EDitorial ± 18-Feb-2022

The Last Leg

Confession: I'd never actually seen more than about 5 minutes of The Last Leg, Channel 4's Friday night comedy stroke news show, until I saw the latest episode right there in the studio.

Friend Jeff's a way bigger fan -- we'd been to a recording of Later some years back -- and had already nabbed free tickets a couple of times previously; this time he offered me his spare. Thus it was all arranged: we'd leave Ipswich around 5pm, which we did, parking in Borehamwood around 6:30pm. Traffic was light, something to do with Storm Eunice.

A two minute stroll brought us to Elstree studio and a non-existent queue. They wouldn't be letting anyone in until around 8:45pm. "Over to that McDonalds?" I suggested. Surprising how grateful you can be for a roof and some solid walls.

We emerged half an hour later and joined a ragtag group along the fence opposite Tesco. I thought we'd come a long way, only to speak to the couple behind from Stratford upon Avon and the people in front from Yorkshire. "No drinks in the studio!" shouted an official, and I downed my 500ml bottle of Vanilla Coke. That would be an error on my part.

"Get your Covid passes out please!" yelled the same official. Were they checked in any detail? No, they were not. Take the wristband, put any metal objects in the tray during the search, and we entered the inner sanctum. Didn't seem much warmer in there with those big doors open. We were in the tiered seating facing the presenters; others were scattered behind where the talent would be sitting. Our placement in the middle of a row made it hard to justify a special loo trip.

GB and yellow/blue flags were distributed at random to the crowd, then the warm-up man emerged. If he'd shut those doors, he'd have done his job. To be fair, he was good value and took my mind off my bladder. He's been doing the same role for the entire life of the show and had only ever missed one, the previous week's, thanks to Covid.

Closer to 9:45pm nice Mr Adam Hills came out to explain they'd be filming some intro clips, including a separate non-music one for the Aussie edition, and then we were off, a-whooping and a-cheering. Meet Alex Brooker! Meet Josh Widdicombe! And meet special guests Hannah Waddingham, her off Ted Lasso, and Rose Matafeo, who I'd seen briefly in Dead Pixels. All very well having some top guests but would be nice to use them a little more.

Warm-up man came back out during every ad break to keep us happy -- I eventually took off my coat -- and I chuckled half a dozen times at some quality lines. Talk was of Ukraine & Putin, Prince Andrew, and Liz Truss. That Adam Hills was being driven to Hull straight after the show for his next rugby league show on Channel 4.

Let out around 11:15pm, we headed straight to McDonalds just as the sweeping man was closing the door. D'oh! So back to big Tesco for the loo -- ah -- and broken Costa machine. D'oh!

EDitorial ± 12-Feb-2022

Ipswich Lunches: Tim Hortons

Up by the Asda's, not far from the standing stones, you can no longer Hit The Hut. The shed that sold Italian inspired cheese & tomato topped circular bread hit the skids during The Covids: a plague on their huts. Some local excitement, though, when news filtered through that this would be replaced by a "Canadian coffee chain" to quote The Star.

When Tim Hortons -- wot no apostrophe -- eventually opened in late January 2022, them queues was crazy. Credit to Stowmarket lad Thomas Garrard who camped out overnight to claim his first place in the queue and a year's free coffee. But is it any good?

Andy was mighty keen to get in there ASAP, and its location seemed to work well for post Parkinson's ping-pong refreshments, but the curious consumers of the county were still lined up outside, both in cars and on foot. So Costa it was. Three weeks after opening and some of the novelty had worn off, and there we were at midday on a Saturday among the bright red bricks.

Six touchscreens for ordering, all in use, then one became free. We're already too late for breakfast but there are many many meal options including chicken burgers, toasted melts, grilled wraps, and, erm, all day breakfast. Andy thumbs the crispy chicken stack then backtracks to the bacon & egg muffin stack, a decision he'll regret. Mine's the big breakfast wrap meal with standard issue Tropicana and some rather good hash browns. While I'm scanning the "collect now" screen awaiting order 914, EcoAndy's searching for seats, of which there's plenty though nearly all are occupied. Savoury is fine, bit like a slightly upgraded McDonalds if you shut your eyes.

Thinking ahead, though, to this afternoon's table tennis session, we've also bought a box of 20 "timbits", essentially mini donuts crafted from the bits in the middle. My receipt spelled out those contents:

  • 2 apple fritter timbit
  • 2 apple pie timbit
  • 2 chocolate glazed timbit
  • 2 chocolate truffle timbit
  • 2 honey cruller timbit
  • 4 honey dip timbit
  • 2 old fashioned glazed timbit
  • 2 cinnamon biscuit timbit
  • 2 white birthday cake timbit

Those sweet snacks got us through the bat 'n' ball then came home with me; we were still finishing them off a day later. Yum.

Having had lunch there, we returned with Eldest and my Mum, both of whom had joined us for TT, for them to sample some maple leaf moreness. I think my mum enjoyed her box of pancakes -- wot no plate! -- and I sampled one of Andy's grown up selection box of deluxe donuts. It's just as well we play a little sport between all the sugar.

If it was a car -- Meteor Niagara
If they were passing by -- Frank Yallop.