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The Twitter fight that may become a one-night Edinburgh Fringe event

(A version of this piece was published in the Huffington Post and on the Indian website We Speak News)

Janey Godley before her first play opened in New York, 2007

Here in Milan, mosquito bite mania has spiralled out-of control with searches on the internet turning up vinegar and banana skins as possible remedies for my multifarious sores.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Janey Godley Twitter mania seems to be spiralling.

The real Tim leaves the Virgin train at the saga’s end

Three weeks ago, my Scottish comedian chum was on a train and heard an argument between a couple called Tim and Freya (their real names) which started even before the Virgin train had left the station and continued pretty much throughout the journey.

Knowing I am not an everyday Twitter follower, she tweeted me from the train carriage to take a look at her ongoing live commentary #traintales on the relationship disaster happening before her very eyes/ears. I was agog as the saga unfolded and I was not alone.

Janey got an enormous number of people following the soap opera as she Twitter reported it live and many re-Tweeted her tale to their own followers as it unfolded. That was three weeks ago.

Then, last Friday, both the Guardian and the Independent newspapers ran pieces about the saga and the thing went viral with people suddenly blogging and Tweeting about it and, between them, Janey’s blog and Tumblr and Storify got over one million hits between them in three days.

“I think it’s the first time a Twitter fight went viral,” Janey told me, “and I got lots of interest from the big agencies and news folk and it opened a debate about personal privacy because I had used the couple’s real names.

“I am planning to dramatise it into a 40 minute play and perform it for one night only at the Edinburgh Fringe next month. Anthony Alderson at the Pleasance venue wants to stage it. Ricky Wilson, the lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs wanted to play Tim but can’t and Alan Carr wants a cameo but probably won’t make it – he and I are still hoping he can, though.

“I want to do it as one night work in progress event and I know how to adapt the tweets into a dramatic stage play. My daughter Ashley Storrie will be the ticket collector who makes the asides which I made in my original tweets and there are other watchers and the audience will be invited to tweet throughout the play.

“It will be the first time a Twitter fight has been made into a play…”

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Filed under Relationships, Sex, Trains, Travel, Twitter

I felt my heterosexuality under threat at Bob Slayer’s Edinburgh Fringe preview show in London Comedy Cafe last night

Yesterday: Do I look like I’m Topping?

Do I look gay?

Last night, for the second time in my life, I was mistaken for Michael Topping of the gay comedy duo Topping & Butch. This time, the culprit was comedian Nick Sun who, in an admittedly dark corner of London’s Comedy Cafe mistook me for Michael.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being gay and certainly nothing wrong with being mistaken for either Topping or Butch. They are both very very nice people. I first met them a few years ago at the monthly gay club they ran in Brighton.

Look – I was there because I was giving my Glaswegian comedy chum Janey Godley a lift from London to Brighton, alright?

Does Michael Topping look like he’s suave John Fleming here?

I was at the Comedy Cafe last night to see the first of anarchic Bob Slayer’s Edinburgh Fringe previews/tryouts for his Heroes of Alternative Comedy acts. He is running the Hive venue in Edinburgh this year, as part of his Alternative Fringe under the banner of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.

The Hive hosted an eclectic bunch of performers last year, from Phil Kay to Kunt and The Gang. This year, Phil Kay will be back at the Hive with the likes of “internet-sensation” Devvo, the much blogged-about Lewis Schaffer and last year’s Malcolm Hardee Awards co-host David Mills. The line-up was announced yesterday.

Bob Slayer – beyond compere at the Comedy Cafe last night

Last night’s Hive headliners at the Comedy Cafe were Trevor Lock and the seemingly short-sighted Nick Sun. Next Monday night, it’s the Greatest Show on Legs strutting their stuff.

Bob’s Alternative Fringe at the Hive is an interesting combination of the ‘free’ show and the ‘paid’ show models. Unlike traditional venues in Edinburgh and elsewhere, the PBH Free Fringe and the Laughing Horse Free Festival do not charge acts to rent their venues and the audiences do not pay to get in; they can pay what they like (or nothing) at the end of the shows, depending on how much they enjoy them.

With his Alternative Fringe at the Hive, Bob will be promoting £5 shows in the evening and free shows in the afternoon.

He says:

“If you want to pay £12 to see a show where the artist is more than likely going into debt while the promoter and venue make a profit and there’s no bar and the sweet smell of desperation coats the walls all sponsored by Richard Branson, then you have plenty of Fringe venues to choose from. However, if you want to see a Fringe show where the artist is actually getting paid and happy, where the price to get in is either £5 or free, where there is a well-stocked bar and in place of a Virgin Bank sign there is condom vending machine… well, we’re your alternative.”

It all sounds very gay.

In the original meaning of the word.

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Filed under Comedy, Gay

British Airways PR… BA = Bloody Awful

BA spells bad service

I had forgotten how awful British Airways are.

I remember flying with them to Dublin when they were trying to take-on the budget airlines. Their answer was to fly old aircraft and chop one third off the width of some of the seats. You could see where they’d done it. You had to be a contortionist or a famine victim to travel comfortably.

When I flew out to China three weeks ago, British Airways had (no surprise here) managed to over-book the flight, so they downgraded me a class. As a Scot brought up among Jews, I did not particularly mind, as they gave me £75 compensation and said the difference in price on the tickets would be refunded.

The difference in the ticket price, of course, has not yet been refunded, but what is more interesting is the way they gave me the £75, which was to hand me a British Airways Visa card with £75 on it. They told me I could withdraw the money through any ATM and, although I would normally have to pay for ATM withdrawals, the first withdrawal would be free in this case.

It was not until I got back home to the UK that I realised ATMs dispense money in £10 or £20 notes, not £5 notes. So I can withdraw £70 but not £75. I emailed British Airways over a week ago asking how to get round this problem. I imagine I could somehow pay an extra £5 into the account (though I am not sure how, as the card is not linked to any known bank or bank account) but then, if I withdraw £80, that might count as a second piece of dealing with the card so I might be charged for withdrawing the money?

Who knows?

With BA, anything is possible.

They are trying to foist their Visa cards on people who have not asked for them and presumably intentionally make if difficult to cash any compensation money they allegedly give you.

As I say, I contacted BA more than a week ago by e-mail – because contacting anyone who will admit to responsibility by phone is apparently impossible. No reply. So their attempt to cultivate good PR has resulted in me thinking they are incompetent and/or possibly devious wankers.

This image of BA was not helped by talking to my friend Lynn, who used to work in PR for several TV companies and who travels Business Class. She tells me that, having paid an extortionate amount of money for a Business Class seat, you may find yourself sitting staring at some random BA staff member on flights. It has happened to her. BA’s response? Tough shit. I paraphrase their response but do not misrepresent it.

“In World Traveller Class and in Business Class,” she told me this week, “the crew fold-down seats, which the crew use during take-off and landing, can be given to any BA staff who want to travel on the flight. So you can literally find yourself staring someone in the face in a very unrelaxed way for the whole of the journey. You can’t easily settle down when you’re eyeballing someone else and you can’t stretch your legs out.

“They’re allowing BA staff to use them for the whole of the flight if there are no spare seats. Which, for one thing, doesn’t seem very safe and, for another, means you’re not getting the leg room you’ve paid through the nose for.”

This reinforces my image of BA.

BA = Bloody Awful…

Frankly, I’d rather fly in a North Korean Air Koryo Tupolev smelling of petrol fumes; at least they try their best.


Filed under Marketing, PR, Travel

Virgin Media re-defines the word “virgin”

I am now moving to Sky TV for my broadband. Even if their signal drops 50% of the time, it will be better than Virgin Media who have a broadband that works around 30% of the time and staff who appear to have graduated in bullshitting from the University of Lies. Perhaps Virgin Media are showing their community involvement and attempting to help the country in general by training a future generation of politicians. It’s unusual for a Virgin to be so experienced in screwing people.

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Filed under Consumer Affairs