30 December 2011

Edinburgh Street Party *Almost* Sold Out Day Before...

Well, I was warned many years ago.  Apparently Edinburgh Council have a history of ruining things (according to people I know living here all their lives) and the once great Street Party is now "almost sold out" the day before it takes place... Wow!  Interesting that the Concert in the Gardens and the Ceilidh at the Corn Exchange, plus the £150+ party at Harvey Nichols and £200+ night at The Balmoral have been sold out for weeks / months.  Plus the Street Party used to sell out in October / November with almost 50% more tickets.  It is officially now a shadow of what it used to be, all going down hill since the first cancelled night ~2002.

26 December 2011

Boxing Day Has Everything (For Trees)

Yes, the is another tree related global warming post. It's Boxing Day and it's about 12°C with blue skies. But like i said the other day, this year the seasons have been quite messed up and this one tree has no leaves, weird buds and green leaves on different areas in the middle of winter, 4 days past the shortest day. Very strange (and no Neil, it's nit because the Scousers have nicked the leaves off the other side...)!

24 December 2011

Liverpool Decorate Their Trees With Real Leaves!

It shows how mild it has been this year / Autumn / Winter, this tree at the top of the main street in Liverpool still has its real green leaves on Christmas Eve! To think, this time last year it was -10°C and the base of it was covered in ice and snow...

18 December 2011

Winter Cider Wars: Magner's Spiced Apple & Honey Beats Rekorderlig

It seems as if cider is not just a summer drink now. All big name of cider makers have winter varieties out (so nothing from Bulmer's then) but only one can win. And whose is it? Well, starting at the bottom Magner's Apple & Rhubarb and Kopaberg's Cranberry & Cinnamon are both one time tastes (no real desire to taste them again). Magner's Pear & Ginger is a nice twist but it doesn't feel very seasonal. So to the top two, Magner's Spiced Apple & Honey and Rekorderlig's Apple, Cinnamon & Vanilla. The latter is incredibly drinkable and as a nice twist has the option to be served hot in a customer glass, but only half the serving (250ml vs 500ml). Magner's have added warmth to their staple flavour and it's this depth that makes the drink feel more Christmassy. It was very close, but once again Magner's wins the best cider title. Now if only they were following me on Twitter...

13 December 2011

Katy Perry Is Going 200KM/H In The Wrong Direction

Who says I don't listen to recent music? ;) Yes I know I'm late to the game but I've had this song "running through my head" lately and it's very familiar. Maybe I've lost my mind... Tell me Katy Perry's E.T. isn't heavily "influenced" by t.A.T.u. (and I know t.A.T.u.)...
First up, t.A.T.u.'s All The Things She Said
Now the newer version by Katy Perry, E.T. 

12 December 2011

Tough Act To Follow... Milk on Facebook?

Seriously?  I know companies are desperate to jump on the Social Media wagon but really, who is going to follow "Milk" on Facebook and/or Twitter?

3 December 2011

Why Is A Short Guy Advertising To Tall Men?

If "Size Matters", why is a short guy holding a sign advertising clothes for tall men? Sure the sign will be at their eye level, but why not get a tall man to hold it and be seen above the other tall men? Plus surely that guy holding the sign feels really inadequate...

Trams Finally Run Down Princes St in Edinburgh!

It might be off the rails (subtle political comment?) and on the wrong side of the road (blame the German contractors!) but we finally have a "tram" running along Princes Street in Edinburgh. Sadly, this may also be the closest we ever come...

28 November 2011

Imported Japanese Beer From Canada!?! WTF...

Sigh.  I see the lovely Japanese lager Sapporo on sale in Tesco with the glorious words on the front "Imported".  Wonderful, so happy!  Then I look at the back (because I'm a curious monkie [sic]) and I see that it's brewed in Canada.  Why?!  Sad face. [Side note: This was first published on Google+ ... are you on there?]

14 November 2011

Tesco Breaks (Galaxy) Promise - More Dodgy Deals

Sigh. I always looked at the SEL (shelf edge labels) when i put them out. Are the people across the UK in Tesco mere automatons? Galaxy Promises in Caramel or Truffle, £1.50 each or 2 for £4...

5 November 2011

Google Maps Has Been Rigged ... Thankfully!

Google are altering their search results - and I have proof!  Thankfully this is a good thing though.  A wishing-to-be-anonymous frien-d on-line forward me an email he sent through to Google Maps about their auto-complete of the location of the horrific massacre by Anders Behring Breivik.  Entering "utoeya, norway" autocompletes to 'Did you mean: utopia, norway'.  Eep.  Thankfully Google acted relatively swiftly and it now corrects to 'Did you mean: utoya, norway' and links to Utøya.

31 October 2011

Couldn't Decide What To Wear Today...

Do you ever have one of those days? Which colour body paint should I put on...?

28 October 2011

Government Sponsored Graffiti For Youths Too Young To Remember

Now this is an urban adventure in advertising, graffiti trying to reach youths who are too young to remember (or is that the advertising agency?). Simple message - don't choose a knife, choose life. Putting it on a pavement is the only redeeming feature about this campaign though as the fuller message (on the bus stop posters) shows a guy who had a job and a girlfriend (which might lead to a career and a family). So I guess the full message is choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose a family, choose a fucking big television, don't choose something else (or a derivative ad campaign)...

25 October 2011

Me and Ryan Gosling Out In London

Hello Ladies! Drive star and shortly The Ides Of March star Ryan Gosling (lookalike Andy Regent) and me are out on the town! He does a really good Middlesbrough accent ;)

Save The Environment - Get Your Milk In Plastic Bags!

I thought supermarkets were trying to reduce their plastic bag usage? Then it comes as a bit of a surprise that J Sainsbury are promoting milk in plastic bags! Oh yeah, imagine the mess and leaks and fun stomping in one..! How long will they last..?

5 October 2011

Live In Edinburgh? Fly From Aberdeen To London For Business!

What a great idea easyJet has. Advertise their flights that may suit business travellers in Edinburgh. For example lots of people want to fly into London so it'll be really easy for them to get the flight from Aberdeen (ABZ) that gets in at 10.15. Now you may say 10.15 into Gatwick is hardly good for business travellers, but you have to remember that it'll take around four hours to get to Aberdeen from Edinburgh on a good day...

26 September 2011

Tesco Wishes It Could Be Christmas Everyday

This is wrong. Just like the Easter Eggs in Costco I saw on Boxing Day, Christmas Gifts over a month before Hallowe'en is wrong! On the other hand, where are the seasonal pretzels..?

24 September 2011

On Your Marks for the Singaporean F1 Grand Prix

Behold, the start-finish line for the Singaporean F1GP! If you look closely in my shades, you'll notice that the eagle-eyed photographer (or should that be owl-eyed?) managed to catch the reflection of the line in them!  FWIW it was approaching 40°C that day, no wonder the have the race at night!

13 September 2011

Laser Eye Surgery Gives You Laser Vision?

What exactly are Optical Express suggesting in their hyperbolic advert? Over 99% of our patients achieved 20/20 vision *or better* ...! I've got perfect vision but I'd go in for the surgery if it gave me superior vision! X-ray vision? Laser beams? Permanent beer goggles?! I need to know...

7 September 2011

Marketing GOLD - It's All Lies!

Is there anything more I need to say, other than appreciate the brilliance of this marketing campaign for Kellog's Squares. "Buy Two - Get A Free Boat. It's all lies - they're not even square!". Absolute GOLD!

30 August 2011

It's Over For Another 339 Days - The Best Of EdFringe

Phew, 60 shows and I'm spent!  Now a quick recap of what you may have missed during the Edinburgh Comedy Festival (well, Fringe) 2011.  Two shows managed to achieve perfection, 10/10 or a ranking-busting 6 stars, and they were The Pajama Men with The Road To No One and Adam Riches with Bring Me The Head Of Adam Riches (winner of the main Foster's Comedy Award). It was simply an honour to witness these acts of pure greatness.

Next up at the 9/10 or a full conventional 5 stars mark were Glenn Wool - No Man's Land; Sam Simmons - Meanwhile; and Idiots Of Ants - Model Citizens.  Honourable mentions go out to the higher 8/10s (traditional 4 stars) Nick Helm - Dare To Dream; Sammy J - Potentially; Randy (Heath McIvor) - Randy Is Sober; and Bridget Christie - Housewife Surrealist.  Those are my top 15%, feel free to share yours...

29 August 2011

The Best Venue At The Fringe Is The Pleasance Upstairs

What a venue! It's on top of a busy kitchen and on warm days it is punnishingly hot. So why is it the Best Venue at the Edinburgh Fringe? Well it hosts both the Best Comedy Show winner Adam Riches *and* Best Newcomer winner Humphrey Ker (plus other Best Newcomer nominee Hannibal Buress). Usually this venue hosts a Best Show nominee, last year it was Greg Davies, but both winners in he same venue?! Maybe they could afford to put in some AC for next year...

27 August 2011

Adam Riches Rightly Wins The Foster's Comedy Award 2011

The riot is cancelled, the injustice from last year's snub has been fixed (just like for Phil Nichol) as Adam Riches is the winner of the Best Comedy Show for Edinburgh 2011! All hail King Adam! FWIW he should have been the Runner Up in 2009 losing to The Pajama Men's Last Stand To Reason.

And The Best Newcomer Is... Humphrey Ker

For his show Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher! Thankfully I have tickets to see his now Award Winning show on Monday :)

24 August 2011

Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominees & New Predictions

And so, three hours later than expected, five hours after the meeting started (drawn your own conclusions) the nominees for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award are out!  6 names are up for the Best Show, 8 are up for Best Newcomer (from a panel of 10 - did they more-a-less pick one each!?).  Here we go...

Best Comedy Show:
* Adam Riches - Bring Me The Head Of Adam Riches (has to be the hot favourite)
* Andrew Maxwell - The Lights Are On
* Chris Ramsey - Offermation
* Josie Long - The Future Is Another Place
* Nick Helm - Dare to Dream
* Sam Simmons - Meanwhile

According to Chortle, only Adam Riches received 5 stars, the others got 4 stars.  Now I know this is a panel decision and they will have to reach consensus, but seriously, after two years of being overlooked it just *has* to be Adam Riches, much like Phil Nichol *had* to win (a year later than he should) with The Naked Racist.

On to the Best Newcomer, where the highest rated shows are:
* Cariad Lloyd - Lady Cariad’s Characters
* Josh Widdicombe - If This Show Saves One Life
* Humphrey Ker - Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!
* Hannibal Buress - My Name is Hannibal

After which we have good, solid 3 star shows (nominated newcomers frequently get 3 stars on Chortle, look back over the years):
* Holly Walsh - The Hollycopter
* Thom Tuck - Goes Straight to DVD
* Palmer & Stouton - Totally Tom
* O’Neill & Paul Valenti - The Chris and Paul Show (not yet reviewed to be fair)

So whose names can we expect to be read out on Saturday?  Like I said, it's a crime against the Arts if Adam Riches is not rewarded for a third consecutive perfect show.  For the Newcomer, you could see it as a straight fight between Josh Widdicombe and Humphrey Ker but given the split in the room (and far too many nominees) I'd hedge my bets on Cariad Lloyd instead.

22 August 2011

The Fosters Comedy Awards Shortlist (Predictions)

So, the first panel meeting was yesterday and everyone is wondering who will make the final shortlist for the second Fosters Comedy Award in Edinburgh. Utilising my "reliable" predictive powers, and assuming the panel don't want to be responsible for another riot, they can't overlook Adam Riches for a third year. Likewise something is amiss if he isn't fighting it out with The Pajama Men - those two have been the pick of Edinburgh this year. Also likely to get a nod would be Glenn Wool and I wouldn't be surprised to see all-round nice guy Sammy J get a nomination too. These are certainly my top four shows.

As for the best newcomer, well this is much more of an open field. Possibly two shows that I only saw to review them, and so glad I did, could be in with a shout, namely Conor O'Toole and the team behind Armageddapocalypse. Also in with a shout are David Reed, Alistair Green and Henry Paker, the last two also only seen thanks to my very fortunate gig this year.

Could there be any surprise names? The Awards always seem to like that, plus Tim Fitzhigham has not yet been seen by yours truly but he will have been by this time tomorrow.

21 August 2011

Conor O'Toole - Manual of Style

Conor O'Toole: Manual of Style - Delightful 8/10 show about fonts, typefaces and things that just shouldn't be funny but are!  It's up on Chortle.

16 August 2011

Henry Paker - Cabin Fever

Henry Paker: Cabin Fever - As Henry Paker finds his comic voice there is an elephant in the room that needs addressing. Watching him, you may notice his stance of occasionally leaning backwards with one leg well in front of him, or the way he glides across the small stage, how he draws us into his surreal imagination and even delivers a few gags in French. Fortunately there is a seriousness to Paker that separates his style from that of the iconic Eddie Izzard. But that doesn't mean Paker isn't slightly mad.

In a small tin hut, Paker has aptly themed his show around Cabin Fever, stuck up Kilimanjaro for three months waiting to be rescued. Before we venture up the mountain, Paker opens strongly by sharing his bizarre issues with certain keys on the keyboard. A strange choice to start with, but smartly put-together and physically well acted.

Paker is an appealing and instantly likeable performer, such that his crowd may have felt overly comfortable with him and happily joined in (not really heckling). He managed to deal with these situations very well, in his own words ‘he created an effortless ease with the audience by telling them what to do’. Later he cut someone off in an endearing way by describing how he is going to cannibalise them, yet it manages to come across kindly as it gives him back control. Once or twice Paker seems to get lost in a conversation with himself, but these are the occupational hazards of his chosen style.

On his main theme, Paker creates an engaging and interesting show, with an intensity that meshes well with his slight surrealism. Some of the other ideas he uses have been covered before, such as The Game's trick of paying compliments that are slightly insulting (‘I love one of your eyes’). Paker brings a suave and creative twist to the material, much like his big finale which is well crafted and enjoyable, however fans of Red Dwarf will quickly see where the idea is going and it may lose some of its punch.

Despite familiarities with parts of his set, Paker comes across as creative act. In addition to his unusual imagination he's able to have fun with linguistics, which works well with the audience he has attracted. There is a sensibleness to his madness and coupled with a very enjoyable delivery it's clear that Paker has qualities that can take him far.

7/10 for an entertaining hour but with slightly familiar material - although the Eddie Izzard-esque style is not a negative!

15 August 2011

Armageddapocalypse - The Explosioning

Armageddapocalypse: The Explosioning - James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer have two things in common: their initials and the fact their flaws have been combined to create the lead in the ‘Hollywood on a shoestring’ comic play, Armageddapocalyspe.

After a bold video title sequence we open to a scene introducing our ‘hero’ Jack Lang as the most renegade agent in the world, trying to stop the bad guys regardless of the consequences. Despite the smallish stage the cast make excellent use of the space and give us a flavour of what to expect for the next hour: some action sequences, silly jokes and asute parody, all with an overriding sense of fun. Then comes the twist; this is actually the screening of the Special-Edition Extended-DVD Blu-Ray Director's Cut version of the film, with the action switching between the stage and the side-stage director’s coke-fuelled commentary.

The story itself needs minimal explaining, or spoiling – bad guy tries to blow up the world, good guy tries to stop him – all inside an hour of fun, laughter, cheesy lines and subtle references. The humour comes from just about all areas of the production: over-the-top performances, prop choices, plot decisions and subverting audiences expectations. A lot of direct gags are from the absurd nature of action films, although the smart writing has added a realistic element to the silliness that pays off so well. Some lines delivered as throw-away after-thoughts are funny enough by themselves to make the cut in other shows.

James Moran and Lucien Young, as hero Jack Lang and villain Dr. Apocalypse respectively, work very well together, both as the lead roles and creators of a perfectly balanced script. They are well-complemented by Tamara Astor as Jennica Wildfire, Lang's apparent love interest, along with Joe Bannister as Falcon, head of the intelligence agency who tries to get Lang to play by the rules, and Johan Munir as director Zach Jack. There is a reasonably long list of supporting characters played by these three, including my personal favourite Dena, the plain computer technician who Lang always calls when he goes rogue. None of the characters are superfluous and all add at least humour to the already highly enjoyable show.

Not since Dutch Elm Conservatoire graced the Fringe has a comic play managed to capture both smartness and silliness at the same time. The audience were thoroughly entertained and can be heard raving about the show before they'd left the building. Don't wait for the DVD version, see this show for yourself.

8/10 for a great comic play, something I picked out based on a poster in Cappadocia one evening and as it wasn't earmarked for review went to see it for Chortle.  Steve was keen to expand to see things other than well-known names and I bet the team behind it are thrilled with the final copy!

Caroline Mabey: One Minute Silence

Caroline Mabey: One Minute Silence - 7/10 for a bold and different show from Caroline, currently up on Chortle

14 August 2011

Edinburgh Festivals In The Glorious Summer Time

Nothing can match the never quit attitude of Festival performers,  even the serious risk of summer-related injuries... (Being honest though, I'm posting this sitting outside in lovely sunshine enjoying a mid-afternoon pint)

Tom Bell Begins

Tom Bell Begins - Who says successful gritty reboots can only be applied to comic books, and not to comics? Tom Bell wants to tell us his origins story.

The show begins with video montage and dramatic music as we see the possibilities of Tom Bell as a comic-book hero and slowly journey into his dark world – until Bell suddenly cuts the intro as it was a bit too gritty for him and he's getting a bit scared, so lightens the mood with some audience participation.

Begins is comprised of the classic three acts: the beginning, the struggle and the rising. After sweeping through his childhood and dreams, a main one being that he wanted to grow up in Gotham but instead lived in nearby Kegworth, Leicestershire, Bell builds to his first foray into writing and his first true love. He quickly realises that he must leave Kegworth to fulfil his dreams and maybe find love again. The struggle ensues, wrestling with the dark side of performing ironically misogynistic gags to a crowd taking them seriously and trying to reinvent himself. Ultimately, Bell rises and overcomes these struggles in the most unexpected yet amusing way.

The show maintains an interesting balance, part of it tries to deliver his gritty story reboot, while the rest is self-deprecation through his shambolic nature. Laughs come constantly, and the variety of segments keeps the audience entertaining and engaged without any lulls. Bell successfully pulls off video interaction with Alfred his butler, a multitude of slides, at least three discrete characters, a couple of dances, two songs on his guitar and some impressive montages. Clearly a lot of work has gone into this hour, which is tight, imaginative, well executed and accessible – despite it's geeky premise.

8/10 for an enjoyable hour that I actually saw twice (due to over-running the first time) and was still entertained.

13 August 2011

Phil Nichol - The Simple Hour

Phil Nichol: The Simple Hour - It's a sold out show, yet around a dozen seats are still empty - what do you do? Most comics would kick on and start the show, but Phil Nichol isn't most comics.

After a thoughtful consultation with his audience, it seems the decent thing to do is wait five more minutes for people who have been held up. Yet the audience still want to be entertained. So Nichol proceeds to break at least three golden rules of comedy, by giving over the mike to punter Tarquin Delaney, who had the temerity to request Only Gay Eskimo. Delaney takes the stage, Nichol takes a place in the audience… so when latecomers turn up, they must wonder what madness this is. The answer is it's Phil Nichol's madness.

Is there another comic who would stop a show when heckled about the origin of the Mah Nà Mah Nà song - and get away with it? Having argued with almost every member of the audience, Nichol insisted people get their phones out to find whether it was actually first used on Sesame Street or The Muppets (it was Sesame Street). When Nichol is proved right, he jubilantly straddles chairs in the front row shouting joyous profanities to the audience in celebration.

His Simple Hour is clearly not suitable for his Born Again Christian parents, although that was his aim. Simple it maybe in name, but it is expertly delivered and perfectly timed. True, a small part of his material has been reprised from previous shows but you can't hold Nichol to a higher standard than other performers, and he's already won the highest award Edinburgh can bestow.

We return a couple of times to Nichol's trusty guitar, which is some of the best playing seen at the festival. He finally delivers his oft requested Only Gay Eskimo; while his final song contains so much trademark Nichol intensity that he breaks a string, but still finishes his performance.

The simple truth is that Nichol is at his best when acting, either delivering stunning stories like Nearly Gay or The Naked Racist, or in more pronounced characters such as the dead poet Bobby Spade. But even as himself, he still bests most other comics and gives audiences huge laughter for their money. The Simple Hour is very funny hour of madness, mayhem and magic, as only Nichol has mastered.

8/10 for the unique Phil Nichol, a personal favourite over the years.

Alistair Green - Outpatient

Alistair Green: Outpatient - Alistair Green is infectious, but thankfully just in a comedic way.
Making his full Edinburgh debut, Green goes with an old school stand-up stage - a large spotlight circling around his slim figure as he steps forwards and backwards centre stage, not needing to run around or spend time chatting with his audience. There is almost a voyeuristic atmosphere created in this dark cave-like room as the clinically bright spotlight engulfs him and we listen to his medical history.

Last year Green discovered, out of nowhere, that he was suffering from a potentially life threatening auto-immune disease. The problem with his kidneys naturally caused serious concern for Green, with doctors talking about dialysis or even transplant. It's not the typical comedy gold-mine normally chosen to try and entertain an early afternoon crowd in your first hour show, but Green makes it work well.

He takes us on a journey from his surprise diagnosis, various tests and specialists, through to waiting for results and ultimately his celebration of getting the all-clear. There are some less original subjects touched on, including hospital food and traveller's diarrhoea, but these are the sub-plots to support his main routine which operates on a higher level. Throughout his set he gently steps between enlightening medical stories and smart gags, with the audience never knowing on which side of that line we are currently on.

Green is a quiet man, favouring softly spoken set-ups that deliver inversely-proportional laughs. His well-paced material is engaging and keeps the audience listening with intrigue. Green deftly crafts some well-disguised gags, sometimes just needing an intentionally half-finished line to get the audience to realise the big punchline. There are some creative callbacks too as he builds to a very funny finale.

In short Green clearly has all the skills to go far. With intelligent and subtle gags, and a gentle delivery that sets him apart from many other comics, the prognosis for Alistair Green is very bright.

7/10 for  Alistair's debut show, in some ways reminiscent of a young Skinner (I'm thinking 1991 Perrier) both physically and in some delivery.

11 August 2011

Aidan Bishop - Misspelled

Aidan Bishop: Misspelled - Fifteen per cent of the world's population have dyslexia which, as of 2008, now includes Aidan Bishop.
Bishop's fourth Edinburgh show is an educational piece exploring the issues, myths and his personal struggles with the condition. His opening video, shot in Dublin, quickly gets out of the way the old gag about dyslexia being hard to spell and establishes that most people don't know, or seem unwilling to state, much about the condition. Bishop wants to change that.
This show is a deeply personal journey about his linguistical failings before he understood he had dyslexia, a common one being the use of similar sounding words, such as saying volcano when he meant tornado. By his own admission, his New York Queens accent never sounds the smartest, which coupled with the dyslexia means he was inevitable perceived as dumb and lazy. Despite not initially getting into university he persevered and finally made it, graduating with a history degree.
Bishop's delivery comes across as nervous and forced, seemingly due to the level of concentration he is exerting to not make a verbal mistake. There is a vibe coming from him of a student delivering his final oral report to his teachers. He is far more relaxed when off-script and clearly has abilities as a comic that are more suited to less personally uncomfortable material.
During a brief interaction with people in the audience who also have dyslexia, he quips to a woman who reveals she is from Greece to ‘give me back my money’. An interesting tell on Bishop's goal for this show was how easily he gave up on exploring the interesting dynamic between another woman and her male ‘friend’ – education rather than banter was the priority.
Bishop tries to wrap the show up on a positive note with the very successful people who have dyslexia and some self-deprecating examples of mistakes in his original edits and tweets. This grand finale doesn't come close to the likes of Adam Hills's uplifting endings but I don't think Bishop will lose sleep over it, he aimed to shed some light on the issues and myths about dyslexia and he certainly achieved that.

10 August 2011

Happy Birthday Mr Tickle

Happy Birthday to the Mr Men!  As the Metro has informed me (via Neil), it's the 40th birthday of the Mr Men today and (no shock, no horror) ... Mr Tickle is the most popular book (and first)!  Anyone with half a brain loves Mr Tickle, and to prove that his book is sitting on my bookcase right now!

9 August 2011

Colin Hoult - Inferno

Colin Hoult: Inferno - Still as dark as ever, Colin Hoult has this year moved from focussing on more macabre characters to ‘heroes’, mostly human ones but all inevitably flawed and retaining his signature strangeness.

We walk in meeting Eddie Cartesian and learn of his exclusive love of just one song, meet Thwor and his mighty hammer, understand Glin Caution is frustrated with his ‘pervert’ neighbour Preston Pearce, get introduced to Little J Parker from Nottingham's Crime Fighting Union and several more strange folk. There is a peculiar symmetry as the show almost rewinds through the characters towards a confounding sing-and-dance-along with the audience.

Hoult's work is funny and entertaining, yet manages to be more theatre than comedy at times. If you are looking for conventional humour, then you need to know punchlines don't live in the world Hoult inhabits. There are moments sprinkled throughout the show where you wonder where the humour is going to coming from, only to find an empty void of despair There are also perplexing prop choices including a huge tree taking up a large amount of centre stage, which seems to serve the minimal purpose of a microphone stand, yet maintains a constant visual dominance.

Hoult employs a noticeable motif of muted music coming from another building, reinforcing the idea of his characters living off-stage from the rest of the world. Music plays a key role in many scenes; within the space of a couple of minutes we have gone from chilled-out electro music, to a whispered repetitive chant and to a club anthem without the transitions feeling out of place. The most memorable moments include an adorable dog playing fetch the banana with the several audience members and a visit for buttered tea with a senile old man ‘Billy’ - including a scene-stealing performance by Dan Snelgrove as he battles against the restrictions of Pleasance Two.

Hoult has an impressive range of discrete characters and performs them all extremely well, perfectly complimented by Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner, making Inferno a well crafted and delightfully delivered hybrid of comedy, theatre and darkness.

Handsome, Intelligent Man Reviews Shows For Chortle.co.uk (Seeks Girl!)

Wow!  There I was reading the latest reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe on Chortle.co.uk when I noticed two reviews that had a certain charm to them.  There was a brilliance in the writing that spoke to me and a very familiar feeling that I knew what the reviewer was experiencing.  I scrolled down to see who this fresh new talent is and it reads "Review by Phill Gillespie".  WTF!?!  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention?  I'M the new reviewer for Chortle!!!  After all these years of paying my dues in the Fringe I now get press-passes and my words are shaping (or breaking) the careers of hopeful comics!

The first two reviews are already reprised here (as I wrote them!), first Neil Delamere and then Holly Walsh.  I've back-dated the reviews to when I finished watching the shows (as I normally do here) and so far there are another seven lined up for review. All reviews should appear with this clever Google search. I'm so very happy, and I owe all the thanks in the world to the Vary wonderful person who made this happen...

ERRATA:  It seems part of the above text has caused offence and needs correcting.  People who know me understand both the non-serious "I love myself" persona that comes out in vaguely entertaining ways, but more than that they know of the respect and admiration I hold for stand-up comedians.  For almost a decade I have spent so much time and money seeing as much as I can at the greatest comedy festival in Edinburgh.  I've written an unusually un-elaborated line about "After all these years..." which tries, in a tongue-in-cheek way and using the analogy of a comedian making a break through, to express that what I am about to start writing could have serious consequences on people's careers.  This is was not meant in a glib, gloating or disrespectful way - far from it.  I was trying to concisely convey the slight nervousness and trepidation about the unintended affects that could happen from a miscommunication in a review.  Ironically this sentence itself was miscommunicated and caused offence.  This was never my intent and rest assured my admiration and respect for anyone who gets up on a stage to give to my favourite art-from (that is criminally undervalued in general) is as high now as it has ever been.  Apologies to anyone who felt it had a different meaning.

7 August 2011

Holly Walsh - The Hollycopter

Holly Walsh: The Hollycopter - Who would have thought that jumping off Worthing Pier in a fake helicopter could go so wrong, yet end up so right?

Holly Walsh makes her Edinburgh debut almost a year to day of the fateful incident which shattered her arm and dislocated her shoulder while taking part in the annual ‘birdman’ event, in which various contraptions are employed in an attempt to fly off the pier. In Walsh's case, she was dressed as a damsel in distress being rescued by Rambo and escaping from a Nazi.

Everyone was cheering for failure and the inevitable drop into the ocean, yet when Walsh sandwiched her arm between the water and the frame of the helicopter, those cheers turned to shock.

Walsh then takes us through her journey of four days in hospital and then six weeks of recovery, at times unable to move and fend for herself. Thanks to her brother, she makes it through the toughest parts and to raise her spirits he shares with her the coverage from the national press. The unintentional media coverage and public comments provide some delightful moments of hilarity before we learn of the positives that have come out of the accident. Here we have the beauty of Walsh's message - simultaneously wishing that this never happened, but glad that it did.

Walsh's previous TV experience shines through as less than a week into her debut run she is confident and composed, expertly timing her set filled with photos, videos and PowerPoint gags. Her astute observational skills, including of the subtleties of the English language, provide a second wave of gags to support her story. Walsh has a bubbly and infectious persona that is complimented by abilities as a writer and performer. She has crafted a well-honed piece with a plenty of laughs, a satisfying story and even a joyous conclusion.

From this strong debut it's clear that while Holly Walsh may not be able to fly, she will go a long way.

ADDITIONAL:  I wouldn't be surprised to see Holly's name on the Best Newcomer List in a fortnight...!

6 August 2011

Neil Delamere - Divilment

Neil Delamere: Divilment - Divilment, as the internet told me, is an Irish term for general mischievousness or shenanigans, and Neil Delamere sets his show loosely around this arguing that in the end, all we have left to enjoy is having cheeky fun.

Delamere manages to capture the essence of his Irishness without feeling cliched or that he was re-treading over exhausted subjects – even on the topic of Ryanair he had something different to say, while the show also covered laziness, practical jokes, cheeky drunks and getting himself out of trouble. His gags aren't revolutionary but they still often invoke belly laughs thanks to his adept storytelling skills.

These sets were interspersed with strong audience interaction, tonight exclusively British and Irish  – but as Neil points out, we are all friends now after the Queen's visit to Ireland, which subtly leads to a smart gag about the black balloons released in protest.

An endearing and friendly performer, Delamere 's charm helps him get away with some seemingly rude – or if you will, cheeky – interactions with the audience but his manner never comes across as offensive. His reasserting a question four times in increasingly exasperated and profanity-laden ways just generated giggles from the audience rather than hostility. A personal favourite was a brief slip into auto-pilot and asking a 16-year-old ‘And what do you do?’ before proceeding to ridicule himself for such a bad question.

It's a combination of his likeable nature, engaging storytelling and relaxing accent that could easily have him described as an Irish John Bishop. You find yourself quite taken by him, exemplified by a woman helpfully heckling other reasons why four people left at a peculiar point near the end, so as to prevent Neil getting bothered by it. So in the end maybe all we do have left is divilment, and Neil Delamere is certainly a personification of that.

5 August 2011

The Pajama Men - In The Middle Of No One

I have only ever given four spontaneous standing ovations in my life.  50% of those standing ovations are owned by The Pajama Men.  Do I have to write any more or are you already scrambling for a ticket before their whole run sells out?  Fine, last year The Pajama Men won the top award at Melbourne with their show Last Stand To Reason, the very same show which was the best show in Edinburgh 2009 but was somehow not only overlooked for top award (instead they gave it to Tim Key?) but they didn't even make the shortlist!  Mind-blowingly bad decision...  Thankfully that show is imminently out on DVD but don't take that risk with "In The Middle Of No One" - borrow, beg or steal to get your hands on a ticket.

Still reading?  Sigh.  There is very little that can be said about these two masters of their craft.  If you are privileged enough to see this show you'll witness a convoluted story about time-travel, space aliens, a woman giving birth, an old-time adventurer and so much more (including an old favourite from the last show who doesn't know what he is).  The direction and cutting of scenes to close-up is perfect, the special effects and props are perfect and the montage sequences are expertly judged.  Oh yeah, there is no film footage, no actual close-ups, no props and no special effects, but when you leave that venue you will have been blown away by a stunning film better than most of what comes out of Holywood and realise that it was just performed by two guys in their pyjamas with two chairs (plus a talented musician called Kevin).

I've already informed the Foster's Comedy Award judging panel (via Twitter) that they can save their effort and not bother watching any shows, if there is any justice in the world these guys will walk away with the top award, albeit two year late.  5 stars simply does not do it justice, that's why the audience gave a standing ovation!

Tim Key - Masterslut

Tim returns to Edinburgh two years after winning the top award (boo, everyone should be forced to return the following year with a new show!) and has upgraded his set to include a lot of visual trickery (well, a projector) and an actual bath.  Despite a huge technical problem for the opening 10 minutes, Tim finally gets on stage with his deck of cards containing his "poems" and a variety of props and a presentation / video.  Tim's set is very well crafted with some subtle call-backs and clearly knows what he is doing, however throughout the entire show there were only about 6 laugh out loud moments / gags.  Trying to do something different or add a bit of stage theatre is all very well, but it has to be consistently funny, rather than just having some people laugh because you said a strange word or a pointless poem.  Compare and contrast this the the flurry of energy, intelligence and wit that was in the very same room last year, Bo Burnham, and you can see why I felt aggreived for Bo that he didn't walk away with the top award the year after Tim Key having put on a show considerably better and funnier than a guy a decade older than him.  Three stars mainly due to his effort and construction but I would be surprised if I return to see him again.

3 August 2011

Imran Yusuf - Bring The Thunder

Following last year's show as part of the Free Fringe which was nominated for Best Newcomer (and I missed thanks to a printing error about the final date :-/ ), Imran has found a big 100 seat venue under the Pleasance.  A bright, lively and (mainstream) intense comic, Imran weaves a good set of stories that stem from his unusual background (Arabic name, Muslim religion, brought up in East London, born in East Africa, of Indian Ancestory).  Some of his gags are from safe material (immigrants) but he brings a different slant and seemingly fresh energy to it.  His bits on religion and his personal pilgrimage are little moments that separate him out without being too cliched or relying too heavily on his ethic minority status.  Imran is a very likeable "cheeky-chappie" that has a bright future ahead.  An audience takes to him quickly and his material is entertaining enough without offending anyone.  Three stars and expect to see more of him on watered down TV.

Diane Spencer - All Pervading Madness

Di opens my Fringe for 2011 in the Gilded Balloon (Teviot). She has a well constructed storyline as she tries to describe an epic journey trying to get home, which ends up being her own "ferret is out of the box" moment.  Her style reminds me of Celia Pacquola however I must admit that Celia comes across as more polished and resists the need to throw in some mild-shock moments for a cheap laugh.  There were one or two moments of smiling from some interesting concepts and I left with the feeling that maybe someone else could have performed the story in a bit more of an engaging way (and made it more of a compelling show).  It was a preview show (though she didn't seem to mess anything up) and it was the first show of the evening, and of this year's Fringe, so Di has the potential to tighten this up to 7/10 (3 stars) but as it stands it is just 6/10 (or 2 stars) as it wasn't particularly funny.

Welcome To Edinburgh Fringe 2011!

It's here!  Finally, the 11 months of waiting since the last one ended, the Festival is back!  This year we have some new (controversial) venues, Assembly has been forced out of the Assembly Hall on George Street due to renovations lasting 1.5 years and so they are taking up most of George Square (where the Spigeltent has been for several years, or if you prefer, the main square of Edinburgh University).  Pleasance has a new venue - Beneath, which is a few metres along from the Cabaret.  Finally I have a new gig writing reviews for another site, which be reprised here after a period of exclusivity, but I can't talk about that top secret new gig until next week...!  Four shows kick us off tonight!

30 July 2011

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25 July 2011

I Hope Kitty Doesn't Bite... Ouch, Too Late!

Bravery beyond belief. And I was genuinely bitten by this tiger cub. And it hurt. And my arm started marked for a good 15 mins. It's okay though, we have both had our rabies shots plus we have a shared spirit in that we are both Liverpool supporters (check out the collar!).

24 July 2011

Planking Over The Bridge Over The Kwai

You know it would have to happen one day... I was part of the first Flash Mob in Scotland, now I may be the first person to "plank" on famous film title...

21 July 2011

Cross Drinking Shit Coffee Off My Bucket List!

After many years of being subjected to shit coffee in the UK (such as instant, or only flavour espresso making all your drinks, yes Costa I'm looking at you, Geography is a Flavour!), I find myself paying a (relatively) extortionate amount for literally shit coffee just because it's the rarest and tastiest stuff in the world... Ah, that's actually a good reason too, plus it's was apparently made famous by the film The Bucket List.

20 July 2011

24 Series 9 Should Have The "Counter Tourist Service"

The following events occurred in realtime. 6:13pm I see a sign for Counter Tourist Service. 6:14pm We burst into laughter. Beep beep, beep beep.

19 July 2011

Cumi Love Honey Sir? But I'm No Longer In Bangkok!

I think we should all have the chance to eat some Cumi Love Honey once in our lives...

15 July 2011

Things Go South As I Cheat On My Life Partner

So, having survived Bangkok, whilst still having an absolute blast, things have started to go south... And buy things I mean an Airbus A320-200 that is currently taking us over Java and into the Southern Hemisphere! I am no longer a one hemisphere guy, I'm cheating on the North with the South, let's see what it looks like...

14 July 2011

Teddy Bear Rice Deserves An Oriental Hat!

I need to get myself a mould to make teddy bear rice as part of my Thai repertoire... He's sooo cute!

In Our Restaurant There's No Touchy Touchy...

It's important to get given space in a restaurant, so maybe it's worth advertising that your staff are never too close to customers. Unless someone has stolen (forgotten) the letter D...

13 July 2011

Chicken Porridge? I'm Lovin' It!

If snail porridge gets a Michelin Star, what does McD's Chicken Porridge get, other than a wide berth? [Point of interest: I am fully qualified to comment as I have been awarded two Michelin stars earlier this year!]

11 July 2011

Have I Ever Seen This Logo Before?

Hey Scotland, give me a shout if you know this one...! Mike...? Neil...? Donald...? About a million other people (including a few girls!)... Oh well, guess I'll just have to head over to the Central Mall where the snooker tournament is currently taking place and ask them why their logo is triggering something in my memory bank...

Donald Buys A New Car / Van

All he has to do is tell his wife, and import it back to the UK, don't know which will be harder...!

He's Such A Rebel Without A Cause / Clue

The local version of English is quite hard to understand, even when it's blatantly obvious to everyone else!

10 July 2011

Apparently It Can Rain All Of A Sudden Here

It's a good job we are not in shorts and t-shirts! Oh wait.... Long walk back to the Sky Train then!

UPDATE:  Apparently the women in this shot are from a Zombie movie, thanks for the spot Neil!

Time for SIN? Too Late, Bangkok Has Them Now!

So, Bangkok has Donald and myself (flew over from SIN). I'm sure it won't be anything like the urban myths we've all heard. Let's see what my hotel's mini bar has to offer... Mmm, strawberry flavoured - oh!

5 July 2011

EIFF Has Died, Will Returning Home To August Resurrect It?

This year's Edinburgh International Film Festival has received a fair amount of criticism, not least of all from yours truly.  Fortunately things are looking up for the EIFF, in that they are looking bad.  The one-time Artistic Director & Producer, James Mulligan, who halved the number of films, scrapped red-carpet events, ditched several stalwart threads (including Best of the Fest, which was re-introduced at the last moment), lost several major sponsors (such as Standard Life, CityJet and the key venue of Cineworld) and replaced them with low-budget versions (downsizing Nokia, easyJet and George Square Theatre), oh yeah, and messed up the opening night gala with Festival Patron / 'I was never currating the EIFF' Tilda Swinton and her film "We Need to Talk About Kevin"...  Anyway, that guy, James, has gone after only six months in the position.  Phew.

The organisers of the EIFF are now publicly thinking about restoring the awards and moving back to August, as hinted at by The Hearld last month and recapped by yours truly!  Could this save the EIFF, without going back cap-in-hand to Shane Danielson and begging him to make it a real force again?  Who knows, but I wouldn't bet against an announcement during August about the EIFF's return the following year...

30 June 2011

I Can't Use My New Laptop Cover ... I'm Too Old!

There are many things I can pull off, even if I'm not supposed to. For example a laptop cover in people with the word 'miss' on it. However what even I can't pull off is when it arrives I see the full text is 'miss teenager'! I think I'd better return it and quick!

24 June 2011

One More Thing... We'll Miss You Peter Falk

Sad news, Peter Falk has passed away.  Five years ago I saw him out for his Sunday morning walk in Beverley Hills and he was in great shape (and very friendly too, especially to three strangers on Segways).

23 June 2011

EIFF Does "Best Of The Fest" U-Turn - Maybe You Missed It!

So, despite being told categorically on Monday (by staff from the Edinburgh International Film Festival) that there was no "Best of the Fest" this year, coupled with the fact that there is absolutely no mention of it in the brochure (despite the final Sunday being sparsely populated with films), I'm guessing this is either a very last minute decision / u-turn. This "Maybe You Have Missed" section comes out of nowhere today (time-stamped at 14:30), with tickets on sale at 10am tomorrow (although Filmhouse members could buy them since yesterday, before they were announce...).  Strange, for a festival that seems to be struggling with ticket sales (circumstantial evidence only for that, just reading their tweets and questions some journalists have posed to this year's Director), if it were planned you would have assumed they would have wanted a sales window as big possible, rather than just 48 hours.  Harsh people may say that smacks of not being able to organise a piss-up in a brewery, but then again, as someone who has actually organised a piss-up in a brewery (Stocks & Shots, Scotland's first Stock Market Bar in 2000 at the Caledonian Brewery), then maybe I should offer a comment...  But I won't.  It'd sadden me even more.

20 June 2011

The End Of The Edinburgh Film Festival?

Ticket sales weren't great last year, this year they are tweeting away that they still have tickets left for many shows (except for Troll Hunter that is). Monday evening, apparently a must-see horror, Rabies, and there are a fair few empty seats in one of the smallest screens in Edinburgh. Not a good sign. Worst yet I walked out half way through as this clearly wasn't the great film I'd b been promised (a good film), it was laughably over-the-top without any grounding of reality (45 minutes in I was so bored I left before it wasted more of my time). So you cut the number of films in half and still manage to pick bad films... Really not a good sign! I think the only hope of salvation is moving back to August and getting in a better artistic director, one just half as good as Shane Danielson would make me very happy! My other ticket is going to be posted back to this year's (only had a contract until July) artistic director with a letter saying I didn't want to be disappointed again so I'd rather not use the ticket. Good bye old friend,  it was nice knowing you...  It seems you are now the sole refuge of industry folk, rather than film-watchers... :(

There Is No Best Of The Film Fest In 2011's EIFF

Well, Monday has come and gone which means that there is no "Best of the Fest" for this year's heavily cut down Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011.  There is space in the cinemas for the final Sunday but there are no mentions of it in the brochure or on the website.  It was one thing, three years ago moving the EIFF to June, but ditching the "Best of the Fest" is madness ... unless this is all leading up to an August date for "Best of the Fest 2011"?  Not sure if I'm keen on that idea...

Following the bold move by Hannah McGill (someone I am not a fan of) to separate the EIFF from the rest of the Edinburgh Festivals seemed to work initially (although I wasn't hugely impressed with the films selected each year).  No more clashes in August due to the late release of the EIFF planner and no more missed films due to tiredness.  Well, it worked for me.  According to the Herald, the Glasgow Film Festival has almost twice as many unique visitors and it's not even married up with the film industry (which may explain why the EIFF has some questionable selections)!  With half as many films showing this year, no longer any red carpets and Cineworld (best cinema in Edinburgh) ceasing to be one of the main venues, it looks like the EIFF is really struggling.

You can tell it's a sad state of affairs when I only try to book three tickets this year (and one of those was sold out but I'll catch it on main release in a few months).  Three more films were interesting but when they are out on general release in less than two months *and* tickets are now £9 without any special offers (like the previous 'buy five get a sixth free') then it's hard to find a compelling reason to visit the EIFF, which is a little bit heart-breaking.  Under Shane Danielson the EIFF introduced me to good films, to diversity, to unknown directors, great moments and controversy - all in the name of art.  I hope you manage to survive old friend, I'm off to the first of my only two films this year...

This Birthday Will Be Number Six!

Wow, six years of PhillG.com and 600 posts (the six-hundredth was my great urinals gag yesterday).  It's been a long time with a lot of fun, some world exclusives (Toy Story 3 European premiere date, my various resignations during this time) and quite a few great pieces of humour (still love "what medicine cures a broken heart?").  As it stands this is my longest on-going relationship (with a non-male) and by my birthday next year it will be my longest relationship of all time!  Scary...

18 June 2011

16 June 2011

The Green Light Will Save The World!

In brightest day, in darkest night, no evil shall escape my sight...

15 June 2011

Good Reading Material In A London Pub ... The Fringe Guide?

Okay, this surprised even me!  Wander into a new bar with Andy, brief chat with the girl behind the bar and somehow I notice the gent behind me is reading this year's Edinburgh Fringe Guide only a week after it came out!  He's marking up shows he'll catch and naturally I provided him with a few good recommendations of upcoming stars-in-the-making (namely Adam Riches, Idiots of Ants and Boy With Tape On His Face).  Never realised the Fringe was so popular in London, despite over-hearing a conversation from last month...

Fun Past Time - Correct Spelling & Punctuation In Pubs!

Out drinking in London with Andy and one bar proudly claims to have "Londons largest selection of malt whiskey".  Well, as two Englishmen who are proudly associated with Scotland, we have to verify this and it turns out they have a very large selection (but no Highland Park and about 20 under a strange 'caledonian classics' label or something).  But what I took more offence to, was the lack of apostrophe in "Londons" and furthermore the fact that they are talking about Irish "whiskey" rather than Scottish "whisky".  Thankfully their sign was only written in chalk so a wet finger managed to correct their mistakes!

14 June 2011

I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free Man! (Fourth Time!)

I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!  (Prior to that, and quiet appropriate for a salesman) I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned.

Be seeing you!  [BTW this has all happened before, but never in the Twittersphere...]

13 June 2011

Will I Miss Anything About Musselburgh?

Something big is happening (check the Twittersphere tomorrow morning) and some people already know.  So will I miss anything about working in Musselburgh?  Well, I'd have to say yes, especially around this time of year.  What an adorable gooselet!

12 June 2011

Seriously, How Old Am I?

Old enough to know better, but not old enough to stop having fun! This a few hours after I get asked "Is your friend [Neil] over 25?" ... he's a year older than me!!

5 June 2011

Mr Dresden, We Love You, Please Come Back!

Subject: In-appropriate Advertising
Sent: Sunday 5th June 2011
To: Executive Office of Orange

Dear Sir / Madam,

I wish to complain about the strategic change Orange has made in the last year that is affecting myself and many of the people I know. Until approximately one year ago one of the highlights of visiting the cinema was your Gold Spot adverts featuring Mr. Dresden and the Orange Film Board. As a Marketing Manager by trade I find it hard to recall another series of adverts that so perfectly hit the correct balance of humour and engagement with the audience in such a short period of time.

Sadly your decision to give in to the product placement demands that you have so successfully satirised over the years (mocked may even be a better word given your recent switch) I am loathed to find myself at the end of the trailers and having to sit through an over-running and mind-numbing hybrid of the worst of a trailer and a brand-damaging name-drop.

Volume in the auditorium goes up as people of all ages quickly realise "oh, this is a heavily endorsed advert for a film that is neither as good as an individual trailer or a simple advert for Orange themselves". Due to the film-placement deals signed, your costs may have fallen significantly but the effectiveness of these adverts have dramatically plummeted. You are no longer a "smart" company for savvy film go-ers (read savvy phone consumers), instead you are now only engaging children briefly whilst adults switch off (figuratively) until the BBFC classification comes appears.

Please, for your own business interests and for all cinema go-ers UK wide, re-instate your Orange Film Board / Funding Studios with Mr Dresden and monitor how quickly the "feel good factor" returns to the results of this advertising spend. Until last year you had the magical X-factor with regards films, smart adverts and smart deals. Now you are just cheap. If not for the sake of your own business, then for the sake of art - which is what your previous adverts genuinely were.

Yours faithfully,


[If you are missing him too, why not look at all bar the last two of this playlist]

19 May 2011

Malibu Drinkers Like Nice Nails..?

So if I buy two Cranberry Coolers I get s free nail varnish... I have had a professional manicure before (in Thailand) but that's because I didn't have my nail care tools with me. What makes then think that I, like any other Malibu drinker, wants a free mail varnish...?

11 May 2011

What Month Is It? What City Am I In?

Sitting in so pub over lunch today preparing for my next meeting near Buckingham Palace and I overhear one guy talking about how much he is looking forward to going up to the Edinburgh Festival and about his escapades last year when he mixed up when he was supposed to arrive in the flat he rented in Morningside. Later in the evening the MC for the Recruiter Awards is confirmed to be Dara O'brien and I get a few minutes with him after the show, begging him to do a full month back in Edinburgh (he's recording a DVD in the Playhouse though) and talking about some other comics who are coming (like Dave Gorman!). Have I jumped forward 3 months? This behaviour is usually reserved for August..!