Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Michael McIntyre: Not just a funny man!

I had a rather depressing morning!

As my continued love for audio books grows, I have taken to the genre of comedy. My latest download being the auto biography of Michael McIntyre, "Life and Laughing".

Certainly one of my favorite comedians today, I was delighted when I started listening to the book, that it was in fact also narrated by the funny man himself.

The opening chapters have been amusing and the story of Michael's life is tremendously well told and filled, as you would expect, with numerous and humorous anecdotes.

I have listened to this book while walking on the street (being conscious of literally laughing out loud and how that looks to passers by) and also while driving to work and back. My desire to hear more of this story each day has prolonged my commute as I have deliberately slowed down my driving.

I jumped in the car this morning and the wonders of Bluetooth, Samsung and Jaguar all worked together to start Michael talking automatically. "Chapter 13" were the first words I heard. "What tales would Michael have collected for this unlucky number" I thought to myself. Until now, the book had been tremendously successful in recounting a host of self deprecating stories of Michael's life to the age of 17. Each day I have left my car with a spring in my step and a broad smile on my face as I took pleasure at poor Michael's challenges as a youth.

As I set off on the road to work, I settled down in the slow lane and listened intently. The chapter focused on Michael's relationship with his father. They had lived apart for many years following a divorce and Michael's father was living far away in the USA. The tone of this chapter took a turn from the others. It was emotional and heartfelt and took on a seriousness the previous pages did not have. You could feel Michael's pain in being apart from his father for extended periods, and as the chapter moves on, it culminates in the sudden death of his father while in the United States and away from the children he adored. For me, listening, it became a struggle to concentrate on the road. The re-telling of these events from Michael was heart wrenching. There was a somber tone and as I held myself together, I was expecting Michael to break down while telling his story. He didn't! He remained composed and serious and conveyed an amazing amount of emotion and feeling.

I stepped out of the car feeling somber and quite shaken, but also tremendously moved by what I had just heard. It was the same as it would have been if a close friend had shared a very private story with me ... but then, after all, it was just me and Michael in the car.

The chapters' telling has affected my entire day ... which is why I feel compelled to write this blog entry this afternoon, as I have to get this heaviness off my shoulders.

I also mean this to be a testimony and compliment to Michael McIntyre. I have admired him as a stand up comedian. As I have been going through his book, I was beginning to admire him as an author and an excellent narrator, but he deserves astonishing credit for what he has achieved in chapter 13. He has stepped away from his comfort zone, dug deep, shared and given us readers (or listeners) a profound look into a very personal and private part of his life. He moved from being just a funny man to being an eloquent writer who can move peoples emotions with words on a page. A rare talent!

My congratulations to you Michael and my condolences to you on the loss of your father,. My thanks to you for making me laugh and cry and providing me with so much joy in whatever form you perform.

I can't wait to go home today and listen to chapter 14!

Sunday, May 11, 2014


It has been quite a depressing few weeks on the news.
Flight MH370, the Korean ferry disaster, civil war in South Sudan and of course the ongoing troubles in Ukraine.
With all of this and a number of other tragic and depressing stories we are bombarded with every day, I am overwhelmed by the plight of several hundred innocent schoolgirls. A news story that overshadows all others.
Boko Haram has been terrorising Nigeria for a number of years now. There has been much talk and little visible action against them. hundreds have died in cowardly attacks on civilian targets and this information typically passes through the international news within about 24 hours.
But about 4 weeks ago, Boko Haram carried out their most unforgivable crime yet. A pathetic and unbelievably cowardly act of kidnapping 200 school girls in northern Nigeria.
Terrorism, in any form, is a low down despicable act in any case, but this action is unforgivable beyond compare. How does anyone consider this an act that carried any form of justification? The people involved have to be callous beyond belief and have no place to live within humane society.
The leader of Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for this heinous crime and made a feeble attempt to justify it by saying that women should not be educated ... so the answer? Kidnap innocent girls from loving families and sell them off as slaves! These sick animals (who don't deserve to be referenced as "human beings") themselves do not deserve a place among any society.
These criminals dress in military garb and try to portray themselves as a hard line organisation choose to pick on perhaps the weakest and most vulnerable target imaginable. This is nothing less than weak and cowardly.
Thank god the international press did not let this incident pass as easily as those in the past and the world has been forced to sit up and take notice. Stronger powers have decided not to sit back, but are now sending in assistance to Nigeria to help the country deal with the despicable Boko Haram and hopefully find and free these small girls.
One can only wonder and fear how these girls must be feeling in their forced captivity, and I dread to think how they are being treated all these past days (we just hope they are still alive).
I only hope that the unbelievably low depths to which Boko Haram has now sunk will prove to be their undoing. Their insanity driving them to a point which is too far for anyone to accept and now serious and permanent action will be taken.

While I fear the chance is remote, let's hope that their downfall can also see the schoolgirls recovered without any serious harm and a permanent end to terrorism in the country.
My thoughts go out to all those girls and their parents back at home. To give them the strength to get through this unimaginable ordeal.