Posted on 11:25pm Tuesday 27th January 2015
Brian Conley returns to the stage, bringing with him a theatrical spectacular, spectacular. I headed to press night at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre to see if it was worth following the band and joining the circus with Conley and co...
Posted on 1:36am Thursday 15th January 2015
TV favourite Jane Horrocks brings co-star Ayub Khan Din's 'East is East' to Birmingham this week, straight from London's Trafalgar Studios. I headed to press night at the New Alexandra theatre to review the show...
Posted on 9:38am Monday 5th January 2015
I’ve rarely written a “look back” at the year sort of column but this past year had so much drama in it – personally and globally – that I felt it wise to do this simply for my own memories. I want to remember this year.
Posted on 9:28am Wednesday 31st December 2014
I have the greatest car dealer service rep around. So great that I actually get my car serviced AT the dealership which is against my religion (figuratively). We all know we pay more for service at a dealership. But, I bring my car there because I love “Mark,” my service rep.
Posted on 2:00pm Tuesday 23rd December 2014
It was my birthday recently and we were invited to a big gala charity event. Before the entertainment began, my wife was nodding off. When she briefly awoke, she nudged me and said, “Let’s go.” Usually, I’m there right beside her wanting to leave and go home to sleep. This time I actually wanted to stay, but you know the saying, “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” so we left and looking on the bright side, we didn’t have to wait long for our car at the valet!
Posted on 1:57pm Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Former Loose Woman Jane McDonald, Corrie star Chris Gascoyne and Blue heartthrob Duncan James headline Birmingham's premier panto, and I headed to Press Night to see if it was the greatest in all the land...
Posted on 5:23pm Thursday 18th December 2014
Stars of stage, screen and TV assembled at Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre this afternoon to officially launch the world’s biggest pantomime, ahead of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' beginning its magical journey tomorrow evening!
Posted on 5:01pm Friday 12th December 2014
The musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, fresh from a celebrated run in London's West End, comes to Birmingham this Christmas and New Year. I headed over to Press Night at the New Alexandra Theatre to review the show and see if it could escape the trappings of actor-muso productions...
Posted on 4:50pm Thursday 11th December 2014
The king of innuendo and witty asides, Mr Julian Clary, headlines the Wolves Grand's panto this year, and I headed to press night to review the show and see if it really is the grandest, most impressive ball that Julian has ever held...
Posted on 9:11am Monday 8th December 2014
I was talking with a good friend who happened to share that her brother had recently gotten a promotion, yet he was always in money trouble. When I probed for the reason, she really didn’t have any, but it provoked a discussion about how people spend, save, and manage their money. This friend went on further to state she didn’t know how she could even be related (to her brother) given their completely opposite habits about money.
Posted on 3:18pm Monday 1st December 2014
I have been a mentor/friend to “David” for a half-dozen years or so – long enough that I don’t really remember (how long). David (a pseudonym) is in his mid-twenties and suffers from a rare disease in which he has a handful of challenges and remains intellectually and emotionally at the level of about a 12-14 year old. He has minor symptoms of autism, walks a bit awkwardly, and his speech is sometimes difficult to understand.
Posted on 1:13am Tuesday 25th November 2014
Star of Hollyoaks, Eastenders and Footballers Wives, Gary Lucy leads the cast of this stage adaptation of the wildly successful 1997 film of the same name. I headed to press night over at the Grand, where the show is running for a week, to see if it really has the full package... and whether it is one worth seeing... *cue shameless innuendo*
Posted on 1:00pm Monday 10th November 2014
As I enter the twilight years of my life – or at least the latter half of my life – I have come to the conclusion that I will never fully understand women and sex. However, I have gotten better than the stumbling young man I used to be and wanted to share some random observations that may help other stumbling men (and women).
Posted on 4:22pm Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice (CAB) is urging families using oil for heating to buy early and cut their costs this winter........
Posted on 2:36am Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Following on from the continued success of the surprise ITV2 hit show, 'The Big Reunion' returned to the Midlands and the LG arena this week with it's special 'boy band' tour, bringing reunited pop groups from both this years show and last together for a night of Nineties and Noughties nostalgia. I headed to the LG arena to review...
Posted on 9:00am Saturday 18th October 2014
We all think or speak about wanting to “Start over” with dreams of what we might do differently if we could. Whenever I declare such a thing, I am clear that I’d like to start over with the knowledge I’ve learned living as long as I have. Sort of an oxymoron, I suppose.
Posted on 3:25pm Friday 10th October 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is campaigning about the dangers of payday loans following World Mental Health Day last friday...........
Posted on 11:00am Wednesday 8th October 2014
I used to think I knew my boys well. We were especially close after their mother left, when they were six and nine. I was a stay-at-home-dad and involved in everything in their lives when we were married and then after their mother virtually disappeared. For a while, shortly after she left, we all slept together in my bed with both our dogs, too. I was jammed in so I barely could move but it was still very comforting and I treasure that memory. Now, as they’re young adults, I’m wondering if I really know them (at all)?
Posted on 3:20pm Monday 29th September 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice (CAB) is warning motorists that tax discs will no longer be issued from October 1st 2014 (this week).....many car owners are unaware of this.
Posted on 9:42am Monday 29th September 2014
I recently underwent some minor surgery for a small hernia. I haven’t been “under” since I had rotator cuff surgery a decade or so ago. That was a horrendous experience on a number of levels. Yet, as I approached this next time going “under” I was not particularly anxious. Part of my calmness was confidence in the doctor who was going to perform the operation. Part of it was a resignation that this is what comes with “maturity” or simply getting older. Part of it was the wine…just kidding.
Posted on 2:04pm Saturday 27th September 2014
What a summer it’s been for us at Stourport on Severn Brass Band. Since our last update, we have a new home in the shape of Stourport Sports Club.
Posted on 11:20pm Thursday 25th September 2014
In the second part of our Jane McDonald triple-feature, I caught up with her for an interview at the Birmingham Hippodrome to discuss her upcoming Pantomime debut in 'Jack and the Beanstalk', the inspiration behind her first album in over six years, and how it feels to be more popular and in-demand than ever over sixteen years after first rising to success.
Posted on 7:17pm Thursday 25th September 2014
In this week's update, Craig Bateman who is Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet explains the significance of engaging young people in Make Your Mark - an issue-finding campaign run by Worcestershire Youth Cabinet in partnership with its national counterpart, the UK Youth Parliament.
Posted on 1:11am Thursday 25th September 2014
The record-breaking stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1987 hit of the same name is once again touring the UK. I headed over to Press Night at the Wolverhampton Grand to review the show and see if you will, indeed, have the time of your life...
Posted on 8:08pm Saturday 20th September 2014
When speaking about the next generation, we are told that more young people need to be politically aware. We agree with this. But we also agree that this generation is as engaged as any. By way of example, whereas the recent West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner elections has a turnout rate of 10.3%, and the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet turn out rate was 14%. Although both percentages indicate that much work needs to be invested, and that there is no room for complacency, it brings around a positive message for youth democracy in Worcestershire. The past year has been a really busy one for Worcestershire Youth Cabinet, and we are really pleased to announce that the Youth Cabinet elections will be finally held in the autumn of this year. Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is a democratically elected youth-led organisation with members aged 11 to 18. We aim to provide the young people of Worcestershire with a voice that is listened to by local, regional and national government, providers of services for young people, and any other agency who have a concern in the interests and opinions of young people. We work cross party and with multiple agencies to advise and assist them with any relevant youth issues. This could be to carry out a consultation on their behalf, advise on accessibility of services and surrounding information, and to share good practice of effective youth involvement. Elected members are in office for a three-year term, and get to spend their time working on their election manifesto pledges as well as any other opportunities that they may wish to get involved with. In the Wyre Forest, we have 5 active members, of which two members serve as the Cabinet's Vice Chair elect and it's Secretary, respectively. Individual members may also engage with other opportunities on a local, national and even international scale with partners such as the United Kingdom Youth Parliament, the British Youth Council, the ContinU Trust, Positive Activities Commissioning and many other agencies and services. Since my election in March 2013, I have been thoroughly delighted to have seen youth participation develop both in the Wyre Forest and in Worcestershire. Over the last twelve months elected young people have been working with agencies such as the Local Economic Partnership to develop an online web-portal aimed at giving young people the opportunity to undergo a work experience placement with one of Worcestershire's strategic business such as Worcester Bosch or Malvern Instruments, of which over 100 placements have been secured since it's launch in March 2013. We are also currently working alongside Wyre Forest District Council to create a District Youth Council and Young Peoples' Mayor which would shadow the adult council on issues such as health, planning and environment and young peoples engagement, and be able to deliver their own project working alongside other agencies, whether it be a skate park or a youth cafe. One of the most important parts our work is holding our elections. This ensures that Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is sustainable in the long-term and makes sure that we have an active new intake of young people to take youth voice in the Wyre Forest and Worcestershire forward. Being a member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is a really exciting opportunity, and I encourage as many young people who are aged between 11 and 18 to think about standing for election. I can promise you that you will not regret it.
Posted on 11:20am Thursday 18th September 2014
To celebrate her latest album release, the first in 6 years, singer-songwriter Jane McDonald is touring the UK and bringing with her a show packed with old classics, fan favourites and plenty of new, original material. I headed to the Wolverhampton Grand to review the show as part of a Jane McDonald double feature...
Posted on 12:28am Thursday 11th September 2014
One of the most cherished and enduring musicals of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' returns to the UK on it's latest tour, arriving in Birmingham for a three week tenure at the City's Hippodrome Theatre. I headed over to Press Night to see if the 'memory' is worth reliving...
Posted on 10:07pm Wednesday 10th September 2014
One of the techniques that are increasingly being used to attract young voters are the promises of apprenticeships and youth employment. Indeed, the House of Commons Library latest apprenticeship statistics update has reported that in the 2012/2013 academic year, there were 510,000 apprenticeship starts. This is a clear improvement on the 2009/2010 statistics when just 231,000 apprenticeship starts took place.
Posted on 10:01pm Wednesday 10th September 2014
In this exclusive, Craig Bateman reveals what he got up to on his recent Global Young Citizenship Conference to the United Nations Office in Geneva with the ContinU Trust Consortium of Wyre Forest and Hagley Schools
Posted on 11:00am Wednesday 10th September 2014
I recently attended perhaps the biggest fitness and nutrition convention around – The Idea World Fitness and Nutrition Convention. It’s not my usual bailiwick but it was still interesting and I enjoy meeting new people. As always, expectations can be a tricky thing and some of my expectations were most certainly not met.
Posted on 6:42pm Thursday 4th September 2014
Reviewing his recent visit to the United Nations Office in Geneva, in this update, Craig Bateman who is a Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Wyre Forest highlights just how important collaborative work is in securing a better future for the next generation
Posted on 10:00am Thursday 4th September 2014
When I was a kid, I did “sleepovers” at my friend’s houses. By the time I was double-digit age, it was no longer “cool” and it stopped. Today’s kids start sleepovers early and, apparently, they never end. Today, there are sleepovers of groups of high-schoolers, and sleepovers of boy/girl couples IN one of their parents’ homes. HELLO?
Posted on 11:05am Thursday 28th August 2014
No, this isn’t a doomsday column. In fact, it’s a very positive one as we are watching and waiting for that big day. That day every parent wonders when or if it will ever arrive. That day that seems further and further away in this generation. That day, when…the kids leave!
Posted on 5:33pm Wednesday 20th August 2014
Wolverhampton is set to welcome back one of the UK's most celebrated names in Spiritualism next month as acclaimed medium Stephen Holbrook returns to the Midlands and takes to Wombourne Civic Hall for a ticket only, one night event.
Posted on 10:18am Thursday 14th August 2014
The other night my wife and I went on a date night to a very nice restaurant. We had a very nice waitress who was attractive, friendly, and declared almost immediately that she wasn’t going to have any children. Huh? I then asked her if she had a boyfriend. She instantly and disdainfully said, “No way.”
Posted on 5:43pm Tuesday 12th August 2014
In this update, Craig Bateman who is a Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Wyre Forest looks at youth engagement in social action and the significance of International Youth Day
Posted on 8:00am Tuesday 5th August 2014
Any parent of a teenager(s) knows the rest of this title…Our Kids. If there is karma in the world, I’m getting payback for the jerk I was (I’d use a stronger word if this were not a PG-rated column) to my parents for so many years. And, for all the incredible angst and sleepless nights I likely caused them. They only had me so I’m getting double since I have two boys, now 17 and 20. Payback is a b****.
Posted on 10:41am Monday 4th August 2014
People in Wyre Forest are being pressed by debt collectors when they stand up to costly broadband cancellation charges.......read on.....
Posted on 9:41pm Saturday 2nd August 2014
In this week's update, Craig Bateman who is a Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet reflects on his recent internship placement at Bewdley Development Trust, and looks at the social impact it is having on the local community
Posted on 4:41pm Friday 1st August 2014
Cameron Mackintosh has brought Claude Schönberg's 'Miss Saigon' back to the West End stage with a lavish new revival production that has already broken London Box Office records - but does it deserve to? I headed to London to review the show and find out for myself...
Posted on 1:00pm Tuesday 22nd July 2014
Some religions and some spiritual groups/thinkers like to use the idea of “Unconditional Love” in ways that are bunk. Most EVERY love we have for every other human being is absolutely conditional and should be.
Posted on 7:16pm Saturday 19th July 2014
In this entry, Craig Bateman who is a Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Wyre Forest provides an insight into some of the activities that he has engaged in over the summer term 2014
Posted on 2:00pm Thursday 17th July 2014
It’s often said that the biggest causes of divorce are sex, money, and “the kids.” I would argue that a bigger cause of dissention is food (and the kitchen). In continuing this blog series – and the pre-cursor to a book based on these columns – let’s tackle this divisive issue between men and women!
Posted on 5:20pm Friday 11th July 2014
One of the most celebrated and successful musicals of the 21st Century, Wicked flies into the Midlands this week as it begins it's summer tenure at the Birmingham Hippodrome. I headed to the show's fabulous press night to see if the musical is deserving of its acclaim and adoration, and whether it is worth taking a trip down the yellow brick road to Brum this summer...
Posted on 6:17pm Wednesday 9th July 2014
Wicked opens at the Birmingham Hippodrome TONIGHT, and to celebrate, here is the second part of my interviews with the show's leading cast, this time with leading man Liam Doyle, who plays Fiyero in the show. I chat with Coventry born-and-raised Liam about returning to the Midlands with the show, his unconventional career path so far, and what it means to be playing his dream role at such an early stage in his career...