July 2022 Favourites

Well, it’s fair to say that this past month will go down in the history books for quite a variety of reasons, some better than others. Boris Johnson’s long overdue resignation has left our government in disarray as they hunt for a new leader, and our record-breaking heatwave in the UK resulted in several fires in London, even if it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as in Europe. But, as is often the case, sport has come along to lift the nation’s spirits, as I’ll mention during this post – we all know what the main headline is there!

As for me, work is very busy, with people wanting to get as many jobs done as they can before my redundancy kicks in next month! I’ve had lots of lovely messages and good wishes from colleagues already, which is very flattering. And thank you so much to all of my other friends and followers for their messages of support as well, including relevant vacancies and volunteering opportunities that people are already starting to bring to my attention, please do keep those coming. I won’t apply for everything that people send me of course, but they’re all giving me food for thought for my future career path.

I still feel quite calm about it all so far, because I have strong foundations from my current job and volunteering work that I can build on – and I’ve had a nice surprise in relation to the latter that I’ll mention next month. Plus I’m fortunate not to have major financial worries at the moment – although I have taken the opportunity to cut back on a few subscriptions that I can live without for a while, as saving a few quid here and there each month soon adds up. It also appears there are one or two paid research opportunities that could be of some benefit.

In any case, my plan is still to have a bit of a well-earned break, in order to sort out some stuff at home, while we consider whether to move house, as well as get out and about more as I have various things booked in the next few months. But I’m continuing to keep a close eye out for job and volunteering opportunities as well, as you never know what’ll come up.

Aside from all that though, I have been enjoying my leisure time as usual of course, and you’ll know about the shows I’ve been to see recently if you’ve been keeping up to date with my posts. So here’s my latest roundup of outings, sport, comedy and music that I’ve got into this month. As always, none of it’s sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy!

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London 2012 Revisited – Olympics Opening Ceremony

They said it wouldn’t work, that it was a waste of money. It would be dull and nobody would care, so we’d all forget about it once it was over. Or we’d be the subject of everlasting international ridicule.

That was the reaction of many when it was announced in 2005 that London had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. There was still rightful jubilation amongst the organisers, athletes and many sports fans of course, and I was very much looking forward to it personally as well. But a lot of people had serious concerns and complaints about everything from the cost (although it apparently ended up being under budget) to the logo. And there were the usual subset of people, online and elsewhere, who were keen for everyone else to know that they weren’t interested – i.e. if they didn’t like it, they didn’t think anyone else should either. They were adamant it would be a pointless disaster, with several journalists and news publications adding fuel to that fire of negativity as well.

How very wrong all the doubters were.

That summer of sporting excellence – topped and tailed by spectacular opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and all covered extensively by the BBC and Channel 4 respectively – blew the vast majority of people away, leaving the few remaining closed-minded grumpy people to languish in a lonely wilderness. It was beyond anything that had been expected, even those of us who were keen to see it, and genuinely made you feel proud to be British. It had its teething troubles and controversies before launch, without a doubt, like any project on such a huge scale. But once it got underway, we showed the world what we were capable of at our very best.

Ten years on, those wonderful memories haven’t faded, and are being celebrated, with special events in the Olympic Park including the lighting of a legacy flame and a special exhibition. I haven’t been to see the exhibition yet, but I have had a little wander around some of the Olympic Park, and will continue exploring further over the weeks ahead, as it has been a while since I last visited, and there’s still a lot of I haven’t seen. Keep an eye on my Instagram for some photos in the coming days and weeks, as well as the few examples I’m including in these blog posts when relevant. Don’t forget you can also look back at my charity abseil down the Arcelormittal Orbit Tower in the park as well!

There are naturally also questions being asked about the legacy of the Games, and lessons are still being learnt from it. There’s no doubting it had a substantial impact in many ways, and the Olympic Park helped to regenerate a big area of East London, so it was certainly well worth hosting the events. But while it did increase the nation’s interest and participation in sport to a fair extent, there are still concerns about the levels of inactivity among the population, which the Covid pandemic hasn’t helped with, and there have been issues for some residents who still live in the area. That’s not the kind of thing I’m going to get into though, as others are far more qualified to analyse the legacy of the Games in detail.

The important thing here is that the Games themselves were a huge success, which we can all agree on. So to mark the big anniversary, this is the first in a series of posts where I’ll be revisiting my personal highlights of the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics.

And to start with, I’m going to extensively review the Olympics Opening Ceremony that kicked it all off on 27 July 2012, mainly focusing on the coverage on the BBC’s Blu-ray box set and the music on the Isles Of Wonder soundtrack album, but also mentioning other content from a playlist I’ve compiled of highlights, behind the scenes footage and other music from the ceremony. So I hope you enjoy this epic post about an epic event!

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Jason Manford – Stand-Up DVDs & Music Reviews

Recently I went to see my third stand-up comedian of the year, the wonderful Jason Manford. I’ve been a fan of his for a long while, for reasons that I explained in my review of the show, so it was great to see him live at long last.

So in preparation for that, I naturally rewatched all of his great stand-up DVDs as well, much like I did with Sarah Millican’s collection when I saw her live recently. So I hope you enjoy these little reviews!

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Jason Manford – The Folkestone Funnyman

During the heatwave last weekend – but thankfully returning home before the extreme temperatures hit – I had a little getaway to Folkestone in Kent. And my main reason for visiting was to see the brilliant observational comedian Jason Manford performing his new show Like Me at the Leas Cliff Hall. It was a lot easier to get a decent seat there compared to London, where shows for many comics inevitably sell out extremely quickly, plus it gave me a good opportunity to visit and explore somewhere different as well. And a seaside trip was ideal in the hot weather. So I hope you enjoy reading about it all!

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Tom Felton & The Phantom Menace

Following on from my comedy and musical theatre visits back in June, a couple of weeks ago I experienced a different genre – a horror play – when I attended an audio described performance of 2:22 A Ghost Story at The Criterion Theatre. Not only was it a great show, but I also got to meet a movie star and a renowned disability advocate. So it was well worth the visit, it wasn’t sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy reading about it!

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June 2022 Favourites

Hello again, and welcome to my roundup for another busy month. Apart from having nice walks to enjoy the sunshine as usual, I’ve also been to a few theatre shows, watched the Jubilee celebrations at home, and enjoyed various other programmes on TV and online.

However, they’re not the only things keeping me occupied. I recently revealed that I’m being made redundant, after 17 years in a role that was created specifically to harness my IT skills in a local authority print unit. My entire department is being closed, with all the work being outsourced, and therefore I’m on the lookout for a new challenge. I don’t have to rush into anything, as I’m in a fortunate position where I can take my time to find what feels right for me, so I feel quite calm about it all so far. And it might even be that my mother and I move to another part of London, as that’s something else we’re tempted by and are considering given the circumstances, although that’s by no means definite at this point.

But if you have any advice for job hunting or moving, or know of any paid work or volunteering or nice properties that might interest me, please do feel free to get in touch by social media or email. Career opportunities can be related to my current line of work (variable data and print production) or in other areas I enjoy (IT, accessibility, assistive technology, sight loss, disability, museums, theatres, research projects, blogging, Youtube, etc). There’s lots of options to consider, and I will of course keep you posted of any developments!

But anyway, here I’m going to focus on the happier side of recent events, and there’s plenty to get through. So let’s get straight to it, and I hope you enjoy!

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Bobby Dazzler & The Burger Palace Boys Pull A Blinder

Recently I’ve attended a few different shows that I’ve had booked up for a while. I enjoyed watching two of my favourite stand-up comedians for the first time, namely Sarah Millican & Chris McCausland, and I’ve also been to see Grease The Musical, where I had my first touch tour since Covid restrictions were lifted. One of those shows was in a small theatre I’m already familiar with and can navigate around reasonably well by myself, but the other two shows were in much larger venues that I had never been to before, and in those cases the assistance I received was excellent. And nothing here is sponsored or gifted of course. So I hope you enjoy reading my reviews of all of these events!

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May 2022 Favourites

From high in the sky to deep underground, including my first time riding 2 different modes of transport and my first London museum visit in ages, plus stand-up comedy, TV shows and music, there’s been a lot going on this month. London really is feeling alive and back to normal again, which is wonderful. So I’ve got a lot to get through here as usual, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy this latest roundup!

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My MK Getaway – We Will Rock You

Considering I’m a huge Queen fan, as evidenced by my ongoing Queen At 50 series of ridiculously obsessive album reviews, it seems hard to believe that I’ve never seen We Will Rock You before. But when it was in London I lived too far away to get to it easily, and I wasn’t aware of audio described performances back then either (if they even existed at that time), so I didn’t go to the theatre much as I often couldn’t see what was going on very well.

In its early days there was also a part of me that was uncertain how well Queen’s songs would transfer to a stage musical, or how such a wildly varied catalogue of hits could possibly be shoehorned into some kind of coherent story. Some theatrical adaptations of songs can be rather bland or overly cheesy, rather than captivating entertainment. And anyone you compare with Freddie and the original band is always going to be inferior to some degree. So I’m always a bit wary of anyone covering their material, some of which is rather complex in its structure and harmonies. Plus the story, written by Ben Elton (who has returned to direct the 20th anniversary tour), also sounded a bit silly when I first heard about it. And there seemed to be a lot of reviews by critics that were less than favourable.

However, much like my early misgivings about the Adam Lambert touring collaboration, the more I learnt about the Queen musical and the more popular it became as time went on, the more interested I became in going to see it one day. I got the soundtrack album, which demonstrated how they’d adapted the songs, and I’ve seen various clips of the cast on TV, DVD extras and online over the years, all of which have helped to fuel my interest.

And so finally, in March this year, I had the opportunity to see the 20th anniversary touring production, when an audio described performance was announced at the Milton Keynes Theatre. Hence that was my main reason for visiting the town. I just decided to make a week of it to see other things as well, including the museums I’ve written about in my previous post.

March 2022 Favourites

Well, that’s more like it. March was a very busy month for me, as I’ve been getting out and about a great deal again. In particular, I’ve just had my first little getaway in well over 2 years, as I spent a week in Milton Keynes, where I attended an audio described musical and visited a few of their museums. Meanwhile back in London I went to another theatre show, had plenty of walks, and watched various TV shows and films as usual.

So there’s a lot to get through, and it won’t all be in this post. I’ve already written a separate detailed review for the play I went to in London, and I’m sharing dedicated posts about my Milton Keynes adventures too. So all of that stuff will just be summarised below, with relevant links added so you can find out more.

That said, however, my Favourites video accompanying this post includes an extensive vlog filmed during my Milton Keynes trip, which will give you a good insight into what I got up to. And in this post I still go into detail about the other entertainment I enjoyed back in London too. So there’s plenty to check out here, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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