Scary heart stuff

Here’s a compilation of some posts from Facebook covering my recent unplanned stay in hospital…  I’ll post something more when I’ve had a bit more time to process it all!

Hospital update – 29th May

So, first of all, a massive thanks to Abhi who did a Tesco shop for me this evening so now I have some clean clothes / toiletries etc – I was sent sent to A&E by my GP so only had the stuff I arrived at hospital with!

I’d been to my GP on Friday because recently I’ve been so breathless that it’s just been stopping me doing anything, and also I’d noticed I was rapidly putting on weight even though I’ve hardly been eating anything.

Anyway, my doctor told me to go to Stepping Hill hospital to get a chest x-ray, and by yesterday she’d got the results and asked my to come in right away to go through it. It was showing that my heart was enlarged, plus my breathlessness has actually got worse, and I’d also started up coughing bits of blood the night before.

I was told to go immediately to A&E by Uber – not detouring via home, and leaving my car parked in the street outside the medical practice!

So once in A&E, I had some blood tests done, another chest X-Ray and then an ECG. I was told it looked like my heart is massively over-working, and a knock on from that is that less blood gets to the kidneys meaning theres lot of liquid retention around the body.

I was moved to the Medical Assessment Unit last night, and I’m still here tonight!

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Birthday U2!

So, it was my birthday on Saturday, and at the start of this year I’d tried to buy a ticket to see U2 in Manchester on their eXPERIENCE + INNOCENCE tour, which fell on the same date, but within seconds of the tickets going on sale, they were already sold out which was really annoying since the only ones then available we being sold at massively inflated prices on secondary ticket sites – and I’d pretty much forgotten about it.

Then, first thing in the morning, I was looking on Twitter and saw a post from the Manchester Evening News linking to an article about the U2 gig later that day. I then remembered that someone had recently told me that with gigs like this, production ticket returns are often released for sale on the day of the gig, so I thought I’d quickly check on the Manchester Arena website, and I was able to buy a ticket at the price they originally went on sale!

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Jo Brand’s Big Splash recording

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Me and James have just spent the last couple of days down in London, partly for a meeting about some more graphics we’re doing for a Channel 5 documentary later this year, but also we were down there to go to the Hackney Empire, where we were in the audience for the recording of Jo Brand doing stand-up for a show that’s going to be on Dave later this year.

doodledoMOTION are doing titles and graphics for the 5-part series called ‘Jo Brand’s Big Splash’, which will mix the stand-up gig with a documentary about water, which sees Jo trying out loads of different activities including swimming, diving and rafting.

Because we were guests, we got front row circle seats, so there’s a good chance we could end up in some audience shots in the final edit.  And knowing the way editing works, I can almost guarantee that they’ll cut us laughing at some innocent joke as the reaction to something really inappropriate!!

It was actually a really good gig – I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d find it that funny, but I think Jo’s comedy has become a lot more inclusive, whereas in the past it had quite a reputation of being feminist and man-hating. I don’t really know whether it ever really was, but that’s kind of what gets associated with her!

Straight after the show, we went up to the green room for a few beers and to hang out with the crew and people from the production company and UKTV, and Jo also came up for a bit after she’d finished signing autographs at the stage door.

Then, once stuff had been packed up at the theatre, we went to a nearby pub with the production guys, and then a few of us went on to get some food in some part of London I didn’t really know!  To be totally honest, we had a few beers, and I was definitely aware that I was a bit tipsy as the night went on… I was certainly talking a bit more than I usually do!!

Not exactly sure when the show airs but will post about it when I know!
Just another quick mention for work stuff – a couple of weeks ago we did the opening title for a programme that went out on BBC1 called ‘The Street That Cut Everything’.

It was shown on Monday 16th May, with the first part showing at 9pm and then concluded after the 10 o’clock news. And in the morning they did a feature on BBC Breakfast with the documentary’s presenter Nick Robinson in the studio, with our main graphic appearing on video wall throughout.

Summer 2010

Thought I’d better do a bit of a recap about what’s been going on over the summer, and I supposed the first thing I need to blog about is that we had a bit of a setback at work last month when we had a break-in at the office.

Basically, the whole top floor of our building was targeted, and the burglars broke into about 50 separate units in all! Most businesses had stuff stolen, but it seems like we were the worst hit, with us losing 3 iMacs and a Macbook Pro, plus all our filming kit comprising of a Sony EX3 and Z1, as well as a load of audio stuff as well.  It’s been a pretty horrible experience – luckily we’ve only lost a bit of work since they didn’t take our server or external hard drives, which would have destroyed us really since we hadn’t really got a decent back-up of all our work. But it’s just so gutting that you put so much time and effort into building the business to have some scum just take it away from you.

Anyway, we’re currently looking at options for what to do next – hopefully we’ve got a new office lined up because I really don’t want us to go back to our old one, because I think it might just happen again if they don’t sort out the security issues.  Should have a clearer idea of the future soon.

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On to happier stuff… at the beginning of August, Rob and Clare got married in a field in Mellor (a small village not too far from Stockport), and I was one of the 12 ushers who were all dressed fully in white!

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Delirious – Fabula Est Vestri

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I was down in London yesterday so I could be at Delirious’ last ever gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. I saw them in Liverpool just over a year ago, and I thought then that that would be the last time I’d see them, but obviously they announced this final goodbye tour, and so I decided I wanted to be at the very last one.

Anyway, I made it into the venue at about 6.30pm and got my position about 10 rows from the front. First up, they all appeared on stage as ‘The Cutting Edge Band’ – which is how they started back in 1993. Everything about it was amazing.

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I first saw them back at the start of 1995 at Spring Harvest, and then many times in the next few years in school halls and often other smallish venues, and the whole of this ‘support act’ set brought all those great memories back.

And at the end of this, they did the whole ‘There is a light’ section that they used to do to end their gigs, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.

It was all just so beautiful – I really can’t think of another word to describe it, it really did feel special.

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Loads of great music…

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Well, after seeing U2 last month (which was amazing by the way… have I mentioned that?!) I’ve experienced some more great bands in the last few weeks.

I went to Greenbelt over the August Bank Holiday weekend with Ali and her mates from Bristol. Because she was working on the set-up team, it meant we were able to camp a lot closer to the main area, which was much better than the last time I went, when we were camped so far away!

There was a great variety of music over the weekend: Athlete, Röyksopp, Sixpence None The Richer, Cornershop, yFriday, plus lots of smaller artists as well.

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Also, I got to hear a bit of Rob Bell too, which was really interesting. I’ve got a few of his books, but I’ve yet to read them – that’s something I need to do when I get a bit more time! He was doing a Q&A session, so covered quite a few subjects. He did a couple of specific talks as well, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get into those because the queues were so long that people got turned away. I need to get an MP3 of them!

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Wow!

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U2 yesterday… amazing. Definitely the best gig I’ve ever been to!

I picked Phil up at 11am and we drove over to Sheffield and grabbed some lunch at Meadowhall, before taking the tram to the Don Valley stadium in good time.

We joined the back of a queue, which one of the stewards said had nearly 2,000 people in already! Before long, we heard other people in the queue talking about how the first couple of thousand people through were guaranteed a space in the inner circle – basically the small section between the stage and the outer walkways. And when we finally got in at 5pm, that turned out to be the case!

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First off, the stage was amazing – it was a massive ‘claw’, with a circular stage in the centre, then had a walkway forming an outer ring, and a bridge either side linking the two together.

I’d really never expected us to be able to get so close to the front, but we were literally a few metres away from the stage! I’d always assumed that the people in those areas at gigs had paid loads more money to be there, so it was a really good surprise to discover that’s not the case!

We had a bit of rain as we were waiting for it to start, but it cleared up leaving a nice summer’s night. The first support act was The Hours, who I wasn’t that fussed with to be honest, but then the second one was Elbow, who I do really like. The music’s quite chilled at times, and I really like the quirkiness of their stuff.

Then the main event – and wow – U2 certainly know how to put on a show!

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They played a good mix of new and old, and they sounded great. And they were so close to us! A few songs in, one of the bridges that had been over to the side started moving and stopped just above us, and the next thing we knew, Bono walked onto it and starting singing just above our heads! The crowd went crazy and hundred of camera phones were all pointed upwards towards the bridge!

Another really cool thing was the circular video panel they had around the top of the stage. About a third of the way through their set, the panels all started separating and moved downwards, creating a really cool looking structure.

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They played for 2 hours in total, and the fact that we were so close really made it special. There were apparently over 53,000 people in the stadium but it felt so intimate – as though they were playing just to us!

The only negative was that it took us quite a while to get out of Sheffield – we got back home just after 1am, although I know some other Manchester people who didn’t get home until a lot later!

So for my first ever experience of U2 live – it was pretty special, and was so glad that we queued up early! And it was nice spending the day with Phil as well, so a good result all round!

There are some photos of the night taken on my phone here.

Bank Holiday and Fawlty Towers

Well it’s been quite a busy weekend – on Friday I was over in Liverpool shooting a live music video for thebandwithnoname and LZ7. They’ve done a joint track and need some kind of promo video to go with it, so I organised a 9 camera set-up at the monthly ‘Space’ event. I dragged Dave Bateman and Bruce from The Message along to operate cameras, and then used a few guys from the event itself, so I’m going to have a lot of footage to go through! The only downside of it really was that the stage was tiny, and it was really cramped with effectively 2 bands on there at the same time, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Then on Sunday, I went over to Rob’s in Ramsbottom (because he’d lent me some cameras for Friday’s shoot and I had to return them) and we ended up having a bit of an impromptu barbeque which was pretty cool.

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We tried to get Rob’s reclaimed gas barbeque working, but even though we could hear gas coming out from somewhere, it just wouldn’t light. Eventually we gave up, thus averting an explosive disaster(!), and used some disposable ones instead! Clare made burgers from fresh minced beef and onions, which I’ve never done before, and they tasted really good. Next time I have a barbeque, I think I’ll give the frozen ones a miss and make my own!

I got home late Sunday night and watched the season finale of ‘Fringe’ on Sky+, and wow… it was excellent! A pretty major plot twist, and quite an unexpected ending! Won’t say much more if people haven’t seen it yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to the next series!

On to Monday, and with it being yet another Bank Holiday, a group of us headed over to Formby beach again.

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The weather wasn’t too bad – we had a few spits of rain later on, but the rest of the time was okay, and I even caught the sun a little bit! We did the usual beach volleyball, which again was really very funny! And there were also a couple of excellent sand sculptures produced by Tom and Chris which had to be seen to be believed!

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There are some photos of all our beach shenanigans here.

Then in the evening, we went back to Phil’s because Ralph was house-sitting there, and after a false start with a slightly inappropriate film starring Russell Brand(!), we ended up watching a quirky little film called ‘Son of Rambow‘ which I thought was really good, and was something I probably wouldn’t have watched otherwise.

fawlty-towersOther news – I mentioned last month about doing the graphics for 2 documentaries about Fawlty Towers, and they’ve both now gone out on G.O.L.D. The pre-publicity for the programmes generated a lot of interest in the press, There’s a video on the BBC News website which shows the amount of press at the launch!

For the first of the shows – ‘Fawlty Towers Re-Opened’ – we produced the opening titles, but for the second 2-hour show on the 17th – ‘Fawlty Exclusive: Basil’s Best Bits’ we provided opening titles, episode guides, interview backgrounds, as well as other in-programme graphics.

I thought they were really well put together shows, and had some great behind-the-scenes stuff as well as obviously a load of hilarious clips. And on top of that, they were voiced by none other than Stephen Fry!

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Looking forward to some great gigs

I’m pretty excited because I’ve bought a pair of tickets for U2’s 360° Tour in Sheffield this August. They went on sale at 9am yesterday morning, and I’d bought them by 9:01am! I’ve always wanted to seen them live – I was disappointed that I didn’t see them play in Manchester a few years ago – so thought I’d try and buy tickets to see them this time round, then find someone else to take the other ticket!

Phil’s buying the other ticket off me (hopefully he’ll be up for trying to get as close to the stage as we can!) so it should be a great day… and Elbow are supporting which is cool because I really like them as well!

And then in September, I’m going to see Coldplay at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground with James and Helen, which should be amazing as well, though I’m not that fussed by Jay-Z playing beforehand. I’ve still got an extra ticket for that one I need to sell before the gig!

Other news… work’s busy at the moment – which is good considering we’re supposed to be in a recession! We’ve got quite a few projects on the go, and in a few weeks we’re delivering graphics for a show on G.O.L.D. which will be on this summer I think (I’ll post more about it when it’s been scheduled!)

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36 years old – rubbish!

Yep, it’s my birthday, and it’s not something I really want to celebrate! There’s nothing great about getting older – you’re basically running out of time to accomplish the things you always hoped you’d do, and the likelihood of them happening just gets less and less.

Anyway, in true tradition I’m spending my birthday working late in the office… we’ve got a job that needs to be finished for the morning, so I’ve got to stay until it’s done, and might be a few more hours yet.

To be fair, as a kind of birthday treat to myself, I’m off to see Delirious play in Liverpool on Wednesday night – it’s their last UK tour, so I’m hoping it’s a really good gig. I first saw them live back in 1995, and have seen them many times since then, so will be weird knowing it’ll probably be the last time.

Well, that’s the summer done!

Wow – I can’t believe so much time has passed since I last blogged on here!

It’s been quite a busy summer – I’ve just got back home after being away working for a couple of weeks down at Soul Survivor. I spent 10 days in the Underground venue doing visuals for the venue, so spent most of the time either down the side of the stage or in our make-shift edit suite! This year I had Tom Steward helping me – it was pretty last minute because both Andy and Kate weren’t able to come this year – but I was really impressed at how quickly he picked it all up, and the stuff he was shooting on stage every night was brilliant.

Some of the video features we did can now be viewed on Youtube so check them out!

So we finished there on Thursday morning, and then I headed up to Bristol to meet up with Ali, and on Friday went with her and some of her friends to Greenbelt.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been to the festival, though obviously I’ve heard lots about it over the years! It’s very different to Soul Survivor – much more of an arts festival – and in some ways I found a lot of stuff really watered down, although there was a lot of passion for environmental issues and the like, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite a political event really, and the bands that appear are from a really wide spectrum – from Delirious and Matt Redman to Chas & Dave!! Not sure whether I’d go again, but I’m glad I checked it out.

Work news – me and James are now officially joint directors of doodledo MOTION Ltd which is pretty exciting! We got all the stuff finished for the BBC2 series ‘British Film Forever‘ though it went on a bit longer than we expected – we thought the edit would be finished at the end of July, but James was still having to render graphics whilst I was at Soul Survivor! It was a good job for us to do because it was quite high profile – they even advertised the programme on a big board with some of our graphics on the front of the BBC building on Oxford Road! I think all the stuff we did looked really good when seen in the context of the whole show, and it’s a good job to stick in our portfolio!

We’re now working on some titles and programme graphics for a ‘Vicar of Dibley’ special going out in October on UKTV Gold. It’s basically a showcase of the 40 funniest clips from the series with interviews from the cast and celebrity fans.

We went down to Tiger Aspect in London back in July to meet with the production team, and the meeting went really well, and hopefully we should be able to deliver some really good work. The plan is that we’re going to do background images for each of the interviews, plus animated stings to introduce each of the clips. There’s been talk of us doing some titles as well, but I’m not sure what’s happening with that yet… we’ll probably find out last minute!!

We’ve got some other work lined up as well, so hopefully we can make a real success of the new business. It’s going to be hard work, but I think me and James work really well together, and it’ll be good to focus our efforts in building the brand and expanding what we do. Watch this space!

Oh, and after a lot of phone calls and form filling, I managed to get my money back after the betting incidents… going to be checking my bank statements a lot more regularly from now on!

Radio 1’s Big Weekend

Moor Park, PrestonWell yesterday I went to Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Preston, and I have to say it was excellent!

I nearly didn’t go because it seemed like everyone already had plans for the day, but at the last minute Ajay said he’d be able to take a break from his work and come along.

The weather forecast for this weekend was pretty bleak so I was expecting to get wet and muddy, but it didn’t rain once, and though it was a bit muddy in places, we did really well weather-wise! We got in at about 12 o’clock and had a look around before heading over to the outdoor arena where Westwood was DJing. Now I’ve never been a fan of his – either him on the radio or on MTV’s ‘Pimp My Ride’, but the first thing I noticed about him was his inability to open his mouth with a string of obscenities coming out! He obviously thought it was cool, but to be honest I just thought it was pretty boring, and made him seem even more fake.

Anyway, we headed over to the Main Stage and saw the beginning of Jamie T’s set, but it wasn’t really my thing so we went to the ‘In New Music We Trust’ stage to watch The Pigeon Detectives. I wasn’t really aware of them before, but I knew Ralph likes their stuff, and I did actually recognise one of their songs. They were really good though, and the lead singer was really energetic, and I reckon I’ll take a listen to their future stuff.

Natasha BedingfieldWe sat outside the tent whilst The Twang were on, and then made our way into the crowd of the Main Stage to watch the rest of the line up. Natasha Bedingfield was on next – I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction she’d get. Personally I really like her stuff, but I think a lot of people are quite hostile to her. But quite cleverly, Chris Moyles who was introducing her got the crowd to build up to a big cheer in sections as she came on, which meant that her set got off to a really good start. She started off with her ‘Babies’ song which I wasn’t keen on when I first heard it, but now I do like it! She also did ‘Unwritten’ as part of her half-hour, and when the gospel-singing bit kicked in at the end, it sounded brilliant!

Next up were The Fray – complete with a baby grand piano! I’m quite into their stuff – I bought their album recently, but haven’t listened to it enough to know that many of their songs other than ‘Over My Head’ and ‘How To Save A Life’. Then after yet another half hour of waiting (as the stage was re-set and various music videos were played on the screens) we were treated to The Fratellis. I’m not a massive fan of theirs, but I did think they were really good, and the crowd were singing along to all their songs, and I joined in on the couple I knew!

RazorlightKasabian were next to hit the stage, and the lead singer seemed to be quite hyped up and excited to be there! They produced an amazing sound actually, and probably got the best reaction from the crowd all day I reckon. Then the last band we saw on the Main Stage was Razorlight who reeled off all their big hits. To be honest, I was quite surprised at how many songs I knew well, and I thought they were excellent, although my legs were aching quite badly by this point having been standing in the crowd for about 5 hours!

We didn’t bother staying for Scissor Sisters, but instead headed over to the other stage to catch some of Groove Armada’s set. They were okay, but I didn’t really know any of their stuff, so we left about 10 minutes before the end to make sure we didn’t get caught up in the madness of 20,000 people all leaving the park at the same time!

Anyway, to sum up, these are the 5 things I’m taking away from yesterday…

  1. I’ll definitely be buying The Pigeon Detectives album when it comes on on May 28th – they were good.
  2. I must watch more music videos – there are some really good ones out there at the moment that might well inspire me in my work!
  3. I need to get along to more gigs – live music is great.
  4. I can’t wait for the smoking ban to come in – I was getting so peed off with people blowing smoke in my face yesterday whilst in the crowd!
  5. Westwood is an arse.

Manic fortnight… and the future…

We’re into the final stages of our manic Preview-filming-fortnight! Did three shoots for the next DVD last week (with two in London), yesterday we shot an interview here in Manchester, and then me and James set off for Liverpool this morning at 7am to film some stuff for Liverpool Council’s Sportslinx. It was an incredibly packed schedule with 11 interviews plus shooting various activities!! We didn’t get a chance to break for lunch until about 5 o’clock(!) and we got back home tonight at about eight!

So I’ve just watched this week’s Apprentice (there really are some horrible people in that!!), and now I’m packing some clothes because we’re off to London tonight to do some more Preview filming tomorrow and Friday. We were going to originally leave really early tomorrow morning, but James suggested we drive down halfway tonight, so we’re staying in a Travel Inn at Watford Gap, so we’ll only have about 80 miles to drive in the morning, and hopefully it means we’ll be a bit more awake and less arsey by the end of the day!!

Have chatted more with James about future ideas with regard to the work we both do together, and it looks like there might be some good developments ahead. Not going to go into much detail yet, but I’m quite excited about and I’m really hoping it all works out.

Other news – I found out this evening that I’ve got a pair of tickets to Radio 1’s Big Weekend next Saturday! I applied online and didn’t really expect to get any, but out of the 500,000 who applied, I was one of the 8,875 who got tickets for the Saturday!! The bands there that day include Razorlight, Kasabian, Scissor Sisters, The Fratellis, The Fray, Natasha Bedingfield and Groove Armada! I definitely want to go, but I just need to find someone to come with me because I don’t fancy going on my own really.

Work stuff and tbwnn album launch

Been pretty busy the last few weeks – last week I had a meeting with some guys from Liverpool council about some work that me and James should hopefully be doing for them soon, and also had a lot to do on trying to get the latest Preview DVD finished (am pretty close now, and managed to get the bits they needed for New York in time!)

Also, on Saturday I was asked to film thebandwithnoname’s launch for their new album and it was a really good gig. I listened properly to their new stuff on my iPod during the Reach weekend, and it really is an excellent album. Anyway, for the gig I was down at the front of the stage, and we also had a fixed camera at the back of the venue so hopefully I should be able to produce a decent edit of it… I just need to try and find some time to do it now!

Obviously one of the reasons that it’s been a bit busier these last two weeks is that James & Helen are on holiday in Australia at the moment so it’s been a bit more intense… and I’m not at all jealous that they’re on such an amazing holiday at the moment! Though I heard from James by email yesterday and they had their campervan broken into this week, and had a few bits and pieces stolen, including his iPod and his phone, so that’s not great. Hopefully the rest of their time out there will be amazing and will wipe out the crap stuff!

Sleep’s for wimps!

Just thought I’d do a quick catch up blog because I’ve not posted since my birthday last month. It’s been really busy this last few weeks… in the last 14 days I’ve worked 128 hours, and I’m about to go out and do some filming for Channel M tonight which means I’ll probably be working until about midnight! I’m actually the busiest I’ve been so far… due to deadlines and stuff I managed to do a 36 hour day this week! I got up at 8am on Sunday to start work for 9, then worked straight through until 7pm on Monday night – finally getting to sleep about 8pm… I reckon Monday was probably the worst day of editing I’ve ever done!

I went to see Delirious at the Apollo on the Friday after my birthday, and it was excellent! I went with Sa, and we met Caroline and Colin beforehand, and I also bumped into a few people I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Tim Hughes opened the gig, and although he was potentially an odd choice for a support act, he went down really well with the crowd. Then Delirious came on, and they played mostly stuff off Mission Bell, but did throw some older stuff into the mix as well. It was a great gig – and they made extensive use of visuals as well, although at times I did find them a bit distracting, but that could have been because I was thinking how I’d have done a couple of them better! I just can’t switch off!

Then last night I met up with Craig who I used to work with at MUTV, and who left to work at the CITV channel around the same time I went freelance. He’s just found out he’s being made redundant so wanted to meet up to ask about going freelance and stuff. Not sure if I was any help really, but it was cool to catch up!