I love to laugh!

How often do you laugh? I mean, seriously laugh? It’s one of my favourite things in the whole world – and, as the song goes – “I love to laugh, long and loud and clear; the more I laugh, the more I fill with glee, and the more the glee, the more I’m a merrier me”!

My husband and I have never stopped being able to make each other laugh. The other day, we laughed till the tears rolled down our cheeks. And our stomachs ached. And our faces hurt. I have no idea what we were laughing at but boy, does that do my heart good! So I thought I’d share a few things with you that make me laugh. Or just smile.

A few days ago, I tried out a new gym class: chi ball. I’d heard – from the instructor – just how amazing it was, and he told me, as he flapped his hand forward, that I’d “simply love it! It’s divine.”

So I booked to do a chi ball class before my usual Pilates class. I arrived to a studio “filled” with three other people. We all got out our mats, sat on them and waited for the instructor, who is notoriously late for everything. The door flew open and in rushed the instructor, three limbs flapping at a rate of knots; the fourth one dragging behind in melodramatic tardiness.

He was already speaking – in broad Glaswegian – before he came in the door. To us, I mean. “Yes, you do see me limping I banged my knee on the fridge because they’re doing some work in our flat and everything in the kitchen is all over the flat and the fridge is in the passage so I walked into it because it’s just in the way and my knee’s so sore I can hardly move it and on the tube I was trying to avoid anyone bumping me and so I stood like this and I couldn’t bring the chi balls because they’re too heavy and they would weigh me down and put pressure on my knee because it’s so sore how are you?”

After the second word, two of the three other women in the room stopped listening and started giggling. They looked at each other, and giggled behind their hands, and slapped each other and giggled. I thought the performance was amusing, but not so giggle-worthy. When the words stopped, one of the women said to the instructor, “Ah, is this not yoga?” He told them yoga was in the studio next door, so they up and went next door, leaving the two of us to enjoy a chi ball class with no chi balls and an injured instructor. A chi ball class not.

Our instructor – who is a lovely man – then suggested we do a mixture of tai chi, chi gong, yoga and pilates, so the two of us set up shop next to each other and launched into a musical mystery tour of ancient truths and butterfly arms. A few minutes into the routine, we all looked hopefully across the room as two more people entered. Turned out they were just there to take the extra mats.

We touched the sun, we posed like warriors and we reached around the world. All the time with butterfly arms. It was a hilarious class when I reflect back on it – it was flipping hard work trying to change the world with butterfly arms. I’ll give it a bash again next week. Let’s hope the fridge has moved by then.

I’ve told you quite a lot about the fun I have commuting to central London by bus. I have discovered that the earlier I leave, the more likely I am to share the bus with a truckload, sorry a busload, of schoolchildren. They are an interesting breed. The boys and girls sit separately, totally separately, and they get off at separate stops even though they go to the same school. I guess early adolescence is the time to avoid the opposite sex, even though all they want to do, really, is spend time together.

One day last week, as the boys headed off down the stairs at their designated stop, one of them looked around at the top of the stairs and, surveying the mass of commuter heads in his view, shouted, “Bye bye all you funny bus people!” I guess he must have lost a bet.

We had a successful outing – thank the Lord! – to our favourite comedy club recently. Stephen Merchant, who co-wrote The Office and Extras with Ricky Gervais and who appeared in both series, headlined at our local comedy club. Stephen is off on a tour of the UK later this year, followed by one or two tester dates in the USA. He wanted to try out his new material, and what better place to do that than a small, intimate comedy club in south London?

We found seats just behind the band, who play between the acts. They were a great buffer until the acts came on stage, and then they all disappeared, leaving us, well, exposed. Thank goodness no-one picked on us!

Stephen Merchant is very very funny. His tour is called “Hello Ladies” as, he explained, he is looking for a “Mrs”. He’s on the search for someone who wants a little of “this”, he says, as he points up and down his body. He looked at a woman in the front row and said, “I know what you’re thinking. Six foot seven. That’s a lot of Stephen.”

His humour is delightfully self-deprecating, and he wove his stories around the sorry tale of his singleness and his inept attempts at romance. Despite the fact that he has two Baftas. He also talked – with many many hilarious diversions – of how he once came to being kicked out of a wedding reception. He told us how great it was to be on tour as a solo stand-up comedian: “Yes, best that way. Don’t have to pay any royalties to [air speech marks] you-know-who!”

Stephen Merchant is a delightful and very funny man. If you get the chance to see him perform, jump at it; you won’t be sorry you did. He is one half of The Office genius and he’s certainly a very talented half. I can imagine the energy that flowed between him and “you-know-who”, both when they worked at BBC Radio together and then when they worked on all their killer series together.

My blog will be silent for the next few weeks as we fly home to be with our family for a couple of major big birthday celebrations. To say that I’m sick with excitement would be a major understatement. I look forward to sharing the adventures with you on our return but, for now, I’m smiling and waving you all au revoir. With butterfly arms. Always with butterfly arms.

Sunshine signing off for today!

Advertisements

On The Carpet

It’s red carpet season in London. Celebrities, also known as movie stars, dress designerly and walk along the red carpet to answer endless and inane questions about their movies and their co-stars and their spouses and partners and directors and friends and why they think their movies should win awards and what their movies mean and if they seek enlightenment through the art form they support and who dressed them.

Film premieres take place all year round in London, and this week has also seen a swathe of awards ceremonies in the capital. On Sunday night, London played host to the Bafta Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and last night the music awards ceremony, the Brit Awards 2011, took place at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

As was expected, The King’s Speech garnered most of the big Bafta awards, including best actor, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best film and best original screenplay. It was nominated for 14 awards and won seven. The darling Colin Firth, who won the best actor award for the second year in a row (in 2010 he won one for A Single Man), said “I like coming here.”

The director, producer and screenwriter describe the film as “a little film”, one they never thought would attract the worldwide attention it has. David Seidler, writer of the original screenplay for The King’s Speech, won a Bafta for his screenplay. As a child, Seidler battled with a stammer and, listening to King George VI speak on radio, he thought that if the King could overcome a stammer, there was hope for him too. I like stories like that.

Last night’s Brit Awards 2011 honoured many young and not so young members of the music industry. A young south London rapper, known as Tinie Tempah, won two Brits, while Take That – recently rejoined by Robbie Williams – collected their first Brit Award for Best British Group. Robbie walked away with his 17th.

A young fringe-flicking Canadian received a Brit Award for International Breakthrough Act of the Year. He declined to show off his Michael Jackson skills in the pre-show interview, claiming that he couldn’t moonwalk “on the carpet”.  The moves had to be seen to bieber-lieved.

Canadian band, Arcade Fire, also walked away with two Brit Awards for Best International Group and Best International Album.

We’ve stood by the red carpet for film premieres a few times since we’ve been in London. The first time we were lucky enough to be penned in, up close and personal, with uninterrupted views of this:

The less glamorous view of the red carpet

Imagine being close enough to see the red carpet being fitted? Kind of takes the glamour out of the event. A couple standing near us asked if they could have the carpet off-cuts. Seriously?

Knee pads are clearly a health and safety requirement

But this is really why we stood and watched the red carpet being set up:

The man of the moment. Or as I like to call him "The Georgeous"

I think the guy standing behind the star of “The Fantastic Mr Fox” was thinking, “OMG! I can’t believe I’m standing this close to George Clooney!”

We also saw Sir Ben Kingsley:

Ever the elegant and serene professional. He pretended not to hear the guy next to me call him a "sexy beast".

And Bill Murray:

Henna'd hands reach out for his autograph but Mr Murray was only there to shake hands.

As we speak, London is ordering miles more red carpet to welcome the sporting elite and the spectating elite (you clearly have to be elite to afford the ticket prices I’m reading about) to the London Olympics in 2012. 527 days to go and counting. Danny Boyle, director of movies such as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine (I don’t know that movie but I love the title!) and 127 Days, will be directing the opening ceremony. Will we see a field full of brightly coloured anoraks doing Bollywood moves and avoiding the chasm? I can hardly wait.

Sunshine signing off for today!