Potatoes she peeled: a poem for my nanna

where to begin
maybe with the small cracks
in her skin
every afternoon
and again soon
she sat down
in a kitchen
basket on her lap
whilst you heard
the water
dripping from the tap
she peeled potatoes
part of her daily chores
that earthy fragrance
ingrained in her pores
taking out the pits
with a tiny knife
the homely joys
she thought
of her daily life

Deepression

I stare
from within
the shadows
looking
for the light
but I fear
I can’t win
this everlasting fight

darkness
has surrounded me
and embroiled me
in sorrow
I shall have faith
yet I hope
I shan’t wake
tomorrow

~ photo Roberto de Mitri

Featuring: Ricky Gervais

Today I’m featuring a comedian who is funny, daft, sensitive and deadly honest. I love this man as he always searches for truths and can turn sadness into laughter. He is a realist and makes many of us aware of our human emotions, all in good spirit.

Ricky Dene Gervais (1961) is an English comedian, actor, director, and writer. He is best known for co-creating, co-writing, and acting in the British television mockumentary sitcom The Office (2001–2003). He has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and the Rose d’Or twice (2006 and 2019), and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2007, he was placed at No. 11 on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and at No. 3 in their 2010 list. In 2010, he was included in the Time 100 list of World’s Most Influential People.

Gervais initially worked in the music industry. He attempted a career as a pop star in the 1980s as the singer of the new-wave act Seona Dancing, and managed the then-unknown band Suede before turning to comedy. He appeared on The 11 O’Clock Show on Channel 4 between 1998 and 2000, garnering a reputation as an outspoken and sharp-witted social provocateur. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 spoof talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais. He achieved greater mainstream fame the following year with his BBC television mock documentary series The Office, followed by Extras in 2005, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with Stephen Merchant, and in which he played the lead roles of David Brent (The Office) and Andy Millman (Extras). He starred in the 2016 comedy film David Brent: Life on the Road, which he also wrote and directed.

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. He has performed five multinational stand-up comedy tours, and he wrote the Flanimals book series. Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington created the podcast The Ricky Gervais Show, which has spawned various spin-offs starring Pilkington and produced by Gervais and Merchant. Gervais has also starred in the Hollywood films Ghost Town, the Night at the Museum trilogy, For Your Consideration, and Muppets Most Wanted. He wrote, directed, and starred in The Invention of Lying and the Netflix-released Special Correspondents. He hosted the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, and again in 2020. Gervais also appeared on the game show Child Support. He is also the creator, executive producer, director, and writer of the Netflix comedy series After Life, where he plays the lead role of Tony Johnson.

Gervais attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School. After a gap year which he spent working as a gardener at the University of Reading, he attended University College London (UCL) in 1980. He intended to study biology but changed to philosophy after two weeks, and was awarded an upper second-class honours degree in the subject from University of London in 1983. During his time there, he met Jane Fallon, with whom he has been in a relationship since 1982.

In 1983, during his final year as a student at University College London, Gervais and his best friend Bill Macrae formed the new wave pop duo Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—”More to Lose” and “Bitter Heart”. The songs failed to make the UK Singles Chart. Despite not being successful in the UK, Seona Dancing did manage to score a hit in the Philippines with “More to Lose”. Gervais also worked as the manager for Suede before they became successful in the 1990s.

In 2013, Gervais performed a live tour as David Brent along with his band Foregone Conclusion, Brent’s fictional band in The Office. He and the band performed songs written under the Brent character, including “Equality Street” and “Free Love Freeway”. Gervais also produced a series of YouTube videos, ‘Learn Guitar with David Brent’, featuring acoustic guitar versions of nine songs.

In 2016, as part of the Life on the Road film promotion, Gervais published the David Brent Songbook of 15 songs, which he also recorded for the album Life on the Road as David Brent and Foregone Conclusion.

After the first series of The Office, Gervais and Merchant worked at Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show, where they began working with Karl Pilkington, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts. In October 2017, Gervais began hosting the weekly radio show Ricky Gervais Is Deadly Sirius on Sirius XM, which ran until 2019.

Ricky also did some podcasting featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was consistently ranked the number 1 podcast in the world. It appeared in the 2007 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most-downloaded podcast, with an average 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month. Two more series, each with six podcasts, were released between February and September 2006.

In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called “The Podfather Trilogy”, they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.These three were known by Gervais and Merchant as “The Fourth Season”. In October 2007 another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes, after being originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais’s Fame stand-up tour in London. On 25 November 2007 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington released another free podcast of just over one hour.

In August 2008, Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded their fifth series of audiobooks, totalling four chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008, and described as the ‘Guide To…’ series. As of May 2011, there are 12 ‘Guides’ to Medicine, Natural History, Arts, Philosophy, The English, Society, Law & Order, The Future, The Human Body, The Earth, The World Cup 2010, and Comic Relief. The conversations typically begin on topic and go out on tangents about other subjects.

In 2021, Gervais launched a paid-for audio series, Absolutely Mental, of his conversations with philosopher Sam Harris. Season 2 was also launched in 2021, followed by season 3 in March 2022.

Initially Gervais was most famous for the series The Office. The Office started when Stephen Merchant had to make his own short film while on a BBC production course. In August 1999 he made a docu-soap parody, set in an office, with help from Ash Atalla who was shown a 7-minute video called ‘The Seedy Boss’. Thus the character of David Brent was created. Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC’s Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais.

The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention. Word-of-mouth, repeats, and DVDs helped spread the word, building up momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes. Following the success of The Office’s second series, Gervais was named the most powerful person in TV comedy by Radio Times.

In 2004, The Office won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy as well as Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for Gervais, who said in a 2015 BBC interview that the award was the gateway to America for him.

The Office brand has since been remade for audiences in Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil, Chile, The Czech Republic, Finland, India, Israel, Poland and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and they also co-wrote the episode “The Convict” for the show’s third season. Gervais has said that the episode “Training” is his favourite, where Brent plays his guitar and sings. In 2021, on the show’s 20th anniversary, he suggested the show would not have been produced in 2021 due to cancel culture: “I mean, now it would be cancelled. I’m looking forward to when they pick out one thing and try to cancel it. Someone said they might try to cancel it one day, and I say, ‘Good let them cancel it—I’ve been paid!’

Ricky also starred in a series called Extras. Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005 and was directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais’s The Office character David Brent. Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.

A Rolling Stone article remarks that in making Extras, Gervais was influenced by Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas. I might like to add that Gervais don’t shy away from a good old ‘roast’, something that some comedians do, like Don Rickles, when they take the piss out of another celebrity just for fun.

In 2007, Gervais won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Andy Millman in the second series of Extras. As Gervais was not present at the awards ceremony, the trophy was accepted on his behalf by Steve Carell, the actor who starred as regional manager Michael Scott—the counterpart to Gervais’s David Brent—on the American adaptation of The Office.

The Ricky Gervais Show is an animated TV show that debuted on US cable network HBO on 19 February 2010. In the UK, the first series began airing on 23 April 2010 on Channel 4. The show was developed using original podcast recordings from The Ricky Gervais Show starring Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. After receiving an enthusiastic following in the US, HBO recommissioned the show for a second series, which aired in 2011, and a third series which started airing in April 2012.

Life’s Too Short began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011.Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote this sitcom from an idea by Warwick Davis. It is described by Gervais as being about “the life of a showbiz dwarf” and as “a cross between Extras and The Office”. The show stars actor Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself, as well as Gervais and Merchant. Premium cable channel HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC, had the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.

Another of creations was a show called An Idiot Abroad, a travel documentary where a reluctant Karl Pilkington travels around the world, with his reactions to people and places recorded. Occasionally, Gervais and Merchant call to surprise him with a new place to visit or task to do. Pilkington reports back mostly complaining about the situation. Gervais says there is no planning; a camera crew follows his friend around filming for many hours, which Gervais edits down to an hour each episode.

Two series and a Christmas special have aired; series one involves Pilkington visiting the Seven Wonders of the World. In the second show he chooses to complete tasks from a bucket list provided by Gervais and in the special Warwick Davis joins Pilkington on a journey following Marco Polo’s route from Italy to China.

In November 2011, Gervais filmed in London a 35-minute pilot episode for a potential comedy-drama series called Derek, which aired on Channel 4 on 12 April 2012.The pilot is solely written and directed by Gervais and features him in the title role of Derek Noakes, a 49-year-old retirement home worker, who “loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop, and Britain’s Got Talent.” The character first appeared in a 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sketch as an aspiring comedian who loves animals and still lives with his mother. Gervais’s co-host Karl Pilkington makes his acting debut as Derek’s friend and facilities-caretaker Dougie who also works in the retirement home. British comedian Kerry Godliman plays Derek’s best friend Hannah and David Earl plays Kev.

Gervais said that the series is about “kindness [being] more important than anything else”. He added “It’s about the forgotten—everyone’s forgotten. It’s all these arbitrary people who didn’t know each other, and they’re in there now because they’re in the last years of their life. And it’s about the people who help them, who themselves are losers and have their own problems. It’s about a bunch of people with nothing, but making the most of it, and they’re together.” He chose to set the sitcom in a retirement home after he watched Secret Millionaire—”It was always these people with huge problems who were helping other people. I thought about having Derek help old people because no one cares about old people in this country … I think it’s perfect for now.”

On 9 May 2018, it was announced that Netflix had given a production order for the first season of the comedy drama After Life. It was created and directed by Gervais, who also starred in it and executive-produced it with Duncan Hayes, with Charlie Hanson as producer; the series premiered on 8 March 2019.On 3 April 2019, Netflix renewed the series for a second season, which launched on 24 April 2020.In May 2020 it was announced that Gervais had signed a new deal with Netflix, including a third season of After Life. Before the announcement Gervais said, “For the first time ever, I would do a series three, because the world’s so rich. I love the characters, I love all the actors in it, I love my character, I love the town, I love the themes… I love the dog!”

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. His first successful show was at the Cafe Royal as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, it also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince and Stephen Merchant.

Gervais toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale.

Ricky Gervais also does stand-up comedy, animation, he writes children’s books and is often a guest on talk shows and sometimes hosts the Golden Globe Awards, etc.

Gervais’s film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon, Bugsy, in 2005’s Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006’s For Your Consideration,as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006’s Night at the Museum and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and as “Ferdy the Fence” in the 2007 film Stardust.

Gervais starred in Ghost Town (2008) as a dentist who sees spirits, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying (2009), in which he starred alongside Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Louis C.K.. The social comedy was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.

Gervais directed and starred in, Special Correspondents, which began filming in May 2015. The comedy stars Eric Bana as a journalist and Gervais as his assistant. They pretend to report news from a war torn country but in actuality they are safe in New York. The film was released on Netflix. Gervais directed and starred in the 2016 film David Brent: Life on the Road, a mockumentary following David Brent, a character first seen in The Office series, as he lives his dream of being a rockstar. On 5 November 2015 Gervais signed up to play Ika Chu, a villainous cat, in an animated film Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, originally known as Blazing Samurai. The movie is about a dog (Hank) played by Michael Cera, who wants to be a warrior and fights with Ika Chu for the town of Kakamucho.

Gervais has homes in Hampstead, London, and Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He also has an apartment in the Barbizon 63 building in New York City. He has been in a relationship with producer and author Jane Fallon since 1982, and says they chose not to marry because “there’s no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God” or have children because they “didn’t fancy dedicating 16 years of [their] lives … and there are too many children, of course”.

He is a vegan, an atheist and a humanist, and states that he abandoned religion at the age of eight. In December 2010, he wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal defending his atheism. He is an honorary associate of the UK’s National Secular Society and a patron of Humanists UK, a British charity that promotes the humanist worldview and campaigns for a secular state and on human rights issues. On 3 September 2019, he received the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award, which recognises people who proclaim “the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truths wherever it may lead.” Gervais received the award during a Centre for Inquiry-sponsored ceremony at London’s Troxy Theatre. Dawkins praised Gervais as a “witty hero of atheism and reason.”

Gervais is a fan of the UFC and Reading F.C. He is a music fan and has stated that his hero is David Bowie, with his favourite song being “Letter to Hermione”. He has also stated that his first experience of a live music gig was watching Iggy Pop. In 2013, he wrote that Lou Reed was “one of the greatest artists of our time” following Reed’s death.

Gervais is a fervent supporter of gay rights and has praised the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales as “a victory for all of us”, saying “anything that promotes equality, promotes progress … You can’t take equality ‘too far’.”

Gervais joined Twitter in December 2009 when he first hosted the 66th Golden Globes. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to the platform in September 2011.In 2012, Gervais won a Shorty Award for Lifetime Achievement for his popular presence on social media. As of April 2022 he was followed by 14.7 million fans whom he calls ‘Twonks’.

Gervais uses social media to promote his work to his fans. After ten years he brought back his character Brent on his YouTube channel in a web series Learn Guitar with David Brent. He uses many ways to promote his new series, for example for Derek, he posts contests or questions for his fans.

Gervais uses social media to raise awareness of animal welfare. He tweets links to petitions to rescue animals from captivity, he highlights the plight of animals being used for testing, and he encourages people to adopt dogs instead of buying them from breeders. He won the Genesis Award from the Humane Society in March 2015 for his contribution to raising awareness for animal welfare on social media. In 2014, he was named most influential London Twitter user.

Gervais has cited Laurel & Hardy, Groucho Marx, Peter Cook, and Christopher Guest as significant influences.

Gervais is a supporter of animal rights and has stated that he will leave his fortune to animal charities. Gervais named an Asian black bear, also known as a moonbear, Derek after the protagonist from his series Derek. In December 2013, Gervais bought a $1000 cake shaped like a moonbear to raise funds for Animal Asia. Gervais is active in the prevention of illegal wildlife trade; he supported the handing over of ivory trinkets to the Metropolitan police in London.

In 2015, Gervais donated a signed acoustic guitar to help raise funds for Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada, with a special call-out to Pockets Warhol. The guitar which was signed by Gervais was purchased by Danny Young from the United Kingdom who has since had the guitar signed by several celebrities in order to raise further funds for the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. Celebrities who signed the guitar include: Brian May, Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Dhani Harrison, Peter Frampton, Ricky Warwick, and Steve Cutts.

In 2017, Gervais was awarded the Lord Houghton Award for Service to Animal Welfare from Animal Defenders International Gervais was also awarded the Humane Society International Cecil Award in 2018 for his frequent social media efforts to end trophy hunting.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Penelope

I watch the glistening stars
waiting for thy presence
thy brown eyes
a pulse through the universe
bound
connected
to ne’r be smothered
infinitely
Penelope

be mine

Distraught

distraught
I was
I fought
my thoughts
my memories
of disagrees
worries
of fees
and foes
I suppose
I took
my time
and drank
some wine
emptied bottles
emptying me
distraught
I fought
I won
and now
I’m free

Mrs Khan

Mrs Khan
had a nasty man
who hit her hard
with a frying pan

he made her weep
and make her sleep
outside with the mice
in a garbage can

she ran away
to the USA
moved to a town
it was called Bomb Bay

there she met
her soulmate me
who made her smile
and feel happy

A courtyard of stone

an old man
playing a violin
devotes
his melancholy notes
to the sun
a blue sky
and a few birds
passing by
whilst forgotten chansons
echo off the walls
of shut shops
beneath a plane tree
almost alone
he brings tears
and joy
to a courtyard of stone