Saturday, 20 July 2013

Buy a token!

Arriving at Gatwick for my two week holiday and I was very pleased to see the great British Stag and Hen weekends are alive and kicking. They stoid proud in thier groups slowly getting closer to each other like a pack of mating wolves all wearing T-Shirts explaining giving thier pub nicknames are and what their "Pies de resistance" is in the sack! 

It filled me with great pride that this fine nation of ours loves to celebrate drinking at 5am whilst telling the world that "No muff is too tuff because "one" dives at five!" and that "Lucy" was really christened "Loose Lips from Lingfield!" 

My flight from London Gatwick to Faro actually left on time and a very pleasant Scotish captain informed us he was going to be "Jumping the Q!" How very bloody "German" I thought to myself as he pulled back from the stand quuicker than "no muff too tuff" would from ."Loose lips from Lingfield!" On this occasion it seemed so very acceptable to be so "Un-PC" and I enjoyed the speedy departure as much as I did watching "Garry the grinder" get blown out by "Sally slag" from Swindon!

This is why the Scottish are such a fantastic race of people, proud, loyal to their heritage and brave, who else would jump a Q in front of a 747 in a little orange Easy jet - this Mc something would and the stag, Hen and holiday makers aboard this flight were very grateful. 

I really must thank the very charming stewardess on board my Easy Jet flight, I was bloody freezing, now this may have been due to three hours sleep following a 14 hour day at X Factor, a journey home, a re pack and a trip to my home for a three hour snooze before a dash to the airport (alarm set for 3.30!) or the fact that I broke my cardinal rule of not taking a jumper with me on a plane, as I said to my daughter before her recent school trip away; you can take layers off to cool down but you can't put stuff on to warm up if you don't have it! (Note to self - Practice what ya' preach!) 

Anyway - I asked the delightfully tall female stewardess (The height restriction rule must have been dropped on Easyjet so thank you Stellios!)  if I could have a blanket - she replied they didn't have any - then came that wonderful customer service that our American cousins do so well yet we seem so oblivious too - she went to her personal bag, pulled out her own Easy Jet labeled cardigan and gave it to me to keep warm - whoever you are  - I cannot thank you enough for keeping this "lovey" a little warmer - you warmed up the warm up! 

I love flying and have been very lucky to fly both Virgin and BA (up front) and also very blessed to have crossed the pond privately - it's the crew who make a flight, not the airline - I've had good and bad flights on both the UK's major airlines but my biggest regret was falling asleep when upgraded to BA 1st on a CSE trip to entertain the trooos in a few desserts! On landing I almost wanted to ask the pilot if I could go back again just to experience the beauty of BA first rather than sleep through it! But honestly, that's a whole blog in itself!

Right, my point - hire cars in Faro and my advice should you ever need it! (This is like an audition for a travel writer!) 

It's so refreshing hiring a car after landing into Faro airport, why? Because its an adventure not a chore, it could easily become a frustrating nightmare but I urge you to take two deep breaths, a bottle of water and a sense of humour as you depart the very easy arrivals area of an airport I really like (But not on Thursdays, Thursdays is package holiday departure day and hell on earth!) 

My paperwork led me to "Car park four" and not the nice shiny hire car buildings you can go to if you'd have gone through one of the market leaders, so it was a left turn (Brilliant on a BA or Virgin flight, not as glamorous in the heat of Faro!) and a trip with my trolley on what can only be described as an assault course, over bumps, a wrong turn under a barrier, through a restricted zone, past some motorbikes on a rally (Don't ask) and then to a van, a checking in area? - No! A building? - No! A air conditioned office? -No! A bloody van but not any old van, a van with a small sign in the window reading "Hore Car!!!" 

I was met by a fag smoking rugged man with a huge yellow smile - what a greeting to the land of the discoverers! 

The paperwork was done on his lap with extra insurance for this and that and ash wiped off the credit card machine as I signed for shit i knew nothing about! 

Now came the million $ question! "Wound token for Matwoo" he asked? I stared at him like a man lost for anything to say hoping he wound give me the answer..... The glisten from his yellow teeth and slightly browner stubble gave me my answer - "No thank you!"

(I've been to Faro a few times now and didn't need to pay €20 for a motorway token, I was going my route and the route I know so well! (I am such a man!)

Car collected (Suitable for Noddy but a car all the same) and I was off!

The fist 45 minutes of me in a car made for "Small people who couldn't even fit into Zara XXL jumper!) was around car park four searching for the exit! It was enjoyable for me as I was in no particular rush!) 

I soaked up the rows and rows of hire cars and smoking men in white vans, if this had been at night I may well have been arrested for Dogging! For me this was not a lost car park four moment but an audition for "Top Gear!"

After a quarter tank of fuel I found the exit and I was off for a motorway free journey to my villa, as I hit 4th gear and the engine said at me "You're having a fucking laugh" I passed under some camera line things, a very loud beep went off in my car! 

Many who hire cars would hear it as a beep, I heard it as "You should have bought the friggin motorway token you plank!" 

I know - self will run riot! A quick call to the hire car company put it right and an extra €20 charge put my mind at ease that I could now speed the motorways of Portugal without a care in the world - did I ? Of course I didn't! But I got a token and that's the bonus right? 

I don't get lost once (of course I don't, I'm a man, I merely get diverted) We should embrace such diversions as often in life we are so bloody busy speeding to get to the end point we have not seen , felt, experienced or embraced any of the journey to reach our goal point! (That's the spiritual side of the blog out of the way!)

This brings me nicely to the lack of maps available at Faro airport -if you're going --- bring one - you're going to need it as it would seem a country born out of discovery and following ones Instingst wants you to do the same, and why not? 

Love Portugal and so will you, but go with it, not against it, otherwise you will not find the new world if such a thing exists!! 

Thanks for reading and no doubt getting around my grammar and spelling - it's a challenge I know! 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Where you "Wheelie" bin!

Do not ask!!!!

First week of the X Factor live auditions (The arenas were replaced by the old fashioned audition room, which now, having seen the talent coming through, is a stroke of genius!)


Honestly, Wednesday's show was the best day of "talent" I have seen in 10 years!


Talking of genius this new judging panel is utterly brilliant, not that it wasn't before it’s just been taken in a very different direction, and it's inspired!


Sharon or "Mum to a nation" is simply brilliant. I admire that she doesn't give a toss what people think of her, she is what she is and proud of who she is, how refreshing and how exhilarating it must be not give two hoots what everybody thinks of you, take that and add a very caring, gentle, thoughtful person, and you can easily see why she is loved across both sides of the pond and the very unique beautiful Mrs O. Get ready Britain to once again fall in love with our Sharon.


Gary has simply gone to another level! , By day one he had gone "lip to lip" with me, smashed stuff, thrown water over a contestant and given out more Barlow hugs than humanly possible, those who have ever called Gary "boring" simply do not know him or have never spent a second in his company - get ready to see "The Captain" on fire! 


Louis is an all new Louis, he has been 

re -styled by a lovely lady called Caroline Mactaggart who has brought a whole new, bright, vibrant exciting look to Louis and (not sure if this has anything to do with it) but his clothes are matching his energy, the chemistry between him and Sharon is something everyone watching this year will become addicted too!


Nicole is breathtakingly stunning and just the perfect addition to the "Famous Four"  talented, funny, kind and an extremely generous caring performer, who selflessly allowed me to look funny on more than one occasion - God love her.


I guess what I'm trying to say is, get ready for a reinvention of the greatest show on earth, (Next to Simon and BGT) which I have no doubt in my mind will be our greatest yet!


Right now to far more pressing matters!


I pay £250 a month to my council, that's a lot of money in anyone's book, let’s face it, you could fly to bloody Spain and have a week’s holiday for that! In return for this cut price holiday, everyday a maid would kindly empty your bin in your hotel bathroom and not discard anything she felt a hazard to the environment!


A few weeks ago my daughter decided she no longer wanted the bark under her swing which protected her from any trapeze like fall. I was very proud that she removed all the bark into black bin liners, a job I would struggle with!


Rox requested one morning that I remove the bags from the back of my garden to the front of my house before skipping off to the school gates, a Job I had to do, why? Because the apple of my eye had asked and if she had gone to so much effort to remove it, the least I could do was finish off the job and play my part.


Move the bags I did and there was a lot, in fact as I moved them it was more like a "Britain’s strongest man" event, you know when Geoff Capes used to move a beer barrel from one end of a car park to the other!


On the following Monday I realised I wasn't going to be able to fit all the bags in my brown wheelie bins so I left a nice note for my lovely bin men (although I am sure in this day and age it should be "Bin people") asking if they would be kind enough to take the extra bags left not inside the bin but nearly to the side.


They took the note but left the bins, I can only presume this was a health and safety issue with "Lifting" and god forbid for a small part of £250 someone has to bend over and pick something up!Honestly it was no real drama, they would fit in next week and they were only sticking to the mad rules that I have no doubt some over paid jobs worth had written in a memo to the bin depot!


Beautifully and as if by magic the bags, full of bark, fitted in the bins the following week and I was proud of my patiencesurrounding "Barkgate" and I left for X Factor happy in the knowledge everything was right with the world of all things "Barky" and "Wheelie"


My wife then called whilst I entertained the masses at Wembley to inform me the brilliant "Bin people" had removed two black bark filled bags from the wheelie bins, left them on my drive and then proceeded to empty (in the correct manner) the bins! This was an odd call while standing to the side of a stage that made dreams come true, a desk with four superstars and 4000 amazing audience members who, for done unbeknown reason found me funny, but take the call I did and for fleeting moment forgot about the dreams of a few and focused on two bark filled black bags!


I am happy to report the world has gone friggin mad! Mysynopsis could only be two things!


1. The Bins were too heavy to lift to place in the dustcart (but not too heavy to remove from the bins!)


2. "Tree bark" is now not an "acceptable item" to place in a bin or black bin bag and must be placed in the see through easilyripable, only collected fortnightly, "Garden refuge" bags.



So my lovely "Bin people" don't you worry yourself about "Barkgate" you gave me an opportunity to smile and forget about the bloody trampoline that now may need to replace the Swing!


Another jaw dropping moment of madness came following Rox wining a "Photographic" session in one of the studios, you know the type of shop I mean, the one that always displays the perfect family dressed in linen and the kid with a robin in its head - perfect!


Rox won a £60 family photograph session, now you may love these types of pictures but they are just not for me so my amazing kid came up with the most amazing idea of getting three of her closest friends to have an end of year class pic.


Mrs R called the studio to book the date in and when asked who the picture would be of she explained the above. The owner of said photographic studio explained that it was cost £90 to do friends as they were not "Family"


I understand Mrs R went to great length to try and make sense of the most ridiculous policy she has ever heard of but no, this was the policy and this was the rule!


I'm still trying to get my head round the most outlandish, pathetic, mind blowing bit of company policy I have ever heard of, but I guess it's the persons company to do with what they so wish, so who am I to pass judgment? Oh, I'm just the dad who told her daughter she can have a picture, but defiantly not with her friends! 

Hope you're enjoying the weather, stay hydrated and water that Garden - you know the hose pipe ban is only a hairs breath away! 




Tuesday, 9 July 2013

I am free to fly....

So as I start a very important three weeks of my life - I really have to reflect and say a huge thank you to so many people. I would love to name them all but the blog wound go forever! 

The honest truth is I should not even be alive, that's the bottom line, let alone getting ready for my 10th year on The X Factor, a really important gig Monday, a TV appearance Wednesday and most importantly some downtime with the two most important people in my life. 

Matters of my previous blogs now sit with the police and I have dealt with much that has held me back for so long, there is still a mountain to climb (but not an impossible one) but today I know I'm not alone, so with that in mind can I take this opportunity to thank every single one of you (You know who you are) for believing in me and not ababdaning me, you will never really know how much it meant. 

At 9am a new "Roycey" will arrive on the floor of Wembley arena, (Still as cheeky as hell and still pushing the boundaries) but and it's a huge but - ill be free and am free of  the shit that held me back for so so long.

So to those who have followed my story....I bloody did it!  

Tomorrow and the days, weeks, months and years going forward, well, that's for you, me, a brother called Graeme, a special lady called Jenny a life saver called James W and two very very special girls who I need not name. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.