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It’s been another difficult spell for me mentally, so a consequence of that is that I’ve withdrawn temporarily from the stand up comedy world.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

Who needs medication when you can have laughter?

It’s been a tough few months for me personally. The depths of winter, the cold, dark days and the continuation of Covid 19 lockdown here in London has led to a downturn in my well being. I was not communicating with friends, family or stand up comedy colleagues. I wanted to wallow and keep out of the way.

Even earlier this week, I felt pretty abject. But all of a sudden, like a switch being flicked, I feel better again. And so that leads onto the latest online stand up comedy gig that I did last night.

This particular night is regularly frequented by me, and I had a fresh lot of material to try out. During the day, the anxieties and the panic were overtaking me, and I was even considering withdrawing from the event. But in the end, I was glad I took part.

The audience was about 40 strong, and the other acts were enormously strong and enormously good. I had to match that quality…..and all the anxieties stopped once I began.

I was thrown a bit of a curve ball by the host! I wanted to do a Donald Trump impression right at the end of my set (topical, keep it fresh!) and I was all prepared for that, when suddenly, the host said that Trump was to open my set! Eeeeek!!! So I had to think quickly. The wig was more or less plonked on my head along with the Make America Great Again (some mistake surely?) baseball hat and I had to get into the impression quickly.

And with that improvisation, I was away. The audience were laughing away and I was eased into the set. The rest of the set were jokes, interspersed with the occasional bit of observation, and again, the audience were laughing away. I was even interacting with them, I felt that confident and that good.

Got a lot of excellent feedback and it’s always nice to get that validation off the other acts. One of the acts, an American lady who now lives in London, said that my Trump impersonation was spot on. Blimey! The adrenaline was running round me and the whole night was a tremendous buzz. Nothing can take away the sound of people laughing with me, rather than at me.

Took me a long while to get to sleep, and I feel very good this morning! As I’ve mentioned before, this stand up comedy was something I fell into by complete accident. Not a path I would ever have chosen. But how it’s kept me going through some very low moments these last 12 months.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Yours in comedy

Stay safe

Ian L. Fullbrook

Shed no tiers for the new lockdown measures…..

Hi folks. My location, London, along with the neighbouring county, Essex have been placed into Tier 2 Covid-19 measures, meaning that I’ll be on my own for a while, unable to mix with others in their houses or to meet them in a pub or restaurant.

Nothing much comedic in that paragraph you may think, and you would be right. But this “temporary” lockdown will give me a chance to design another set for my next online performance. As you may remember, the last gig didn’t go so well, so I’m going to try something different. Just me, no silly voices, no wigs, trying to be funny without resorting to mimicry.

Hopefully it’ll work, because there needs to be an improvement. A change is as good as a rest so they say, so I’ve drafted a set to perform and I’ll add or subtract material as I see fit. Worth a go, as I don’t want to be known as a one trick pony.

But on the subject of mimicry, a couple of stand up colleagues want to do a sketch with me, with me as Boris Johnson, and of course his strategy for dealing with Covid-19. That’s something to look forward to. Live gigs in front of an audience is looking distant at this stage. Online it has to be for the time being. If this “temporary” lockdown turns things around then all well and good. Sadly, I won’t be able to mix with those nearest and dearest to me. Everything comes to an end, and let’s all hope Covid-19 does one and sods off quick. It’s been a depressing year, and those feelings won’t disappear before year end.

Still, got to keep busy on the comedy front, and looking forward to performing my brand new set soon. Then I may go back to impressions. Trying to control the controllables.

For now, keep smiling

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

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

That’s it, you’ve had your fun….back to reality

Friday 30th August. 6 am. Rise and shine. Time to pack the stuff, say goodbye to Portugal and set off for home.

It doesn’t get light until 7, so we wait in the foyer for the minibus. Dead on time, he arrives and collects one or two others from some other local hotels and then we hit the road. The sun is making it’s first glimpses and the roads are quiet as we scoot along the main road between Albufeira and the airport.

The check in hall is full of mainly British holidaymakers going back on the various flights. It takes us a fair few minutes to get through all the processes, and without any breakfast in the hotel (too early), we decide to grab some grub before the flight. Unfortunately a customer decides to buy every item on the menu and with hunger and impatience taking over, we decant to another and far better eaterie.

Flight dead on time. Stomach turning over. Nervous as always. The takeoff was not as powerful as normal but it was smooth. The flight was pretty good in the main, with scarcely a bump. The first officer had a reassuring Essex accent(!) that kept us all at our ease.

Then I lift the window blind as we start our descent. The coast of northern France is in view as we move up the Channel. My propensity for getting irritated (I must be near home) came to the fore again. There was a young family in the row in front of us, and with the cabin crew forbidding people to use the toilets as we approached Southend, the child decided to play up and wanted the loo. Of course, she didn’t, but irritated the mother to the point of totally losing it. Welcome back to England!

The approach was slightly windy, and quick, but ultimately smooth. It was a nice, warm afternoon as we touched down in Southend. The mother/child Mexican standoff continued as we waited to get off and all the way into the immigration hall. It was a relief when they disappeared into the distance.

Some immigration officials have a sense of humour bypass, but the lady in Southend we encountered was full of fun and good banter. She requested I take my hat and glasses off, to which I replied “I’m much better looking with them on!”. She laughed but of course I had to comply with the polite request. As I went through I said to her “Don’t let my mate through!” His reply was “I think he’s a bit grumpy from not having enough sleep”. All in fun.

The smooth process from leaving the plane, through immigration, baggage pickup and out was 25 minutes. Better than most of the bigger airports I’ve been to. Straight out of the airport onto the adjoining railway platform for the journey back to London. Some wistful memories came and went with the gentle summer breeze as the train approached.

A fabulous five days. Great company, great weather, great hotel, great place, great food. Now hoping that good feeling will continue as I settle back into London life……hmm, get back to you on that one.

I thoroughly recommend Albufeira as a holiday destination. Love Portugal as a country with it’s relaxed and friendly way of life, and it’s relatively cheap too. I shall return, for longer next time. Now on with the Autumn and Winter….joy.

A.S.D Brooks

So near and yet so Faro (A Holiday Chronicle – Day 3)

This is where we spent Day 3 of our holiday. Praia Da Oura beach is 5 minutes walk from the hotel, down some back streets and a wooden staircase down a hill.

Just wonderful. The sand, the sea, people enjoying themselves, endless yet comfortable heat, the sellers displaying their wares but showing great politeness on being refused attention.

Laying there, on a sunbed, drinking an ice cold Coca Cola, reading a book, I felt very different to the previous nine months. The strains, the stresses and the anguish seemed to ebb out of my being, down the golden sands into the wide expanses of the Atlantic a few yards from me. I felt so relaxed, so calm that I didn’t believe it at first. It was like letting air out of a balloon or the steam out of a pressure cooker. Calmness and serenity, and 1,091 miles away from the mad place of home.

I thought “This cannot be real!”. An unforgettable day really. We were at the beach from 10 am to 5 pm, with a suntan developing quite rapidly now. The seaside is my sanctuary, whether at home or abroad. Images to store in the memory bank, ready for the onset of the short days and the darkness of winter. I shall reference the photos I took to remind me that good times do happen…..

Abrigado

A.S.D Brooks

From brollies to lollies?

Living in the UK as I do, you get used to the fickle nature of the weather. Last year was one of the best summers of all time, with endless sunshine, warm balmy days and a general good feeling around.

That fickle nature has turned up this summer. It’s been very mediocre with lots of rain, greyness, cold, wind and just not very good at all. But….but….it could all turn around next week. I’ve been looking at the predictions and it could get very hot and very humid. Now, I’m a sunshine and warmth lover but not with humidity though. You can’t sleep and you feel sluggish because the air is so sultry.

Sometimes these extremes of weather come in quickly and catch everyone by surprise. If the temperatures stay in the 80s Fahrenheit with low humidity then it will be time to get the suntan lotion, the sunglasses and the shorts out. They’ve all stayed more or less in the cupboard all summer. Temperatures in the 90s with high humidity isn’t great. But then we British like a moan, don’t we?

It would just be nice to see the sun out rather than the raindrops hammering on the window. It would cheer everyone up.

A.S.D Brooks

Health updates….

First of all, I visited the hospital for an appointment to see the haematologist. They’re investigating polythycemia with a sleep apnea angle. Mind you, I waited nearly an hour for an appointment that took about five minutes.

Well, the news is mixed. My hematocrit (volume of red blood cells in the body) has been reduced by the venesection I had back in January. Not bad, but still some mornings see me feeling fuzzy headed, with tiredness and the occasional headaches. The department who oversaw my sleep study haven’t provided any results on how it went. So that’s going to be chased up. I take the view of no news is good news.

But I still wonder as to that episode on Friday night where I had those pains, and nothing since. All very strange. Don’t want to go through that episode any time soon.

Then it was an eye test, which happen for me every two years. Many cricketers I’ve umpired wish it was every week! But seriously, I received some news which I’m not surprised about. My short sightedness is getting slightly worse and my distance vision is also going the same way. I have noticed some changes to my eyesight over the last few years and it’s down to something I can’t do anything about – the ageing process. I wear verifocal lenses and I have to remove them to read something close to me, like small print. Hopefully the next prescription will correct it. The optician said that the changes in long and short sight balance out but the deterioration will gradually continue. Nothing I can do.

So some mixed results but at least I can still umpire while my sight allows, and that decision I gave yesterday (correctly) proved I have plenty more years left in me yet. When I walk into a cricket ground unable to do the job of umpiring, then it’ll be time to stop. Not yet though!

A.S.D Brooks

Back in the box….

Summer has arrived. A perfect sunny day this Sunday after some miserable, cold, drab weather this last month or so. And I was appointed to score a game of cricket today for my club’s 1st team.

The morning wasn’t particularly good for me. I have to admit to going through a panic attack and was shaking like a leaf all through this morning. What danger could be sensed by yours truly? Not a lot. Sometimes it’s not worth rationalising why I feel like I do. It just happens. Saying that, for part of yesterday I wasn’t feeling too good either.

But when I stepped out of the door into a sunshine day, the fear and panic stopped and I was determined to enjoy it. I didn’t want to pull out of the game at the last minute (which I have done before) but I called on my well-being toolkit to get me to the cricket club.

And I was glad I went. I was around very good people, the game itself didn’t go the team’s way in an exciting finish but it was fun watching the game unfold. I love cricket for the twists and turns of fortune, the slow build up of drama and then the denouement. There were two of my erstwhile umpiring colleagues doing the game and they did a splendid job in a frenzied atmosphere.

So I returned home in a better frame of mind then when I left at 11.30 am this morning. I’ve even caught a little bit of the sun. Summer arrived today and it was good to be part of it. Here’s to more.

A.S.D Brooks

I hope you were watching…..

This is my brother in law who sadly passed on two months ago. He was massively into his football, having played the game at a fair level and then became a manager. His love for the game was undiluted and absolute.

I went round to my sister’s the other day. Normally, my brother in law would be sitting on the sofa, watching Sky Sports on the TV and I would be talking to him about Tottenham, the team he’s always supported. We would discuss football, occasionally have a difference of opinion but the conversation was always healthy and fun.

So when I went round the house the other day, he wasn’t there of course, and I found it odd that I wasn’t discussing football and watching it on the TV.

Last night, his beloved Tottenham played Ajax of Amsterdam in the Champions League Semi Final second leg. Tottenham had to overturn a three goal deficit midway through the match. All of a sudden, one goal back, then two and then the winner (on aggregate) in the last minute. Incredible scenes in Amsterdam.

My brother in law would have been in his luxury room in heaven, drinking a couple of beers and cheering Tottenham on to victory. It’s a real tragedy that he wasn’t here to see his team’s finest hour. But his spirit lives on in us, as I’m sure it always will do. A poignant moment that has popped into my mind from last night. I’m sure he will be very proud of his team, and of his family and friends. We’re all proud of him and the good man he was.

A.S.D Brooks