Saturday, 8 October 2011

A Role Model?

I had a drunken chat on twitter last night which has led me to think about this particular topic, but in all honesty I think my opinion remains the same now that I am sober. I said the following on twitter “Who ever has hid my lighter please give it back. I know smoking is bad but now is not the time.” which led to friendly banter and the statement that has given birth to this blog “… but you are a role model!”. For those of you that don’t know I am a mental health nurse.

This kind of statement can get me really annoyed (although not in this case as I was chatting to a friend). Do all health care professionals have to strive to be the healthiest they can in order to achieve the role model status? Honestly, I think it is bollocks. I think health care professionals are human beings like everyone else, so they have bad habits, some drink, some smoke, some don’t exercise and some have an appalling diet. Does this mean they are failing their profession? Would you change your mind about your GPs opinion if you found out he/she smoked?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think those that work in health care should be an example of poor health or an alcoholic or drug addict (although I know some people do develop these unfortunate habits, it often means the end of their professional career). But we should be allowed to be just like everyone else. Of course I know I should quit smoking, in fact I know it is the single best thing I could do for my health. I was a trained smoking cessation advisor, I was the lead in this role at my last place of work. When I tell people this they call me a hypocrite, I guess in a way I am. But I am very honest with the service users (in mental health we are not supposed to use the word patient), I applaud them at being ready to take up the challenge of quitting smoking, and if they are successful brilliant, unfortunately I have failed at this task several times. It is after all an addiction, just because I am a nurse and well informed about the dangers and how to go about quitting does not make me magic or have superpowers, I still have the cravings and habit to get rid of and it isn’t easy. The service users I have discussed this with respect my honesty and that I can fail at something while supporting them to achieve it, I understand how hard it can be. The other part to smoking cessation within mental health is that it can be more complicated than just stopping, it can affect sleep, mood, mental state and absorption of some medications, so having mental health staff trained to support service users through the process is much more than just helping them beat the cravings.

When I applied to be trained there was a debate within the trust, the difficulty was that a lot of mental health staff smoked, so by not allowing any of them to train we would be very limited in who could offer the support to the service users on the wards. I remember a conversation with someone very senior to me and she said “Fat people run obesity clinics.”, she is right. I’m sure the nurses that work on the wards that have the detox service users still go home at the weekend and have a nice glass of wine or three (I would be worried if they went home and had heroin though),

The key to providing good health care in my opinion is having the knowledge and skills to provide information and support. But as much as I know I should have a slightly lower BMI, exercise more and although I know my diet is quite healthy most of the time, the huge bags of crisps are a bit wrong; this does not mean I cannot advise others aim to do all of these things. I am honest when I teach at my healthy living group, I tell them I can’t give up the crisps and cheese, they are my bad habits. But I am also realistic in my expectations of them. I don’t expect the service users I see to instantly meet all of the NHS targets like 5 A Day (fruit/Vegetables) or five 30 minute sessions of moderate intensity exercise a week, as these are ideals. They are targets. So I encourage service users to make those small changes that will hopefully lead to the bigger ones and eventually improve their health. To walk for 10 minutes, to switch to wholegrain bread, to cut down on the cigarettes and alcohol. I can do all this with a clean conscience because this is what I do. I don’t expect to be perfect, that saintly “role model”. I signed up to be a mental health nurse because I want to help people, not because I am better than anyone else, so I can show them how it is done. In the last few years I have changed my diet dramatically and have fit exercise into my daily routine, I have had many failed attempts at quitting smoking, but I have taken small steps and I have cut down. So I am not a hypocrite just because I smoke and I like a drink as I never set out to be the perfect role model for anyone. My bad habits do not affect my ability to do my job. I provide a service and that is often to educate and support people, just because I have the knowledge it does not mean I have the willpower to use it. We are all only human.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, disagree or wish you had the last couple of minutes of your life back.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Edinburgh Fringe 2011–Thoughts


I’d better point out from the start that this will not be a review of all the shows I saw (there were 40 I think, I may list them at the bottom). I did plan to write a journal like I did last year, so that I could keep a record of my thoughts and the shows, this year I managed two days. After that it felt like a chore and that I was missing out on some fun times, so I decided to not bother and do it this way instead. So what I am saying is that this blog is really for me to reflect on the whole experience of my 9 days in Edinburgh.

There will inevitably be some moaning in this, but I need to point out from the off that I had a really great time, I just found some things really irritated me too. It doesn’t help that I am used to living alone and am one of those people who likes to do certain things certain ways, I realise this is my problem, so I am aware that it is often my own self imposed rules that leads to such frustration but I don’t think that the mixture of little sleep and lots of booze helped me to cope with these (mostly) minor grumbles. But I’ll get to those later.


IMGP0715First things first, for me the best part of the fringe after the actual shows is the people. I love that having been up here for the last two years and having met so many people through twitter I now use this time to see people who I consider to be friends. I do also enjoy meeting more tweeters for the first time, although one or two can be a little odd (I’ll get to that later). Yet at the same time I did find that Edinburgh can be a bit of a lonely place, even though you are constantly surrounded by people. I think it is because I was there alone, although staying with and meeting many friends, there was no one person who saw everything I did,IMGP0341 someone to get excited with and chat in detail about our shared experience (this may be that I’ve been single too long). Those moments were fleeting as I was busy meeting up with some great people at shows and bars all week. I think I do sympathise with the comedians who are in Edinburgh all month, I see why they do meet up with fans/friends in bars so much, it is for the company (and booze of course).

*WARNING – The next two paragraphs are grumpy, skip them if you want the happy version of my fringe experience.

I did get to say hello to a few comedians over a cup of tea or a pint or two, which was lovely and something I always see as an added bonus having seen them perform. I did not spend my week in Edinburgh stalking acts to drink with. It sounds harsh, and I know some acts love the attention and encourage it, which is fine but it is not for me. I’ll send a message or say hello after a show (usually as arranged before hand as I am quite shy sometimes) and perhaps suggest a drink, if they say no or don’t respond then leave it. I do worry that some people forget that the comedians are not there to entertain the audiences ALL THE TIME. They are allowed to switch off and have a life, this may or may not include spending time with fans/friends (I’ll get to that definition in a minute). I saw before I left for the fringe that Al Murray had tweeted that he had been in the Pleasance Courtyard having a beer and chatting with a friend when a fan grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around to talk to him. How fucking rude! But sadly not rare. I think I go to the other end of the spectrum, I have at times been told off for not saying hello as I hide in the corner waiting for an opportune moment to interrupt. It is why I didn’t say hello to Michael Legge for ages (that and I thought he might be a bit scary… he isn’t). It isn’t the acts who want to hang out with fans that annoy me, that’s fine, if it floats your boat, but it is the people who think they have a right to follow and actively hunt comedians down and try to insert themselves into their lives when it is not wanted, and often down right creepy.

This brings me to my early footnote of the definition of fan/friend. Yes, lines do sometimes get blurred over time but some people need to realise that just because you’ve said hello to a comedian/act a couple of times after a show or chatted on twitter, it does not make you “friends”, or allow you the rights that friends have to invade privacy. I’m not saying that over time such contacts can’t grow into friendship, it is possible. But it is also likely that you will remain a long time fan; someone who an act appreciates for their dedication and help with promotion, a friendly face at difficult gig, a giver of weird and sometimes creepy gifts, this interaction is needed and often welcomed but there are boundaries. What worries me is that some people don’t seem to realise this. The way I think of it is if something happened and I needed someone to turn to, who would it be? For example, I got mugged in Edinburgh and was staying alone, who would I ring for help? Would it be the comedian I had beers with that afternoon? Probably not, as lovely as they can be, they already have enough troubles to deal with during the fringe, I’d ring one of the lovely tweeters I have got to know through meeting at gigs and then spending actual time together, emailing, arranging to go to things together… a proper friend (or of course a friend from home if they were up). I’m not saying a comedian wouldn’t help, they might but it is a line I don’t think I’d be comfortable crossing, think of it from their point of view, if by some freak coincidence 100 of their fans all had problems during the fringe they would go insane. There are exceptions to the rules of course and yes I know people do become friends with comedians, but I think it is more likely to happen if you show people respect for their personal boundaries, don’t expect it to happen and see it as an added bonus that not only do you appreciate their work but they like you as a person (after some time). Rant over.

I did meet some tweeters who, even thinking about it now on my way home on a train, I am smiling at the thought of them. It is sometimes a bit nerve wrecking wondering if the tweeter matches my expectations/idea f them from our online conversations. This year, a couple of them exceeded such expectations and one disappointed me (not in a particularly bad way, just very bad manners). I’m not naming names, they know who they are and we know we will see each other again for more fun times.



Last year during the fringe I had a bit of a broken moment through lack of sleep, decent food and lots of booze. I had decided to try to be more sensible this year, I’d planned my accommodation so that I had some privacy and hopefully some sleep, my schedule was not as busy (40 shows in 9 days instead of 60 in 14), I only booked 3 late night shows and had a plan to eat well. To be honest I didn’t do bad at all. I averaged about 6 hours of sleep a night, I didn’t have any hangovers as I kept my drinking under check and I ate VERY well.

I must recommend my favourite places to eat firstly Mums (they have no apostrophe in the restaurant name and it is killing me just typing it, they do a slanty s but it is not the same). This place was recommended on twitter by Lizzie Roper and I went twice, their bangers and mash was awesome (5 types of sausage to choose from, daily specials, 14 types of mash and three types of gravy) and while there I saw a pie and had to return to try one… wow, just go. Secondly, a favourite from last year, Elephants and Bagels, the place is quirky and the food is great what more could you ask for. I also recommend the Big Daddy Nacho bowl in the Gilded Balloon, 4 of us polished it off without much trouble but with less people it would be difficult (there is a Big Momma Nacho bowl for vegetarians). I also had one final visit to Tempting Tattie which has now sadly closed. I often had a hog roast sandwich from Oink for breakfast (well it was usually after lunchtime when I actually got around to getting food).



I had more free time this year so went to some bars with friends, so here are a few I like. Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street, it is a free fringe venue and a rock pub, supposedly haunted… blah blah blah. But I like the building, even if it is a little warm sometimes, it is open until 5am during the fringe. Bannerman’s on Cowgate, is just around the corner and again, it is a free fringe venue and rock bar, but a great place to hang out. Halfway House on Fleshmarket is Edinburgh’s smallest pub, you have to go there, but be warned the ladies toilet is smaller than an aeroplane one.

IMGP0625One of my friends is a bit of a beer buff, so we had to visit the new Brew Dog pub on Cowgate, it is locally brewed but they also sell numerous other speciality beers as well as their famous Sink the Bismark at 41%. I would have liked to try a fruity ale, but not at £10 a pint. It is a great bar if you are into that type of thing (and you can buy shares while there).

Do’s and Don’ts

In no particular order, here are my tips for Edfringe (and to remind me of some of them for next year).

  • DON’T – Walk slowly in the middle of the pavement on your own, or especially in groups! If you have to walk slowly, walk to the side so that people in a rush can get past you, and don’t block the pavement in a big group, go single file on s narrow street.
  • DO – Take an umbrella, poncho, coat or rainIMGP0649 hat. Edinburgh is a bit of a twat for looking gloriously sunny one minute and then like the storm at the end of the world the next. You may look a bit silly in a poncho but the disposable ones I had at the bottom of my bag came in handy.
  • DON’T – Make noise during a show. Just because you don’t get it, can’t decide what to have for tea or are a general cunt, I paid to see the show, so shut the fuck up. This also counts for fiddling with sweet wrappers, rummaging in your bag, texting (with tones on) and the worst offender tapping. Just stop or leave.
  • DO – Queue properly. There is an etiquette to this and I am aware there is some debate on the subject, so here is my opinion. A popular/busy show may start queuing half an hour or more before the beginning of the show, if you want good seats get there early. Saving a seat/place in the queue for one, maybe two friends is fine, we all run late and want to sit with people we know. Do not expect to turn up at the last minute and jump to the front of the queue with loads of friends, it is twatty and rude. Saving seats depends on the venue, I personally don’t think it is on to save the front row for all of your friends if other people queued early for good seats, if no one wants the front row then fine. You do sometimes have to choose between queuing early for good seats or sitting with friends.
  • DON’T – Interrupt. There is something about Edinburgh fringe where people forget their manners. If you see someone you know, wave or catch their attention, but then wait until they have finished talking to who they are already talking to, hover nearby. Be polite to the other person already chatting. If you can’t wait, then gesture that you have to go and do so.
  • DO – Book tickets early, you never know who is going to be popular and sell out before you get around to getting a ticket. Of course some big names always sell out, so I tend to buy those as soon as they go on sale. However, it is worth noting that depending on the venue sometimes additional tickets are released 2 hours to 20 minutes prior to the show, this is because most shows have press tickets and if they are not allocated they are put back on sale. Some venues may keep these for venue pass holders to use, but it is worth asking just in case.

Random Moments

Finally, I’ll finish with some random moments that made my fringe (or were just random).

  • Apparently I can be a bit cuddly when I sleep as Sarah found out (@GooseCG), but I bet she misses it now.
  • I am not scary to say hello to unless it is done rudely, then I will ignore you. But I did almost laugh in a lads face when he said “You are nwoolhouseuk “King of the Podophiles!”, I did point out I am a girl which makes me Queen. The podcast stuff does sometimes seem weird, but then I have made some great friends through it.
  • Camera Obscura is awesome! It is near the castle entrance. Take a camera and a friend and have fun. Lots of optical illusions and lots of stairs (97 I think). It is only a tenner and takes about an hour and a half to go around.
  • Drunk comedians on stage are not always great but sometimes it makes for awesome moments. This is the risk and fun of late shows.
  • Do The Right Thing Podcast was really good, go and watch the recordings next month at The Phoenix on Cavendish Square in London and download them all when they are released.
  • And I’ll finish with the list of everything I saw, ask me about them if you want any more information. Thom Tuck, Dead Cat Bounce, Do The Right Thing (podcast recording), Pointless Anger Righteous Ire 2 (Robin Ince and Michael Legge), Stewart Lee, David O’Doherty, Anyone For Tennis, Do The Right Thing (another episode), Joanna Neary, Colin Hoult, David Reed, Carey Marx, Karaoke Circus, Andrew Lawrence, James Acaster, Karaoke Circus (again), Jon Richardson, Nick Helm, Jigsaw (Thomas Craine, Nat Luurtsema and Dan Antopolski), Zoe Lyons, Frisky and Mannish, Karaoke Circus (again), Tiernan Douieb, The Adventurer’s Club (Tiernan Douieb and Sir Tim Fitzhigham), Ellis James, Rich Hall, Taskmaster 2, Tara Flynn, Humphrey Ker, Richard Herring, Mark Olver, Sammy J and Randy, Rich Fulcher, Horne Section, Jason Cook, Chris Cox, Pete Firman, Barry & Stuart – Show, Barry & Stuart – Tell.

Thanks for reading if you did, it was very long. Feel free to comment, ask questions or not.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Edinburgh Fringe 2011 – #Edinburghpicks

I have said it before, but it is worth pointing out again, that I am no reviewer of comedy. But I am excited to be going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival again this year and thought I’d share some of my excitement. This will not be an inclusive list of who I am seeing (I plan to see 40-50 shows) but a few of the shows I am most looking forward to and why. I have decided to see some new (to me) acts this year, so if you have any comments/reviews of them do let me know.

(There are hyperlinks to their page if you click on their names if highlighted).

Firstly it has to be one of my favourite events… (the rest are not necessarily in order of preference)

Karaoke Circus

Even if you are not a fan of karaoke (I am not usually), I can guarantee that this is a fun night. And this year there are three, 22nd – 24th August. For those who don’t know karaoke circus is obviously a karaoke night, but with a difference. For a start there is a live band. Martin White, Danielle Ward, Foz Foster and David Reed will accompany comedians and audience members as they sing their hearts out. The performances will be judged by Dan Tetsell and The Baron. Everything is taken with a pinch of salt, the songs can be funny, tragic or brilliant but the atmosphere is what does for me on this night. No matter how well/wrong the performances go the audience is 100% behind the person on stage. I have in the past at London/Edinburgh KC seen Robin Ince, Michael Legge, Jim Bob, Tim Vine, Josie Long, The Penny Dreadfuls, Pappys, Al Murray, Andrew Collins just to name a few. I know Chris Addison has performed and I hope to see him do so this year. It is silly fun, there is beer and a cabaret style atmosphere. Certainly a late show I recommend to anyone lucky enough to be at the fringe for those dates (it starts at 1am by the way). Tickets are only available directly from the Pleasance website here.

Dead Cat Bounce

I have not seen this act before. I am planning to see them based purely on their fringe brochure description and that a friend has said I will enjoy them as much as I hope I will. COMEDY ROCK! The Independent said “Spinal Tap-esque Brilliance”, what more could you want? They are on at 10.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.


What do you get if you put three great comedians I have seen before together in one room doing “smart, funny sketches” – jigsaw! This show has a trio of delight with the fabulous Dan Antopolski, Tom Craine AND Nat Luurtsema. Talk about value for money! They are on at 5.45pm at Pleasance Courtyard.

Joanna Neary

Having only seen Joanna Neary do short sets at Latitude and in London I was thrilled to find out that she is doing Edinburgh Fringe this year. This is a lady who knows how to do character comedy. I have seen Pans Person and her Sex Education Teacher, I can’t say anymore without spoiling it (she also stars in Ideal on BBC 3). Just trust me and go and see her at The Stand Comedy Club V at 3.50pm.

Chris Cox

The mind reader who can’t read minds. I saw his show Mind Over Patter and was frustratingly but happily confused and left wondering how he did that. Check him out on youtube or on his website here. Fatal Distraction promises to be mind blowing fun, on at Pleasance Dome at 7.10pm.

Barry and Stuart

While on the subject of magic/illusionists/mentalists, I have to point out that Barry and Stuart have not one, but two shows this year at the fringe. Entitled Show and Tell, the first (The Show) will be a great and usually gory magic show at 10.15pm at Udderbelly Pasture. The second show (The Tell) follows at midnight where they reveal al the secrets behind the show. Finally we will get some answers! (Note there is a discount if you book the show and the tell, look on The show dates for details).

Tara Flynn

Is a very talented lady and is truly spoiling us this year, bringing us her show Big Noise to the Voodoo Rooms at 5.05pm for FREE! See her funny, twisted and bizarre songs and then go and buy the album from iTunes. Do it!

Colin Hoult

A hilarious character comedian who I saw on a whim last year having seen him in Gutted the musical. I was so glad I did. He must be the next big thing, His characters are diverse and the whole show draws you in a flies by (well it did last year). I can’t wait to see more. On at 7.05pm at Pleasance Courtyard.

Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire 2: Back in the Habit

This show was so good that I went twice last year, and it is different every time. See two forty something year old men rant about what is wrong with the world today and then let them decide if your anger is pointless or righteous. Lots of fun and lots of shouting. Don’t let them try to put you off seeing this show. On at The Stand V at 2.35pm (I have booked this one already, it sold out last year).

I was disappointed this year that I wouldn’t get to see either The Penny Dreadfuls or Pappys do their sketch shows, however all is not lost. All three Penny Dreadfuls are doing solo shows which I plan to see with very high hopes. Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD, David Reed Shamblehouse and Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson – Nazi smasher. I am also thankful that Matthew Crosby is bringing us Adventureparty.

I plan to follow a few recommendations from friends this year as well as seeing many of my favourite acts. Some of those new to me are Carey Marx, Nick Helm (although I’ve seen a short set), Mark Olver and Tony Law (If I manage to get up that early, it starts at midday). Plus a few more.

Oh and make sure you check out Skeptics on the Fringe for some great free events including Devil’s Advocate the panel game show and special events such a ghost walks and space talks (see their FB page for more information).

It is going to be a busy few days.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Love online?

I’ve just watched Catfish, which if you didn’t see it was a documentary about a man who thought he’d fell in love with a woman over facebook and found something else entirely (I won’t spoil it in case you want to watch it). Anyway it got me thinking about finding love on the internet, so I thought it was time for a bit of a ramble.

I love chatting to people online and of course I would really like to fall in love with a wonderful man, but can these two things really happen together for me? I think there are very obvious positives and negatives to looking for love online.

So, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way, you have to BE CAREFUL! I’d like to think that nowadays people have a bit of common sense and don’t give out too many personal details too soon and if they do arrange to meet, they do so in a public place and people know where they are and who they are meeting. There are unfortunately some weirdos out there, and I certainly wouldn’t want them turning up at my door unannounced.

But there are benefits to meeting people virtually… in person I am initially shy (depending if the alcohol is flowing). The detachment of chatting to someone on twitter, facebook or even by email means I can consider my reply without the pressure of social graces and the need for such speed. But both virtually and in person, once I get chatting I don’t really shut up. This means I tend to get on with other people who also like to talk a lot. In my opinion, however or where ever you chat with someone, the more you do so the closer you can get. Of course if chat remains superficial then so does the relationship, but close friends and even more can come from getting to know someone online.

There is one problems with getting to know someone in this way, they may be lying about everything, saying what they think you want to hear. They may not look like you think they do. I certainly pick a more flattering photo as my profile picture online than my current tied back hair and no make-up look. And in this there is an element of risk. It is easy to begin to emotionally invest in a friendship or relationship online to find that either the other person did not have the same intentions or that it was all a load of bull… a game to them. I do prefer to be less pessimistic and hope that most people are generally honest when the chat gets more personal. It is certainly what I have found so far. Don’t get me wrong, I know some people have a very different online persona or even a character, but in the private tweets and messages, most people I have chatted to have been lovely. I have made loads of new friends in the last couple of years, and have spent time with many of them in person. Of course I have met one or two people who appeared to different or perhaps really shy in person that chatting so freely in reality was difficult. Sometimes online friends should remain just that.

So, in my usual rambling way… I think perhaps you can get close to someone online, but the proof is when you actually meet face to face. You need to find out if beyond initial nerves you really get on with someone, let alone if you could love them. It is all to easy to get carried away with the idea of someone from virtual contact, but remember you tend to only get the good stuff online. We all have bad habits and flaws. I do like the idea of having got past the first date anxiety of not knowing anything about someone. I’d hope if I did end up dating someone I met online at least we’d know what to talk about in person, surely that would be easier?

The main benefit to “meeting” people online whether for love or friendship for me is that you do get to meet a variety of like-minded people from all over the world. Surely your chances of finding love or great friendships are increased by that alone? I can’t say I’ve met that many people in my local area who have similar interests to me (with some exceptions of course, including at Skeptics in the Pub). The “all over the world” part can be an issue if you are looking for love, but I’m sure rarely it does happen and is overcome.

I guess my conclusion is that I’d hope I could find love online, but even I would have to remember to not get carried away with the initial excitement of getting along on line, reality does not always measure up. One day, I hope it does.

(I really hope this doesn’t sound like I am actively hunting for love online? I’m just saying it is possible to find it, and I’m single so I’m keeping it open as an option of where I might meet someone. I could just as easily meet the man of my dreams in the supermarket tomorrow, you never know).

Monday, 2 May 2011

Camden Comedy Crawl Weekend

I am not a reviewer in any way, but I wanted to write something about this weekend more as a way for me to remember it. I managed to not take a single photo. So here is the run down and my thoughts on my weekend in London at the Comedy Crawl.

I stayed with a lovely friend Rob for the weekend, we’d arranged that I should come down in the afternoon as we couldn’t get our wristbands until 5pm. However, on the journey down there were one or two confusing tweets from comedians I follow saying they would be on in the afternoon for comedy crawl. This must just be a part of Camden crawl? I thought, comedy crawl ticket holders can’t see they daytime events can they? The confusion began early, and got worse later on.

Let’s get the rant out of the way first, then the happy bits to finish…

Many people had asked the Comedy Crawl organisers for line ups and times for each venue so that we could plan what we could see, frustratingly we were not given one until we collected our wristband on they day. A couple of other websites released timetables but we were unsure of their accuracy. I do think many regular comedy fans would given the Comedy Crawl a miss because of this, and I don’t blame them. I don’t get much chance to see many of the acts billed so happily saw a mix, but for Londoners who can see many of the acts any day of the week, they’d need to be able to timetable to see who they wanted to and make it worth the £35 entrance fee. Here’s where it got even more annoying… we collected our “Official Programme” and immediately noticed problems. It was very inaccurate. So we asked at a venue to find out that the information on the “Official Programme” was from months ago, so of course everything had changed since then. With no update from the Comedy Crawl on their website and a programme not worth the paper it was printed on we were very annoyed and tried to plan who to see with very limited and inaccurate information. Oh, then we got more annoyed when one of the promoters told us that they expected comedy crawl ticket holders to be able to see the daytime comedy which had been on since 2pm… we missed hours of comedy! (Don’t worry it does get better). The last frustrating part of the whole event was some of the venues and how they were managed. Running alongside the Camden Crawl there were many people there for the music and the booze. If the organisers had an ounce of sense they would have realised that letting drunk music fans into venues where there was comedy on was not a great idea. Particularly in the Knock2bag venue The Wheelbarrow you could barely hear the acts even when sat 3 feet away thanks to the people chatting at the bar. The security staff seemed to have different rules in each venue, at Belushi’s for instance where Fat Tuesday were the hosts the security were great and didn’t let really  what they drunk people in and kept it a comedy only venue, which made for a great atmosphere. It just all seemed… unplanned, like they hadn’t even thought it through. I really felt sorry for the promoters and acts who were dealt such a difficult hand and did the best they could with what they had.

The good bit..

Despite all of the problems we did manage to see some acts on the first night, and by the second day we knew we could see the daytime acts and each venue put their line up on the venue doors, so we were able to plan. I was not impressed with Comedy Crawl tweeting that we could see daytime acts with the hashtag #Winning, WTF? How is it winning when most of the people attending don’t even know they can come 5 hours early unless they follow the twitter feed? They still didn’t update the website or post up to date programmes anywhere.

So here’s who I saw (I am not reviewing the acts but will put the odd comment to remind myself who I want to see again).


Knock2bag @The Wheelbarrow

William Andrews - an act I hadn’t seen before but will definitely see again, fun use of an MP3 player.

Colin Hoult – Great to see the Andy Parker character again although I was hoping to see some new material, it was perfectly understandable why he didn’t try it in such a noisy and difficult room.

Arnab Chanda – Self depricating comedy can be funny, he just wasn’t for me. Although it was a difficult room, I don’t really appreciate being given permission to laugh by the act. Did not go down well.

Cardinal Burns – Sketch comedy, not mind blowing for me but enjoyable.

Delete The Banjax – Struggled being off microphone with all of the noise in the room. You could see they were not that comfortable. But still I did enjoy the songs and would see them again.

By this time the noise was unbearable and we decided to try another venue, so off to

Really Lovely Comedy @Camden Head

This was a dedicated room upstairs for the gig, which meant an audience that actually listened and watched the acts. It was a very hot room at times, but that just reminded me of Edinburgh fringe. The MCs coped well with people moving in and out of the room between acts, it just could have done with being double the size as often friends could not get in as it was too busy.

William Andrews – We didn’t know he was also doing this venue, but I was glad I saw him again so soon as the different venue made a big difference. He took the act a lot further, appeared more relaxed particularly thanks to his hands free invention.

Luke Benson – Didn’t go down very well.

Get Comedy @ Lock 17

This venue was packed and had the noisy people at the bar problem and seemed to have a higher ratio of drunk twats in it. I did not enjoy being pushed and leaned on.

Tiffany Stevenson – Was as always really good, a great solid set and coped well with the noisy room. I have now seen the leopard print trousers… I wish I hadn’t.

I couldn’t cope with the drunk arguments going on around me so decided to leave and miss Matt Kirshen and Abandoman which was a shame. We even struggled to get out of the building it was so busy, luckily one of the security staff let us sneak out the back way.

Fat Tuesday @Belushi’s

Hal Cruttenden – We arrived just in time to catch most of his set and I was glad I did. What was more amazing was being in a venue where the audience were paying attention.

I said hello to a rather drunk Tiernan Douieb and then had a few more drinks and rants with Neal, Andy, Anna, Kerri and Rob.


We arrived early in the afternoon to try and get some line ups and have brunch. This plan worked well, we managed to find out enough information (with no help from Comedy Crawl organisers) to be able to have a list of comedians we might actually get to see. I do love a good plan and chips for breakfast.

Fat Tuesday and Old Rope @Belushi’s

Not that we knew what was on every where else, but that line up in this venue was brilliant, so we parked our arses and settle in for the afternoon. With Tiernan Douieb the audience was well looked after allowing time for drinks and comfort break while he kept things moving and the rest of the room entertained.

Marek Larwood – The first time I had seen him live and a brilliant character, very funny and energetic with loads of crowd interaction. This is one of those acts I’d love to see more of.

Bethany Black – A Mancunian goth lesbian… I think that was how she described herself. She was very dark and went to those places you are not sure she should for an afternoon set, but I’m very glad she did.

Sir Tim Fitzhigham – I’d seen him at Fullmooners but was very happy to see more of his set and hear more of his tales of adventures in bathtubs.

Sarah Kendall – An Australian lady, a fun set a bit clumsy but funny.

Thom Tuck – Having only seen Thom as part of The Penny Dreadfuls I was excited to see some of his Straight to DVD #STDVD set. I will be seeing the full Edinburgh show, a must see.

Danielle Ward – Another act that I’d only seen as part of something else. She was dark and filthy as I’d expected even if a little distracted by Shappi Khorsandi’s child making a noise at the back of the room, “Does that child know what wanking into a bin means?”. Very funny.

Really Lovely Comedy @Camden Head

We just caught a bit of Sir Tim as we arrived, although this room had a few too many drunk people to appreciate his stories.

Frisky and Mannish – I’d seen them do a short set at 9 lessons and Carols for godless people and was thrilled to see more. I laughed so hard I nearly peed. I have to see more of this.

London Comedy Improv @ Theatro Technis

I had planned to see a few more acts at other venues, but having crammed so much into the afternoon I decided to devote the evening to London Comedy Improv. I’ve seen loads of positive feedback on twitter but had never made it down to one of their regular Wednesday night slots at The Phoenix.

The group was Michael Legge, Tara Flynn, Rufus Hound, Brendan Dempsey, John Voce, a brief visit from Tiernan Douieb and Kirsty Newton on keyboard.

I’m so glad I stayed, it may be difficult to describe but the games and the mix of people worked perfectly to keep me laughing all evening. The people who wandered in late when one of the sets had started were obviously confused not knowing the rules of the game being played at that time, with some people who didn’t stay to figure out what they had missed. Idiots!

The centipede expert and Michael shouting at John until he died were particular highlights. Brilliant, go and see them, they do it every month!


We finished the night with drinks, chats and giggles in a couple of bars, much happier to have had a day of laughter and much less of the stress of Saturday. Overall a great weekend spent with lovely friends and meeting more people. I’m already planning my next London trip.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Getting Some Perspective

I’m not really sure what the point of this blog entry is, but I haven’t written one in a while and I seem to have done a lot of thinking in the last week or so. Usually writing my stream of thoughts out helps me to consolidate them. So here goes…

The Moaning Bit.

I had a bit of a bad weekend last week, when a number of things went wrong. I won’t list them all here in detail but I will say the accumulation of it all hit me pretty hard. A blossoming relationship didn’t turn out how I wanted it too and it seemed that everyone I knew was either seriously ill or facing tragedy. It was a shame because I’d had a fantastic couple of days in London meeting @PharmacistScott who was over from Canada and really relaxed following the start of my new job. My internet speed being rubbish did not help (it still isn’t fixed) as I can usually distract myself online. So I took myself off twitter for a bit and wallowed in self pity (it was a bit messy).

The More Cheerful Bit.

Thankfully I have some great friends and some of them people I have met through twitter who are very supportive and let me whinge privately and get it all out of my system. I still wasn’t feeling very sociable by the beginning of the week so remained a bit quiet and decided not to attend the Skeptics in The Pub debate on Monday night. But I am extremely grateful for the tweets, DMs and texts I received. You lot are ace. Thanks.

Getting Some Perspective.

As is often the case following a stressful time, I did a lot of thinking this week and got a bit of perspective. In the wallowing phase I doubted myself a lot (as is natural) and it didn’t help that my new job is rather stressful right now. I wondered if I had done the right thing taking on so much work in this new job, can I really do it? Then if the relationship ended because of me, my personality, my nerdiness or maybe I was too keen? I then felt incredibly guilty for even thinking all of that and feeling sorry for myself when other people I knew had faced illness and tragedy.

Finally I gave myself a kick up the arse and decided enough was enough. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I am trying to be more honest. This should include being more honest with myself. So here is what I decided.

I like me, I like my nerdiness. I should not feel embarrassed about my interests, they are a part of who I am. Not everyone will share them but they don’t have too.  And I think I am overall a pretty nice person. In fact a couple of weeks ago I told the man I was seeing that I am awesome (and a little vain), there was more to it than that but at the time just telling him I had respect for myself seemed to work. I don’t see why I shouldn’t think that. I like who I am am, at least some people do like me for it. I cannot start to doubt me for being me. I can change small aspects that I don’t like so much like being more honest and assertive (for the most part that is working rather well, saying what you think tends to get you answers quickly, even if they are not always the ones you wanted to hear). I may have been keen with the bloke I was seeing, but so what? If he liked me enough he would have been that way too. The beginning of a relationship should not be a battle, it should be easy and exciting.

I am good at my job, the stress is mostly not due to my skills but the volume of work I have to do, the new role I have to learn and the need to set up boundaries within the team. These are things that will come with time, so work will get better… eventually.

An finally, shit things happen to people. All I can do is be a good friend and support them as they do me in times of crisis. I did need to remind myself that things are not always that bad. Life is full of ups and downs. And I was right. A week later things are much better. I am less worried about the people I had concerns for. I am ready to face a new week of work, to rise to the challenge. I am single again, but perhaps we weren’t right for each other. One day I will meet someone special, so until then I need to keep living life and having fun (of course that will involve a great deal of comedy, tweet ups and nerdiness).


I don’t usually write such personal drivel, but I have found I do like the process. It does help me to think more clearly. I’m not sure how appropriate it is to post it publicly. I have discussed this with fellow bloggers and we all seem to doubt whether our thoughts are of interest to anyone. I have decided I don’t really mind who reads it or what they think of it. Some of my friends may be glad to hear thinks are ok now and in the past I enjoyed getting feedback and finding that people do/do not feel/think the same way as I do.

So, thanks for reading. Sorry if it was dull to you. If you have any feedback please post a comment/tweet me/DM me, or don’t.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Is honesty the best policy?

I haven’t rambled for a while, so here we go.

Of course I am aware that the above question is too vague and the obvious answer is no. There are times when we all need our honesty filter on, to not hurt people’s feelings or cause offense.

As part of my job I have to tell white lies in order to protect my patients, it is part of creating unconditional positive regard.

However, the honesty I am thinking about is in general day to day life. I have found myself pushing such boundaries, forcing myself to be more honest. It is quite refreshing. Some examples may help you to understand what I mean…

- When asked if I want to go on a particular night out, I may usually give some excuse of not having enough money or anything nice to wear. When in fact I just might not fancy a night with that group of people. I have honestly told my close friends that I’d love to spend time with them but don’t fancy an awkward night with some people I don’t get on with so well. Or on another occasion I have just said, “no I fancy a weekend in my PJs, I’m tired and need to relax.” Why should I lie? My close friends know me and if I explain I don’t need to continue the lie and dig myself in any deeper. Have you ever said you had no money and then let slip you bought something nice? Lying can upset friends, me being lazy for a weekend may disappoint but it does not offend.

- I have been asked to take on new roles and do tasks which are unfamiliar to me. I have in the past, as I’m sure many people have said “Yeah, of course I’ll do that” and then panicked when I have realised I don’t have a clue what to do and got stressed. Recently I have bluntly said “Yes I will do the work, but someone needs to teach me what to do and help me if I get stuck”. Much more simple. I have found that I have been much more respected for it by senior colleagues and they have even put protocols in place so that I can turn to people for help and support.

- And finally the more scary one is being more honest about feelings. I’m not sure I am that good at this one but I am trying. It is often not that easy though, even telling someone you are annoyed with them can be tricky when they may not like the news. But I have decided it must be done, if things go unsaid they have a tendency to fester. But also there is the nice side of such things, telling someone you a grateful for their friendship or time, or that you like/love them can often go unsaid (By the way, I really disagree with people saying they love EVERYONE, that is a lie or it is not love. But that may be another blog). The act can be very scary and it can go wrong if such feelings are unrequited, but is it worth the risk? It has to be sometimes.

So I am starting small, I am going to try and be a more honest person. If I think someone is wearing something nice, I am going to tell them. I am going to tell a colleague if I think they have done a good job. And yes I will tell people when they have pissed me off, I can do it politely. I could even do it by text/email if I am not feeling that brave. I will say if I am struggling at work, or bored/lonely at home (I have been doing this one, the results are great so far, I have been given help and company, who’d have thought?). Being honest in the right place can make others feel happy too, admitting you have been shy/glad to meet someone in person can help them to admit the same.

Any thoughts on honesty? Have you tried being more honest lately?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Effing Fees

I had a bit of a grumble on twitter yesterday as I had received my letter from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) asking for my annual fee of £76 to remain on the live register of nurses. I got lots of interesting discussion from some people on twitter about professional fees.

I understand the definite need professional regulation, it is in the interests of the public and offers protection and a framework in which to work. But there are a couple of things that really annoy me about professional fees…

I know the cost of everything has gone up, but fees have done so ridiculously. My initial registration was about £75 for the first 3 years (I think), but during that time the NMC made it an annual fee which has over the last 7 years that I have been qualified it has crept up to that amount every year. Surely the NMC costs haven’t risen that much?

The point I really want to discuss is, should we pay annual professional fees? Should any professionals? I know many professions do, doctors, vets, teachers, solicitors, I’m sure there are many more. It is not the regulation I object to, but I do think that those people on a fixed salary which is decided by the government (and it not particularly great) shouldn’t have to pay a fee to continue to do the job they do for the public sector.

The private sector is a different matter. Of course it is only my opinion, but in the private sector where salaries can be much better and the goals are more related to profit, then they should pay fees for the protection of government run bodies to regulate their work. There is a point in the public sector where I think this principle applies, the point at which they are not stuck on a national pay scale. For example if a GP is a partner in a practice, or a vet owns their own, they have the potential to make/invest money, the point at which their role becomes potentially more driven by money they should pay for the protection of such organisations.

I don’t think it is about the actual money, or the amount, but rather the principle of it. You don’t have to pay a fee every year to carry on doing your job in a supermarket or an office, why should you to look after/help/teach the public? Why doesn’t the government pay it for us? Why don’t we charge those who make a profit out of the public needs more to cover the cost of this?

It makes sense to me anyway. Thoughts anyone?