#DontgiveTerryhisGlastotickets

So following last week’s mini rant about the gobby twat who took on EE and won … this week we found out that @Terry_Finnegan “stole” his (not really) winning entry. I say “stole” as that’s pretty much what it looked like to me. Turns out that his original design of a Calvin Harris album cover, using lego, had appeared in tabloids at least 12 months earlier, attributed to actual original artist, Aaron Savage (@aarrsavage).

Following his huge campaign against EE, that garnered massive internet support including boxer Lennox Lewis, we all know that he is a campaigner for honesty and justice. Strangely though, with this revelation Terry has gone quiet. His Facebook victory speech has disappeared (twat) and his Twitter feed is now locked (twat twat) and all Glasto tweeters are blocked (twat twat twat)

Oops.

My favourite tweet came from @TheNinjaRach – “If I’d made a twat of Lennox Lewis my tweets are the last thing I’d worry about protecting”.

As I said, twat.

Unfortunately @EE appear to be giving this lying little shit the tickets – as are @O2 who had offered him a year’s supply of Academy passes in light of the growing media storm. They appear to be too scared to say “no” to him for fear of a backlash. @EE allegedly assured Aaron Savage that Terry wouldn’t be attending the festival on their tickets … a false promise it appears. I’d be fuming if I was Aaron.

The fact that cheating Terry will be attending Glastonbury next week leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. As I said last week, I love hearing about people with a last minute success story but not when it involves lies, fraud, theft and an obnoxious sense of entitlement. If that was me I’d be walking through the gates with a massive conscience weighing me down and there’d be one hell of a donation going in the direction of Water Aid to compensate for my dubious admission. Gonna do that Terry, or too busy being a PROPER LAD?

It’s a seriously dangerous precedent for big brands – can we all now complain when we are runners up but don’t get the prizes we want, and hurl unfounded accusations that leave the PR teams feeling their only option is to back down? I’ve lost all respect for @EE and @O2 with their spineless reactions … thank God I’m a @Vodafone girl!

I have a lot more respect for brands that lay out their position and stick to it. Looking at reactions on Twitter and Glasto forums, I’m not alone. An own goal from @EE and @O2? I think so.

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Filed under Don't Write It Down, Glasto, Rants

Everything Everywhere? More like I WANT IT NOW!!!

This week a Twitter user took on a big corporation and won. One man, @Terry_Finnegan,  whipped up a storm against big brand @EE, who had back tracked on the “money can’t buy” prize of Glastonbury tickets that he’d won and made them look SMALL.

Or …

This week Twitter user @Terry_Finnegan found a loophole in a competition and used the current appetite for David vs Goliath stoning of big corporations to his advantage to secure a prize to which he was not entitled.

It’s a lesson in the power of social media. It’s a fantastic channel to reach young people with money to spend. It’s also a tool that can easily spiral out of control in the wrong (or maybe the right) hands.

Glastonbury’s mobile media partner, Everything Everywhere, ran a cute little competition – offering 10 pairs of Glasto tickets to winners of a Twitter competition. The ten winners were picked. As far as I can gather, some of these winners came via Facebook. Ouch. Not Twitter only then. To appease the (not really kicking off at all) masses, @EE sent a tweet out to five more entrants telling them to get in touch as five more prizes had been awarded and winners should contact them to see what they’d won.

This prize was £400 in Ticketmaster vouchers. Amazing. I’ll take that. Oh, except …. the prize these five had narrowly missed out on was a pair of tickets to Glastonbury – the Holy Grail of festivals. Now there was no suggestion of Glasto tickets in the tweet that was sent out but you can’t blame people for getting their hopes up. Every time the awesome West End Show ‘Book of Mormon’ retweets me (they even posted a photo of my cat one day!) I’m waiting for the direct message offering me tickets … but no, the Glasto tickets had run out.

Not good enough for one Twitter user. Terry saw the tweet, presumably replied only to be told his prize was a lowly £400 of vouchers (that’s 4 tickets to Book of Mormon with change to buy a souvenier magical “love” frog in case you were wondering) and then he decided to unleash hell. He saw it as a crusade against Corporate Britain. I saw it as a foot-stamping temper tantrum straight out of Nursery School.

I think initially Terry had genuinely misread the tweet and decided he had a top five prize. As reality dawned he didn’t back down or shut up like most people would – he did his research and found a loophole. The competition was for TWITTER users. As some of the winners had actually come via FACEBOOK, he was actually top ten so #GiveTerryhisGlastotickets was born …

The clue however is in the wording. @EE had said that entries must be submitted via Twitter, not that it was a “Twitter only” competition. So no, it wasn’t clear. But equally no, he hadn’t won.

Us Glasto fans are a determined bunch. We sit on computers and phones hitting refresh and redial for hours on ticket day, resale day, look out for random secret resales and enter every single competition in the hopes of getting that elusive golden ticket to what is frankly the best 5 days of anybody’s year. So why, if the Ts&Cs were misleading or wrong, was Terry the only “winner” to kick off? Why didn’t the other four feel equally aggrieved? Probably because it was a tenuous (aka not real) complaint.

The Ts&Cs also said a prize of equivalent value could be offered so actually no “laws” were broken even if you do accept the Twitter loophole.

I’m all for sticking it to the big corporations who try to screw us little guys over. But in this case, @EE only backed down because Terry managed to whip up a sense of injustice and outrage that threatened to cause them reputational damage. That’s not fair and that opens the floodgates for all sorts of disgruntled customers to abuse the whole “customer is always right” cliche. Terry’s original statement was a bold one – @EE were refusing to honour prizes – a tasty bandwagon for a lot of people who can’t be arsed to read a little deeper.

So eventually @EE miraculously “found” five more tickets for their runners up.

Since then, Terry has been tweeting his massive excitement about going to Glasto. On one level I’m delighted for him – in the way that I’m delighted for anybody who gets a ticket against all odds at the last minute. It must be an amazing feeling. But on the other level, it’s totally against the rather magical “spirit of Glastonbury” – something for me that implies honesty, truthfulness, consideration, humility, empathy … it’s a place where everybody behaves a little bit more nicely towards the people around them. It’s not somewhere to turn up in a T-shirt with a slogan shouting out that you “BEAT THE BIG CORPORATES”. If I was Terry I may well have been tempted to try my luck with the loophole but, having “won”, I like to think I’d have said thank you, let it lie and concentrated on the big issues of carrying alcohol on trolleys and whether the Mumfords will perform or not (God willing …) – instead there has been a stream of bravado, retweeting congratulations on being a PROPER LAD and nothing that makes me want to share a cider with Terry ten days from now.

That said, after all this fuss, I hope you have a good festival Terry and I hope some of the amazing people you will meet in ten days have an influence on you. Failing that – I hope your phone blows up in the @EE re-charge tent and you camp next to a group of even bigger LADS than you think you are …

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Filed under Glasto, Music, Social Media, Uncategorized

The “sweet” smell of … failure!

I thought this month would be the easiest in terms of my enforced abstinence. I don’t consider myself to have a particularly sweet tooth and booze and crisps are my definite “vices”.

Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

In January I wasn’t remotely tempted by the demon drink. In February I ate three peanuts (savoury snacks were also on the blocked list but I’m definitely not a nutaholic). But this month has been an epic fail. “Sweets and chocolate”. Considering crisps are back in the diet I figured it’d be a piece of cake (so to speak. Does cake count? Not sure).

On 1st March I went out for a meal and at the end of it, happily ate the mints. Sweets. Minty sweets. It didn’t even occur to me that mints were sweets. As the month has progressed I’ve eaten a couple of after dinner mints, some tic tacs (maybe I need a mint free month) and a couple of slices of cake. Oh and some Mars Bar ice cream. And today a bar of white chocolate. None of this was a conscious breaking of my self-imposed law. I just didn’t think.

So, looks like I am a typical girl after all and my month off crisps, sweets AND chocolate is going to be nigh on impossible.

Next month  I give up meat. In theory I think that will be very very easy. In reality, will I be able to give up the burgers, the steak, the chicken madras on a Friday night?

After this month’s fail, all bets are off.

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I Believe! The Mormons are here!

A musical about African missionaries trying to convert villagers living under the rule of an oppressive dictator and the threats of female circumcision, AIDS and dysentery doesn’t exactly sound like a laugh-a-minute theatrical experience – more like the sort of up its own arse worthy angst-fest you might find in a free show at the Edinburgh Festival, being performed in the back room of a pub to a couple of confused tourists and a student sleeping off his hangover from the night before.

Oh ye of little faith. The Book of Mormon is the best show I have seen in YEARS.

A massive Broadway hit, the show has just said “hello” to London, and is now into its second week of previews before formally opening on 21st March. Having picked up on the buzz around the show during a trip to New York in 2011, I booked a couple of tickets for the London previews as soon as they went on sale. Smart move. The show is now virtually sold out until the end of the current booking period (August 2013).

Before seeing the show, I had listened to the Broadway cast recording a few times. The music parodies a number of musical styles, with one song, ‘You and Me (but mostly me)’ very obviously borrowing from fellow Broadway sensation, Wicked! There are hints of plenty of other shows and styles but none of this detracts from what is a brilliant original score in classic musical tradition.

As a fan of ‘South Park’ and somebody who finds swearing funny (yes, I know. It’s not big or clever. But it’s FUNNY so indulge me), I had a lot of love for the more outrageous songs on the cast recording. ‘Lion King’ homage ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’ and ‘Joseph Smith, American Moses’ in particular contain language that you probably don’t want to have to explain to your mum. Before seeing the show, my juvenile little brain knew these would be highlights.

And yes they were, but they weren’t the stand-out highlights. These came from some of the other songs that, while they are catchy and entertaining on a CD, really come into their own with the absolutely fantastic choreography and staging that goes with them. The opening number is slick and very funny and sets the tone for the show. A song and dance number involving a group of tap dancing Mormon missionaries brings the house down. And Act Two’s ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’ has so much going on that I think I’d have to see the show at least another three times to properly take it all in.

The two leading roles are currently played by actors who have previously performed in the US tour (and in the case of Jared Gertner, also on Broadway). They are slick, polished and hilarious. The UK cast who join them on stage are every bit as impressive – West End regular, Alexia Khadime (Wicked!, Lion King) plays Nabulungi and has a stand out ballad extolling the virtues of Salt Lake City (Sal Tlay Ka Siti), her promised land.

The principal roles are to die for but this is definitely a strong ensemble show – Mormons, villagers and warlord henchmen are all clearly loving every minute of it.

If I had to offer any sort of criticism, it would be to suggest that perhaps the orchestra was slightly overpowering at times, so the sound balance needs a bit of attention, and I did feel that Gavin Creel (Elder Price) was ever so slightly straining on some of his top notes. But given the sheer brilliance of the rest of his performance, and the show in general, these do not need to be forgiven as they are points so minor that they become irrelevant when you look at the bigger picture.

In the interval, the bar was absolutely heaving and it took me the majority of the break to cross it to get to the merchandise stand (a wise plan – if I’d waited until after the show I’d probably still be queuing now, such was the demand). The bar staff said they didn’t think they’d ever taken so much money. The audience was full of people who already knew the show – so the atmosphere had the same sort of excited anticipation you’d expect to feel in Rome when they announce the next Pope. Probably. It’s rare that the announcement that a show will start in one minute gets a cheer. But this is the kind of crowd that was there for Mormon’s first Saturday night in London.

We sat in the middle of the Circle and I can’t help but feel we had a better view than some seats in the Stalls. It’s a busy stage with so much going on that looking down on it gives you a fantastic vantage point to take it all in. I’m sure some people will swear that the only place to see the show is from the Stalls seats. This is something I’m going to have to find out for myself as it gives me a perfect excuse to go again.

If you are easily offended by use of bad language and controversial subject matter then this isn’t the show for you. If you have an open mind and are prepared to look beyond the shocks on the surface, then this is a show with real heart, an uplifting message and some of the best direction I’ve seen in ages. Two days later and I’m still grinning as if I’ve just been baptised for the very first time.

Book a ticket. But make sure you leave one for me.

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Crispy Luck

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Crisp-free February was HARD. Not just hard, I actually sort of failed. As my ban was on “crisps and savoury snacks” I definitely failed. I ate three nuts in a public house environment. In other words, savoury snacks. The fact that it is only three is a testament to my stubborn refusal to back down on anything. I had one coated peanut last Saturday and two chilli nuts on Tuesday. Given my total obsession with crisps and ability to inhale family bags within five minutes, I’m still going to put this one down as a success.

Today is 1st March and I had crisps with my lunch. There are also LOADS of crisps in our kitchen left over from a meeting. If I don’t eat them, they’ll be binned. Can you imagine? All those gorgeous salty, savoury, greasy delights being chucked away. Of COURSE I’ve had a few of aforementioned salty pleasures (fnar). I’m only human. And I did resist all of the chocolate that’s also sitting in the kitchen. You see, in February I massively over-compensated for my crisp-free existance by hitting the sweets and chocolate like I’ve never done before.

So … in a change to the advertised programme, this month I’m giving up chocolate and sweets. OK, so the truth is I forgot I was meant to be doing spicy foods and bought some chilli pasta sauce and a huge block of chilli cheese, so it’d be wasteful not to eat it, right? Also, it’s winter. Also, the savoury snacks I did consume during February were chilli coated which proves I am completely addicted.

Is this my first failure? Well only if I don’t “do” a month off the spices at some point. And I reckon it’ll be a lot more “do-able” in summer.

Right … chocolate free Easter it is!

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Along Roll We Merrily

I had thought about writing this review backwards. For about a nano-second. Then I realized it isn’t a remotely original idea and also it makes me sound like Yoda.

‘Merrily We Roll Along’, which has been playing to huge critical and public acclaim at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, is one of my favourite musicals. I’ve seen it three times and never been disappointed. This is surprising as the original production bombed when it opened on Broadway in 1981. It’s a difficult one to “get right”. And this production has definitely got it right.

The story of three friends starts as they are hitting 40 – and barely restraining themselves from hitting each other. As the show progresses we go back in time – bitter alcoholic Mary transforms into a fresh faced, teetotal aspiring novelist. Charley and Frank become best friends, hoping they might become the next Rodgers and Hammerstein. Or something like that.

The casting was perfect – the central trio of Frank, Charley and Mary played to perfection by Mark Umbers, Damian Humbley and Jenna Russell respectively. I’ve always wanted to play Mary – she is a brilliantly witty and flawed character – so watching Russell’s portrayal was like a masterclass just in case I ever get the chance.

The part of Gussie has been given greater focus than in previous productions I’ve seen, played with full on diva fabulousness by Josefina Gabrielle. But it was Frank’s first wife, Beth, played by Clare Foster, who made the biggest impact from the supporting cast – I have never heard such raw emotion in the show’s most powerful song, ‘Not a Day Goes By’. I remember seeing her playing a supporting role in Avenue Q and wishing she had more to do. Well, now she does and she does a great job with what must be one of the hardest parts in the show – only joining the action halfway through.

I would struggle to pick a weakness in the entire cast – perhaps the cute kid playing Frank’s son could have been a bit less, well, less cute. But that’s just me. I hate kids. What I love is an intelligent Sondheim show being directed in such a way that it is completely accessible to its audience.

Now hurry up and close your well deserved West End transfer so I can apply for the performance rights.

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Three to the Zero to the Days plus One …

January DONE!

Thank God for that. No longer a smug teetotal loser. The sort who can sit in the pub sipping a J2O and commenting “I don’t need to drink to have a good time. I’m really mad, me. I’m crrrrrrrrrrrazy”. You know, the type of madcap, zany, crazy fool who goes home alone and cries into her cats that she has no friends.

This month has been particularly challenging as, not only did I have a number of nights out, I also had a SHOW WEEK. Anybody who has ever been in a show with me knows that ‘Show Week’ is my equivalent of Fresher’s Week. Often a glass of wine before each performance. Always a hip flask backstage with medicinal vodka in it. And essentially at least three or four huge white wines in the nearest boozer after the show. But not this time. This time I sipped on my J20 and went home sober. You’d think this would have made it easier to work during the week but actually it didn’t. Instead of passing out in a drunken stupor the second my head hit the pillow, I lay awake fretting about having to get through the next day at work before doing another show. At least when I’m drinking I get some sleep, even if I do wake up with a banging head.

Not only that. I also had AUDITIONS. Nobody does auditions sober. Do they? Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. And if auditions don’t start with a drink, they definitely end with one. Those sorrows are not going to drown themselves. But no, mine were drowned in diet coke.

So, January is done. Do I feel healthier? Possibly. I think I’m sleeping a bit better. I think I’ve got a bit more energy. And of course I’ve had more time as I haven’t written off half of the weekend lying in bed waiting for the room to stop spinning.

The next month in my ‘year of abstinence’ is the shortest. And it’s no surprise that this month I’ve opted to give up “crisps”. I thought long and hard about this one. Technically a lot of savoury snacks do not count as “crisps” – Mini Cheddars, Twiglets, I could probably even state a case for Doritos … so I’ve decided to be hardcore and this month’s ban is “Crisps and other savoury snacks”. As I write, I am inhaling a packet of M&S Wobbly Worms in a feeble attempt to cover up the salty, potato-based product gap in my lunch menu.

This is going to be a LOT harder than booze.

 

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Filed under Booze, Year of Abstinence