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James Colley (Bath)

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A Poke in the Eye (With a Sharp Stick)
A Poke in the Eye (With a Sharp Stick)
by Amnesty International
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Invaluable Celebration, 3 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Secret Policeman's Balls have been a very successful collaboration between Amnesty International and some of Britain's best comedians for the past four decades. This book is an anthology of the most memorable moments from these shows. If you like comedy material you won't find a more comprehensive collection anywhere.

The book has been compiled and edited by comedy historian Graham McCann, who has an excellent track record in this area, and it features a great range of illustrations. It's an invaluable volume because it contains the transcripts of so many classic routines: including The Parrot sketch, the Four Yorkshiremen, the Cheese Shop, the Argument Clinic, Peter Cook's monologues about miners, asps and his brilliant parody of the Thorpe case summing up, Alan Bennett's dictation of a flirtatious telegram, Billy Connolly's account of two drunken Scots in Rome, Rowan Atkinson's schoolmaster routine, Victoria Wood's song 'I've Had It Up To Here With Men', several other Beyond the Fringe routines, Goodness Gracious Me's 'Going For An English,' some stand-up from Dame Edna, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Silverman, Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle, Jack Whitehall and Russell Brand, and on and on they go.

I was also pleased to see included some lesser-known gems, such as Eleanor Bron's very witty monologues, John Cleese and Jonathan Miller's parody of two pompous philosophers (Words and Things), Michael Palin and Terry Jones's attempt to explain the rules of cricket, Bennett and Fortunes 'Men's Talk', Fry and Laurie's Hedge sketch and a very brief but (I thought) very funny observation by Eddie Izzard about Pavlov's experiments with cats! I am old enough to recall all of these Amnesty shows, dating back to the first in 1976 (the best one of all, as far as I'm concerned), and in my opinion the overall quality has gradually declined (especially once the shows moved to big stadiums and the sheer size of the event seemed take precedence over the quality of the performances), so I'm not surprised the 'meatiest' selections come in the earlier sections of the book, but there are still some delights to be enjoyed later on.

Obviously the selection is limited to an extent by what works best on the page, so routines that rely on visual gags and funny accents etc aren't included (I can recall seeing a few mime acts in the early shows, and also some typically anarchic routines by the likes of Ken Campbell and his troupe), but the collection still represents a unique compendium of great British (and, in the later sections, American) comedy, which ought to prove an invaluable reference book for students of comedy as well as a welcome present for fans who just want a memento of their favourite comedy moments.

(One caveat: if you object to bad language you'll probably be alarmed by some of the more recent routines, which tend to pepper their comedy with various expletives. So don't buy it for the vicar!)


Veho 2200mAh Pebble Smartstick Emergency Portable Battery for iPhone/Blackberry/Samsung/HTC/Nokia - Black
Veho 2200mAh Pebble Smartstick Emergency Portable Battery for iPhone/Blackberry/Samsung/HTC/Nokia - Black
Offered by Refresh Cartridges
Price: 12.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works well with Mp3 players, 6 Nov 2012
I don't want to dismiss the reviews that point out which phones are not compatible - of course, that is an important issue and needs to be noted here - but I bought this to use when my mp3 players ran out of power, and I must say I'm delighted with it. So, beware what you're buying it for and check your gadgets, but if, like me, you want it as back-up for mp3 players or certain phones it's a great little item, nicely made, light, neat, stylish and easy to carry in a pocket or bag.


Pasta Express Cooking Container
Pasta Express Cooking Container

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Addition to the Kitchen, 23 Oct 2012
I use this when I have several pots and pans already on the hobs and I need a little space. It's a surprisingly neat and effective alternative means of preparing pasta when you're in a hurry and space is at a premium. All you do is this:

1. Unscrew the plastic lid and pour in your pasta.
2. Cover the pasta with boiling water and place the blue thermal wrap around the tube.
3. Place lid back on and leave to cook (the time varies depending on what kind of pasta you use and how you prefer it cooked, but, for example, I leave a thin pasta like spaghetti for about 10 minutes for al dente, and a thicker pasta such as penne or rigatoni for about 14 minutes, and a filled pasta like tortellini for about seven minutes for al dente.)
4. Holding the thermal wrap to protect your hands, unscrew the central lid to leave the strainer part, and slowly pour out the water.
5. Add a little sauce for colour, replace lid and give it a shake, remove lid completely and serve.

It really is simple and it really does cook the pasta (rather more gently, in fact, than in a saucepan, where one can easily over-cook it). You get used to it after a few goes, testing the pasta as it cooks, as you would with a conventional saucepan, and you soon get to know your own preferred timings. It also, apparently, works with green beans, asparagus, baby carrots, shrimps and hot dogs, but I haven't tried any of them myself.

The key value, for me, is the convenience - you can get it set and then put the tube on the floor, on the worktop or draining board, wherever you like when other things are taking up the room. A quick wash and drain and it's ready for next time. Very good for students as well as over-worked cooks in a hurry, this is a nice little product that is much more than a mere gimmick. It does its job well.


Friday Night Dinner [DVD]
Friday Night Dinner [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Bird
Price: 9.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 22 Oct 2012
This review is from: Friday Night Dinner [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of my favourite sitcoms of the moment. There's nothing really 'Jewish' about it, even though that's how the early publicity promoted the show (wrongly in my opinion), but it does use the excuse of a regular Friday night dinner to bring the characters together each episode for another storyline. Not much happens by the way of plot, but I'm happy with that because the main humour comes from the characters - the hapless father, the fussy mother, the two childish sons and the eccentric neighbour - and the real delight is the acting, which is consistently excellent. Mark Heap, as the permanantly befuddled but vaguely creepy outsider Jim, is especially amusing, turning what are often the briefest of scenes and exchanges into memorably funny little highlights of each episode. Maybe some will demand more action and less silliness but then, if that's the case, they need a quite different kind of sitcom. This playful, mischievous, spirited comedy just makes me laugh, often out loud, and that makes me prize it greatly.


Comedy Classics - The Love Match [1955] [DVD]
Comedy Classics - The Love Match [1955] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jill Adams
Offered by wmdservices
Price: 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good vintage fun, 10 Oct 2012
This is a very enjoyable little film from the 1950s, with a working-class family theme, some nice gentle comedy and some very decent performances from performers who had honed their craft on the stage. Askey gives one of his better, more subtle, performances as the old-fashioned head of the household, while Danny Ross, who went on to find fame as the same character (more or less) in the BBC's long-running radio show 'The Clitheroe Kid,' is tremendously entertaining as the stammering,prat-falling, boyfriend Alfie Hall. The story moves along at a steady pace, with several amusing little scenes as it goes. The DVD itself is impressive, with a clear print and good audio. All in all, recommended for fans of this era in British comedy.


The Walking Dead - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
The Walking Dead - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Andrew Lincoln
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 14.94

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, 5 Oct 2012
I won't go into the plots again because they've been covered in detail in the previous reviews on here, but season two is another engrossing story that develops slowly but intriguingly with all kinds of twists and surprises along the way. I'm not sure if it's just my copy, but I found the audio on the low side, and, on reflection, I'm not sure the sometimes grainy photography really makes the extra expense of blu-ray worthwhile (I think I might settle for DVD next time), but the quality is obviously enhanced by the format and it's always very watchable. All in all a really impressive series - roll on season 3!


Paul Temple and Steve (Radio Collection)
Paul Temple and Steve (Radio Collection)
by Francis Durbridge
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 18.35

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant labour of love, 4 Oct 2012
Re-made by a team of today, but using vintage sound effects, music and microphones, this is a brilliant tribute to the wonderful era of Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury. The story itself - featuring glamorous nightclubs, shady characters and numerous red herrings - is typical of the genre, but it's all done with such impressive attention to detail and great charm. I loved every minute of this and just hope the BBC make several more of these.


iZKABasics - High Speed HDMI to HDMI 1M Cable - 24K Gold Connectors - For Use With SKY HD, Blu-Ray, DVD, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Mini Computer, Philips, Toshiba, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Vizio, Sony, Apple TV, Plasma LCD LED HD TV, Virgin Box etc - Type A to Type A - 1.4V Supports Ethernet / 3D / Audio Return (Life Time Warranty)
iZKABasics - High Speed HDMI to HDMI 1M Cable - 24K Gold Connectors - For Use With SKY HD, Blu-Ray, DVD, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Mini Computer, Philips, Toshiba, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Vizio, Sony, Apple TV, Plasma LCD LED HD TV, Virgin Box etc - Type A to Type A - 1.4V Supports Ethernet / 3D / Audio Return (Life Time Warranty)
Offered by iBox Ltd
Price: 2.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, great item, 4 Oct 2012
I bought a blu-ray player recently and they tried to get me to spend 20 more on a cable like this. I'm so glad I resisted. This is a bargain - it does exactly what it's supposed to, with no discernible difference in quality compared to more expensive products. Excellent.


Integral NEON 4GB USB Drive - Pink
Integral NEON 4GB USB Drive - Pink
Price: 5.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful, 3 Oct 2012
These sticks are so useful. You can buy them in a range of colours, which is a great help as I used to forget what I had on each one, and they hold plenty of documents and a/v files. Nice and light and easy to carry around, they do the job very well and look nice, too!


Raised Eyebrows - My Years Inside Groucho's House (Expanded Edition)
Raised Eyebrows - My Years Inside Groucho's House (Expanded Edition)
by Steve Stoliar
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 3 Oct 2012
This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a while. The author worked for Groucho during the last couple of years of the great man's life, mainly sorting through his archive and helping deal with fan letters and inquiries, and he recalls that experience with great clarity, vividness and insight. We learn what it was like inside the comedian's home, we learn about the benevolent and malevolent figures who impinged on his life and work, and we discover the sad final months when war seemed to break out over his legacy before the poor man had even passed away. It's all told in such an engaging way that you really have the feeling you're there, back in the 1970s, spying on a frail legend. It's touching, amusing and moving, and I didn't want to reach the end. Recommended for all fans of Groucho and the Marx Brothers.


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