It’s downhill all the way

After doing my civic duty yesterday, I skidaddled down the road to the old country (so much quicker going down the way, as my old dad used to say). First morning woke early, ye gods, frost! And I’d thought, what a waste of time, when I had to cover a multitude of young plants around the garden with various objects yesterday evening. Apparently it’s been back to wintery coldness down here recently, but now I’m here things are gonna get warmer and, rather annoyingly, wetter.

Hurrah, teatime viewing is Richard Osman’s House Of Games. Ha, back in the day mother banished the new colour telly to the sitting room and insisted we all sat at the table for meals – it still feels slightly devilish even now to eat tea watching the telly down here! ROHOG is rather good this week, I do like Samira Ahmed, she and Angela Rippon (isn’t she looking great) compliment each other well in the pairs round. Meanwhile at the far end Dom Joly has been rather a misery guts, doesn’t like losing, does he? And then there’s the stand-up comedian, the rather amiable and unassuming John Robins, he’s whupping Dom Joly’s ass in the final round each day (oh, I hope saying that doesn’t damn John’s performance today). On checking wikipedia last night, I see he’s been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe since 2007, winning the Comedy Award in 2017 for his show The Darkness of Robins – how does his name not register with me at all?! I’ll have to look through my Fringe programs when I get back home and see why Mr Robins has stayed below my fringedar.

Oh joys! John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme is back on Radio 4 on Thursday evenings, I was happy to have the kitchen to myself to listen while (while or whilst? Linguistics?) I did the washing up. Oo, I wonder if he’s ever been on ROHOG? With the unusual things he dreams up I bet he’d be rather good on it, though his quickness on the buzzer wouldn’t be stand-up fast. Finnemore v Neenan would be a good match, I reckon, let’s add in, erm, Carrie Quinlan and Alice Lowe. Okay, so I think about people I’d like to see competing on ROHOG, more about that another time.

By the time I return to Auld Reekie the dust will have settled after the parliamentary election. No doubt it’ll all be whirled up again soon enough with independence talks. Politics suck, why can’t folk just try to get along better? Vive la différence! Another thing that sucks is waiting to see how this year’s Fringe will pan out. Registrations have now opened for it but, as the vast majority of venues won’t be viable under current restrictions, it’ll be more the Online Fringe than the Edinburgh Fringe. Hey, at least that could be fairly international, I mean, from next year there could be fair less Creatives over from europe thanks to Brexit, and then, god knows what will happen when Scotland goes for independence?! And let’s not forget the new Scottish Hate Crime Bill thats been disturbing many with its potential new puritanism. At this rate 2019 may turn out to have been the last ever full-on Edinburgh Fringe!!

Oh dear, that went bad. I’ll pick the mood back up by leaving you with a pic of the blue haze of bluebells in the local woods. Toodle pip!

Strictly 2020 for the fans

Yay, even in this Covid-ridden year Strictly Come Dancing is back on our telly screens, albeit with fewer contestants and all very distanced. I’m certainly not missing the audience whooping and clapping at every little thing, maybe if something is extraordinarily amazing that’s fine, but otherwise I wish they’d just contain themselves until the end of each dance. There’s been a very limited audience in the studio but with the second lockdown even that was prohibited. The last few shows have had the competing couples sat at the little cabaret-style tables to replace the missing audience, I like it.

This year Strictly started with twelve couples rather than fifteen, sadly one couple has had to drop out as one of the pair had a positive corona virus test (there’s lots of careful bubbling and testing going on). There’s only three judges instead of four because Bruno is staying in America to do Dancing With The Stars again (previous years he was flying back and forth every week!) Last weekend another judge, Motsi, was away as she is currently self-isolating after a necessary visit to Germany; on the bright side of that, Anton Du Beke has been a marvellous stand-in for her. In fact I reckon he should stay on after Motsi’s return, so getting back to a full quota of judges. To be honest, I’ve never cared for him much but as a judge he’s really shone; being knocked out in the very first dance-off (I knew he’d be first out, that Jacqui Smith was just bad) turned out just fine!

Every year I seem to know fewer of the contestants, many moan on social media about “z listers” on the show, meaning they haven’t heard of them, but in actual fact I would say that’s a good thing as it indicates how diverse the celebrities are and there’s someone for everyone. I don’t watch morning tv, chat shows (Graham Norton is my one exception), the news or any of the soaps and I have little interest in sports; that right there precludes me from recognising over half the contestants. You-tubers, vloggers, Radio 1 dj’s, they just aren’t on my radar – damn it, yes, that’s a younger generation’s game (I’m not old, really, I’m not). This year I only know two contestants well – Bill Bailey (as previously mentioned) and Caroline Quentin, both of whom I’ve loved for years; I did recognise Clara Amfo (Radio 1) but couldn’t place her, until a repeat of Richard Osman’s House of Games on Dave, ahha, yeah, she’s fun, I like her.

So, Bill Bailey, that’s the Older Gent and Comic categories both ticked off; both in one package together and the masses just think “oh, the funny turn, he’ll be hamming it up to get laughs and hopefully votes, ’cause God knows, he’ll be rubbish!” Fair enough, that has happened in previous years, but this is Bill Bailey we’re talking about. Oo, my ears pricked up on hearing he was taking part, his benign, bewildered smile and laidback manner would belie the fact that he is intelligent, meticulous and competitive. Of course, his musical skills would not necessarily translate into dancing ability, as Strictly fans will be aware from previous series. Fear not, his learning skills are as quick as his wits; his inquisitive nature has seen him research each dance style to gain a better understanding of it, he’s nothing if not thorough!

Okay, so I wrote the above four days, it was very late so I took a break. Honestly, I did mean to finish it the next morning, best laid plans. Yay, Bill is still in but Caroline left this evening, it was the dreaded cha cha cha that did for her. Most celebrities find it difficult and it’s almost like a death knell for anyone over forty. Luckily Bill got it out of the way in the very first week when no one goes out, mind, he’s got the jive this week, it’ll need every bit of stamina he’s got! But Bill has something besides his musicality that will have been a great asset – a strong core. Bill loves paddleboarding, does it whenever wherever he can, and while it’s low impact it is a good workout for a body, upper, core and legs. Strong leg muscles will have made his dance training much less of a shock to his system than it usually is to middle-aged celebrities.

His posture even in week two for the quickstep was really good, he was so light on his feet and precise too! Week three, movie week, saw Bill and Oti coming second on the leader board with their paso doble to the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It was a tad magnificent. A good tune can really help win the public vote too, and Bill and Oti had another doozy up their sleeves for week four – only Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang! This was for their Couple’s Choice Street Dance, another second place. Gotta mention the seriously dapper pinstriped suits too, they looked as sharp as they danced!

This weekend Strictly would normally have been in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, a weekend every couple wants to reach and the ante is ratcheted up a notch. Of course, this being 2020, the Blackpool feeling was woven in Elstree and everyone was feeling it! So at least Caroline and Johannes made it to Blackpool Weekend, yay, for them. Bill and Oti wowed again with an American Smooth to I’ve Got You Under My Skin, but with the competition hotting up they came fifth equal on the leader board.

It’s a tough year to call the finalists, but, ah, no, it would the kiss of death, wouldn’t it? As long as it’s great dancing and stunning outfits I’m one happy moose.

Night all 💛