Sunday, 23 August 2015

Stairway to heaven

When I was little, one of my grandmothers lived in a bungalow, and the other lived in a house, with a staircase. And one day, I remember one of my parents - I don't remember which - casually saying that this was sensible on the part of bungalow-Gran, as it meant she would be able to carry on living there even when she was very old. (It must, by the way, be one of the strange hazards of being a parent that, while the vast majority of everything you say to your kids, especially concerning teeth-brushing and room-tidying, is instantly forgotten; every so often you'll say something utterly unremarkable which your kid will NEVER FORGET.)

In this case, I think the reason it made such a big hit with me was it was the first time it had ever occurred to me that old people could get even older. I knew about death, of course, and I knew, without really believing it, that I would be a grown up one day, and my parents would get old. But this idea that either of my grans were not yet as old as they were ever going to be - as old, indeed, as it was possible to get - was completely new.

And I remember having two distinct reactions to the stairs thing: on the one hand, following my parent's lead, I too solemnly commended bungalow-Gran's foresight and good sense. But, at the same time, I secretly rather admired stairs-Gran's daredevil recklessness - her apparent refusal, not that I would have put it this way at the time, to go gentle into that good night...

Stairs-Gran would at the time, I think, have been about 65.

Monday, 17 August 2015

John Finnemore's Souvenir Cabin

Hello! I am very excited to announce that this autumn I will be doing a live stage show for two weeks only at the Shaw Theatre in London. Here's the poster, and tickets are on sale here.

The show will be a mixture of favourite sketches from John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme; brand new sketches; a 'Since You Ask Me' adventure; quite possibly a song or two… and a specially written new monologue by Mr. Arthur Shappey, making his first live stage appearance. He's very excited. Well, obviously he always is, but I mean specifically about this.

Each show will feature one of five guest stars, as shown in the poster: the four cast members of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, plus Kevin Baker, the 'Kevin' out of John and Kevin's Sunday Papers. The selection of sketches will be slightly different for each performer… and on the two Sundays, Kevin and I will do a live 'Sunday Papers'.

Here's who's on when:

30th September, 1st and 2nd October: Simon Kane.
3rd October: Margaret Cabourn-Smith
4th October: Kevin Baker
6th October: Margaret Cabourn-Smith
7th and 8th October: Lawry Lewin
9th and 10th October: Carrie Quinlan
11th October: Kevin Baker.


Tickets, as I say, can be bought here. 

The show has a Facebook page (which is more than I do.) It's a good place to ask any questions not answered here.

It also has a Twitter account. Why not.

The show begins at 7.30, and will be about two hours long, including an interval.

It is suitable for children. We've put over twelve as a guide, but this will not be rigidly enforced. If you have a well-behaved ten year old, bring them along. Come to that, I suppose, if you have a badly behaved fourteen year old, keep them away.

The Shaw Theatre is on Euston Road, next to the British Library, midway between Euston and King's Cross St Pancras stations.

…And I think that's it. Any questions, ask in the comment section, or on the Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

Monday, 10 August 2015

With Great Pleasure

Since I'm back on this blog, I really ought to mention 'With Great Pleasure', a Radio 4 show I presented last week, and will therefore be available to listen to online here for the next three weeks.

In it, some idiot gets to pick eight pieces of writing they enjoy, and, crucially, two actors to read them out - which meant that I got to stage a partial Cabin Pressure reunion with the wonderful Stephanie Cole and Geoffrey Whitehead. For anyone needing further evidence of their genius: firstly, what's the matter with you? and secondly, I direct you particularly to the way Stephanie says 'accompany me on the harp', and Geoffrey says 'beautiful, beautiful flamingo.'

I hope it's half as much fun to listen to as it was to record.

Click to make readable

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Super De Luxe even includes a bed.

- 'Now, we offer a range of caravans, Sir, what sort of thing did you have in mind?'
- 'I don't know… what have you got?'
- 'Well… for the economy minded customer, we offer the Compact. Value for money, but perhaps a little cramped. Then of course there's our Standard model, which offers rather more space and comfort, whilst still being very competitively priced. And then, of course, for the caravan connoisseur... there is the De Luxe.'
- 'The De Luxe? That sounds good.'
- 'Oh, it is, sir. The last word in luxury. Assuming of course that money is no object.'
- 'Well, I wouldn't say that, but… we're only likely to buy a caravan once… What the hell! We'll take the De Luxe!'
-  'An excellent decision, sir! One never regrets buying the best! Mr Stephenson? Pray prepare for the gentleman… our caravan De Luxe!'

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

One kitchen, two fools, six legs.

…Hello. Remember me? Sorry about the tumbleweed, I've been busy writing things. I still am, but I'm going to try to get back into the habit of putting things up here as well.

Recently, I was for a few days looking after my friends' dog, captured here in a typical moment of meditative thoughtfulness:

One of the solemn duties of whoever is lucky enough to be custodian of this large brown idiot is to give him a pill in the morning. He won't eat the pill on its own, so I found the easiest way to get him to take it was to use a dab of butter to stick it to a dog biscuit, and toss him that. I was constructing this cunning pill / biscuit Trojan Horse the other morning, with the dog watching me attentively, when I accidentally dropped the pill. As it rolled off the kitchen counter to the waiting dog below, I called out, instinctively… 'Leave it!'

Yeah, quick thinking, genius. Because it would be terrible if the dog ate the pill before you put it on the biscuit that makes him eat the pill...