Hello & Welcome
Hello and welcome to my re-vamped web-site. Hope you like it. I've just got back from Vietnam and China visiting the Animals Asia charity which I support. It was a whistle-stop visit with seven flights in six days.
Manchester to Singapore -Singapore Airlines. Singapore to Hanoi - Singapore Airlines. 2 days in Hanoi then Hanoi - Guangzhou (98 point score in Scrabble) on China Southern Airlines. Guangzhou to Chengdu - China Southern Airlines (bear with me , there is a point). 3 days in Chengdu then Chengdu to Beijing - Air China. Beijing to London Heathrow - Air China. Then the last leg - almost home now, been travelling 22 hours, Heathrow to Manchester - British Airways - F***ing CANCELLED!)
The visit was incredible. Three words - emotional roller coaster. There were highs but many lows. I knew there would be but it was still too upsetting at times. Animals Asia is campaigning to stop bear farming - please visit www.animalsasia.org for the full horrific details of the prolonged torture and suffering of these magnificent creatures which are farmed for their bile. I know its ludicrous but its traditional medicine even though there are over fifty homeopathic and synthetic alternatives. Nothing can prepare you for the sight of the bears in their tiny cages. Their sad, desperate, tortured eyes pleading with you. The self mutilation, endless pacing and mental illness that the endless pain and suffering has caused. In Vietnam the practice is now illegal but many farms still exist under the guise of tourist cafes and restaurants: "The Black Bear Café" for example where customers can have a drink and look at the "lovely" bears. This is of course a front and we stumbled upon the reality of what actually happens when we returned unannounced to one such café and a coach load of Korean tourists were just leaving having chosen a bear for bile extraction. We discovered the bear unconscious, we found bile on an "operating" table together with horrible long needles that had been stabbed into the bears gall bladder and we filmed the evidence and the panic of the farm owners. We have since submitted it to the Vietnamese government who say that it is not sufficient to shut down the "café"!!!
On the plus side we visited the new sanctuary in Vietnam which is situated in a beautiful spot inside a national park. Its almost finished and will provide a wonderful retirement home for the bears which we can release - the first 80 or so hopefully in December/January.
The established sanctuary in China is stunning. On 200 acres it has ten bear houses and enclosures and is home to almost 200 happy bears - some of which have spent the first 10 - 15 - 20 - 25 years of their lives in the horrible "crush" cages which are particular to China. These bears have somehow forgiven us for their awful suffering and you can actually feed one or two by hand through the bars of their luxury compounds!!
The one big downer occurred when the vets brought a beautiful big bear called "Fuzzy" into the hospital for his two-year routine health check. I helped clip his paws and took blood from his jugular vein for a full laboratory screen and then during the physical examination we found a mass in his abdomen. The laparotomy revealed a huge liver tumour which had spread to his lymph nodes. Fuzzy never went back to his enclosure, another victim to the liver cancer that is a common legacy of the years of trauma the liver suffers during the bile extraction by needle, canula or fissure.
My abiding memory however will be a happy one. Seeing the bears free at last, feeding, playing, climbing their platforms, splashing in their pools, foraging for their hidden food and play fighting - many of them with limbs missing - a result of the terrible snare traps that captured them in the wild. There are thousands of them still suffering and I'm dedicated to help this wonderful charity carry on until all of them are free. It's the Beijing Olympic Games this year and we must put pressure on the Chinese Government to outlaw this barbaric practice.
I've just arranged to do two charity preview shows of my "Best Medicine" tour with all proceeds going to Animals Asia and Pet Rehome. These are at Morecambe Platform on Friday 11th January and St Mary's Centre , Clitheroe on Thursday 7th February
On a lighter note, I've recently finished my "Audience With" tour . The tour has been absolutely brilliant. I have enjoyed it so much. It came about because after my last DVD came out I sort of neglected stand-up for a while. I concentrated on a couple of TV Comedy Dramas I was writing and appearing in - "Dead Man Weds" with Johnny Vegas and "Magnolia" with Ralph Inerson. Then I did 4 series of "8 out of 10 Cats" and a couple of series of "Bullseye", so I didn't have time to write much new stand-up. During that time I was asked to do a great many charity shows and I came up with the "Audience With" idea rather than trot out a mix of new un-worked and untried stand-up stuff. It went down so well that I decided to do this tour of smaller theatres and venues with it. The beauty of it was that it allowed the audience to ask me questions on subjects that I would not normally address in my stand-up and it stimulated me to think of (hopefully) funny answers on such wide ranging issues as Global Warming , State of the NHS and Is it wrong to fancy your brother(Wakefield)
A few examples of actual questions and answers
Q. If you were about to be executed, what would you request as your last meal?
A. I'd want one of those "All you can eat for a fiver" buffets. Because you can keep going back can't you? The guards would be like "Have you finished now?" and I'd pat my stomach and go "No... I think I could just squeeze a bit more salad in". You could be there for months and gain so much weight you wouldn't fit in the electric chair.
Q. If you could have a hot date with anyone you wanted, who would you choose living or dead?
A. Living. I've tried the "Dead" date and it was a nightmare (well obviously AND I couldn't get rid of her in the morning
Q. If you could have a superpower what would be?
Q. I am a one legged man but am forced to buy shoes in pairs , do you think this is a form of discrimination?
A. No I think its stupid. Why don't you just knick them from outside?
See you soon