Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Corner Gas and Me - A Personal Journey


I will quite readily admit to flying the flag for geekiness. I am a movie buff, I collect comics, I love all areas of comedy, I play blues guitar and I collect autographs. I have a lot of passions and I have explored them all in depth and some almost became professions. I worked the comedy circuit in and around London and was starting to get the hang of it until I had to quit in favour of paying bills regularly. I have played my guitar all over the world and was very close to getting a management contract until I had to quit.... in favour of paying bills regularly. I have, and still do enjoy all my dabbling in these areas but this is the first time I have started a fan site and it feels odd to me. This is mainly because some feedback I have had assumes that I must live, eat and sleep Corner Gas. Truth is I don't, and I hope this doesn't upset some of the few readers I have garnered thus far. The general consensus is that to run a web site like this you have to be one of those slightly special, obsessed types. I have had messages from people that assume I have gone all "One Hour Photo" and have a house covered floor to ceiling with screen shots of characters from the show as I sit in a room slowly rocking back and forth in front of television with Season 4 permanently playing on a loop.

I love Corner Gas. It is one of my all time favourite shows.There are a number of other t.v comedies, situation or otherwise that I adore. Spike Milligan's Q series, The Young Ones, The Drew Carey Show, Open All Hours and Porridge. All shows I can watch over and over again and find something new every time. Some I can even quote and they are all up there in my little black book of t.v comedy greatness. However, I never felt the need to start a website about any of these great series. So why Corner Gas?

There are a couple of shows that are close to my heart for a different reason, one that is more emotional. Corner Gas is one of them.

Briefly, outside of Corner Gas, the tip top of my pile are "Bottom" starring the sublime comic talents of Ade Edmundson and the late great Rik Mayall. This is a show I loved from day one but all the more so now as it is a programme that helped bring myself and my wife together and the one show she can out quote me on every time. When we first met we would sit and watch episodes, get drunk and do bad impressions of Rik and Ade, and laugh until someone had to run to the toilet for a wee.

 Then there is Married...with Children, fairly base, much like Bottom, but anarchic and game changing for it's time, but always funny mainly due to it's amazing cast. I love this show because it was my dad's favourite. He worshipped at the temple of Al Bundy and tried his best to relate to his family based life pressures and would rib my mum something awful telling her that he knew exactly how Al felt. In reality his life was nothing at all like Mr. Bundy's, far from it, but my dad always found humour in pretending he was hard done by, as do I on occasion. Every time I watch Married, I think of my dad howling at poor down trodden Al, his shoulders jiggling up and down in mirth as Al's put upon head sunk deeper into his own chest. That thought makes me very happy.

My Dad, indirectly, is also the reason why I fell in love with Dog River and it's residents. Strap yourselves in, here comes the sad bit.

On June 28th 2013 my father died very suddenly from a massive stroke. As far as we can tell he was sitting in his chair, watching a movie, got up to turn everything off and collapsed. I lost the person I was closest to, my best friend, in the blink of an eye. This was just the start of four years from hell, my wife and I lost family members and dear friends, one after the other and had to deal with the cruelness of Cancer and Dementia. Along with other worries, we really felt at one point we were never going to see the end of it. It was particularly hard to deal with. These events really bring your own mortality in perspective and have also sharpened an awareness in me for the suffering of others that was never there before. I know there are hundreds upon thousands of people out there that have been through similar periods of stress and my heart goes out to them all.

I was struggling to watch movies and t.v. shows through out this period. It was my favourite thing to do but something I did with or talked about almost exclusively with my Dad. We were always talking movies my whole lifetime. There are very few people that I know that share my love of film to the same degree. I had no one to share them with any more so I felt there was no point in watching, it just made me sad. I cried watching Guardians of the Galaxy because I enjoyed it so much, but not tears of joy, I just wanted to be able to tell my Dad about it. Then I found Corner Gas, by accident - but you know that because you have read all my other posts...haven't you? I watched a few episodes and in some respect because I knew it was something my dad wouldn't like. Dad never really took to situation comedy, outside of Married...with Children, a show which probably tickled the naughty side of his funny bone. I didn't expect to like it much myself. I could watch it because I wouldn't need to speak to anyone about how good it is. Right?

Corner Gas, taught me how to laugh again, and laugh I did. Laughed hard, for the first time in a long time, and it felt so good. I started to dig into as many episodes as fast as Amazon could ship them to me and whilst waiting for the next DVD set to drop onto my door mat I researched the show on line to find out what I could about the cast and crew. To my surprise this wasn't as straight forward as I expected. Considering that this was Canada's biggest comedy show I was dredging the internet for, it didn't seem to have much of a web presence. Even the official website doesn't hold many golden nuggets of info for a burgeoning fan (no offence if anyone involved with the site is reading). Which got me to thinking, perhaps I could fill the void with a little fan site. All those other great shows have a dozen sites tracking all the minutiae of their being, so why not the mighty Corner Gas? I had just started my other site Blog Paper so I figured I could run both sites together and they would create traffic for each other and I would eventually become one of those internet millionaires you hear about and be able to buy myself a solid gold cheese grater and have my socks made out of old William Shatner toupee's. Time and responsibility said otherwise and I never got round to doing anything about it.

Skip forward to September 2016 and the after effects of all the issues that my family, along with other issues that had surfaced in my professional life, were starting to take their toll. I was on my way to being rather ill. My ever amazing wife arranged for me to visit Vancouver, with the excuse of getting to see Brent Butt perform live as the perfect reason to go. The real reason for the trip was to try and help me chill out, get things straight, figure out how I was going to get myself together before I fell ill as I have done in the past. I was travelling across the globe to try and push the reset button.

And it worked. A week with pretty much nothing to worry about, other than what the hell a Poutine was, did the trick. I realised I needed a permanent distraction from the daily circus that goes on my head and the best way to do that was write. I love to write, always have, especially in my stand up days. I was a bad joke factory back then. So I went back to Blog Paper, set it up properly and wrote a little post about Corner Gas which got a great response. So I revisited the idea of the fan site and here we are. I am more focused and things are feeling much better.

So a personal need and the fact that there was just nothing else out there covering the show is why this site came to be. Corner Gas is a growing part of my life because of this, which is an amazingly enjoyable thing to see happen. I didn't expect the response to be so great so the time I am spending in the company of the show and the amount work I am doing is increasing daily. I love every minute of it. I like to think my Dad would be nodding his head in approval reading anything I have written. Even though I am positive he wouldn' t have watched the show.

My Dad developed my sense of humour for me as soon as I was old enough to appreciate the likes of Spike Milligan and The Goons. He played old reel to reel tapes of episodes of that old radio show he had recorded back in the '50's. I got the comedy bug from then on and nurtured the development of it myself over the following years searching out new comedians, shows and movies which eventually lead me to Corner Gas. That's not full circle I realise, there is plenty more out there for me to discover, however Dog River seems like a nice place to hang around for a little while and have a giggle. I hope you join me....I'm not mad......honest.


For help and advice for those who have been affected by someone suffering a stroke please visit these wonderful website which are full of important information -

U.K. - The Stroke Association -  www.stroke.org.uk
Canada - The Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery - www.canadianstroke.ca
U.S.A. - The National Stroke Association - www.stroke.org