Welcome to my latest monthly update, and I start with good news – Mum is now fully vaccinated against Covid (until the Autumn booster at least), and we’ve finally had haircuts after 6 months! That’s my personal headline news from April, and both of those events were a great relief as you can imagine. I’ve also passed the lovely milestones of 1,000 followers on Twitter and 600 on Youtube, so thank you to everyone who continues to subscribe to my ramblings!
Mum didn’t have any side effects from her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, apart from mild soreness around the injection site (just like after the first dose), which had gone away by the following afternoon. And I’m looking forward to my second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine during May. With tens of millions of people having been vaccinated without any widespread harm, and only an extremely tiny but highly unfortunate minority having serious outcomes (as is normal for all types of medicine), I have no concerns about getting the jab. Bring it on!
We’re also continuing to emerge from lockdown in the UK bit by bit. More restrictions were eased on 12 April, hence we were able to get haircuts. And various test events are being held to study the effects of large crowds gathered together in different environments, including some without masks and social distancing (but negative tests are required for entry). All being well, more restrictions will be lifted during May.
Of course, this is all being done with sensible caution, as we’ve all seen how the virus is still wreaking havoc in some parts of the world. If you happen to be in a badly affected area then I wish you all the best. But other places are doing better, thankfully, and it looks like some tourism might be possible in the months ahead. If you are planning to travel abroad this year, then I strongly recommend that you regularly monitor the country-specific advice published by the UK and US governments, so you know what to expect and what’s expected of you.
Enough about all that though, it’s time to look at what else I’ve been focusing on this past month. I have been going out and about for long walks in the lovely weather, which has been good. But in this post and video, as has become usual while we’re still in semi-lockdown, I’m going to talk about various bits and pieces relating to disability, drama, comedy and music. So let’s crack on with it. Nothing here is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy!
There are a few quick things I want to highlight on the disability front this month:
- Companion Stairlifts – Lockdown Care Package: The best ways to help someone shielding – Though restrictions are gradually easing, there are still many people shielding who mustn’t be forgotten or ignored. There are many simple ways we can ensure they have all they need and reduce feelings of loneliness, and so I’m happy to have contributed to the tips in this article, by talking about the importance of keeping in contact.
- VocalEyes – The Interval #52 – In this edition of their newsletter about accessible online culture, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that VocalEyes had included an old video of mine from 2017, discussing my first experiences of audio description in London, including museums, theatres, cinemas and walking tours. If you’re new to audio description, then this video and the related blog post will give an insight into what it’s about and how it can be used.
- MS Awareness Week – Jamie’s Story – Jamie is a friend of mine from Guernsey who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 2 years ago, and has been on quite the journey since then, with lots of challenges along the way as you can imagine. So it’s great to see her raising awareness and expressing such positivity in this video for MS Awareness Week. Do give it a watch and, if you feel able, consider donating to an MS charity in the UK, Guernsey, America or wherever you live. The work they do makes a huge difference to many thousands of people like her.
My sole Blu-ray purchase this month was the steelbook edition of Doctor Who – Series 8. There’s not much to say about it particularly, but it’s an enjoyable series, the extras are the same as the original release, and the new artwork’s nice. I simply got it to be consistent with all the other series of the show that I’ve been upgrading to steelbooks, as the artwork’s nice and they take up less space on the shelf. At some point I do hope to write full reviews of all the modern Doctor Who series and Blu-rays, but that’s not something I have time for at present.
In terms of my regular programmes, I’ve continued to enjoy the current series of Taskmaster on Channel 4 (in which Mike Wozniak’s farting task will go down as one of the most disturbing yet funniest moments of the entire series). I’ve also been watching the new series of Have I Got A Bit More News For You on BBC2 (with Mock The Week also returning in May), along with the new episodes from Season 19 of Family Guy that ITV2 have resumed, and new episodes of the online panel show Who Said That?. And on the radio Mum and I have finished listening to the new series of Just A Minute, and are still working our way through old Just A Minute compilations on Audible.
Also online, after completing the entire series of Noel’s House Party on Andy Pearman’s Youtube Channel, I’ve gone on to watch the episodes of The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow that he’s uploaded so far. Not all episodes are available, as the BBC wiped its tapes long ago, but Andy’s sharing as many recordings as he can find. And unlike House Party, I’d never seen its Saturday Roadshow predecessor before, so it’s been fascinating to watch.
It’s not quite as great as House Party was, but it’s still good fun. They basically pretend to be in a different place every week, and theme the set design, sketches, games, etc around it – e.g. the Channel Tunnel, a space station, a motorway lay-by, etc. Some of the features were carried over to the House Party as well, including the gunge tank, Wait ‘Till I Get You Home and the Gotchas, so it’s fascinating and fun to see their early evolution. Gloria Hunniford enacts great revenge on Noel for her Gotcha by taking over Wait Till I Get You Home, for example. Other guests include Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor from Doctor Who, Tony Robinson as Baldrick from Blackadder, Murray Walker, Christopher Timothy, Bernard Cribbins, Gorden Kaye, Phillip Schofield, Les Dennis, Sue Lawley, Frank Carson, and many others, so it’s an impressive cast list.
Moving on from Noel Edmonds though, and I’ve now turned my attention to the comedian Dave Gorman. During the past year he’s generously uploaded all 5 series of his TV show Modern Life Is Goodish to his Youtube channel, Gormhub, so I’d been planning to go through them for a while. I’ve seen them all before of course, but it’s been a while, so I’ve loved rewatching them.
It features Dave talking about all sorts of funny things that he’s discovered about modern life, the clever pranks he’s played, and of course comments that people have posted beneath inconsequential news stories that he turns into his funny ‘Found Poems’, all illustrated using his engaging Powerpoint slides.
They’re really enjoyable shows, and it’s very clever how he pulls all the different threads together for a really satisfying punchline at the end of each episode. He’s since done a follow-up series called Terms & Conditions Apply, which is effectively the same thing, but with celebrity guests that he chats and plays little games with about different topics, so there’s less material being padded out more to fill the time. So it’s not as great as goodish, but it’s still ok.
Anyway, having watched all of Goodish now, I’m going to finish my Gorman binge by revisiting some of his older stuff that’s on Youtube as well, including Are You Dave Gorman?, his Important Astrology Experiment, and his Googlewhack Adventure, along with a few other clips and interviews that are online too. Again, I’ve watched those old shows before, but not for ages, so it’ll be good to see them again.
Some of his old stuff has been out on DVD for ages, I know, but I haven’t bought any of it as yet. Maybe I will if I enjoy watching his old shows again, we’ll see. I’d gladly buy Goodish if it ever came out, for sure, but he’s stated that it’s not in his control to release it, so it seems unlikely. And apart from one stand-up show, which you can buy via his website, he’s explained that he can’t produce DVDs from his other stage tours for understandable copyright reasons. So I’m glad that we have the full series of Goodish online at least. Sure, you can see it on UKTV Play as well, but on Youtube it’s more convenient with far fewer adverts.
I’ve also looked through the 35 segments from the special 20 hour live show by the team from No Such Thing As A Fish, which is a podcast hosted by the QI researchers (known as the QI Elves). This was done in aid of the Comic Relief charity, which is 35 years old – hence they did 35 segments of around 35 minutes each.
In each part they were joined by a different guest, who introduced an unusual fact to launch the conversation, and from there they would chat about it, exchange other facts and have a good laugh. Such guests included Michael Palin, Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry, Richard Osman, Harry Shearer, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, QI’s creator John Lloyd, and Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis. So it was fun to look through those. Not all of the guests or facts were interesting and engaging, but most were, and it was all for a very important cause.
I’ve also seen interesting interviews with Jimmy Carr & Jack Whitehall on the podcast What A Flanker, hosted by rugby player James Haskell. Most of James’ guests I’ve never heard of and have no interest in, so I hadn’t been aware of his channel until now. But in these two episodes it was very enlightening and entertaining to see him talking to his friends Jimmy and Jack about their comedy careers.
And finally for this section, if you’re a fan of Julie Nolke’s sketches then it’s worth mentioning the latest instalment in her series where she explains the pandemic to her past self, now one year later after the first meeting. They really do illustrate how much has changed over the past year, and the feelings we’ve all been through, as well as being very funny.
This month I posted Part 2 of my review of A Day At The Races, in my series celebrating Queen’s 50th anniversary, where I’m digging into all of their albums in great depth. So I hope you enjoy looking through that, and check out Part 1 of that album review too if you haven’t already..
And talking of Queen, Brian May & Kerry Ellis performed beautiful versions of Amazing Grace and Panic Attack at the London Coliseum, as part of Song For Nature: London Climate Change Festival, shown on Sky Arts. They were backed by the Orchestra & Chorus of the English National Opera, as were other artists in the show, including Rob Brydon singing Lullaby, and Nathan Evans singing the Wellerman Song, along with various other singers and dancers. And the acts were interspersed with messages from nature campaigners and activists. It didn’t all interest me, so I did fast-forward through some of it, but what I did see was very good.
The Who, meanwhile, have released a Super Deluxe Box Set of The Who Sell Out, with mono and stereo versions of the album, and loads of extra tracks including session outtakes and demos, which are very interesting to go through. I downloaded the set from iTunes rather than getting the physical box, as I didn’t need everything in the latter, and at £30 to download 5 discs’ worth of material it was very good value. And it does have some good tracks like Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand, I Can See For Miles and Pictures Of Lily.
And lastly, Madness are hosting The Get Up on Friday 14th May, a global livestream of music and comedy filmed at the London Palladium, scripted by The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson and featuring lots of special guests. So that looks like fun.
Madness also have a new 3-part documentary coming out on AMC UK and BT Player called Before We Was We. You can see Episode 1 for free on BT’s Youtube channel, along with a Q&A, but for the other 2 episode you need to subscribe to them – which I’m not going to do just for that, but I’ll watch the first episode.
And that’s it! Nice and short this month, relatively speaking, and I hope you found items of interest in there as always. May should also be a fairly uneventful month, but it will be great to have more restrictions lifted, and I can’t wait to get my second vaccine. I’ll let you know how that goes, and I hope you all continue to stay safe and well too!