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.

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Interleague 2010

April 19, 2010

I’m just back from the National Interleague finals in Great Yarmouth. And now I’m going to bravely, or foolishly, attempt to explain what it’s all about.

It’s a pool tournament organised by the English Pool Association. The EPA has divided England into seven regions. You can find out why by reading this, but put simply, it’s to make it easier to play other teams. For example, a London team would find it more convenient to play a team from, say, Kent rather than a team from, say, Cornwall or Leeds. And this is where Interleague comes in. Throughout the year there are regular tournaments in all the 7 regions to determine the top two or three teams (the number of teams going through to the finals determined by the size of the region… I think) and then these top teams all head off to a caravan park in Great Yarmouth to play each other. We all stay in caravans and we all play pool and at the end of the weekend one of the teams wins. And then they are the best pool team in England.

I play in the Waterloo Pool League. There are ten teams in the Waterloo Pool League and we play our matches on Tuesday nights. I play for JFK’s Allstars, currently sitting third in the league.

And then there are the Interleague teams. There are 7 teams in the Interleague league. These matches are played on Sundays, and the team I play for is made up of players from the ten teams who play on Tuesday nights. I play for Waterloo 2. There is also a Waterloo 1. And, with the standard of my play, I am sure, in time, there will be a Waterloo 3. Even if it is a team of only one.

This year both Waterloo 1 and 2 qualified for the Interleague finals in Great Yarmouth.

So, off we go.

Here’s some pics to try and keep you interested.

2010 Interleague finals- the trophies

Mark Christensen, Michael Clayton, Will Tweed

Here you can see three of Waterloo 2’s finest; Mark The Danish Christensen, Mickey Cassius Clayton and Will Big Willy Tweed. We all have nicknames. I’m SimonThe Stick Hickson.

So, firstly it’s the group stages. 96 teams, 32 groups. Three teams in each group. In our group we had Leeds and South Norfolk. The top team goes through to the knockout stages. We lost 10-8 to South Norfolk and 11-7 to Leeds. I played one frame in each match and lost both. Sorry lads.

Waterloo 1 had a good go. They won their group and then beat Bilston 11-10 (9-9 and then a 3 frame decider) making it to the last 16 teams. They were beaten 10-8 by Leicester. A shame but well done all the same. If you want to know how it all played out you can find the results here.

Thanks for bearing with me on this one. Any questions are welcome, but I doubt I’ll be able to answer them.

Some more pics I think.

Alex Lawrence, Waterloo 1

Alex with Mickey looking on

The final- PJ's Stourbridge v Trent Trophies A

As I took the pictures of the tables been dismantled three of the bouncers asked me why I was photographing that and not them. These are the guys who keep 1000 pool players under control, especially on the Saturday night when we all head off the the V Lounge to see some poor teen pool player have cream sprayed into his underpants by one of  Great Yarmouth’s top strippers.

They used to have a dodgy comedian too. But not anymore. I asked why and the organiser said it was because we always gave him too hard a time. It’s true. We would heckle and boo. And it was only right that we should. Just because we are a bunch of pool players it doesn’t follow that we should have to listen to an endless stream of racist, sexist and hate fuelled jokes.*

So that’s that for Interleague 2010. Along the way I met Chris Minns. He plays for South Norfolk and he came out with one of the more obscure heckles I’ve ever had. The opposing team always has some line in “harmless banter” ready for when we really mess up. My favourite this year (and every year) is “should have gone to Specsavers”. When I did a particularly bad shot in my frame against Carl Clack Chris shouted out “that was no Bridge over the River Kwai”. I still don’t understand. But it hurt. And this from a man who constantly shouted at me to “shake my shorts”.

Me and Chris Minns

* Ok, so it’s rich of me to go on about racism and sexism when I’ve been watching strippers, but if it’s any consolation… oh, what the hell. I have no defence.

Oh, and Flat Stanley had a good time too. I didn’t let him see the strippers.

Last night I played pool at Nolan’s in Vauxhall. Our team won 9-3 (me, sadly, being on of the 3), but well done team, sorry I couldn’t help out.

But what a shame pool night was last night. If we’d been there tonight… free bacon and cabbage!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone.

Guinness £1.50 a pint and free bacon & cabbage

JFK’s Allstars

March 10, 2010

I play pool for JFK’s Allstars, a team in the Waterloo Pool League. We used to be called JFK’s Rejects. That was a name given to us by JFK’s first team, simply known as JFK’s. They were, of course, meaning to insult us, but, just like NWA we took the name and wore it with pride. Well, until this season, when our captain, Tony Bailey, decided it was time to get some new whizz kids in and rebrand ourselves as JFK’s Allstars. I feel honoured. A more accurate name for the team would be JFK’s Allstars and Simon.

Oh, and if you’re thinking what’s all this JFK stuff, well, that’s the name of the club we play out of in Peckham. We aren’t, in case you were wondering, linked to the dead President. (I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again… JFK’s used to be a snooker hall called Churchill’s. I thought it was clever to change it to pool and rebrand it as JFK’s. Well, it’s called JFK’s because it is owned by John Kelly. I’ve never asked what the F stands for. Some things are best left well alone.)

Mark Christensen, Michael Brown (timekeeping) at Nolan's

The photo above is from our away game last week. We played Nolan’s and won 9-3. Each match is made up of 12 frames. We play 6, stop for a bit of food, and then play the next 6. The food’s important. We all need to eat. Here’s what we had last night for our home match at JFK’s.

Sausages, spicy wedges, chicken nuggets, chips, bread. (I do well out of free meals- tonight I’m off to the BFI Imax at Waterloo to take part in their monthly film quiz. There we get free popcorn!)

Last night we played LSE. Yes, the London School of Economics! We had a good win. 11-1. And I won both my games. Well done me! I was helped in my frame in the first half by my opponent being in Paris. He couldn’t get back in time and so I sort of beat him. I guess I’ll take any win I can get. In the second half I played someone present. It wasn’t pretty but I scraped my way to the win. Everyone else playe  like the starts they all are. As for the frame we lost, well done Rob from LSE and his break dish. This is when a player breaks, pots a ball, and goes on all the way to the black, his opponent not even getting one shot.

Richard Brown

Stacey Redman

You can read more of my pool ramblings here, or just click on the Pool category below.

A year ago today I wrote my first blog entry. You can find it here. It’s a test one really, not about much; though in saying that I do Bobbin and Tess a disservice.

A year ago I was full of crazy excitement. Blogging was a new adventure. I hadn’t got a clue what I would write. I felt that bit by bit, writing at least a post a day, I would find my feet and discover why I was doing this.

A year on I’ve slowed down a bit. No post every day, but I try for a couple a week. And I’ve expanded. We’ve got the Trev and Simon blog on the go, and I’ve started 20th Century Mummified Fox– a blog where I can indulge in my love of films.

I still don’t know why I’m doing this. I haven’t found my feet. Of course it’s an indulgence; no doubt I am showing off, but showing off what? It’s not a comedy blog. It’s not some kind of confessional. I’m no film critic. Nor a photographer. But this blog is made up of bits of all of these. And lots of animals.

And it keeps me busy when times are tough. I enjoy it. And so, sometimes, do some of you. All of the people who come here and read or look, thank you. I know there’s lots of blogs out there, blah blah blah airline appreciation speech.

And thank you all for your comments. I enjoy reading them and I enjoy the interaction. And, to my pleasant surprise, the comments over the year have been thoughtful and considered, even when being critical. I haven’t, as yet, had to delete any for taking the chance to hurl abuse at me. Still, there’s time. My blog is just a baby.

Since the whole blogging thing is one enormous indulgence, for Mummified Fox’s first birthday I am going to pick some of my blog favourites from my 234 posts. One from each month.

November 2008- This and That’s Entertainment. Every year I go to Great Yarmouth to play pool. But which is best, Great Yarmouth or Las Vegas?

December 2008- Tommie Smith and John Carlos. I drag my family to see the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statue in San Jose.

January 2009- Murderer. Me, Trev and Cyndi Lauper have a close shave with Coronation Street murderer Tony Gordon.

February 2009- Deal or No Deal on the Dole. Ok, a bit of a weird one. this is a story about Deal or No Deal, Noel Edmonds, a luckless contestant, and Cosmic ordering.

March 2009- The Nazis. I drew them at school and only got a B+.

April 2009- A Nightingale sang in the 100 Club. A sort of review of the Nightingales and Ted Chippington.

May 2009- “Yes, I spent money on furniture”. Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove and the elephant lamps we bought him. Including comments from the man himself (or so it seems).

June 2009- Pigs, a goose and a sheep. Just as it says.

July 2009- I’m going to cheat here and mention two posts. I’m not quite sure why it’s cheating; there’s no rules, it’s my blog. But at the top of this post I did say I’d pick one from each month, so yes, I am cheating. First Like the circles that you find– a guide to reglazing windows. And also RIP Rob. Rob sold the Big Issue outside Hither Green station. He died in July.

August 2009- Little and Large. My mum and dad used to go to The Talk of the North in the 70’s and see all the top acts. Years later I get to meet one of them.

September 2009- The Rogers Brothers and the Cox twins. The real life inspiration for two of our characters.

October 2009- Bigmouth strikes again. Possibly my most personal and indulgent post and also my most commented on.

So there’s some of my favourites for the year. If you click on any of them I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please look at some of the remaining 221 posts.

I was going to use the blog’s first birthday to say why it’s called Mummified Fox. but I’m going to save that for next year.

Mummified-Fox-1st-birthday

Happy 1st Birthday Mummified Fox

snooker-sign

jimmy-white

robert-lloyd

Robert lloyd out of The Nightingales

I’m reading Renegade; The Lives and tales of Mark E. Smith at the mo and it’s a right old read. The Fall; a band that’s had 10,000 members, all hired and fired by Prestwich’s finest living man. Ok, some of them walked, but they don’t count. I haven’t got a clue what The Fall are on about most of the time, but that’s ok by me. It takes me about 20 years on average to get to grips with lyrics. The sound comes first and then maybe later I’ll fill in some gaps. Or not bother. Yes, not bother. if I just want words I’ll buy a book. That’s what I did with Renegade and it’s a book that won’t shut up.

So, that’s a long roundabout way to get to the Nightingales. I’ve never known of them, but they’ve been around a bit, and over the years they’ve hobnobbed with The Fall. That’s it. That’s the connection. I think Mark E. Smith may like the Nightingales; may even be friends with Robert Lloyd, the band’s singer and songwriter. But then again…

Watch this and read this and see where you are. I know this; Mark E. Smith always makes me think of my Uncle Ken. I’m not sure why. Something to do with pubs in Prestwich.

So, last night I went along with Ben Norris to see The Nightingales. Although we were firstly there to see the support to the support to the support, David Cronenberg’s Wife. See them sing My Best Friend’s Going out with a Girl I Like.

The support to the support have gone from my mind, but the support was the marvellous and wilfully perverse Ted Chippington, a comedian who does his best to make an audience, well, angry. A comedian reading from notes, in German… or Russian, or Polish. I don’t know. A comedian who calls out for subject matter from the audience and then refuses to make a joke out of it.

When me and Trev started doing comedy in 1982 as The DevilfishhornClub we used to tell these “jokes”.

Joke 1. My dog’s got no nose. How does he smell? He can’t, he’s got no nose.

Joke 2. Have you seen my mother-in-law? No, course you haven’t. I’m not even married.

Joke 3. Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains. You need to see apsychiatrist, you’re obviously mentally ill.

And so on. You get the idea. Anti-jokes. Then we got into kids tv and had to start smiling and pointing at each other on publicity cards.

I think we were maybe a little Chippington-esque. We certainly did enough hard gigs supporting local bands at the International in Rusholme. We even attempted comedy at the Hacienda, along with the Buzzcocks and the Redskins at a Lesbians and Gays support the Miners gig. Now there’s a combo-title you don’t see too often these days.

Anyways, I’m going off the point. Ted Chippington was great and awful, good and bad. Stewart Lee and his wife were there and me and Ben said hello. I muttered somethig inane about how his current show, The Stewart Lee Comedy Vehicle (BBC2), has had me laughing out loud. I’m a fan, and as a fan can’t help acting like a fan. He was very gracious about it. And like Ted, Stewart will push his audience, taking a joke as far as he possibly can, taking it all the way around the world until it comes back at you, anti-funny. And funnier. I wanted to find Stewart Lee talking about the rappers but couldn’t so have a look at him taking on Joe Pasquale in this great clip. Then, for a treat, watch Stewart Lee track down Ted Chippington.

I know. That’s a lot to make you watch. If you choose one item from the above links choose Stewart Lee does Joe Pasquale.

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"get to the end of the cue"

I’d been playing pool all day; Interleague. My team, Waterloo 2, won all three matches, but no thanks to me, only managing 2 out of 6 frames. I had to take my cue to the 100 Club. I left it propped up by the photo wall. By the end of the evening it had gone. The staff weren’t much help. Eventually I tracked it down to behind the bar. They guy behind the bar, before handing it back, quizzed me as to what it looked like. A pool cue. He brought out the box. He wouldn’t hand it over. He wanted to know what colour it was. I think they were a bit pissed off because I hadn’t paid to put it in the cloakroom.

“If there was a career ladder Ted would have been carrying it rather than climbing it.” James Brown.

“I suppose there’s a case to be made, he was this country’s Andy Kaufman.” Phil Jupitus.

Last yearI wrote about one of my pool excursions to Great Yarmouth and I posted a picture showing the fine entertainment on offer on the Britannia Pier. You can see it here. Then I realised they hadn’t updated their posters and they were from the year before. True to form, the Britannia Pier is currently advertising last years’ acts. And here they are.

britannia-pier-entertainmen

Roy “Chubby” Brown, Joe Pasquale, Jim Davidson, Jimmy Carr, Cannon and Ball, Joe Longthorne, Basil Brush, The Drifters, Lee ‘Memphis’ King, Frankenstein’s monster. That’s two years in a row for Roy, Jim and Tommy and Bobby. They must be much loved in Yarmouth. In 2007 they had The Searchers. They’ve been replaced by The Drifters. And Yarmouthians must go crazy for the Joe’s and the Jim’s to have two of each. I wonder if Carr and Davidson have considered teaming up, Corbett and Barker style? The Two Jims. It’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from the racist.

Oh, you figure out which is which.

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Will, Danny and Mickey

I’ve just returned from Great Yarmouth, where I was taking part in the English Pool Association’s National Interleague Championship 2009. This all takes place at the Vauxhall Caravan Park. You can glimpse a caravan or two in the photo above. The huge building on the left is a swimming complex which remains shut throughout the weekend. 96 teams, each consisting of between 9 and 11 players, all there for the pool, and it’s closed. (I know, that’s poor.)

Behind the swimming complex is the hall where there are rows and rows of pool tables lined up. It’s like The Color of Money, but instead of Tom Cruise, Paul Newman and John Turturro we have Will, Danny and Mickey.

The lights in the distance illuminate The Starlight Lounge. On Saturday night, when the majority of teams have failed to progress beyond the group stages (sadly including our team, Waterloo 2, who came second in the group having had two very respectable 9-9 draws), they meet here to drink, dance, and be entertained. The entertainment deserves a post of its own, and so I will leave our Freddie Starr impersonator and the two strippers alone for now until I have time to write a fuller review.

The first two days in Great Yarmouth were shrouded in mist. Walking around an out of season caravan park, occasionally bumping into  a defeated pool colleague, cue between his legs as he emerges out of the gloom is a little like meeting a wraith in a Norfolkian Silent Hill.

vauxhall-caravan-park

Great Yarmouth ages me

April 7, 2009

britannia-pier-cowboy

I’ve just returned from the Wild West– sorry, Great Yarmouth, where I was taking part in the English Pool Association’s National Interleague Finals. As you can see the whole saga has aged me a little. I will write more about this in time, but sadly today I have to race around before going off to some studio in Hammersmith to appear on some show for ITV2- and then, no doubt, I will write about that.

So for now my forlorn and neglected blog will have to comfort itself with these two photos. Not of me (though I don’t look much different) but of a cowboy at the end of Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier.

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