Back to the beginning….

It’s been another difficult spell for me mentally, so a consequence of that is that I’ve withdrawn temporarily from the stand up comedy world. Not been in the best frame of mind. One gig had to be binned because I was struggling. Lockdown weariness I think it’s called.

But I thought it was time to return to the beginning, when I did my first live gig in January 2020. That night, I stood there as UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and it went really well.

I hadn’t done a complete impression set for a while so thought I would do so last night at another online gig where I made my debut just recently. I felt in the right frame of mind too, as a recent stressful event concluded to my satisfaction and I was ready to go.

I looked at the line up. I was on second to last. The standard was excellent as usual and I was a little nervous. I had the script and the Boris wig to hand, but…….

The MC, who did a superb job, caught me slightly unawares by cutting to me early. I was fiddling around getting my virtual background to work, when she said “Ian Fullbrook”. Aaaaargh. What a start. I got the background up, the wig on and the promoter then told me my sound was off. A fleeting thought that this will bomb horribly, but no.

After that slight problem, I settled in, the voice was good, the material was good and the laughter was sweet music once again. And boy did I need that pick me up. What did settle me down was the promoter involving me in his magic set at the start of the second half. He is a very accomplished magician and the banter between us had the audience in stitches….totally unplanned and unscripted but fantastic to be involved. His magic trick was a mind reading one and the end result had us all in raptures.

The after show saw some interesting discussion around mental health. I poured out my soul to the remaining audience about the problems I’ve been having. It was very therapeutic and good to get some kind and supportive words too.

This morning, the promoter got in touch and again, was very supportive and kind with his words about my set. Others have got in touch too and I feel lighter. The feeling when a stressful event ends is like nothing else. You feel so much better, as though you’re breathing in clean air. I have peace and quiet around me for the foreseeable future and I am so pleased.

So back on the comedy horse again and pleased to be doing so. Looking forward to performing live in front of an audience when these lockdown restrictions are further lifted here in the UK. Also the weather has been fabulous the last few days here in London so that is an enormous boost to the well being.

Take care.

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

Rotten apples in the barrel….

Hi. How are we all doing? I’ve perked up after a very difficult three months and life is a little better. Stand up comedy nights are obviously not happening at the moment, but with technology and social media so prevalent these days, there are virtual comedy nights going round.

I’ve been invited to perform at a couple of these virtual nights but haven’t done so so far. It’s a good job I didn’t link up to the last one as regrettably, it fell prey to online hackers who, in their game of pass the brain cell around, decided to wreck the night and cause it to be abandoned.

As we know, there’s always the rotten apples in the barrel that spoil it for everyone else. And it wasn’t the only incident to happen last week. Another stand up promoter had his online stand up night wrecked in exactly the same fashion.

The upshot is that security will be much more stringent and that will hopefully keep the idiots at bay. We live in very strained times, what with the Covid 19 pandemic and race issues coming to the surface. Everyone is edgy and jittery and the pressure cooker is just about this side of blowing up completely. That’s why we need comedy to keep us smiling and in a good mood. Unfortunately, some don’t share those values.

I’ll take part in a future virtual night once I feel able to get the creative juices flowing and to enjoy the experience. Meanwhile, it’s good to feel a little better generally after a very difficult spell for me personally.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

Mental Health Awareness Week

This current week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the image above reflects the fact that not enough attention has been paid to the mental health of us all during these very tough times.

Certainly, I’ve been struggling over the last two months, with the correlation between mental and physical health never more striking. I’ve had copious amounts of headaches, an attack of vertigo at the weekend and more than a fair share of really gloomy days.

So we all need to seek help. The mental health system in the UK may well start to get overwhelmed with people wanting to express how they feel in this extraordinary situation. Now with the slight easing of restrictions, those of us who have been cooped up can now at least spend some longer time out of doors and the weather is staying remarkably good here in the UK too. So it might be some time to do a spot of sunbathing and to get some much needed fresh air.

Normally, I would be talking about the stand up comedy world but I’ve been out of action like most of my colleagues for the last two months. I’ve been occasionally impersonating the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on video and putting that online. I’m itching to get back on stage and try out a few more comedy ideas. Got some ideas lined up and I hope to inflict those on unsuspecting audiences when we return to action.

As ever, stay safe and get that help if you’re struggling.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

Coronavirus afflicts Prime Minister Boris Johnson….

Yes, this dreadful virus that is affecting most of the world’s population has finally caught up with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson. He only has mild symptoms, but he is self isolating for 14 days.

The Prime Minister himself gives a short video message where he addresses the nation in this hour of need…….

Ian L. Fullbrook

Calmness amongst the turbulence…

Turbulent day weather wise here in London. Lashing rain showers, angry dark skies and a cold, strong wind. Autumn is here folks! While standing at the bus stop watching the leaves being blown about in various directions, I thought it was time to reflect.

Reflect on the turbulence that has tried to throw me completely off course in 2019. But here I still am, despite that. In the last month, I have felt much better and calmer, more relaxed and enjoying life again. I’ve had a great and revitalising holiday. I’ve enjoyed my volunteering stints and being involved once again with spreading the word on mental health. I’ve enjoyed the end of the cricket season, especially watching Essex, my home county, winning the County Championship and the T20 competitions in the space of a week.

It was good to see my CBT counsellor today and explained why I feel so different. Then I went out and about, in the not so glorious weather, bought a book and a warm jumper for winter and then had a bite of lunch.

I feel so good that I am really looking forward to umpiring indoor cricket tomorrow morning. I haven’t umpired indoors for a few years now but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think back to that day on Praia Da Oura beach in Portugal when all the upset and stress ebbed away and into the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Amazing difference in that space of time.

Yep, looking forward to having a good and productive winter where I can get back to doing the things I enjoy, and that I can ignore the darkness and the cold of the season. It won’t be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge.

A.S.D Brooks

Week catching up with me…

It’s been an interesting and varied week. I’ve done some volunteering with SANE, some Peer Support work and watched my home county, Essex, win at cricket, so I’ve been out every day virtually.

I think today was when it all caught up with me. I was at another mental health event with Thrive LDN this time, in the London Bridge area. I had to be out early because as is typical of weekend travel in London, several rail lines were having engineering work done so I had to find an alternative route. Not so bad though this morning, and the walk to the venue was pleasant enough on another lovely Autumn day.

The first half of the session today was good, and I was reasonably fresh and alert, but for the second half, a combination of a hearty lunch and the week’s activities saw my concentration levels drop in what we euphemistically call the “post lunch dip”. Not at my best there. But I met some good people and I enjoyed the day.

Getting home was a trickier business as it took nearly 100 minutes to do an hour’s journey. So I was a touch irritable when I finally made it home. Tomorrow is a day when I can recharge and sleep a bit longer!

So not a bad Saturday but tired.

A.S.D Brooks

Scaling the heights……

Here’s where I was today:-

The Orbit structure at London’s Olympic Park. How did I end up here? Because a staff member at SANE, the UK mental health charity I volunteer for, asked me to support her in cheering on some employees from UK company Roche, who are one of SANE’s biggest fundraisers.

The employees did some abseiling from the very top of the structure, which is about 80-100 feet above ground. There were some very nervous people but they all said that they enjoyed the experience.

Me? Foolishly, I decided to take the lift up to the very top to watch the abseiling in action. One thing I didn’t consider – the speed of the lift. It zooms to the top in 34 seconds and it felt like a very long 34 seconds. I had a bit of a panic as the climb is very steep and the lift speed caught me very unawares. So I took the lift straight back down again! If I can’t even manage a lift, then there’s little chance of me abseiling. I’m ok with heights most of the time, except here!

Wonderful day. The weather was excellent and the company great. You would have to pay me a lot of money to do what the Roche employees did but it was all for a great cause, raising money for mental health awareness. September is rivalling March as one of my favourite months. And that was the first time I visited the Olympic Park. Next summer I shall pay a visit, because there’s plenty of green space, a river and opportunities for a walk and fresh air. And it’s only 8 miles from my area.

It’s been a good week so far. More soon….

A.S.D Brooks

More haste….less speed

A good start to the day today. I’m off to watch cricket at Chelmsford, where Essex are hoping to win to cement their County Championship credentials. The only thing is, I’ve got on the wrong train.

Pulled into Liverpool Street, got my ticket and thought the Inter City service to Norwich was stopping at Chelmsford, which it sometimes does. It was only sitting in my seat when the train guard said that the first stop is Colchester, some 15 minutes further on….oops. So I’ve got to wait at Colchester for a return train to London, so I’m going to be late on parade at the cricket. That’s what happens when you rush, and don’t check the train stopping pattern. Anyway, it’s a nice day, so I’ll have to be late. What a berk.

A.S.D Brooks

Flattery?

Everybody that has met up with me in recent weeks have said one of two things. One – “You’re looking well” or “You’ve got a good suntan”.

Looking well for me can cover a multitude of sins. It’s what’s on the inside that matters. This time, since I achieved that wellness or “suntan”, things are looking ok, as it goes. That holiday to Portugal seems to have done me the world of good, in mind as well as body. Remember I alluded to the fact that laying on the sunbed on the beach, saw all the stresses and strains ebb away from me and out into the vast expanse of the Atlantic? Well, I do seem to be a bit more relaxed and hopeful of better times around the corner.

Of course, there will be the odd bump in the road. Today being a case in point. I had a volunteering stint at SANE to do and I dragged myself out of bed and out of the door. It was a little bit more of an effort than has been the case over the last fortnight. The weather here in the UK has helped, warm Autumn days and clear blue skies. But I needed that push today. And I did the volunteering and feel better for it.

So I’m impressed by the flattering remarks, but it doesn’t always hold true that looking well means a good mindset. But I’m back to doing some stuff around mental health, volunteering, peer support and maybe some presentations….I feel relaxed and able to approach this with more confidence. That’s good for the mind, too, and I like networking with like minded people.

Anyway, this suntan will turn to rust in a few weeks when Autumn turns into Winter. Glad to have some backup Vitamin D to help me on those short and drab days. Also planning another trip away next Spring too. So onwards and upwards….

A.S.D Brooks

In affectionate remembrance….

These are the famous Ashes, competed for by England and Australia since 1885. The Ashes are actually the remains of a bail and the trophy is on display at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

What a summer this has been. England won the Cricket World Cup in extraordinary circumstances in chaotic scenes at Lord’s. Next up it was the old foe, Australia. Nothing stirs the blood of England and Aussie cricket fans quite like the Ashes battles.

This year’s edition was one of the most compelling, exciting and dramatic to be played so far. For the most part, England were outplayed, mainly because of a malfunctioning top order and a very well honed Australian fast bowling attack, and of course, Steve Smith!

But the final result was 2-2. The bowlers were mainly on top, but what most cricket fans will be talking about was the third match of the series, at Headingley. England were seemingly dead and buried after being bowled out for a dismal 67 in their first innings. But the Aussies failed to reckon on one incredible innings from Ben Stokes. Stokes played the innings of his career to fire England towards one of the most amazing wins of all time. The crowd were beside themselves as Stokes singlehandedly guided England home, against all the odds.

Other great moments from the series? The discovery of a powerful England fast bowler, Jofra Archer. His lightning pace and fire put Steve Smith out of action for that third Test and also hit his replacement, Marnus Labuschagne a fearful blow on the head as well. Archer is a fearsome sight, with his easy, graceful run up and explosive pace. The series turned on that rain hit second Test at Lord’s.

Stuart Broad dismissed Aussie opener David Warner seven times in the series. Warner, like Smith and Cameron Bancroft, were constantly reminded of their role in the ball tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket. Warner was given a torrid time by Broad and the crowd were unsympathetic. Broad was magnificent throughout the series after the injury suffered by England’s finest, Jimmy Anderson.

And then onto Steve Smith. In an Australian line up that looked as fragile as England’s, Smith was outstanding. He fidgets, shuffles around and looks throughly ugly at the crease. But his temperament and quality was unquestioned and he was the leading run scorer on either side, by a mile. The Oval crowd gave him a great ovation in the last Test, that finished today. We will see a lot more of him and have to figure out ways to dismiss him. England couldn’t.

Another Aussie hero was fast bowler Pat Cummins. Cummins had a very bad injury some while ago that threatened to end his career. But by sheer willpower and determination, he has risen to the top. He spearheaded the Aussie attack by being constantly hostile, at the England batsmen all the time and commanded respect.

Tim Paine, Australian captain, had a mixed series and couldn’t get his umpire reviews correct very often (of which more later). Joe Root was glad to draw the series 2-2, but England have plenty of problems in their top order. They’ve tried plenty of options but none of them seem to have worked. A better emphasis on four day cricket and the Test side would see players more equipped to play the longer innings required. That won’t happen overnight, of course. But to compete and hopefully beat the Australians on their own patch next time round must be an achievable goal.

And finally, a look at how the umpires performed. From a trained eye, not brilliantly would be an apt description. There were many mistakes on the field, and the ICC have to start looking and training up officials of Test match standard in the next few years. Joel Wilson from the West Indies is not up to scratch, and quite how he has been promoted to the top table is beyond me. Chris Gaffaney and Aleem Dar, though more experienced, also had matches to forget. And even mistakes were not confined to on field. Sri Lankan Ruchira Palliyguruge made two decisions as third umpire where lbw calls indicated bat on ball, but this was ignored by Palliyguruge.

It is difficult for the Test match officials, it is granted, but outside of England and Australia, the umpiring isn’t all that great. And that needs to change. That is a fact.

Anyway, a captivating series ended 2-2, and put Test match cricket where it belongs, at the top. Better than T20 cricket and these ten over leagues that are sprouting up everywhere. The pinnacle of the game, Test cricket. As it should be, always.

A.S.D Brooks