Tag Archives: Humor

In Which I Attempt To Smooth Over My Long Absence By Offering You Some Old-Fashioned Entertainment

22 Sep

Hey sweeties, how are you all?

Apologies for how long it’s been since I last posted.  In my defence, 2016 has been the busiest year of my life, one way or another.  I took a couple of weeks off in August to recharge my batteries but hectic life started up again in September.

Some highlights: as a volunteer, I now run a monthly creative writing workshop at a mental health charity here in Stockport.  I have also delivered other workshops elsewhere, including at the school where I’m a governor.  I’ve given a number of poetry readings.  I finished the holiday club script and dived straight back into editing my second poetry collection.  I have been up and down the country by train for various reasons, most of which – but not all – involved watching Alex perform in one thing or another.  We’ve had both boys home, together and separately.  And I joined a community choir (because I obviously don’t have enough to do).

I love to sing.  I have a pleasant voice; not great.  Naturally, if I’d had training, I’d be a massive superstar a la Kylie Minogue (same height) or Susan Boyle (same great looks), but instead, thanks to my parents’ complete lack of foresight, I’ve had to settle for a wobbly command of mid-range notes, sung in the my-dog’s-embarrassing-howl style.  Nevertheless, I love being part of a choir.

I especially loved it last Saturday, when the choir held its fifth anniversary concert, singing a collection of music down the centuries, from Mozart and madrigals to the Beatles, Coldplay and Adele (what is wrong with that woman?  Someone Like You…total stalker anthem).

Here’s my problem: I’m easily distracted.  If I sit in the middle of the Altos, I can sing the alto line-tune-harmony-whatever.  Place me anywhere near the Baritones or Sopranos, however, and I’m all over the place, and not in a good seeing-the-world-and-all-its-wonders way.  I’m the musical equivalent of a wrecking ball, bashing the closest notes in a frenzy of must-get-through-this-no-matter-what and taking down anyone within range before they’re even aware that the trill under the bridge has escaped to eat anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Image result for free to use singing funny

This is not a case of false modesty: I cannot hold a tune if my neighbour wavers even a little from my particular party line.  It is for this reason I opted to sit near the back of the Altos on Saturday night, at the end of the row closest to the wall.  I was safe there; and everyone was safe from me…until three surplus Sopranos were moved to the only empty seats on the stage, next-but-one to me.  Ah well; I smiled a lot, sang the unison parts and mouthed the words when the tune overpowered me. The audience seemed to enjoy themselves all night so I don’t think they noticed; though the Mayor of Manchester did leave early…he said it was for another engagement, but he would say that, wouldn’t he?

The most exciting thing for me was that I got to perform with Alex!  Granted, he was a featured soloist and I hid behind my scores the whole night, but still, I performed with my baby!  He sang the lyrics to Billy Joel’s For The Longest Time and the choir sang all the backing ‘woh-woh’ bits. Thirty-six members of the choir sang the ‘woh-woh’ bits, that is; and one member kept getting distracted and forgetting where she was up to.

The harmony lyrics are basically, Woh-oh-oh-oh…For the longest time.  How hard can it be?

Pretty hard, actually, if you’re trying to listen to the child who once sat in your stomach like lead pillow stuffing sing like the angel who gave you stretch marks on top of your other angel’s stretch marks, and thirty-six other people won’t shut up so you can hear him.

Now for the promised entertainment: I’m not going to give you For The Longest Time because there’s some woman in the back out of time and out of tune; instead, I give you a little bit of Gershwin.  You may recall Alex’s frequent collaborator, Sam Gilliatt, who played Jesus to his Judas in Godspell; and Greville to his Bert in two separate productions of The Tree of War.  Here they are showing off their natural onstage chemistry.  You can thank me in the comments.  Incidentally, this performance came after one ten-minute rehearsal, thirty minutes before the show.  Both boys had been busy with other things and that was their first opportunity to rehearse together.

Fred & Ginger Fred

Postscript:

My favourite comment of the night came from the sweet geriatric lady who told Alex, ‘I’m one of your groupies.’

 

The £50 Sausage Roll

27 Jun

DSCN0150

I guess it’s up to me to start the ball rolling…two weeks ago tomorrow, I met up with three other bloggers.  You may recall my anxiety about it and your endearing replies, to wit: Stuff ’em if they don’t like you; we do and that’s all that matters.

Terribly sweet, thank you; if a little unfair to three lovely bloggers who would have written the same thing, I’m betting, if it hadn’t been them I was meeting.

Back to the ball: don’t you think it’s peculiar that we are all bloggers and yet no one has written anything at all about our day?  I can’t decide if it’s:

  • Fear of what everyone else might say so they’re exercising a little caution i.e. waiting for someone else to go first, to check if what they’ve written is nice/nasty/sweet/flattering/boring/complete lies, and then they’ll reply accordingly
  • Idleness
  • That they’ve been far too busy with their real lives to write about me, me and more me
  • That I didn’t provide enough Maltesers and now they’re punishing me
  • That they are still recovering from the horror of it all
  • Something else.  What do you think their something else could be?  Answers in the comments, please (bearing in mind that all three bloggers will read what you’ve written, so be nice/sweet/flattering/tell complete lies)

The day began, as all of my days seem to begin lately, with a train.  Specifically, the Stockport to London Express (similar to the very first express train journey in the days of steam from Stockton to Darlington, only not as fast).

When I booked the tickets (which is to say, every so often I would say to the Hub, ‘Have you booked my tickets yet?  Better get a move on; I’m going next week.  I wish I didn’t have to keep reminding you.’  And he would reply, ‘I will; just as soon as you tell me which day you’re going and what times you want to travel.  As I keep asking you.’  Such a nag) the Hub suggested I travel First Class as a treat, because they had an offer on: £96.  I could do First Class, I thought, Sure; why not?

Turns out, I can’t do First Class.  Not both ways, anyway.  And not even one way, I suspect my fellow passenger was thinking fifteen minutes into my journey.

I arrived at the station early enough to catch the previous Stockport-London train if I hadn’t bought an Advance Saver ticket, which is the only way I could afford to travel First Class.  I had to wait for the train  I was booked on, but this sign made me giggle for the time I had to wait:

DSCN0147

The train arrived; I ran to the back coach to board, terrified I’d miss it (hence the fifty minute wait at the station).  Horror!  A man had put his briefcase and jacket on my seat!  What to do?  What to do?

There’s this whole British embarrassment thing going on, you see, that says if someone behaves inappropriately on a train, you have to ignore it and not make a fuss.  It is best exemplified by an apocryphal story from back in the days of British Rail.  

***BRIEF WRITING HIATUS WHILE I LOOK IT UP ***

I was going to tell it and I thought I’d Google it because I’m a dreadful storyteller. That is, I’m dreadful at telling stories; I don’t tell dreadful stories.  I hope.  I tend to wander off down random alleyways, like Ronnie Corbett on acid, and this post is supposed to be a five-minute read; but clearly isn’t.  I don’t want to make it even longer.  

When I Googled the story, I discovered it’s actually true!  And, unfortunately, a little too blue for a family blog, so you’ll have to click on this link if you want to know the story.  And you should click on the link, because you’ll never read a more accurate example of true Britishness.

So there I was, British and embarrassed, but I had paid for that seat and First Class is a rare treat so I blushed from the hair on my head to the hair on my toes and whispered to the gentleman that I thought he might have – excuse me – put his belongings on my seat and would he mind terribly…?

He did not mind, being British and horribly embarrassed at his very public solecism; and he stood up to let me past (no squeezing past because this was First Class and there was tons of room) to my window seat, moving his belongings out of the way.  We smiled politely without making eye contact and then ignored each other as much as possible.

I got comfortable: Kindle out – hardly read a page when oh goodie! the tea came round – oops! forgot to message the Hub that I’m safe on the train – and should I message Al that I’m on my way?  Yes, because I’m really excited – get bag out – phone out – message them – put phone away – bag away – oh, wait – wanted to write something in my notebook – get bag out – put Kindle away – get notebook out – put bag away – write three lines in notebook – get bag out – put notebook away – get Kindle out – put bag away…and so on.  Then breakfast was served and I swear my neighbour had a mini-stroke.

I wish I was joking.  Sadly, I’m not: I am that annoying passenger you wish hot tea would spill upon.  I assure you it’s not deliberate; it’s nerves.  I’m an anxious – and therefore fidgety – traveller.  Sorry about that, multiple strangers I’ve annoyed in my lifetime.

To be on the safe side, I ordered something I could eat with a minimum of fuss i.e. no cutlery, so it was two overdone sausages on a dry roll instead of the full English I’d have ordered if I hadn’t been A. embarrassed at how irritating I was and B. worried that I might cause the businessman to have a heart attack if he had to sit through my sideways fidgets on top of everything else.  DSCN0148

The roll was dry, by the way, because I’m not used to being posh.  When I buy something on a bread roll from a shop, for example, I just expect the roll to be buttered, because it has never not been buttered.  The Other Half, however (and how I was wishing by this point that I wasn’t discovering how they lived), are offered butter and thus choose to have it on the bread roll or not, according to their dietary needs, I suppose.  Unfortunately for me, a surfeit of choice from some people having more money than sense means that ordinary working class women are left ignorant when offered butter and think it is extra butter and don’t want to betray their ignorance of the Ways of the Rich or their own on again-off again diets and so decline the extra pat which turns out not to be extra at all; just simply all.

And of course, being British, when I discovered I was down one butter pat and would have to eat a dry roll or ask for butter after all, I chose to eat a dry roll.

That drama over, I looked up from my half-eaten breakfast (would you eat an overcooked sausage on a dry bread roll?  Then stop judging me) and made the truly appalling discovery that there only five passengers in the whole coach…which meant I had made a stranger move his things for nothing!  

I wanted to crawl into that leftover bread roll and be served on a platter to The Giant Embarrassment (I believe you’ll find him in a fairytale about sex and trains and cigarettes), who eats idiot working class English women for breakfast.

I apologised profusely to my neighbour and then made him move so I could move to the other side of the table and stop crowding him with my blush.

I settled down to read.  Had a cup of tea.  Wrote in my notebook for a bit.  Read some more.  Drank tea.  Wrote some more.  Drank tea.  The nice thing about travelling First Class is all the free tea.  What I didn’t like was being asked to use the same cup again.  I’m a bit of a diva that way so I owned my temporarily elevated status and insisted on a clean cup each time.  As there were so few passengers, I used all of the clean cups around, to the side, and behind me.

Then my table mate asked for a second cup.  

Guess who had used all of the clean cups…?  

Kill me now.

When the train pulled into Euston two hours after setting off, I was seven pounds lighter from all of the nervous sweating I’d done.  No wonder my fellow passenger did a runner the minute we stopped.

But he did wish me a good day; he was British after all: there’s no need to be rude to the aggravating hoyden who took all the space, drank all the tea, fidgeted, unnecessarily moved him twice and – worst sin of all – left crumbs on her seat from her dry breakfast roll.  Why not use butter like ordinary people?

First Class…it’s not for me.  As I discovered when I obsessively checked my ticket before returning home that day: First Class had only been booked one way; the train company website had been rather vague when I booked my ticket and I hadn’t noticed that the home ticket cost £23 to the outward journey’s £73; which meant that my half-eaten and unappetising breakfast had, in effect, cost me £50.

I had to travel back in standard class instead of First.  I’ve never been so relieved in all my life.

*

More to follow on the lovely day I had with my fellow bloggers; but the post will probably be considerably shorter.

 

Departures: A Song Cycle

20 Jun

No, I’m not talking about tearful goodbyes to Al, Grannymar and Barbara last week (though there were, of course; especially when they realised I was taking all the Maltesers with me), but about Alex’s latest venture: he’s appearing in Departures: A Song Cycle at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington in London this week.

I will talk about hellos and goodbyes in my next post, of course, but for now I want to publicise this fantastic new musical by Joe Bunce and Matt Malone.  You may recall that it won a ton of awards at The Edinburgh Fringe last year and The National Student Drama Festival this year, only four of which are mentioned in the poster, but one of which was The Cameron Macintosh Award…yep, that’s right: that Cameron Macintosh…  

The plot, according to the Pleasance Theatre website

Nine strangers stand at a nondescript railway platform on an unremarkable weekday afternoon. As their train is delayed further, they put down their crumpled Metros, pocket their bleeping smartphones – and begin to share their secrets, hopes and fears.

The cast in rehearsal:

*

The Sunday Times said:

The lyrics have the contemporary bite, and the music the tricky wit, of a new Sondheim; the cast sing beautifully and the band play immaculately.

When it appeared at the Fringe, the Edinburgh Guide described it as:

…an exciting, innovative, intelligently conceived and choreographed show. Dramatic storytelling with a sense of realism is the strength behind the emotional heart of this modern opera. Remember the names Bunce and Malone – the Kander & Ebb, the Lerner & Lowe, the Sondheim of Musical Theatre of tomorrow.

If you happen to be in London this week, get yourself down to the Pleasance Theatre; tickets are very reasonably priced and I promise you an amazing night – but there are only five nights, so get going.

Ooooo…

14 Jun

I’m meeting several bloggers in London today.

Sigh.

Three more people who are going to discover I’m funnier in ether than in person (Viv, no need to reassure me in the comments, but thank you in advance for thinking of me).

In the ether, you see, I can rewrite the dull; in person, I’m borderline offensive when I mean to be amusing.

Not having a crisis of confidence at all. No, sir; not me.

                                                                                                                 Wish them luck.

 

 

Don’t Eat The Spam!

9 Jun

Sometimes, spam comments looks genuine; at first glances, I thought this was:

My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site.
He used to be entirely right. This put up actually made
my day. You cann’t believe just how a lot time I had spent for this info!

Then I thought about it: her brother used to be entirely right?  I has brothers.  I don’t thinks so….

It’s definitely spam; or the author is an only child and wishing it ain’t so.

*

On a seriously note, I heard that the illiterate emails we is getting in our inboxers are deliberate: nasty spammers want to weed out the intelligent and/or persons what can spell, becAuse they are less likely to be gullible and therefore taken in buy iritating emails.

*

Does you like how I am writings in the style of spam?  It’s very pleasance.

I was going to asks you all to do similar or the sames in your comments, but yours proberly ennd up in my spam filter.

By the way, the title refers to a family story going back about six years.  My nephew and niece were staying with us for a couple of weeks and I made lunch.  Much hilarity ensued because I squirted a bottle of tomato sauce from directly over the top of a sandwich and still managed to miss.  Such are my cooking skills.

Nephew & Nice sat down with their sandwiches and Spud and Wary Boy were given theirs.  One of the boys smelled it and said, ‘I think this ham is off.’

You know how in The Night Before Christmas visions of sugar plums danced in their heads?  Well, visions of vomiting children for whom I was temporarily responsible danced in mine and I ran into the other room screaming, ‘Don’t eat the ham!  Don’t eat the ham!’

Nowadays, if I ever say the word ‘ham’, everyone in the room yells at me, ‘Don’t eat the ham!  Don’t eat the ham!’

My mistake, of course, was not to give food poisoning to my own children.   They wouldn’t have laughed at me then.  Ah well, we mothers can’t get everything right.

 

Sofa Surfeit

26 May

It’s that time of decade.  We last bought a new couch in 1993. I wish I was kidding; I’m not.  We’ve had new-to-us couches since then: a lot of new-to us couches, bought secondhand or given to us or donated by Freegle or inherited from dead parents; but we have not bought a new one since 1993.

We have had a couch each for some years now – unmatched in size, shape, style or fabric.  We sold some stuff and saved and eventually we had enough dosh for two new couches.  I demanded only identical couches with no space underneath for junk storage or stale dog pellets; the Hub demanded comfort.  As usual, I got my way.  As usual, he didn’t.

We found two lovely couches in a shop on eBay – style, colour, everything perfect. They arrived.  They were installed.  They look fabulous in the lounge.  They give you backache within five minutes of sitting on them.  The arms are too low; the back too not right in any way that counts with a couch.

We arranged a refund – hooray for seven-day returns policies! – covered them up for protection until next week’s collection, and  went out the very next day and purchased two beautiful, matching, comfortable couches from a shop, where we were able to sit as long as we liked, testing their efficacy.  They efficked just fine and all we had to do was sign on the dotted line and wait four weeks for delivery.

And so that’s how we find ourselves in the unique position of owning six couches but unable to sit on any of them: two are rain-soaked in the garden, awaiting a man in a van to take them to the dump; two are under covers in the lounge, awaiting collection (possession being nine-tenths of the law, they are ours until they are gone); two are currently under construction in a warehouse somewhere, desperate for a loving home.

Meanwhile, this six-sofa couple is sitting on tatty old deck chairs in the living room.

You couldn’t make it up.

Snippet

12 May

This is a snippet of Alex as Jamie Wellerstein in The Last Five Years.  Jamie is telling the story of Schmuel, the tailor of Klimovich.

The show was Colla Voce Theatre’s début production and it was fantastic, particularly given the venue, which was practically a dungeon (two or three storeys below ground, in an old Woolworths building).  A two-hander, Alex and his partner, Olivia Doust, had roughly ninety minutes of singing between them.  Olivia had never acted before but you wouldn’t have known.  She gave an assured performance and she has a lovely voice.  Alex was in agony: he had a throat infection and said it hurt from start to finish. He spent three days not talking, treating his voice with honey and great care.

You can read a review here: Blunt Cinema.

In other news: this week, Alex is appearing in The Forgotten Songs of Lerner & Loewe.  If you are in the Sheffield area, tonight is your last chance: details here.

There was a clip available but it won’t play, unfortunately.

He’s got two shows coming up in the summer; I’ll share details when I’m allowed.

Apologies to those who feel outraged that this humour blog has been overtaken by the Alex Cosgriff Fanzine.  What can I tell you?  I’m a proud mama. 

Speaking of which, Hairy Boy was home this weekend.  He came to visit on Friday and turned into Invisible Boy on Saturday morning, disappearing to visit his friends and reappearing in time for Sunday dinner and his train home.  At least I got to feed and wash up after him.  There’s always a silver lining.

Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.

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