Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Birmingham Debut

Should you be in, or able to come to, Birmingham on Thursday, I am doing my first gig since Edinburgh. It’s only been so long because I have been busy with work and flat moving, and because I need to ring around and sort some new gigs.

I am on the bill at the Comedy Kav with a number of very talented comedians, so it should be a good night.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Cars Are Boring* …

… but Top Gear is a tremendous show.

I was surprised at how upset I felt when I read about Richard Hammond’s crash. I’d always found him likeable but kind of annoying. It seems that his co-stars find him loveable but kind of annoying, so that seems to fit.

Since I became a comedian** I have had a much greater appreciation of how difficult it is to perform. As a result I find I give TV performers a bit more latitude. Little foibles and once irksome tendencies bother me a lot less. Indeed I’ve started to see them as part of life’s rich tapestry. So I can live with Jeremy Clarkson’s anti-Americanism, or Extras being a bit hit and miss, or Richard Hammond being a bit annoying. And I’m mighty glad that he seems to be doing well, according to his friend Clarkson. (Hat-tip to Iain Dale.)

Indeed the fact that he has come away from this crash alive demonstrates that Richard Hammond is made of steel. Here’s very much hoping he’s going to be A-1 OK.

No-one hates idiot drivers more than me. Unlike many people I love flying – you’re in the hands of an experienced professional. I much more dislike being on the road – any twat can and does drive. The statistics bear out my prejudice. It is also perfectly clear that whilst some women do lack the co-ordination to drive well and are inclined to dither, FAR too many men think that driving is a test of their manliness, and go too fast and commit multitudinous other sins. They are certainly the worst offenders.

So why do I like Clarkson and Hammond et al? It’s because they have a genuine LOVE for driving and for cars. That is a crucial distinction. Of course they enjoy the fact that they annoy the politically correct brigade, and that is to be heartily commended. But they are not in this game because they have insecurities that they can’t address head on. Clarkson is very self-deprecating and, like his co-stars, has a boyish enthusiasm for cars and life.

It is nothing short of a staggering wonder that Top Gear is on the BBC. Long may it continue. And yes, as mawkish as this sounds, Hammond’s scrape and the goodwill that followed it have encouraged me to tune in with much greater regularity. Once I get a TV, Mr Fascist Licence Man.


* It’ll be interesting to see how my attitude changes when I learn to drive.

** Wow, I’ve never actually described myself as ‘a comedian’ before – I’ve hitherto said that I ‘do stand up comedy’. I think it’s good to put it a bit more boldly.

This was not meant to indicate that I am a two star comedian!

Friday, 22 September 2006

Classic Rock

So Adam turns 27 this Sunday, and is celebrating both tonight and tomorrow. Some would call that excessive. It is not. It is an appropriate response to the fact that he is rock and roll through and through. We will be joined by Oli and Nick. They are rock stars too.

As indeed am I, despite my best efforts. I am resigned to the fact that I rock down to Electric Avenue. What are you resigned to? tommywgreeves@yahoo.co.uk

I will have to work this weekend. But if the days are hard, I hope the nights will be soft. But wherever I am, whatever I do, the soundtrack will be classic rock.


UPDATE: Knowing Adam I should have guessed - all to often the soundtrack was that frightful 'dance music' (sic) that he loves so much. (24th September.)

Summerthing Tells Me I'm Into Summerthing Good

Summertown in Oxford is a fine place. I now call it home. I love my new pad. I love the environs. And something good is going to happen here.

Imagine No Hyperbole

I had a drink or two with Rob last night. I was very pleased to learn that he shares my intense hatred for the song ‘Imagine’.

The music is pedestrian. But the lyrics are an ABOMINATION. Lennon advocates some utterly vile things in his so called masterpiece. At least he had the decency to be a total hypocrite and refrain from living by this absurd and monstrous code.

Chief amongst his preposterous suggestions is that we ‘imagine no possessions’, and the implication that this would be an agreeable state of affairs. This is an idea so hateful that it makes me bleed from the eyes.

See here for an excellent demolition job by the journalist Robert Elms. I quite like a few of The Beatles’ songs, but they are massively overrated.

Sorry to give it both barrels, but I have realised that I haven’t been critical enough recently.

Nate Rusby will not like this post. Nor would Danny Finkelstein, were he to find it.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Licence To Kill

I have received two OUTRAGEOUS letters from the TV Licensing people. I've just moved into a new flat in Oxford, and do not yet have a television. They say they are sending someone round to inspect my property.

Whomever they send round will never forget the lengthy diatribe to which I will subject them.

It will cover the BBC's comprehensive failure to meet its public service requirements, its appallingly biased news coverage, and the FACT that there is NO excuse for compelling people to pay for its services in a multi-channel, multi-media age.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Old Man Time

Kate Rusby

Old Man Time is a rare old man
For a young man he'll ever remain,
With his long grey beard and his clothes are plain
Oh Old Man Time is his name.

As one flower dies
The old man he cries
The young man he plants the seeds again
With a careful hand, he tends the sand,
Oh, Old Man Time is his name.

This old man has an hourglass
For every soul on the land.
Oh, Old Man Time, I have seen mine,
It's the one with the fastest sand.

No sooner is it turned,
Back through the glass it's churned,
I'm wishing I could have each hour again,
With a careful hand, he tends the sand,
Oh, Old Man Time is his name.

To me, Old Man, your time is rare,
Did God not give you all my sand?
Or maybe mine I had to share
Or is there some left in your hand?

They tell me time is gold, well maybe it's been sold,
Or was it simply washed away in rain?
With a careful hand, he tends the sand,
Oh, Old Man Time is his name.

If I brought him a sack,
Do you think he'd put some back?
I know one day across my path he'll come,
But as for now, I can't say how,
I know the old man's work is far from done.
For Old Man Time has just begun.

Frantic Semantics

Q. What do the terms ‘community groups’, ‘ethnic minorities’ and ‘human resources’ have in common?

A. All of them are inferior ways of saying ‘people’.

Monday, 4 September 2006

Danny Finkelstein

The Times journalist Danny Finkelstein is a former colleague* of mine at Conservative Central Office (or Conservative Campaign Headquarters as the Party wishes – hopelessly – that we would all learn to call it).

He is a very engaging writer indeed, so I am pleased to see, courtesy of Stephen Pollard, that Danny has started his own blog. Danny’s will join Stephen’s as one of my must-go-to sites.

* Perhaps I should say ‘former boss’. But neither of us is uptight about these things!

Friday, 1 September 2006

Style You Can't Buy

I'm very glad that I grew a beard.

Thank you.

I Disagree With What You Say, But You Sure Say It In A Pretty Way

Following a wonderful time in Edinburgh, I’m very pro all things Scottish at the moment (and much more proud of my Scottish roots).

YouTube – which is a deep reservoir of joy by the way – has several videos featuring a band that has produced a string of truly beautiful songs. Check out this version of ‘Loaded’ by Deacon Blue.

I remember discovering the song ‘Real Gone Kid’ at around the age of thirteen. Later into my teens, I bought ‘Our Town’, which is Deacon Blue’s Greatest Hits album. It is jam-packed with utter gems.

The majesty of Ricky Ross serves as a reminder that one should not close oneself off to the art of people with whom one is not wholly sympathetic politically. I would miss out on so much great music, comedy and literature if I only dipped my toes into conservative waters!

As in the case of Morrissey, whose work I admire a lot, I sometimes find what’s opined thoroughly offensive. But even that shouldn’t be enough to close the door. It’s vital to keep an open mind – because none of us knows for an absolute fact that we are right about everything. Indeed we can probably assume that we are each wrong about a great deal.

I read two books about the late, great Bill Hicks a while ago. One of them contains many of his stand up routines. I read it through and only laughed once. This was partly because I disagree with so much of what he said. But when James lent me his DVDs, I was able to see what all the fuss is about. Delivery makes a HUGE difference. I need to remember that.

Ricky Ross, Morrissey, Bill Hicks and my all time favourite musician James Taylor would never (have) cast their vote for someone with my views. But each sheds light on the world and on love, and each does so beautifully, and for that, I salute them all.

And I hope that somewhere in the audience when I’m doing stand up is at least one person who regards my comedy as a guilty pleasure. A person who disagrees with my viewpoint, but who nonetheless finds it interesting and – crucially – funny.

Global Warning

Contrary to popular belief, there is NOT universal agreement among experts that we should be terrified of climate change.

I for one would not wish to engage any of these dudes in scientific debate:

http://www.friendsofscience.org

Nor any of these dudes:

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm

Having precisely no talent for science, I am an agnostic on all this. I don't really understand any of it. But one thing's for sure - the status of these sceptics demands that they have a proper platform to air their concerns.

A Weighty Matter

You may have noticed that as well as leaving politics largely alone, I haven’t had much to say about powerlifting for some time. (I suspect some of you are glad of that!) Well, there’s a similarly straightforward reason. I’ve lost interest.

It’s not a world, ultimately, that I especially care for, much as I enjoy the company of some of the people I’ve trained with. I don’t now see myself ever being good enough to compete, and the fact is that a game of football or pool yields a lot more pleasure.

But something inside is saddened by the thought of laying down the barbell. I’ve long felt an affinity with it – finding the right vehicle has been the challenge. As I type this, I suspect the truth is that I’d really like to be a weightlifter, but fear that I could never achieve the necessary flexibility. Maybe I should look into whether I could improve that sufficiently to dip my toes back in the water.

The further truth is I have accepted that I just don’t have an athlete’s mentality. I work with people who do – indeed I have regular contact with world class athletes. I don’t have that kind of drive, nor the drive to climb a political ladder. I am FEROCIOUSLY ambitious about other things though, and perhaps that’s the key. Perhaps ambition is calibrated to how realistic and important a goal is.

I think I shall return to my first love, which is weight training. The game’s not up yet.

UPDATE: If you are interested in weightlifting too, check out this terrific site, called Lift Up.
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