Following on from yesterday’s no. 6, Eddie Izzard, we move straight on to no.5. And, to quote Winston The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor”.

See, the thing is, I’ve been out all day and now I have to eat and then get to my choir’s social, where karaoke is king, and that starts at eight.

So… Number 5.

Sean Lock

Sean Lock- Purple Van Man

It’s Sean Lock! We hope. The tricky thing is to try and figure out what letter his head is. But since his name is actually Sean Lock I’m going to plump for an ‘O’. His head is a big ‘O’. He’s the Roy Orbison of comedy.

He’s a two 15 certificate comedian man, making him ideal for any thirty year olds.

He may have his hands down his pants.

Talking of pants, his cover with its swirly fonts makes me think a little of this:

Bob corner cardigan

purple haze, fa la la la la

Despite his down-turned mouth and the description of him as “punchy”, I doubt he is a violent man. Unlike Eddie Izzard’s DVD, he is not selling an Ultraviolent version of his act.

He is also “inventive, superb… undeniably brilliant.”

Well… do you dare deny it? I thought not. You can’t. It’s undeniable.

If you’re wondering what Sean’s Purple Van looks like, here’s a pic:

purple van

Sean’s Purple Van

I am off to do my yearly sing of First Of The Gang To Die and Manchester. Bye.

Tomorrow, number 4.

Oh, and if you’ve never seen this video, give it a watch. It’s “punchy, inventive, superb… and undeniably brilliant.”

Go Sober- Day Eight

October 8, 2013

Last night was a test. I am in a choir, Note-Orious, and Monday night is choir night. And choir night is also ‘have a few beers after choir’ night. In a pub!

What to do? I could go home straight after choir… but beer is my reward for having sat through two hours of choir!

I could have had a soft drink- (oh! Just typing that has made me feel ill and weak). I can’t abide soft drinks in a pub. Most soft drinks, in pubs, are horrendously over-priced (I once paid £47.34 for a half pint of weak cordial). Having a soft drink in a pub is like having communion with Richard Dawkin’s in his downstairs toilet. I don’t know exactly how or why, but hey!, simply (and I think that’s needed now) it’s just not on.

Cheryl, from choir, came up with the solution. She said “Why not have a pint of non-alcoholic beer?”

Yes! Why not?

I’d forgotten such drinks even exist! Of course, it goes without saying that they’re shit, but desperate times call for desperate (non-alcoholic) measures.

Non-alcoholic beer doesn’t come in pints. You can’t get it on draft. It comes in beer-like bottles, and the fake beer I had last night was Bavaria.


Bavaria ‘beer’

It wasn’t bad.

It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad.

It wasn’t beer. But it was something, and that something was not (I think; I hope) a soft drink.

I had my one bottle of Bavaria then made my excuses and left.

I have since looked into the non-alcoholic beer market. I have my eye on this:


Bernard Beer

But there’s a catch. Non-alcoholic beers aren’t, in general, non-alcoholic. Last night’s Bavaria (which tasted like liquid Weetabix) is an exception, being a true 0.0% alcohol. But most other non-alcoholic beers, like Bernard’s, are actually 0.5%.

I cannot stray. I am going sober. To even take a sip of a 0.05% supposedly non-alcoholic beverage would be to betray those who have so far supported me in raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Please help me and my wife, Zoe reach our ridiculous target of £1664 (in honour of a certain beer). If you can sponsor us the equivalent of a bottle of Bavaria each (just about £1.50 for two from The Alcohol Free Shop) we will slowly but surely get there.You can sponsor me, or Zoe, or both of us here, here, or here. Thank you.

Here’s one of Bavaria’s most celebrated citizens. Why not enjoy a cold bottle of malty 0.0% Bavaria as you watch Siegfried Fischbacher do his thing. And then after that, have a drink!

Happy Mothers’ day to all you mothers out there. Happy Day to all.

It’s a Sunday and in a bit were off to Zoe’s mum’s for some food, some family fun, walking the dogs in the park, going to the pub… not necessarily in that order. More likely in reverse order.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that today’s Comic Relief Team tracey_thorn Challenge will not happen until this evening.

But, if you can, I’d love for you to keep sponsoring. Big thanks and lots of love to yesterday’s sponsors, Simon, Matt, and Lisa. And good luck to Matt, who is running 10km today to raise money for AgeUK.

I’m up to £320 and 16% of my £1986 target. It’s a very high target, and, let’s be honest, one I am unlikely to reach. I’m good at urging people to give, but not that good. Times are hard. And I’m not some comfortable P-list celebrity just making the right noises here- part of the reason I have set up my challenge is that it gives me the chance to contribute to Comic Relief in the best way I can, because for sure my money would not go far at all.

Having said that, I am going to sponsor @marksemczyszyn. He’s on a rival team, not team Tracey Thorn but Team Emma Kennedy. But hey, at the risk of getting all We Are The World on you… let’s face facts folks! We’re all on the same team!

Anyways, I’m sponsoring him because he’s come up with a great idea for Comic Relief, and a cheap one too. He wants you to buy him a ‘drink’ for his birthday. Of course it’s not a drink, it’s a donation to Comic Relief.

Like I say, it’s a great idea. When you look around the world of Comic Relief giving you see donations of £10, £15, £20, sometimes more. I’m sure some people hold back from donating because giving £2, or £1, seems too small, seems like it won’t make a difference… even could make someone worry that it makes them look mean.

Well, that’s just only so much shit. if you can give £1, please do. Mark has 356 followers on Twitter. Imagine if they all gave £1. If all my followers gave £1 that would add a bit more. And if all of Tracey’s and Emma’s followers gave £1… Between the four of us we’d have raised over £100,000.

£100,000. Imagine.

Give £1 if you can.  Buy mark a pint for his birthday (this Saturday). I’m going to get him a pint of Sierra Nevada Ale. They sell it at the East Dulwich Tavern (where I sing with a choir every Monday night). It’s £5.50 a pint! Can you believe that!

If we all bought Mark a ‘pint’ he’d be horribly ‘drunk’, so buy him a soft drink from the shop and donate £1.

Done. And I’m Mark’s first sponsor! You can sponsor him here.

And if you wish to sponsor me too you can do that here.

That’s enough begging for today.

Oh no… sorry. I forgot. It’s not.

My wife Zoe said to me; “Why don’t we recreate the cover to Baby, The Stars Shine Bright.”

Hmmm. That’s a thing. I’m not sure how we’d do it, but I’m up for having a go. And then I said to Zoe; “Ok, we’ll do it… when I hit the 50% mark of my target.”

So there. All we need today is for lots of people to give Mark a pound, and one benevolent fat cat (I use that term kindly, I like cats) to give me about £650.


I did point out that recreating the cover of Love Not Money would be easier; just an average Saturday night out for us two.

Oh, just realised I haven’t sorted my song for later. If anyone wants to pick one from either Baby, The Stars Shine Bright or Love Not Money, please do and let me know through Twitter (@simonmhickson) Oh, and don’t pick one I’ve done.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for giving. Happy Mother’s/Mothers’ Day. x

Dogs, sheep, llama, people

October 21, 2012

A few weeks back we went to the Brockwell Country Show. The choir I’m in, Note-orious, were singing there. After singing (but no dancing from me; I was still on crutches, recovering from a fractured pelvis- convenient indeed) I hobbled around and took a few pics of dogs, sheep, a llama, and some people.

I hope the people featured don’t mind. I still feel a little uncomfortable photographing strangers. Not so much with the animals. They like it.

Certifiable achievements

September 10, 2010

When we are young we are given certificates if we do something well, even up until a degree (when we are still, effectively, kids). Maybe they help. Maybe they give us the encouragement we need. Maybe, like Steve Martin in The Jerk, posing with a fancy cocktail by the side of a swanky man in a swanky magazine, maybe they help us “be somebody”.

And then it stops. As adults I guess it’s just expected of us to do as well as we can; in life, in work, in play. Every now and then someone may say “well done!” but there’s no badge, no piece of paper.

Perhaps a wage is the adult form of approval. If so, I have let standards slip since my young days.

What da ya want for nothing? A rrrrrrrrrrubber biscuit?

Here’s some of my earlier, certifiable achievements.

1- The swimming certificate.

That’s not too bad. An Endeavour Award from The Swimming Teachers’ Association of Great Britain and the Commonwealth! Signed (well, as a 9 year old I would have taken it as a signature) by Henrietta, the President.

I was also given a sew on badge which my Mum sewed on to my trunks… no picture, I’m afraid.

Well done me! Now let’s take a look at the back of the certificate:

Hmmm. That’s specific. I can’t remember now just exactly what I did to achieve this award, but going off the Examiner’s Remarks it could have been anything from a full length of the pool to sticking my feet in the disinfectant tray. I suspect the latter. Still, it’s nice to see “tenacity” being used. It was only about a year ago that Jim, one of the players on my pool team (cue sports here, not swimming pool), paid me the compliment (I think, I hope) of calling me a “tenacious fucker”.

2- The singing certificate.

My Mum can sing. My sister can sing. My Dad played the piano and was also the church organist. I was expected to sing too. And, when I was 10, I entered some kind of singing competition. Here’s my certificate:

Sound work generally. Ha! Who’s going to tell a 10 year old they were awful? Even Cowell wouldn’t stoop. The song was The kangaroo. “The kangaroo is bouncing on his big fat tail/ he bounds across the hillocks da da da da da…” Yes, I’ve forgotten the words.

Years later we (me and Trev) resurrected this song for our first live tour. I was the kangaroo, and we had a huge fat tail made. The song had a pause in it, sort of like this; The kangaroo is bouncing on his… (pause) big fat tail! I would keep coming in too early and Trev would chastise me. I’d leave a longer and longer pause, but never long enough,and Trev would taunt and chastise me the more. Then, when I would leave the longest pause acceptable to a paying audience, Trev would jump in ahead of me, taunting, chastising, berating; demanding to know where I was.

We performed this on the first night of the tour. The show lasted three hours. We had to cut stuff. The kangaroo song went.

At this same festival I sang another song. One I can’t remember and for which I have lost the certificate. Some sort of classical piece. I remember one thing; I came third. Out of three.

3- The flower arranging certificate.

Let’s end on a high.

It’s the same year. 1973. I’m 10, possibly 11. And it turns out I was good at flower arranging. I got two first class certificates. One for an arrangement using only one type of flower (sweetpea’s) and the other for a miniature arrangement. Sadly, there’s no pictures of these winners. But they were good. I promise.

Maybe I should have taken note of these early signs. I wasn’t cut out to be a swimmer or a singer, though this hasn’t stopped me joining Note-Orious, the choir to which I now belong.

But perhaps I should have been a florist.

Aalborg- the Movie(s)

July 19, 2010

Just under a month ago me and Zoe enjoyed a weekend in Aalborg, Denmark, courtesy of I’d entered a competition to be a guinea pig. And I won! All I had to do in return was record our trip. I said I’d blog, and I did. If you want to read my Aalborg stuff and see the pics, just click on the Aalborg category down in the category cloud at the bottom of this page. (I know, category cloud, don’t blame me, that’s the future for you.) If you can’t be bothered scrolling down, just click here. And if that’s beyond you, just enjoy the films with their pleasing music.

Yes! I told them I’d make a film. At that point I didn’t even have a camera. I had my camera camera, a lovely gift from a very kind reader of my blog, and I know I could have filmed with that, but I’m old fashioned and don’t get these multi-purpose things. I’ve still not got used to music centres. And so Zoe very kindly bought me a Flip camera. What would I do without free holidays and kind friends?

Now the Flip thing is easy. Shoot, upload, click something and then it’s on YouTube. It’s easy. If you have a new(ish) computer. My computer is over 10 years old now. It has a 55GB memory. It is so slow it has taken me a month to upload a 30 second film.

They’re here now. They’re not much to look at. I’m maybe better at still stuff. I didn’t think it all through. I’ll never be given a free holiday again.

But at least they are accompanied by cheesy music. The music comes free with Flip. I used it because I was scared I’d get into trouble with the law if I used proper music. I was desperate to use Strange Animal by Sparks to accompany the zoo film, but I just didn’t dare. What if Ron Mael came after me, with his long arms and his ambiguous stare?

Here’s the films. First up, the Zoo film with a Woody Allen-esque jazzy vibe. Oh, and despite what you may have heard Whatever Works is funny.

Next, off to the art gallery with some low-rent Snow Patrol/Take That crap.

And Karolinelund, with a Flip piece called, oh I can’t remember, a Steel Band Calypso thing that just about drowns out the music of the arm wrestling machine man, but not, unfortuantely for you, my inane ramblings.

That’s it. Apart from the other films you’ll find under the cloud thing.

Oh, and I thought up a slogan: Aalborg- go there, it’s nice.

I hope I get sent somewhere else soon (other than prison or a loony bin… although either of those would be ok-ish, as long as I didn’t have to do any rude stuff or any fighting- it’d put a roof over my head).

Time to stop. I have to head to choir. I’m supposed to have learnt the words to The Time Warp by tonight. I haven’t. Bring on prison. Choir prison.

It’s astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll…

The Feet of God

July 11, 2010

Last weekend I was up in Manchester. That’s where my mum lives and it’s also where my sister, niece and nephew were on their annual trip ‘home’ from California. And this weekend also coincided with St. James’ Church annual parade around the parish. The Whit Walk. Something peculiar, it seems, to the North of England.

My family have been connected to this church for, well, possibly, over 75 years. My dad was the church organist until his death in 1983. My mum is still in the choir. My sister and the kids join in with everything when they are over. Me? Well, I was in the choir. Then I went to university, then moved to London, and, perhaps, the twin evils of education and swanky London living have left me a little less keen. I wouldn’t say Godless or evil, just not so sure about parading around the streets of Salford dressed like a blue nylon monk.

Zoe won’t step inside a church. It’s all for the safety of others. As soon as she’s through the door the font tends to bubble over. I told her it’d be ok. We’d just walk alongside, take a few pics, enjoy the spectacle.

This was before I was press-ganged into wearing a high visibility vest and ordered by the police to assist in crowd control and traffic diversion. There are some things you cannot say no to.

And so Zoe walked around with my nephew William, who, at the last minute, ducked out of the more formal procession. And he made a film. He possibl;y forgot to look through the viewfinder. I’m not sure. Maybe he is just avant garde.

William’s creative when it comes to this church stuff; read his take on communion from a year and a half ago when he was 6. When we watched the film back I asked him what he wanted to call it. Possibly mindful of World Cup events he went for the inspired title of The Feet of God. Here it is:

This yearly walk involves two churches; St. James’ and, from across the road, St. Thomas’.  St. James’ is Church of England, St. Thomas’ is Roman Catholic. They walk together.


May 24, 2010

In the Godstone Farm tea room they have labelled their stirrers, “stirrers”. Those little plastic things that I use as oars when I put my non-existent Action Man in his non-existent canoe. Look! Action Man complete with tea stirrer.

I wonder why they chose to labe the stirrers but none of the other items of plastic cutlery or single serving condiments? Do farm visitors regularly pick them up and stare at them as if they were from the future? (the stirrers, not the people. People from the future would know a stirrer when they saw one I’m sure). Perhaps the staff are sick of people going up and asking “do you have something for er… stirring the tea?” What’s wrong with teaspoons? When did they go out of fashion? Did some folk see the stirrers as some kind of new-fangled cake cutter? Were they trying to eat their cakes with a stirrer, a crumb at a time?

I can’t think about this anymore. I have to go to choir. Bye.

Bigmouth strikes again

October 12, 2009

I’ve a big mouth. I can’t help it. If I could I would. It’s always been with me and to some degree it’s part of my undoing. As a child of three or four, at nursery, the teacher would sit me on her knee and look down into my mouth to jokingly see where all that noise came from.

It’s never gone away. Occasionally I am allowed to forget. But there’s always something there to remind me.

In relationships things can be fine and dandy. Love can be in the air. It can be all around. Then one day, and I rarely see it coming, she will lean in to me, and carefully and gently go “sshhh.”

Here I am as the appropriately titled Launcelot Gobbo in a Salford Youth Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice.

"conscience", say I, "you counsel well."

"conscience", say I, "you counsel well."

Today, on the train, I did something I rarely do. I had a phone conversation with David Mercer, an old friend and a man partly responsible for putting us on TV all those years back in 1987. He’s to blame folks for ten years of Trev and Simon. Now he runs Total Eclipse TV.

I don’t like talking on phones on trains. I avoid it. I don’t like others talking on phones on trains. I scowl at them. But today, for maybe something like the third time in my life, I talked on a phone on a train. And I forget, I’m a big mouth. No matter how hard I try, when I think I am talking quietly I clearly am not.

Getting off the train at Charing Cross I sat on a bench to finish our conversation. A smart middle aged businessman approached me and I asked David to hang on a mo. The businessman told me off; he said that I obviously loved the sound of my own voice. I was embarrassed, mortified, shamed. I apologised. I tried to apologise more but he wasn’t having it. He’d made his point and moved on. He was off.

I am sorry. And to all those people I bothered who didn’t have the heart, nerve or whatever it takes to say something, I apologise. I just wish this man had scowled at me, said something on the train, instead of saving it up with a dig at the end of the journey. But it can take guts to say something and maybe his move was the best to make.

For what it’s worth, I do not love the sound of my own voice. I doubt I love any part of me. I know he didn’t mean it so, but I have been thinking about it so. I must have some kind of crazy ego about me, after all I’m typing this now and who knows who’ll read it, but no, my voice is the constant bane of my life.

Maybe it’s an illness, maybe I can be cured by a voice coach. But it is difficult for me to face up to it as such a problem. I choose to think I am quiet and unobtrusive, but every know and then my own voice yells at me through the reactions of others.

As I thought about this post; as I thought about the comments of the man; the voice I hear in my head is still mine. Try listening to your own voice and see if you can hear it as you would like to hear it; maybe sounding like Sinatra or Morgan Freeman. I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. It’s always me. And me doesn’t half go on.

Tonight it is choir. It’s our birthday. We are a year old. tonight I can sing loud and blend in.

Like Trumpton

September 14, 2009

Sort of. The choir I sing in, Note-orious, had one of our rare public performances yesterday. It was the Upland Road Street Party- though how a road can have a street party is beyond me. I guess a road party just doesn’t sound as much fun.

Here’s some young whippersnappers who played at the street party last year, just to give you an idea. Yes, that’s how it works. We turn up, stand in front of someone’s house, and sing. Here’s our setlist:

  • Rhythm Of Life.
  • One Day Like This.
  • Unworthy of Your Love.
  • I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.
  • This Nearly Was Mine.
  • James Bond Medley.
  • Chasing Cars.
  • Shine.

In time I’ll hopefully get hold of some pictures. For now, here’s Mayor Hook… oh, excuse me! The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook to give him his correct title, and the Dulwich Ukulele Club.

The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook tells a joke or two

The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Hook tells a joke or two

The Dulwich Ukulele Club don't clean the windows

The Dulwich Ukulele Club don't clean windows