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Kitty Cointreau’s Bra Ha Ha!

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photo

It isn’t often these days that we get out to see live entertainment, so when we do, we always hope it will be something pretty awesome.And this time we were certainly not disappointed!  And here’s why:

Kitty Cointreau and her troupe of glittery lovelies have been touring the country for over a year, gaining highly favourable reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. On the bill that night were such graceful figures as Raven Lenore, Cherry Shakewell, Vendetta Vain and Florence Fontaine.

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Firstly we were introduced by the host for the night, Wil Hodgeson.  He was a good host, interesting and just funny enough.  It is a difficult balance to get right, as Dave Twentyman will tell you.  It is bad form to be funnier than the comedians you are introducing.

Burlesque Compere

Then the curtain went up to reveal Vendetta Vain’s balloon act, which was quite a site.  Apart from one minor nipple tassel malfunction she did very well.

Burlesque 1

Hot on her stilletto heels was comedian Phil Ellis.  He had a good dry wit, a sense of timing and I had noticed, great shoes. Cherry Shakewell‘s truly awesome act followed, a shower of gold and glitter with herself as the centrepiece.

Burlesque 5

After a short break we were entertained by Oli Carey, a young, up and coming Comedienne

Then we were introduced to the purring sex kitten herself.  Ms Cointreau put on an amazing performance with grace and true elegance.

By a mile, the best Comedian of the night was Duncan Oakley, who’s slightly drunk and wired performance had us in hysterics.

So, it was a few days later that I managed to catch up with the fine lady herself and ask her a question:

Burlesque 3

What have been your career highlights so far?

The 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was BraHaHa’s second full run of the festival – with more than twenty shows in a very concentrated period. We attracted a lot of press attention and were featured in the Edinburgh Festivals Magazine, The Guardian, The Scotsman, Telegraph, and received so many great reviews. We built a lovely fan base too who kept coming to see the show night after night. We had so many big names on the bill and I was proud to close the show every night. As stressful and tiring as it was, it was a great pleasure and I have so many great memories from that festival. I also performed many guest slots around the festival, including Best of the Fest, Chortle’s Fast Fringe, Kabarett, the List Magazine’s opening press launch and compering the press launch for our venue, Just the Tonic, with The Culture Show present.
Kitty in vintage bathtub by Kate Donovan

So, after all that I think she has earned a long soak in the bath.

So, you can catch up with all the performers on Facebook by following the links.

Photo credits to Grace Elkin and Kate Donovan

Written by Nick Gilmartin

March 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

We Are Getting Married

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Well you lot,I have a little announcement

After 12 years together, myself and my partner, Claire are finally getting married.  I know, about time too, says you.

 

We moved in together in late 2002, and finally got engaged in 2005.  Of course, a lot of things happened after that such as a crippling recession that put our lives on hold for years.  But things are picking up now and I finally have consistent work with a good company.

 

We are getting married out in Cyprus, because my mum lives there now.  She has been appointed Wedding Planner, as she is in the area, and knows everybody.  I think we are going with a Catholic church, as there is a nice one in Paphos with a restaurant next door that caters for large parties.

 

This means we get a little sunshine and the country appeals to a Classicist such as me.  So I wil keep you posted on the developments as they come in.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Life and stuff

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It is very rare that you get a personal post out of me.  The reason I am doing one now is just to take stock of my life, check how far I have come and double-check where the hell I am going.

Our story starts way back at the end of 2008.  Your intrepid hero here, was working as a manager within the hospitality side of a exclusive Golf and country club.  It was a great job and I enjoyed it a lot.

I had heard on the news something about a recession hitting America, which must suck.  A few companies had gone under and Wall street was starting to resemble the panic of 1929.  Now this was a little worrying, but still nothing really to do with me and mine.  The TV was full of pictures of people suddenly devoid of jobs, with huge debts and no savings or insurance to fall back on.
Like the Tsunami of 2005 I figured this was all pretty awful but still very far away and ultimately nothing to do with me.  Then the recession hit Britain with the force of an economic hurricane, destroying all in it’s path.  People in some industries were being made redundant, not in tens or twenties but in their hundreds, and even thousands.  Businesses, often high street names, were folding at a rate of one a day.  It was shocking and bewildering, especially to someone with a sense of history who had seen all this happen before.

Then one day I found a letter from the management in my pigeonhole.  I was one of three people selected to be made redundant at the end of the month, which happened to be December.

This was completely unexpected, and thoroughly frightening.  I had been doing really well at my job and had learned how to run large functions in a relatively short time.  And now my skills were no longer needed, simple as that.  They simply couldn’t afford to keep me on.

I knew the big executive cars in the car park were getting fewer and fewer.  The Golf club had just paid out millions to build a hotel extension on it’s side, and now had been caught short.

With a pay-off of barely two weeks wages I was let go the day before Christmas eve.  You have got to love the Dickensian twist on that one.

By sheer luck my better half knew of a guy at a small hotel chain who needed a night-desk receptionist for his premises. Naturally I took it while I looked out for something else.  But it was quickly clear that there was nothing else.  Nothing at all.

So I set to work every night, on my own in pitch blackness.  Naturally I hated every minute, and simply could not adjust to such an inactive role after management.  I sat and wrote my blog, as you can see through my posts of 2009.  Some of my best writing was done at 04.00, fueled by some very strong coffee.  You can probably tell.

After nine months I was promoted to day-time supervisor, which was much better.  I felt I was finally getting back to somewhere like where I was.  I had a huge restaurant and bar to look after, and a lot of responsibility.

About this time we were intending to relocate from Oxfordshire to Warwickshire, to be closer to my partner’s parents.  They had not been well the past year and it would hopefully be cheaper to live up there, and find work.

Indeed we did find a home to rent just around the corner from her parents, at a surprisingly cheap rate.  We both found jobs at a local pub and hotel.  We settled into the town with little trouble, but not into the jobs.  It is difficult to say why, but we just didn’t fit.  We came from a different culture with a different style of management.  The new place was run with a rod of iron, even though the end product was not great quality.

I began a desperate search for something better somewhere else.  But therein lay the problem.  Our new town was positioned between three cities containing well over fifty decent size hotels and clubs.  Yet jobs were rare any applying for work had somehow become a nightmare.  Literally hundreds of people were applying for every single position, no matter how small, or part time.

My current job was simply unbearable so I decided to take a gamble and do agency work for a while.  Now this would be an experience.  It was wholly manual labour, and very demanding at that.  While I had stamina, I had no remarkable physical strength.  Suddenly I found myself emptying trucks and lifting packages of every size and shape at all hours of night and day.  It was very hard work, but I had nothing else so I could not complain.

As so often happens with agency work (as I found out) I got a phone call to say I was no longer required there.  No reason given, beyond that they were a bit quiet there at the minute.  So I applied to another agency.  From now on I would be packing internet orders for a well known British high street shopping chain.  I packed everything from dresses to toys to christmas gifts.  Then suddenly after christmas it tailed off completely, for over six weeks.  Now this really left me out on a limb.  I had no money, no work and no prospects of getting a job.  I applied and applied, stating my numerous qualifications and years of experience, but somehow nobody seemed interested.  I was so scared and bewildered.  It just didn’t make sense, I had done nothing wrong, but I was an outcast.
As a person, I changed.  I must have been unbearable to live with.  I became prone to outbursts of temper, deep, dark moods, and attacks of panic every time I checked my bank balance.  One day when another agency cancelled my shift again, I sat at home on my own and screamed at the top of my lungs for maybe ten minutes.  I had just had enough.

Even now, writing this, I feel haunted by that day.  I had known people who had committed suicide, and had seen the devastation it caused their families.  It was only that knowledge that kept me from ending it.

The calls from the bank came daily and more persistently.  I just couldn’t get through to them that I could not pay bills with no income.  But, through family help and sheer bloody-minded persistence I managed to scrape work here and there.

I took an assymetrical move back into hospitality by becoming a chef.  Something I never really wanted to be.  At first I wasn’t very good.  I had trouble prioritizing and committing menus to memory.  Luckily my head chef was no overbearing Ramsey type, and very patient with me.  Mostly because I never refused a shift and would change my plans at the drop of a hat.

At the same time I was still doing agency work as a packer for an internet sales company.  But work came in drip form and money was tight

But I just kept chipping away and I found another job as a chef for a small garden centre cafe at weekends.  I held this down while still doing two other jobs, and barely scraping to survive.  Then a chef went out sick and I was required to cover two more days a week, which was just fine.  The new kitchen was much harder, however and required a level of skill that I did not possess at this stage.  Although my new chef and manager were great people and true professionals, I knew I was letting them down.  Also, I needed to find a job with a full time contract, somewhere, somehow.

For a long time, none seemed to be forthcoming.  Your applications just seemed to get lost without a trace.  Other interviewers who saw me would smilingly offer a zero hours contract.  This meant they could drop you like a stone at zero notice.

The summer of 2012 and very miserable and suited my mood entirely.  As desperately as I tried, I just could not make enough money to pay the bills.

Around this time two of my biggest character strengths began to pay off.  Firstly I have huge physical endurance.  This let me just go on working without getting ill or overly tired.  Secondly, I have a sheer bloody minded refusal to quit anything I start.  If you show patience, sooner or later, the other guy will blink, or get bored and make a mistake.

A vacancy came up for a chef at Birmingham airport.  I heard about it through a friend, who put my case forward to the powers that be.  In an echo of an earlier episode of my life a long line of “no’s” ended up with a  guy taking one look at me and saying “yeah, alright.” and put me on a trial.

The job itself was right up my street, cooking food fresh and fast.  But the hours were hideous, and still are.  But I adjusted my life to suit.  The only other problem was my security clearance that took a lot of work.  They needed a full career history of everything I had done for everybody for the last five years.  Now this took some doing, and involved taking two weeks off work while it was all sorted out.  But now it is done and I am a bona fide chef for a very good company with international perks.

So, on that note I am downgrading my state of personal emergency to a code yellow.  I am looking forward to 2013 and maybe getting my life back in some sort of order.  I may even return to writing.
Be good, you lot.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Twitter, a beginner’s guide

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Twitter is one of the most used social networking sites of modern time. Along with facebook it now has millions of users worldwide. Not only is it the forum for the average person, but als0 for film stars, celebrities, sports people, statesmen, journalists and activists.

It has become the must-have online accessory, everybody who is somebody has to have one, and use it at least ten times a day.

Not only that, it has had a powerful impact on public relations, leveling the playing field between celebrities and us poor folk. Suddenly we are getting their life stories, minute by minute, and usually straight from the horses mouth.

More Journalists are posting to their twitter account than going to the newsroom. On Sky News the other week they just showed a twitterstream rather than trying to describe the news in question.

(I will explain the twitterstream thing in a minute)

Twitter was invented in 2007 by a small brainstorming group from the podcasting company Odeo. The idea was to work on extra small, constantly updated blog posts that could work like a text message. A short message, or a ‘tweet’ can consist of no more than 140 characters, be they letters, or punctuation. They can also be used for internet links.

So to get started, type in www.twitter.com into your URL bar and follow the simple instructions. Believe me it is pretty easy.

Then what?

Then you have to find people to follow. They may be friends, relatives, football teams or celebrities. Use the search engine to find them. In addition, when you first join, you can use a feature to check your email address book for anyone with a twitter account, and it adds them automatically.

So how does Twitter work?

Imagine your town high street, completely empty. Now imagine someone walking down the street toward you. They may be a follower. If someone walks past you, up the street they are someone you are following. The more people you follow, the more people are likely to follow you back. Now the high street is filling with people all walking up and down the street. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the twitterstream.

How can it help you?

Well in lots of ways. You can use it to make friends and influence people, you can promote yourself, your products or your interests. Some people use it for flirting and dating, others have found a good support network in the twitterstream.

Where can I use Twitter?

Wherever you like, as it works via PC, Mac, iPhones and any relevant Apple technology. You can take it anywhere and it operates worldwide, 24 hours a day.

How do I post pictures?

You can use various other sites to post pics to twitter, such as moby.com or lockerz.com but in truth it is easier just to use twitter’s own photo uploader. All they ask is that you keep it tasteful and don’t post anything offensive.

How do I post links?

Knowing how to post a link to a website is a vital skill. It magically teleports people from twitter to your website, which should be your real shop window. To start, you have to have your web page up in a separate window. Then you copy and paste the link to twitter, write a brief description, and send the tweet.

Links can, of course, be very long so you can use the site http://www.tinyurl.com to shorten the URL which gives you more room to type a description.

What are hashtags?

They hash key looks like this # Before twitter is was one of the most under employed keys on the board. When twitter came along the hash key found itself in an exciting new role, as a digital sheepdog. On twitter, people talk about all manner of subjects constantly. To get people who want to talk about the same thing together you need a hash tag. For example, if a news story came up, and you wanted to tweet about it, you could type:

#News Has anybody heard anything about this?

Or if you wanted to talk to people about a programme on TV running live you use the name of the show as the hashtag:

#Frozenplanet Those penguins are cute, I want one.

Often they will now flash up the hashtag at the start of the show.

What is Follow Friday?

It is just a networking opportunity for people to meet more people to follow. Use the hashtag #FF or #Followfriday and type in the names of people you wish to include. They then do the same with people they want to include and you find new mutual friends to follow. It is like mingling at a party.

Is there much Spam?

Sadly there is an awful lot of people who want to sell you things, loan you money or get you to sign up to their site. Usually it will be a photo of a girl in a bikini with an absurd sounding name with four numbers behind it, this is the giveaway. Ignore this person completely, and block them.

Are there many stalkers about?

There are a few, so follow the online safety guide. Do not respond to provocative tweets, no matter how offensive. They just draw you into a stupid pointless argument.  For more information please watch this documentary by Richard Bacon of the BBC:

Is Twitter safe for kids?

In all honesty, I would not recommend Twitter to anybody under at least 16 years of age for the reasons I have outlined above.

So that is my starter’s guide, I hope it is of some use to you and any feedback is always appreciated.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

March 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Gifts for Women

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Now this is something we guys seem to do rather badly, for reasons that seem genetic rather than practical.  We are born to be bad gift givers, and we are just in denial about the whole thing.  So for the lady in your life, be it your mum, wife, girlfriend or sister, here are a few tips.

1.  Just ask her what she wants.  It’s that simple, then you know she will be happy with the purchase.

2. If you are buying underwear for your good lady make sure you write down the exact sizes on a piece of paper and take it with you.  And always keep the receipt, as you can guarantee she will take it back and change it.

So what do women like?  Well if you need me to tell you I think you had better get out and learn a little about your spouse.

Firstly perfume is always a safe bet.  If she has a favourite or an aspirational brand you know it will be a sure fire hit.  Just don’t, for heavens sake, try and go for anything cheap, it just won’t work.

Expanding on that there is always the gift packs of toiletries and lotions from the body shop.  Coconut smelling stuff always seems to be popular.  Most of their products are fair trade so if she is into all that you will be a hero.

If you feel the need to take the tricky step of buying underwear for the good lady then Christmas is a better time to buy than Valentines day.  At Christmas you have more money to spend and new lines are usually brought out then.  If you wait till Valentines day you will still be paying off Christmas and the department stores use it as a clearance sale.

If you can, shop as La Senza or a decent boutique.  If your pockets run as deep as mine, then Marks & Spencers are inexpensive and very attractive.

One word of advice:  avoid Ann Summers, it is full of tacky shit that hasn’t been updated since the nineties.  Unless you are getting something for the secret santa at work or you are trying to ditch said girlfriend, avoid, avoid, avoid.

Getting the lady alcohol isn’t a bad option, but again, don’t get anything cheap.  BHS do some nice gift packs that you can give as a stocking filler.

In view of the current weather maybe it would be a good idea to get her some gloves, a hat or a scarf.  Or even a new coat if you need ideas for a main present.

Finally if she has a sweet tooth look around W H Smiths, Thorntons, or Hotel Chocolat.  The last one is the one I recommend, they have some wonderful new lines and gift packs.

Next thing, wrapping and presentation count for everything, and they can make or break a Christmas morning.  If you need hints on how to gift wrap follow this video.

If not then don’t worry, just buy gift bags you can seal.  No worries.

Right guys and girls, get all that done and get down to the serious business of enjoying yourself!

Merry Christmas

Nick

Written by Nick Gilmartin

December 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Shopping, Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Topic of the month: Christmas gifts

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Presents

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of year again when we start scouring the shops for gifts for our loved ones.  I know, it seems to get earlier every year, does it not?  Well in these straightened times we all have to plan our spending well in advance so I thought I would get this article in before your next paycheque.

 

The Whisky shop sign

For the Whisky aficionados  among us there is one ideal place to shop and that is www.whiskyshop.com for the most rare and exciting brands.

Not only whisky, but they have an extensive range of hip-flasks, cigars and books on the topic of our favourite tipple.

But the right whisky can only be served in the right tumbler.  A set of decent crystal tumblers can be found at John Lewis or Debenhams .

Waterford Crystal John Rocha

The John Rocha designed Waterford Crystal tumblers are available at your local John Lewis for £63 for a pair.

For an equally spectacular drinking vessel go down to your local Debenhams to gaze up on the Royal Doulton collection.  They offer six Dorchester tumblers for £75.00

At the cheaper end of the scale John Lewis also do six 22cl tumblers at £10.75.

If the Whisky lover in your life is also a bookworm, or just looking to expand their knowledge of Whisky origins and products then there are several full-colour hardback books out on the market.

Michael Jackson World of Whisky

Whisky: The definitive world guide pretty much does what it says on the tin.  It covers Whisky from Bourbon to the Scottish Highlands to the rolling hills of Antrim.  The book combines a dedicated knowledge of the product with outstanding photography to produce the finest Whisky guide on the market.

Whisky bible

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is a pocket sized annually updated guide to all that is new and exciting about the world of whisky.  Less bulky than the definitive guide, it is a handy size to take on your trip around Scotland.

Now if recently hit the jackpot or you just have the cash to splash and fancy a weekend break there are several whisky tours that are available all year round.

From a short weekend in Edinburgh to an 8-day tour around the Highlands and Islands there is a tour for every wallet.

http://www.whisky-tours.com/

So good luck with your Christmas shopping and I will be back later this week with some more ideas for family gifts.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

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He’s been away a while

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This shot pretty much summed up my week

This shot pretty much summed up my week

Hi Boys and Girls,

Sorry I have been away a while.  I was actually in Dublin for a few days researching my new book.  Nah, that’s a lie, it was the plan anyway.  In fact all we did was chill out, spend time with friends, eat good food and drink a hell of a lot of Guinness.  It is good stuff, very nice, and I totally recommend it.

We also saw Dave McSavage performing his stuff live on the streets of Dublin.  Have a look here:

When we came back we had a few days with our respective families too, and caught up with loads of people we had not seen in ages.  Good times had by all.

So what now?  Well I have decided that my blog has been concentrated on the dull, serious stuff for way too long.  I missed the last Grand Prix too (unforgivable) because I was elsewhere and it is a bit pointless adding it now.

But coming up next we have an interview with Comedian and Model Jessica Delfino, fresh from her ordeal of touring Britain.

We also meet Scream Queen Ryli Morgan who will be lifting the lid on what goes on behind the scenes of a horror film.  And after that, who knows?  But I promise I will leave the serious journalism stuff behind now for the rest of the year, nobody read it anyway.

Take care people,

Nick

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 2, 2009 at 1:09 pm