Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Is that Chris Ramsey?

Chris Ramsey has just embarked on his biggest tour to date, Is That Chris Ramsey?, culminating in a massive homecoming gig at Newcastle’s Metro Arena. The Geordie star of Comedy Central’s The Chris Ramsey Show tells Mark Wareham about life on the road and how adjusting to first-time fatherhood hasn’t stopped him from being arrested in his underpants…

Hi, is that Chris Ramsey?
I see what you did there.

How’s the tour going?
Amazing. I’ve got a big set that I love and it’s my first time with a headset mic. It’s so free. It’s the best show I’ve done yet.

And it’s your biggest tour to date?
Yeah. The scary thing about touring is that the venues are booked before I’ve written the show, so I’ve got the title, I’ve got the poster…

You’re a bit last minute then?
It’s the only way I can do it man. I was the kid at school where if you got your homework on a Thursday, I would do it on the Sunday night. I’d have it hanging over us all weekend. It’s just who I am.

But you must have had a rough idea of the show mapped out in your head?
I’ve ended up having a theme again. There’s a bit of a crisis of confidence theme in my everyday life, on becoming a dad. So I start off talking about the most confident person I’ve ever met, about my wife, my son, my fears, and then at the end I talk about a situation where I wish I’d been a lot more confident when I was apprehended by the police last year in a hotel in me underpants. I’d like to have handled that better.

What do you think’s brought on this crisis of confidence then?
It’s just cos offstage you’re a proper dulled-down version of who you are on stage. And it’s just that sometimes you wish you could be just a bit more like the person you are on stage. And it all comes to a head at the end when the police are handcuffing me in a hotel. You see it in films and think you know how you’d handle it, but when it happens to you, you find out who you really are. And that’s why I call the show Is That Chris Ramsey? Cos I found out who I really was that night
That’s very interesting, wishing you were more like someone that you actually are anyway!
With comedy, you’re not allowed to be the person you are on stage. Cos people would be like, ‘Woah, dickhead, tone it down!’ Very very rarely do you get a comic who’s exactly the same offstage as they are onstage.

It’s a bit like having a split personality isn’t it, in a way.
Not to the level of Johnny Vegas, but nearly. Obviously his real name’s Michael Pennington, but the way he talks about Johnny, it’s like a twin or a part of his personality. His book’s incredible.

Are there any places you particularly enjoy playing on tour?
I’ve got a full-on bias towards the North-East. But there’s no real rule to what makes a great gig. We did Dartford for the first time the other day. One of those outskirts of London towns and they’re normally all right, sometimes they can be a bit hard work. But it was phenomenal. The audience were so up for it. If I’ve got a gig in Newcastle and a gig in Dartford, I’d put my life savings on the gig in Newcastle being better. But that gig in Dartford I’d wager against any of the others.

And you’re finishing the tour in Newcastle at the arena. That’s a big gig.
That’ll be my biggest one ever. The idea of that many people coming to see you is spectacular. It’s crazy. Ten thousand people! The biggest venue I’ve played so far is the Albert Hall. Five thousand people at the Royal Variety Performance. Though it felt like 2,000, cos hardly any of them were laughing. It was quite a hard gig. 

Your last show, All Growed Up, dealt with becoming an adult. But now you’re 30, with a kid, so presumably you’ve not got much choice?
Yes but with the new show I didn’t want to make it a dad show. I had a load of stories about my son, but I binned most of them cos they felt like stories that anyone could do about being a dad.

You’ve got a young following, haven’t you?
Not as young as you’d think. I’ve got a lovely mix. Last night there was an entire family. I once did a gig where there were grandparents as well. Three generations turned up. It’s always really nice to see an older face.

As you’re such a natural storyteller, do you appreciate a bit of audience banter or does it put you off your stride?
I love it. When I come out, I start chatting to the audience immediately. It’s never a problem, unless they’re shouting abuse.

Your material’s very personal. Do you deal with Trump and Brexit like so many other comics, or just ignore it?
Well Trump does all his own jokes anyway. Anything you could possibly do, he’s already done. So it’s impossible to satirise him.

Since your last tour, you’ve got your own show on Comedy Central. It’s a lot of fun isn’t it, like an extension of your personality.
That’s what I wanted. There’s so much grim stuff going on and I was never going to do a John Oliver type satire show. That’s not my style. I wanted a show that was fun and entertaining and high-energy. All of the guests came away saying, ‘That was so much fun to be on.’ It was so nice to hear colleagues you admire like Jimmy Carr saying that.

Who do you admire most in comedy?
Billy Connolly. I remember watching him with my dad when I was a kid and I couldn’t believe this bloke would stand up there telling these amazing stories to the room and a theatre of people were just hanging on his every word. The first one I saw with him was An Audience With, with Robbie Coltrane, Bob Geldof and Michael Parkinson, and my dad explained that he was a comedian. I never even realised it was a proper job. I used to watch Lee Evans as well.

What are you like when you’re on the road?
Well I’m currently sitting in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. The tour manager’s driving and I’m sitting on a leather recliner with a table, my support act Carl Hutchinson is sitting on my left listening to music on his laptop, and I’ve got in front of us a PlayStation 4 with a 32-inch telly up on the wall and I’ve currently got Resident Evil Origins on pause so I can have this interview.

So what do you and Carl do after a show? Do you tear the place up or go back and chill?
Honestly, you can’t man. It seems like we’re just sitting around doing nothing and it’s just a couple of hours each night, but it’s actually infuriating how much it takes out of you doing a two-hour show. I got angry when I got ill. Why? It’s not like I’m down the mine. I’m just on stage talking. Just sitting in the van can exhaust you. My idea of a good tear-up is going back to the hotel, having a couple of beers out of the minibar and ordering a pizza. We’re pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. But after Newcastle Arena, there’ll be hell on!

Chris Ramsey performs at Portsmouth Guildhall on 13th April. For tickets call 0844 8472362

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A local hero

In 1966, Southampton-born PC Anthony Gledhill of the Metropolitan police received the highest award for a civilian – the George Cross. Tony Gledhill will give a talk at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre on Thursday 13 April at 7.45pm, in which he will explain how that award for bravery came about.
Born in 1938 in Doncaster, Tony Gledhill became a police constable with the ‘Met’. On 25 August 1966 he was out on patrol in Deptford with fellow officer PC Terence McFall, when they received instructions to check a suspicious car. The vehicle was indeed stolen, and contained five men preparing for to carry out an armed robbery.
The police gave chase, with PC Gledhill driving, as the car sped recklessly through the streets of South London on the wrong side of the road in a one-way system. The pursuit continued for five miles, with the offenders firing repeatedly at the police vehicle. When the escaping car crashed into a lorry, the occupants leapt out and attempted to seize the police car at gunpoint.
Both constables demonstrated amazing bravery in their determination not to allow the villains to get away. Both received injuries requiring hospital treatment. The George Cross was awarded to Tony Gledhill in recognition of his courage and tenacity, and he later rose through the ranks to become a Detective Sergeant.
The talk will take place in the Langstone Room at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre on Thursday 13 April 2107 at 7.45pm, and tickets cost £6. You can book in person at The Box Office, call 023 9247 2700, or visit our website at www.thespring.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Royal Marines Association Concert Band

Here's a lovely guest blog by Sally Callow

It’s our 10th anniversary year and yet many readers of this blog will probably have never heard of us! The Royal Marines Association Concert Band (RMACB) is based in Portsmouth and rehearses weekly at the Royal Marines Museum.

RMACB was formed in June 2006 by Chairman, Major (retd) Paddy Dunn RM and Director of Music, Captain (retd) Ted Whealing RM. The band started with 35 musicians - most being former members of the Royal Marines Band Service; a diverse mix of highly talented men and women of all ages.

The band grew quickly and soon had a membership that exceeded 50 players. RMACB musicians all have a deep passion for music and that enthusiasm comes across in fantastic performances.

The band performs locally at the Portsmouth Guildhall, around the south of England and London. We play around 15 concerts a year to raise funds for Royal Marines Charities. As our name suggests, we are associated with the Royal Marines Association which supports both former and serving Royal Marines and their families.

We have gone from strength to strength in our first decade, our fan base has been growing and the support has been fantastic. We enjoy an excellent reputation for producing and performing top class music.

A new CD is ready to be released in the coming months to celebrate the milestone. This will look back on the excellent music created since 2006; 6 CDs of popular, military and classical music. The RMACB audience’s favourites range from medleys of ABBA, Beatles and Bond music to grand, lively pieces of music such as Resplendent Glory by Galante. Of course, a spot of flag-waving goes down a treat and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is always a crowd-pleaser!

We play the same music as you would expect from the Royal Marines Band. We are just slightly more experienced! Our musicians have a combined musical performance age of 1800 years!

We have undertaken a couple of overseas trips and have ventured to Malta and Spain. In Malta, we were welcomed with open arms by the Maltese people and their President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

Adventures in Spain will always be remembered as the only time the RMACB have marched! This shocked our older members as it was completely unexpected!

As the RMACB moves forward, into the next decade of playing wonderful music and working with the RMA, we hope to continue delivering spectacular performances both around the UK and overseas. If you would like to know more about the RMACB please look at our website – rmacb.org.uk.

Monday, 6 March 2017

I am the very model of a modern Major General!

I still remember the first time I watched the Pirates of Penzance and I think it was on the stage of the New Theatre Royal in the year 2001. It was the very first production under the music direction of Colin Jagger.

Larry Cunningham played the part of the Major General so memorably that I still call him Major General whenever I see him. Hopefully we will see him in the audience this week for the University of Portsmouth Dramatic and Musical Society is performing Pirates of Penzance at the New Theatre Royal from 9th to 11th March.

The story goes like this...Frederic reaches his 21st birthday and tries to release himself from the life of piracy to which he was mistakenly apprenticed as a boy. Having met the girl of his dreams however, a terrible revelation is made which throws his life into confusion.

Chaos ensues in the following battle between the pirates and the police in one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comedies.

This production by the University of Portsmouth Dramatic & Musical Society is supported by the University Orchestra which plays from parts specially prepared by Colin from Sullivan’s autograph manuscript.

Thu 9th March 2017 - 19:30
Fri 10th March 2017 - 19:30
Sat 11th March 2017 - 14:30 / 19:30
Family Ticket for FOUR people (max two adults)£40
Family Ticket for FIVE people (max two adults)£50

Ticket prices shown are inclusive of Restoration Levy and Booking Fee.

Box office 023 9264 9000