Month: November 2017

Gig: Royal Blood

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Fuck me that was awesome #royalblood

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On the strength of a somewhat epic fun gig a couple of years at The Barrowlands, and the fact that they fall straight slap bang in the middle of my rock music preferences (heavy but a hint of blues/pop sensibilities), it was a pretty easy decision to snap up a ticket when their current tour was announced.

The big question was how would two guys, despite the racket I know they can generate, fare at filling the cavernous SSE Hydro, which isn’t renowned for having the best acoustics.

But before I answer that, it’s worth touching on the support acts.

Black Honey were up first and having done a little pre-listening I was looking forward to hearing them live. They strutted on stage and certainly didn’t look like the scale of the venue had awed them in any way, delivering a short sharp set. One to watch out for in the future.

At The Drive-In were next up. Colour me unimpressed. I wasn’t a fan going in and this did nothing to sway my mind. It’s not the music, it’s that screechy shouty voice that puts me off and it certainly didn’t lend itself to a venue the size of the Hydro (maybe he was just badly mic’d though). That said, they did seem to be pretty popular with a lot of people streaming in when they started. Which was good as it meant the queues at the bar were short.

And then it was time for Royal Blood. Suffice to say that yes, they did fill the Hydro and pretty much blew the damn roof off whilst they were at it. It always helps when the crowd was well up for it as well and seeing that translate to the band always adds that extra something to a gig, transforming the crowd to a surging mass, hands in the air, quite a sight in what can sometimes be a bit of a soulless place.

And then, before I realised it, they were into their encore and then it was time to go. I walked out surrounded by beaming smiles, and cheery banter.

I’d suggest for any up and coming rock bands wondering ‘how to do it’ take a look at Royal Blood. Their act, regardless of having a new album/new songs to play, was the same as it was when I saw them at the Barrowlands (and looks the same as the videos I’ve seen of them at Glastonbury). They aren’t two guys trying to be rock stars, they are just two guys up there playing the music they love, as loud as possible, having fun and loving every minute of it.

As did I!

The weekend that was

Every now and then the stars align and, as you head to bed on Sunday night, you realise just how epic your weekend was (and how quickly it went). Sometimes it’s not really just what you did, but who you shared it with, and it’s telling that this weekend ticked all those boxes.

Not only did I attend some great events, I also spent time with some of my favourite people. What’s not to like?

Friday evening

My weekend started with a couple of post-work drinks with a good friend who has been wonderfully supportive these past few months. She’s been as good at listening to me as she has at giving me a kick when I need to get past ‘myself’.

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Then it was time to head off to the SSE Hydro for the Royal Blood gig. Quite the upgrade from the last time I saw them, at Barrowlands, but they filled the Hydro (literally and sonically) and it’s fascinating to see how easily they have made the transition from ‘upcoming band’ to arena filling rock stars. They put on a great show, seemed to be having a lot of fun themselves, and definitely know how to work a crowd. Stonkingly good gig!

Hat tip to support band Blood Honey who could be one to watch, and a resounding booooo for At The Drive-In (awful) and the black ice outside the Hydro that I slipped on when I arrived resulting in a sprained wrist and some bruises (mostly to my pride).


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No Bootcamp (cos sprained wrist) but off to Murrayfield in the hope that Scotland might beat Australia. Final score, Scotland 53, Australia 24!!! Sure, Australia were down to 14 for the second half but Scotland played so well I think we’d have won it against 15. So good to see Scotland playing attacking expansive rugby, and some stout defence as well, especially their line speed. Bodes well for the 6 Nations! #AsOne

A few post game beers in Edinburgh and then home to watch it all over again on TV! A great day out with my best mates.


Popped down to Dumbarton see my parents for lunch, had planned to visit my sister, her fiancé and my gorgeous niece but said niece was full of the cold so I steered clear. Drove to there with cheesy singalong tunes playing (yes I have a playlist called that) and drove the long way home on purpose just to hear a few more tracks. Nothing quite like a bit of top of yer lungs car singing and to hell what anyone thinks!

And then it was Sunday evening which brought an introduction to Campari, Martini and Champagne cocktails. Delicious!

Sometimes weekends like that, with little time to chill out and relax, can be exhausting and, whilst I’m a bit tired today, I walked home on Sunday evening with the biggest smile on my face. That said, next weekend is a little quieter which is just as well before we head into the usual flurry of social activities that marks the coming festive season.

Now I just need to find time to buy some presents…

Weekend Reading

  • Good News Thanksgiving Extravaganza
    Welcome to the first ever NextDraft Good News Only Thanksgiving Extravaganza. (OK, the name needs work, but candidly, good news is not something I have a ton of experience with.) These stories were submitted by NextDraft readers.
    If you only want tales full of love, hope, and inspiration. Stop here.
  • What to expect from NHS cervical screening
    If you live in the UK and have a cervix, chances are you’ll either have already been invited to visit your GP for cervical screening (also known as a ‘smear test’), or you will be aware that you’ll be getting a letter once you reach the age of 25.
    These are important. Please, if you need to get one done, get it done.
  • A Chess Novice Challenged Magnus Carlsen. He Had One Month to Train.
    Max was not very good at chess himself. He’s a 24-year-old entrepreneur who lives in San Francisco and plays the sport occasionally to amuse himself. He was a prototypical amateur. Now he was preparing himself for a match against chess royalty. And he believed he could win.
    Humans continue to prove they can be utterly fascinating. FYI Magnus Carlsen is the best chess player in the world (some say ever), and is equally as oddly fascinating.
  • The World’s Most Famous Actor Whose Face You’ve Probably Never Seen
    When Doug Jones stepped into a quiet diner in the San Fernando Valley in mid-October, a handful of other patrons in the restaurant craned their heads to look at him. It’s easy to understand why.
    Dedication and passion to a craft.
  • Relationships
    “Most people seem to believe that if a relationship doesn’t last until death, it’s a failure. But the only relationship that’s truly a failure is one that lasts longer than it should. The success of a relationship should be measured by it’s depth, not by it’s length.”
    Shared this on Twitter already. It’s just that, the quote. But it’s kinda stuck in my head.
  • What Made Freddie Mercury the Greatest Vocalist in Rock History? The Secrets Revealed in a Short Video Essay
    I wasn’t always a Queen fan. Having cut my music fan teeth on especially downbeat, miserable bands like Joy Division, The Cure, and The Smiths, I couldn’t quite dig the unabashed sentimentality and operatic bombast.
    Anyone who disputes this FACT can meet me outside. Miss you Freddie!
  • 100 Questions to Spark Conversation
    Thank you Alexandra Franzen for these 100+ questions to ask your friends, family and dinner companions. She shared these because the U.S. is having Thanksgiving family gatherings coming up this week. But these come in handy anytime
    Can’t remember how I found this but I DARE you to try some of these on your family!
  • Charles Manson: The Incredible Story of the Most Dangerous Man Alive
    Book One: Year of the Fork, Night of the Hunter. But the decadence of history is looking for a pawn, To a nightmare of knowledge he opens up the gate, A blinding revelation is served upon his plate, That beneath the greatest love is a hurricane of hate. —”Crucifixion” by Phil Ochs.
    Dead now, but I get the feeling the sub pop culture aspects of him will remain for a long time.
  • Think More, Speak Less: 8 Best Books on the Power of Silence
    There’s something paradoxical about writing about silence. Reading and writing can be silent activities, after all, but their raw material is the same stuff from which conversations, lectures, and well-choreographed rants can emerge.
    I’ve added a couple of these to my Christmas wishlist.
  • How Margaret Atwood Learned to Type
    My childhood household had a typewriter. It was a portable Remington from the 1930s with its own black carrying case and round black letter keys with white rims around them. My mother had typed my father’s PhD thesis on it: she’d taught herself to type in order to do so.
    Everyone starts somewhere.
  • London buses are being powered by a new fuel: Coffee
    There’s a new buzz powering public buses in London. British startup bio-bean has partnered with Shell (RDSB) and Argent Energy to create a coffee-based biofuel that will be used in London’s diesel buses.
    Welcome, London buses, to my life. One thing though, do NOT touch MY coffee. I cut you. Got it?
  • Farewell to Malcolm Young, the Mastermind of AC/DC
    Picture yourself, if you will, at an AC/DC show at some unruly venue in Albany or Toledo in the fall of 1978. Perhaps a friend has brought you, or maybe hearing one of the band’s songs on FM radio has drawn you there. Regardless, you’re in luck.
    Always a band on the periphery of my rock catalogue, had no idea he was the ‘mastermind’.
  • Starbucks Is Criticized for Its Holiday Cups. Yes, Again.
    Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it is time to embark on a modern American holiday tradition: over-analyzing seasonally available Starbucks cups for signs of liberal nefariousness. Starbucks has produced holiday cups for 20 years.
    Focus people of America, FOCUS! THIS SHIT IS NOT IMPORTANT.
  • What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?
    Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, William Burroughs, Richard Wagner, Sid Vicious, V. S. Naipaul, John Galliano, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Caravaggio, Floyd Mayweather, though if we start listing athletes we’ll never stop.
    It’s not stopping, and hopefully won’t any time soon. Out them all.
  • Read Disney animation chief John Lasseter’s memo to staff about his “unwanted hugs”
    As a follow up to the above, some of the names are still ‘surprising’ me (even though I know it’s All Men).
  • A new study confirms liquor makes you confident and gives you all the feels
    Unofficially, everyone knows that different kinds of booze will give them a different kind of night. But now, data from one of the largest surveys on drug and alcohol use finally prove it: hard liquor gives most people that extra ~swag~.
    Always nice to see scientists ‘prove’ this kinda thing, bet the Case Studies were a riot!
  • A Sense of Appreciation Is the Single Most Sustainable Motivator at Work
    Work can be a thankless task—literally. Despite the fact that most of us probably spend more time with our co-workers than anyone else—even partners, spouses, and families—they remain the people to whom we are least likely to express our appreciation.
    That reminds me, thank you for reading!

These solipsistic moods

I don’t tend to post reading advice but this is a massively introspective piece about (fundamentally) my mental health. I process things by writing, I find more connections that way and I thought I’d share this particular set of thoughts. It’s based on various journal entries, collated and polished for publishing (I don’t write like this in my journal) and shared with a mind to others who may find the following 3000-odd words interesting or useful. YMMV, obvs.

“Life is a mystery,
everyone must stand alone”


Nary a truer word has been spoken, life truly is a mystery at times and, between you and me, I’ve given up trying to figure it out.

To be accurate, I have been trying to give up finding any sense of higher power – be it fate, God, Allah, or Cluthu – for some time because, quite frankly, life can be such an utter shit show it’s hard to believe that anyone has their hand on the tiller. I’ve a few decades of presumptive knowledge that I’m still battling against but more and more I find I’m happy to just keep on keeping on. It’s not always easy though and there is a part of me that envies the true believers and their simple answers. It’s all part of Gods plan. Right?

I used to believe in God, or at least I went to church a lot when I was a kid, but then I discovered science and facts, and realised that whilst it’s an interesting read in parts, the bible is complete fiction based on the stories and letters of some men (and we all know how reliable and trustworthy men are…).

Yet it’s hard to not imagine that there is something, somewhere, a giant space slug perhaps, that is gently tweaking the events of my life into some semblance of order. Is that down to a deeply rooted desire to find an explanation for the unexplainable? Is it a symptom of my own lack of self-confidence? Am I really being left to my own devices to fuck up my life as I choose? That’s a LOT of responsibility so there surely must be something else running the show here, a Department of Life perhaps? Am I even allowed to call myself an adult, and how the hell do I know when I finally reach adulthood cos it sure doesn’t feel like I’ve managed that yet either.

Surely, SURELY, there must be some divine being, a guiding hand, that is carefully moulding the myriad moments and decisions that have gotten me to this point in my life. Who, or what, has been guiding me to be right here, right now? Ohhh I’m getting all religious again.

Recently some events have caused me to reflect on the past couple of years and no matter how I try to rationalise things there is a small part of my brain that is clinging to the hope that, actually, this isn’t all MY doing at all, it’s all because Cangelflup The Almighty Of All Everything has deigned these things to happen.

How else can I explain how various life events, some of which were planned, some of which were not, are all starting to align in a way that suggest that this is how it was all meant to play out? For, if there isn’t an entity, some cosmic sort or other, that is nudging things along in accordance to my place in the galactic gantt chart of being, then I have to take on the realisation that I am apparently an absolute genius that is so off-the-scale SMART AT LIFE ™ that I’ve not even realised until now just how much I’ve got my shit together.

And, dear reader, we all know that is not the explanation. My shit is most definitely still scattered all over the damn place (not literally, obvs).

Yet I can’t shake that feeling, the sensation that my life is starting to take a new shape, things are starting to align. Various past events, new things, and changes of some old (bad) habits; all of these changes that are disconnected from one another yet are all coming into play at the same time, and are combining to make my life… better… nay, GOOD.

Editors note: Bear with him, he does know that these things are, of course, connected because they all concern him, but he’s on a bit of a self-discovery kick at the moment. Either that or he’s had too much caffeine, you know how it goes.

Hey, I can read that you know! That Editor is so rude! Anyway, where was I…?

Ahhh yes, there are factors in my life that seem to be aligning.

On the surface they maybe aren’t all good things – I can thoroughly recommend you DO NOT break up with two partners within days of each other (even though you knew you had to) – but that was the choices I made because deep down I knew it was right for me. Those decisions were thought about long and hard and were, rightly, difficult to face. I guess that is a downside of being poly, being very honest with yourself and others about your emotions and actions can really REALLY suck.

But some of the other decisions that are now looking like they were, all along, part of some evil genius mastermind plan, were made on the spur of the moment.

I’m not good at making spur of the moment decisions

I wasn’t good at making spur of the moment decisions in the past but part of my counselling (one of the things which has definitely been a part of this overarching alignment) was to be more spontaneous. On the strength of that and some gentle nudging from a rather awesome work colleague (she knows who she is), I booked into a 10 week Bootcamp at a local gym. I had never done anything like that before and, 25 odd weeks later I’m still doing it and already agreed to switch to a newer monthly programme for all of 2018 and, even odder to me, I’m absolutely loving it.

Attending the gym regularly lead to a need to eat better so I’m able to do the type of high intensity interval training that Bootcamp involves, so my diet has improved. And because I’m seemingly incapable of not training until I am utterly exhaused I’ve had to be stricter on getting a decent amount of sleep lest I spend my weeks as a zombie. I’ll say this now, those people who say at least 7-8 hours sleep a night were really on to something!

Overall I’m healthier, fittier, lighter, and happier within my physical self. Not completely happy just yet but I can see and feel the differences and … well let’s get to the next item in what is rapidly becoming The Inventory of the Life of G.

A few months back a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a guided meditation session. I said yes immediately (cos spontaneous!). Since then I’ve managed to get myself into a daily meditation habit. Even if only for 10 minutes (current new app obsession is “Oak” btw) it lets me slow my brain down and bring my focus to the here and now, instead of going back over the past, or projecting into the future, neither of which are massively healthy habits for me. Going to the first guided meditation sessions also nicely aligned with the counsellor suggesting (independently as I hadn’t mentioned it to her) that it might be something to look into.

I’ll pause here for a moment and cast my net a little wider. If you have a friend or colleague who mentions they are either trying to lose weight, or work out more, or are trying yoga for the first time, or… whatever really… if you see a difference in them, tell them! Having colleagues and friends mention that I seem much more relaxed and happier, or my physio noting that I’d lost weight, gave me the encouragement to keep these things going. That passing comment holds more power than you might think.

Right, back to me!

Next up is my current abode. With an increase in my rent due I decided to end my tenancy and look for something else. Part of what attracted to me to my old flat was the space, it was big! But that quickly equated into a need to fill it with “stuff” because, well, it was a big space and I could afford it. A few months prior to hearing that my rent was going up I had read THAT Marie Kondo book (which is good but as with all these things, take from it what YOU need, it’s not a bible… ohh there’s that religious thing again) and started to go through all my possessions with a view of reducing the clutter and ‘stuff’ to just things I needed and things that meant something to me.

Inspired to take my ongoing de-cluttering a step further, and with a looming move now planned, I started to go through everything I owned. EVERYTHING. It wasn’t always an easy process, especially for the sentimental items. In fact at times it was surprising to find the sentimental attachment I had to the most inane objects. Yet once I was in the habit of assessing and considering all of these items, it became a fun exercise, and a bit of a challenge. Plus there was something really enjoyable at actually taking the time to look at things I owned and asking myself why I owned them.

Looking about for a new flat was both depressing (there are some truly awful places out there) and revealing. I already had a vague notion of downsizing (from my large two bed flat) and found myself choosing smaller and smaller places, finally ending up where I am now which is easily a third of the size of my previous place (if not smaller). The upside of having deliberately chosen to downsize is that I now find myself questioning my purchases much more often because I just don’t have the space any more. Do I really need THAT? Is it replacing something I already own, and if so, is it a better version of it? Will owning THAT be something I’ll be happy with in a years time? WHY am I buying this?

Equally living in a substantially smaller space means I’m keeping on top of household chores more as there isn’t any place to ‘hide’ things. For me a tidy home is a calming place, a place that I alone occupy. The lack of clutter makes it seem quiet and peaceful, my little sanctuary away from the world. It gives me space to be with myself and through that I’ve learned how to be comfortably alone, again something that I’ve struggled with in the past; although as with most things the balance is to have enough alone time to be content but not too much that I start getting a little out of kilter, turns out I need social interaction way more than I thought I did.

So far the theme of the year seems to be self-reflection which, whilst it can be good in limited doses, can also start to become a blocker if you try and second guess every moment of your day. More recently I’ve found that a mirror of how I believe I am seen by others (in the work place) has been far more instructive (and horrifying!). Watching a recent work colleague spend most of his time in an agitated, angry state, railing against all the (perceived) wrongs being done, made me realise how much I have changed in the past year and made it even more evident to me that I was doing something right. I sure didn’t wanna be THAT guy (and I have been that guy a LOT in the past).

Meditation has helped with this, and having some work colleagues point out my ‘new’ calm demeanour has re-enforced that even further.

Outside of work I now find myself far more willing to say yes to something on a whim, than go with my past behaviours of analysing everything and considering my options first. It’s probably the most fundamental change that I have noticed in myself and even though it does mean my calendar is pretty rammed full it’s of things that I enjoy and want to do (you don’t have to say yes to everything, choosing the right things to say yes to is just as important). Yet I’m still just as prepared to NOT go to something I committed to, or to turn up late to something which for me is a BIG DEAL, I am the guy who is always at least 15 minutes early. Ultimately I am allowing myself to fail which is a much much bigger deal to me than it probably sounds.

There are other things I’m noticing. I find myself smiling more every day. I feel more patient and calm, and I listen to myself a lot more as well. It all boils down to the realisation that I am finally looking after me first, and it all feels like the last couple of years has been heading towards this point. Sure there have been some crappy moments but that’s just part of life, and reflecting on the past year I realise that I’m happier that I’ve accepted that I’m on a journey, than of any of the specific milestones I’ve achieved.

Of course there is no guiding hand at play here, and I’m starting to accept that what this all amounts to is simply my acceptance of ‘this is life right now’ at play. Rather than my old view of rehashing my behaviours and actions of the past, whilst second guessing my future ones, I’m much happier to live in the present and find myself, more and more, being much more focused on HOW I spend my time, rather than what I’m doing. Does being here, doing this, make me happy? Is a very simple but powerful question.

It feels like this is where I should be. I’m in a place where I am putting myself first whilst making more of an effort to reach out to the people I love. I have some amazing friends, some newer than others, and their support and encouragement through this past year or so has been more beneficial than any of them realise. They are few but they are mighty and wonderful and generous, I’m very lucky to be a part of their lives.

Despite all of that, another key learning has been around how to be alone. It may sound like I’m avoiding that with such a ‘rammed schedule’ but part of my scheduling includes a level of cutting out time just for me. Sometimes I just sit and read a book, sometimes I go for a walk, sometimes I sleep in late and watch movies all day; regardless, I don’t plan what will happen on those days, I just spend them alone.

There is a tendency to view being alone as a negative thing and sure, if it is a permanent thing it can be, but a big part of me solving the mystery of my life has been learning to stand alone and understanding that I am the only person responsible for me. There is no grand plan, no supreme being or holy seer. We are all in this together but only I can look after my well-being, both physical and mental. I tend to keep the following in my head, a mantra if you wish (but this post has been far too self-referentially wanky so … maybe not).

There is only me. There is only today.

OF COURSE there isn’t ‘only me’, I’m lucky enough to have a loving and supportive family and a group of friends who would drop everything if I asked them for help. The amazing thing is that having spent the last year and a bit learning to be alone, I find myself far more open to the thought of sharing my life with someone else again. But that’s another topic for another day.

And OF COURSE there isn’t ‘only today’ but I find myself pondering the past far less often than I used to, and whilst I have plans I’m not as wedded to them because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

There are more cliches surrounding all this I’m sure, but overall I’m just struck by how the events of my recent life seem to have been converging to where I am now.

And then I realise it’s all down to me. I made the decision to get some counselling, I made the decision to go to the gym, I made the decision to move to a smaller place, I took stock of me and made some changes. And they worked.

I am happy and content with where I am right now. Something I’ve never really let myself be…. maybe the title of this blog is finally true.

I’ll close with another confession.

I have always been an emotional guy, I used to tear up watching Lassie and a few topics will always illicit a lump in my throat. I used to think that was because I was, naturally, just a bit sad. But I’m not, I’m in love. I’m in love with the world, I’m in love with my friends and family, hell I even love you for reading this nonsense (whoever you are).

I opened with a (deliberately cheesy) song quote, and I’ll close with another (less cheesy) that has been on frequent play for most of the year since these lines leapt out at me and helped me realise what I’ve been waffling on about in this post. I was grieving, grieving for the me that, somewhere along the line, I lost.

I’m so glad I found him again.

“My steps keep splitting my grief
Through these solipsistic moods
I should call my parents when I think of them
I should tell my friends when I love them”

Pinegrove – Old Friends

Ten metres

I watch sport quite frequently on TV. I’ll watch pretty much any sport going and whilst I have my favourites, I don’t mind watching something new just to learn about it (which is why I’ve probably seen more Kabaddi than you have, thank you Eurosport!). I’ve always put this down to the fact my Dad was a PE teacher, and I find myself looking for techniques and tactics to understand a game, rather than just marvelling at individuals.

Thinking back though I realise I watched a lot of sport growing up, just mostly not football. Although I do have vague memories of eating spaghetti bolognaise for the first time before me, my Dad, and my Uncle Bill sat down to watch a game of football that was ultimately cancelled when a wall collapsed in Heysel Stadium…

So I guess I put it down to my Dad having a professional interest and love of sport. My Dad is one of the smartest people I know and could have gone into any other profession but followed what he enjoyed (also smart). But it wasn’t all my Dad, my Mum used to watch cricket and golf whilst she knitted (two sports you can’t watch without dedicating your entire attention to) so as a child growing up sport was just what was on TV.

Rugby definitely felt like more than a ‘just on’ thing though, and when the Five Nations rolled around it was something more than just a way to pass an evening. I can remember David Sole marching the team out for THAT game against England, I watched Lomu flatten Carling with one hand (and cheered loudly!), and because the Scotland rugby team has always been reasonably ok, it’s been a lot more fun to watch them than their football counterparts.

A couple of weeks ago, my mate Stuart said he had spare tickets to a couple of the Autumn Internationals. I jumped at the chance. It was that my first ever experience of a live rugby game and just happened to be at the sold out Scotland vs New Zealand game at Murrayfield. I’ve seen live football twice (Dumbarton vs Queens Park, and Scotland vs a country we should have beaten but didn’t), and live basketball – Glasgow Rocks – a few times but never rugby. And what better way to start out!

Scotland international and domestic rugby has been on the rise for a few years now, but being Scottish there was a general sense of ‘as long as we don’t get gubbed’ because, lest we forget, the All Blacks are and have been for many years, one of the best teams in the world.

Regardless, there was a sense of hushed excitement that built and built until the kick off approached. Wandering to the stadium the good natured banter had already begun, and taking our seats as the players finished their warm-ups I started to get a sense of the stadium. I’d been in Murrayfield before, for gigs, and cycled through it as part of Pedal for Scotland, but seeing it packed full started to ratchet up the excitement.

They killed the lights as spotlights and music and fireworks kicked things up a notch, and then the players were coming out, the anthems were sung and boy, what a sound to hear your national anthem (Flower of Scotland) being belted out by a packed stadium.

A pause as the legend that is Doddie Weir came out to deliver the match ball – a huge gentle giant that is now battling Motor Neurone Disease – and received a standing ovation, and nary a few tears.

And then the first real stadium moment as the All Blacks lined up for their Haka. I’m not sure where in the rules of rugby etiquette this falls but the crowd were so pumped up for this and chanting loudly that it was almost an anticlimax.


It went by in a whirl or dodgy refereeing decisions, scintillating play by both sides, huge tackles and as we entered the last 10 minutes a sense that maybe Scotland could take this?

Our seats were bang in line with the try-line that Scotland were heading for and as the last play of the game started, Hogg darting inside and out then charging up the line. I rose as one with the crowd… Go on Hoggy!! GO ONNN!!!!!

10 more metres and we’d have done it.

10 metres.

But what a game! I’ve since watched it back on TV and it was as frenetic and end-to-end as it looked. I fear I may have been a little spoiled for my first foray into live International rugby!

I’m back next Saturday to see how we fare against the Aussies, hope will bubble after that amazing display against New Zealand but as always, us Scots will always retain the knowledge of so many games that we were close to winning in the past. Aye maybe, but probably naw.

But, aye. Maybe.


Weekend Reading

  • Science Is Far Too Often Communicated as a One-Sided Conversation
    A 17-year-old named Gwen remained in my head after I read a recent story centered around the challenges of teaching climate science — i.e. our human contribution to climate change — to students already skeptical of its existence in rural, post-coal, post-manufacturing America.
    As with most things, communication is the make or break it seems.

  • In Defense of Coldplay
    The other day, a friend and I were chatting away and when Coldplay came up — she immediately bashed the band that I secretly and publicly adore.
    They do get a hard time, I too have been a Coldplay basher but more and more find myself NOT skipping tracks when they come on…

  • Gal Gadot will only be ‘Wonder Woman’ again if Brett Ratner is out
    “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot is continuing to battle accused Hollywood sexual harasser Brett Ratner by refusing to sign for a super­hero sequel unless the movie-maker is completely killed from the franchise.
    The best bit, yesterday they confirmed Brett Ratner is out! Awesome news.

  • How to Make a $1500 Sandwich in Only 6 Months
    I spent 6 months and $1500 to completely make a sandwich from scratch. Including growing my own vegetables, making my own salt from ocean water, milking a cow to make cheese, grinding my own flour from wheat, collecting my own honey, and killing a chicken myself.My quest does not just cover food.
    I like a good sandwich, but this puts into perspective just how much effort goes into making them

  • Hip-hop is getting old, man
    When neighborhood block parties in the Bronx birthed rap and hip-hop in the early 1970s, hardly anyone expected the music style—barely a genre on its own, resonant as it was within some specific communities—to get very big.
    Everything is getting old. Just ask my knees…

  • Spotify is abandoning the outdated idea of corporate holidays

  • To Guys Who Think It’s “Hard To Be A Man” Right Now, I’ve Got Some News For You
    As sexual harassment allegations continue to be made public against powerful men, there’s been a theme appearing among male commentators: discomfort.
    Good! We should, AT THE VERY LEAST, feel some discomfort!

  • How a Password Changed My Life
    “How could she do something like this to me?” said a voice in my head. All the time. Every day. Back in 2011, when everything had gradients, iOS icons made sense, and people used deodorants, I was stuck in middle of a pretty bad depression due to my divorce.
    Simple things can hold such power.

  • Five ways Apple could improve iPhone X usability
    I stand by my claim that iPhone X is the best damn product Apple has ever made but that doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t get better. That includes how new features like Face ID, gesture navigation, Control Center access, and Lock screen buttons are currently implemented.
    Agree on most of these but none are dealbreakers. Letting me set Spotify as the default Music app now THAT would be good.

  • A robotic spy among the fish
    08.11.17 – A new miniature robot developed by EPFL researchers can swim with fish, learn how they communicate with each other and make them change direction or come together. These capabilities have been proven on schools of zebrafish.
    I, for one, welcome our new… etc etc

  • Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World?
    Carbon Engineering, a company owned in part by Bill Gates, has its headquarters on a spit of land that juts into Howe Sound, an hour north of Vancouver.
    This is both fascinating and terrifying. A $4bn dollar industry in the making, just how much corruption will there be?

  • Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced
    In 2013, Colin Kaepernick was on the cover of this magazine because he was one of the best football players in the world. In 2017, Colin Kaepernick is on GQ’s cover once again—but this time it is because he isn’t playing football.
    Powerful imagery to go with a powerful, currently silent, man.

  • I Made 6 Famous Mashed Potato Recipes And Found The Very Best One

    • The Ultimate Scrambled Egg Recipe • The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Share On facebook Share Share On vk Share Share On pinterest Share On pinterest Pin Share On lineapp Share Share On twitter Share Share On email Share On sms Share On wha

  • Why Can’t People Stop Touching Museum Exhibits?
    You’re walking through a museum when a piece of art seems to call out to you. Maybe it’s a bowl, smooth and detailed with shiny gold leaf. Maybe it’s a statue of Venus, her hand outstretched. You walk over to this enticing object. You lean in as close as you can.
    Well how else am I supposed to know how Mona Lisa tastes??

  • Cards Against Humanity buys area of US border to prevent Trump building his wall
    The company behind a game that involves matching cards with humorously offensive phrases announced it had bought a piece of land on the US-Mexico border with the explicit aim of hindering Mr Trump’s signature policy promise.

  • How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met
    In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know.
    Another reason that I might start to cut back (cut out) Facebook. Maybe 2018 is the tipping point.

  • A 70s Photographer Unveils the Ultimate New York Punk Archive on Instagram
    A downtown fixture behind a Polaroid camera at Hell’s Angels bar-turned-nightclub CBGBs, Julia Gorton took hundreds of photos of the characters that epitomized the 70s, which are slowly making their way to the public eye through her Instagram.
    Some amazing candid snaps of some amazing talents

  • This Song Was Carefully Engineered To Make Babies Happy
    You’d think a whole happy baby Spotify playlist would already exist… but apparently not.

  • Jeremy Hunt humiliated by TV star who proved his boasts about NHS improvement are “total bullshit”
    Jeremy Hunt has been diagnosed with a case of severe “bullshit” after his claims about NHS improvement under the Tories were given a second opinion by an unlikely source – Dr Who star Ralf Little.
    How the fuck do these assholes still have power?

  • How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made
    We inhabit a small planet orbiting a medium-sized star about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way galaxy—around where Track 2 on an LP record might begin.
    I had no idea about this, mostly because I hadn’t ever given it much thought. Cool AF.

  • CompuServe’s forums, which still exist, are finally shutting down
    Before there was a World Wide Web, a sizable chunk of all meaningful conversation between computer users happened in the forums at CompuServe, which was the dominant online service until AOL came along.
    Including this so everyone else can go through the ‘they were still going’ disbelief I experienced!

  • Meet the People Who Listen to Podcasts at Super-Fast Speeds
    Rachel Kenny started listening to podcasts in 2015 — and quickly fell behind. “As I started subscribing to more and more podcasts, they started stacking up, and I couldn’t keep up at normal speed,” the 26-year-old data scientist in Indianapolis told BuzzFeed News.
    I struggle at 2x this is bonkers

  • 11 Beloved Movies That Were Box Office Flops
    It’s hard to believe that some beloved films didn’t find immediate success when they were released, but sometimes movies are just ahead of their time. Here are 11 famous examples of celebrated classics that were box office bombs.
    I actually saw Shawshank at the cinema, loved it, and didn’t get why people were only ‘discovering it’ a couple of years later.

  • Monetising millennials: what the corporate world thinks it knows about young people
    Before the opening keynote of the Millennial 20/20 Sydney conference, a man strides up, folds me into a boardroom-firm handshake and gazes deeply into my eyes.
    OK. Time to just switch everything off, this is utterly fucked.

  • 006: Ann Friedman – The News Is Not Good
    How do you maintain your sanity — and avoid apathy — in the face of a relentlessly negative news cycle?
    An episode a new podcast that I’ve started to listen to. Well worth checking this one out.

  • Who Was Prince in Private?
    In his fifty-seven years, Prince mastered the art of control—not merely the show of self-possession but the daily practice of it. The gravitational pull of racial, sexual, spiritual systems did not appear to act on him.
    Still makes me so sad.

  • Psychologists Explain Why You Should Be Friends With People Who Swear A Lot
    Growing up, we’re usually taught to refrain from swearing because it’s inappropriate and rude. There’s definitely a bit of a social stereotype in which those who swear are seen as uneducated, but according to a recent study, potty mouths might be a lot smarter than they were once perceived.

  • A New Phone Comes Out. Yours Slows Down. A Conspiracy? No.
    It happens every year: Apple releases new iPhones, and then hordes of people groan about their older iPhones slowing to a crawl. Just look at the recent data.
    Ha! Yes. Of course it’s a conspiracy (seriously if they COULD to this, some companies definitely would)

Review: Loop and Scoop

I love ice cream, I mean I REALLY LOVE ICE CREAM – it’s something I inherited from my Dad – but would another quality ice cream vendor really find a place alongside the Nardini’s of the world? Short answer is yes! The longer answer is a bit hot and cold…

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To open a gelato and churros based venture in October, in Glasgow, does sound a bit bonkers, I mean even during the best of our summers we don’t get more than a few weeks of ‘ice cream sunshine’. But as October rolled around, so it was that Loop and Scoop burst into vibrant life. Sitting on Great Western Road, just up from Oran Mor, I passed Loop and Scoop on the bus everyday through the summer months, and I was a bit perplexed as I watched the bright orange hoardings that promised a ‘Summer Opening’ fade as the season changed and the temperature dropped. Had they missed the opporchancity?

Well it sure doesn’t seem like it as, since it opened, I’ve rarely seen it without a queue, either ‘out the door’ at peak times, or a handful of people hanging around late at night as they indulge their sweet tooth. Initial reactions on social media were good, so I knew I had to check it out for I too have a sweet tooth that needed to be indulged… and did I mention that I LOVE ICE CREAM?

And what a wonderful indulgence it is.

There is something special about freshly made churros coupled with some wonderful gelato, that really is comforting in a warming winter kinda way. It shouldn’t really work, the bulk of what you are eating is ice cream after all, but as the churros is made to order (which adds to the queues but remember, delicious things come to those who wait) it retains just enough heat to be cosily comforting.

I opted for the chocolate and hazelnut covered churros ‘loop’ and scoops of toffee apple gelato. The churros is lighter than any I’ve had, and chocolate melts slightly to create a sticky tasty mess, this dish is not one for those who don’t like getting their hands dirty! The gelato was good too, creamy enough without being sickly, and the small toffee and apple chunks added a nice additional texture. Delish!!! Mind you, next time I’ll probably stick with vanilla, what can I say, I like the classics.

They offer other items on their menu, which includes some brunch options, or you could just have churros and a dipping sauce on their own, or just a scoop or two of gelato but let’s be honest, having seen photos of their Loop and Scoop dish, it was impossible to resist their signature offering.

There is a definite rise in dessert focussed eateries in Glasgow, and whilst Loop and Scoop does have more traditional cafe food options, it’s fair to say that most people will be there for churros and gelato, so it’s just as well that they are so so good!

Loop and Scoop has been open for a few weeks now, it’s always been busy whenever I’ve passed it and, whilst part of me wonders how it will get on in the depths of winter, another part of me knows I am already planning to go back as soon as possible.

About Loop and Scoop
Background article.

You can find Loop and Scoop at 665 Great Western Road, and on Instagram @Loopandscoop & Facebook @LoopandScoop.

Review: Potluck Glasgow

The joys of social media mean that Potluck has been on my radar for a while now so when I made brunch plans with a friend this place was top of the list (yes, there is an actual list), and did not disappoint.

Venturing south of the river is always an experience, I know the area reasonably well – my Gran lived in Rutherglen and I spent virtually every weekend of my childhood travelling through to visit – and it’s been great to see the growth of quality establishments in recent years.

Checking the menu the night before (cos I like to torment myself that way) revealed a great selection of glorious sounding brunchy noms. I have to admit, from the photos I’d seen, the hotcake stack was the ‘go to’ dish… although as ever the promise of chorizo on another dish had me swayed… but not for long (hey, the heart wants what the heart wants).

When we arrived, early on a Sunday morning, it was already full but as it was such a beautiful day we sat on one of the benches outside for a pre-brunch coffee and a perusal of the menu. Cue the next 10 minutes of two adults exhibiting pitiful attempts at decision making. The menu isn’t extensive but each option has something that piques your interest making choosing the ‘right’ option all the harder.

I think we had finally managed to decide when we were ushered inside.

First impressions. Bijou is probably how it wants to be described but I’ll just go with small/cosy with a definite Scandinavian influence and a nice relaxed atmosphere. We ended up sharing a table with two other people so be warned if that’s not your thing, but I don’t mind and we got share a knowing ‘ohhh I’m still so full of food’ laugh as we randomly bumped into them again later whilst partaking in a postprandial walk.

Food then. And as I am easily swayed by social media, I couldn’t step away from the pancakes.

I’ve had pancakes before, many times. I like pancakes. I like pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup, I like pancakes with honey and ice cream, I like pancakes with sriracha chicken. I like pancakes. Mmmmm pancakes.

I have not had pancakes like these.

To be fair though, they are described as hot cakes so there’s that..

I ordered the Pistachio Peach Hot Cakes, which comes with roast peaches, pistachios, orange blossom honey, pistachio kulfi (Indian ice cream) and pashmak (Iranian candy floss).

The hot cakes are a little smaller but taller than most pancakes and ohhhh my word these beauties are so light and fluffy that the once daunting stack that was set in front of me was easily dispatched, leaving me feeling contentedly full. The kulfi added a nice rich creamyness and the pashmak sweetened things up.

At this point I should confess that the original plan was for my friend and I to order different dishes and swap halfway through. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, that did not happen.

But that just means we’ll need to go back again at some point. OH NO, WHAT A SHAME!

Was it worth a trek over to the south side? Very much so, and even if we hadn’t have failed at our ‘dish swap’ plan I think I’d be heading back here again anyway. The staff were relaxed and friendly, the prices reasonable, and there is nothing lucky about the food which is clearly prepared by a passionate and skilled kitchen.

Other reviews:

Weekend Reading

  • The Unforgiving Minute
    Men, get ready to be uncomfortable for a while. While forgiveness may come one day, it won’t be soon.
    If you are a man, and you only read one thing from this list. READ THIS.
  • LEGO Lawnmower Man Kinetic Sculpture
    A kinetic LEGO sculpture of a man pushing a lawnmower. Inspired by Josh David’s lawnmower model (, I decided it needed a figure, so combined it with the figure from my Sisyphus model.
    If you are a man and you haven’t read the previous article, sod off
  • Why we pretend to know things, explained by a cognitive scientist
    Why do people pretend to know things? Why does confidence so often scale with ignorance? Steven Sloman, a professor of cognitive science at Brown University, has some compelling answers to these questions.
    Been very guilty of this in the past (desire to be ‘liked’) and still catch myself sometimes.
  • ‘Chinning’ phenomenon on Instagram was started by this Bentley U. student as a way to get laughs
    In middle school, Michelle Liu sometimes felt insecure about her looks — especially when her friends would get together to take photographs. To ease her discomfort, Liu turned to humor, as many people do. She started making funny faces in the group shots and getting laughs.
    Brilliant. Although hadn’t heard of this until now.
  • I love spoilers
    In June, I noticed that people online were in a froth over the upcoming finale of The Leftovers, which was in its third and final season. The show sounded intriguing — and it seemed like I was missing out on a lot of TV references — so I decided to watch the pilot.
    Sharing just to make some people twitch.
  • 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest, Part II
    Jacaranda trees in Sydney, a ruined French castle seeking adoption, spooky scenes from Halloween and the Day of the Dead, and much more.
    Because our world is full of wonder (despite what the news tries to tell you)
  • 12 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn’t Know Google Maps Could Do
    Google Maps is great for just getting around. But don’t be fooled: The app is much more than a glorified Garmin. Maps has all sorts of powerful features and time-saving shortcuts that aren’t obvious, but are just waiting to be discovered.
    Handy stuff in here.
  • How the internet changed the market for sex
    “Elle” is a 63-year-old sex worker. She’s been at it for decades, and what makes her extraordinary isn’t just her longevity in the business, but her ability to adapt to a changing market.
    Good that it has helped some sexworkers be safer, bad that is has made the worst behaviours even worse.
  • If We Fire All Sexual Assaulters, Will We End Up Firing Everyone?
    Almost two years ago, I wrote about being sexually assaulted by a male friend — let’s call him “Brad” — who stuck his fingers in my vagina when I was drunk.
    As the headlines continue to roll in, some of the articles have been disturbing but very worth reading.
  • The Elegant Mathematics of Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci’s Most Famous Drawing: An Animated Introduction
    Nearly 500 years after his death, we still admire Leonardo da Vinci’s many and varied accomplishments in painting, sculpture, architecture, science, and quite a few other fields besides, most of which would have begun with his putting down some part of the formidable contents of his head on to a
    *adds to tattoo list* (yeah it’s a cliche but I don’t care)
  • iPhone X Camera Review: Guatemala
    I’m here capturing another amazing Ker & Downey adventure and have been testing the iPhone X along the way. Although I just conducted my iPhone 8 Plus Camera Review in India recently, I wanted to get out and capture the unique aspects of the iPhone X
    I’ve already been impressed but some of these are stunning. Add some decent lens add-ons and… do I need a DSLR at all?
  • The United States of Guns
    Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas yesterday.
    I kinda give up on this topic tbh.
  • Google’s Mass-Shooting Misinformation Problem
    When no reputable information is available, the search engine promotes fake news. It happened again.
    And this doesn’t help!!
  • The iPhone X Is A User Experience Nightmare
    Need proof? Just take a look at this cheat sheet published alongside the Wall Street Journal’s iPhone X review:
    Hmmm reeks of clickbait. The UX isn’t that massively different from the iPhone 8 (7/6.. it’s iOS after all)
  • Hide the iPhone X Notch with a Wallpaper Trick
    Don’t like the prominent black Notch across the top of the iPhone X screen? You can hide it with a little wallpaper trick.
    Because it’s THAT big an issue? Ehhhh nope.
  • Beyond the finish line
    It’s a literal road to nowhere.
    Go outside to a flat safe open space. Now close your eyes and run. Now do that for 26 miles. ON YOUR OWN.
  • The Bully and the Buddhist
    People can change.
  • T. Rex’s Tiny Arms May Have Been Vicious Weapons
    The precise purpose of T. rex’s relatively tiny arms has long been mysterious. Over the years, scientists have suggested that they might have been used to grasp struggling prey, to help resting dinosaurs push themselves up from the ground, or to grip tight to mates during sex.
    Yeah, so let’s stop making ‘tiny T. Rex arm’ jokes, cos it’s mean!
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: ‘Write What You Know’ is the Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard
    Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and most recently The Buried Giant, and oh, also our newest Nobel Laureate in Literature, turns 63 today.
    Wonderul words but then, they kinda should be
  • Your Playlist May Reveal if You’re a Psychopath or Not
    Kevin Dutton, an Oxford psychologist and author of “The Wisdom of Psychopaths,” has been gathering data on musical tastes and other preferences for a psychopath study with UK broadcasting company Channel 4. More than three million people have responded to his online surveys so far.
    *turns of sharing in Spotify*
  • You’re Lousy At Picking Good Pictures Of Yourself, So Ask A Stranger To Do It
    Whether it’s a social network like Facebook or a job-seeker site like LinkedIn, most of us are guilty of overthinking our profile picture selection from time to time.
    SO TRUE.
  • From the Mixed-Up History of Mrs., Miss, and Ms.
    We’re living through some odd times when it comes to women’s rights.
    I find myself defaulting to Ms these days, but even that presumes a gender.
  • Twitter’s 280-Character Own Goal
    Twitter’s destroyed its USP. The whole point, for me, was how inventive people could be within that concise framework. USP is “unique selling proposition”. By doubling the character limit, Twitter has eliminated what made them unique.
    Yes to this. I’m not THAT bothered but already getting a sense of this.
  • Maybe the People Would Be the Times
    Almost everything of interest in New York City lies in some degree of proximity to music.
    Let’s go back to the 70s in NYC. Wonderful article capturing a place and time so vibrantly.
  • The tension between creativity and productivity
    Cory Doctorow was an early adopter of the lifehacking lifestyle and toolkit, including David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. Allen’s book is a fantastic and inspiring read.
    Dear god yes to ALL of this (I’ve been through the GTD stuff too)
  • Swan, Late
    I discovered I couldn’t dance when I was ten years old. My parents had signed me up for a ballet course in Toronto with a dour, shriveled Romanian teacher, chosen no doubt because of our shared totalitarian traumas. In her class I felt uncoordinated, impossibly gawky.
    You are never too old, too fat, too anything! This is wonderful.
  • The Gruesome, Bloody World of Victorian Surgery
    Joseph Lister came of age as surgery was being transformed. With the invention of anesthesia, operations could move beyond two-minute leg amputations that occasionally lopped off a testicle in haste.
    To be fair, the title says it all, bloody hell! (baddummmttsshhhh)
  • When an Umbrella is More Than Just an Umbrella
    One of the endearing features of Charles Dickens’s “umbrella work” is the number of uses to which he put his brollies. They are rarely merely umbrellas but the signifiers of something else, whether through similarity, metaphor or context.
    Mind blown. Harry Potter, Mary Poppins fans, read this!

Slava’s Snowshow

…ONE DAY I realised that I wanted to create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams; A show which would help spectators be released from the jail of adulthood and rediscover their forgotten childhood.

Slava Polunin – creator of Slava’s Snow Show

A few weeks back a friend popped up on Facebook and asked if anyone fancied going to see Slava’s Snow Show. I’d seen a few clips of it from last year and immediately said yes. Roll forward to yesterday evening and I realised, as we took our seats, I didn’t really know what the show was about.

And I’m still not entirely sure today.

Aside from the main character, an old droopy clown in bright yellow, there are six other performers, all dressed similarly in green gowns, large clown feet and hats. They come and go, sometimes as integral parts of the performance, sometimes just to provide a moment of hilarity.

There is no dialogue to speak of but none is needed. This is largely a physical performance and, with the exception of one telephone exchange (which may be in Russian but the vocalisation doesn’t matter) the full range of emotions are expressed in a slow, controlled way, a tilt of a head, a lean of a shoulder, a beatific smile, or a simple look to the audience.

Nor is there a story as such, just a variety of set pieces that gently nudge you along, providing delight after delight. At times it teeters on the brink of something akin to tragedy, and the slightly grotesque quality of the performers adds a wonderful dark tone when needed, but then a sudden burst of physicality transforms the piece and you realise you’ve sat, rapt, with your own huge smile across your face the entire time.

Naturally what will stick in the mind of many are the prop driven extravaganzas, with the intermission preceded by a large cobweb type blanket being stretched from the stage all the way to the back of the stalls, the audience passing it over their hands and becoming one in the tangle of the fibres (which made the dash to the bar all the more interesting).

And then the finale. The weather turns, Slava is confronted with a snowstorm and suddenly giant fans start up, blasting the audience and filling the theatre with snow. Sitting in your chair, the air ripples past you, and you watch the oncoming snow storm until you are in it, with snow catching in your clothes as it swirls around you. It’s utterly utterly magical.

It turns out that Slava’s Snowshow isn’t really about the exceptional clown performances on stage, isn’t about the clever staging and use of props, and it isn’t about the perfect comic timing on display; watching a man fall off a chair three times in a row doesn’t SOUND funny but was hilarious.

At the end of the show, with massive inflatable spheres bouncing around over the audience, all I could see where smiling, happy, carefree faces. From the opening bars of La Petite Fille De La Mar (which wonderful encapsulates the off-kilter world you are about to enter) I was transformed from a curious adult looking for a diversion on a cold Wednesday evening, to a child, playing with a balloon in my parents front room at Christmas.

And, as the man himself said, that’s what the show is all about, and what a wonderful time we had rediscovering those childhood joys.