Class Of ’92 Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 5 October 2017

Partly inspired by my chance encounter 18 months ago (and subsequent re-encounters) with Chris Stanton at the real tennis court at Lord’s

…partly inspired by the fact that many of us who gather for these Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinners have been hanging around NewsRevue now for 25 years…

…John Random decided to theme this get together around the notion “Class of ’92”.

I didn’t realise that John had actually persuaded Chris Stanton to come along this time, which was a very pleasant surprise. Chris brought a couple of ringbinder files with scripts from his 1992 runs, including the late Spring run, directed by John Random, in which I (or rather, my material) made its NewsRevue debut:

Seeing those files, it made me realise what a challenging job it must be for performers to do NewsRevue. The sheer volume of scripts, the mixture of sketches and songs, the changes to the show every week…

…Chris showed me one running order, for example, in which there was an unbroken sequence of fourteen or fifteen pieces in which he appeared.

John Random brought along a photo album which had lots of photos of NewsRevue types…even one of me and Janie from our very early days together…most people in the room were represented by at least one photo.

Mark Keagan was there, as was Barry Grossman, Nick R Thomas, Colin Stutt and Gerry Goddin, the latter of whom produced a particularly fiendish version of his “quiz” game and tortured us with it at the end of the evening.

Prior to this evening, when chatting at Lord’s, Chris Stanton had been threatening to have a bonfire of his old scripts. Part of my purpose was to help John Random to rescue this treasure trove for posterity. But by the end of this evening, Chris explained that he did not want to part with his scripts and had no intention of destroying them.

On the way home, my song “Coppers are Dressed as Hippies” popped into my head, as did the notion that I too have a ringbinder file at home with correspondence and one or two old running orders and programmes.

In the morning, I copied/wrote up “coppers” (click link here or above) and found a running order, programme and writers’ newsletter from Paula Tappenden’s summer run; the run that followed the John Random/Chris Stanton one.

In some ways, I thought, I had blooped by not bringing those artefacts to the evening. But in other ways, it seems more fitting that I use Ogblog as a medium, following up on the Class of ’92 evening, to circulate copies of my 1992 artefacts, shown below:

  • the programme for that Paula Tappenden run (late June through August 1992);
  • the running order from week four (late July 1992);
  • John Random’s unusually short writers’ newsletter w/e 31 July 1992…who was your visitor from Idaho, John? Do tell.

Postscript. In response to my request for details on the mystery visitor from Idaho, I received the following beautifully-crafted missive from John Random a week or so later:

…the friend from Idaho was my former flatmate Janet.

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t spend the whole of 1986 simply writing down everything she ever said. Here was comedy gold, narrative gold right under my nose and I didn’t recognize it for what it was.

Without ever trying to be funny, without even KNOWING she was being funny, Janet contrived to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. This was chiefly because everyone she’d ever known was either barking mad or the victim of some cruel yet ludicrous twist of Fate.

I recall she had a pioneer ancestor who was run over by the very train that brought his family out West to join him. Apparently, he had started the celebrations a little too early and was a little too merry by the time the train pulled in.

Not that this should be taken as meaning she was catty or scabrous. On the contrary, she was a big motherly woman of the sort you might get if you crossed Jenni Murray with Claire Rayner.

Sadly, Janet’s not much of a writer, so I have very few letters of hers, and she seldom even e-mails. However, she recently broke a seven-year silence indicating that she might be coming over in a week or two. I do hope so.

In my grateful reply to John, I described Janet’s interruption to his newsletter writing that week as John’s “person from Porlock” moment.

My own offerings from that Paula Tappenden Week Four are all now up on Ogblog, btw, all clickable below:

If anyone wants a better quality copy of the artefacts, just message me and they can be whizzing your way in next to no time.

Ultimate Love and Happy Tories, Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 3 March 2017

NewsRevue’s 2004 Guinness World Record for being the World’s Longest Running Live Comedy Show – Gerry Goddin far left, Barry Grossman back left, a wide-eyed me front right

NewsRevue goes back all the way to 1979. When the show turned 25, in 2004, it was awarded the Guinness World Record for being the World’s Longest Running Live Comedy Show. I was there. I’d been there since 1992. This year my involvement with the show turns 25.

Those of us who wrote for the show in the 1990s still gather a few times a year for Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinners.

Earlier this week, coincidentally, I played real tennis with Chris Stanton (another NewsRevue alum, in his case a performer) at Lord’s. Chris was reminiscing with me about the show, not least because he was rummaging through his old files and found many complete runs of scripts from “our era”, which he was planning to shred. I think John Random might rescue them for posterity.

Chris then gave me a pretty-much word perfect rendering of Brian Jordan’s wonderful Arthur Scargill song, to the tune of My Guy. As John Random later reminisced:

He may not be to everyone’s liking/But as a union leader, he’s striking.

Hearing about Brian Jordan reminded me of my first big hit; The Ultimate Love Song, which Brian made his own for a while and took to Edinburgh (my material’s debut there) in his show “Whoops Vicar Is That Your Dick?”  I am so proud to have had my Edinburgh debut in a show with that name.

After seeing Chris, I looked at my file and realised that The Ultimate Love Song turns 25 this week; I copyrighted it 29 February 1992…so perhaps it turns six-and-a-quarter. Anyway, it seemed right to mention it at the Ivan Shakespeare and I was badgered into giving a quick rendering, as much as I could remember.

I have now upped The Ultimate Love Song in its entirety – together with the tale of its early use – here’s the link again.

Here is a link to Ben Murphy’s rendering of The Ultimate Love Song from 1993.

Mark Keagan was at the Ivan Shakespeare dinner; he’s one of the more regular attendees. He mentioned that his father-in-law and former home secretary, David Waddington, sadly passed away last week. Which reminded me that I did once write a song with a verse about Waddington; again nearly 25 years ago. We all (Mark included) agreed that the song might come in handy for him over the coming weeks…well you never know…so I have upped that one too. Happy Tories it is called – also about Maggie Thatcher and Chris Patten – click here.

Below is a picture of John Random and Mark Keagan from the previous Ivan Shakespeare dinner.

Mark was awarded the 2016 trophy, but should he have been? Rumour has it that John might have been handed the wrong envelope…

Gerry Goddin and John both produced quizzes. Gerry’s was infernal as usual; I did well at first but tailed off at the end, letting Barry Grossman take the honours at the line. John’s was suitably silly and superficial for my mood – a small collection of “shock and awe” pun headlines to unfathom. Perhaps naturally, I won that quiz.

As always it was good to see the gang – a slightly depleted gathering this time but at least when that happens you get a chance to have a proper chat with everyone.

An Evening Watching Daytime Television? Impossible, 3 January 2017

I don’t watch daytime television very often.

I define daytime television as programmes that are designed for a daytime audience and regularly, probably exclusively, broadcast during normal working hours. Catching up on TV news while I am at the gym or following cricket matches during the day through the TV don’t count as daytime television by this definition.

So, in the five years 2012 to 2016, I guess I had watched daytime television twice.

The first instance was around 2012 or 2013. Hugh Rycroft, one of my old writer friends from NewsRevue, who now devises quiz-based game shows, mentioned to me at one of our Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinners back then, that he had devised a new show, Tipping Point, a daytime quiz, being broadcast on ITV.

“I’ll take a look at that”, I said, meaning it.  “I don’t think Tipping Point is your sort of quiz show”, said Hugh, meaning it.

I looked up the timing of the show and resolved to watch it the next time I was at the gym in the afternoon at that hour. Thus I took a look at Tipping Point, as promised. Hugh was right; it’s not my sort of quiz show. The conceit of the show is a facsimile of a coin pusher arcade machine, for which contestants win tokens to play and from which they get (or fail to get) prizes.

My second instance of watching daytime TV in recent years was Bargain Hunt in 2014, when Z/Yen’s practice manager, Linda Cook together with her friend and Z/Yen alumna Marie Logan, appeared on the show. We wrote this big moment up for the Now and Z/Yen blog – click here. As it happens, this programme’s momentous first broadcast was on a Friday when I had no meetings, so I actually watched the programme when it was first shown.

I don’t think Bargain Hunt is my type of programme either, although it was great to see people I knew so well on that show.

But let’s be honest, whether or not these programmes are my kind of show is rather beside the point. They must be a lot of people’s kind of show, because they are phenomenally successful. According to Wikipedia at the time of writing (January 2017):

  • Tipping Point had 10 series and 508 episodes (at 6 January 2017);
  • Bargain Hunt had 39 series and 1264 episodes (22 January 2016 figures).

Anyway, I saw Hugh again at this year’s Ivan Shakespeare Christmas Dinner – click here. He mentioned that he had devised a new quiz show, which would start  broadcasting on the New Year Bank Holiday Monday; Impossible.

“I’ll take a look at that”, I said, meaning it. Indeed, I intended to watch it on that Bank Holiday Monday.

Come Tuesday evening, after finishing work, I was pondering my evening (probably planning to do some Ogblogging), when it occurred to me that I had clean forgotten to watch Impossible; indeed I hadn’t even set the vid to record it.

But these days, what used to be impossible (seeing a programme despite such neglect) is now more than possible, thanks to iPlayer.

Thus I spent a chunk of Tuesday evening watching daytime television.

I did spend some evening time not all that long ago watching bizarre (in this case comedy) telly on the computer, in bizarre circumstances, but that’s another story, click here for it.

The conceit of the show Impossible is that all the quiz questions are constructed to have three rather than two types of answer: correct, incorrect or impossible. Impossible answers fail some aspect of logic in the question. For example, the name of a British film star would be an impossible answer to a question starting, “which American film star…”  Impossible answers get contestants eliminated or make them lose their accumulated winnings, adding an additional dimension of pressure to a time pressure-based quiz.

Surprisingly, I rather like Impossible. As I said to Hugh in a congratulatory e-mail:

…I liked it and enjoyed watching it far more than I can ever remember enjoying watching such a programme.

The format is clever without being too clever.  I am tempted to watch it again…

Hugh seemed pleased with this note and even suggested that he plans to use the phrase “clever without being too clever” in his elevator pitches henceforward; which surely means that I get a significant share of the (presumably substantial) earnings from successful “clever without being too clever” programmes, for ever.

Joking apart, my fear, though, is that the very fact that I liked Impossible might be the kiss of death for it. I don’t suppose I am a barometer for successful daytime TV shows; I might be an anti-barometer for them.

Indeed, on reflection, I’m not sure that Hugh should want his shows to be “clever without being too clever” at all. The phrase reminds me of Spike Jones’s explanation for why his hugely talented comedy orchestra was not more successful:

“We’re too sophisticated for corny people and too corny for sophisticated people.”

Still, I am rooting for the TV show Impossible. I sincerely hope it gets the hundreds or thousands of episodes it deserves.

Brexit The Musical by David Shirreff and Russell Sarre, & NewsRevue, Canal Café Theatre, 17 November 2016

Mauritian Giant Tortoise ...like...so old!
Mauritian Giant Tortoise …like…so old!

I first met David Shirreff many years ago when we worked together on a couple of “financial Armageddon” simulations. I have long wanted to see one of his plays/musicals, but have somehow been confounded by the timing and/or location of the performances.

So when I saw that David was putting Brexit The Musical on at my beloved, local Canal Café Theatre and that one of the show dates was a free Thursday in my diary, I had no hesitation in booking a seat. While I was at it, I also booked to see NewsRevue; might as well while I am there.

The previous week, while playing a real tennis skills tournament teamed with friend Tony Friend – click here to see my piece on that victorious evening – the subject of the Canal Café Theatre and NewsRevue came up, not least because Chris Stanton (formerly of that “parish” and coincidentally an avid realist at Lord’s, as I reported a few months ago – click here) was also playing in the tournament.

“I’m going to the Canal Café Theatre next week, as it happens”, said Tony, “a friend of mine has written a musical…” The coincidence grew when we realised that not only did we both know David Shirreff but we had both booked the same Thursday night to see Brexit The Musical.

brexitfront2-jpg-opt405x540o00s405x540

I ate early and walked to the Canal Café Theatre, as I had so often done back in the 1990s, when we used to meet up for writers’ meetings on a Thursday night before watching the show.

Tony and son John were already there when I got to the theatre.

Tony and I swapped “real tennis war stories” from our famous victory in the skills contest the week before and from our match against Middlesex University Real Tennis Club (MURTC) the night before, in which Tony and I had both been part of losing pairs, but pairs who had lost more heroically than MURTC’s losing pairs, hence contributing towards a great MCC match victory; 2.5-2.5 in rubbers, decided in MCC’s favour on net games. Oh boy, John must have been fascinated and impressed.

I was also able to swap my ticket so I could sit with Tony and John during the show.

We had a chat with David Shirreff before and after the performance. It is a good show. Low hanging fruit for humour, of course, Brexit, not least Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as comedic characters. There were some superbly acerbic lines throughout the show.

The dramatic highlight for me was a parody of the three witches from Macbeth (Theresa, Andrea and Amber, presumably) confounding Boris and Gove with their power riddles. The musical highlight for me was the Putin Rap.

Between shows while I was chatting with David and some of his friends, Nick R Thomas (one of our NewsRevue writing gang from the 1990s) turned up, which was a really pleasant surprise. Nick had seen my e-shout-out that I was going that night, happened to be in London that day and thought, “why not?  I haven’t seen the show for 15 years or so…”

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Since 1979…like…so old!

In case anyone reading this is unaware, NewsRevue has been going since 1979. Around about the time the show first went to Edinburgh, in August 1979, I was in Mauritus looking at prehistoric-looking giant tortoises and stuff (see above picture…no, not the ones with politicians’ faces, the other picture). I wrote for the show extensively for most of the 1990s, starting in 1992.

In 2004, NewsRevue was awarded a Guinness World Record for the longest running live comedy show. It has been described as The Mousetrap of live comedy. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Nick blagged his way onto my table, where we were joined by a very perky and friendly young couple who had never seen the show before. “Have you seen the show before?” they asked us. “Hundreds of times”, we replied, explaining our connection with the show.

Realising how young they were, I suggested that, scarily, Nick and I might have been writing for the show before they were born. The young man politely replied that he was a toddler back then, while the young woman remained silent, confirming my fears. I think the young couple probably saw me and Nick as curious antique creatures, a little like…me looking at centuries-old Mauritian giant tortoises all those years before.

We really enjoyed the show. The Trump opening number was an “orthodox” medley of Queen songs, well put together. A “Corbyn Man” number to the Willy Wonka “Candy Man” song was good, as was a version of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen; Len singing his regret that no-one listens to his recording of the song.

There were some excellent quickies and short sketches. I especially liked the customer complaining about their Galaxy Note 7 catching fire, with the gormless shop assistant misconstruing each danger/complaint adjective as slang praise for a wonderful device.

Ed Balls singing and dancing a “Gangnam Style” parody was excellent, as was a superb rap, the origins of which were beyond me, but the lyrics and delivery were superb. But despite those two numbers, most of the songs used as the basis of the show seem to be stuck in the choices we used to make in our era; musical numbers and pop songs from the 1960s to 1980s.

Sadly, the closing number broke the second law of NewsRevue songs, which is Do not use “I Will Survive”.  (The first law being Do not use “YMCA”.)  Still, given the way the world is right now, the use of I Will Survive might be forgiven. Indeed, come to think of it, what with Brexit and Trump, those financial Armageddon simulations David Shirreff and I did years ago might come in handy. But I digress.

I was most taken by the response of the NewsRevue audience, not least the young couple at our table. In fact the whole audience (mostly younger folk) seemed thoroughly thrilled by their evening. It was heartening to see that the formula still works after all these years and can all-but fill the Canal Café Theatre on a cold, wet but thoroughly enjoyable Thursday evening.

A Ponder On Dystopian Comedy Songs, 17 November 2016

Ahead of seeing Brexit The Musical and NewsRevue today – click here for my write up of those – I had arranged to meet neighbour, writer and old NewsRevue pal Jasmine Birtles on my way back from the gym, to hand over some of our corporate gimcrack as giveaways for some charity do of hers.

On the way to the gym, the superb Randy Newman song “Political Science” popped into my head and wouldn’t leave.

Here and below is a link to a YouTube vid of Randy Newman performing the song – the lyrics are there too.

I have subsequently worked out how to play this song on my baritone ukulele. It seems to me that the song summarises Donald Trump’s foreign policy as we currently understand it in November 2016.

I mentioned this song to Jasmine as we walked around the block together. She said she vaguely remembered the Randy Newman song but wasn’t there a Tom Lehrer one with a similarly dystopian/armageddon quality.

The Lehrer one didn’t pop into my head immediately, but while walking to the Canal Café that evening it did pop into my head. So Long Mom (A Song For World War III). I remembered not only the Tom Lehrer song itself but my 1993 parody of the same – all linked and shown if you click here.

Now I can’t get either tune out of my head. Happy days.

On a slightly less dystopian note, I also now recall that I used a Randy Newman song, Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear, to parody Tony Blair in NewsRevue surprisingly early in his political career – April 1993 – here is a link through to my materials on that.

Squeaky Bum Time, Middlesex v Yorkshire at Lord’s, 20 to 23 September 2016

ollie-tim-dawid-nasser-charles-victory-img_2279
Happy ending for Middlesex

When Alex Ferguson coined the term “squeaky bum time” he was probably referring to a brief period, perhaps several minutes, while a really tight, crucial (in his case, football) game unfolds.

In Middlesex’s case at the end of the 2016 county championship season, squeaky bum time lasted several days during the last match; arguably several weeks during the last few matches. Personally, I was fortunate enough to take in a good deal of that squeaky last quarter of Middlesex’s county championship:

Tuesday 20 September

Charles (Charley “The Gent” Malloy) Bartlett joined me for the first day’s play; a more or less traditional meet for a day of the last Lord’s match of the season. Janie was to join us later in the day and all three of us were to attend the sponsors’ evening that night. Janie was hoping that Dot would join us too, but she really doesn’t care much for the longer form or that sort of party, apparently.

Chas let me know that he was running a little late, but I soldiered on as planned to ensure that I was on death row before the start of play, securing a couple of good seats. We stuck to those excellent seats all day, much against the better judgement of our aching backs and limbs. I made a scaled down version of Chas’s favourite picnic, with smoked Alaskan salmon bagels as the centrepiece. We went dry during the hours of play, as Chas had a medical appointment the next day. Shame, as I had tracked down his favourite Villa Wolf Riesling.

Middlesex had been inserted under leaden skies and I thought did pretty well to avert disaster. Nick Gubbins in particular batted like the emerging star he undoubtedly is, surviving the day.

Janie (Daisy) turned up a few minutes after tea, but only got to see 10 or 12 overs before it got gloomy, so an hour or so of play was lost to bad light. Many eyes were on the Somerset match (the third team still in contention for the trophy), which initially had looked like it was going the maximum points route for Somerset until they collapsed late in the day.

After watching some of the interviews on the outfield…

Dominic Cork interviews Nick Gubbins
Dominic Cork interviews Nick Gubbins

…we sauntered over to the party, which was a very jolly wine and cheese affair. Ryan Higgins, who was our sponsored player this year, took the trouble to seek us out and chatted with us quite a bit. I also got a chance to chat with quite a few of the regular Middlesex folk, all of whom seemed to be feeling as squeaky as me. Surprise surprise.

Wednesday 21 September

I don’t know what sort of idiot organised a Z/Yen Board meeting and lunch on such a crucial day of the County Championship. I tried to keep an eye on the score discreetly and as many brain cells as possible focused on the business at hand.

When I finally got away, soon after three, I guessed that I’d catch most of the last session, as the weather/light looked much better today. So it proved. I enjoyed that two hours or so in the Committee Room. Middlesex had taken several early wickets, but were finding it increasingly hard to take more. I witnessed a couple that evening and/but we were all hoping for more. The game seemed poised at stumps, perhaps starting to tilt Yorkshire’s way. Somerset were on the way to a 23 point win, so Yorkshire would need to score 350 or more runs in their first innings to stay in the hunt.

I walked home and made a light supper of smoked trout, prawns and salad. One or more of the prawns sought revenge overnight; more leaky than squeaky…with hives thrown in. Yuk.

Thursday 22 September

I thought best to rest off my condition in the morning, getting some work out of the way gently while following the match from home. I was due to play tennis at 14:00.

The morning went worse for Middlesex than the night had gone for my guts; Yorkshire edging towards that 350. I set off for Lord’s during the luncheon interval, intending to watch for about half an hour before changing for tennis. Yorkshire continued edging towards that 350 mark as I watched from the Upper Allen.

I needed to change – surely it would be on the TV in the dressing room anyway. It was. My opponent was also interested. With the score tantalisingly poised at 349/9 both of us left the dressing room with some reluctance. I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted Yorkshire to score that extra run or not. Earlier in the day, of course, I had hoped for them to subside below Middlesex’s score of 270. But now they had gone that far past, it seemed Middlesex’s only chance of a win would be for Yorkshire to still be in the hunt needing to chase runs on the last day.

We had plenty of time to think about it. Soon after we started playing tennis, we heard rain on the roof and soon quite a crowd gathered in the dedans gallery. “Is the score still 349/9?” I asked. Several people nodded.

Our tennis must have been quite stunningly excellent, as most of our crowd sat in stoney silence throughout the hour. I spotted Ed Griffiths in the dedans gallery too, although mercifully he seemed more interested in his conversation than observing the finer details of my sporting talent.

We came off the court to see (on the TV) that the score was still 349/9 and that play had just resumed. Ryan Sidebottom duly hit the run that kept Yorkshire in the hunt and then helped take them yet further beyond the Middlesex score.

I was feeling quite drained, so decided to walk/tube it home and catch the end of the play on the TV. I ran into Angela Broad on the tube, so I was able to show her in actual use the marvellous tennis racket bag she handed down to me when I took up real tennis.

Closing the day just two wickets down and getting closer to parity, I felt that the final day could still turn out to be a corker, as long as Middlesex were to bat well in the morning.

I had a rest, then went out again to Holborn for an Ivan Shakespeare Memorial dinner with the old NewsRevue crowd. Only about half-a-dozen of us this time, but great to meet up as always. I decided to stay dry and eat a simple, chicken meal. A very light, cautious supper by Ivan Shakespeare Dinner standards. I probably looked and seemed both peaky and distracted. I was.

Friday 23 September

What a day.

I was scheduled to play tennis at 10:00. I made a bit of a mess of getting away in timely fashion and the tube wasn’t at its best that morning, so I jumped in a cab at Edgware Road and cabbed it the last mile to be sure not to be rushing.

Now in good time, I had a chat with Joe on reception, who was quite gloomy about Middlesex’s prospects and seemed surprised that I really thought we still had a reasonable chance, albeit an outside one.

I played a really good game of tennis today; my opponent (whom I had played a few times before) correspondingly had a poor match; we’ll rematch soon I’m sure, as we now play level and it is normally a very good match when you play people whose handicap is level (or all-but level) with one’s own.

Anyway, after changing, I felt like superman and went to try and find a seat on death row for a while. I spotted Westy, who was able to make room for me, just about, with thanks also to the very pleasent vicar from Skipton who also made space for me and interesting conversation with me.

Westy pressed me to join him and others in the Committee Room just before lunch; due to the match position they had (uncharacteristically for the last day) ordered a heap of lunches and probably now had fewer takers than lunches.

So, I quite unexpectedly enjoyed a splendid Committee Dining Room lunch. We saw Messrs Gale and Franklin in conversation outside the doors of those official dining rooms; clearly keen to make sure that any negotiations they were undertaking were visible and reported to the authorities.

We had a grandstand view of the large crowd perambulating before we sat down:

Final day of the season, mass perambulation
Final day of the season, mass perambulation

Very pleasant company at lunch, both Yorkshire and Middlesex. Then an opportunity to see some cracking good cricket from that wonderful vantage point, just above the away dressing room. What an honour and privilege on such an auspicious day :

Cricket, lovely cricket
Cricket, lovely cricket, from the Committee Dining Room Balcony

Then the declaration bowling, then an early tea with the season set up as a 240/40 run chase. If Yorkshire got the runs, they would be county champions, if Middlesex bowled them out, Middlesex would be champions, if the game ended as a draw (the light might have seen to that) then Somerset would be champions.

Perhaps a final 150 minutes or so of squeakiness ahead of us.

We returned to the Committee Room itself to watch events unfold from there.

I had texted Janie about 14:00 to suggest that she leg it to Lord’s. She demurred, something about banking her cheques. I tried to persuade her that just occasionally there are more important things in life than doing one’s bankings.

Events unfolded. Middlesex seemed to be chipping away at the wickets, but we knew as the ball got older it would be harder to force wickets. Still, the consensus among the Middlesex folk was that the declaration had been very generous; among the Yorkshire folk that it had been mean and very challenging. I entertained the possibility, in those circumstances, that the captains might pretty much have got it right.

After what seemed like hours while still four down, I decided to take a strategic “leg stretch” and was delighted to hear a massive cheer just as I came up the stairs to return through the Long Room to the Committee Room; Tim Bresnan was out LBW. “Why didn’t you go earlier?”, asked one Middlesex notable. “Go again”, suggested another.

I started to get occasional texts from Janie saying she was on her way, looking for somewhere to park etc.

Then the flurry of wickets to end the season. I knew Middlesex had taken three wickets in three balls at the very end (Finn, then two for Roland-Jones) but none of us at the time realised that the denouement was also a hat trick for Toby Roland-Jones.

Here’s the final scorecard.

In any case, we were in a euphoric state. Celebrations on the outfield. Players coming through the Long Room to uproarious applause and cheers. Players going back out again.

Janie turned up, took some photos and joined in the celebrations.

Happy ending for Middlesex
Happy ending for Middlesex
ged-with-the-trophy
Happy Ending For Ged

It’s a bit difficult to explain how this all felt and feels. I’ve left it nearly a week before writing up this piece, but there’s no sense of distance from the extraordinary events yet in my mind. As much as anything else, we have the end of season lunch (tomorrow at the time of writing) and members’ forum (Monday) to look forward to, so it still feels alive.

Then back to the reality of trying to see through the Middlesex strategy and build that medium to long term future for the club. Success should, of course, make some aspects of the strategy easier to implement, as long as we can avoid the complacency that sometimes comes with success. I think we have a good chance of going from strength to strength; there are enough wise heads around and the club seems hungry for more success.

For pity’s sake, Ged, live in the now for once. What a day. What a week. What a month. What a season.

A Rare Latterday Visit To NewsRevue, For A Very Good Reason, 29 October 2015

A message from our fellow NewsRevue writing alumnus Colin Stutt to our informal “Ivan Shakespeare” group on 22 October:

In years to come, wise old newsrevue historians will ask the trivia question – which writer once saw one of his sketches performed by his own son in the show?

Answer: MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!   My son and heir Alex is in the current show, which runs up to Sunday 22nd November.  And it’s a good’un too.  So that seems to me like a good reason for us all to get writing again and to think about going along to the show.  Thursday 12th November (9.30) looks like a possible day – if anyone would like to come along, please let me know.

I had already committed to the Tate Modern with Janie for that 12 November date, but an exchange of e-mails with Colin revealed that I was not the only friend of his who wanted to see the show with him, but not on 12 November.

So, a small group of us, including Colin, Mark Keagan and a friend of Colin’s named Vanessa together with a couple of her friends wined and dined at The Bridge House before watching NewsRevue, a couple of weeks before the larger group’s outing.

As coincidence would have it, Alexander Stutt is not only an emerging Newsrevue performer but also an Alleyn’s School alumnus; solid cv, that.

To my relief, Alexander (and indeed the whole show) was very good, so I was able to heap genuine praise upon Colin and (briefly) Alexander, before retracing my steps from years gone by, walking home using that oft-used route.

A Visit To NewsRevue With Janie, John Random and Friends, 1 August 1997

I went to NewsRevue so often in the 1990s, I’d rarely even note it in my diary.

Thursday night was “writers meeting and see NewsRevue night” most weeks.

But on this particular week things must have been different, as John Random has recently (July 2017) sent me a note from his own diary, as follows:

IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY – SORT OF

John is such a nice chap, his note doesn’t actually ask me to upload the lyric so he can read it.

But I’m a nice chap too and I realise that a revisit to the lyric will please John, me and perhaps other Ogblog readers too, so “up it goes”…as Bill Clinton no doubt frequently used to put it.

NewsRevue Tonight, Multiple Lyric Revisions 1996 & 1997

My main post on this long-running lyric can be found if you click here.

There were several revisions, the last three of which follow.

This one is from 9 January 1996 and is actually numbered “4”:

NEWS REVUE TONIGHT – REVISION NUMBER GOODNESS KNOWS WHAT
(To the Tune of “Comedy Tonight”)

VERSE 1

THATCHER: Someone familiar,
PAISLEY: Someone peculiar,
ALL: Weirdoes from everywhere at News Revue tonight;
BLOKES: Major’s deflecting,
GIRLS: Emma’s defecting,
ALL: No party whipping here at News Review tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 1

GIRLS: Nothing that brings share options down,
BLOKES: Bring on Ken Clarke in place of the clowns
GIRLS: Old exploitations,
BLOKES: New corporations,
ALL: Something to make the boss contrite;

CLIMAX 1

ALL: Barbican tomorrow,
News Revue tonight.

VERSE 2

GIRLS: Alan Clark’s diaries,
BLOKES: The Scott enquiry,
ALL: Sleaze factor everywhere at News Revue tonight;
BLOKES: Serbs’ revolution,
GIRLS: Scots’ devolution,
ALL: Side splitting everywhere at News Revue tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 2

GIRLS: Nothing with French nuclear tests,
BLOKES: Show us exploding silicon breasts;
GIRLS: News that reflects life,
BLOKES: Diana’s sex life,
ALL: Satire that puts the world to right;

CLIMAX 2

ALL: Maida Vale tomorrow,
News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue..Tonight!!

Next up, revision 5 dated 16 November 1996 – I get the impression I did this in response to a request:

NEWS REVUE TONIGHT – XMAS 1996 REMIX (YOU ASKED FOR IT)
(To the Tune of “Comedy Tonight”)

VERSE 1

MAJOR: Someone familiar,
PAISLEY: Someone peculiar,
ALL: Weirdoes from everywhere at News Revue tonight;
LABOUR: New Labour morals,
TORY: Old Tory quarrels,
ALL: No party whipping here at News Review tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 1

GIRLS: Nothing that brings share options down,
BLOKES: Bring on Ken Clarke in place of the clowns
GIRLS: Old exploitations,
BLOKES: New corporations,
ALL: Something to make the boss contrite;

CLIMAX 1

ALL: Barbican tomorrow,
News Revue tonight.

VERSE 2

GIRLS: More cash for questions,
BLOKES: And lewd suggestions,
ALL: Sleaze factor everywhere at News Revue tonight;
BLOKES: Benazir Bhutto,
GIRLS: Tutsis and Hutus,
ALL: Side splitting everywhere at News Revue tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 2

GIRLS: Something to treat your Christmas guests,
BLOKES: Madonna and child with big pointy breasts;
GIRLS: News that reflects life,
BLOKES: Bill Clinton’s sex life,
ALL: Satire that puts the world to right;

CLIMAX 2

ALL: Broadway tomorrow,
News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue..Tonight!!

Finally, the sixth and final revision, a version for Edinburgh 1997:

NEWS REVUE TONIGHT – EDINBURGH 1997 VERSION
(To the Tune of “Comedy Tonight”)

VERSE 1

BLAIR: Someone familiar,
PAISLEY: Someone peculiar,
ALL: Weirdoes from everywhere at News Revue tonight;
LABOUR: New Labour morals,
TORY: Old Tory quarrels,
ALL: No party whipping here at News Review tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 1

GIRLS: Nothing that brings share options down,
BLOKES: Take off Ken Clarke bring in Gordon Brown.
GIRLS: Old exploitations,
BLOKES: New corporations,
ALL: Something to make the boss contrite;

CLIMAX 1

ALL: Edinburgh tomorrow,
News Revue tonight.

VERSE 2

GIRLS: War in Tirana,
BLOKES: Canaan Banana,
ALL: Globe trotting everywhere at News Revue tonight;
BLOKES: Congo’s solution,
GIRLS: Scot’s devolution,
ALL: Side splitting everywhere at News Revue tonight.

MIDDLE EIGHT 2

GIRLS: MP’s we chase, much like fox hunts,
BLOKES: Jack Straw and Gordon Brown are……;
GIRLS: …….at lunch;
GIRLS: News that reflects life,
BLOKES: Camilla’s sex life,
ALL: Satire that puts the world to right;

CLIMAX 2

ALL: Royal Mile tomorrow,
News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue, News Revue..Tonight!!

Me And Paula Jones, NewsRevue Lyric, 28 May 1997

This one ran and ran in NewsRevue in the summer of 1997. My log shows that I wrote it in late May.

John Random sent me a note recently (July 2017) mentioning a visit to the show in August 1997 and this lyric, so it felt timely to place this one in cyberspace asap.

Slow numbers don’t often work in NewsRevue, but this one was a surefire winner.

ME AND PAULA JONES
(A solo for Bill Clinton to the Tune of “Me and Mrs Jones”)

VERSE 1

Me and Paula Jones,
We had a thing going on;
I know right from wrong, but I took my dong,
And let it show now.
I showed Paula my mark,
In the trailer park;
(My troopers), my troopers made sure she’d be there;
Holding hands, shaking my growing glands,
As those troopers helped me service my shlong.

VERSE 2

Me-ee a-and Paula, Paula Jones (Paula Jones, Paula Jones, Paula Jones)
We’ve got a case going on;
We both know that it’s long, but she claims I’m wrong,
When I let it show now.
I’ve now gotta be extra careful,
I can’t afford to get my bone up too high,
Cos she has her own litigation,
And so, and so do I

VERSE 3

Me-ee a-and Paula, Paula Jones (Paula Jones, Paula Jones, Paula Jones)
We’ve got a case going on;
We both know that it’s strong, but it’s much too long,
To let it go now.
Now it’s time for us to be courting,
The Supreme Court, the Supreme Court inside;
Now she’ll brief her silk and I’ll brief mine,
Tomorrow we’ll meet, the same court the same time

OUTRO

Me-ee a-and Paula, Paula Jones (Paula Jones, Paula Jones, Paula Jones)
We’ve got a thing going on;
Sax solo voters – I’ve always been extra partial to playing with my sax

(Bill wanders off, playing his sax)

Here is the original video of Billy Paul singing Me and Mrs Jones, which is absolutely cracking! So 1970’s; the fag hanging out of Billy Paul’s mouth is massively symbolic. In any case, although the song has now been so overplayed as to seem a cliché, in truth I still think it is a fabulous song: