I buys the beers and we find a table and its very christmassy, ya know! I'm halfway down my pint when over the hubub I hear music on the jukebox...It's only little old me singing!
My mate must have dropped off one of our 'Pidders Pot' cd's to the landlord and he'd put it on the jukebox, and some complete stranger had actually paid money to hear it!.,..they didn't demand a refund either.
To say I was chuffed is an understatement. It's quite summat to hear yourself on a jukebox. Of course I began to harmonise along with myself, much to the embarrassment of my sons. They said I didn't have to sing along just so folks would know it was me!..(they love me really)
I'm gonna stand by the jukebox in future and drop subtle hints about which music people should choose.
I came home on leave from NI one Christmas. Mum and my nan three sheets to the wind.
Mum looks up. 'What's that lovely stuff in the Fanta bottle you left in the drinks cabinet?'
'Mum! That's poitin (pocheen) Irish moonshine!'
Well, ish really nice.
Potion is at least 60% proof, both women were tiny (about 5' 2'') and they had drunk the lot!
No precautions had been taken by his neighbours. Their paths were cleared of snow, almost an invitation to the horror that would come. Sam knew it was pointless to try and warn them, to make them see the vulnerability in the open-curtain rooms at the front of their homes. To see how the light and colour would draw the visitors straight to them.
A twitching at the corner of his vision. Margaret looked through a slanted crack between the defensive drapes in their front room. He'd told her to go inside, to see to some blankets and quilts to let them both hide in one room, with no heating or lights to reveal their presence. He flicked his hand at her and she disappeared into the gloom of the house.
Flurries of snow circled around him, and he pulled the wool of his hat further down his forehead, anything to stop the flakes landing on his eyelashes and slowing him down. With the back of his hand he dashed away the moisture on his face, then stared down the close to the road at the bottom. Empty.
Sam shook his head. There should be at least one policeman. He knew they couldn't be everywhere, but the estate was a sitting duck, the first residential area the visitors would come to. They would be drawn straight to the warm glow of the houses.
He spun back to the garage door and kicked snow up against the bottom of it. He'd covered over all their footprints, and now it was time to make it look like no one had been in or out. He reached the end of the door and stood surveying his work, hands on hips as he breathed smoke into the freezing air. To his critical eye, the white humps looked staged, but another dusting and his tread marks would fade. He hoped the visitors wouldn't come this close, that they'd just move on to richer pickings.
Sam moved backwards to the front door, his boots making soft arcs as they rubbed out his retreating footprints. He let out a long sigh as he felt the thick wood against his back. Margaret had left it unlocked for him even though he'd told her not to, and he clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and rolled his eyes as he stepped inside.
The air was still after the wind that circled the white flakes into small eddies. It was only punctuated by Sam's decisive bolting of the main lock, then the safety one. He tapped a finger against his bottom lip as he studied the hallway. With a lunge, he reached out for the short bench where they sat to pull their boots off. It fit under the door handle snugly.
Leaving the evidence of damp shapes on the carpet, he went first to the bedroom window, then after checking it was locked, he moved to the bay that looked from the front room over the garden. It was secure too, but he watched for a moment, knowing that the pure covering of white would soon be impacted by the horde, the peace of the close broken.
A huddled shape behind the sofa caught his attention and he turned to see Margaret already in place. She held up a thermos and he gave a weak smile at the idea of tea. He took a pace towards her but paused with his foot in mid-stride. The sound of crunching snow and frost cut into their space.
In swift movements, Sam joined Margaret and covered himself with the quilt. The visitors made no effort in hiding their presence, and their calls to each other could be heard as their bulk moved closer.
Sounds at the bottom of the garden.
Then at the front door. An interested dog snuffling out a rabbit's burrow.
Sam shrank down further as if they could see through the wall.
Then the sounds began, the ones the visitors used to try and entice their prey out.
'Good King Wenceslas looked out, On the feast of Stephen... '
I started the evening watching Michael Buble, feeling all warm and fuzzy (and a wee bit Christmassy). When it finished , I flicked over to BBC and caught coverage of Take That's 'Progress' Tour. It's quite a show. The production that's gone into it is quite astounding. But what a waste! Energy, water, paper....lost count but I had to turn off in the end because it was annoying me so much. I'm probably a killjoy. But it brought to mind scenes from The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - the citizens of the Capitol enjoying outrageously extravagant lifestyles and entertainment at the expense of the poor people who are forced to scratch a living in the outlying Districts. And the point is that a good entertainer doesn't need all that production. Michael Buble was spinetinglingly brilliant, without any strobe lights, flame throwing machines or fountains. And, for that matter, the best moment of the Take That show that I watched was when Robbie Williams sang by himself with nothing to look at but him. Raw energy, a stunning voice, no gimmicks and he had several thousand people right there with him in the moment. The rest of the show was just ridiculous.
In 2005 The Muppets lost possibly their most important 'collaborator' since the horribly premature death of Jim Henson. Kermit has never sounded quite the same since Henson's death (though all credit to Steve Whitmire for the excellent job he does) and, though I am looking forward to the new film, I feel that none of the Muppets will ever sound the same since the death of Jerry Juhl.
One of the first of the regular team, Juhl met Henson in 1961 and worked initially as a puppeteer as well as writer on Henson's series Sam and Friends. He stayed on as writer for Sesame Street and was head writer on the one and only Muppet Show. Juhl's mix of childish puns, well timed slapstick and jokes that play to kids and adults alike is almost pantomime but it's only half the story. Though the characters were created and brought to life by their performers, the way in which Juhl wrote for them showed a great talent for character comedy. Kermit may play Bob Cratchit but he's still Kermit and we won't accept him as anything else. A Fozzie joke will not work in the mouth of Miss Piggy. Juhl was essentially writing for a theatrical troupe of regulars, he knew and understood his cast and the material he wrote for them was suited to their particular talents and their sense of humour. The way they interact with each other shows the same savvy mind at work. The comedy is so inventive, so anarchic and so surreal that it's easy to overlook this character element but without it we would not believe in the Muppets, and that's the only reason they work; we buy into the fantasy without question.
Juhl was involved in almost every Muppet venture (and other Henson projects like Fraggle Rock as well) right up to Muppets in Space, and yet Christmas Carol, written over 15 years after the first Muppet Show, shows no lack of imagination, no dulling of the humour, and no boredom with the characters, it is a joyous experience. As I said, I hope the new movie will be good, but it will be missing a voice. I also hope the writers have the sense to look at what Jerry Juhl achieved, not just as a gag writer, but as a character writer.
Ok, I think it's time these stories got an airing-
call it therapy.
When I was a young 20 something, at university, I went through a phase of going on a fair few first dates: someone told me that I had to kiss a lot of frogs until I found my prince and I decided to take that advice literally. Well, all those first dates have given me plenty of horror/funny tales to tell.
There was the time I’d arranged to meet a guy that I worked with when I was a barmaid. But the night before the date, I’d gone out with my mates and had quite a heavy night of it, so by the time the date came around I was very hungover and suffering from sleep deprivation. I did try to cancel but the guy looked hurt so I went out anyway. He took me to see ‘The Full Monty’’ at the local cinema. We were late and the cinema was packed so we ended up sitting at the very front row. I managed to watch the first half of the film before the heat of the crowded room, and the angle at which we had to watch it-ie practically laid backwards mixed with my lack of sleep the night before took its toll. The next thing I remember was being woken up by my p’eed off looking date while the end credits rolled. I didn’t get a kiss that night but I did find out that I snore.
Another cinema related date. We went to see ‘Independence Day’ but beforehand we had a few drinks in the bar. By the time the movie started I needed the loo. The doors to the cinema were at the back and our seats were somewhere in the middle. I fought my way to the end of our row- feeling a little embarrassed that I was disturbing all the film watchers and so not paying attention to where our seats were. When I returned from the loo, the bright lights in the ladies had affected my eyes, so that in the gloom of the cinema everything- apart from the big screen was practically black. I’d also not worn my glasses so I was basically blind and I couldn’t remember where my date was. It was only after I’d strode right past the row he was sitting in that I realised my mistake. Doing a u-turn and then getting everyone up from their seats again was even more embarrassing.
My next story also involves the dark. My date and I had gone to a very quaint country pub, and again, half way through the date I needed to visit the ladies’. After washing my hands I went to use the very shabby looking electric hand dryer hanging off the wall. I stuck my hands under it and nothing happened, which was then that I noticed it had been switched off by the socket on the wall. So, with dripping wet hands, I switched it on. There was a bright blue flash and a crackle and the lights in the ladies’ went off and I was plunged into blackness. I wiped my hands on my jeans and opened the door to the pub, only to find more blackness interspersed with shouts and giggles. I literally had to feel my way back to the little table where I’d left my date. Before long, someone had come around with candles and shortly after that they’d changed the fuses and the lights came back on. I never told my date that it was me and my wet hands that had blown the fuses.
I do have other stories- like when I’d brought a guy back to my student digs and offered to make him cheese on toast- how could he refuse? We had one of those old fashioned eye-level gas grills and the ignition didn’t work so that you had to light it with matches. By the time I got the match struck, there was enough gas pouring out of the grill to flambé an entire loaf of toast. In a great ‘woof’ of flame, I lost my eyebrows, eyelashes and my date. Don’t worry- he survived- he just legged it while he had the chance.
Thankfully, I’m married now and so will not have to endure any more first dates.
Mozart was, in fact, Scottish. He belonged to the little-known clan of McMozart, an offshoot of the slightly larger clan of McBach. One of his most popular works, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was originally a celebration of Scottish folktunes however it turned out that there was a surprising level of anti-Scottish feeling in Vienna at the time he composed it and it caused riots everywhere it was played. Under duress, he rewrote it as the version most commonly known today. The earlier version only came to light a few years ago. It has since been played all over the world and enjoyed by audiences who appreciate the beauty of Scottish folk melodies.
'Thanks,' said the Para. 'But before I go in, are there any Military Police in heaven?'
'Military Police? No there are certainly no Redcaps in heaven.'
'Great,' says the Para. 'I hate those RMP monkey bastards.'
The Para walks into heaven and St Peter closes the gate.
Half an hour later the gates fly open and the Para lands on his arse in front of St Peter.
The Para gets up. 'You lying bastard!'
'I thought you said there were no RMP in heaven?'
'There aren't any RMP in...wait a minute,' said St Peter. 'Was this guy immaculately turned out, red hat, shiny boots?'
'Well yeah!' said the Para.
'Oh no,' said St Peter. 'That was god, he just thinks he's RMP!'