Closed Waxworks

April 26, 2010

I was in Great Yarmouth just over a weekend ago. And everywhere was closed. Including its exciting Waxwork museum. It’s not fair. To miss out on Elvis and Noel, Michael Owen and Mr. Blobby. I didn’t get to see 007 James Bond. Which one? I doubt it’d be Craig. Maybe Moore or Lazenby. Or just a man in a tuxedo. And how do you make a waxwork of Blobby? That’d need a hell of a lot of wax. Maybe it’s just a beached whale painted pink and yellow. And Ooh Betty. Steptoe and Son. Wacko Jacko. Kojak. Gorden “Allo, Allo” Kaye. And that’s just one board.

Oover on the other one I’ve missed out on all the royals, including Prince William in a smaller font. Lineker, Bruno, Keegan, Gazza, a resurgent Davis. And Chichester; well I wouldn’t know if he looked like him or not, I’m that ignorant.

But the Posh and Becks, Owen, Blobby and Bean must be something else to be mentioned twice and to get their own bubble.

Next time I go the place will be open. I’ll phone ahead. I’ll book a private viewing. I WILL get to see them. I’ll photograph and document. And, even if it’s not for years, something tells me the waxworks will be the same.

Great Yarmouth is closed

April 20, 2010

I was in Great Yarmouth over the weekend for the EPA Interleague Pool Finals. On Friday afternoon I wandered around the town; along the front, down the pier, into a fish and chips shop; and then back through the main street. By then it was gone six so I had to satisfy myself with some window shopping. Here’s what I found.

Even Gerald’s was shut.

Things weren’t much better on the beach.

And I sadly missed this bit of excitement. If you know what the film was, please let me know. Or even if you want to have a guess.

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.

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

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.

will-danny-mickey

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.

britannia-pier-cowboy-2

Tonight it’s Pool Night

November 18, 2008

the-bailey-3

I play in a pool league. The Waterloo Pool League. And Tuesday night is match night. The team I play for is called the JFK Rejects. Our Home venue is a club called JFK’s in Peckham. They have another team called JFK’s and the players on that team deemed us rejects because we weren’t good enough to play alongside them. It was meant as an insult, but in true NWA style we removed the insult by appropriating the name and wearing it with pride. Do we win? Occasionally.

JFK’s used to be called Churchill’s. Back then it was a snooker hall. It was taken over, turned into a pool hall, and changed its name to JFK’s. I once commented to the owner on how I liked that; Churchill’s, oh so British and snooker based, and then becoming JFK’s like an American pool hall. He looked at me, puzzled. He called it JFK’s because that’s his name, John Kelly. I don’t know what the F stands for, so you’ll have to take a guess.

Above is our captain, Tony Bailey. This is him in action at Great Yarmouth. He plays for his National team, the West Indies. He is also my mentor; taking time and patience to teach me not only how to hold a cue etc., but also the intricacies of World Rules… if you just play pool in the pub every now and then World Rules will make your brain explode.

Tonight we play Wooosh! So called, I believe, because every time they do well they all go “Wooosh!”

Six player on each team. Six games, a break where the pub provides food, then another six games.

We’ve lost our last three matches; to JFK’s, the Jacks, and the Rat Pack. The top three teams in the league. We’re currently fifth out of eight. Tonight we will win. So, to paraphrase The Soup Nazi, “No Wooosh for you!”

12.31am Wednesday morning. Phew! No Wooosh for them. We lost the first two games, not a good sign. But overall we won 9-3! Hurray! And I won both my games! Hurray again. The Rejects are back! Well done team.

yarmouth-circusThis is not Las Vegas. Circus Circus is in Las Vegas. And The Flamingo. But Circus Circus, The Flamingo and The Golden Nugget are also in Great Yarmouth. Great Yarmouth! Not just Yarmouth. Las Vegas doesn’t get a Great upfront. And so which is best? Let battle commence.

I’ve been to both places… is that showing off? As a child, in the 70’s, I’d go with my family to Mariners’ Park in Great Yarmouth. We’d pretty much stay in the park, and I have no memory of there being any mariners. Now I go to Great Yarmouth once or twice a year and stay at the Vauxhall Caravan Park. I go there to play pool as part of the Waterloo Pool League. Why once or twice? Well, it depends on whether or not we qualify. It’s a serous business, the world of amateur pool.

Once there we play pool, and on Saturday night we head to the Starlight Lounge, on campus, where the comedian manages to offend most decent minded pool players (and there are lots) by mistaking us for a bunch of blokes on stag do’s and telling us racist jokes. Then a stripper comes on and humiliates a young boy. Why do we go? Because it’s there. Mariners’ Park in the 70’s had no such entertainment. It had a pool and a slide. That’s all I can remember. Nothing as swanky as this…

yarmouth-lion

But then the Seventies were sunnier.

If we dare venture out of the confines of the caravan park… and it’s rare, for the rules of the World Eight-Ball Pool Federation are strict, and they like to keep an eye on you. I’ll have to be careful here… I once had to go to Asda and buy a £12 pair of black slip-ons because my shoes were against the rules… Damn, that’s me dis-membered! … Did I point out that it’s a serious business, the world of amateur pool?

So, yes, if you dare venture into Great Yarmouth, before you hit The Golden Nugget, The Flamingo, Circus Circus, you pass the Britannia Pier.

yarmouth-pier

This summer* they had The Chuckle Brothers, Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson, Cannon and Ball, The Grumbleweeds, Smackee Abba, Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, Elkie Brooks, The Rat Pack, The Four Tops, One Night with Elvis, Bernie Clifton, Jimmy Cricket, The Searchers, Derek Acorah, and Billy Pierce.

Or you could go to Vegas and see Carrot Top or Danny Gans. Or Barry Manilow. Elton John? Bette Midler? or you might prefer David Copperfield (the magician, not the Dickens character, although why the two haven’t combined is beyond me.)

Take your pick. I’m not going to decide. I like both places.

Here’s my favourite slot machine at the Vauxhall Caravan Park.

yarmouth-elvis

I have no idea what Smackee Abba is but I’d pay.

* Well, I say this summer because the photograph was taken in April 2008, but look! In April 2008 they were still advertising 2007’s summer season. Maybe not much changes in Great Yarmouth. And before anyone gets too judgemental, remember that Siegfried and Roy performed year after year in Vegas until a tiger ripped Roy Horn’s head off. Get well soon Roy. Apparently they will be back doing their thing in Las Vegas in February 2009. Now that’s magic! oh, unless it’s a hoax.