Why are Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter?

Why are Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter?
Star Rating: ****
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
London W12
Review Date: Friday 23rd June 2017

It’s the last week-end of June so it must be time to see Reginald D Hunter. Exactly two years ago I reviewed the penultimate night of his previous tour. Here I was again to review the penultimate night of his tour. Same borough, Hammersmith & Fulham. Different venue. This year he is concluding with two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a slightly smaller venue than Hammersmith Apollo. That may be significant and I’ll return to that later, or it may just be because his fellow American stars, Penn & Teller, are performing a short residency there. These yanks. Coming over here and taking our best venues!

Whilst Reginald D Hunter (RDH) covered familiar serious topics – politics (USA and UK), racism, gender, age, family and faith(briefly) this time he was doing it in a very different manner and that was quite sad to see. Having mastered the art of stand up comedy, RDH was now practicing the art of sit down comedy. Maybe he fancies himself as the next Dave Allen? Ironically, in my review of his last Hammersmith show I referred to the fact that “I think the only thing he didn’t touch upon [in terms of controversial topics] was disability. Maybe that’s for his next tour!”

Well sadly for him he ticks, or should that be two ticks, that box now (one for the Equalities and HR experts) for it’s his own new disability that creates the odd sight of RDH being wheeled out onto stage in a wheelchair, for 3 weeks before this show he broke his leg. That’s taking the old maxim, ‘break a leg’ just a little bit too literally! RDH being RDH he used his newly created disability to form the opening gag of the night, “I thought I’d find out for myself how good your NHS is…. It’s good!”

Reginald D Hunter

You soon get used to the sit down RDH as his delivery and ability hold the audience’s rapt attention is second to none. If anything it probably helped sharpen the focus as there was to be none of his usual pacing up and down, not that he does a lot of that anyway. As I say the show covered familiar ground and whilst it was a very good show, there were a few familiar moments in there – talk of his bisexual niece, his sojourn into the daytime world of book, authors and literary agents, his christian brother and his return to his deep Southern American roots to make a show for the BBC. That was fine in the main as these are fascinating stories and the pay off’s are worth it. For instance, it allowed RDH the opportunity to regale, if that’s the right word, the audience with the incredible tale of the agent who’d been married for 45 years, yet whose marriage crumbled to pieces due to the most extraordinary discovery she made.

There’s some fine comedy in this show indeed. Not a little bathos too. It looked like he might break down at one or two moments when recalling his father’s response to his acts of generosity on a recent home visit to see his folks in Georgia, South America. With the amount of racism still prevalent in the States to hear your own folks uttering comments that question whether you earn your good living legitimately must be quite heartbreaking. That said, RDH is pretty famous so can point to countless DVD’s, press and TV appearances to back up that he is probably doing quite well thank you very much.

I thought the material on Trump was a bit so so by RDH’s usual high standard’s and didn’t particularly offer much beyond the usual ‘Oh isn’t Trump an embarrassment fare.’

Reginald D Hunter

He mentioned that we should look out for some scandal down the line re German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Whilst that may sound a little far fetched, he reminded us that he did tell us to watch out for Ant n Dec during past shows and that turned out to be true the week before this gig, with the surprise revelation that Ant McPharlan of Ant n Dec fame had checked into rehab for drug addiction.

The show’s title is ‘Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter’. I wonder if that’s a throwback to the furore caused by the Hammersmith show in 2015 when he got heckled by a couple of women for a “rape joke” that they didn’t take too kindly to. That marred the end of what had been a very good show and perhaps this is his way of addressing that on stage.

Maybe this is a reference to those who don’t take to him because of such material and of course the whole “rape joke” furore has divided some comedy audiences in recent years. However, whilst he has a hugely loyal fanbase who want the comedy with a focus on the less frivolous, more serious aspects of life, one can easily see how certain not insignificant sectors of the population (i.e. women) may be v Reginald D Hunter.

For instance, the areas covered are constant – race, rape, gender, failed relationships, the N Word. As always he opens by way of explaining why he uses the N word. Well maybe he could save a few minutes and avoid the controversy by just cutting out the N word. This isn’t America and by and large British audiences don’t want to hear the word. He jokes about crossover audiences but sadly he doesn’t actually have that. His audiences are predominantly (98%) white English men and women. Not even many, if any American’s. It’s not as if there aren’t any in London at any given time. That’s not surprising they’re not at his show as he seems to brands white Americans as racist most of the time. I understand the use of the N word definitely deters what ought to be, arguably, his natural audience of Black Brits, but they’re not attending in any significant numbers either which is a real shame as he has a lot to say on many serious topics that deserve to be heard by a wide range of audiences. RDH has the uncanny knack of being able to be both funny whilst often making a serious point as well.

Then there’s the female audience. Not unexpectedly they’ll not be great fans of so called “rape jokes”. The funny thing is he doesn’t really do rape jokes and the one he told actually was “ironic” and not at all in defence of rape. Quite the opposite.

He tells us that his agent pleaded with him to put some lighter, more fluffy stuff at the end of his show … not just for the fans benefit, but to “reduce the number of letter of complaints” she gets ! he pondered this for a moment on stage as we half-anticipated what he was going to do but he moves on to discuss another heavy topic … Bill Cosby!

RDH seems to have a fascination with the darker side of life, the sexual deviant activities that go on – and that’s not dissimilar to many comedians – Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, to name but two, who also aren’t exactly renowned for doing light and fluffy!! However this is at the expense of showing a lighter side which may be a welcome relief not just to his agent, but his audiences too. Could this be why he’s playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire rather than Hammersmith Apollo?

Nonetheless, it’s the raw, uncompromising, shock comedic material that has made his name, and thought it’s always worth exploring new topics, I don’t see RDH changing any time soon. So some of the People v Reginald D Hunter had, like him, better get used to that, take a seat and enjoy the show.

© Photos and Shepherds Bush Empire Photos – Tiemo Talk of the Town

 

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Why a Victorious Theresa May Will Deliver on her 5 Year Mandate

If you were to believe our media (established and social) you’d be mistaken for thinking the Labour party won last week’s General Election. Since when did second become the new first? On that basis I must congratulate Spurs on winning the Premier League title this season and offer belated congratulations to Arsenal for winning the League last season. Let us also congratulate FA Cup runners up Chelsea on actually being the real winners, rather than Arsenal, a few short weeks ago! It’s utter nonsense. As in sport so in politics. Results are what matters and whether you win 5-1 or 2-1, a win is a win, is a win. Brexit means Brexit.

The first thing people should do is congratulate Theresa May and the Conservative party on being victorious once again against an, as far as they and the media anticipated, unexpectedly strong opponent. In a fair contest she increased the Tory percentage of votes and beat nearest rival Labour by a clear 52 votes. The British public turned out in record numbers to vote and the Conservative party won fair and square. Yes with less of a majority than last time, but that happens. They entered the election with “only” a  majority of 12 so it was hardly an enormous majority to hold onto or lose. You can’t expect to win 4-1 every time and anyone who does expect that is living in cloud cuckoo land. It’s funny, but the media are now banging the drums trying to convince the electorate that Theresa May has had her day. Well I’m sorry but why should we listen to them? Did they call this election right? No. Did they call the EU Referendum correctly? No. Did they call the 2015 general election correctly? No. Perhaps all the political Journalists and editors should collectively resign too? Three strikes and you’re out.

Collective Responsibility

Let us be very clear the Prime Minister on her own did not decide this election will happen. Under the fixed term parliamentary process there wasn’t one due until 2020. She asked Parliament to vote on it. Her party, the Labour party, along with most MP’s voted pretty unanimously for it. 522 MPs voted for, just 13 against. A thumping 98% majority for an election. Labour could have blocked this election happening, just as Tory MP’s could have. Therefore the Tories must accept collective responsibility for not achieving the thumping, increased majority they sought and let’s be honest, they had the intent to wipe out Labour and they missed that goal by a country mile.

Prime Minister Theresa May

It was a gamble and it backfired. Labour are a major, major political party and they were seriously underestimated. It reminds me of how Arsenal were so written off as massive underdogs in last month’s FA Cup final. This is Arsenal we’re talking about (who’d won the FA Cup twice in the past 3 years) with their long, proud, trophy winning history. Yet they were dismissed as if they were a no-hoper and look how that turned out.

Leadership Change

I accept that mistakes were made in the campaign and arguably the PM does have to take a degree of responsibility. Moreso if, as reported, she was drafting and launching new policies and a manifesto without consulting and getting the agreement of her cabinet, then clearly the buck stops with her, but this doesn’t absolve the cabinet of all responsibility. It’s their job to know what is going on and when they first became aware of May operating in such a manner to challenge her. Seemingly they didn’t. May knows how cabinet responsibility works and should have operated under the principles of shared cabinet responsibility and decision making.

Nonetheless, for a number of reasons I do not think May deserves to be forced out or feel any need whatsoever to resign this year or for the foreseeable future. Firstly and most importantly she won the election.

Secondly, it could have been a lot worse. A lot, lot worse. Imagine. The Conservatives could have actually lost.

Thirdly, as mentioned above, if she has to go, then surely the media and pollsters should resign too for not calling this outcome correctly? I can tell you that won’t happen.

Fourthly, if it was an error to call an election and not at least retain a Commons majority, then the Tory cabinet and MP’s of both main parties who all voted for an election and campaigned hard to win should resign for agreeing to an election that the victorious are having described by media pundits as a defeat and the other seen as a victory, which it factually is not. That neither party won by a clear majority is a collective failure of the leader’s of both parties, their manifesto’s and their MP’s. So either they all resign or none do.

 

Prime Minister Theresa May

What would May resigning actually achieve except to create the very same instability the country doesn’t want or need right now or in the next 2 years as we seek to negotiate our way out of the EU. If May goes, we’d have another leadership campaign which would distract from the business of running the country and Brexiting the EU; potentially the calling of yet another General Election if any new leader wants the public’s mandate to be PM. That would create the potential for Labour to get in power which, if it happened, would equate to the most spectacular own goal of all. Why give Labour yet another unexpected election opportunity when they’re only meant to get the chance every 5 years?

There is no law or rule of any sort that says a victorious PM, even with a smaller winning margin, has to resign. I think the media and politicians should stop treating politics like a game where there constantly has to be threats of elections, calls for resignations and talk of potential leadership battles all the time. 8th June 2017 was not the latest opinion poll or exit poll. It was the actual, final result of the biggest political, public consultation you can have. The public has spoken and decisively voted in the Conservative party. That party should proceed to carry on running the country for five more years. If the public wanted another outcome they would have voted for that. It’s akin to the Brexit vote. Many said 52:48 in favour of Brexit was too close to call and called for another referendum. Remainers said the Brexit vote wasn’t really decisive enough for such an important matter, but the Brexiters held firm and said ‘a win is a win, is a win’ and the country has accepted that. So too must we over the vote last Thursday.

Lessons Learned

We could always consider the novel approach of leaving May with the opportunity to learn the lessons from this result and work on any areas of weakness identified, just as any readers would expect if they had not quite achieved in all aspects of their job, especially if relatively new into post, as of course, May is. From July 2016 until April 2017 May was widely perceived to have been a good Prime Minister, a steady, safe pair of hands. You cannot seriously allow a mere seven week election campaign to derail that opinion and her capability to fulfil her role. This are just a select few annoyed MP’s, allied to media, seeking to make trouble and create a new agenda and storyline now that the election has happened. It suits them to talk up the drama and paint the outcome as a Tory defeat, Labour victory.

If the Tory party can form a workable and sustainable deal with the DUP they do not have to call another election for 5 years. If the DUP don’t sign up to the proposed ‘”confidence and supply” ‘non coalition’ arrangement this could of course trigger a general election if not now, at any time in the future if there is a vote of no confidence in the Government.

Even if we had another general election in the next 6-12 months who’s to say that lessons won’t have been learnt by May and the Government and they return to power with a clearer and bigger majority than they have now? There are no certainties with any option.

How could things have turned out very differently?

With both main parties aligned when it comes to Brexit this meant the PM’s stated intention to make this a Brexit election never materialised. The public decided there were many other issues that concerned them, from the NHS, security, pensions, elder care and the financing of it etc… It would have been much more interesting if a major party campaigned on a ticket of overturning Brexit. Surely with 48% in favour of remaining we’d have had a real point of difference and a legitimate opportunity to reverse last June’s referendum outcome. As it was we never had that, so the Brexit v Remain debate failed to materialise.

Similarly it would have been good if one of the parties campaigned for a completely different approach to tackling Islamic extremism and terrorism, particularly after the Manchester Arena and London Bridge/Borough Market terrorist attacks. The current approach taken means many can see no end in sight to what is going on. Logically that should point to adopting a different means of resolving the problem. It’s not going to go away just by increasing Police numbers or arming them all. You could double their numbers but in itself that won’t prevent another attack.

Credit to Jeremy Corbyn

Credit where credit’s due to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. From being 20 points behind on 18th April 2017 when May called the surprise General Election, Labour closed the gap to 8% with the Tory’s achieving 318 MPs (48% of 650 MPs) to Labour’s 262 MPs (40%). That’s hugely impressive and to his and his party’s credit. It shows the power of sticking to your beliefs, trusting in yourself and your values. The victory over his critics internally and externally has been total, decisive and must be personally immensely satisfying for Corbyn.

He has silenced his critics and had them eating humble power. Ergo Arsene Wenger facing a season long, longer actually, campaign to oust him from Arsenal, but he toughs it out and for the 3rd time in 4 seasons wins the second most important trophy in English football, the FA Cup. Not bad for a leader seen as unfit to run his club. If these guys can tough it out through the brickbats for so long, so too can May survive the alleged, media driven let’s be clear, turmoil swirling around her position and authority to carry on.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. After Manchester & London Bridge Can We Do More to Combat Islamic Extremism and Knife Crime? Is it a Black and White Issue? – 11.06.17
  2. Brexit Fall Out – Who’s Laughing Now? – 29.06.16
  3. How Did Corbyn Get Away With Wearing The S Word? – 24.09.16
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After Manchester & London Bridge Can We Do More to Combat Islamic Extremism and Knife Crime?

What Price a White life over a Black life? What price a man’s life?

#Men’s Lives Matter #Black Lives Matter

Aside from trying to figure out what kind of madness would make a man commit such heinous crimes and take away so many innocent lives, including putting their own at risk of certain death, the media, Government and Police response to recent events in Manchester and London, has made me question the value we put on men, boys and Black lives.

The answer’s quite apparent to me. Greater value is placed on a white and female life than those of men and boys, even less if they’re Black boys and men.

As we know 22 people were tragically killed at the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande concert on 22nd May 2017. 59 people were seriously injured. Many still remain in hospital being treated for their injuries. Last Saturday night history repeated itself with 7 people killed by three terrorists wreaking inhumane havoc, reportedly (and utterly misleadingly if they believe it) “in the name of Allah” on London Bridge and Borough Market in the heart of London. This had echoes of the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017.

It’s sickening and my thoughts go out to the dead, the injured and their bereaved families and friends. Just as awful are the deaths of 31+ innocent young men in London and across England in the first 6 months of this year. 19+ of these were a result of knife crime. Hundreds more have suffered non-fatal knife injuries. In previous years they would have died but the development of trauma centres of expertise in the capital, over familiarity with knife wounds has resulted in improved skills of NHS surgeons and doctors and therefore the capability to save people from what previously would have been fatal wounds.

Whilst many knife attacks, especially the fatal ones, garner a fair amount of media coverage, none of it compares to the mass, sustained coverage that Manchester and London Bridge has received and will continue to over the coming days and fortnight. It will be relentless, unlike the coverage of knife attacks.

One thing that is apparent is the racial and gender profile of those attacked. The 22 killed in Manchester were all white and predominantly female. 17 women and girls. 5 men.

Manchester Arena victims 22 May 2017

In London the majority of the knife crime victims were male and Black. Approximately 31 people have been killed so far in 2017. 30 of them men and boys. Last year 61 people were stabbed to death in London alone.

It’s ironic then that Manchester’s had so much focus especially when you look at the response to Borough Market when so many brave men stood up at risk of personal injury, which most suffered and survived, to selflessly protect others. Men get a bad rap a lot of the time and of course it is sadly men committing most of these knife crimes and terrorism, but on this occasion let’s hear salute the many brave ordinary men who stood up and fought the terrorists last Saturday night.

Response

The almost immediate Government response to Manchester was firstly to convene a Cobra meeting of the Cabinet, then raise the threat level to the highest ‘Critical’, then lower it back to ‘severe’. We quickly saw the army on the streets of London, patrolling side by side with armed police in a show of military strength. Less than two weeks later the futility of that ‘after the horse has bolted’ approach was brutally and violently exposed with the attack on London Bridge by a van ploughing through pedestrians and three armed knife men running amok through Borough market in Central London.

Solutions

I’ve said it before [Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks, Evening Standard 22.08.16] and I’ll say it again, you could double Police number’s, arm them all if you like, put soldiers on the streets of the capital and right across England but it’s not going to prevent another attack ever happening again. This Islamic rooted extremist terrorism is not based upon a traditional foe, an army that we can locate and bomb to smithereens. The lone wolf or wolves are clearly unpredictable and virtually impossible to stop in their tracks without legitimate reason. That means other solutions are required. Namely understanding and tackling the root cause of extremism. It’s all well and good the Government having a go at social media sites, but they are not to blame. They are just the tool by which some extremism is voiced. If it wasn’t through that, it would be via email, text or verbal conversations. It means talking to people, educating young people; infiltrating Mosques and elsewhere where extremists and those with potential to become radicalised hang out. For sure there’s a role for Social media giants here but so too for the users. No one company can be expected to monitor and act upon the millions of posts made across social media each day. Users of these sites also have a role to report posts and individuals of concern.

Armed Metropolitan Police

Some commentators say the cuts in the Police force numbers have partly facilitated the opportunity for recent attacks. However you could treble Police numbers and quadruple the Police budget but it wouldn’t necessarily of itself prevent further attacks. In fact the new Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has said they Police have enough funding, so that closes that argument down.

In the light of the need to find savings society as a whole has to be the eyes and ears of the authorities. Vigilant as they go about their everyday business to what’s going on around them and reporting anything suspicious. There are around 70 million people living in the UK. The Police can’t possibly monitor everyone of us, or every possible suspect, but if everyone stays vigilant and alert we increase the chances of uncovering, reporting and rooting out extremists.

Christian solutions

The country needs to stop running away from its core Christian values return to them. Fast. We’re currently lead by a daughter of a vicar, Theresa May. We have a Green party leader Tim Farron, a known Christian who seems to be all too keen to keep his beliefs and core spiritual values hidden. I would say that the Christian values he and the Prime Minister Theresa May share (as well as the DUP) are the values that need to be emphasised and promoted in order to help keep our nation safe and secure. They should not be hidden. They are nothing to be embarrassed about. It is the first responsibility of a Prime Minister to keep their citizens safe and to be fair on the whole our Government, Police and security forces do keep us safe, but there can be a perception at times like this, that more could be done to prevent the atrocities we’ve seen, be it terrorist attacks or random knife attacks on individuals.

Allied to this, there is a vital role for the church, for people of faith generally, whatever faith that might be to reach out and preach a message of love and Christian, faith values to an audience beyond their congregation. Literally and figuratively there is no point solely preaching to the converted! The church and its followers need to spread the word outside of their Christian circles.

The removal of Christian, faith based religious school assemblies hasn’t helped. If you want young people to grow up with good, decent values then perhaps schools could review their policies on assemblies.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy needs reviewing too. The Government can’t revoke past military interventions, but it could revisit its current approach to foreign interventions and how it may well have exacerbated tensions and fired up Islamic extremists.

Local Authorities

Can Local authorities do more to create more amenable environments for young people? Give the young something positive to do. Somewhere safe and fun to go to. The closure of youth centres hasn’t helped over recent years. Can local council’s look at the general environment to make areas more pleasant places to live, work, play, shop and socialise in? If you look around a big city like London, there are beautiful boroughs, wealthier boroughs with relatively low crime rates, as well as poorer borough’s that are less attractive places to live in, but despite such disparities that doesn’t mean more can’t be done to instill a sense of pride in an area, make it a nicer place to reside in and visit.

On an individual level, more people need to consider stepping up to see what they can do. Be that mentoring, volunteering, engaging with young people, so that they know they are loved, know right from wrong and have good values instilled in them.

Whether you’re killed in a terrorist attack or one of the random London knife crimes the effect is the same and I doubt the poor victims are distinguishing between the two, but what they want and deserve is a better response and better, more realistic solutions put forward to help prevent others suffering their fate.

Regardless of whether we agree with the potential solutions suggested here, you have to wonder why the response is so disproportionate between Manchester, London Bridge and the more regular knife attacks going on in London and all over the country? Was it because mainly white women and girls were killed in Manchester, but “only” Black men, predominantly, in London? Does society, the Government and Police care more about young white girls and women than young Black boys and men? When you look at the images of those killed the coverage and response from the authorities is quite stark.

Fundraising Appeals

Furthermore and astonishing £10+ million has been raised for the Manchester attack. Whilst that’s great I have to ask what on earth is it for? This includes £2m from the Arianne Grande ‘OneLoveManchester’ concert. I understand it’s for the families of the bereaved. The Manchester Emergency Fund site states, “The fund will make payments to help families who are in need – including those who are faced with funeral costs and individuals who may have suffered life limiting injuries. The fund has been established after countless people, from Manchester and from around the world, expressed their desire to help.”

Fine, but let’s look at who’s been killed. 10 were children. They weren’t working. They were not the breadwinners for the family. So other than support with funeral costs what financial loss have they or their families suffered? 12 were adults of working age. Great to help them, but this is Manchester, not the Philippines or Jamaica. People have pensions and life assurance here. It’s their job to pay out to the bereaved, not Joe Public’s. At this rate everyone bereaved or injured will be millionaires. Unless they were that rich, this is hardly a sum that just gets them back on their feet as per the stated intention. I think more transparency is needed over this. I understand that sums in excess of that required will go back to the Red Cross for further victims of terrorists attacks so in that sense it’s great to know that others may benefit in future from the UK’s and world’s generosity in supporting this fundraising campaign.

Divided Britain

The media likes to report that tragedies like Manchester and London Bridge, along with major concerts like the ‘OneLoveManchester’ show on Sunday night, unite a nation. Really? Did you see the 50,000 crowd packed into the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground? It didn’t look very diverse to me. I spotted less than 10. A mere handful of Black and Asian faces in the crowd. There were more Black people performing on the stage at any one time (and not many at that) than in the audience! Some might say that the artists lacked appeal to Black and Asian’s but that’s missing the point. I thought the idea was for the people of Manchester to unite in celebration of life and music, as well as fundraise for the victims. Whether Arianna Grande, Justin Bieber or Coldplay are you cup of tea or not somewhat missed the point.

It actually highlighted what we all know that at the end of the day. Different cultures don’t mix socially. White people prefer to mix with white, Asian’s mix with Asians and Black people prefer to socialise with fellow Black people. You see that everywhere. That’s just the way it goes. That’s not going to change anytime soon, but perhaps it needs to if we’re to understand one another better, remove any prejudices and basically get along better. In that case maybe the line up needed to be more racially diverse and inclusive?

Conclusion

The Prime Minister Theresa May said after the London Bridge attack that “enough is enough” but we’ve heard that before so many times from others after terrorism or knive attacks. I even wrote an article with that very title 2 years ago. A more joined up, revitalised approach is urgently required to tackle Islamic extremism, try and prevent or at the very least seriously reduce the chances of further terrorist attacks as well as strive to reduce the localised, individualised knife crime, that is no less dangerous and murderous, in our country.

We (Government and individuals) need to come up with solutions that are not just military, scaremongering ones. Those one’s have not worked. As we enter men’s health week (12-18 June 2017) and approach Father’s Day next Sunday 18th June 2017, society needs to care more for and recognise that men’s lives and black lives matter just as much as white men and women’s and if we do so, perhaps we’ll come up with actual, workable solutions.

“All you need is love” sang the Beatles famously 50 years ago this month. The sentiments are poignant and ever relevant. Our country, our world in fact, could do with a little more love and a lot less hate.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

#MensLivesMatter
#BlackLivesMatter

Links

  1. Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks – Tiemo Talk of the Town writing in Evening Standard – 08.08.16
  2. Standing up to Knife Crime –  Fundraising Comedy Show – 19.10.15
  3. The Cross and the Switchblade – Book review – 17.02.15
  4. Enough is Enough – 03.02.15
  5. Remembrance Sunday – Is it a Load of Poppycock? – 09.11.14
  6. Are men in Crisis? – 25.09.15.
  7. Men’s Health Week 2017 – Men’s Health Forum
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10 Reasons Why Wenger Will Stay

Wenger In? Wenger Out? Those are the questions. It has been the one subject exercising the minds of Arsenal fans and the media for much of the season. It’s been quite the soap opera. When, if ever, will it end though?

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Manager, promised he would announce his decision regarding whether or not he’d be staying on past the expiry of his current contract in March/April 2017, but like some politicians and quite unlike Mr Wenger to be fair, he did not make good on his promise and even with TV and press interviews as recently as last Friday he still chose not to give an answer.

Arsene Wenger

This appears to be wholly unsatisfactory from a fans and PR perspective and is not what we’ve come to expect from such a professional, well run club like Arsenal. This is something of an anomaly and phenomenon in modern day football as it’s so rare to have such a long serving manager in post (21 years … and counting?) and so you have to presume there is good reason for this impasse. It would of course have made logical sense to announce a decision in good time – be it to stay on or leave and if leaving, arrange an orderly succession. The lack of this happening and absence of rumours of Arsenal sounding out other managers points to the fact there will be no orderly succession, meaning Wenger is set to stay on. It is what it is and so we can just leave it be … or have some fun speculating on the reasons why Wenger and Arsenal Football Club have not announced a decision and not parted company. To me this points to one or more reasons, so as we’re approaching the final round of Premier League matches to conclude the 2016-17 season here goes:

10 Reasons Why Wenger Will Stay on

  1. Wenger is an honourable man. He is a stickler for honouring contracts. It appears clear Wenger views a legal contract of employment as akin to the sacred covenant of marriage. “In sickness and in health. Till death do us part” seems to be his modus operandi and he therefore will be staying on forever just like the Queen!
  2. He loves Arsenal so much he cannot bear to leave and unless pushed will not go. The feeling from the Board is reciprocal.
  3. Maybe Wenger is a “secret”, silent Director in the club and therefore has a major say in determining if and when he leaves.
  4. He is convinced that on merit he deserves to stay. Not only for his past achievements but specifically he expects to yet again secure a top 4 finish as he consistently done during his 21 year tenure. I expect this as well. To be fair few fans would have thought this possible earlier in the season during a particularly poor run of results so to be in with a shout on the final day is some achievement and no less than he expected. Remember Wenger always says judge him at the end of the season.
  5. He is very confident of winning the FA Cup, the 2nd most important trophy in English football. He is not in the business of losing FA Cup finals. His record: Won 6 Lost 1. He does face his sternest challenge in Chelsea next Saturday 27th May who are also unaccustomed to losing FA Cup finals. In winning 7 they never have lost a final and Since Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 they’ve Won 6. Lost 0. If Wenger wins his 7th final he will feel justified that he has earnt himself a contract extension. It might well be the case that the Board have agreed that an extension of contract is dependent on winning the cup and/or securing a Top 4 finish. Furthermore, both parties may well have decided to keep this criteria to themselves to allow room for manoeuvre if results don’t go to plan.
  6. Wenger knows best. It may well be that after 21 years there, he believes that no one else can be a better job than he can. He will feel very much part of the furniture there and that this new Emirates Stadium era is just beginning, free of the financial constraints imposed in financing the new stadium and needs time to re-build his side into genuine title contenders.
  7. His massive salary. Would you voluntarily walks away from a salary of £8.3 million per annum? Wenger should though be wealthy beyond belief by now and I suspect would not be short of highly lucrative offers if he sought a new club so I’d be surprised if this was the major reason for his determination to stay on, but it could be a factor.
  8. He’s been promised a huge cash investment from the Board to spend on players to strengthen the squad. A top striker is required who can guarantee them 20+ goals a season. Theo Walcott should be moved on now.
  9. Wenger’s made a private bet and thus can’t announce a decision or even countenance leaving anytime soon. I understand he’s said he’s not a fan of gambling and would ban it so this is highly unlikely … unless he’s a specialist in poker and was bluffing!
  10. None of the above. He actually really wants to call it a day, but gets more of a kick out of staying and tormenting Piers Morgan and the small but vocal army of Wenger Out critics!

Has the Wenger Soap Opera Run It’s Course?

You can certainly make a results based argument to retain his services if he wins the FA Cup and/or attains a Top 4 Premier League finish. It will be interesting to see if there are still calls for him to go if they secure both. You can also make a good argument for extending his contract regardless of whether or not he achieves either based on his success to date including this season, which has still been a very good one.  However in the grand context of things I think it would be wise for Wenger to call it a day and look for a new challenge.

Though most clubs would kill to be in Arsenal’s position and from the outside their fans can appear highly ungrateful to their manager. However they are not “most clubs” and the club and their fans expect them to be challenging strongly for the premier league title and going a lot further in the Champions League. They have been unlucky in regularly drawing Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the quarter finals. You can’t discount that. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear a Top 4 finish and FA Cup will not satisfy their supporters and I do believe there is little to be gained by staying on and his reputation will be maintained, even enhanced by leaving after this season.

Now is the time to announce he will be leaving this year. He has been a wonderful servant to the club and has created a great legacy that will go down in history. This fascinating soap opera has run its course and many supporters and neutrals alike would prefer not to watch the repeat next season.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Comments 

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Links:

  1.  Result review – Football Play at Pleasance, London N1 – 29th May 2015
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That 90’s Show : Work in Progress – Patrick Monahan

Star rating: ****
Compass Comedy at Compass Theatre
Ickenham, Middlesex
Thursday 4th May 2017

Following on from last year’s ‘That ‘80’s Show’ Patrick Monahan skips a whole decade to perform ‘That ‘90’s  Show’. Bear in mind this was a ‘work in progress’ show ahead of showcasing it at the Edinburgh Fringe in August it was very good indeed. After a nightmare journey to the venue, in which anything but progress seemed to be the way of things – with numerous delays and train driver changes galore I imagine Patrick had wished he’d stayed back in the ‘80s!

Nonetheless, accomplished performer that he is, rather than complain and make excuses, he improvised and turned the nightmare journey into a source of great humour and the audience were laughing away from the get go, soon forgetting there’d been a lengthy gap between the previous comedian Juliet Meyers finishing her work in progress show and himself.

Patrick Monahan

Patrick aimed to look at life growing up in the North of England from a generational point of view. Seeking out the age range of the audience, he divided the room into those under 35 and those over that age. It wasn’t quite an even split as all but two were in the over 35’s group, resulting in one 20 year old lad, out with his mum and dad being the star of the show, along with the 33 year old man who’s biggest vice was watching “normal tv”, which Patrick was bemused by the innocence of that being considered a vice. Another honest man sat next to him said his biggest addition was sex. Funnily enough he was less the butt of jokes that “normal TV” man and 20 year old student!

This was a hugely entertaining, funny show, with plenty of belly laughs. As always Patrick created a feel good factor in the air and you feel better about life for being in his presence. If this was merely the ‘work in progress’ I can’t wait to see what the final product will be like in August. Edinburgh Fringe attendees are in for a treat.

That 80’s Show is currently touring nationwide.

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 runs from 4th – 28th August 2017.

Review and Photograph © Tiemo Talk of the Town

The next shows at Compass Comedy are on Sunday 14th May 2017  and Sunday 11th June 2017 @8pm. Tickets: £5.

Sunday 14th May 2017: Headline act Chris McCausland with support from Jayde Adams, Lucy Pearman, Jonny Lennard, Jim Campbell and resident compere Lewis Bryan.

Sunday 11th June 2017: Headline act Rhodri Rhys with support from Thom Tuck, Matt Hutchinson, Lauren Pattison, Rachel Fairburn  and resident compere Lewis Bryan.

Links

  1. Valentine’s Comedy Night – Compass Comedy – review – 16 February 2017
  2. Compass Comedy International Comedy Night – review – 8 February 2015
  3. Comedy Heading in the Right Direction – review – 12 June 2014

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Posted in Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2017 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fans Flock to George Michael Memorial Service

 

There’s a saying in stand up comedy and boxing that timing is everything. It was brilliantly co-incidental timing therefore that less than 24 hours earlier the country  had started rejoicing in a potential future Watford legend, Anthony Joshua, following his stunning heavyweight title victory against Wladimir Klitschko. The day after, 30th April 2017, music fans gathered in Bushey, Hertfordshire to celebrate the life of a bona fide Watford legend, the late pop mega-star George Michael.

Bushey was the Hertfordshire town where George grew up and a public memorial service organised by the George Michael Appreciation Society and St James’s was held at St James the Apostle, Bushey, allowing locals and fans from all over the world to finally pay their respects to the pop legend, four months after his death. Such was his wide appeal, in addition to many locals, fans came from as far afield as Brighton, Kent, Madrid, Malta, Scotland, Switzerland and Wales.

In a moving service led by Father Graham Adamson and Father Neil Kelley, his artistry, musical and philanthropic legacy were fondly remembered. Father Kelley’s humorous and reflective sermon captured the spirit and generosity, as well as foibles of George. Quoting from a famous George Michael song, he said, “You’ve gotta have faith” regardless of whether that’s faith in God, we all have to have faith in some one, something or in humanity.”

An occasion like this, at a packed church on a Sunday afternoon, was a time for reflection, to ask ourselves what our legacy will be. He touched on the fact that “we’ll never know how many lives George Michael has impacted.” This was a nod to the widely reported acts of private philanthropy that came to light after his death, not to mention the huge impact his music and life had on fans world-wide.

The Price of Fame

Fr Kelley observed and asked the congregation to consider that, “with all artists, all creative types, the more they give of themselves to others, the less they give to themselves. Our lives are enriched at a cost to the person giving.”

When interviewed by BBC Three Counties Radio on Boxing Day 2016, one day after George passed away, he refused to get drawn into one particular line of questioning that “George didn’t lead a particularly Christian life,” responding that, “we’re all infallible. All of us are sinners. Which of us would like the intricacies of our personal lives splashed all over the papers?”

‘Cause I gotta have faith

The question of George and his faith is an interesting one. Speaking to fans at the reception held afterwards it was mentioned that he was raised as a Greek Orthodox Christian. His funeral on 29 March 2017 was officiated by the Greek Orthodox Priest Costas Garibaldinos. He was a church goer. I don’t know how frequently, but a source informed Tiemo Talk of the Town that, from time to time, he did attend the St Thomas of Canterbury Church, close to his Goring home. He would sit at the back and leave before the end of the service to avoid any distracting fuss or fanfare over his presence.

There are many that might have deduced from what they knew of him that he was a non-believer, but that doesn’t strike me as consistent with the fact that, in another act of secret philanthropy, he contributed to the renovation of St Thomas of Canterbury Church.

A number of his hits referred to matters of faith. Faith for instance, of course, being an obvious one, though not about faith in the spiritual sense. Three of his faith related songs were beautifully sung during the service by David Jansen, the WHAMTASTIC! tribute act singer. These were ‘Jesus to a Child’, ‘Praying for Time’ and ‘Cowboys and Angels’.

‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ finale to the memorial service

Interestingly his Highgate home is right opposite St Michael’s Roman Catholic church; the Bushey Conservative club where WHAM! played their first gig is next to St James the Apostle Anglican church and the Three Crowns Pub where a reception was held following the service is right opposite St Peter’s Catholic church. The pub was the regular of George and Andrew Ridgley when they were teenagers and is the very place where they formed the group WHAM! back in 1981.

I don’t recall him speaking much about the faith he might have had, but perhaps there was a tension going on between that, his beliefs and the life he experienced which found creative expression in his music and lyrics. One can only speculate that the choice of homes was possibly deliberately, spiritually or sub-consciously a symbol of his search to find solace and meaning in the earthly and spiritual side of his life.

Three Crowns

The post service reception brought together super fans to reminisce and talk about their experiences of George. One super fan, George Michael impersonator, Saf Sathi, came from Gravesend, Kent to pay respects. He certainly had the look of George Michael about him, with his sharp black suit, black t-shirt, close cropped hair style and goatee beard. He said, “I had to be here today to pay my respects.” For many this was a long awaited form of closure on the megastar’s death. Claire T, 42, from Orpington in Kent, said, “I have been in love with George Michael since first hearing his music as a young girl. I visit his Highgate home and memorial quite often. He meant everything to me and I love him so much. I had to be here to show my support.” Such dedication was amazing to hear of, if slightly concerning to say the least!

It was clear speaking to a number of these super fans that it was important for them to be here to try and get a form of closure and to meet with other like minded super fans to share experiences and memories of George. There were many locals present too who shared jokes and laughter about their younger days clubbing and socialising in the local area. Some even attended the same school and pubs, including The Three Crowns, as George and Andrew.

George Michael – WHAM!

David Jansen said, “It was an honour to be asked to sing today by Tracey Wills whom I’ve known for years. I went to the same Bushey Mead School as George and have been singing his music for the past 22 years.”

Co-organiser and Founder of The George Michael Appreciation Society of Bushey (GMAS) Tracey Wills, 45, was inspired to do something after getting a text on the night he died informing her of the news. As a local woman from Bushey, the next day she spoke to Father Kelley, the Rector of her local St James’s Church and they agreed to collaborate to put on some fundraising events and this culminated in the idea of holding this service of thanksgiving and reception. “I was worried the church might be half-empty so was pleasantly surprised to see the church packed out. It was amazing to see people grieving and shedding tears during the service and then being upbeat and singing away at the end to the closing song, ‘Wake me up before you Go Go’ – one of WHAM!’s biggest, most upbeat hits. We hope to do a lot more this year. People have been so appreciative. The phone calls, messages and growth of the GMAS in the past few weeks since it was launched have been amazing.”

This had been a hugely impressive and clearly much valued thanksgiving service and reception to remember the life of George Michael. Hearing that finale in the austere setting of an old church was a somewhat surreal ending to the service. I could never ever have  imagined hearing and dare I admit it, singing along to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go GO’ in a church!! A great, cheerful song no doubt about it, but not one that I imagine will be making it into the hymn books anytime soon!

As I said at the start, timing is everything. As I put the finishing touches to this article on 1st May it was announced that ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘A Different Corner’ were voted the two most popular ever songs by Smooth FM radio listeners in a poll to find the nation’s most popular songs. All of this is further evidence of George Michael’s huge popularity and contribution to British music.

Review and photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Church video – Courtesy of Stephen Page

Comments from attendees 

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Candles lit for George Michael at St James the Apostle Church, Bushey

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  

Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Links:

  1. George Michael’s Devoted Fans Finally Get to Celebrate His Life at Memorial Service – The Sun – 1 May 2017.  Features a photo of this Blog’s Editor, Michael Peters, in the Three Crowns garden
  2. Hundred’s of George Michael Fans Gather – The Mirror – 1 May 2017. Features photo’s of organiser Tracey Wills and this Blog’s Editor, Michael Peters, in the Three Crowns garden
  3. Hundred’s of Fans Bid a Sad Farewell to George Michael in Former Hometown – Watford Observer – 1 May 2017. Features photo’s of organiser Tracey Wills and this Blog’s Editor, Michael Peters, in the Three Crowns garden
  4. Exclusive photographs take inside the thanksgiving service – Arun Kataria, Diocese of St Albans
  5. Careless Whisper tops the chart as Britain’s favourite song – Smooth Radio – 1 May 2017
  6. Have we sacrificed religion for materialism? Battle of Ideas 2012 – review – 4 November 2012
  7. George Michael Symphonica tour 2012 review – 9 October 2012

Tributes outside his Highgate home 

 

Floral tributes outside his Goring-on-Thames home

 

 

Posted in Concert reviews, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

399 Not Out for Nando’s as it Spices up New Development

Restaurant Rating: ****
Nando’s
The Old Dairy, Victoria Road, South Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 0FY
Review date: Opening Night – Wednesday 12th April 2017

Last week I attended the launch night of the first restaurant to open in the redeveloped Old Dairy Citygrove development in West London. Whilst of course it is certainly not the first Nando’s, it was nonetheless a significant one in a milestone year for the brand.

Nando’s have racked up a seriously big, Brian Lara sized cricket store total of restaurants in the UK. The close of play on launch day, Wednesday 12th April 2017, saw them move on to a score of 399 in the UK with the South Ruislip opening. Not only that is that an impressive number, this comes in their 30th year of business (Established 1987  in South Africa) and exactly 25 years after opening their first in England in 1992, just 8 miles away in leafy Ealing Common, West London.

Speaking to one of their four, yes four, manager’s, Shan, on opening day, he spoke of his pride at the new development especially as there were fears the restaurant and proposed retail development might not have even get underway after having to face a legal challenge from supermarket giant Sainsbury’s. In 2015 their action was defeated in the courts by the local Hillingdon council which paved the way for building to commence.

Fast forward just two years and fitting out took just a swift six weeks from early March to April this year. During the 7-8 week build up to launch day, Nando’s trained a team of entirely new employees who were getting their first taste of working in the catering industry. They have provided a welcome boost for employment in the area by contributing 34  of the anticipated 536 new jobs at this Arla Development.

For Shan, “this is a dream come true and is all down to the full effort and hard work of the dream team, the Nando’s family following the Nando family values of passion, pride and integrity. We are one big family.”

Nando’s Citygrove

Walking into the restaurant you’re immediately struck by its impressive size and wow factor. As with all Nando’s this one has its own unique style and character. It is very much based on South Africa in keeping with Nando’s South African origins. This includes the unusual design of the lights, the art work and the beautiful, melodic South African music playing in the background. Loud enough to be heard but not so loud you can’t hold a conversation. The place has a big, light and airy feel to it. I particularly liked the outdoor dining area and can imagine those tables being extremely popular and hard to come by on very hot days. All in all this helped create a lovely ambiance for dining.

On a more practical, prosaic note, the sink for customers to wash their hands beside the fizzy pop drinks dispensers was a nice idea for the hygiene conscious diner and I’m sure you are one of those if you’re reading this review! If not you know what you have to do after reading this!

The location is different from the usual Nando’s typically located on busy High Street’s or inside major shopping complexes. Currently it is just the third anchor tenant on the Old Dairy site, along with Aldi and B&M. Located on Victoria Road, South Ruislip, it’s just 1/4 mile away and under 9 minutes to walk to, or one short bus stop away, from South Ruislip station (Central line). There is ample free parking there too. Later in the year it will be joined by other restaurants and a Cineworld cinema right opposite (due to open in June/July 2017). Essentially though it is sited in the heart of a fairly quiet, middle class, residential area, which should be great for business.

The Meal

Service was impressively fast, with drinks served before my acquaintance had even picked up our cutlery and sat down! The meal followed inside a pretty rapid ten minutes.

I enjoyed butterfly chicken (medium hot) with two sides of rice and mocha peas, which are fresh and healthy minty tasting whole peas drenched in pea mash, parsley, mint and chilli.

I also tried the supergrain which are grains, greens and full of beans with an avocado and buttermilk dressing. That was new to me. It felt and tasted like a very healthy option addition to my meal.

Butterfly chicken, rice and green peas

The food was really delicious, with a lovely, tangy spicy taste to it. I could have done with some more rice, but the portions were typical Nando’s portions, which I guess have often been on the small side and often leave you feeling a bit like Oliver Twist “wanting more!”

I enjoyed washing down my meal with a bottle of their 2M beer, described as a “light, crisp and refreshing beer from sunny Mozambique.” I’d not come across that brand before. I normally associate 2M with tape (or is that 3M)! Either way it had a pleasing light flavour to it that went down very well with the meal and certainly tasted nothing like sellotape! At £3.85 for a 250ml bottle it was somewhat on the pricey side though.

Most of the menu was standard Nando’s but there seemed to be some new additions specific to this branch. I liked the look of the new Trio Burger – Peri Peri Chicken, Halloumi and Mushroom. That will be available until 15th May 2017 or until stocks last so I can only assume it will only remain in the longer term if diners eat enough of it between now and then!

For dessert I enjoyed White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl cheesecake. I had this with cream and found it to be tasty, if a little chewy. It comprises “waves of raspberry sauce swirling through a creamy cheesecake and is lightly caramelised on top.”

This was recommended by our very helpful Waiter Akashai. I also sampled the salted caramel brownie. This rich chocolate brownie had a delicious hint of salted caramel and was absolutely delicious with the ice cream and was satisfyingly filling. Even sexy according to my dining pal! Hmmm. Sexy food? Not heard of that before but will try to look out for and factor that into future restaurant reviews!

On arrival there were a decent handful of diners, but by the time we left there were around nine parties totalling 24 customers. That was good for early evening on opening night. I was told there was a healthy lunchtime trade too. Considering there’s been no advertising that bodes well for the future success, especially when it gets the boost of other stores opening (ASDA is due to open in May/June 2017) and completion of the neighbouring Bellway Homes development.

A slight niggle were the overzealous Waiters and Waitresses, over eager to please on their first day, constantly asking if everything was alright. It was perfectly fine. It just wasn’t necessary to be asked about seven times within an hour by four different people! Many seemed young, inexperienced and were perhaps just following orders and trying to be helpful. They were friendly though so it wasn’t a problem and they seemed genuinely keen to ensure we were enjoying our meal and having a good time. That’s great and in keeping with the Nando’s family friendly ethos. After all they’ve not got to 399 not out by not knowing what it takes to open and run a good restaurant or two.

To reach that number in just 25 years since 1992 is some achievement, averaging 16 per year. That’s quite staggering really as it’s in excess of one a month!! I look forward to dining there again.

Meal for two:

  • 1 x Butterfly Chicken + 2 x sides (spicy rice) – £11.40
  • 1 x Butterfly Chicken + 2 sides (mocha peas and supergrain) – £11.40
  • 1 x White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl with cream – £4.45
  • 1 x Salted Caramel Brownie with ice cream – £2.50
  • 1 x 2M Beer (330ml) – £3.85
  • 1 x Carval Helhos Water (500ml) – £2.35
  • Meal for two with drinks – £35.95 + VAT = £43.14

Photographs and Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town

  • Nando’s Ruislip is open from 11.30a.m. – 10p.m. daily. Seven days a week. 
  • Address: The Old Dairy, Victoria Road, South Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 0FY.
  • Telephone: 0208-841 7337

Links:

  1. This review can also be found on Rate Your Nando’s a great fansite for Nando’s lovers 21.04.17
  2. Surprising New Developments Set to Regenerate One of West London’s Best Kept Secret’s – 21.12.15

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