Hello there, hope you’ve been having a safe and enjoyable summer, especially if you’ve been able to get out and about more.
I still haven’t been out anywhere special because of the ailments I’ve been dealing with over the past few months, which I admit has been difficult and frustrating sometimes, as it’s so hard to get any proper help at the moment. Hence this post is a bit late this time around, as I’ve only recently felt up to doing it. I think I might finally be getting somewhere, thanks to some help from an osteopath at a private clinic and figuring out a few changes I can make myself, but I’m not entirely sure yet. And even if I am right, it’s going to take a while for my body to settle down and repair itself anyway.
In any case, I do have a referral for physiotherapy on the NHS, but the earliest they could give me (when I booked in July) was a phone consultation in November. So I’m going to take it easy and see if I can hold out until then. But if I get worse, or if the NHS cancel due to Covid pressures and give me another long wait, then I’ll have to pay to go private again, as 1 in 5 people are having to do right now. It’s important to say that everybody who works for the NHS is amazing and wonderful, and they deserve all our praise, love and respect, but the fact remains that the system is so woefully under-funded and under-resourced that it makes life very hard for staff and patients alike. So we’ll see how things go. But thank you to all the friends who have been keeping in touch and checking in on me, it means a lot.
Still, enough of all that. There are much more interesting things to mention in this month’s post and video, including my birthday, sports and lots of entertainment as usual. None of it is sponsored or gifted as always, apart from my birthday presents of course. So I hope you enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who sent me lovely messages for my 38th birthday this month, I did have a nice relaxing day. I did of course indulge myself a bit, with my mother and I sharing a lovely chocolate birthday cake from M&S, along with some tasty treat I got from Hotel Chocolat thanks to a very kind friend who sent me a gift card!
I did get some money as well, and my mother’s going to pay towards a new phone for me, as my iPhone 6 really isn’t fit for purpose any more. I’m holding out for the release of the iPhone 13 though, which Apple have just announced. It’s not much of an upgrade for those who have the iPhone 12, for me it will be a huge leap from the iPhone 6. I will probably wait and see how well the iPhone 13 is received by other consumers, just in case there are any bugs that need fixing or imperfections that are worth knowing about. If you get your hands on, feel free to let me know your thoughts!
But if you want to read about a more significant birthday, check out my post about my Nan’s 100th birthday in 2007, which I published recently as part of my ongoing throwback journal series. I’ve posted quite a lot of entries from my old diaries over the past year, with plenty more still to come, and I’m glad to see that people are still enjoying them.
Olympics & Paralympics
I’ve really enjoyed the Olympic Games & Paralympic Games from Tokyo in recent weeks. Rather than go into detail about them here, I’ve created a separate review post about both events, to share my personal highlights. So do go and check that out.
Documentaries & Dramas
- Secrets Of The London Underground finished on the Yesterday channel this month. It was a really interesting look at lots of great hidden spaces, including abandoned stations and a huge shelter built for World War II. The series was presented by rail enthusiast Tim Dunn – who also wrote an interesting article about how the series was made – and London Transport Museum expert Siddy Holloway, and is well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it already.
- Over on BBC2, Secrets Of The Museum, going behind the scenes at the V&A Museum, has been a lovely series as well.
- And I’ve also continued with Season 7 of The Flash, which is the only drama I’ve been watching this month. Unless you count the Paralympics of course, in which there’s been a lot as you’d expect!
This month I decided to check out the New Zealand version of Taskmaster, as it’s been receiving a lot of praise on social media lately. While it’s not on TV here in the UK, people have been uploading it to Youtube, so I was able to watch the first 2 seasons there. Unsurprisingly the videos keep being taken down for copyright reasons and then reposted by others, so I won’t attempt to link to them. But if you search for Taskmaster NZ you should find it.
And it is pretty good, certainly much better than the American attempt, which was a flop an only lasted one season. The New Zealand version naturally takes a little while to settle and get into its stride, but when it does, especially in Season 2, it works very well. It has a lot of very original and well thought-out tasks, and most of the contestants are good fun to watch. Granted, I don’t know who any of them are and so had to look them up, but then with Taskmaster that doesn’t really matter anyway, as you soon get to know people’s personalities and humour over the course of the series.
The Taskmaster himself, Jeremy Wells, isn’t quite as good as Greg Davies (who actually appears briefly in one episode), but he makes the role his own without trying to copy his British counterpart, and settles into it with more confidence during the second season. And Paul Williams inhabits the role of the assistant wonderfully, taking on a similar persona to Alex Horne but still making it his own.
So even though it doesn’t beat the UK show in my opinion, it’s still pretty solid, and absolutely worth a look if you enjoy the British version. And the UK version, incidentally, returns for Series 12 on September 23rd.
But beyond all of that, I also watched a lot of content featuring comedian Sean Lock, after he sadly died from lung cancer at the age of 58. Fellow comic and close friend Bill Bailey confirmed it was lung cancer during an interview. Sean was a very funny guy, best known in recent years for his appearances on the panel shows 8 Out Of 10 Cats and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown. But he’s been on several other programmes and had a successful stand-up career as well. And the huge outpouring of love that ensued after his passing, from celebrities and fans, illustrated how widely respected and loved he was in the comedy world.
So I ended up watching quite a lot of his stuff, some of which I’d seen before, but some of it was completely new to me:
- His TV sitcom 15 Storeys High, which the BBC have made available on iPlayer. It’s a surreal sitcom, that originated as a couple of radio shows, about Sean’s character Vince and his new flatmate Errol (played by Benedict Wong, who went on to become a big film star). I had never seen it before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but it is quite funny. I wouldn’t go so far as to buy the DVD, but I’m still glad I watched all 12 episodes. The funny situations they get into are weird yet strangely plausible, and there are some clever setups for jokes and plot points that pay off later in the episodes. Plus there are amusing glimpses into the lives of their neighbours between scenes as well, and there are some fun guest stars too. Sean collaborated on the show with Mark Lamarr, who lovingly paid tribute to Sean in recent interviews for Radio 2 & Radio 4.
- His stand-up DVDs that I already have in my collection – Sean Lock Live, Lockipedia, Purple Van Man & Keep It Light. Channel 4 showed an edited version of Keep It Light after he died.
- TV Heaven, Telly Hell – There are some episodes from both seasons of the show on Youtube, where Sean chats with other comedians about the things they love and hate on TV. I’d never seen this before either, but it’s quite good. He also hosted Series 4 of Argumental, taking over from John Sergeant, which again can be found on Youtube, but that’s not as good as he doesn’t have much to do, and the guests are a mixed bag.
- Channel 4’s playlist of his best moments on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, its Countdown spin-off, and The Last Leg. There are lots of classic moments here, including the infamous Carrot In A Box game between Sean and Jon, and the weird and wonderful ‘mascots’ that he brought on to Countdown.
- QI’s favourite moments from his appearances on the comedy quiz show.
- Interviews on shows hosted by Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr, Frank Skinner & Graham Norton, among others.
- A campaign video for Shelter where he plays a rogue landlord, with a couple of brief behind-the-scenes clips here and here.
- Sean Lock’s final public video, promoting Edible London’s Million Meals crowdfunding campaign to tackle food poverty.
There are lots of other clips if you dig around of course, including some of his earlier stand-up appearances and other interviews, but I won’t list everything here. It’s just been a lovely opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to a great comedian. RIP Sean, the comedy world won’t be the same without your wonderfully surreal humour.
Talking of notable deaths, before we get on to more cheerful things again, this month also saw the loss of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts at the age of 80, and Don Everly, the last of The Everly Brothers, at 84. So there are another couple of big names who left us during August.
But on a nicer note, The Rolling Stones announced a 40th anniversary remastered edition of Tattoo You, to be released on 22 October in various formats, with 9 previously unreleased tracks including Living In The Heart Of Love, and a live concert from Wembley in 1982. This is the album that gave us the classic Start Me Up, along with a variety of other great songs, so this new edition should be cool.
And a week before that comes out, The Beatles are releasing a deluxe reissue of Let It Be, following on from previous albums that have had the box set treatment in recent years. So I’m really looking forward to that too.
Madness, meanwhile, were showcased on Sky Arts during August, when they showed the Before And After documentary that was made for the band’s 40th anniversary in 2019, followed by a previously unbroadcast show called Suggs: My Life Story, where the frontman talks to an audience about his life, with his recollections illustrated by specially filmed footage. I’d seen the documentary before, but the Suggs programme was new to me. It’s very interesting, often funny and sometimes moving too. So I’ve now bought the DVD to add to my Madness collection – I’d seen it listed online before, as it’s been out quite a while, but I wanted to see it first before deciding whether to get it.
And then on to Queen of course, and Brian May has re-released his excellent 1992 solo album Back To The Light, in various formats, including a deluxe edition with extra tracks. It’s the first part of his Gold Series of solo reissues, so even though I’ve already got his solo albums, I’m looking forward to collecting these new editions. This one has a nice selection of extra tracks, which are basically alternate and live versions of some of the songs from the album, plus live renditions of a couple of Queen hits, including a version of Tie Your Mother Down featuring Slash from Guns N’ Roses.
Among the extras are a few remastered songs from Brian’s Brixton Academy show, which already had an album of its own previously. Last Horizon is the same here as on the original live album, but the other 2 tracks are both extended to include their full endings, adding 1 minute to We Will Rock You and 20 seconds to Let Your Heart Rule Your Head, so that’s great. Brian has said that a reissue of the album and video of that live show is planned as part of the series, so I’ll be very much looking forward to that when it eventually comes out.
But finally, here’s a fun follow-up to an old story. Last year a very talented 11-year-old girl from Ipswich called Nandi Bushell challenged Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters to an online drum battle, which he accepted. The result was an entertaining exchange of videos between them, seen by people across the world, bringing moments of joy during the darkness of the pandemic. Dave ultimately conceded defeat, and promised that they would meet one day.
And this month he was true to his word. On 26 August, the pair finally met when Nandi joined the band on stage to perform Everlong at their concert in Los Angeles. What a dream come true for that lucky young lady! The smile on her face throughout says it all, and she puts so much energy into it. Despite everything that’s happened over the past year, it’s wonderful to see moments like this, where people have been brought together in ways that would probably never have happened otherwise. Good for her, I say, she’s got an exciting future ahead!
And that’s it, I hope you enjoyed that selection as always. My September Favourites will continue to be largely focused on entertainment, as I’m still not going out much at the moment. But until then, I hope you enjoy whatever you’re getting up to at the moment. Stay safe!