly diplomatic way of saying it. Bits were funny, but very little of it was opinionated enough to really make it feel like a political comedy show. There was a small section on Serco that Lauren Laverne presented that was excellent though (and I'm sorry to our new neighbour for saying such things) but she did read it as though it was just on the autocue in front of her. I mean, it probably was, but that's not the point. David Mitchell's interview with Alistair Campbell provided neither enough laughs or enough cutting questions to make it worthwhile and his other interview with the professor of terrorism studies, the man wrongly accused of being a terrorist and a barrister who deals with terrorism laws, was excellent. However, this was mostly to do with the heated banter between the three guests about the changing laws rather than anything Mitchell said. Don't get me wrong, I like all the presenters. Brooker's bits are great, though exactly like Newswipe. Jimmy Carr's funny but not at all political - 'there have been a lot of economics on TV haven't there?' - and Laverne is kind of left to do all the bits no one else seems to want to. Its got a very odd feel to it. So far its the best thing on telly in terms of commenting on current issues in anyway and I hope they all find their feet and give it a sharper tongue. Then again several people on Twitter were saying how the Serco bit didn't work and I can't help but feel its idiots like that that assume Carr making a joke about flying the Nimrod planes into the Middle East is political, therefore stopping any actual desire for good satire and commentary from appearing on our tellies anytime soon. Please Channel 4, please prove me wrong.

After my day of fun yesterday, tonight I'm off to Milton Keynes. No I won't be gawping out of the window like that kid in the advert - you know? You remember eh? - as I'm driving and will die. Every cloud as they say.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Better Way To Start The Day

I have a completely vacant head today. Utterly empty. Part of me is tempted to advertise it in Loot for London prices and see what I can get. Of course I'd have to seriously vet all possible tenants. Part brain emptiness was starting the day by paying a gas bill and then talking to Nat and Tom about the mould that is currently occupying their room. Unlike the metaphorical earlier sentence about someone living in my head, the mould, or perhaps we should refer to it at The Mould, is completely occupying Nat and Tom's room. It's moved in, covered the walls, and their bed and is one step away from demanding tea in the mornings. This has meant until our landlords sort it out, and they appear to be in no immediate rush, they are both sleeping in the living room, meaning our flat has decreased by roughly a third. Its for the best, lest they get some sort of horrible mould based illness, but it also means that with one opening of my door in the mornings I am immediately part of a conversation that often begins with 'how is your mould?' So far the landlord's way of dealing with this is by telling us we can all move out and break the contract if we want. This didn't seem remotely reasonable. Much like someone in a hospital with a broken leg being told, 'well you can just not walk on it again if you like' as some sort of cop out. Begrudgingly some men were sent round today while I was still asleep and they muttered something about broken lead piping which has merely lead to further fears about lead poisoning and mould. That sentence contained a lot of lead. Hope it wasn't heavy reading. BOOM!

This is, by no means, the best way to start a day. Far from it. I like to start a day without any hint as possible adult hood which then allows me to start churning bonkers ideas around like a hyperactive child. Instead when all begins with gas bills and household damage the rest of the day knows I'm a grown up and now all I can think about are boring things such as my finances and complete lack of them. No wonder adults are so dull. Yet every kid is so desperate to grow up. If only we showed children aged 10 exactly the kind of drab ways in which you can start a day, perhaps they will change their minds. Alternatively, my better idea, would be to change the mornings for everyone. All post, except birthday cards, should arrive early evening when you are braindead from work and therefore aren't really thinking about it. Instead somebody should knock quietly on the door at 10am then push a load of crayons and paper through the door with a small notice saying what you should draw that day ie penguin with a hat on, or lovely sunny day in the jungle, then you spend 5 mins having a good old scribble before anything else.

Think about it. How is your day going so far? Shit? Oh. Sorry to hear that. Well how much better would it be if today started with some jelly and custard then a quick scribble of a lion? Oh. That doesn't really help getting made unemployed. No. Sorry. How about you? No, no. You're right. That doesn't really help someone setting your hair on fire by accident when you arrived. How did that even happen? They were rubbing it really vigorously with some sticks? Er. Where do you work? Council? Oh. Well maybe if that person had drawn a big elephant playing a guitar then they wouldn't feel the need to have done that. That's all I'm saying.

Yesterday at my gig I asked a man how his day had been and he said 'great'. When I asked why, he merely said he woke up. I like that kind of simple optimism. That's how all days should begin, by being bloody cheery to be alive. Then crayons. None of this gas and rotting walls crap. I demand a refund on my day start please. Oh wait, sorry, have to leave things here. The Mould's calling for some toast.......

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sun, Sex and Suspicious Opinions

This is attempt number two of my blog today. It was already filled with some amazing insights, the sorts of theories and philosophies that many of you would have printed off, or to save trees, emailed round, with the headline 'IMPORTANT' knowing it would change the face of the planet. Within minutes, people of all religious denominations would be denouncing their gods in place of my stratagem, world leaders would be calling me for advice, global warming would just quit it and give us all lovely sunshine, and sharks would stop eating people and eat hobnobs instead. But then my computer crashed and I don't remember what any of it said. Sorry. Really sorry about that. My computer shouldn't have crashed either. Its a Macbook. I remember being told 'oh Mac's don't crash', 'oh Macs are so wonderful, they don't get viruses or nothing', 'Macs are better than my partner, I wish I could marry one' etc etc. For a while I was totally Captain Apple Lover on board the good ship Jobs. But recently my Mac's got all wheezy and tired and has decided it no longer wants to live the dream. So it has teamed up with my gmail account, who after 5 years of storing various inane messages and boring streams of gchat has now told me my inbox is full and stuff must be deleted. Fuck you machines. Fuck you all.

So here is attempt at blog number two, deciding not to let the future letting me down get in the way. I was going to wittle on about how I had a pivotal moment last night that made me realise I have definitely become more of an adult than I used to be. This moment was in front of the TV at 1am in the morning, and the program in question was called, of all things, 'Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents.' Now before you judge me in anyway, and most of you already will have done, I was very much braindead from an overly long day at work. Four hours of doing telly warm up for kids, despite being incredible fun, is destructive. Constantly having to have a response about every odd question about dogs, people, what's going on, why do I look like James Corden (god that made me angry) and so on and so on, as well as finding new ways to keep them entertained while sets are changed is a huge strain on the brain. Luckily for me, Dick (of Dick and Dom fame)'s dad was in the audience and Alan Anddom was a lovely man who let me field some questions his way. The sheer concept that Dick and Dom even have parents blew many of the kids minds and I was given two minutes of respite as they asked him what Dick's favourite colour was, when his birthday is, was he good at spelling at school and just how many tins of baked beans he could eat in one go. This whirlwind of children's entertainment was followed swiftly by jumping in a car straight to Fat Tuesday and hosting a very nice gig for two hours. By 11pm I was a shell of a man. You could have put me to your ear and heard the sea. Maybe.

So when home, all I could do was persuade Tom to stop listening to Jurassic Park at 8x times slower speed on his laptop (no I don't know why either. He was lying prone with his head to the speakers listening to dinosaurs growl very slowly), and flick through the late night TV atrocities. Finally we settled on the aforementioned horror show. It's premise is to follow young women on holiday, while their parents, unbeknownst to the girls, follow them and watch what they get up to. Its horribly voyeuristic, a huge infringement on privacy and also, I believe, a cheap way to film a lot of boobs (both literally, and metaphorically). Myself and Tom sat there with usual comments on how on earth such a pile of shit could ever be allowed to be made and, far more importantly, how Russell Bovey, who was doing the voiceover, is on everything on BBC3 ever. But slowly, through watching for a while, something happened. We started to become quite engaged in the show. Not because, as you might think, being young males there were lots of bikini'd bods on the screen, no, not at all. Instead we were enthralled with how the parents were with their kids. One set was incredibly controlling, demanding they have influence over what their daughter wore, how she behaved and where she went, while the others were lovely liberal people just happy seeing their daughter have a good time, but with some reasonable moral standing points when they saw her being sick on her own shoes. Tom and I found ourselves sitting their discussing nature and nurture, the dangers of mollycoddling children and cheering everytime Chelsea's dad said something nice.

When did this happen? Suddenly I'm watching the trash end of TV, the sort of programming that proves humanity is devolving in many ways, and yet I'm needing to watch the end to ensure Laura's dad doesn't get too angry with her for wearing a short skirt as she's 18 and really should be able to do what she likes. Sigh. If I ever find myself sitting here telling you how 'Hotter Than My Daughter' is a modern day Aesop's Fables or how 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' is a parable for the foibles of human interaction, then I've definitely lost it and I hope you all stop reading for your own sake.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Entertaining the Youts

I have this terrible inability to cope with one thing at a time. If I have several things to do in one day I tend to flit around them like a moth on a disco ball, doing little bits of each until eventually one gets done then I have a cup of tea, wander off and panic several hours later when I remember all the other stuff I've left over. Today is a day where I need to somehow compartmentalise my brain or there'll be various issues ahead. Tonight is the first Fat Tuesday back in 2011. Quite easy stuff. I'm so used to compereing that show and throwing in some new material, that it should be a breeze right? Well, normally yes. But before that I'm doing warm up for the new Dick and Dom show for around four hours to two large groups of school children. Already you can see where the crossover's might mess things up. If I tell the kids my jokes about the economy contracting and rock up to FT making people do their favourite animal noises, the whole thing will fall apart.

I'm feeling oddly nervous about having to entertain kids. Its something I do on a regular basis but never for more than an hour. Stand-up won't work for more than an hour. I'm going to have to devise games, banter and all sorts of stuff to keep them awake and laughing. Thing is, I can't get it out of my brain that the only thing that kept kids entertained at my school was tag, football, fighting and that time Daniel Marshall fell off his snakeboard in the middle of the playground and everyone saw. I'm not sure just how much of that I can incorporate into a TV studio without getting banned from the premises. I mean, I'll try. I've got my snakeboard packed already and I'm going to look out for the biggest kid to punch once we get started. Then beyond that, its all improvising.

Here is the big problem. Stand-up for kids does completely entertain them for up to an hour. But then, beyond that, their minds go off in all sorts of tangents and would much rather be running around the room doing their own thing. Sometimes I wonder if these shows should be performed to an audience of kids at all, or if they should just draft in very juvenile adults with high pitched voices. You know, like that one in the Krankies. Or Warwick Davies. Not that Warwick Davis is juvenile. But he's a great actor so I'm sure he could pull it off. God, imagine how scary that would be. The camera pans to the crowd who are full of cackling tiny people? Well that's my nightmares sorted for the next few years....

It should be fine though. Up until last night my mind was filled with my old Edinburgh show, which has now been discarded entirely from my mind and that portion of my brain can once again be used for things like useless facts about trifle and words such as discombobulate. Was a lovely last show too and many thanks to all those who came along. Even Rachel who managed to go to the loo just as I was about to do the crux of the entire show. It may have been the last performance but its not the last you'll see of that show. Vague? No thanks I'm trying to give up. Sorry. I mean, there's a vague hint for you, but keep your eyes peeled for things of the Littlest kind coming to an iTunes near you soonish....

Right off to go practice my fart noises and the rules of tag.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pee Argh

Today's blog is about two things. One, I'm going to be horribly self promotional. This I rarely do, but I have several things to promote and I feel that if you are avid blog readers then a) you'll realise this is an excuse that I have little to write about today and b) that you can probably endure me saying stuff live if you can read this on regular occasion. In fact I'd go so far as to say that me saying things live is often better than my blog due to clever things like intonation, performance ability and the fact that you can just leave the room and miss the show if needs be. The other bit will be me talking about how much I enjoyed watching Jackson's Way in a living room last night and then thirdly I will write about how odd it is that I made a joke about Aculpolco yesterday and today a man has been arrested for killing 22 people there. Ok, so that's three things but I only found out about the third one as I was writing that sentence. And I've sort of already said all there is to say about that so let's consider it a bonus thing and when you've got to the bottom of the page you may have forgotten all about it and be surprised by its addition. Or not.

Ok, so round one. Fight:

I've got bloomin' tons of things coming up at the moment. People are always always nagging me about when I'm performing near them etc and what I'm doing. This may well be so they can plan to be on the opposite side of the country from wherever its happening, but if not, here's some things you may want to come to:

Tonight

My show Littlest Things for the last ever time ever. Its at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden at 7.30pm for only £6.50. Yes. Cheaper than er, more expensive things. FACT. It had lovely reviews in Edinburgh and some other people said stuff that was nice about it too. So there you go. Tickets can be purchased here:

LITTLEST THINGS - ETCETERA THEATRE TONIGHT

There'll be more solo show stuff on its way in the lead up to Edinburgh, but those in the Midlands get me saying stuff at the Leicester Comedy Festival in but a month's time on February 18th. This will be a collection of new bits and no doubt stories from my gigs in the Alps that week. Unless I break my leg which I probably will. In which case it'll be sit down comedy. Arf.

TIERNAN DOUIEB SAYS STUFF - LEICESTER COMEDY FESTIVAL

For all other normal gigs I'm doing, check the gigs page on my website. I'm all over the country and abroad (Ireland, France and Denmark) between now and July so have a look. For other stuff there's:

FAT TUESDAY COMEDY CLUB - Back for another season with some lovely lovely line-ups. We are also running one of the venues at the Camden Crawl's Comedy Crawl this year with the excellent Old Rope, so have a look out for that.

LONDON COMEDY IMPROV - With Tara Flynn, Brendan Dempsey, Michael Legge, Rufus Hound, John Voce and Kirsty Newton. Always bloomin' good fun.

COMEDY CLUB 4 KIDS - This has had a bit of a facelift and this season we've got people such as Isy Suttie, Robin Ince, Howard Read and many more all coming along to perform to 6-11 year olds and families. How many times can someone say the word 'bum' to rapturous giggles? Come along to find out. Proper website for this is on its way soon.

Ok. Think that's it for now. Promise. Just thought I should throw them out there while I have your attention. It'd be nice if you could attend some of them otherwise I'd have to go back to a real job and then couldn't write the blog anymore. Or it'd all become graph charts and misery. Oh what? You've gone already. Sigh. Tomorrow will start again on more musings on yardwang or things that make the noise 'wooble'.


Both of those subjects infact were my only hurdle when watching Jackson's Way in our friend Isabelle's living room last night as one of the more peculiar venues on his 26 day tour. Its very difficult to embrace a character who's entire motivational speech is about working on the pointless things in life, when, all I ever do, is such a thing. Saying that, despite being crammed into a bay window in front of what must've been a rather intimidating group of people that all vaguely knew each other and contained several comedians, Will Adamsdale's character was amazing. One hour and 45 minutes of absolutely bonkers pointlessness delivered in what I think was the most original show I've seen in ages. Highly recommend catching one of his last 7 shows if you get a chance.

http://www.jacksons-way.com/


See, promoting someone else there as well, because I'm all about sharing. Or maybe I'm just using it as a distraction from this blog being entirely shameless promotion. Although its not, because, oh wait! Yeah so yesterday I made the shit joke on Twitter about:

Newsflash: Acapulco government desperate to find ways of dissuading tourists from turning up & going crazy as its damaging industry.


And rightfully, it was ignored. But then, but then indeed, today this happened:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12263276

Weird huh? All I'm saying is that if you don't come to my shows I'll make jokes about your area and then we'll see what happens. Word to your mamas.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Like An Elephant

There is little worse than having to relearn something you are stubbornly sure you already know. I do this far too often in life, just assuming that I could describe osmosis, square roots and other elements of early school life without ever researching how it works and often causing huge scientific disasters, fires, and massive money losses. Ok, none of those things. Generally I'll just give advice to a child and they'll get their homework wrong, causing a detention and a loss of respect for 'Uncle Tiernan'. Hmm, uncle Tiernan sounds creepy. What I'm trying to relearn now is my last Edinburgh show. Its 100% definitely definitely in my head. I repeated those words everyday for a month, I said them many times before that and rehearsed them in my own head and out aloud at least another 30 odd times. So they are totally and utterly embedded in my brain like a long need to avenge my father. My father doesn't need avenging, so that was a crap comparison. At least, I don't think he does. If he does he hasn't told me, which is good as I have a lot of other stuff to be getting on with.

So totally and utterly there. I'm not sure how many more times I could say it to reassure you that my brain is like a vault and only I have the key. Except, it appears I've lost the key. I might have eaten it or left it under a plant pot, but which one, I'm not sure. As I went through the show yesterday it had more holes in it than an Emmental cheese in a Hollyoaks script. I'd get 15 minutes in and have to go back to add something in from 7 minutes that's crucial for a callback later. How has this happened? Surely I should be able to access the depths of my brain and pull out that full hour in an instant and perform it to its fullest as though I'd be touring everyday for months, just without the bored, dead look in my eyes? The look that's saved for the audiences. Clearly not. So I'm revising. Hard. It'll be gold by tomorrow but today requires slugging through my own words which is akin to looking at photos of yourself aged 17 with curtains knowing full well that you looked like a div and trying to pretend they are fond memories. Well, that's not entirely true. I mean, I was a div at 17 and I did have curtains (on my head, and windows, fact fans), but I am still pleased with this show, its just that time away from it makes you critical and I feel Monday may have some added lines.

So cramming began yesterday which meant I spent several hours on Assassin's Creed, tidied up, cooked a curry from scratch and then watched the British Comedy Awards taking it in turn with Tom to shout or cheer for different people as they appeared. All good rehearsal then. I won't comment much on the awards as its the same result every year. I was annoyed Shappi, Sarah Millican and Isy didn't win anything, and I was very pleased for Horrible Histories and The Thick Of It. Aside from that it was merely an exercise in seeing how many offensive tweets I could write about everyone that appeared. Except Lauren Laverne as she lives down our road and I'm still working on plans to make her our friend.

The show is tomorrow by the way, should you wish to see it for its final time. I really feel like all that hard work needs a final send off before I bury it in the confines of my comedy notes graveyard (4th draw down in the chest of drawers by my desk, fact fans) and I really get going on show number 3 and 4 (yes, two of them). So if you could come and test my memory, please do. If all else fails I'll make my Warwick Davis joke from last night 15 times over. It will at least fit in with the theme 'Littlest Things'.

Tickets here: http://www.etceteratheatre.com/details.php?show_id=1000

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Riddle Me This

It's times like this that the internet is actually damaging to your wellbeing. Due to some ideal banter on Twitter I was forwarded this by @meganagitor:

ZAHADA

Up until clicking that, myself and Nat have been sitting on the sofa, in PJs, happily eating brunost on toast, using our laptops whilst watching The Two Towers. Occasionally one will warn the other that 'its the bit where the trees fight' and there'll be a momentary change of attention towards the telly. Then this link appeared and all focus has moved to wasting time we'll never get back on a series of riddles that, all in all, will never ever benefit my life ever. Nor are they particularly enjoyable, but due to my completest nature and the need to not be beaten by a machine for fear its how the Matrix will begin, means I've been scrabbling my brains over it for an hour now.

Despite being hooked, its a constant concern for me as to why anyone ever makes riddles anyway. Its just irritating. Sure back in the days when they didn't have encoding, passwords and PINSentry then ok, you probably needed to be sure you guard Thebes with some sort of security. Although if you are a giant Sphinx then I don't see why you needed people to answer a riddle incorrectly before you kill them anyway. I mean, you've got a giant cat body and a human head, just twat anyone you don't like. Because otherwise riddles are just smug. I don't care 'what has twelve eyes and speaks twice, but backwards is a dingy' or whatever. Why can't you just say 'What's your mother's maiden name?' Or 'what was the name of your first pet?' and we'll all be done with it.

Actually, saying that, and its as though a small lightbulb has popped above my head while typing this, a wonderful way for savings accounts to work would be to pose a riddle instead of a security question if you tried to withdraw money. That way you would save a lot more. If I tried to get £100 out to buy a box set of some 80's cartoon knowing full well it should go towards my eventual purchase of a car/ holiday/ mansion/ speed boat/ laser but was posed with ' On Monday its twelvty, but on Saturday its barren. Twice is its face and but Thrice is its mace, what is it?' then I'd just give up and leave it there to gain interest. Maybe, just maybe, I've solved the financial crisis.

I'm going to invent all my own riddles that have answers that don't make sense but work in my head and then sell them to the banks to give to a giant Sphinx that sits outside their stock exchange and doesn't let them fiddle with it unless they answer it correctly. If they don't, the Sphinx eats them. Er, excuse me David Cameron, step your elitist evil arse to one side, the Douieb runs tings now. Here's some examples of the kind of riddles I'd give. If you know the answers, please leave comments below:

1) Once I was a soldier, I fought on foreign lands for you, but twice I am an egg cup, three times a lady, George The Fourth Bridge, yes please. Who is my dad?

2) A man stands on his hands whilst playing in a band. Who are his band supporting on 12th July 2012?

3) No?

Good luck with squirming round those mental shitstorms. My work for the day is done. Its been found through the powers of google that parts of Zahada only work on a PC and I have a Mac because I'm all arty and cool. This also means I can pretend I would've got to level six billion where the Riddler himself does a lapdance for you because you're so clever, but as I can't I'll just watch a dwarf and and elf take bets on who can kill the most orcs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Two O'Clock Show Not Live

I have half a ton of things to say about the NHS reform, Blair's squirming his way through the Iraq war enquiry and how pleased I am that Coulson has gone on account of him being a huge twat, but I'll be honest, none of these things are particularly on my radar today. I thought I should let you know that I'm thinking about such things just incase any of you were worried that between Arctic adventures, watching films about a man cutting his own arm off and generally mocking my flatmates, that I was ignoring worldly goings on. Perhaps you feared I had let my guard down like an inflatable securicor man at the end of a shift, and had decided that after pursuing an avid interest in political and social matters for a few months had thrown all that interest away in replacement for more whimsical notions. Well, er, I have a bit. Sorry. Not because I want to you understand, but I've just been a bit crap in keeping up with it all with so many other things to do. I mean when I say I have half a ton of things to say (a to, or an on) about those things its a bit of a lie. I haven't really got a clue what's happening right now. I sometimes feel its like a soap opera you watched enough episodes of bad acting and poor plotlines to finally get a grasp of what's going on, only to go away for a week, come back and find all the characters you knew died in a fire and nothing makes sense.

So what I do sort of know is that the NHS budgets are being handed over to GPs which terrifies a diabetic like me. In the last four years my old GP tried to fob off all sorts of odd drugs to me in order to tick boxes that would mean certified bonuses from pharmaceutical companies. I would be wary of all these tablets and ask the specialists at my hospital if I should be on them, where I'd be warned against such things, only to then be berated by my GP for not taking them. It strikes me as a horror situation where everytime you're in A&E, perhaps a victim of a serious accident, you'll be packed off with a ton of blood pressure tablets and a flu jab so Doctor something or other can buy a new car this month. I know there are many others issues with the reform, such as the huge deficit the NHS is already in and how much cost a reshuffle will cost, ultimately not really gaining any money back, but I'm focusing on the selfish stuff as I don't want to be a human guinea pig. Saying that I suppose if it results in me turning into the Incredible Hulk or gaining Spidey powers from an experimental drugs test then I might be swayed.

As for the other top stories, well Blair should've been locked up for being a war criminal ages ago. Part of me thinks that if the slimy, lying twat escapes this second enquiry without serious consequences then we should all start wars with whoever we like, ignore any legal advice from ruling powers we are given and hide all documents that prove its wrong. If you can't beat them, then let's join them. My first war will be against Tony Blair. Lets all wear camouflage and get rocket launchers and sit outside his house. When he comes to the door complaining that its unfair as his children are innocents caught up in unnecessary conflict, we all shout 'hypocrite' and then fire away. Plan? Good.

As for Coulson, well I really haven't read up on the phone hacking accusations but a) he's a Tory and b) anyone that takes a cleaver to a receiver is an arse, Hey that was both the worst joke I think I've ever made and a poem. Brilliant. Today is full of wonders.

So that's kind of it. My shit summary of things. Take that C4's 10 o Clock Live Show which I didn't watch and can't judge, although if I bump into Lauren Laverne again I will say it was brilliant so that we can be friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

127 Minutes

Despite having all of the work in the world to do - yes, seriously. That much. All of it. Ever - instead of doing any of it last night, myself and Tom went on a cinema excursion. The wonders of living with someone who has the Orange Wednesday's deal suddenly came into play. Tom doesn't use this opportunity often enough normally. He'd probably tell you its due to gigging or being too busy, but in reality its because often him and Nat turn up at the cinema to use it and are told its not a Wednesday and they have to turn around and try all over again. I often wonder about how many tales of my flatmates mishaps I should relay on my blog incase it ends up in their stand-up or rather seems as though I'm being condescending about such things. Far from it. I consistently find such tales of idiocy entertaining and I would have laughed a considerable amount less this week if Tom had travelled up to Scotland for three days with more than one pair of pants. There is a lovely joy at knowing that this house is entertaining even when trying its utmost not to be.

The choice of film last night was 127 Hours. It was that or the King's Speech and whilst all I hear is about how great the latter is, I can't help but find a film about a stuttering monarch will always come second to a tale of anguish, adventure and severed limbs. If you don't know what 127 Hours is about you've probably been living on the moon for a while. If you do live on the moon, how are you getting my blog? I hope you're not stealing off the satellites or I will have to report you. Unless you are the man on the moon, in which case, you are allowed to do pretty much what you like on your giant cheese ball. Although I have checked my google stats for this blog and out of the two people that read, one if from the UK and the other is from the Ukraine oddly enough. Actually, truth be told, according to the stats I have readers in South Korea, the Netherlands, USA, Japan, Germany, Russia and Canada. If that's true then Привіт, 안녕하십니까, Goedendag, Howdy, こんにちは, Guten Tag, Здравствуйте and Hey. If you are one very avid travelling reader then I want you to know I hate you for making me trawl through a language page and spend far too much time on what was one very long and essentially pointless sentence. So anyway, you should all know, in all languages that 127 Hours is about a man who goes climbing, falls down a crevice (I love the word crevice), gets his arm trapped under a rock and has to cut his own limb off to escape after being trapped for 5 days. AND ITS ALL TRUE. A MAN ACTUALLY DID THAT. FOR REAL. I know. I know.

The film is both the most harrowing thing I've ever seen and also truly brilliant. Danny Boyle is a master of many things and has amazed me way back ever since Shallow Grave and just about everything he's done since, especially 28 Days Later. Now this, where he manages to make an hour and a half focuses on James Franco's face constantly gripping. Well done Mr B. Flippin' well done. A bit part of it is knowing full well that Aron Ralston did fall down a crevice and did have to cut his own arm off with a blunt knife and sitting agonising through the film waiting for the moment for it to happen. Its painful to watch the build up and its more painful to watch the pay off. Never in my life have I sat watching a film through my fingers like child does everytime Bruce Foresyth is on the telly. Truly horrifying. And at the end it says Aron is still a climber which makes you feel like he has learnt little to nothing of his experience. Its like if an episode of He-Man ended and instead of a moral they all just said 'well its a shame as Skeletor seems like a nice bloke really. I'm sure he won't do it again.' No. It all feels horribly wrong that anyone would go through such a terrible time and still happy do the sort of sports that lend themselves to ridiculous injuries. Myself and Tom left needing sharp drinks and happy things to watch to curb our minds from what we had seen. Worse though, far worse, is that ever since seeing it, all I can think about is what I would do in that situation.

I'd fail. That's what I'd do. I don't think I could ever cut my own arm off. Or even just get a scratch on my finger. Sure I inject all the time for diabeticals but that's different. Inflicting actual self harm seems like the most horrible thing ever. If I was stuck down a crevice, and I should point out that I never ever will be ever because I'm not a dick who would go climbing instead of just popping to the pub, then I think I'd just cry a lot, crap myself and then die. Like I said though, it won't happen. I was torn between feeling sadness for Aron Ralston and at the same time an overarching need to say 'well you're a proper bellend aren't you for a) doing stupidly dangerous things, and b) not telling anyone where you were going or taking a phone with you.' Then I'd sing 'told you so, told you so' and dance around going 'naaah naah naah naah naah naah eyyyyeyyyeyyyee naaah naah naaah' and so on and so forth. Here's the trick people: why do extreme sports when you can do other fun things where the worst that might happen is a hangover/sore eyes and thumbs from playing computer/ you really upset someone by being too gropey because you've had bourbon. Ahem. Excuse the last one. All I'm saying is yes what a feat for a man to achieve, surviving such things and being brave enough to cut himself out at the cost of an arm. But also, what a dick for finding himself in that situation anyway. Dick dick dick.

It was gripping though and I am tempted to find a way to incorporate such suspense in my performance. I'm considering doing an Edinburgh show called 127 Minutes where I balance a pebble on my wrist and punch myself till it falls off and I can escape. It can't sell any less tickets than last year's show. That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yardwang

Doing work is a total arse. Yes, that's my first sentence of today's blog. The sort of colloquialism and nothing statement a 15 year might make several years ago before they invented some new slang word for arse, probably. Its probably something like fong, or ching, or something else that sounds like it could be part of a Spike Milligan poem. They probably have a new word for work too, them kids with their vocab. I bet its something like blark or jagga or something shit like that. Yeah, take that kids, I've just destroyed your whole slang talking ethos by showing just how easy it is to make all that stuff up. I might even make my own language, leak it onto the streets using Chinese whispers and the few children I know and eventually you'll all be saying phrase like 'Doing blark is total ching.' Then who'll look stupid? Well me, again. Mostly because instead of doing the work I should be doing I'm instead inventing words no one will ever use and once again take a step forward into that dangerous adult territory where younger people look at you like you are both a) uncool and b) weird and c) should be avoided at all costs. Sigh.

Its admin work I need to do today, which is the most boring kind. Everyone assumes that comedy is this joyous life of farting about all day until you rock up to a gig do our 20 minutes then resume position on the sofa and carry on farting. Well, disbelievers, its far more than that. Aside from all the traveling of which I moan about on this blog on a regular basis, there is a tonfuck of work to do. Tonfuck is a word I've just made up. I reckon the kids will use that. Its both a swear and a measurement. Two uses for one word. I might make that the basis of my language. Sweary measurements. Something like Ounceshit. Footcock. Centimetrebellend. Hmm. This could so catch on. So yeah, admin. Loads of it. There's all the booking of gigs for yourself, if you run gigs you have to book them up too, material writing for gigs, sketches, whatever other pies you have your comedy finger in, press stuff and interviews, then you have all Edinburgh planning and taxes and there's probably more but as I'm typing this my brain is screaming. Hertzdouche.

So today, rather than sensibly doing one bit at a time, I'm attempting to do everything all at once. Ultimately this means I probably won't do anything and instead will sit here thinking of other swear measurements then running into the street to shout them at kids till they catch on. Wattdick. Admin's for losers. Decibelnob.

Some other quick things:

- Today me and Nat walked past Lauren Laverne. ON OUR ROAD! This means she must live ON OUR ROAD. Exciting times. Sarah Benetto had warned me she lived near us, but now I have proof I may have to spend some time actually finding out exactly which house and trying to be her friend. I bet she'd like me as a friend. We could totally hang out. I've heard the radio before. Essentially we have everything in common.

- I finished all the Scott Pilgrim books last night as kindly bought for me by my friends Mat, Sam and Stefen. I had previously argued the merits of the film against Sam saying how the books were much better. I now fully bow to his opinion. They are amazing.

- Please come to this. Its the last time I'll ever do this show. Several people have said they liked it. One said it was shit and that them and their friends who left 6 minutes in were far funnier. But most didn't. Anyway. Its your last chance to see this for yourself so come along if you're London or near London based. Etcetera Theatre in Camden, 7.30pm Monday January 24th. Ta:

LITTLEST THINGS - MONDAY 24TH JANUARY


- Tomorrow, unless something amazing happens, due to demand I will do an entire blog of Tiernan Talks Back. What this needs however is questions from you, or things you would like me to write about. So please leave comments, questions or just general offensive statements or your own measurement swears and I will respond accordingly tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back To Reality

Only 18 hours ago I was staring at fjords and mountains, with a night sky filled with stars and the constellations in a cold, quiet air where only the snow crunching footsteps of a few chilly adventurers could be heard. Now I'm back in my flat where the heating has been on solid for two days so everything's steamy, there is no food in the fridge at all and my W7 bus ride involved overhearing a girl talk for ages about how she 'wore some make-up in year 7, and a bit more in year 8 yeah, but now I wear loads cos you gotta dress like you're always goin' out for the boys to fink you're tick innit?' Sigh. I hate the returning from holiday bit. I stepped off the plane and was handed a free Daily Mail as though the world knew I was feeling all relaxed and chilled from my trip and needed a well timed injection of bigoted hate. I raced my damaged suitcase with its 1 and a half wheels to the train back to Tottenham Hale and ran directly into a crowd of rush hour zombies, all of whom were so engorged in their need to mindless trek to a job they hated that they seemingly ignored the heavy bag I was carrying and barged me every which way but loose. Er, that doesn't make sense, but I'm very tired and I remembered that being a phrase. I've been up since 3am. I think I'm allowed.

Don't get me wrong, I've been looking forward to returning to the flat and in excitement texted Nat and Tom a countdown of minutes to my imminent return, aiming to burst through the door with a sitcom like shout of 'Funnies! I'm home'. I think that's hilarious and could easily be followed by some canned laughter and an awkward story about the One With The Bin Bag or something equally as dull. However Tom is currently in Scotland and Nat's phone doesn't work, so instead I burst through the door to find Nat getting dressed in the living room with a look of startled confusion. Not quite the plan. However its nice to back in our lovely home. What's not so nice is that within minutes of sitting down and putting my laptop on, work has already begun again with bookings to be booked, writing to be written and phonecalls and texts and emails and tweets and facebooks and on and on and on and on and all I'd really like to do is sleep and wake up back in a fjord. Well, not in it. That'd be freezing. And wet. By it. Definitely by it. I'm also stone cold broke due to stupid Norsk costs, we haven't even got any bread in and I'm currently chewing on the Toblerone I bought in the airport. Yeah I totally bought one with my leftover Norwegian Dollars. I've never done that whole 'buying a giant Toblerone thing' before and as I wielded it around like a lightsaber for sugar addicts, I wondered how on earth you can get nail scissors confiscated as security yet I could buy two of these and clobber someone to death baton-style with ease.

I'm catching up on news about floods, street massacres and the UK government handing the NHS over to people who are swayed more by pharmaceutical companies than actual welfare and ultimately, as a result, I'm already wondering how to plan another holiday. I had such an amazing time in Norway that I very much want to go back, possibly on the Whale tour trip of the Northern towns. The Norwegians are pretty awesome people. They do very little wrong. I mean, they have free wi-fi everywhere, they eat brown cheese, they smile and talk to you and lots of them are pretty. Also after a trip to Tromso museum yesterday afternoon I saw just how environmentally friendly they are as a nation, just how important science and evolution is to them and how dedicated they are to bringing their children up well. I mean really, how can you fault them? Oh wait. Everything's stupidly expensive and they like whaling. Ok expensive you can get buy. I mean, they have a good economy because they still cleverly have things to export unlike our wonderful society that managed to sell only money that didn't exist. Yeah well done. Why not make huge shipments of unicorn meat next dickheads? Norway on the other hand has oil, gas, wood and fish among others. So, not really bad for them that the economy is all going well.

But whaling? Whaling? Its odd that a country's vice seems so at odds with its other principles. They had a series of touch screen videos in the museum that you could play with. Often they would include humorous sketches such as a women reading the 100,000 year weather forecast explaining Norway's landmass or a fashion commentary on weapons through the ages. It worked. Then others were opinion polls. One for example said 'Do you believe man is responsible for global warming?' and there was a button for English/Abroad and one for Norsk. With that one and most of the others the Norwegian response was always on the ball. However, with the question about whether whaling should be stopped, abroad said 80% yes and Norway said 75% no. They are adamantly keen on saving the polar bears, the seals, many arctic birds, foxes and other species. Yet those big hulking masses of blubber can happily be harpooned for the sake of some chewing gum. Horrible times. I love whales and it makes me really sad. I guess maybe that's why they are so good at everything else. And they had the vikings with all that raping and pillaging so I suppose brown cheese and the nicest smiles go some way to try and make up for that.

I like to think that by liking beer I can probably be a bit shitty with some people and not have to amp the niceness up to mega as I like to kick puppies in my spare time or something. That's my views. Anyway, overall, Norway really rocks, and I will be back to see all the things I couldn't this time such as the Northern Lights, moose, bears and whales. Happy whales. Till then, holiday's clearly over. I'm going to begrudgingly get on with work and see if there's anyway some of the brown cheese I smuggled back will go with Toblerone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tromso Long

Its my last day in Tromso today which is both sad and yet about right timing wise. I'm starting to very much miss the sunlight. It turns out I quite like sunlight and a distinct absence of it, whilst fun for a while - you can pretend you're a vampire or you live underground or in that shit film with Vin Diesel in it - is just a bit miserable after a while. I have no idea how people cope here for 6 whole months. I suppose its because no matter how dark it gets, it does look very nice. I mean, there's places that look horrible in the dark, like Hackney, and then there's places that look like this:



Not bad huh? Yeah take that Hackney. When you get a fjord then you can make a stand about such things. I really like fjords. I like saying the word and they rock. I mean, honestly, I'm yet to understand what makes them different from a lake or a sea or any of those other things, but they are definitely great. That picture there was taken from up a mountain. I like mountains too. I can understand why in Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy, Slartibaartfast is very proud of Norway. Full of fjords and mountains. The mountain I took that picture from was especially good as once up there I got to eat these waffles:



Which I got for free because the very cute waitress was amazed I was a foreigner that liked brown cheese. Hooray! For once my gluttonous sweet tooth wins. And then double win as I ate them up a mountain. Eating waffles up a mountain will probably be the title of my autobiography should I ever write one. It will be followed by inevitable sequels such as 'Having Chips In A Swamp' and 'Downing A Pint In A Lagoon'. I'm all for eating and drinking nice things in extreme situations. Somehow I feel this is a sport that has been overlooked for far too long and after yesterday I'm very pleased to say I will happily take up such a challenge. As well as waffles I took a shedload of pics with the camera which I think I'm getting better at. I can't understand why face recognition thought the top of another mountain was a face. Or why it though a telegraph pole was a face. It did the same for the moon, which I think is to do with it having romantic notions of the man up there, so that's ok. I'm starting to wonder however if its just a bit of a nuts piece of equipment with its daydreaming ideals and anthropomorphising everything. Then again, I'm talking about it as though its a tiny metal rascal. Its highly likely all manhandling of such images is entirely my useless fault. There are at least three settings that could work for any one picture up here. Snow, Night Sky or Starry Sky and yet none seem to be able to take a sunset. All I want is a setting that says 'great picture'. Is that so hard? When will they make a camera for idiots? Anyway, here's some of my handy work:







Essentially I'm just very lucky that everywhere looks so nice that its hard to screw up. Very photogenic is Tromso. Doesn't even have to open its eyes or smile. Amazing work.

Right I have to check out in 10 mins before stomping my way to the museums for today's expedition, so quick run down of other excellent things from yesterday:

- I met a man called Rob. He was from Wales and worked in a charity saving whales. Brilliant. Sadly he wasn't wailing which would have gained him maximum points. Though at the same time I probably wouldn't have spoken to him as he'd have seemed weird. He was a top chap though and spends his year flying round the world making people stop whaling, which is brilliant. I'd very much like to do such things though I can only imagine I'd be crap at it.

Me: 'Please stop whaling. Its really not nice. Whales are great, even if they look sad all the time and make that noise like they are in distress.'
Whalers: 'No.'
Me: 'Shit.'

So well done Rob. It must be a pretty tough job. He also saves dolphins. I imagine this is easier as they do that thing like Flipper does where they tell you when stuff is wrong through a series of squeak noises.

Bugger out of time. Other points of note before I get fined were that I've seen the Arctic Cathedral, at least 7 people that look like Santa Claus, about 15 that look like Scarlett Johansson, several billions that look like Thor, two that look like Orlando Bloom and 4 that look like those little trolls figurines.

I'll write my Norway case study for you all tomorrow. Ta ra Tromso, its been much fun. Apart from the darkness and that icy wind that made me stay in last night. Tak.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

No-Then Lights

I'm officially in love with this part of the world. I don't think I've ever gawped so much as on the coach to our Northern Lights expedition last night, staring out the windows as we passed snow covered mountain, fjord and forest. Its the sort of scenery I've only ever seen in films before. Admittedly those films were Alive, Insomnia and 30 Days of Night, all of which are about terrifying deaths in one way or another. I did then start thinking about how in the dark you could be killed and buried in the snow for days and no one would find your body till the Spring. Then I saw a 'moose crossing' sign on the side of the road and forgot all about it. I had made the mistake of talking to the first person I saw waiting for the trip, and rather than choose the attractive girls standing the other side of me, that had walked by me twice already that day in town and acknowledged such things with a smiling nod, I instead started to speak to a German lady who had the ability to kill all banter with a few sentences. An engineer for dairy plant cleaning fluids I chose to stem all banter, or lack of, by just observing the scenery and remembering that I am on holiday and therefore don't actually have to talk to anyone for once.

As we got nearer to Lyngsfjord the temperature reader on the coach went from -7 degrees to -23 degrees and I couldn't help but feel excited. I've never been that cold before. I'm sure that's not something I should have been looking forward to. It wouldn't work in the opposite direction. I've been in 42 degree heat before and if someone offered me the opportunity to be in 72 degree heat and fry my face off, I'd be wary. I'd still probably say yes because I am nothing but an adventurer. Minus 23! That's insane cold. As we stepped off the bus my beard began to freeze and we raced indoors to be fitted with giant thermal suits that were to be put on top all other clothes restricting movement to a shuffle akin to Frankenstein's monster, and huge boots with extra woolen socks to go over your own. It was all necessary. The twix in my bag had become an instant ice lolly and my camera battery had died almost instantly of cold, ruining all possibilities of good pics of the event. I had, all in all, 6 layers on and was tempted to go round asking people to punch me to see if I could feel a thing. I didn't know these people though and chances were the German lady would somehow make it too boring to see through.



All dressed up in uniform there was an odd feeling between everyone that we had bonded. We would be seeking out the Northern Lights together, all looking like shiny jelly babies, and as small talk and banter was thrown between our international crowd, Roy stepped up. Roy the tour guide. Roy the survival expert. Roy with his odd glasses, stupid hat and Norwegian enthusiasm. He found out everyone's name and then lead us out into the snow with tales of how the last week has brought the brightest Northern Lights he has ever seen and that we should be in luck. We trudged along a well worn path, every step outside it causing you to sink knee deep into the glistening snow. I'm not just stabbing my hand at travel writing here, it actually was glistening. I'm not sure if it was planning a big night out, but there was seemingly more sparkly glitter in the cold dust than at nightclub run by pixies. We dodged dog sleds and snow bikes that needed to go past, and Roy would stop every few paces to check whether or not we had frozen yet and to give us details about the wildlife - wolverines and lynx - or make us chew on a bit of pine tree that he swore was edible. I'll tell you now that next Christmas I shan't be discarding dinner to have a munch on the decorations instead. He asked at one point who liked gin and there was a joyous 'yes' from most of the group, praying that there would be a small token of booze to carry our journey on, but instead we got to eat some juniper, which gin comes from, its bristly pines not going down the same way as a decent G&T.

Then we stood under the starry sky, with the bright half moon and waited. And waited. And nothing. Nothing at all. Clouds hovered over and soon it was too cloudy for anything to appear. We walked in file back to the Saami tent with a sense of disappointment. No matter how amazing the mountains and landscape, we had all taken this trip to see one thing, and it didn't happen. We sat around the fire and were handed bowls of non-descript soup. I, as a veggie, got some cauliflower concoction that seemed ok but I was pleased I couldn't see it too well in the dark. Roy came round and showed us his pictures of the lights from a week before. He meant well, but his amazing photos and constant reminders that he saw them all the time just felt a bit like he was rubbing it in. Full of food and a feeling of being let down by inexplainable solar activity we got back to the main camp, discarded our heavy suits and spent the next two hours on the coach staring at the mountains hoping for a glimpse of Lights before we got to bed.

No such luck and instead I stayed out drinking till 3am with Chris and Vic (Vik?), a lovely couple from London that I met on the trip and had no such chat about dairy plant cleaner. This was their third holiday to try and see the Lights having been to Sweden and Iceland before with no luck. They had started to believe it was all a scam, begun by Joanna Lumley to scam tourists of cash. We had decided that to cheer us all up meant we must hit other ventures instead and resigned ourselves to the fact that yes it would cost £20 for a round of three beers, but beers were really needed. Walking past bar after bar of girls in high heels and miniskirts despite arctic temperatures (it happens all over the world apparently), playing the sort of music that sounds like a heart monitor in an earthquake, we discovered the only 'quiet' bar in the area and huddled in the corner amongst other old people and had a really nice night.

One last chance to see the Lights again tonight, though Auroral forecast is low and there's clouds again in the sky, so it doesn't seem likely. If not, well, I'll just have to come back. Till then I'm going up a mountain to eat waffles. You heard me.

Sorry if today's entry was more travel journal than comical entry, but Mack's beer is more potent than I thought.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tromso Pretty

Tromso is a bit lovely. Aside from the fact that its almost always constantly dark which makes me have to fight the urge to stay in bed and the fact that its abominably cold which makes me have to fight the urge to stay in bed, its a beautiful place. On my first night here in this party capital of Norway, guess what this madman did? Guess what this crazy, all about town, hounddog of a guy did? That's right, I had an early night. Er...yep. In a place where the Northern Lights mostly appear between 10pm and 2am and the bars stay open till everyone leaves, I was all tucked up in my lovely warm duvet by 11pm. Wuss o'clock. But I'm proud. No, I really am. Much snoozing was needed after a mammoth day of flying, getting trains, dragging round a suitcase which has had half of its left wheel somehow shaved off meaning its not disimilar to how I imagine Obelix felt dragging round his, er, obelisks, and seeing a lot of Oslo in two hours. With Jonathan very kindly being my 'drive-by' tour guide, in a very short space of time I'd walked round the Vigeland sculpture park which included such David Icke like tributes as this:



You can't see it properly, but its a lizard sexually harassing a naked woman. No, I have no idea why either. Wikipedia doesn't seem to know why either. Essentially, its just creepy. As were most of the other statues that are apparently a tribute to the 'human condition'. Yes, ok, but that doesn't explain why:



This one is riding in a stag's antlers. Or why:



This one is playing keepy uppy with babies. Or why:



These two are doing moves to a Steps dance. There are many more odd ones too. I can only assume that when Gustav Vigeland created the park, he based it on his 'human condition' which was clearly bonkers, and not that of others.



Here's my impression of the Sinnataggen or “Angry Boy”.



And here's Jonathan's impression of the, er, not so angry boy.

The whole place looked amazing in the show and we raced from their to the palace where they have real soldier guards and everything, then the National Theatre with its statue of Ibsen and finally to the train where I could embark to my flight further North. And now, well now I'm not sure what to do with my day. Last night I had a walk round in the dark and cold. I checked out the harbour and I very briefly popped my head into the 'Northernmost brewery' but it was full of old people doing karaoke and a huge stuff polar bear. I lasted two minutes and ran away. The polar bear was fine, but those warbling tones were terrifying. So now I'm just waiting to see if some Arctic Guide has space for me on his Northern Lights expedition tonight or if I have to do a cheaper but less guaranteed sightseeing trip. All I really want to do here is see the lights. There's a high chance I won't. There are a few selfish clouds in the sky and Geophysical Institure Aurora Forecast page says chances are only moderate (yes, really. See here: http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Default.asp?Date=20110115), but if I don't try at least then I'll feel like a chump. Of course if I spend ludicrous amounts of money trying, and then don't, I'll feel like more of a chump. But still probably less of a chump than one that goes to bed early. Either way, tonight I will go seek out the bars. And end out warbling old people and stuffed polar bears. Go team! Though it is very dark and cold and that bed does look lovely.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Norway Norway, Mnnmnmnah

Firstly, sorry about the title of today's blog. Its been in my head for days and I needed to inflict it on someone else. Secondly, yeah, I'm totally in Oslo and shizzle, where the streets are paved with er...well...pavements. But on top of the pavement is shedloads of snow! Ok pedants, actually I'm not in Oslo, I'm currently in Asker. Asker what? Asker anything you like. BOOM! But I was in Oslo last night and I'll be back in Oslo again today, so there. Have that in your pipe and smoke it. No! Wait! Don't smoke Oslo! It seems nice! Despite its lack of obvious directions, its incredibly difficult train ticket machines that meant I bought a return instead of a single, and the constant warnings of pickpockets, its awesome. For a start there's snow everywhere and yet everything runs fine. I know! I know! Last night my plane landed on a snow covered runway. Totally. And it was a Ryanair flight at that. And there were only 7 people on it which meant I spent the whole journey mumbling out loud 'its mah private jet mo fo's' and got me several odd stares from the cabin crew. It was hard enough stifling giggles when they were doing the safety bit to each other as no one else was paying attention. Nice flight though. And due to boredom I rewrote some of Ryanair's safety card:



Shooting your eye lasers will cause a fire



Once you've caused the fire, sneak out as quickly as possible. Everyone will be too distracted to notice.



Then throw custard all over the doorway



Then dress like a dog



Then when you get shot in the kidney, put your lipstick on.

Yeah so I'm totally in Asker, staying with my friend Jonathan who greeted me yesterday with Norwegian food and drink goods such as brunost, which is brown cheese made from the whey that everyone else throws away. It tastes of butter and caramel and I've become horribly addicted. I think it only exists in Scandinavia because its probably too dangerous to have anywhere else. There is some infront of me right now and I'm doing all I can to avoid chomping into it with a spoon. Why would this be hidden from us Brits? Why do we not deserve the golden brown cheese? I have decided this is actually what the Stranglers were singing about. I endeavor to smuggle a load back and get some contacts to become a high class brunost dealer for the UK. There was also Gilde Aquavite which tastes like booze mixed with booze and whilst enjoyable becomes easier and easier to drink and then in the morning your throat has seized up and your head hurts. Its like some sort of Scandinavian magic. Jonathan also told me about odd Icelandic customs such as shark meat that's been buried and peed on and Dung Smoked Salmon which he tried despite it smelling of shit. Nothing in my mind can possibly work out why you would do such a thing, but being a polite guest I only questioned it for a whole five minutes. Bonkers.

So today is for actually seeing whatever we can see in Oslo, snow restricting. I mean, everything's still running, but I'm cold and its not great to stand outside for ages. No one here does it. I saw one man in a thin tracksuit top and jeans and little else, but I suspect he's from Newcastle, not here. Still thermals are on, as is big wooly jumper, hat and gloves and I'm gonna just eat some more brunost to get some energy up. And then maybe some more after that. And then some more. Mmmmm brunost. Then tonight, Tromso! Where they'd better have brunost or I'm coming back to Oslo.



Jonathan's garden. Better snowy pictures tomorrow. Couldn't work out how to take good ones in the dark yesterday. I'm an idiot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Picture of Foolishness

And so my mini-Dublin trip comes to an end as tonight I fly to Oslo for part deux of Tiernan's impulsive holiday adventure. Today shall transcend my journey from its lovely chilled hanging with Keith and Ginny into snow storm Bear Grylls type adventure as I have to kill polar bears with my bear hands (these are the hands I use just for killing bears with) and surf on whales and high five a yeti. Well you know, after I stay with my friend Jonathan in Oslo for a night and er, ahem, check out of my hotel in Tromso. If there's time between all that and flying home. Survival! Of the shittest. You're just lucky this time polar bears. Just bloomin' lucky. That's all.

What I've learnt in my short time in Dublin, aside from a ton of interesting Irish politics and history, is that I am crap with a camera. My parents bought me a swanky (yes I used that word, don't judge me) new digital camera for my birthday, and so far in Ireland I've used it twice. That's it. Twice. Once was for this:



That's Keith playing Mario Kart on the SNES at the Game On exhibition. He looks that gormless as he can't believe I've kicked his arse quite so hard on the first go. There were a few other photos of this but due to me moving before the shutter had closed or brightness of the games screen they all look like a series of pictures used for some sort of subliminal hypnosis. That is, if you wanted to hypnotise someone into thinking they were a shit photographer. The other picture was this:



Which is an ancient Irish deer or elk or moose (I didn't really pay attention) in Trinity College. Whatever it is, it looked awesome and I'd like one in our flat back home. You could use the antlers as a hat stand. Bonus. I did want to take other pictures. Particularly of The Long Room, which is the old library at the university. It's more Hogwarts than anything I've seen or read about in Harry Potter and its vast hall contains incredible looking books of yore. I'm sure if I was actually allowed to read them they'd contain dull reference indexes and such, but in my head they are all full of spells apart from one which causes the shelves to revolve and reveal a secret passage where they keep goblins and treasure. I did try to have a closer look at things but there was a scary looking female security guard keeping her eye on my and Ginny. This may have been to do with my exclaiming slightly too loud that some of the pictures of Catholics being tortured in 1641 were 'awesome'. I did of course mean the artwork. Of course. Oh and finding out that when St Lawrence was being grilled alive he said ' this side's done, turn me over and have a bite.' Legendary. Take that John McClane, St Lawrence was a proper hard ass. Or crispy ass I suppose.

Apparently the Dean of Trinity College is allowed to hang one Catholic per annum from the Campanile on the campus and yet hasn't for years. I'm amazed that these laws are kept up on principal. Nothing against Catholics of course, but if you're totally allowed to do that, there could be a vote and they could get rid of some real arseholes. Same with the law in Chester that you can shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow within the city walls after midnight. Let's all get together and kill Duffy. Ok, ok welshman. We'll paint a 'tache on her first. All I'm saying is that they're all there for a reason, we shouldn't let it go to waste.

So back to the point, I've always relied on other people's photos or my memory to capture things, eventually warping them into how I'd like to remember them and sullying any real recollection of events. I hate people that sit through music gigs taking pictures or seeing amazing views through a lens instead of actually just seeing them. Until I get home that is, they show me all the awesome pictures and I'm hugely unable to remember most of the occasion because beer has taken my brain away. Consequently lots of things are lost and people with cameras win. So I'm gonna get my snapshots on in Norway. Prepare for lots of half arsed pictures of my feet in snow, my pocket and my glove covered thumb.