A tinge of blue

Today would have been the 97th birthday of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons; this evening Radio 4 paid tribute to him with a look back at his life and career along with an edition of Just a Minute (how could they not!), his Desert Island Discs and two one-offs he made for Radio Four. The Straight Man in particular was very interesting listen, part biography, part lesson in comedy duo dynamics. Fascinating stuff! Ah, Nicholas, the world has been very blue since you departed at the beginning of the year.

Edinburgh anď many parts of Scotland have just had all pubs and restaurants close down for at least two weeks. As a protest bar workers in Edinburgh dumped the remaining contents of their ice machines outside the Scottish Parliament, over in Glasgow the ice was dumped outside the City Chambers. Can’t say I blame them! They’ve jumped through hoops forwards, backwards and sideways to comply with the new regulations, disheartened is probably way too light a word to describe how they must be feeling. In the rest of Scotland licensed premises can serve alcohol in outdoor areas up to 22:00, but only non-alcoholic drinks and food indoors until 18:00.

You may already be pondering whether restaurants can still open if they promise not to sell alcohol, alas, the Sturgeon says no. But, some cafes have alcohol licences – apparently they will be allowed to open but not sell alcohol! You can imagine many in the industry are confused and angry by this contrariness. Indeed, I’ve wondered about the position of restaurants that are purely BYO, the Sturgeon doesn’t want restaurants trying to classify themselves as cafes, but without an alcohol licence what defines a restaurant as different to a cafe?

Even in the areas where pubs and restaurants can open, many are closing their doors because, even if they were as full as now allowed, the latest restrictions will make the businesses unviable. Sad times.

Dear readers, wherever you may be, I wish you all the best in getting through this in one piece. I hope your leaders use some commonsense and care about your well-being. I have to believe there’s intelligent life somewhere out there!

Sunday ponderings at Chez Bruce

I just was up pottering round the kitchen, so I stuck the radio on (decided it didn’t really become me, so I put it back on top of the bread bin), ah, Just a Minute, yay!  Wait, what? That Gyles Brandreth was getting a tad presumptuous declaring who got a point, Nicholas will sort him out ….. er, Mr Parsons? Um, not there! But this show was clearly recorded at this year’s Fringe, where is he?

A scramble round to locate an object with Google (no, I don’t have Alexa, I don’t reckon we’d get on) and a few minutes of frantic tapping later, and I’m ok, he’s ok, phew! Well, he is getting on, 95 years old and has only missed one other JaM recording, coming in after the start and not hearing his dulcet tones is definitely cause for concern.

Gyles Brandreth did make a pretty good go of being chairman, is he looking to the future and making a bid now for the seat? Yes, sadly it will inevitably happen at some point, Nicholas will ascend to that great game show in the sky – just think of all the marvellous line-ups available! On the one hand Mr Brandreth does like to talk at length and battle his corner against his opponents, would he want to give up the cut and thrust of competing? On the other hand, listening to him, he may well relish the power to award points and to pontificate chairmanly, hmmm.

Would Just A Minute even continue without Nicholas Parsons at the helm? To many this would be unthinkable. After all, we can always jump into the archives for classic Parsons JaM, if we so wish. Indeed, I am in the “unthinkable” party, but, isn’t it great hearing newer voices come on, getting to grips with JaM? Unlike some comedy shows, comedians cannot rely on their bank of material for JaM, they have to be quick-witted, attentive and eloquent. The show today had Mark Watson on it, a lovely funny chap but his speech pattern does seem to naturally include a lot of hesitation (ok, and he’s fairly new to JaM as well); I did enjoy Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, I thought she found her spot somewhere through the show, then really got into it, her name is now on my radar.

It has been said that Just A Minute will finish when Nicholas Parsons goes, but didn’t we all think the same about I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue after Humph died? I for one quickly recognised Jack Dee as a very natural successor, his deadpan, irritable style fitted in perfectly. But thankfully that time is not is not yet upon us (he says, just quickly checking BBC News), and long may that be so. In fact, if Nicholas Parsons makes it to 100, I think that day should be declared a National Holiday, who’s with me? 😆