Do Words Really Matter? Rated 12A

Before I start, I would just like to say that I’m spending a few days in Scotland, Edinburgh, meaning I came through on the train in the fog and mist, to see everything was white from my window. Winter is officially here. I’m in Edinburgh with my family and a translator, just so I can understand the strong accent over this side of the pond from my usual home in Cumbria. Anyhow, on with the writing!

I will be honest before I’m arrested for plagiarism, a lot of the following came from a sketch of my favourite comedian; Michael McIntyre… But I thought that what he talked about was pretty funny, and he also had a point… So just read on.

Before I completely rip off the work of one of Britains best-loved comedians, I would just like to expand on the point that he makes. Being a writer, journalist, blogger and English Language student, obviously this is a very interesting subject for me to talk about, and one that I feel I could probably write a book on, however, I have to condense my ideas into 600 plus words, so I’ll give it a try and try not to get bored while I explain it.

I’m about to talk to you about a thing called collocations, now to you, this may mean absolutely nothing at all, in which case I really do advise you to read on- Because you never know, you may just learn something…

Collocations are words that naturally go together in a sentence, if you were to have one without the other you would find that it wouldn’t sound right, and you may have people questioning you on basic English skills.

An example of the stuff I’m going on about are things such as, fish and chips, thunder and lightning, knife and fork or salt and pepper; use of lexis that wouldn’t sound right should you put them on their own, or even mix them up. If you were to have chips and knife people would think that you’re an utter moron, likewise, if you were to have pepper and lightning, people think that you are describing the new range from the ‘Ann Summers’ collection.

You may not realise this, but I guarantee you that you use complicated and complex examples of the English Language every day, hyperbole, superlatives, interrogatives, declaratives, imperatives, monosyllabic lexis, the list goes on and on and on. However, I feel so confident to actually put £10 on the fact that most people use examples of collocations in a sentence more than five times a day, every day. They crop up so much that people don’t even realise. The list I made earlier with examples of them was only a fraction of the different possibilities, I think that it’s absolutely incredible. The English Language is so diverse and so flexible, it is only until recently I discovered that no wonder is one of the hardest languages for babies to learn, it is unbelievably complex, it boggles the mind and hurts my head just thinking about it all.

Michael McIntyre took the general idea of collocations and moulded it into an entire four to five-minute sketch on one of his shows, and it is one of the funniest comedy sketches I have ever seen. Ever. What he basically did was more or less what I have just done above, but with much funnier, immature words. Words that come with other words as he called it, so my blog for example; ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’, the words ‘chit chat’ fit together very well, however one only works on its own, which is ‘chat’, and to say, “can we have a chat” does sound very formal in some cases, but you would never say to somebody “would you mind if we had a quick chit”, firstly because if you were to say that to somebody, not write it, say it, I think it sounds like something completely different and quite rude, but anyways, secondly because it almost doesn’t sound correct from a grammatical perspective. However, when you put the two words together to form a whole word; “chit chat”, it becomes an example of what we call phatic talk, or in other words, chatty and informal language, so if your boss says to you someday “can we have a quick chit chat”, I wouldn’t worry about getting the sack, in fact, it’s probably more likely they fancy you.

There are other uses of collocations, that are funny and that Michael talks about in this sketch, and they are listed below, words put together such as:

Willy-nilly

Nitty gritty, like can you get to the nitty, but not the gritty? Or visa versa.

Hurly burly

Dilly dally

Wishy washy

Argy bargy

Fuddy duddy

and hodge podge.

The best of all though has to be hanky panky because, at some point, all men wish for hanky panky mostly on a daily basis, however sometimes they must “make do” with hanky. On some occasions, men may return home from work, and it could look like panky could also be on the cards, however to the woman’s disappointment, it would be unlikely to happen due to hanky going happening early doors, so they must move down a step and just do rumpy pumpy. The sketch goes on, but I just thought to myself, god, it’s such a clever way of looking at and poking fun at the English Langauge, and by adding my own bits to it, along with the plagiarism of the work of a famous comedian from the video which has had millions of views on YouTube, it would make such a brilliant and funny piece of writing.

I thought just the other day, that the blog has looked at such negative and important topics from the news recently, I haven’t actually had the chance for someone to read it and go “what a great piece of intelligent and funny writing”, so I knew I couldn’t do that on my own, so instead I completely ripped off the words and work of a touring comedy legend and tried to pass it as my own. Overall, I thought it went quite well, considering I’m on holiday in Scotland. Freezing.

That’s me for this week, thank you very much for reading, take care, see you soon,

Thomas

Apologies for featuring lots of listing this week, for the jokes to be funny, I sort of had to use it, although I hate the technique and the people that use it in their writing, I promise to never do it again.

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The Grand Tour Season 2: Review

The motoring enthusiasts among my readership will know that the Amazon Prime hit show that arrived on our screens in November last year, returned last night for a second series. Yup, I’m talking about ‘The Grand Tour: 2’. If you want to know my thoughts on the first look at the second series of the worlds best motoring show, you’ll want to read on. If you wanted me to talk about the Chelsea Flower Show, this blog probably won’t be for you…

So, what did we already know? Well, the main change from Series one is that the “touring tent” is no longer touring is now in fact permanently stationary to one position, and this position is in the Cotswolds; not too far away from Jeremy’s house. Other changes involve there is no ‘American’ test driver, since viewers felt that his character was “too similar every week”, and therefore became boring. The segment ‘Celebrity Brain Crash’ has also been axed. But, that’s all the shit that’s gone, what’s good that we can expect in this new series?

Well, as I just said they no longer have the roaming tent, instead it has a fixed position for the entire series. However, don’t think that the “Grand Tour” element has simply disappeared into thin air because in series two we see more travelling in the films. With locations like Switzerland, France, Italy, Croatia, Mozambique and Colorado are all in the mix of stunning roads and views.

The old series featured a segment called “Celebrity Brain Crash”, here a celebrity of some kind would come into the tent and try their hand at a reaction test apparently used for fighter pilots, however, the celebrity would never actually make it to the tent, because somehow they would have a comedic death of some kind, this way the legal people didn’t have to get involved with it being too similar to ‘Top Gear’. After viewers said that this segment needed a rethink since it got boring after 11 episodes of it, the segment was scrapped and has now been replaced with “Celebrity Face Off”, here two celebrities will go head to head on a track that is not the ‘Ebola Drome’; which instead is only a few miles from the tent site, in Jaguar F-Types, the fastest time wins. Interestingly, although I thought that the gag was similar, and had been seen before on a similar show, I loved it and thought it worked very well.

The segment “Conversation Street” where the presenters chew the fat on car news thankfully has been kept, again, with the horrendously funny sting to go with it.

The main point on the first show I wanted to make was the awesome film that was the sort of “feature” of the programme in Switzerland. The boys were back with their on-screen jibs and banter, however, lots of informative car journalism was still able to make an appearance.

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“The boys are back in town” Pic: Amazon Video

In the film, they travel to Switzerland to find out which of three-sport/hypercars are best: past, present or future. To represent the future is the amazing all-electric hypercar from Croatia the Rimac Concept One, then to show off present-day standards is the equally brilliant Honda NSX, and my personal favourite the car of the past is the all-new, all hyped up Lamborghini Aventador S, and what a car it really is.

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Past, present or future? Which one would you have? Pic: Amazon Video

All I would like to say is, that honestly and personally, I thought that series one of ‘The Grand Tour’ was absolutely brilliant, however, I could watch it and find some pretty major and dreadful faults with it. I am very pleased to say though, that with season two, it will be soo much better. Series one was the boys finding their feet, series two is the boys back to doing what they do best. Entertaining, informing and just cocking about.

Series two of ‘The Grand Tour’ streams every Friday on Amazon Prime for the next 11 weeks.

 

“Do We Run, Hide or Tell Now Miss?”

It’s been in the news recently, that children are going to be taught in school how to handle a terrorist attack, in the same way they learn about sex education and drugs advice.

I believe that I read this in ‘The Sunday Times’ a few weeks ago, and it really really startled me, that a comic strip style safety thing had been produced for such a horrendous event as a terrorist attack.

But then I got thinking about it and thought that a.) I suppose that it’s the world we now live in, and b.) it may not actually be that bad of an idea. I mean, I’ll be honest, I do think it’s a little bit sad that now we have to actually “practise” what should happen in a terrorist attack, in the same way, that we practise how to use the lavatory, but however, I still do feel that it’s a good idea, as it should hopefully put the target audience of the advert; children aged 11-16 a head start almost to what to do, should anything like this happen.

I didn’t actually know that the procedure- known as, “Hide, Run, Tell”, was a sort of protocol. In the event of an explosion in a street, gunshots, or a loud bang in the distance, the Met Police will initiate the system via a statement through the media. We then know, usually within 10-15 minutes of the initial incident how to respond to it.

I remember watching BBC News last Friday, on the Oxford Circus scare, and I distinctly remember the reporter saying that the Met Office had not issued the “Run, Hide, Tell” procedure. At the time I thought, well how stupid is that I mean, what they are actually doing is telling people that although we have had an alert of a possible threat, we’re not going to tell you to start running yet. Now, with hindsight, I now realise how actually clever the system is, if we think about it we can use this as an indicator as to how bad the current threat is. How 2017 is that!?! If it’s a system that we know works, then, I agree with using it as a hypothesis as to how bad a situation may be.

Now we face the issue of do I agree with using the system to teach 11-16-year-olds how to act in the dangerous predicament of a terrorist attack, either abroad, or here on home soil.

Image result for Run, Hide, Tell Graphic novel
“RUN” Graphic Novel Pic: First Line Magazine

I do think that it is important that children are aware of what is going on, should anything ever happen, this way, parents are just able to say, just practise what you’ve learned, don’t panic and stay close.

Image result for Run, Hide, Tell Graphic novel
“HIDE” Graphic Novel Pic: First Line Magazine

It will sound scary, from what I read the other day, even the armed police WILL shout at you (VERY LOUDLY) should they find you in a hiding place, this way they can distinguish you as you, from the attacker. However, it may not be that bad, I think that the first time teachers have to sit around a big table, and learn how they teach and explain this issue to their children, I think that for the first time, it will sound odd, and scary, but as I’m told, it will be exactly like “sex education or drugs abuse” so, I think that eventually, it will become natural for all, teachers, children and parents too.

Image result for Run, Hide, Tell Graphic novel
“TELL” Graphic Novel Pic: First Line Magazine

Please remember, as I was told the other day though, please don’t worry or panic in these sorts of situations, but remember to stay calm. But, actually, the probability of being caught up in a terrorist attack is actually smaller than being hit by a meteorite. What I’m trying to say is, all of these are simple precautions that more or less have to be taken in this day and age, but it’s really nothing to lose sleep about, the primary objective is to keep you safe. So, enjoy your childhood, because as I was once told, and am still told, you only get one.

Thomas

Driverless Cars Send Me Round The Bend

The Chancellor of the Exchequer released his budget thingy last week, and it covered all sort of stuff like NHS nurse wages, Brexit rubbish, housing costs, but more importantly, the plan for driverless cars to be on the roads in no less than four years time…

As a motoring enthusiast, and one who absolutely loves cars, my opinion to this topic may be a little biased, but nevertheless, I plan to continue writing about my opinion because after all, this is my blog.

Anyways, where was I? Oh, yes, so I honestly do believe that they are a million miles away from driverless cars. I mean, they just seem so unpractical. Take for example, the moment when your going to crash, a car is about to pull out in front of you say on a motorway, so your doing 70MPH on the M1, and on a junction from another road, and a driver (which isn’t a driver because the car is driving itself), so a passenger and their children pull out, and BANG! Instantaneous death. And all because the car won’t and doesn’t have the reaction times of humans, so it doesn’t know when or how quickly to apply the brakes

In a driverless car, you also wouldn’t be able to do what my Mum does when she takes me out, and that is when your in the car from a return journey home and she immediately decides to turn left away from home to call in and quickly see my Nana. In a driverless car, that wouldn’t be possible, because what you would actually have to do was programme your journey before you set off, and sit there until you reach your destination. How boring is that?!?

Take for example the fact that me and my family travel to Manchester on occasion, I’ve had an instance a few years ago where a few times in one week, I had to travel down to Wales. Now obviously the cheaper and more sensible option was to take the car, so we drive down to Wales and on the way home again, I can’t remember, it was around eight’O’clock in British Summer Time when we were approaching the junction for the roads through the Lakes (which is where I live), or we could continue on the motorway with straight roads and all the rest of it. Now on multiple occasions, my Dad would say “Lakes or motorway route?” these were decisions that I made a few minutes, possibly even less than the turn. In a driverless car, you wouldn’t be able to do that.

Some of you reading this will be thinking what a plonker this guy is, but seriously, I think that drivers have moods sometimes when they have a choice of roads they can take that still get you to your final destination, and these are decisions, split-second decisions that only us as humans can make, I think that as soon as a machine or computer starts making this kind of decisions for us, we really won’t be able to call ourselves the only race of species on this planet. The day that day comes, which I’m not doubting it will, I think will be a terribly sad day for the history of the car as we know it. However, the motoring industry IS changing, and whether we all like it or not, sadly we are going to have to live with it, but if you look at it this way, I don’t think that there could be a more exciting time to talk about and drive cars than the time we live in today. It’s all changing immensely quickly, and I think that as far as cars are concerned, things can only get better.

Thomas

I’m Back Again! Series Two?!? Let’s Give It A Bash!

I’m back! And I thought that the best thing to do after my little (but very much needed) break from the blog was to talk about what’s been going on in the world, since I last left you.

This is where I’ve been hiding for the last few weeks…

I suppose the first thing to do is to cast your minds back just a few weeks ago where we all stood around in the dark saying “Ohh” and “Ahh” to small explosions in the sky. I have a few theories about Bonfire Night, firstly, it’s very cold and we all stand outside to make each other miserable and remind ourselves that we can afford to heat to our homes, so we all go inside with hypothermia to warm up again. Then we stand around with mulled wine and warm brown beer, all of which taste disgusting. To be honest, Guy Fawkes must be one pretty annoyed sod looking down on us every November 5th, I mean we celebrate an event which he failed, by flying exploding rockets up to where he is watching, taunting him, by saying that we are better at lighting a match than he was.

WHOOSH! BANG! Pic: The Telegraph

We then take to having a large dumping of wood in a field and stick a puppet of that exact “guy” and burn it to a crisp. And he does it every year too, Guy Fawkes has died and come back every year to burn again so much he deserves a medal.

Also while I’ve been away, President Trump actually admitted to being the proud owner of the word “fake”. I mean he admits people were using it years before he was even a foetus, but he still admits to inventing the word. And you don’t want to argue with Trump, I mean seriously, speak to the 13 odd members of his staff he’s sacked.

Staying with Trump, he also seems to be in the news more recently on the topic of North Korea. Kim Jong Un himself has said that if Donald Trump were to be placed on North Korean soil, he shall be given the death penalty. It’s like two bulls in a china shop constantly bashing heads together, but at one point, one must break and the other must win, it’s just a matter of time for that to happen. The way I see this, there is no turning back for either to call it quits. Things can only get uglier.

Looking on the bright side of life, Amazon announced a few weeks ago that you only have to wait a few more weeks for the second series of the most illegally downloaded show of 2016/17; ‘The Grand Tour’ will be back on December 8. With a similar length run to series one, the show will begin in December and finish around mid-February, as the show has been given an 11 part series with a Christmas special. After all the accidents the trio has endured getting this show on the road, it’s only a few more weeks until it returns… Old ideas have been scrapped, and new ideas are to make an appearance, for example, the tent will no longer roam the world, as it will instead be “just a short walk from Clarkson’s house in The Cotswolds.” The American and Celebrity Brain Crash have also been thrown in the bin. Segments such as Half-a-Romeo on a new track and a big 90-minute film which hasn’t been filmed yet is also set to appear. The big film has a slot to be shot early next year, so they’ve gone to Mozambique instead… So, I’m excited about December 8, and I hope that you are too.

“The boys are back for more monkey business” Pic: Amazon Video

As you continue to read, I’m trying to update you on news which has happened more recently, and I would, just for a second, like to say that my blog is in complete support of the soldiers that kept our country safe 100 years ago, right up to present day, it is to these heroes that we can say we live safe and happy lives, all because brave people like them are willing to put their lives before ours, we owe a lot to the heroes of our country, it is to these people we should be proud to call ourselves British.

I’m looking at the two minutes silence which myself and many other people across Britain took part in, on the 11th hour, of the 11th month on the 11th day, the country fell silent to pay our respect to the unsung heroes that shaped our country.

“We will remember them” Pic: Resisting Hate Blog

For the first time in her reigning period, 2017 was the first year that the Queen did not lay a wreath personally at the Cenotaph in London. Instead, her son; Charles did it on her behalf, while she bowed her head as it was placed at the foot of the memorial. People say that the Queen was right for doing this, as she is getting on a little bit now, so climbing those steps for her on her own are becoming a little bit of a challenge, but it has also raised the question to people of if the Queen is still fit enough to be attending public major events. It has come about that eventually she may have to hand over to Prince Charles to take over for her. Which I think would be a very sad day. Still, we’d get a day off school and work, so it can’t be that bad…

Christmas is almost upon us, the shops are stocking their shelves, we are all beginning to attend Christmas light switch on, mulled wine and mince pies are wiping cobwebs off of themselves, and we are buying cheap presents to give to loved ones on Christmas Day before all the prices go up at last minute. But more importantly, and what I want to talk about, is CHRISTMAS ADVERTS! I think one of the top things that my friends definitely, but also other people always look forward to are the Christmas adverts that hit our TV screens in August, and don’t leave again until April… I must say, I watched the John Lewis advert the other day and it very nearly brought a tear to my eye. Moz The Monster is the cutest thing I have ever seen, and I want one under my bed every night. Just to have all on my own. I seriously think that it’s adorable.

#MozTheMonster – We all want a Moz under our bed’s Pic: John Lewis

Anyway, recently, there have been two adverts that have come to my attention, not on their usual advertisement slot, but on national news. Yup. The word controversy has smashed our screens again. I think I’ll make the first one short and sweet, so we’ll kick off with the ‘Greggs’ advert. So, I have seen this on the news, just last week, and it shows that ‘Greggs’ has been under fire for their recent Christmas ad. By recreating a Nativity scene, they placed three wise men around a manger. Seems normal and traditional, doesn’t it? Well, they hadn’t come to give Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the baby Jesus. Nope. They came to visit a ‘Greggs’ sausage roll. Well, I’m sure you can imagine the uproar that caused… Christians have taken to the social Network Twitter to express their outrage towards the national bakery. Some saying that ‘Greggs’ should be donating all of their profits to the Salvation Army as an apology. ‘Greggs’ have said sorry, saying they didn’t mean to cause offence. Sadly, some people thought their apology was as soft as their sausage rolls…

“Roll on Christmas” Pic: Daily Mail

The next one is my favourite, simply because it’s M&S and Paddington Bear. You see, I personally think that other than everyone getting their underpants from M&S, this year they have tried to compete with John Lewis by making the better advert. So it’s Paddington Bear against Moz The Monster, if either were to be in a fight, they’d only rip a thread. M&S tried to create a cute story of Paddington Bear being very excited on Christmas Eve, he can’t sleep waiting for Santa, so as he looks outside, he mistakes a burglar for Mr Claus, being a soft toy, he feels he must help the intruder “give out” all the gifts in the robbers sack… I’ll be honest, it’s a good story, right up to the moment where they hug at the end, and the ‘F’ bomb is dropped. Yes, the audience has seemed to have heard something else other than “thank you little bear”, it seems that the word “thank” can be mistaken for the complete opposite of its meaning… Creating more ‘Christmas Controversy’.

Swearing before the Watershed Pic: M&S

Well, now I’ve talked about Christmas in November (in Media terms, that’s unbelievably late), I want to move on to briefly talk about the Coup that’s not a Coup going on in Zimbabwe. I’ll be honest, I was thinking about doing a whole blog on this, then I spoke to my editor and his exact words were that “it’s not interesting enough to write 700 words plus on for a return blog/series of writing”. So instead, I’ve allocated it a paragraph. The army of Zimbabwe has had an attempt of taking over in a “safe manner”, they have also had the President; whose name I can’t remember, under house arrest, and since he and his wife have fled the country, possibly to Namibia. Now, the news changes very quickly these days, it’s part of the beauty of being a journalist and reporting on it, but it also has its downsides, I’m writing this blog in stages, so it gives me time to change anything should the news change, however, I’m not completely convinced that at this rate when your reading this, Zimbabwe will still be there… So, now I’ve talked about international news, I can talk about myself for a bit.

While I’ve been away, I’ve attended charity evenings, Christmas light switch ons and planned fundraising events for my trip to Tanzania in 2019. Just before I left you, a page was created for my trip which I will update with information of my trip as and when I know it. This page can be visited at any time, so make sure to check it for updates on my fundraising journey.

Sadly, last week I was off for two days with the worst head cold I’ve ever had, ever. I was drugged up on Paracetamol and Lemsip last week as I struggled my way through a horrid cold. Luckily, I had a bell, and a slave (by this I do mean my Mum and Dad) which tended to my every need, and all I had to do was stretch out my arm and give it a ring… I mean, I will be honest, I think I may have slightly overdone it too much by tea time of day two, as I was being told to shut up and get on with it, but other than that, I had everything I needed at the ring of my bell.

So, that is me. It feels great to be back, and looking through what I’ve written it’s a lengthy piece which I’m proud of. Which I hope you’ve enjoyed reading… I’ve got a great few weeks of writing coming up, so if your as ready as I am, let’s start the journey all over again.

I am also very pleased that I’ve gone through a whole (rather long first blog back) and avoided the topic of most tabloid newspapers this week, by which I mean ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’. And I intend not to talk about it at all throughout it’s run. Hopefully. It depends on how easily I’m persuaded. On that note, I’ll leave you till next week, see you then.

BYE!

Thomas

Series One Draws To A Close…

I’m back! It’s been weirdly different not writing for the last few weeks, and I sort of knew that this would happen so I couldn’t resist writing a one-off, but I wanted this to be my official ending to the first round of my writing, and since I’ve been away for the last few weeks, I’ve had a great idea as to what I’m going to write about.

So, if you joined me a few weeks ago then, you will know that a lot went on. Firstly, I launched not one, but two new pages to my site, the ‘Guest Writers’ page, and ‘Tom’s Tanzania Treky Trippy Thingy’, along with a blog/article on a show which if your reading on the day this blog is published, then today is opening night! So if you still want tickets, but haven’t got them, go to the Solway Hall website and order them now!

Also in the news, while I’ve been away is that it was my 17th Birthday on Friday, which does sadly mean that if you are a driver on UK roads, watch out because I’m coming. I suppose that this is also a message for pedestrians around the UK because as soon as I start driving, I’d start walking on the roads if I were you because you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll be on the pavement.

I had a very nice, quiet sort of a birthday, firstly I had a rehearsal for the show I’m in this week, but I was kindly embarrassed by the whole cast as I walked through the door (late) as they all sang “Happy Birthday”, I’m 17 and that song still isn’t old! The following day I went for a meal with my family, which was very nice to just catch up and relax.

It was actually brilliant because, for the first time in what seems 17 years, I had my birthday on the day schools finished for the October half term, so I was fed with cake, biscuits, chocolates I actually felt 17 stone! Seriously though, it was awesome, because I was spoiled at school by all my friends, then I came home to realise that I’d been spoilt there too. As a friend told me the other day, you know that your officially an oldie when you get pants and socks for your birthday AND Christmas. Not much I can comment on for that…

So, all in all, it’s been an immense few weeks, but sadly as I said last time, this is the last blog until late November, I hope that if you are off school this week you have a great, fun week off, if you’re at work, make sure you work even harder! And if you’re in a show (ME), don’t cock it up!

“This is me for a few weeks, bye!” Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Thank you very much for taking time to read these 23 blog posts, and I’ll see you later in the year for more of this. Take care, goodbye!

Thomas

“They Tap And Rap, And Clip And Clop”

Many years ago, even before me or you were even particles of existence, a terrible tragedy took place in my local town.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I live in the Lake District, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been lying to you. One reason for this is because if I actually told you the name of where I live and you were from say, London, you’d give me a funny look and go “eh?”. Another reason for this is because when you say you are from the Lake District, people associate you with being posh, but as I said, I’m not. By that I mean from the Lake District, I’m definitely posh… I’m joking… Well…

The little fishing town called Whitehaven is where I have lived for all my life, it is mostly known for being a harbour, as it was a key stop for large ships and boats over the slave trade period, and if my facts are correct, also a town which had a role in the making of sugar? I could be wrong though, so don’t quote me on it.

When you talk about Whitehaven to anyone who may not have heard of it before, I guarantee you they will click into autopilot and think 12 miles South, to the large-scale nuclear facility; Sellafield, they may also think of men in tight clad lycra who dip a back bike wheel in the town’s harbour on the start of the Coast-to-Coast ride, Mr Bean also schooled here! Hated it apparently.  But I assure you, this is not the original look the town has always had…

Whitehaven is, I think, best known for being a mining town, the phrase “jam eaters” originated here, although people from the area hate to admit that, they love, however, to blame it on the next town, which is Workington. This ‘insult’ goes back to when the mines were up and running, workers down the pit would work for hours on end, and for lunch, eat a jam sandwich, again, nobody is exactly clear if that is Whitehaven or Workington, and I’m not sure if we ever will.

In 1947, one of the worst pit disasters ever to take place, made its mark into the history books, sadly resulting in 102 men and boys losing their lives, along with two from the rescue brigade. All in the name of their town, their lives were stolen, but now thanks to a local music lover, he ensures they will not be forgotten.

A musical was written following the event by John Marcangelo, known best for writing the song ‘Clog Dance’, which became a huge hit in the film ‘Brassed Off’. John has previously appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’ with his band Violinski, and if you read my blog a few weeks ago, he also appeared in the Necomandus return.

To commemorate the disaster, the musical ‘Clog Dance’ was written by John Marcangelo, and in 2017, the musical is celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary. Yup, the show was originally performed in Whitehaven Civic Hall in 2007. Since it was a huge success, to mark its 10th birthday, the team (or some of them) have come back together to resurface the musical again, with some old faces along with some new ones (INCLUDING ME!), the show will be tapping its way back to Whitehaven’s Civic Hall Stage from 24th-28th October (that’s October half term!), if you would like to take a trip down memory lane… or just a lane if you weren’t here in 1947, then this show may just be for you, or just if you want to see a great musical, which is bound to entertain. Not that I’m biased or anything…

“Say Clogs!”- Cast of Clog Dance 2017: Picture Tom Tyson

The show is based mainly on the pit disaster, which clearly is a huge part of history of this little coastal town that we can talk about, however, also looking at the history of clog dancing, without giving too much away, the author of the production based the show on his experiences growing up in a mining town, but also walking past the clog makers shop everyday, he also felt that it too should play a part in helping to tell the story of the town he loves and grew up in, but more importantly, grew apart of.

In the words of the Mr Marcangelo, “all of us living in this area owes a huge debt of gratitude to those miners and their families who shaped the history of our town, which is why this musical is dedicated to their memory.” I couldn’t agree with John anymore here either because this show gives us the opportunity to portray a major event which happened in our town, and the fact that is able to be seen through the medium of song, dance and drama helps bring locals together to remember the tragedy of the people that shaped Whitehaven into what it is today.

So, if you strip away the nuclear power plant, men in tight nit clothes and Rowan Atkinson you get something real and original, and it’s all something that has been here for centuries on end… TALENT!

Now I’m at the end of this blog, I know that on Tuesday, I said I’ll be going away for a while to catch up on some ideas and free time, so I’ll be back for a one-off on October 24, until then, which I believe is about two weeks away.

Until then, take care,

Thomas

*You are able to buy tickets for ‘Clog Dance’ at the Solway Hall website, or alternatively, the Solway Hall desk in Whitehaven, they are very helpful! Tickets are selling fast, so get yours today!*

Prepare For A Bumpy Ride

Firstly I’d like to say I am honoured to be Thomas’ first guest writer on ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’. To be completely honest, he hasn’t stopped nagging me for this for two whole months. But it is finally here! The first Guest Writers Article!

In Summer of 2017, I was presented with a wrath of opportunities. Having recently qualified as an Aerospace Instructor for the RAF Air Cadets, I was well prepared for what was to come.

My adventure began with a five-hour train journey to Dover, mostly seated within a train vestibule…‘Some adventure’ I thought to myself. I’m not sure if you have ever experienced a journey from Penrith to London Euston on a packed Pendolino with the only space available between the carriages so allow me to describe this to you in one word: uncomfortable. I knew I should have driven! -1 point to public transport. Upon arriving at Dover I met with 20 other cadets from across the country, all of which I had never met before, I then had to board a bus. A bus that only made me wish I was back in my vestibule. Only it was my home for the next 10 hours en route to Sennelager, Germany.

Sennelager is a British Overseas Forces training area primarily used by the British Army. We stayed there for just a week but it was honestly one of the best weeks of my life! I think one of the monumental moments was driving a Challenger Two Tank on a multiplayer simulator which had 140 vehicles that could be connected together! It was like a massive game of Call of Duty! Our task was to capture the opposing team’s flag without being first being shot to death! The action replays made for some entertaining content.

But this was nothing on the week which was to come! Upon returning to Dover it was back to my vestibule once again for the journey up to Newark. My next temporary home was to be RAF Syerston, home of the RAF’s central gliding school. The camp itself had 230 cadets in attendance plus around 25 instructors – of which I was one! I spent several days instructing on the Radar Air Traffic Control simulators before being rudely disturbed by some loud wacka wacka noise. I couldn’t hear a thing! I looked out of the window to see a Royal Air Force Chinook Helicopter!After a short safety briefing; which I had to stay awake through, we were loaded into the aircraft.The flight itself was amazing! I was hoping that they would actually shut the back door of the aircraft, especially before the in-flight meal service which was non-existent, but no… That would be far too boring! We flew around Lincolnshire being held in by nothing but a flimsy airline type seat belt, slightly disconcerting!

Upon landing back at RAF Syerston I had the absolute honour of meeting Group Captain Carol Vorderman – Honorary Ambassador for the RAF Air Cadets and ex-Countdown host! It’s true what they say, she definitely is better than Rachel Riley! After a cheeky snap and a quick chat, it was time for departure.

Prepare for takeoff!

I can honestly say that this summer has presented me with some of the best opportunities I could wish for! I’ve made new friends, of which some I would honestly call brothers. I just can’t wait for next year! To which, I hope to share my experiences with you again.

Till next time,

Charlie

Guest Writer for ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’

Special Announcement

I’m in a very good mood at the minute, and you’ll understand should you decide to keep reading.

If you read last week’s blog, then firstly, I hope you enjoyed it, if you haven’t, your in the wrong place, sod off and read it now. Secondly, because I feel that it was me writing at my best, I don’t understand why, but it just was, I was over the moon with myself, as I felt I had written a great piece, which I was very proud of. I suppose it was because I had funny parts, and just interesting parts too, which is why, if I was the reader, I would be reading it again, and again, and again. I’m joking, I’m only trying to make myself feel gooey on the inside. And boost my ego. But seriously, I was writing about a great experience I had, and I felt that the writing last week was me back to my best standard.

This is a very big week for my blog this week, partly because my ‘Guest Writers’ page is officially launched later on this evening, and partly because I have a big announcement to give out, which I’m going to leave you on the edge of your seat for.

I’ll talk to you first about the page that has been a blank canvas for the last few weeks and months, and why I have chosen today for it to be launched, the writer in question, did actually want to have his blog uploaded before mine, but I said fat chance, I make the rules here, which is why you are reading mine first. Unless you’ve just waited until five to read it all in one sitting… Anyway, if you haven’t, then please do make sure to check back later and give it a read, I have been proofreading this story for some time, and I wanted it to be absolutely perfect, so it’s taken its time.

I have also been chitting and chatting to some people who wouldn’t mind writing something for me every so often, and after I bullied them into it, I decided I had a team of people that were willing to make it work on a regular (ish) basis. Also because some of my friends have told me recently that I should perhaps change the name of this site from ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’ to ‘Tom’s Shit Chat’, but now they can’t as other people are writing for me too, and ‘Tom’s Shit Chat and Friends’ doesn’t have as good a ring to it. So, after that title had worn a little bit thin, I decided to launch it today.

I am extremely excited for you to read the blog, it features funny and interesting stuff, and I promise, that if you don’t like my writing, then you will love the writer that I have for you later on. We have poured over every single word for, I was going to say weeks, but it’s actually been months for this first Guest Writers piece, and all I can say is, I hope that you find it as interesting to read, as it has been for me to interestingly edit.

That’s another reason I wanted my blog to come out before the one that you will read this evening so, that I could give you a guided tour of what it has been like to oversee the whole process, I now know what it feels like for my Editor at the newspaper I occasionally write for to look at my work, it’s amazing because it has opened my view to a different style of writing which I could maybe adapt in the future. Also because I’ve had to change bits so that it fits with the ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’ style. If you want to know what I mean by style, then I go by rules of when writing about numbers, the format I have chosen to go for uses writing the numbers one to nine in word form, and 10 and above as numbers. I don’t know why I just do, among other stuff too.

So, my second big announcement which is even more exciting than my Guest Writers column, and it’s the title of this piece which I’ve been trying to drag out for this amount of time, just to keep you reading. I’m doing it now, see…

I AM OFF TO AFRICA!

Yes, you read that correctly, in the early summer of 2019, I’ll be jetting off to the deprived areas of Tanzania. I’ve wanted to visit this continent since I’ve been old enough to know that Africa is a continent, and now that the opportunity has arisen, I’m grabbing it with open arms and not letting go.

So, your wanting to know the important information now, some of which I can give you, some of which I can’t. Not because I’m not allowed to, but because it’s still, as you can tell from the date, very early days, since I only found out a number of weeks ago, I’ve tried to keep it quiet until now. I’ll be in Tanzania for a month (four weeks altogether), and in that time I will be offering my hands to help local communities. Some of this may include building huts, schools, medical centres and other important stuff which would help the people in the different villages I’ll be visiting. Teaching in schools could also be in the mix. The organisation I’m going through is a group called ‘Camps International’ a trained team of expert who know lots of things about sending volunteers into the field.

I’m very excited as you would probably imagine, but there is a slight catch, nobody organised a typical trip to Africa two years in advance, and the reason I know now is that the price of the trip isn’t just something anybody could reach into their back pockets and produce. I don’t feel brave enough to tell you the actual figure, but please know that if I put a paywall on this blog for you to read it, and it was say, a pound, I would be writing blogs until I’m about 90. So, I have between now and then to do the fundraising, and I’m appealing to you the reader for any ideas you may have, if you would like to suggest anything, please do either comment or use the ‘Contacts’ page to get in touch with me. I’d be eager to know your ideas.

That brings me onto my next point, today doesn’t just mark the opening of the ‘Guest Writers’ page, it also marks the beginning of the temporary page that I have set up called ‘Tom’s Tanzania Treky Tripy Thingy’, I don’t know how much alliteration you can fit in one sentence that makes sense, but if your reading this and write for the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ I’d be happy to take that reward. So, that page can be found on the navigation bar, and it has been published at the same time as this blog, it’s fairly blank at the minute, but I hope to update it as often as possible with current information, so watch that space.

Now sadly comes the slightly bad news. I’ll be taking a break for a few weeks from the blog, to catch up on some ideas for the weeks running up to Christmas and into the New Year, as my ideas book is blank after today’s title. So, check back here this Friday for one of my unusual write-ups, where I’ll be doing a sort of mash-up between an opinion piece and old-style newspaper article, I’m here on October 24 at my usual time of 10 for a one-off special, I’ll be making my return in mid-late November for my normal weekly run. I suppose you could call this the end of series one. It’s gone down so well, I’m off to plan a second series. Except for this Friday, and a few weeks after that too, where I’m back again to tell you about something else. So, till then, see you soon! BYE!

Thomas

*Please Note: Thomas will be back with more explosive writing on November 21 for a second time around at his already successful blog, until then, stay tuned, and take care*

I **** Myself…

People talk about supercars and hypercars nowadays in the way they used to talk about malaria. It is a much talked about topic, whether you hate them, or love them, it’s a thing you can’t escape.

I’ve kept it very quiet, but the other day, I was given the opportunity to soil myself, not once, but many times.

I get “the fizz” like many other petrol heads simply by looking at a supercar, but what about pelting down a runway in Yorkshire in one at 200MPH?!?

I’ve had a busy sort of weekend, it’s all been really hectic. On Friday night I travelled down to Harrogate, along its horrendous roads along with the terrible wind and rain. A present I got from my Mum and Dad was a car experience at a racetrack of my choosing, in a car, of my choosing. So, obviously, I went for the one which has more history than any other racetrack ever… (I made that bit up)… But I did choose one of my favourite racetracks, specifically because the one I chose used to be the home of the RAF’S Harrier Jump Jet, The Red Arrows and other big

But I did choose one of my favourite racetracks, specifically because the one I chose used to be the home of the RAF’S Harrier Jump Jet, The Red Arrows, and other big airliner stuff… But in car history, it is best known for nearly being the burial ground for presenter and journalist Richard Hammond in September 2006, as he crashed the Jet-Powered Vampire Dragster at a speed of 288MPH, so obviously, a big thing happened here, but not a thing I was eager to recreate during my time there. Elvington is a former RAF and USA airfield base, full of history, and very soon, it would have a line of my excrement along its main runway.

With its history, in the weeks and days leading up to my lap, I was very nervous, however, I knew that this was a very rare opportunity, and being a lover of cars; one I would have to take.

The car I decided to take my run in was the Lamborghini Gallardo, made in Italy in 2003, it was at one stage the fastest Lamborghini ever to be produced, the last Gallardo rolled off the production line in 2013, so I was doing this lap for the history books and as a tribute to this astonishingly fantastic car.

Let me tell you a little bit about the car, it is a two-door roadster, capable of reaching just over 200MPH. It is fitted, as standard with a V10 engine from an Audi, and produces an enormous 562bhp, it has a top speed of 206MPH, meaning it can go from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds. So, this car is no slouch.

Race day came, my time slot was around 12:30, so I got there early to prepare for what was to come. I met my car, to which, if I’m honest, I have never really liked. I’ve always thought that the Gallardo didn’t really look very nice, seeing one up close is completely different, however. So, I signed myself in and read through all the paperwork which basically said that the company were not responsible for the loss of sight, limbs or life and ticked all the boxes, to say I was happy for this. All I had to do now, was wait for the car.

I heard the engine rev from afar, a cold shiver ran down my spine. My name was called, they were ready.

Some men help me find the seat

Now, before I go on, I should point out, that I am a little bombastic, and by that I mean six foot, so getting into a low-slung car meant dislocating every bone and ligament from my waist down, but eventually, I managed to get myself in and we were off.

The first thing I said to my driver was: “Is this quick?” to which he very quickly replied with “What do you think?”, at this moment I realised my driver had a lead foot because he planted it hard on the accelerator. I did actually enjoy this, but the force of the V10 engine did have its impacts on me as it threw me back into the sides of my seat. Luckily, it was the bit of runway that had a straight on it, but this is no slow coach, it did not take long for to reach the end of this stretch, where I was shown the full reach of this epic car I was starting to fall in love with, the brakes were applied hard, and I was given the chance to see how it handled it’s four-wheel drive, again from an Audi, on the first bend. My face was contorted a little during this, but I was able to readjust it in the short time I had where the car slowed to 60MPH, and speed back up again.

“Hi! Soiling myself”

I did get a chance, between the 200MPH bursts to speak to my driver, I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to say, so my first question was; “So, how long have you been driving these?”, to which I got an answer I’m still wondering was sarcastic, “Erm, about 20 minutes.” Now, you understand if he was being sarcastic because even I highly doubt that a man who has been driving for less than 20 minutes, (unless he is The Stig) can do a perfect turn, slide the back out, get a little bit of tyre squeal and smoke is beyond me.

Which one would you take home?

So, that is my story, I did get to almost max one of the best supercars ever to roll out of production, and still, come out in one piece. I loved it.

Watch out Jenson Button, I’m coming!

The last part of my blog, I would like to take a minute or two to write about a huge inspiration to me, because he is exactly like Jesus. Earlier in the year, my mate Martin Barrass suffered an almost life-threatening crash when his motorbike collided with a Vauxhall Astra, and with thanks to the amazing team at Leeds and York Hospitals and Air Ambulance, he lives to tell the tale. You may have seen the stories of the accident in newspapers and the evening local news, but it was a big deal. Martin has previously appeared in ‘The Railway Children’ in London’s West End, been a presenter for BBC Radio York and various other film and TV shows, so he’s an all-around legend, and he made my trip to Yorkshire even memorable, when this time last year I didn’t think I’d get to see him again. The man is a trooper.

 

And they say cats have nine lives…

We talked about this earlier, I am tall, and Martin is not so tall, but anyways, we can gloss over that.

That’s it for this week, join me next week where I literally do shake things up on ‘Tom’s Chit Chat’. BYE!

Thomas