Lovely Clean Tigers

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wash the dirty kit of a professional rugby squad?

That’s the challenge faced every day by Brenda Hargrave. She’s the laundry supervisor at Leicester Tigers.

At the age of seventy she’s become a bit of a celebrity having starred in the break bumpers for Eviva either side of the live TV coverage of Premiership rugby.

I went along to meet her at the Tigers Oval Park training ground in Oadby. She was a charming lady, who takes great pride in her team running out in bright, clean kit.

Ski cross

My mate Dave is a big Hull City fan.  Last season he was at the Boleyn for the match which marked my return as the announcer. It was a brilliant night, I walked around shaking hands with everyone and was so happy to be  back. Especially when we won under lights to restart our season.  I think the Hull fans were a bit surprised when the West Ham announcer wandered into their end to chat to one of their own.

Yesterday, while we were beating Hull again in a vital game, Dave was nowhere to be seen. He’s so worried about Hull being relegated, he’s taken drastic action. He’s upped and moved to Canada for a year with his wife Nicola.  They set off a month ago with no jobs to go to, but lots of ideas. Amazingly Dave landed himself a job at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. From the picture on Facebook he appears to be a snow sweeper.

I haven’t thought much of the winter olympics so far. Last time we swept up in the curling. We’ve always been good at the housework related events.

But then came a win for Amy Williams from Bristol in the skeleton.  I’m a big fan of BBC drama Being Human, so I know most Bristol young folk are either vampires, werewolves or ghosts. I didn’t know there were skeletons there too. I really must visit my nephew Chris who’s at university there, to make sure he’s not in any danger.

And today it’s been the best so far at the games. What a brilliant event Ski Cross is. Four people on skis racing over a BMX style course with two going through to the next round. It reminds me of speedway a bit. Apart from it being on snow and downhill and without the motorbikes.

The ski suits they wear look like they’ve come from Fat Willys. They are the surfers of the ski world. I’m sure I heard the commentator say one skier was disqualified because his trousers were too tight. He could tuck them into his boots.  I’m not sure why that would mean disqualification. Unless Graham Poll is a ski cross referee.

Jem – London-  21 Feb 2010

Phillip Van Hooser interview

[ti_audio media="444" autoplay="1"]

Phil Van Hooser pic 2

Picture courtesy www.vanhooser.com

It was a great to meet the National Speakers Association President Phillip Van Hooser.

I interviewed Phil at the Professional Speakers Association convention in November 2009 in the UK.
He was the only American at my talk ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’. Afterwards I was worried that I might have picked on him a bit during my workshop session to illustrate how humour varies around the world. I feared I might have jeopardised my chances of ever speaking at an NSA convention, but he was very charming and said how much he’d enjoyed the talk.  Phew!

Tim Gard with me

[ti_audio media=”428″ autoplay=”1″]

Tim Gard pic

Picture courtesy of www.timgard.com

Here’s my interview with Tim Gard, the brilliant American speaker.  He’d just come off stage at the PSA 2009 convention in Marlow. His after dinner set was hilarious.  For me it was extra special because it was my birthday, and Tim invited eight fellow speakers onto the stage and they played Happy Birthday for me on nose whistles!
It wasn’t the most tuneful version, but I will always remember it.

I’d been invited to speak about humour at the convention before I knew that Tim was headlining the event.  It was a bit like being asked to talk about physics and then finding Stephen Hawking is also on the bill.  Fortunately my ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’ workshop was well received and I was delighted when Tim came and found me to give me a copy of his book.

Anyway, enough of the praise, here’s the interview.


7 ways to be a MediaMaster- by my co-author, Alan Stevens

mm-cvr-redWhat Brian Clough could teach today’s TV performers

The late Brian Clough had great advice about sound bites. “If you think of a killer phrase that sums up your story, the media will swoop on it like vultures. Keep them fed and you’ll keep them at arm’s length with you in control.” If only media interviewees today knew that.
In a new book, MediaMasters, Alan Stevens and Jeremy Nicholas have interviewed many of the top media performers in the UK, to find out top tips that anyone can use. Here’s a collection of six more of them:
Former paralympic athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson says “You are usually asked the same old questions, time and time again.” Her recommendation? “Practise your answers and make sure you get better over time”
George Galloway MP agrees. He doesn’t believe in being diverted by inconveniences like interviewer’s questions. He says “You should say what you want to say. If it’s a good point, repeat it.” Exactly. You should say what you want to say.
Comedy performer Phill Jupitus urges caution when making comments in jest, advising “They may not look good when printed in black and white and attributed to you. Always speak the truth, except in wedding speeches when diplomacy is more important.” How true that is.
The creators and writers of the “Alex” cartoons, Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, also use humour, but emphasise brevity too. They say “We can create a story for Alex in just four frames of a cartoon, with a joke to end, so surely you can trim your message a bit?”
Turning to TV skills, Michael Parkinson tells you to befriend the camera. His best advice? “When you are talking on camera, imagine you are chatting to a family member or close friend”. It certainly worked for him with his relaxed interviewing style being much imitated.
Lastly, novelist Fay Weldon gives some great advice about writing articles. She says “I don’t believe in sitting staring at a blank page for ages. Write first, think afterwards and analyse later”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. It’s all about preparation and confidence. There’s plenty more advice from the other MediaMasters in the book too (ISBN 1-905430-61-2), which is available from Amazon, or the authors’ websites at www.mediacoach.co.uk or www.jeremynicholas.co.uk.