Wednesday 14 November 2012

Cabin Pressure IV - prepare for boarding.

Arthur Shappey. A serious man, with a serious announcement, and a serious face.

Bing bong. I have Cabin Pressure news. Yes, actual news! Not just news about when we hope to know when we might get news, but the news itself. All of it.  Are you ready? Ok. Here is the news. 

*Shuffles papers. Looks serious.*

The new series of Cabin Pressure will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 for six weeks starting Wednesday the 9th of January, 2013.  The cast is unchanged.

There will be three recordings. They will all be at the RADA studios in London, at 1:30 pm, on the following dates: Sunday the 2nd of December; Sunday the 16th December and Sunday the 6th of January.

You will be able to apply for free tickets to the recordings on this site, probably in two or three days time. (A tip - if past experience is anything to go by, there will be quite a short window between applications being opened and closed, so if you're keen, keep an eye on the site.) Applications will then be entered into a draw, and successful applicants will be emailed and sent their tickets.

I've been really touched by, and grateful for, all the excitement and interest people have shown about the show, here and at the try-outs, and I wish there was more I could do to help you get tickets. Unfortunately, there just isn't - partly because the BBC Ticket Unit control the draw, not me or Pozzitive, and partly because if I started, where would I stop? So all I can do is wish you the very best of luck, and hope to see you there!

Oh, one other thing - the ticket unit tend to issue more tickets than there are seats, because often people with free tickets don't turn up. Last series, this lead to a lot of people with tickets being turned away at the door, which I absolutely hate. I've asked them very nicely not to over-cater by much this time round, and I hope they listen. But even so, do bear in mind getting a ticket doesn't guarantee entry. If it was me, for instance, I would think twice before travelling a long way to see it. 

Anyway, this has got very gloomy. The main thing is, we've got recording dates, we've got transmission dates, and there will be more Cabin Pressure in two months time! 

Now all I have to do is finish writing it. 

I knew there was something. 

Thursday 8 November 2012

Bringing up the averages.

This tombstone I saw recently in an Oxfordshire graveyard tells a sad story. 

If you can't read it, it commemorates the three children of Jabez and Bithiah Hayes, who all died in infancy between 1859 and 1864, two within a fortnight of each another. 

However, if, as you walk on, reflecting gloomily on the frailty of the poor little Hayes kids, you happen to glance back at the stone, the inscription on the other side may cheer you up a little:

Nice going, Bithiah Jr! Way to keep the engraver waiting. I hope you always made a big deal of Mothering Sunday.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

The hairline of Captain Martin Crieff - an official statement.

Ok, ok, firstly: everyone keep calm. Take deep breaths. It's all going to be okay. We got through Doodle-gate, we can get through this. 

So, I've been getting some emails...

Male pattern baldness. Which does not necessarily = unattractive, may I just point out.

Right. My rule has always been: if something is mentioned in a broadcast episode of Cabin Pressure, then it's a fact (well, actually, a fiction, but you know what I mean), like it or not. For instance, Martin is short. I know a lot of people wish he wasn't, but he is; it's been mentioned several times in various episodes, and no amount of pointing out that the actor who plays him happens to be tall is going to change that. Sorry. 

However, anything NOT mentioned in a broadcast episode - anything in a script that then gets cut, or a recording that then gets edited, or, I don't know, mentioned as a personal theory in an informal Q and A in a pub, is up for grabs. For instance, how many children does Douglas have? I have my theory, others may have theirs - until I put my version into a script, they're equally valid. 

You may be able to see where I'm going with this. 

As far as I remember, Martin's hair has never been mentioned on air. Carolyn is described as white-haired, Douglas may or may not be 'tinting'; but the locks of the supreme commander remain a mystery.  Is he ginger? Is he perhaps thinning a little on top? Does he have a massive afro? Nobody knows. Until someone talks about it in an episode, it's a mystery: an uncollapsed waveform, simultaneously luxuriant and ginger; brown and sparse; and for that matter pink and dreadlocked. Schroedinger's hairline.  

Schroedinger's hairline. A matter of historic record.

Now, personally.... as I believe I may have casually mentioned last night... when I picture Martin, I imagine him with a 'sun-roof' style bald spot on the crown of his head, which he's rather sensitive about. But until and unless I choose to mention that in a broadcast episode, that's just my theory- no more or less valid than anyone else's. 

I have no current plans to mention it in an episode. 


What horrors - or glories - lie beneath this cap? Nobody knows. 

Saturday 20 October 2012

And definitely don't look at the armband on his wing...

Hey kids! Who wants a ride on this jolly cartoon aeroplane? That's right, everybody does! Look how  silly and friendly he is!

Here he is again! What a merry little fellow! Look at his big smile!  Oh, and what's that on your side, Mister Aeroplane? It almost looks like an...

...Oh. Yes. An Iron Cross. That's... nice. And I notice you're not a biplane, so presumably you earned that in the, um, in the second world... 

Hey kids! Let's go and ride on the funny caterpillar!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Cabin Pressure Update

Sorry it's been quiet around here - hopefully you'll be pleased to hear it's because I've been busy trying to come up with things for these guys to do:

Speaking of which - some news! Though we still haven't got the dates totally nailed down, it's looking increasingly likely we'll be recording series 4 before the end of the year. There will be three recordings, and as usual, tickets will be free, but given out by lottery to people who apply for them from the BBC ticketing website. They are not up there yet - I will put a link here as soon as they are.

In the meantime, however, something else Cabin Pressure related will be happening in October and November. I want to be quite discreet about putting details online, so if you would like to know more, please go here. But if I say that it may be of particular interest to people who came to any of the Priory Engagements over the summer, that may give you a clue. Whatever it is, it does not involve any of the cast (except me.)

Monday 24 September 2012


I've just seen a wizard in Starbucks.

I assumed the book he was reading, Transcendental Magic by Eliphas Levi, was either a history of magic or possibly a novel. But no, it turns out it's a book written in 1855 about transcendental magic, and how to do it.

At one point, it made him laugh.

Sunday 9 September 2012


I went back to my university at the weekend, and while I was there, I thought I'd have a quick look to see who now lives in my old room. 

It's not great news, guys... 

Saturday 25 August 2012

New Priory Engagement date, and a thing I made.


For one night only, the cast of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme and I are back in the Priory. Not the rehab centre, the pub. So, in a way, the opposite of the rehab centre. It's the very last try-out of new sketches for the new series, and it's on Monday 10th September, at 8pm. To reserve tickets, go here.

Meanwhile, here is a little thing I made. Hope you like it.

PS Do check out the comments on the last post for a fascinating essay on Alan the Red, and warlike Alans in general. He was quite a guy, it turns out. 

Thursday 23 August 2012

Alan Rufus was also known as 'Alan the Red'. Good name.

This is Richmond, California.

It was named in 1854 by Edmund Randolph; after his home city of Richmond, Virginia.

This is Richmond, Virginia.

It was named in 1737 by William Mayo, because it reminded him of his home town of Richmond, in Surrey. I find it a little hard to see it myself, but they've both probably changed a bit since then. 

This is Richmond, Surrey. 

You may recognise it from having had people cycle past it very fast a couple of weeks ago. It was named in 1501 by Henry VII, after the town of Richmond, in Yorkshire, of which he was Earl. 

This is Richmond, Yorkshire.

It was named in 1071 by Alan Rufus, after the village of Richemont in Normandy. 

This is Richemont, Normandy

It was named once upon a time by someone history has forgotten, either because it was on a fertile hill; or - and this is the one I hope-  because it was on a mound which belonged to Richard. If the latter, it seems to me this forgotten medieval Frenchman must be one of the most commemorated people in history, given that he's the origin of the first syllable of not only all the above places, but also the fifty or so other Richmonds in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica. 

What can we conclude?

-That the people who get to name settlements aren't as imaginative as we might like. 
-That as they get older and more influential, men get soppy about the place they come from. (Or are Earl of.)
-That Richard's mound casts a long shadow.
-That I am no longer allowed to check things on Wikipedia when I'm supposed to be writing. 

P.S. There is an Edinburgh Festival special episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme now up on iPlayer. Hope you like it! The new series begins next month. Also, there is an excellent new radio show, also on iPlayer, called Before They Were Famous, in which the very funny Ian Leslie imagines the early careers of various writers; and also kindly allows me to do some of their silly voices. Watch out, professors of linguistics, for my subtle differentiation of the Czech Kafka from the Russian Dostoyevsky. Gulp. I normally do links, but I have already spent far too much time searching for photos of obscure French villages. They're on iPlayer, basically. Google it. 

Thursday 2 August 2012

Beware the deadly guys.

Twelve things the small boy opposite me on the train exclaimed whilst playing on his Nintendo:

- You can’t stop me!
- Woah, who are these deadly guys!
- Woah, wait up! What are you guys doing to me? 
- Aha! Can’t hit me! Oh, he’s hitting me.
- Oh come on, how could he possibly get up there?
- This is so annoying! I’m not allowed to hit his hands now! 
- How do I beat this guy? What do I have to do?
- Ah! He’s not dead yet! Ah, look at him! He isn’t dead.
- Aha, now I get it!
- Aha!! Oh!! Yes!! Thank you!!
- I beated him!! 
Oh, he’s changed into a machine.

One thing he exclaimed when his batteries ran out, and he looked out the window at some seagulls in Poole harbour:  

Birds in the water?! Why are there birds in the water?!

Thursday 19 July 2012

Cabin Pressure FAQ

Hi. I've been getting a few questions about Cabin Pressure recently, and I thought I'd put the answers to as many of them as I can think of here, so they're all in one place. So, if you're reading this because I've replied to a question of yours with a link, please don't think I'm being rude, it's just you'll get a fuller answer this way.

Q) Is there going to be a fourth series of Cabin Pressure?

A) Yes, there is. Hooray!

Q) Will it have the same cast?

A) Almost definitely. That's certainly our intention, and everyone seems keen to come back. It's just a question of making the dates work. Speaking of which...

Q) When will it be?

A) We just don't know.

Q) What do you mean you don't know? Get on with writing it, you lazy writer!

A) Fair point, I am a lazy writer, but on this occasion that's not actually the problem. By stupidly casting incredibly talented and in-demand actors (plus me), we've accidentally made it really really hard to get everyone together in a room at the same time. But we're working on it, and the intention is still to get it at least recorded, and ideally broadcast, this year.

Q) Ah, but I am reading this in The Future! Have things changed since you wrote this?

A)  As soon as I know more, I will announce it on this blog, and tweet a link to it. If I haven't done that, then I don't have any more news.

Q) I've heard it's coming back this month! Is that true?

A) Nope. Definitely not. Basically, if you didn't hear it from me or David Tyler the producer, it's probably not true.

Q) Ok, I get the message. It's coming back, you don't know when. Fine. Let's talk about something else. Oh, like: I've been playing Yellow Car since I was a kid! You didn't invent it!

A) Er... no, I know. I didn't invent charades either. Or Monopoly. What's your point?

Q) Just... be careful, that's all.

A) Ok. Will do.

Q) And talking of Yellow Car, how many points do you get if...

A) If I can just interrupt you there, I believe Mr Arthur Shappey has already answered your question here.

Q) Well, no, actually, he doesn't answer my question, which is what if the car-

A) Yes, he does. I have never heard a question about Yellow Car which is not answered by the phrase: 'When you see a yellow car, say 'Yellow Car'. And I have heard a lot of questions.

Q) Why are you being so grumpy?

A) I don't know. I'm sorry. I promise I'll answer the next one non-grumpily.

Q) Good. Ok, what's going on with Martin's salary? It's unresolved at the end of Qik, but elsewhere in series three he sometimes implies he is getting paid now, and sometimes says he isn't.

A) What an excellent question! Yes, you're quite right. What happened was, in the recording there was an extra scene in Qik in which Martin and Carolyn came to an arrangement that changed the situation slightly. However, as that got cut from the broadcast episode, the rule is: it never happened. Martin still doesn't get paid as a pilot, and makes his living as a man with a van. But don't feel too sorry for him - money's always tight for him, but he's not living in abject poverty. And he is doing the one job he always wanted to, and how many of us can say that? (Yeah, ok, me. But I'm really lucky.) 

Q) Where can I listen to / download / buy / read Cabin Pressure?

A) In a variety of ways. You can buy the newly released CDs of the first three series from Amazon. You can buy downloads from Amazon or Pozzitive's online store. Someone has put all the episodes up on YouTube. And someone else, or a collection of someone elses, have put up transcripts of all the episodes, which you can easily find by googling 'Cabin Pressure transcripts'. I only get money from the first two of these, but personally speaking, I have no problem with the last two ways. (The BBC probably don't agree about that.)

Q) I have an idea for / have written a script for / have written a story about the characters from Cabin Pressure. 1) Do you mind? 2) Will you read it?

A) 1) No, I don't mind at all, I'm very flattered! 2) I'm really sorry, but I'd better not. In the first place, even if I love it (and I'm sure I would love it, you're clearly really talented, I can tell that just from your questions) I wouldn't use it, because I'm egotistical enough to quite enjoy being the sole writer. And I can't read it just for fun, in case it overlaps with an idea of my own, and then you feel like I've ripped you off. Even if you, personally, wouldn't mind if I ripped you off, it's much easier if I'm able to say 'No, I've never read any Cabin Pressure fiction I didn't write', so we all know for certain any similarities are just coincidences. (Also, I gather lots of them involve characters getting it on with each other, and I'm not sure I'm ready to imagine that...) 

Q) Where is Fitton?

A) Fitton is not a real place (and has nothing to do with the Filton in Bristol). However, I've always known exactly where it is in Britain, and there are now enough little geographic references over the course of the series that it's possible to pin it down to within about ten or twenty miles. I know this, because some very impressive internet detectives have done so, and sent me the results. And they were right.

Q) Why is Douglas so mean to Martin all the time?

A) There are three basic answers to this. Firstly, because Martin's the captain and Douglas thinks he ought to be, and so has to demonstrate his alpha dog status in other ways. Secondly, because it's a sitcom, and if everyone was lovely to each other all the time, it would be really dull. Thirdly... I don't actually think he is, to be honest. He certainly helps him out at least as often as he takes him down, and even when he does take him down, it was often Martin that started it (Abu Dhabi, Qik).

Q) Can I get tickets for the next recordings, whenever they are? (I know you don't know when that will be yet, because you said that already.) 

A) Yes! And: Not necessarily! Adding up to: Maybe! 'Yes', in that the tickets are free, and released by the BBC online, for anyone to apply to. 'Not necessarily', in that applying doesn't automatically get you tickets, it just gets you into the draw. And even then, the BBC always give away more tickets than there are seats (I wish they wouldn't, but that's another story), so it's possible to get sent tickets, turn up to the recording, and then get sent away because we're full. I hate it when that happens, but there's nothing I can do about it, apparently. So, in summary, 'Maybe'.

Q) There's one line of Martin's that occurs in two different episodes. Was that deliberate?

A) No, it wasn't. For some reason, I thought that line had been cut from the first episode it was in the edit, and reused it; only to eventually realise it hadn't been. So now it's in both, and it really annoys me. Grr.

Q) When will Cabin Pressure end?

A) When it's finished.

Q) Are you being deliberately vague and mysterious now?

A) Yes. Sorry.

That's all the questions I can think of for now - if you have others, put them in the comments, and I might do another one of these in a while.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Extra July Priory Engagement Dates.

These signs have started appearing all around London:

If that's true, our athletes are in real trouble. I've barely done anything. Sorry, I assumed someone else was training them. 

Anyway, in answer to questions, if you haven't heard whether or not you have tickets to the July recordings of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, I'm afraid that probably means you haven't. However, good news! We're doing an extra two John Finnemore's Priory Engagements, on the Wednesday before each recording, the 4th and 11th July. So, why not come along and see that instead? Same cast, similar sketches (plus some extra ones), much smaller audience, and all in a lovely pub. Tickets, as usual, here.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Food Chain

In 1928, a biography of Queen Elizabeth I was published, written by the famous biographer Lytton Strachey.

...who in 1943 was himself the subject of a biography by Max Beerbohm.

...who in 1964 was himself the subject of a biography by David Cecil.

...who in 1990 was himself the subject of a biography by Hannah Cranbourne.

Wouldn't it be nice if Hannah Cranbourne's biography includes a bit where David gets stuck on the bit of his biography of Max in which he gets stuck on the bit of his biography of Lytton in which he gets stuck on his biography of Elizabeth?

Bonus connection: Elizabeth I's childhood home was Hatfield Palace. Her successor James I gave it to Robert Cecil, Elizabeth's chief minister (and an important figure in Strachey's book). His descendants have lived in the remodelled Hatfield House ever since. The current inhabitants are the seventh Marquess of Salisbury and his wife, Lady Salisbury. In 1990, Lady Salisbury was known as... Hannah Cranbourne.

Monday 11 June 2012

Three Things

Firstly, I'm happy to say tickets for the recording of the second series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme have gone up today, and are available from the BBC here.

Secondly, I was on the Now Show this week, doing my best to find something funny to say about the Eurozone Crisis, and not get distracted by smurfs doing star-jumps. The whole show will be on iPlayer until next Friday, but if you miss it, my bit is here:

Thirdly... Alan Sugar is not impressed. 

Friday 25 May 2012

Luncheon is for softies.

Poster I saw the other day:

Mm. I hate to nitpick, but there is maybe a slight problem with the way you are visezing for your objectif to speak English the way they do on Wall Street...

(And I don't just mean that your Union Jack is upside down. That's the least of your problems with it.)

(How do I know it's upside down? From the fimbriation of the ordinaries, that's how.)

(Oh, and please don't tell me it's the Union Flag if it's not flown from a ship. That's one of those facts that every uncle knows, but  isn't actually true. You definitely don't call it the Union Flag at sea, but both terms are acceptable on land, and personally I like 'Union Jack'.)

(In the brackets above, I initially wrote 'That's one of those facts that every uncle knows, but if you said it on QI, the klaxon would go off.' But then I checked, and annoyingly someone did say it on QI, and the klaxon didn't go off. But it should have done.)

(That's a lot of clarifications. Maybe I don't hate to nitpick after all.)

Monday 14 May 2012

Three Other Things

Firstly, Cabin Pressure Series III is being repeated on Radio 4 at 6:30 on Tuesdays, starting tomorrow, with Qikiqtarjuaq. Please have your egg-whisks and pogo-sticks at the ready.

Secondly, I'm very happy to say all three series of Cabin Pressure are being released on CD this year, at the beginning of July, August, and September. You can pre-order them here:

Cabin Pressure Series 1

Cabin Pressure Series 2

Cabin Pressure Series 3

Also, it's looking hopeful that I may get the chance to mess around a bit on the inside cover. No promises, but if you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see, feel free to put them in the comments. There's not much room, so they'll have to be quite small things. I'm thinking along the lines of Carolyn's to do list, Douglas and Martin's cheese-board tally, or Arthur's favourite bear facts...

Thirdly, I was in a bookshop the other day, and saw these two books side by side. Though they're both huge sellers, I wonder if there is anyone in the world who has read them both...

Friday 27 April 2012

Three things.

Firstly: The BBC are repeating series two of Cabin Pressure. So, they'll be available on iPlayer again for a bit, starting with episode one, Helsinki.

Secondly: As sort of half announced earlier, I am doing three more John Finnemore's Priory Engagements; the semi-secret (as in, only announced on this blog) try-outs in a lovely pub in Kilburn of new material for the second series of my sketch show. The  first is this very Sunday, and then there are two more in May. Tickets are available here.

Thirdly: Sometimes I worry that my alarm clock is disappointed in me. 

Monday 23 April 2012

Yellow Car - the full rules.

I've been getting a lot of questions recently, especially on Twitter, about the precise rules and regulations of the game Yellow Car, as played in the Ottery St Mary episode of Cabin Pressure. Just how yellow does a car have to be, people ask. Can you get extra points for spotting yellow cars in convoy? And most frequently of all, do yellow taxis count? 

The thing is, though, I'm not really a great player of Yellow Car myself. I don't know what it was- maybe I didn't start young enough, maybe I just don't have a natural aptitude for the great game; but somehow I never caught the Yellow Car bug. Luckily, however, I know a man who did. So here, for future reference, are the complete and unexpurgated rules for playing Yellow Car. You're welcome. 

Friday 6 April 2012

Everything Must Go!!!

That's right!! It's ALL for SALE! Hurry hurry hurry, because these bargains won't be around for long! Avoid that soulless clinical look with our pre-stained and pre-broken whiteboards! Teach your child about depression with Princess Teardrop's Grey Castle of Sadness! Beat the rush by getting your Christmas tree in April - now available in fashionable brown! Or why not simply let Lady Luck into your life with one of our Plastic Bags O' Mystery! Contents guaranteed to be surprising! (Terms and conditions apply. Surprises may be upsetting or horrifying as well as nice. By taking ownership of a Bag O' Mystery, you are also liable for any crimes they may contain evidence of)

Saturday 31 March 2012

I don't blame it.

Update - tickets for the next three Priory Engagements now available on the doodle list

Sorry for the silence - busy times. Thank you if you came to the try-out last week, it was lovely to see you. As it will be if you're coming to the try-out tomorrow. As before, do please take yourself off the doodle list if you find you can't come after all, so that someone else can in your place. Although I have also just added ten extra tickets, so if you wanted to come but thought you were too late... you're not. In other news, I was on the Now Show today, which'll be on iPlayer for a week; and will be on two episodes of the next series of The Unbelievable Truth.

Anyway. There are many, many things the Vatican and I disagree on, which I'm sure must be a source of great sadness to them. So, it was a pleasure this week to discover that there is at least one issue on which the Vatican and I are in total and cordial agreement.

Friday 16 March 2012

Grrr. Vrroom.

If Friday is dragging, here's a little game.  Pretend you're an eight year old boy who's just been told he can change his name to anything he likes. Think of the coolest, manliest, most ludicrously macho name you can possibly imagine. Got it? Well, whatever you've come up with, I believe I know of an Italian conductor from 1911 who can outdo you.

Monday 12 March 2012

Mostly Admin

Just to say, the tickets for the first three John Finnemore's Priory Engagement have now sold out. I have downloaded the names and emails on the Doodle list as it stands at the moment - if your name is on the list, your ticket will be reserved at the door until 7:45 on the day or days you ticked; and can be paid for on the door.  

If between now and then you find you can't come, that's fine; but could you take your name off the Doodle list, so that someone else can come in your place. However, to guard against someone simply removing a name to free up a space (though I know perfectly well that no-one reading this would dream of doing a mean thing like that) could you also please drop a line - no explanation needed, it can just be as simple as 'not coming on the 18th' - to the following email address: the last two words of the show, the ones with the initials P.E., all one word,; using the email address you gave when you put your name down. Thanks.

There will be more shows in the run - if this experiment works, I'll put them up on Doodle in the same way in a week or two. If it doesn't, we'll just have to go back to rotten old booking fees. But I bet it will. 

And now, as a poor reward for wading through that dull wodge of information that statistically is very unlikely to be relevant to you, an advert on the tube which made me laugh.

Not even this one! And this one's in a pond! 

Saturday 10 March 2012

Anyway, here's a drawing of Andrew Marr

Click to enbiggerate

Sunday 4 March 2012

John Finnemore's Priory Engagement

Well, spring is in the air, the snowdrops are gambolling in the meadows, the lambs are thrusting their little noses up through the earth, and the rabbits... I don't know what the rabbits are doing. Something springish. Cleaning, maybe. Anyway, what all this means for me is that it's about time I organised another run of my sort-of-secret-unless-you-read-this-blog sketch nights, to try out material for the next series of my Radio 4 show, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme.

So... I have done. Unfortunately, the pub we used last year has turned its performance space into a restaurant, the food-crazed fools; but I've found another I think will be even better: the excellent Priory Tavern in Kilburn. So, do please come along, if you fancy it, to John Finnemore's Priory Engagement;  8pm every other Sunday starting in two weeks time, on the 18th March. Each show will be completely different material, mostly written in the fortnight before. It'll be about an hour and a half long, including interval, costs £7, and is suitable for ages 12 and up. Last year's run featured Jekyll and Hyde's domestic arrangements; what The Archers sounds like to people who don't listen to The Archers, and the chilling tale of the man who went for a walk... and saw a goat. What this year's will feature, I literally do not yet know.

As an experiment to try to avoid people having to pay the ridiculous booking fees which were such a feature last year,  I've put a list up here you can go to to book seats for the first three performances. There are only 80 seats per show, so do please take your name off again if it turns out you can't come.

Right! I suppose I'd better go and write the first one, then...

Thursday 1 March 2012

Transport of delight.

I was on a bus the other day, and I can't explain it, but some sixth sense gave me an overwhelming feeling that two of my fellow passengers had just fallen in love.

Oh, and I just thought I'd mention that voting for the Chortle Awards closes in 24 hours, at noon on Friday. Just in case you wanted to vote for anyone. Anyone at all.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Three people I sat near this week.

Click to embiggen.

(Personal note for people who know my friend Greg: the third guy is not my friend Greg. He's an Australian barman who must absolutely play my friend Greg if (when) Hollywood make a movie of the My Friend Greg Story. I have no idea if he can act. Nor do I care.)

Also, I'm on the Now Show again today - 12.30 on Radio 4,  and iPlayer for a week thereafter - trying to work out whether sanctimonious atheists or mock-persecuted Christians are more irritating. It's basically a draw.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Too much of a mediocre thing.

I came across an excellent book the other day. It was called 'What Will I Do With All Those Courgettes?' That's what I call a title. Straight away, the author has asked a question that demands to be answered. The potential reader may try to move on to read the spines of other books on the shelf, but a part of him or her will be unable to stop thinking. 'Yes... but what will she do with all those courgettes?

That's what happened to me, so I took the book down from the shelf. The front cover was... everything I could have hoped for.

So, I had a look in the book, so that I'll be fore-warned and fore-armed if - when -  the courgettes come for me.

Now, perhaps you, like me, have at this point assumed that this is an eye-catching title for a book of recipes  about dealing with all sorts of seasonal gluts. Courgettes, certainly, but also blackberries, tomatoes, apples...  After all, this was a proper book-sized book - about 200 pages - it could hardly ALL be courgette recipes, could it?

Oh yes. It could.

Though that's not to say the author didn't have to, er, stretch a little at times. Here are some of my favourites:

I like the note about it being possible to use other vegetables in place of 'the ones mentioned' (SPOILER: courgettes.) So, basically, this courgette omelette recipe boils down to 'Make an omelette. Put courgettes in it. (You don't have to put courgettes in it.)' And from there it's only a short step to...

So, that's 'Pizza-with-anything', featuring as the primary ingredient 'basic pizza shell'. 

1) Buy a pizza. 2) Put stuff on it. 3) Yeah, including courgettes. If you must. 

But the piece de resistance is surely... know, I think they will. I think by the time you are rendered so desperate by the unstoppable influx of courgettes that you're reduced to sticking them in a chocolate cake, your friends will be pretty damn familiar with your 'secret ingredient'. Also, you won't have any friends. You'll be the weird courgette lady. Kids will throw stones at your house. And you will throw courgettes at the kids. 

Sunday 29 January 2012

1 thing I drew this week - Thing One

Occasional drawing posts are for life, not just for advent. So here, have a Dame Maggie Smith.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Why don't you get yourself a little trophy?

More good news - there is to be a second series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme! We don't know precisely when yet; but we do know that there will be six episodes this time round. Which means that, along with series four of Cabin Pressure, I now have twelve half hours of radio comedy to write. Gulp.

Also, the lovely people at the British Comedy Guide Awards have voted C.P. best radio sitcom of 2011, and J.F's S.P. best radio sketch-show. Thank you, them!

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Filthy lucre.

No, it's fine, really. If anything, I'm glad it's out of service...

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Shameless self-publicity. (Warning- may contain traces of shame.)

Two quick bits of news: firstly, I was on The Unbelievable Truth earlier this week, mostly lying about crocodiles. I am very proud of my triumphant final score of No Points. What a magnificent achievement! Mind you, it wasn't easy to concentrate with all the wounded, terrified quail flapping about the theatre.

Anyway, that should still be on the iPlayer for a bit; and then I did another one which will go out in three weeks' time. And in between, I'm on the News Quiz next week. So, good news for people who enjoy my half-baked opinions, or my fully baked lies about pasta. Mmmmm. Pasta bake.

The other piece of news is that Cabin Pressure has been nominated for an audio drama award for best comedy. So, that's nice.

Saturday 7 January 2012

The best thing before sliced bread...

...was, it turns out, wrapped bread. Here's the proof:

Just thought you'd like to know.

Thursday 5 January 2012

That's what it says on his business cards.

A new entry in my occasional, and very niche, series: Favourite Guess In The Game 'Articulate' Played Over Christmas. (If you don't know it, 'Articulate' is a board game where you try to get your team-mates to say as many of the words on the card as possible without using those words yourself.)

Describer: [Trying to get the guesser to say the word 'Adder'] 'Black (pause) Rowan Atkinson...'
Guesser: 'Lenny Henry!'