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MY SQUARE MILE
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400 Smiles A Day
It seems that
the artist Leonardo da Vinci kept a notebook, Notes to Self,
a list of “things to do today”: buy paper; charcoal; chalk ...
describe tongue of woodpecker and jaw of crocodile...
These are my Notes to Self, a daily record of
the things that make me smile and which brighten up my day no
end, whether read in a newspaper, seen on TV, heard on the
radio, told in the pub, spotted in the supermarket, a good joke,
a great story, a funny cartoon, a film clip, an eye-catching
picture, something startling that nevertheless generates a spontaneous smile, curiosities spotted
along my walks through the Towy Valley...
This is a snapshot of life beyond the blue horizon...
everyday a doolally smile of the day
The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
Thursday, February 28, 2013
A parable for our times
I PICK up the morning paper ... the first thing I notice
is the front page of the Sun newspaper ― I am overtaken by
a fast-lane smile...
...I have no interest whatsoever in reading what some dodgy
comedian gets up to in his spare time, what these days I think of as
Savile Downtime ― but what does spring effortlessly to mind are the opening
lines of the famous poem by Mary Howitt (1799-1888):
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
Incidentally, are you familiar with more that the opening
lines of Mary’s poem? I wasn’t ― but something made me Google it ... Wow!
As I read the poem I really couldn’t get the name Savile
out of my mind. It truly is a parable for our times. It is well worth a
read; there’s a link at the foot of today’s winding stair...
Whilst on the subject of front page news, this was last
Tuesday’s Daily Mail, which featured a picture of Adele,
celebrating her Oscar win...
...so well done her, and a great singer she is, too. But I did smile at
the headline: The night that Adele kissed her ‘grim past’ goodbye.
The one thing we know about Adele, apart from her
marvellous voice, is that she has a pretty foul tongue. Her quotes are
forever asterisked in the meeja.
Indeed I read that she is regularly warned to watch her
language during awards ceremonies, which is why these days live
transmissions carry a slight delay, which allows broadcasters to bleep
out any comments that might cause offence. Or in modern parlance, Adele’s utterances are regularly
Daily Mail has on its Letters page a feature headed
Straight to the POINT, a newspaper version of a tweet, if you like.
Here’s an example from today’s paper:
“If the Duracell
bunny was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, would Britain recover
its AAA credit rating?”
That contribution from Nigel Swann of Milford on Sea,
Anyway, I couldn’t resist submitting a response to the Adele front page
― and it was published today:
“If Adele wants to kiss her ‘grim past’ goodbye, she’ll
have to kiss her ‘grim vocabulary’ goodbye first.”
The point I was making, of course, is that, no matter
what lucrative gift nature has seen fit to bless you with, no matter
what education you gain along the way, no matter how much fame and
fortune is showered upon you compliments of nature’s gift, your genetic
family tree will never, ever let go.
We wear our DNA on our sleeves. Or indeed on the tips
of our tongues.
Anyway, The Spider And The Fly ― highly commended to the House;
after all, the House of Commons is arguably the most dangerous parlour
in the country. Probably. Just ahead of the BBC:
Wednesday, February 27
So I did a bit of Googling ... and here it is:
FOLLOWING yesterday’s picture of Captain America taking a
comfort break ― or pointing Percy at the porcelain, as they say just
off-piste down in the snug at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon ― along with
my caption ‘But why is George W. Bush looking as if he’s facing
a firing squad?’, Chief Wise Owl reminded me of a definitive Bush image from
some 10 years or so ago.
at Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney?
Actually, it’s President George W. Bush at the annual turkey
pardoning event ―
just don't ask, right ―
at the White House in 2001
Curiosity killed the tomcat. Probably.
National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is
a ceremony that takes place at the White House every year, shortly before
Thanksgiving. The President is presented with a live domestic turkey,
usually of the Broad Breasted White variety.
(Would that be anything like a Page 3 turkey, do you suppose?)
Since 1989, during
the first Thanksgiving of President George W, Bush, the president has
granted the turkey a “presidential pardon”, and thus spared the bird
from being slaughtered.
When I saw the above picture, for some reason or other, the first thing
that came to mind was President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky ...
Whatever, one of these mornings, I’m gonna wake up and find that all the
doolallyness catalogued on Look You (there’s lovely) has been a
Meanwhile, back in dreamland...
The most meaningless quote in the world.
“If I had more money, I’d probably give it away.”
Richard Gere, 63, reclusive American actor.
That quote reminded me of the old gem: “If my aunty had
balls she’d probably be my uncle.”
The most stupid quote in the world. Probably.
“To put the Pope’s resignation into perspective, our
own Queen is a year older than him, but she would rather streak naked in
front of the grandstand at Royal Ascot than quit. It’s called duty.”
Piers Morgan, 47, former Fleet Street editor currently working as a
television host in the United States.
And this fellow was a Fleet Street editor? I think,
Piers, it has something to do with health. The Pope, at 85, is calling
it a day
due to his inability to perform duties because of failing “body and
mind.” And if his appearance today at his final official audience was
anything to go by, I don’t think he is telling porkies.
On the other hand, the Queen, the last time I looked
anyway, at 86, appears not just in rude health, but likely to see an
awful lot of us out.
As I have mentioned before, the real mega-rollover
jackpot in life is good health. Period. (Definitely not
Taking the high road
Remember this marvellous
cartoon I featured last Saturday?
And I said this, with tongue ever so slightly in cheek:
“That third cartoon ― the one for the road, so to speak ― makes me
think of my annual health MOT, when the nurse asks how many units of
alcohol a week I drink, and I look blank and pull a figure out of the
air. I often wonder if she automatically adds 10 – 20 – 30 per cent, or
whatever, to the figure.”
Well, the results have just been released of a study
conducted by researchers at University College London, which show that
sales of alcohol regularly exceed the amount we claim to consume ― by as
much as 100 per cent.
In other words, we drink twice as much as we admit. Do
you suppose the nurse down at the clinic really does double the number of
units I declare. Probably.
Did you notice how “probably” crept in as my word of the day?
Tuesday, February 26
Comic cuts and riding tandem
The Super Comic Convention 2013 is currently taking place
at the Excel Centre in Old London Town.
No, not a chuckle of comedians, not even a gathering of the
very best comics on the planet, as I genuinely thought when I first read
the headline, but rather it’s the best Super Comic Character
Whatever, the laughs come just as fast: this is the
picture that had me properly foxed ― I nearly said the picture
that had me wetting myself, but you know what I
Boris Johnson? No, Captain America takes a comfort break
is George W. Bush looking as if he's facing a firing squad?
Pic: Rick Findler
Meanwhile, back on the Desert Island Jukebox
On a bicycle built for two
With Christmas music done and dusted, the next musical
stage in my young life was primary school, or elementary school as it is
known in North America. Yes, all those simple, sing-along songs we were
taught as kids and which have remained ingrained inside our musical
memory boxes ― including of course The Lord’s Prayer, as touched on the
other day when I added it to my Jukebox.
I think I have mentioned this before in my dispatches,
but when BBC Radio 2 did its Top 100 popular songs of the last century,
Paul Gambaccini explained the surprise Number 14, Rudolph the Red
Nose Reindeer (surprise, surprise, a sudden reappearance of Xmas).
It is, I learnt, one of just a handful of songs that no
matter what your background, or age, you will instantly be able to
sing-along and join in. Hence its appearance at Number 14.
So I awaited arguably the second greatest sing-along song
ever penned, Happy Birthday being the most sing-along song ever,
obviously ...... but it never came ― for the simple reason that it was
composed the century before, by Englishman Harry Dacre.
A few years ago I caught a TV news item from a junior
school in London, most of the youngsters were coloured, and they were
all singing Daisy, Daisy – or Daisy Bell as it is officially called. The
joy on their faces was a delight.
So when I next visited the Crazy Horsepower Saloon ― a
definitive cross-section of the community I might add, aged 18 to 80 ― I
asked if they could sing Daisy Bell. Accompanied by much hilarity they
all individually proved that they could.
My long-shots were a couple of student girls behind the
bar. “Of course,” said one, while the other responded “I can sing you
the naughty version!”
― which meant she knew the original.
A while later I mentioned the sing-along nature of the
song to a local primary school teacher, and she confirmed that Daisy
Bell is a perfect song to get children singing: the melody is just about
as simple as it gets, and the words are delightfully silly ― and
children love that.
Daisy, Daisy is also the first song ever sung by a
computer ― again down to the simplicity of the melody, I presume;
indeed, they are the last words sung by computer Hal as it is slowly
disabled in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I doubt if anyone who listens to the Nat King Cole
version coming up could possibly stop themselves singing along with it.
It also helps that it is accompanied by a delightfully charming video.
So here is the link, before I add it to my Jukebox...
Monday, February 25
Horse meat found in Ikea mothballs
NOW I have never been to an Ikea store ― I have problems
opening packages of goods bought at my local supermarket, never mind
flat-packs of furniture à la Ikea ― but I did blink when I read the
Then the make-sense part of my brain caught up with the
seeing-is-nearly-believing part ― it always runs a split-second in
arrears ― and the headline suddenly made sense. Well, sort of:
Horse meat found in Ikea meatballs
meat has been found in meatballs produced for Ikea, the world’s biggest
(Yes, but how come they’re selling fast-food, I found myself wondering?)
Czech state veterinary administration found the contamination in 1kg
(2.2lb) packs of frozen meatballs, which are sold in Ikea stores around
(Then it clicked: Ikea stores obviously have restaurants to feed the
masses going flat out about their business.)
A spokesman for the institute said he did not know
whether the meatballs were distributed in Britain. Ikea said they were
made by a single Swedish supplier.
The inspectors took samples for DNA tests in the city of
Brno from a product labelled as “beef and pork meatballs”, the statement
said. A total of 760kg (1,672lb) of the meatballs were stopped from
going on sale after the contamination was discovered.
Talk about a story taking on a life all of its own.
Again, it’s not so much that horsemeat has, unbeknown to the world at
large, entered the food chain, but rather that it could well be horse
meat containing the veterinary anti-inflammatory drug Bute (sometimes
called “you Beaut” by certain meat processors, but officially known as
Do you suppose the famous tale about a certain horse will
now have to be rewritten?
Black Beaut begins life in a loving home; but his owners are forced
to sell, and Black Beaut’s fortunes change. He begins a life of travel:
UK, Ireland, Romania, France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Ikea...
doesn’t bear thinking about.
The French agriculture ministry has also confirmed that
British authorities had alerted it to six carcasses tainted with Bute, a
potential carcinogen, which had been exported to France last month, and
the meat had been processed.
“How times change. We
used to say ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’. Now it’s ‘One
man’s poison is another man’s meat’.” Valerie Phillips of Neath,
South Wales, in a letter to the Daily Mail.
Anyway, back with the Ikea meatballs and a few online tweets and
comments, which are anything but flat...
Graham Stacey: Horsemeat found in #Ikea meatballs.
There’s got to be a flat-pack gag in this, but I’ve no idea how to put
Stevie Bowerman: I’m so hungry I could eat a
self-assembly clothes horse.
Tom Darnell: Ikea announce the name of their new
product range for Summer 2013: Nägg.
quickmeme.com: Oh Lawdy!
I just had 15 Swedish meatballs. No, really, Ikea not.
Are Ikea meatballs similar to mothballs and can you hang them in the
(Much as you hang game, I guess.)
However, my comment of the day goes to...
Now there’s a gap in the market, perhaps DFS could step in with a
range of quality beef products, all heavily discounted and pay nothing
for two years!
(For those in faraway places, etc, etc:
formerly Direct Furnishing Supplies, is a national furniture retailer in
the United Kingdom and Ireland which specialises in sofas and soft
furnishings, offering “heavily discounted goods with nothing to pay for
Forty winks time
Meanwhile, back with my Desert Island Jukebox:
okay, with a theme song and an anthem done and dusted, and the basic
foundation notes inherited from my mother established, it’s time to
explore the music that directly influenced what my ear is drawn to.
Well, the first independent influence on my kind of music
would have to be Santa Claus, or more correctly, the glorious Christmas
songs that have such a significant bearing on all of us as youngsters ―
and remain with us forever more and a hemidemisemiquaver.
With Christmas itself having not long disappeared in our
rear-view mirrors, it seems a bit silly to dive into Christmas music
Mind you, there is something refreshing about hearing
White Christmas on the hottest day of the year. There again, south of
the equator, down Kangaroo way, they regularly listen to Christmas music
during the warmest part of the year.
Whatever, if I am going to trace my musical influences,
then I have to add at least one Christmas record right here, right now.
So what better than 1:23 of Jolly Old St Nicholas by the Ray
Do you know, the Ray Conniff sound is as fresh today as
it was back in the late Fifties/early Sixties, or whenever it was that
this particular recording was made.
It’s a song that captures perfectly what every young
child feels on Christmas Eve, peering out of the bedroom window and
scanning the sky for you-know-who...
Sunday, February 24
The green, green grass of everybody’s home
officials insist they are winning the war against the ungrammatical,
misspelt and quirky ‘Chinglish’ signs scattered across the country ―
which is a great shame because they are so delightfully smiley.
Officials from Shanghai’s ‘quality watchdog’ office
revealed that the accuracy of English language signs in public spaces
had improved 85 per cent since it took action some three years ago.
The news will dismay many English-speaking residents and
visitors, who have developed a fondness for the country’s unusual signs.
As I have mentioned before, what makes them so wonderful
is the child-like honesty of the translations. For example, here are
three recent signs spotted in China and featured in the Telegraph’s
Sign Language picture gallery...
The grass is always greener the other side of the
Spotted by Anonymous
Spotted by Colin Goldsack
Spotted, again, by Colin Goldsack
Now c’mon, to lose such delightfully honest and
heart-felt truths, awash with Confucius-style wisdom, would be something of a crime against the planet,
never mind the art of sincere translation.
all, we know precisely what each of those signs is spelling out. And
it’s loud and clear.
Saturday, February 23
Just a perfect
AS I’m sure you have registered, I
am (along with a good
few million others), a big fan of
The Daily Telegraph cartoonist, so I was drawn by this Telegraph headline...
Matt cartoons: 25 years of a gentle genius
was my initial reaction ― in plain English: “Well I’ll go to the foot of
the Telegraph front page” ― for I really was surprised that Matt has been cartooning on the sunny side
of the street for a quarter of a century.
read on ... in particular, I have always been fascinated by how a
cartoonist goes about the day job:
There’s no cartoonist
like Matt. With his sharp humour and kind touch, he expertly captures
the absurdities of everyday life. No wonder our readers start the day
with a smile
In the 25 years since Matt drew his first cartoon for The
Daily Telegraph, Britain has been governed by five prime ministers.
Nations, and hemlines, have risen and fallen. Popes, princes and
politicians have come and gone. One thing alone has remained constant.
Every day, there in his allotted slot on the front page, Matt has been
When he started out as a cartoonist, he thought of the
people who inhabited his drawings as amiable fools. He now feels he is
turning into them, “like an owner turns into his dog”.
He arrives at his desk between 8am and 9am, having
listened to the news, read that morning’s paper, and made a mental note
of which major issues of the day might still be topical tomorrow.
He pays special attention to the paper’s letters page,
and the matters that preoccupy readers: house prices; tax affairs;
planning issues; food and sex. The things that men boast and complain
about among themselves; that wives berate their husbands over...
By 4pm he will have
finished six cartoons for consideration by the night editor. These will
be whittled down to two or three, from which the editor will choose his
Wow, how about that? Six cartoons a day. Proof, if proof were needed,
that wit and wisdom is not just a throwaway line.
Imagine though the joy of being able to look at all six
of his cartoons, every day. The Telegraph should show a daily gallery of
near-misses: after all, one editor’s questionable sense of funny is
another person’s idea of absolute hilarity.
Anyway, I had a quick look online ... and chose three
cartoons which effortlessly tickled my old funny bone...
Never forget a face
Never taken for granted
Never have one for the road
That third cartoon ― the one for the road, so to speak ―
makes me think of my annual health MOT, when the nurse asks how many
units of alcohol a week I drink, and I look blank and pull a figure out
of the air. I often wonder if they automatically add 10 – 20 – 30 per
cent, or whatever, to the figure.
Dolphins and sharks, pussycat and polecats...
You know my pet theory: 60 per cent of what we are is written
into our faces. Well, meet Mathew Pritchett, 48, pocket cartoonist…
…and to underline my theory, another piece from the Telegraph
What makes Matt so distinctive? His cartoons are gentle,
wry, alive to the absurdities of daily life; the things we love, and the
things we don’t. They are unerring in their dissection of the follies
and vanities of human nature, but they are utterly devoid of venom or
It is the humour of
gentle mockery, cut with the delicious pang of recognition. They are
often a beat ahead of you ― the joke you wish you had thought of, but
know you never could.
Now be honest, doesn’t the above face fit the bill to perfection? Now
for some online comments of note...
Dave Beamon: Over the years, I’ve saved a couple
of dozen Matt cartoons to my PC that I thought were pure genius. Of them
all, I think my favourite is the one with two Britons seeing a Viking
ship arriving; the caption is: “I just hope they make an effort to fit
in with our culture.”
I particularly enjoyed that because I’m sure my DNA shows
a dominant Viking presence.
Nerdle: The ultra clever are often the most
affable, modest and charming. They have nothing to prove.
Here’s a comment that drew a load of ‘Recommends’...
Badbella: I have my own Matt story. In early
1993, I was living in the South of France, mourning the sudden,
traumatic death, two months previously, of my husband of only three
years. Every day I bought the British newspapers. One Matt cartoon
particularly gave me a much needed smile, involving animals and the
On impulse, I wrote to Matt at the Daily Telegraph,
saying how much I’d always enjoyed his cartoons and how this particular
French-themed one had caused me to laugh, even in my sadness.
A little later, I received a reply from Matt ― and at
the end of the letter, he’d drawn me my very own Matt cartoon, involving
a French poodle and a beret-sporting artist.
I have never, ever forgotten this huge kindness. Matt
is a wonderful person along with a brilliant cartoonist. And I still
treasure the letter he sent me.
But here’s the comment that drew far and away the most
‘Recommends’, and just like Matt’s pocket cartoons, short, sweet and to
Tiddly Pom: Quite possibly the best thing about
The Daily Telegraph.
Definitely a perfect
Friday, February 22
Online comment of the day
PerfidiousAlbion: “In the TV version of RoboCop,
the world was run by brute, corporate interests. One group of elderly
subversives operated from a disused power station.
“The motto of this group was ‘Never forget what you
already know’. Words to live by.”
What a wise motto that is. Meanwhile, back on the Telegraph Letters page...
Unforgettable name of the day
It was a letter
regarding the BBC radio soap opera The Archers, in particular the
Corporation’s decision to send in the bulldozers to its online message
board, to presumably silence its critics (see a relevant addendum, below).
Whatever, the letter
was signed by:
Brighton, East Sussex ― which drew this apposite online comment
about the name:
Jamspongecustard: “Either it’s gloriously made-up or just glorious.”
Ah, the irony. Words like kettle, black, calling and pot spring
effortlessly to mind. Anyway, the first thing that
came to my mind was that Liz Bangs-Jones must be related to
Lance-Corporal Jack Jones of Dad’s Army fame: “They don’t like it up
‘em.” The BBC, that is.
And talking of which...
They really, really don’t like it up ‘em
The BBC has been in the news all day with the release of
the evidence gathered during the inquiry into the Corporation’s decision
to drop its Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation. It was published this
morning by the BBC in a bid to be ‘open and transparent’ ― but the news
has been dominated by the word “redacted”, meaning that huge chunks of
the report were blacked out, for example...
“Redacted”? Now do you suppose that’s a corporate word
for censorship and/or secrecy? And as we know, the love of secrecy, along
with the love of money, is the root of all evil.
Finally, well worth a look, when a
man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do:
Thursday, February 21
A journey ends ~ a journey begins
ON MY ’Things to do today’ list was this: ‘Add another
disc to my Desert Island Jukebox’. In fact, having already set the
scene with a theme song and a personal anthem, today I was going to
start tracing my genetic musical waltz through time.
In other words, what were the influences which defined
the sort of music that touches my H-Spot, that old Hallelujah-Spot of mine?
And, surprise, surprise, here we enter the world of
Today I attended the funeral service of Beryl, a respected member of the
family clan. She died at age 83, having lived a fulfilled life, so it
was a celebration of her walk through time.
Beryl was the retired Headmistress of a Llanelli School;
also the previous Treasurer of her local chapel in Ponthenri, near
As the minister delivered the eulogy, I found myself
having a quiet smile at a totally unrelated tale fondly recalled from
many moons ago, told to me by a local Llandampness businessman regarding
his first year in business.
The trigger was the minister in his tribute to Beryl
stating that the books for the chapel were always immaculately recorded
and presented, unsurprising really, given that she was a retired
headmistress of the Old School, so to speak.
But what it reminded me of was this. Even though my tale
goes back many years, to my Crazy Horse days, the proper names have been
changed, as they say, in order to protect the guilty, ho, ho, ho!
I’ll call the businessman Butch Cassidy (his pal, after
all, is known to us all as The Sundance Kid).
Anyway, when Butch Cassidy (BC) started his business,
and because, just like Beryl, he had a tidy, organised mind, he kept meticulous records of his
dealings in a detailed accounts book. At the end of his successful first trading
year he took all his books to his accountant, a fellow known locally as
Ben the Bean Keeper.
Eventually, BC was told what his tax bill was for the
year ― and he was flabbergasted. He protested, but Ben the Bean Keeper
(BB) pointed to BC’s immaculate accounts book and the figures
meticulously recorded therein, and said there was nothing he could do to
reduce the tax bill.
A few weeks later, just before Christmas, BC returned to
see BB to pay his dues. “Oh,” said Ben the Bean Keeper, reaching into a
desk drawer, “I have a little Christmas present for you.” He handed BC a
small, narrow box, about 8 inches long.
Butch Cassidy opened it up ... it was a pencil, with a
rubber at one end. “Perhaps it would be best,” said Ben the Bean, “if in
future you use this to complete your accounts book ― then you can ink it
in after I have checked it out to make sure you haven’t made any silly
It is a tale that always makes me smile whenever I
have cause to think of it, so it was apt that Beryl’s bookkeeping competency reminded
me of Butch Cassidy and his Christmas present.
I now come to another of life’s coincidences. The
minister said that Beryl wanted her funeral service to be a kind of
a traditional Welsh festival of much-loved hymns, sung with four part
harmony by a congregation.
The gymanfa ganu is one of the unique
features of Welsh culture and its preservation is being supported by a
number of Welsh cultural associations around the world.
Anyway, I read somewhere that the music we are exposed to
when in the womb influences our subsequent musical tastes. I have no
idea whether that is so ― instinct tells me it is ― but my mother was a chapel goer and enjoyed the
old gymanfa ganu. Mother was a good singer. Not a powerful singer
in the soloist sense, but she was a typical choir singer, a
voice which blended in beautifully, which I guess reflected her
I could imagine my mother being perfectly at home singing
in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ― which brings me neatly to a 5-Star
performance which reflects perfectly my initial musical influence:
The Lord’s Prayer, with Andrea Bocelli and the Mormon Tabernacle
Anyone 35 and over will be familiar with The Lord's
Prayer, if only from school days. The sounds that the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir generate is totally magical, indeed to my ear the final
minute of this particular recording/video is as perfect as the human
sound gets. Exquisite.
The link is coming up ― but before I get there, I am also
going to include what is Wales’s favourite hymn tune, Pantyfedwen
(literally, the valley of the birch).
If you are attracted to harmony, then Pantyfedwen
is a perfect example of earworm music. This recording is as definitive a
performance of the hymn, sung in 1989 at a Hymn Singing Festival at the
Tabernacle Chapel in Morriston near Swansea, as you will ever hear.
It was recorded by the BBC, but there does not appear to
be a TV recording, just audio.
So I include Pantyfedwen as a tribute to a
very Welsh cultural DNA thread. First though, The Lord’s Prayer:
And here, the Pantyfedwen link:
Wednesday, February 20
The dog’s bollocks
YESTERDAY it was a couple of delightful human faces
topping the smileometer. Today, two more faces ― but this time, some
This Mail Online headline drew me in:
Don’t worry, they
Crazy 3D T-shirt craze starring dogs, cats and even raccoons look
Eye-catching T-shirts feature realistic 3D animal faces
T-shirts feature close-up headshots of animals ― including these two of
a chocolate labrador and a border collie
The eye-catching 3D prints certainly do jump out. The
labrador is quite stunning. The border collie not quite as dramatic, in
my humble opinion ― but very handsome and friendly, the way collies are,
although it does look as if it’s had too severe a haircut.
I decide to show the lovely collie in memory of the dogs
I was brought up with on the farm, not to mention Pussycat at my
previous abode, and of course Whisper, the rowdy but joyful collie I was
recently introduced to along my morning walk.
Fans can adorn their chests with a whole host of
creatures’ faces; from docile dogs to snarling bears and even a hairless
The designers behind the quirky T-shirts began with dog
prints, but branched out to other animals when the 3D shirts caught on.
Michael McGloin, from New Hampshire company The Mountain, said:
“A light bulb just went off and I realized this is what we had to do.”
Online comments were very favourable. But there were one
or two doubters.
Yes but no
Red Max: Am I the only one who has noticed that
none of the ‘shirts’ actually exist and what is shown here is a series
of animal images Photoshopped onto the same T-shirt? The haven’t even
bothered to try and disguise the fact that it is the same shirt by
moving it about a bit!
I am betting that any of the real shirts (if they exist at all) don’t
look anywhere near a good as these mocked-up images.
Of course Red Max is right. All the T-shits show the same
kinks and the like ― see the above pair, a rather obvious kink along the
bottom, about a third of the way in from the left. However, these images
have been done for promotional purposes, and clearly have been
However, there were plenty of comments from people who
have either seen the T-shirts worn, or indeed have bought some
themselves, and the overwhelming verdict was that, whilst they were not
quite as dramatic as in the pictures ― understandably ― they were hugely
effective and drew comments whenever they were spotted.
If you fancy having a look at all the different creatures
on display, here’s a link to the Mail Online article. They
really are hugely eye-catching and well worth a quick look...
Tuesday, February 19
Face to face
YOU know my default setting: within seconds of meeting
someone my instinct clicks in and tells me whether I’m confronted by a
dolphin or a shark, a pussycat or a polecat, a sparrow or a sparrow
My instinct telegraphs me as to whether it’s
metaphorically okay to step forward and embrace ... hold my ground, just
in case ... or take a figurative step backwards and proceed with
absolute caution. And my instinct has never once been found wanting.
Down the years I have sort of worked out how my brain
does this: 60% of what we are is written into the face; 30% is measured
in the voice; and the remaining 10% we wear on our sleeves, our body
language and general appearance.
On another level, there are faces and faces. Faces that I
catch myself staring at, mostly out of curiosity. It can range from say, a
stunningly handsome female to ― well, let’s just say someone who, at
that moment immediately following the Big Bang, was clearly near the
back of the queue marked ‘Oil Painting’.
Of those individuals you see and would never describe as being blessed with
good looks, whether male or female, they often have faces cram-packed
with character and personality, and I am intuitively drawn to them.
In short, I am endlessly fascinated by faces.
So I was intrigued by this letter in The Daily
Telegraph; not so much the letter itself but the photograph that
accompanied it, and which is coming up:
Caution: smoke signals on the road ahead
What message does pipe smoking send?
SIR – When my father
was teaching me to drive, he always warned me that the two types of
driver one should automatically distrust were those who wore hats at the
wheel ― all right for ships’ captains, he supposed ― and those who
smoked pipes while driving.
His sister-in-law took to smoking a small clay pipe
while driving her Bentley, but at least she didn’t wear a hat.
Dr John Gladstone, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
Here’s that characterful photograph:
From the delightfully ridiculous...
...to the deliciously sublime
Put that in your pipe: a cigar in an improvised holder in
Plaza de la Catedral, Havana, Cuba
A member of the Mangueira samba school performs during Rio’s
Vanderlei Almeida / Getty Images
I take it as read that the mesmerising ‘pipe smoker’,
above, is a fella. But what a truly intriguing face. Then a day or so
later, photographs began to appear of the Carnival parades at the
Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro ― and I was totally captivated by that
girl’s wonderfully handsome face. Magic.
Sticking with trust, this curious letter also appeared...
Some trust in chariots, and some in Shire-horses
SIR – Michael Davies, the late and much-admired judge,
said he never trusted a witness with a double-barrelled name or one who
wore a beard.
Mark Solon, London N1
Gosh, much-admired by whom? What an extraordinary thing
for a judge to say. I mean, does it therefore follow that Michael Davies
trusted everyone with a bog standard name? And who was clean shaven?
So I Googled the much-admired judge ... this from The
Daily Telegraph Obits:
Sir Michael Davies, who died on 5 September 2006, aged
85, was one of the most colourful English judges and the first appointed
to the High Court bench specifically to oversee defamation cases.
Although he presided over the jury list for just three
years from 1988, they were litigious times for celebrities, and Davies
saw to it that he sat on all the most newsworthy cases, involving such
plaintiffs as Lord Aldington, Sonia Sutcliffe, Koo Stark, Andrew Neil
and Elton John…
One consolation for
the press was Davies’s penchant for playing to the gallery. His
reputation in the Inns of Court was that of an interrupter, a talker.
One barrister described him as “a well-meaning show-off” who enjoyed
seeing his name in print. His utterings often made good copy, and
Private Eye had fun lampooning him under the soubriquet Mr Justice
Answer that bloody thing
Personally, I never trust anyone who never answers his or her mobile ―
but always checks to see who’s calling.
I think I’ve told before of the two regulars at the Crazy
Horsepower ― no names no pack drill.
One, whenever his mobile rings, always checks the caller, but never, ever answers. The other, a busy fellow, and
whenever his mobile rings, always walks away from the crowd to a quiet
corner ― and answers the mobile without ever looking to see who’s
It goes without saying that the fellow who never answers
is as bent a shepherd’s crook; the other chap as straight as a yard
Monday, February 18
Desert Island Jukebox
UNCOMPLICATED music has always tickled my H-Spot, my
Hallelujah-Spot. No matter whether it’s traditional popular music, rock
‘n’ roll, jazz, classic, country and western, choral, blues, religious,
you name it ... as long as it’s melodic, rhythmic and catchy ― sold to
the smiling fellow over there in the corner with glasses and a beard.
My favourite ever radio show ― in a musical context that
is ― was Kenny Everett and his Saturday morning BBC Radio 2 spot.
Cuddly Ken, as he was affectionately known, was one of radio’s
great innovators, the funniest DJ of our time and a one-off who zanily
burst the boundaries of broadcasting: the jokes, the jingles and the
high jinks, the interviews, the comic characters and the naughty bits.
Or, as Kenny put it himself, “an entirely new concept in
radio programming thrusting forward the barriers of fun into a whole new
world of wit and wonder” (and can he say bum on the BBC?!).
But even more than that, it was the breadth of music he
It ranged from what he labelled “disco fodder”, via pop
songs (both ancient and modern) to classical music (those marvellous
pieces of music advertisers enjoy using to sell us things, which itself
tells us something quite significant about popular ‘serious’ music).
Cuddly Ken knew all about earworms, the sort of tunes that
go round and round inside our heads.
Radio 2 is my default station ― sorry, it
was my default station. A few years back, with the station, much
like the rest of the BBC, becoming obsessed with attracting a younger
audience, Radio Wales became my default setting ― but then
a few months ago they re-jigged the station output, especially the
These days Radio Wales is all yap, yap, yap
― like a little dog that just will not stop barking. It’s a talking shop, really.
Christ, how I yearn for a couple of hours
or so a day of proper popular music ― with just the one presenter linking the
songs. Something akin to the sort of music that Kenny Everett played.
Indeed, something along the lines of Sunday Club on Radio
Whatever, these days it’s no big deal because I now have
what I call my Desert Island Jukebox, and all compliments of
The astonishing thing about YouTube is that
it is rapidly becoming so comprehensive that, no matter how obscure your
choice of music, or how dated, it’s likely that someone will have posted
it on the channel. More than that, it will often be accompanied by a
lovingly crafted video. TLC set to music.
Now music is a very personal thing. One person’s choice
of music is often another’s poison. Be that as it may, this is my
scrapbook cum diary, so I am going to start my very own Desert Island
Jukebox (see alongside). Tracing my musical journey from ‘the big bang’
to the present, if you like...
...when life was black and white and relatively
straightforward ― to the Stereophonic, CinemaScopic, Technicolor and
somewhat doolally world of today.
I will now start adding my links. And given that I was
fortunate enough to have been born on the sunny side of the street, my
jukebox will, by definition, be awash with the sort of music that makes
The first one up has to be the Desert Island Discs
radio programme theme music, Sleepy Lagoon. I remember as a
youngster becoming quite addicted to this piece of music. I had
little interest in the programme itself, but the theme music was magic.
What I found on YouTube were several
instrumental versions, similar to that still used on the show, first
aired in 1942 and still going strong ― but I came across a few vocal
versions, something I had never heard before. I was captivated.
There’s a grand Doris Day version, but I have gone with the Platters.
The beauty of having this kind of jukebox is that I can
change what I’ve got on the list at any time. Who knows, in a few months
I may revert to the radio show version of Sleepy Lagoon.
I thought I would also add a second ‘disc’ today. So what
would be my theme song? That song which should reflect my course through life
following ‘the big bang’, or the moment of conception, as one would say
in polite conversation.
And what does it say up there on my Welcome mat?
“A snapshot of life
beyond the blue horizon.”
I guess it has to be Beyond The Blue Horizon.
My favourite is the Michael Nesmith version, all 5.45
minutes of it, with those opening two minutes of wake-up sounds: ticking
clock, cockerels crowing, alarm going off, a yawning Nesmith, a
whistling Nesmith, farmyard birds clucking, a tractor chugging away ―
particularly apt given I was brought up on a farm. Marvellous.
However, I also enjoy the Lou Christie version, mostly
because it is accompanied by a quite magical video, with some delightful
eye-catching images. Do a sit and stare and listen ― look out for the
two youngsters captured in silhouette, the photographer and the prairie
dog (at least I think it’s a prairie dog), the pretty young thing
cupping a rainbow in her hands...
and the fellow riding a bicycle towards the camera, who happens to pass a
topless girl going the other way.
Now if the look on that chap’s face doesn’t make you
smile ― well, all I can think of is that, at the moment
immediately following the big bang,
you would have been at the rear of the queue marked ‘Sense of fun’.
Up on the Jukebox I include both versions ― but here is
the Lou Christie Beyond The Blue Horizon link:
And the Sleepy Lagoon link:
Put another nickel in,
In the nickelodeon...
Sunday, February 17
Woof, woof, woof. Whine, bark, growl, howl, woof, woof.
translation: ‘Ello, ‘Ello, ‘Ello. What ‘ave we got ‘ere then?)
AH YES, the curious case of PD Peach, the police pooch
that did bark in the night ― and left his paw prints all over
the shop, or at least all over the Witness Statement.
spotted in today’s Mail Online:
chase him, I bite him...” ― the crime report written by a DOG
Police are under investigation for jokingly
filling in a witness statement in the name of a force dog,
Officers became exasperated when prosecutors
asked for an account of a crime from a ‘PC Peach’, not realising
it was actually a PD Peach, the name of an Alsatian police dog.
So they completed the form as if it had been
written by the dog, and signed it with a paw print.
The dog’s ‘statement’ is alongside: “I chase him.
I bite him. Bad man. He tasty. Good boy. Good boy Peach.”
The form was pinned up at a West Midlands Police
station last week for the amusement of colleagues, who are often
at odds with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the
handling of cases.
Another officer took a photo of the statement and
it found its way to a ‘cop humour’ page on Facebook last Friday.
The image was later deleted but the dog section
of a different force, West Yorkshire, enjoyed it so much they
posted the image on Twitter in a tweet that was shared many
The CPS, however, failed to see the funny side.
Officials are believed to have complained to police that their
mistake has been turned into a very public joke.
This is being considered by West Midlands
Police’s Professional Standards Department and the officer who
shared the picture, PC Mark Tissington, referred himself to the
internal discipline unit.
Sources say he is unlikely to be reprimanded.
should bloody well hope so, too. Here are a couple of typical comment
Bedford: Absolutely brilliant ― funniest thing I have seen for ages:
“Bad Man. He Tasty”. LOL!
Just like CPS to take offence, no sense of humour and generally
Chelle7666, Mochdre: Brilliant :) - maybe the police could
investigate where people’s sense of humour has gone. LOL.
A few intriguing points: That last message is from
a small village in North Wales, just to the west of Colwyn Bay. The joke
being that Mochdre translates literally as ― well, ‘moch’ is Welsh for
‘pigs’ and ‘tre’ is Welsh for ‘town’ (or ‘dre’, allowing for mutation).
So Mochdre becomes ‘Town of pigs’. Honest, cross my
heart ― and all that.
The second point: Comment board messages about the Peach
story were regularly,
and understandably, signed off with a quick LOL.
Surely, it should have been BOL:
Bark Out Loud?
Oh yes, imagine PD Peach arriving in court: “Will the
witness please place his left paw on this juicy bone, lift his right paw
and repeat after me: Who’s a good boy then?”
Finally, we all make mistakes and errors of judgment,
which invariably make us look silly. The best thing is always to ignore it and
let it become a one-day wonder, especially so with this kind of story
and given how the media quickly moves on when it is bored.
However, make a fuss, as the CPS has apparently done, and
the whole thing takes on a life all of its own. Every country in the
world has police dogs, so they will enjoy the story.
Indeed, as we speak I can picture someone in China busily
translating Peach’s statement into Chinese characters...
Saturday, February 16
The road ahead
scrapbook is a daily record of the things wot make me
smile, and as a consequence brighten up my day no end ... well, that’s
what it says on the tin ― or rather, the welcome mat, up there at
So it’s my duty to deliver.
As soon as I saw this in the Telegraph’s
Sign Language Picture Gallery, I smiled...
Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
Spotted in Japan by Malcolm Halcrow
I think it’s the line ‘The smile makes everyone all over
the world’. My initial reaction was ... this doesn’t make sense ―
remembering of course that it was spotted out in Japan, and I think we
all appreciate the light touch of the translations into English in that
particular corner of the globe ― but it does make sense in a simplistic,
And how could I not include these two images as well?
Heaven this way
No second opinion
Spotted in Trondheim, Norway by Edward Sutton
Spotted in Santa Fe County, New Mexico by Michael Astbury
Even though this is a web site dedicated to the
doolallyness of life and the smiley consequences of such loopiness, just
occasionally I include a slice of reality ― simply to remind myself how
fortunate I am to have a) chosen the right parents, and b) to have been
born on the sunny side of the street.
Coming up are a couple of recent quotes, both serving as
bookends to humanity’s often pathetic walk through time.
If you are not in the mood to have your heart broken,
look away now.....
“I’m looking for someone to play with...” What a five-year-old
boy wandering the streets at 9.20pm in the Holywell area of Flintshire,
North Wales, told police before they found his mother drunk in bed at
The above headline filled the front page of the
Western Mail on January the 4th. Thankfully, the mother has
since been given an eight-week suspended
sentence and a year-long supervision order ― I say “thankfully” because
nothing would have been served by locking her up. What the 35-year-old
single mother needs above all else is help.
And at the other end of man’s inhumanity to man...
“At least in Auschwitz I have friends. In here I have nobody.”
An elderly Polish patient’s last words before she died at the
scandal-hit Stafford Hospital.
I don’t know. First we had the dreadful Jimmy Savile
business ― and now this surrounding the Staffordshire hospital crisis,
where hundreds of patients are known to have died despite repeated
warnings that care was not good enough.
Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, fingers crossed...
Friday, February 15
Seven degrees of deception
IT ALL began last Tuesday, when inspectors from the Food
Standards Agency (FSA), along with police, raided Farmbox Meats, a meat
processing company near Aberystwyth in Mid Wales.
The business had been supplied with horse carcasses from
a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire, and the FSA allege that the horse
meat was then passed off as beef, with oodles of extra profit,
The most astonishing thing about all this horse meat
business is that a supermarket, say in Aberystwyth, could be selling
burgers and other processed meat products that can be traced back
through as many as seven separate agencies dotted all over Britain and
Europe ― all the way back to a fellow with a pony to sell at the monthly
horse sale in Llanybyther, a small town just down the road from Aberystwyth.
Crazy. Even more bizarre, and bearing in mind that these
are relatively cheap products, how can all seven participants in this
supply chain be earning anything worth while?
whole nonsense was perfectly captured by Daily Telegraph
“I see a lot of travel: UK, Belgium,
Romania, Holland, France, Ireland...”
Farmbox Meats is a processing plant owned by a Dafydd
Raw-Rees, 64, who has run his plant for the past three years. [Thinks:
Raw is a rather unfortunate name for someone dealing in unprocessed meat.
Also, Dafydd is the Welsh name for David, which in turn is shortened
back to Welsh as Dai, with a suitable nickname added i.e. Dai Rawhide.]
Anyway, Raw-Rees said that, until three weeks ago, his
plant specialised in processing beef, but that he had recently been
contracted to process horse meat sold in Belgium.
He confirmed his plant was visited by police on Tuesday
but denied passing off horse as beef: “We would never confuse horse meat
with beef, we are just a cutting plant. I merely debone the meat and
send it back as part of the contract. The horse meat is sold in
Dai Rawhide referred queries to Colin Patterson, his plant
manager. When contacted by The Daily Telegraph, a man answered the phone
as Colin, then hung up. When contacted again, he said he was in fact “Dai
the cleaner”, adding that Mr Patterson was unavailable.
Dai Wipe and Go
Yes, good old Dai the Cleaner, just another of the
hundreds, nay thousands, of Davids – or Dais – I have encountered along
my walk through Welsh Wales.
And then, today, this news headline has been all over the
Asteroid 2012 DAI 4 brushes by Earth
God, I thought, there’s even a Dai out there in space.
Mind you, here in Welsh Wales, Asteroid 2012 would be known as Dai Close
Shave. But then the making-sense-of-what-my-eyes-see part of my brain
Asteroid 2012 DA14 brushes by Earth
Bugger. Not DAI 4 but DA14.
So there I was, thinking about all the Dais I have known
― or rather, those with splendidly clever and memorable nicknames.
Most of them have been mentioned as regulars at the Crazy
Horsepower Saloon, a collection of the great characters I have shared a
pint or hundred with down the years.
The first I remember all those years ago was Dai Fly By
Night: he was a night fisherman of note, but the regulars at the Crazy
Horse were never quite sure what he was actually up to when he was casting his
fly. In other words, a perfect twist in the tail of his nickname.
Dai One Eye: no, not a one-eyed supporter of the Scarlets,
his local rugby team; indeed Dai had 20/20 vision, both literally and
metaphorically. No, Dai lived at No 1 High Street.
Dai Aphanous: always spinning a line, is Dai. A few years
back he returned from a holiday in Spain. “How did you find the señoritas,
Dai?” “Just like the Welsh girls back home: I would spin them
a line ― and the longer the line the more they loved it.”
Yes, Dai Aphanous is the Welsh version of Alastair
Campbell, Tony Blair’s notorious spin doctor. But why Dai Aphanous?
Well, most of the time we all see through him and can spot his spin at 40
paces. Be that as it may, one of life’s great characters is Dai Aphanous.
Version: whenever Dai tells a tale, whether it be a joke or a true
story, it never sounds the same as it does from the lips of someone
else, and all because he always takes us along the scenic route ― which
explains why his tales are
always endlessly entertaining.
off at a slight tangent, much like Asteroid Dai Close Shave (rather
than the one that exploded rather spectacularly this morning over Russia), I am reminded of
two business men from a village in Carmarthenshire, not a million miles
from Llandampness, both with the very Welsh surname Evans.
One is an undertaker, the other a travel agent.
The travel agent is known as Evans There and Back, the undertaker is
Evans One Way.
And there you have it, from
Dai Rawhide to Evans One Way, in one easy jump.
Valentine’s Day 2013
is as grand a day as any to underline the delightful doolallyness of we
human beings, with perfect examples of what keeps me endlessly amused
i.e. attraction, seduction, sex ― and the creature comfort version of
having a cigarette afterwards.
Dateline London Zoo
Celebrity pianist Richard Clayderman has just held a
“private concert” at London Zoo to serenade endangered giant tortoises ―
in an effort to encourage them to mate.
Clayderman, 59, whose track “Ballade Pour Adeline” is one
of the biggest selling recordings of all time, played the famous tune on
a grand piano transported to the zoo’s giant tortoise enclosure.
Himself an animal-lover, Clayderman said he jumped at the
chance to perform for the endangered species.
The zoo’s Galapagos tortoises ― 70-year-old Dirk and his
three female companions, Dolores, 13, along with Dolly and Polly, both
17 ― looked suitably impressed with their private recital, and the hope
is the romantic music may make them more amorous.
My goodness ... it all reminded me of a cartoon from mega
If music be the food of love, rock on, Dirk
Dirk: “Ballade Bloody Adeline, my arse. At my age it’s Viagra I need.”
Incidentally, the romantic pair featured above are actually
Aldabra giant tortoises mating at the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam, image
compliments of Wikimedia Commons.
Keep taking the pills
And as if by magic, this headline caught my eye today:
wife’s higher salary can affect men in the bedroom:
those with well paid partners are more likely to take Viagra –
A study found that
husbands who earn less than their spouses are more likely to take Viagra
and similar drugs than those who are the main breadwinners...
Hm, I must have a quiet word with Ivor the Engine. His beloved Glad Eyes
owns and runs a very successful little business, and Ivor readily
acknowledges that she earns more than he does.
Keep taking the pills, Ivor.
Going in a slightly different direction, a truly bizarre
slugs have a disposable penis that drops off after sex …
then they grow another one, say astonished scientists
were flabbergasted when they realised that a group of Pacific Ocean sea
slugs called Chromodoris reticulata would lose their penises 20
minutes after mating.
Hm, shame the slug isn’t called Chromodoris erecticus. Anyway,
what surprised the scientists wasn’t that the creature’s penis falls off
— which apparently is totally normal in certain parts of the animal
kingdom (sic ?!?)
— but that it grows back, allowing the slug to mate again.
Hm, the animal kingdom’s
version of having a quick fag after ― I mean a quick cigarette after.
The rest of the slug’s sex life is just as complicated.
First of all, every Chromodoris reticulata has both a penis
and a fanny, and both slugs donate sperm to each other at the
same time. Then their penises fall off. God, no wonder.
Also their penises are “equipped
with spines.” Scientists aren’t sure why the slugs mate this way, but
one researcher speculates that it’s to clear out rivals’ sperm.
On reflection, perhaps the Chromodoris reticulata should be
called the Stephen Fryiculata. After all, Stephen Fry does draw a
lot of barbed comments ― and crucially appears to enjoy making love to
Meanwhile, on the comment board front...
Fish: Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase
“they got engaged but then she broke it off”.
English Cad: Hate it when that happens.
TerenceH: My wife wants to know ― if humans are
able, through some future hybrid gene therapy, to grow new ones ― will
they be better or just as pathetic as the one that falls off?
My comment: There’s an instruction used by the
referee in rugby union to stop players stuffing the ball up their
jerseys, so to speak, to kill time: “Use it or lose it.” If they then
don’t make use of the ball within five seconds ― sounds like my sex life
― possession goes to the opposition.
The Pacific Ocean sea slugs with their free and easy
penises would make useless rugby players: they would use it and still
Two for the road
In the tale of the tortoises, dear Dolly and Polly remind me
of an exchange from the sitcom Cheers: Carla the waitress is
expecting twins and she is becoming increasingly ratty and miserable ―
possible ― about the forthcoming event, and is dreading the day.
“Hey, Carla,” says Sam the randy bartender (once the
bar owner), “everything will be okay, trust me.”
“Yeah, thanks, Sammy,” says Carla. “What the hell do
you know about it?”
There’s a bit of a pregnant pause: “Look, Carla,” says Sam, “I had twins
once ― it was the happiest day of my life.”
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Clayderman’, came up as ‘Letterman’. Ah
yes, would that be the French Letter Man?
‘erecticus’, as in ‘Chromodoris erecticus’, came
up, curiously, as ‘practices’, with ‘heretics’ a second choice. Hm, food
for thought for ye of little faith.
Wednesday, February 13
dodgy meat sold here ― and that’s straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Pavement board outside a butcher’s shop in mid Wales ― and apparently
doing a galloping trade.
Who would have thought that, just about a month ago, when
most of us shared a smile and a laugh at the thought of horse meat in
the nation’s beef burgers ― and I initiated a rumour that a cooking
personality from yesteryear, a certain Graham Kerr, 78,
the famous Galloping Gourmet, had been signed up for a new series ― the
story would still be running and running.
Many a true word spoken in jest, particularly about that
Galloping Gourmet. You watch.
With the going getting soft-to-heavy, hot on the heels of
the Tesco burgers outrage came the revelation that Findus beef lasagne
contained up to 100 per cent horsemeat. For many web pranksters, the
fresh scandal offered up endless opportunities to flex their comedic
muscles in a serious of visual gags, showing what Findus products should
look like if the packaging was totally honest...
Very good. I particularly liked this next one ― because,
in my humble opinion, the prankster didn’t get it quite right...
I’m thinking ... those should be the heads of beef
Anyway, bookmaker Paddy Power also joined in the fun,
offering odds on which animal would be the next to make its way into
Britain’s food chain: the favourite was deer at 2/1, followed by donkey,
dog and rabbit. I don’t
quite follow that because venison (deer meat) is already, and quite
properly, in our food chain; as is rabbit.
Me? With Dr Ozzy no longer dishing out advice in The
Sunday Times Magazine,
down at the Crazy Horsepower insists that I’ve really got to watch what
I eat, so I’ve started following all the racing on Channel 4, hosted by
the omnipresent Clare Balding (whether on the flat or over the jumps).
Indeed, there is a further rumour that Clare and Wee
Willie Carson will host the new series of Galloping Gourmet. Not
withstanding that someone mentioned in passing that Wee Willie had been found in a
hotdog. They are awaiting DNA tests and the weigh-in results.
Be that as it may, a few online comments:
Skc74 of Old London Town: “The Findus horse
burgers are OK, but I prefer their quarter pandas.”
BUJ of Birmingham: “I think the mafia are after me
― I woke up this morning only to find a Findus lasagne in my bed.”
Jardine, Leeds: “Forget about Findus lasagne.
Has anyone tried Asda meatballs? They really are the dog’s bollocks.”
one, Jardine. Indeed, this could take us into some interesting
territory: fancy some spaghetti bollock-neighs?
discovered oats in my porridge this morning. Is this a conspiracy by the
A starter for ten, there, Thatlldo.
Oh yes, I remember
pointing out that
is an anagram of ‘SHERGAR BUM’.
of Skipton, in a letter to the Daily Mail,
points out that
is an anagram of ‘NAG SALE’.
term ‘Horsegate’ keeps popping up all over the place. Surely, shouldn’t
it be ‘Stabledoor’? As in shutting-of after Triggermortis has
made a bolt for it.
Wunderbar is not a qualified medical professional. Caution is advised.
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Dr Wunderbar’, came up as ‘Dr Wonderbra’,
which is quite amusing given that wife of the good doctor is known
affectionately as Mrs Va-Va-Voomderbra.
‘bollock’, came up as ‘bullock’, which is perfectly
Tuesday, February 12
That special Tom and Jerry moment
JUST occasionally, something so delightfully amusing suddenly manifests
itself in front of my eyes ― so much so, it deserves the smile of the day spot
all to itself.
This, from the Telegraph’s Sign Language
Joining up all the dots
Button your lip: spotted in California by Steve Green
Curiosity killed the mouse
Intrigued by the wheeze, I Googled it and found that,
unsurprisingly, it’s a novelty item on general sale ... then at one
outlet promoting the item, I read this by the business owner, an
American, probably a lady, or perhaps a POSSUM ― look out for the
“Not too long ago, I
noticed this in the background of a movie, as a prop. However, I can’t
remember what the movie was; I believe it was a scene in a hotel ... or
some kind of front desk scenario, where an item just like this was in
the background as a prop.
“I remember noticing it because the concept was so
“I have tried looking this up, so far no results.
Nothing else like it ― at least from my research. If you happen to come
across this listing and have any information, or know the movie or show
that I’m referring to, please contact me ― I would greatly appreciate it -:)”
Monday, February 11
A snowy day in Hamden Town
Here’s a picture that made me smile. Following the huge snow storm that swept the north-east of America, some eye-catching photos are
emerging from under the blanket of snow.
But how about this...
0 to 60 inches of snow in 24 hours
are buried in snow near Hamden, Connecticut, USA
Picture: Craig Ruttle / AP
I find the above quite mesmerising. Imagine having to dig
your car out from under that little lot.
exchange spotted tonight on sitcom Cheers.
Waitress Carla approaches the bar where bartender Woody
is at his station. Carla, as per usual, is in her delightfully
entertaining foul mood and is convinced the sky is falling in on her head:
“Good things happen to everyone but me...” She then fires off a litany
of current disasters in her life. “How do you keep such a sunny
“Well, I close my eyes and think a happy thought.” To
demonstrate, Woody closes his eyes ... and his terribly earnest
expression slowly but surely melts into a handsome smile ― then he opens
“What was your thought?” asks Carla.
“I’m glad I’m not you.” And Carla blows the generous top
off a pint of Guinness into his face.
Top drawer writing and acting. Mind you, I am rather taken with Woody’s
way of keeping happy ... eyes closed, think a happy thought...
Sunday, February 10
The hunt for read...
YES, I am always on the lookout for that magical headline
which generates a smile and draws me in. And there are always bonus
points when the headline boasts extra-clever word play.
Today, in the Sport
section of The Sunday Times, on the rugby pages, I spotted
near-perfection. Six words that had been expertly hung before being put
into the oven.
First, a few dots need joining up: yesterday, Wales defeated
France out in Paris, something of a surprise, to be honest. Earlier in
the afternoon, Italy played Scotland up at Murrayfield. Italy were the
favourites, having defeated France the previous weekend.
But, as often happens, Scotland won, and did so quite
handsomely, 34-10. As the game between France and Wales had highlighted,
it wasn’t so much that both Italy and Wales were good but that France
Whatever, up at Murrayfield, the man of the match and
star of the show was Scotland scrum-half, Greig Laidlaw. And the
Italy are laid low by Laidlaw
Brilliant. My smile of the day. Mind you, shame, in an
artistic sense, that it wasn’t England that Scotland had defeated in
such grand fashion, bearing in mind what the anthem of the England
Swing low, sweet chariot... Imagine: England are laid low
Today though, England defeated Ireland out in Dublin ― and I was
reminded of a recent comment by a Dubliner: “Dublin is the largest city
in the world ― it’s Dublin every day.”
Top bonus points to that Irishman.
Meanwhile, I spotted this online headline...
Experts have found an effective new
formula for happiness
I didn’t bother to click because it reminded me of
The 101 best pieces
of advice ever received,
some of which I featured back at the beginning of January:
Julian Fellowes, 63, actor and writer
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my
mother: “If you want to be happily married, marry a happy person.” I am
glad to say I took her at her word.
And isn’t that the truth? It applies to all sorts of
relationships. If you make friends with individuals who never moan or
complain or run people down behind their backs ― magically, you find that
you find it increasingly difficult to moan or complain or run people
down behind their backs.
Even better, have you noticed that far and away the best
businesses or organisations to deal with are those which have at the
very top an individual blessed with a happy disposition.
And the worst to deal with are those with a greedy,
ambitious and miserable old bastard at the helm.
Many a true word spoken in jest
Yesterday I wrote of the report that your friendly
neighbourhood farmyard is awash with gay animals waltzing about with
limp ankles ― and the day before it was POSSUMS:
Persons Of Same Sex Undertaking Marriage Sojourn ― so
today, down at the Asterisk Bar, Ivor the Engine mentioned this in his
regular Sunday Lesson:
once a criminal offence ― remember those high-profile raids on certain
public toilets in the area? Or those caught on badger watch where there
were no known badgers in residence? Then I woke up one morning to find
that gay relationships had been legalised ― fine by me, live and let live is my
“Next, civil partnerships were introduced ― and now,
with a quick nod and a wink, we have gay marriage.
“Given that everything in life goes round in circles,
including Planet Earth itself, how long do you suppose before
heterosexuality becomes a criminal offence?”
Well, Ivor did make us laugh. And Old Shaggy and Young Shagwell are
doing their best to build up a store of memories before we have to
change their names by misdeed poll...
Cock and bullshit
Finally, yesterday I smiled at the Sri Lankan prisoner
who concealed a mobile up his arse so that the guards wouldn’t find it ―
but then it started to ring and the fellow had to be rushed to hospital
to have the handset removed...
Anyway, today I read this:
Doctors warn about worrying rise in DIY penis
implants which could lead to fatal infections
Australian researchers made the discovery after nurses
reported an increase in male prisoners with skin infections on their
genitals ― due to having foreign bodies inserted.
Doctors have reported
a worrying trend of male prisoners using melted toothpaste caps,
buttons, dice, and deodorant roller ball to “extend” their manhood...
Bloody hell. Now I am aware that people insert their manhoods into
foreign bodies i.e. sheep and hoover attachments ― at least that’s
what I’ve heard in passing down at the Crazy Horsepower ― but inserting
foreign bodies into their manhood? I’m feeling quite faint at the
Incidentally, yesterday I was unable to show a picture of
the mobile the Sri Lankan had hidden up his backside ― but today, the
picture is online. Well, actually it’s an X-ray from the hospital,
But it hurt so much just looking at the image, I couldn’t
bring myself to copy and paste...
Saturday, February 9
Believe it or don’t day
1: Wales win at rugby out in France
Say nothing is best.
2: Oh what a gay day
Yesterday it was all: “I now pronounce you POSSUMS: Persons Of Same Sex
Undertaking Marriage Sojourn.”
Well bugger me ― in a manner of speaking, I hasten to add ― what
headline did I spot today?
Attenborough documentaries “ignore gay
c’mon, you’ve got to laugh ― anyway, let’s have a quick peep, through
slightly parted fingers of course...
Attenborough’s documentaries are not a true reflection of nature because
they fail to acknowledge animals’ “gay” behaviour, an academic has
Dr Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia accused
the veteran broadcaster of espousing the idea that all animals are
heterosexual despite a wealth of evidence that they engage in a variety
of sexual activity.
Shots of male
chimpanzees cuddling, for example, are described to the viewer as no
more than male bonding but could in fact be driven by sexual motives
[he said in a “nudge-nude, wink-wink, know what I mean, chief?” sort of
way, I trust].
Similarly, a scene in which a male Buff-Breasted
Sandpiper stalks towards another with his rear in the air may not be
meant to intimidate a rival, as described by Sir David, but as a prelude
to “homosexual mounting”...
No, I checked out the date, just in case I’d done a Rip
Van Winkle: it is not April Fools’ Day, honest. Mind you, a male bird
called the Buff-Breasted Sandpiper is asking for trouble ― and I’m not
sure about that Bluebird of Happiness perched on Rip Van’s weapon, what
with its tail in the air and all that.
Anyway, if what Doctor Dolittle And Often says is
true, then the wonderfully entertaining blackbirds I’m watching through
the window, feeding away on the lawn with tails in the air as they hop
about challenging each other as to which one is Top Bird ― yes, they are
black, so they’re all definitely male ― behind my back the little
rascals have clearly turned my garden into The Gay Four And Twenty Club.
Still, let’s go straight to the comment board apropos the
article about gay animals...
away the highest rated online comment I saw was this from
Herts: Oh please, give it a rest.
Be that as it may, let’s share a smile anyway ... just to
be getting on with, here’s
a glorious picture of some dogs participating in Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria’s Dog Carnival, image compliments of Angel Medina G/EPA...
"Dogs often try to hump your leg ... does that make them legbians?"
Online comment by Fairdgar
that picture doesn’t bring a smile, nothing will. Mind you, I feel sorry
for that little dog if the big one experiences a fruity moment, be it
gay or otherwise. No wonder it has its little tail firmly tucked in
between its legs.
Back to the comment boards:
Tiddly Pom: At
last, poofins, gayzelles and homoles are coming out, and are loud, proud
VulcaSidraw: And the Queen of the jungle?
The mighty Loin!
Dunnitbefore: To accuse the BBC of ignoring
homosexuality is a bit like accusing the Pope of ignoring Catholics. BBC
and homosexuality have been bedfellows for years.
I had the misfortune to listen to the News Quiz on
Radio 4 last night. It was appalling. Full of bigoted homophiles ranting
on about the rest of the population who apparently “haven’t moved on”.
Ah yes, Autumn, when all the trees come out as gay and
Cyphre: Never mind gayness, why have animals been
denied the vote for so long? There can be no more disenfranchised group
than insects when it comes to having their voice heard in the government
of this country. Science has proven that earwigs are incredibly
underrepresented in academia...
NinjaMatty69: I am pretty sure their behaviour is
not intended to be homosexual. When we had dogs, at certain times they
would hump absolutely anything including my leg, my bed post, a tree
etc. etc. Clearly their primal instinct is to shag and not any instinct
to be gay!
is a perfect response to the story. Both in its simple truth and
Along my morning walks through the Towy Valley I
regularly encounter fields awash with cattle of various descriptions.
When a cow comes on heat and there’s no bull running with the herd, the
other cows will get all worked up and mount that cow. In fact, so
frustrated does she become that she too will mount the other cows, as if
attempting to trigger a reaction from a bull that must be hiding behind
a tree somewhere not a million miles away.
Crucially, the cows only behave like this when one of
their numbers is in frustrated mode.
Mind you, the lot I feel sorry for are beef heifers and
bullocks (a castrated male) running together. When one of the heifers
comes on heat, the bullocks will attempt to do the job. They know
precisely what’s got to be done, they mount, but the kit doesn’t work.
It’s all very frustrating.
Actually, it’s the heifer I feel most sorry for. Bullocks
should never be allowed to run with females. It takes the expression
‘prick tease’ to another level completely.
3: It’s behind you: now that’s what I call bum timing
Here’s a headline that made me blink:
Lankan prisoner’s plan to conceal mobile from guards by hiding it in
his back passage foiled when device started ringing from rear-end
The 58-year-old convict at Welikada prison, Kotte, Sri
Lanka, was in possession of a mobile phone ― which prisoners are not
allowed ― but before concealing the device however, he forgot to turn it
off or put it on silent/vibrate before hiding it in his rectum, and his
plan was foiled when the phone started ringing from inside him.
He had to be taken to
hospital to have the handset removed...
So that’s why they call it a ring tone. What made it worse, the call was
probably from a firm of solicitors wondering if he had recently suffered
serious personal injury.
There was no picture of the phone to see its size and
shape ― but my eyes are watering just thinking about it.
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Welikada prison’, came up as ‘Walked
prison’, which was a rather amusing thought; and the ‘homoles’, as in
‘gay moles’, came up as ‘homeless’. Wonderful.
Friday, February 8
I now pronounce you, er...
got more chins than a Chinese phonebook,” Les Dawson once observed. “But
she’s got the things most men desire: muscles and a moustache.”
Well, after this week’s Parliamentary vote, gay comics will now also be
able to do father-in-law jokes:
fell down a wishing well. I was amazed, I never knew they worked.”
But before we get there: “I now pronounce you man and
No, that doesn’t sound quite right now does it? What
about “I now pronounce you Man United.”? No again; I mean, imagine the build up
to the marriage vows: “Before we proceed, if anyone here knows of any
lawful impediment to this marriage, show your red card now or forever
hold your offside line.”
Talking of which, Ivor the Engine told me the tale of
attending a wedding and a young minister was doing his first wedding. He
duly asked: “Does anybody here have any reason why these two should not
be married?” Someone in the congregation, gulp, raised their hand!
A deathly hush fell over the place ― but the young minister,
thinking on his feet, and obviously a 0-to-60 in 2.5 seconds man, asked:
“OK, does anybody else have any reason...?”
Back with “I now pronounce you Man United ... You may now kiss your ---”
Hm, what we need is a
suitable word for gay married couples.
Watching a rerun of the magical sitcom Cheers on ITV4 just last
night, Frasier declared that he and Lilith were now POSSLQS, pronounced
possl-queues: “Persons of
Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.”
And there it was, POSSUMS: “I now pronounce you POSSUMS ― Persons
Of Same Sex Undertaking Marriage Sojourn ― you may now kiss your POSSUM.”
Appendix: Use of the word “sojourn” means that divorce is
irrelevant because the journey can be concluded at any time by either of
I read that Alice Arnold, former BBC Radio 4 newsreader,
and Clare Balding, omnipresent meeja operator, following the equal
marriage bill, are preparing to convert their civil partnership
accordingly. It offers up all sorts of possibilities for reworking of
Les Dawson jokes.
Alice Arnold: “I took Clare for better or for worse. But she turned out
worse than I took her for.”
Anyway, back with Les, and nothing to do with marriage or POSSUMS or
A bit of fancy footwork
“In awe I watched the
waxing moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered
chariot towards the ebony void of infinite space wherein the tethered
belts of Jupiter and Mars hang, for ever festooned in their orbital
majesty. And as I looked at all this, I thought ... God, I must put a
roof on this toilet.”
Some more Les jokes to keep the mood going:
A Cairina moschata
waddles into a chemist’s shop ― a Muscovy Duck to you and me: “A tube of
The chemist says: “Certainly, ducks. That’ll be £2.99.”
“Just put it on my bill ... and don’t call me ducks.”
“My lad chewed and swallowed a dictionary. We gave him Epsom salts ― but
we can’t get a word out of him.”
obviously they now need to give him a Thesaurus, three
times a day, after meals...
A fistful of confetti
Let’s return to Lady Claire of Balding. This headline
caught my eye:
Clare Balding beats
all Royals to claim “most fascinating person in Britain” title
Sports presenter Clare Balding has been named the most
“fascinating” person in the public eye by upmarket society magazine
Tatler, beating the Queen, Prince Harry and the Middleton sisters.
The publication, which measured the individuals most
searched-for on its online “Tatler List” of notable figures, found
Balding had moved ahead of all members of the British Royal family.
She also beat Mayor
of London Boris Johnson in 20th place and actress Emma Watson in 28th.
Balding’s partner, Alice Arnold, came in at 14th.
But here’s the clincher which suggests that you should take the above listings with a
fistful of confetti: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s dog Lupo came
PS: Saw Chief Wise Owl tonight and he said I should write a
novel. Apparently, he read the opening shot to yesterday’s smile:
aliens are coming. They’ll be here week Monday, noon, on the dot---”
― and he couldn’t wait to see what happened next...
Thursday, February 7
THE aliens are coming. They’ll be here week Monday, noon,
on the dot. You intuitively know that they mean “on the dot” ― so
don’t be late.
Initially they have asked to meet just two Earthlings:
the very finest of mankind, the crème de la crème of humanity; and the
best of the very worst of mankind, the Joker in the pack, the one person
who perhaps should have represented the best but has been led astray by those
three dreaded black swan feathers: position, power and possessions.
What a challenge. ET and his mates clearly want to see
what makes us tick ― and just as importantly, what makes us explode when the ticking stops.
Obviously the best of the worst, the Joker, is a bit of a breeze, so
many perfect examples to choose from. But the crème de la crème of
The first name that sprung to mind was Nelson Mandela ―
and yet, and yet ... he would have known what Winnie was up to in her
spare time with all that dreadful necklacing business, and tellingly did nothing
to stop it (he was a powerful figure, even when in prison, and his word
would have been enough to put a stop to it, in my humble opinion).
will sense all of that. Sorry, Nelson.
Here in the UK, we have David Attenborough ― but what of
that calamitous ‘sleight of hand’ regarding the polar bear cubs, when millions of
us were fooled by the dishonesty of the scene? Yes, yes, I know, the truth
was hidden in some out-of-the-way web page visited by one man and his
dog ― not good enough, so sorry old bean, bad show.
And anyway, Attenborough has spent most of his working
life in television, perhaps the most dishonest medium ever invented. ET
won’t be impressed with all of that.
Then there’s Mary Berry ― not to be confused with Mary Beard. Now the
name Mary Berry has been familiar to me for some time, simply from
regular mention in the media, but I wouldn’t recognise her if she was
sitting opposite me on the train.
Then I happened upon The Mary Berry Story on TV, in which
Mary charts her life from childhood in Bath during WW2
(dodging Hitler’s bombs), along with a dedicated dislike of school ― until she discovered
domestic science ― via London in the 1960s when she got her first big
break, to becoming the nation’s baking queen and a “national treasure”.
The Swinging Sixties were an ideal time for a determined
young woman to spread her ideas and methods to a hungry population. In
some marvellously touching trips down memory lane, Mary reveals how a stern father,
contracting polio at 14, an inspirational teacher, losing a 19-year-old
son in a car accident ― how all these events influenced a career which has spanned over 50
This from The Sunday Times:
Her achievements are
astonishing; more than 70 cookbooks with sales numbering 6m, and she
came across ― particularly in relating the story of the death of her
child ― as a genuinely decent, low-key Englishwoman.
Perfectly summed up. Suddenly, even the world of
television seemed honest, faithful and true.
Incidentally, I did a bit of Googling ... and came across
this in the Daily Mail, dated October 2011 ― very important that date,
long before news broke of horse meat in our burgers. I quote:
A stint doing catering at Bath College followed. Then, at
17, Mary went to study domestic science at a school in France. “I hadn’t
been away from home before and I remember staying with a family who had
“Our first meal was horse meat. I’d just left my pony
back in England and I cried all the way through the meal.”
What can I add?
A dolphin, a pussycat, a sparrow, a lay-by
(someone you would instantly pull in to have a chat with).
Image: Clive Conway
Anyway, back with ET and the two Earthlings requested for
that crucial first meeting. I propose Mary Berry.
Oh, and the Joker? Tony Blair.
I think the aliens will be most impressed with our
PS: For UK viewers, The Mary Berry Story is
available on iPlayer until February 16 ... a rather reassuring way to
spend a couple of hours, reflecting on what humanity is actually capable
of when it puts its mind to it.
Wednesday, February 6
Galanthophiles ‘R’ Us
YES, we’ve had a covering of snow ― with more on the way
it seems, but you know what rascals these weather forecasters are ― so
it’s snowdrop time of year again...
The above picture was captured in the
Towy Valley, just before sunset during a rather cold snap, with the flowers
already having shut up shop for the day.
this, from the
column in The Times, compliments of one
Snowdrops are little white bells that nod and sway in the
wind, smelling of vanilla or honey. They are now appearing in many damp
places, especially in wet woods and on the sloping banks of streams.
Because of erosion after flooding, they sometimes tumble
into a stream, and are swept along until their bulbs get lodged in the
bank further down. There, in due course, they may flower again.
In the past they were planted as symbols of purity in
churchyards and around convents, and can still be found there, sometimes
among ancient ruins...
How delightful: so much insight, so few words.
I guess most will be surprised that snowdrops smell of
vanilla or honey. Well, because they are so tiny and hug the ground, we
simply never bring one up to the nose, as you would say, a rose.
And they are not the sort of flower you pick into a
little bouquet and hold up to your nose to take in the bouquet. The
snowdrop is a flower that has evolved to simply sit there and bask in
our admiring glances.
In fact, the word galanthophile
comes from the formal botanical name for the genus,
Galanthus, which derives from the Greek gala, milk, and
anthos, flower. (Words from gala include galactose,
milk sugar, and galaxy, originally meaning the Milky Way.)
Suddenly you appreciate why they smell of vanilla or honey.
They are a delightful little flower and they never fail
to generate great pleasure when I spot them along my walks, as I did
this very morning.
there in the
I decided to combine my appreciation of the snowdrop with my affection
for one of the many little songbirds I’ve befriended along my morning
Tuesday, February 5
Ash dieback blame culture
THE European Court of Justice has just ruled that
passengers stranded back in April 2010 by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull
volcanic ash deserve full compensation from airlines.
Most accept that an airline should be expected to provide
alternative flights for those booked on the cancelled flights; however,
that an airline should provide compensation seems wholly unreasonable.
The airline did not create the emergency, indeed, is it not what
insurers call an ‘Act of God’? Something that cannot be directly blamed
on any individual or organisation.
It is the blame culture gone doolally.
As someone pointed out: it is much like being stranded on
the M25 following an unexpected and heavy snowfall ― and then making a
claim for compensation against Toyota.
Incidentally, if you had trouble pronouncing the name of
that volcano ― well, here’s a rerun of something from 2010, a letter
spotted in The Times:
Sir, The continued problems of atmospheric ash from Iceland’s
Eyjafjallajökull volcano make it increasingly important to be able to
remember the name.
May I suggest a somewhat bucolic “Hey, a fella yokel!”.
DR ROBERT BRUCE-CHWATT, Richmond, Surrey
Yes, that is really helpful ― but I enjoyed this online
response even more...
Cane Blake wrote:
Thank you indeed Dr Robert, now all we need is a similar device for the
latter part of your surname.
Another great tip
Talking of an ash tip, there was a discussion on the
wireless apropos the puzzling art of adequately tipping service providers: restaurants, hairdressers,
newspaper boys and girls, postmen and postwomen, rubbish collectors ―
yes, it was a roundup of the usual suspects...
It had been brought into focus by a listener complaining
that a supermarket delivery man had actually asked for a tip. I must be
honest, it took me by surprise that they expect to be tipped, not that I
have ever had any such delivery to bring the problem into sharp focus.
Anyway, one person telephoned the show regarding the bin
men and said: “I only tell them where the tip is.” Ho, ho, ho!
Right, back with that ash cloud, I was attracted to the
thinking behind this letter in the Telegraph:
SIR – I feel like starting a club for those of us who
were not flying on the day of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull
volcano in Iceland, who have not had an accident at work or in the car,
who were not mis-sold credit insurance or other absurd policies by the
banks, and who cannot find any reason for claiming against the banks for
the Libor debacle.
I feel that we are missing out.
Jerry Arnull, Merrow, Surrey
Mr G Marx springs to mind: “I
refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Quite right,
Groucho, for you know what will happen, don’t
you? The moment you join Jerry Arnull’s
club, all sorts of things will start going wrong along your previously
trouble-free walk through time.
Talking of bin men and rubbish, a couple of
believe-it-or-don’t letters on the subject
Out of sight, out of mind
SIR – It’s sad that Earl’s Court is removing litter bins
because they attract rubbish (report, February 1). I hope they don’t
apply the same principle to sewers.
Michael Austin, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
SIR – When walking my dog, I used to pick up roadside
litter and put it in two litter bins. The bins have since been removed
by the waste management company used by the council, which said that
somebody was depositing too much rubbish in them.
Christopher Weeks, Wareham, Dorset
Doolallyness is everywhere. And, to be frank...
Addressing a problem
SIR – I sent two letters from Florida. One, to London,
UK, arrived via UKraine.
The second was addressed to London, GB, and arrived via
Diane Minkoff, Edgware, Middlesex
SIR – When living in
Swaziland, envelopes had to be marked “via Johannesburg” or they would
be sent to Switzerland.
Michael Ogden, Amesbury, Wiltshire
A quick canter to the fridge
The horseburger scandal is still alive and bucking,
especially with news just released that Asda has had to clear its shelves
after burger meat was found to contain 80% horse...
“Is it true that in future supermarket burgers will have
to be paid for in guineas?” Ken Mullins of Chesterfield, Derby, in a
letter to The Daily Mail.
And on that subject, have you seen this video clip, of a
pantomime horse entering a supermarket branch? The things pranksters get
up to. Priceless.
The Tesco Handicap
Monday, February 4
English, as she is spoken
OH BORIS, OH PATRICIA, I wrote yesterday, I shall
definitely make a
point of watching Sky Atlantic tomorrow night i.e. tonight.
To recap: I’d read a review of a series of short
character-based comedies, each lasting some 10 minutes or
so ... one though had caught my eye: Jessica Hynes, the writer and star of
Patricia, holds her own in a tale of a lady councillor. Under
fire for closing a nursery school, Patricia dodges blame by mixing
cunning and apparent dottiness.
So what did I think? Though no doubt officially an
imaginary figure, she noticeably has a bosom like Ann Widdecombe
(correct) and, like Boris Johnson, cycles everywhere and talks nonsense
as an evasive tactic (correct) . Could she be BoJo in drag (no, no, a
thousand times no)?
What Boris Johnson proves, just like all great
comedians ― Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Eric Morecambe ― is, that it is
essential to have a comical look about you which makes people smile
affectionately towards you without you actually having to say or do
Even Ann Widdecombe, for all
her cleverness, looks doolally in a delightful sort of way; daft
as a bat, as they say down at the Crazy Horsepower.
And Patricia, sadly, didn’t look funny in that
essentially smiley sort of way. Also, she did talk nonsense as an
evasive tactic, but it came across as rubbish, whereas Boris has only to
open his mouth and the words sound terrific as they tumble out like a
circus performer on speed ― see yesterday’s speech at the opening of the
Shard viewing platform.
In short, Boris is educated, Patricia was not; Boris has terrific
command of the English language, Patricia did not. Nevertheless,
Patricia was quite entertaining in her own silly way.
Sign up here
Staying with the English language, here are some more
delightful Sign Language examples submitted by readers of the
Telegraph as spotted on their travels ― although occasionally you
don’t even need to leave your chair in front of the computer screen to
do the spotting...
A further education text test
Siesta time: now noon to midnight
Open University advert, spotted by Pascal
No, not at the Open University, but in Ayamonte,
Spain / R Steele
Straight to the point: a really good screw
“Screwed by Mellor. Screwed by Max.”
Antonia de Sancha, 51, English actress and
businesswoman, who was advised by PR guru Max Clifford, 69 (currently
facing allegations of sexual abuse), looks back on her kiss-and-tell
affair with former Tory Cabinet minister David Mellor, 63 (a liaison
which became public knowledge in 1992).
Sunday, February 3
Shard, ribbon, scissors, Boris
There’s a new game in Old London Town…
Shard blunts scissors, scissors cuts ribbon, Boris covers everything
has a trial run in anticipation of his triumphal walk up Downing Street
With Boris Johnson, above, is Irvine Sellar, developer of the Shard
it was a toss-up between the above headline/caption and this: “I woke up this morning
with this ribbon tied neatly around my penis. I have no idea where I
sleepwalked to last night, but it seems I won first prize.” Cut.
To put the above picture into context, this
ever so slightly paraphrased, from today’s Sunday Times:
A monument to self-confidence
The Shard opened its viewing platform to the public on
Friday. This weekend the first visitors, at a mere £24.95 entry fee i.e.
£25.00, are gazing over London after being whisked 800ft by lift to the
72nd floor of what is western Europe’s tallest building.
The official opening ceremony was enlivened by a speech
from Boris Johnson, the mayor. Trying to describe the Shard’s
distinctive architecture, he said: “It’s something prodding up through
the frail integuments of the planet like an intergalactic spear.” He
also compared it to “a cocktail stick emerging through the skin of a
super-colossal pickled onion”.
Are we missing a trick here? Skyscrapers are excellent in
their way, but the capital already boasts a colourful attraction that
prods up through the frail integuments of the planet to a height of
almost 6ft. Never mind the Shard; when is London going to open Boris to
Keeping to the Boris theme ― after all, it’s his first visit of 2013 to
my little scrapbook ― I read this review of a short character-based
comedy which will appear on Sky Atlantic at 9pm tomorrow night, Monday
evening, that is. I quote...
Jessica Hynes, the writer and star of Patricia, holds her own in a tale
of a lady councillor. Under fire for closing a nursery school, Patricia
dodges blame by mixing cunning and apparent dottiness.
Though no doubt officially an imaginary figure, she
noticeably has a bosom like Ann Widdecombe and, like Boris Johnson,
cycles everywhere and talks nonsense as an evasive tactic. Could she be
BoJo in drag?
Oh Boris, oh Patricia, I shall make a point of watching Sky Atlantic
on Monday night.
Sing something simple
Finally, and back with the Shard, first thing this
morning, Richard Allinson invited his Radio2 listeners to suggest songs
he should play to celebrate the opening of the Shard’s
viewing platform. There were some excellent choices. Here are just a few...
High Hopes – Frank Sinatra
I Can See For Miles – The Who
Elevation – U2
Smooth Operator – or anything by
Sharde, sorry, Sade
Stairway To Heaven – Led
When I’m Cleaning Windows –
George Formby (I particularly liked that)
Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
– or was it Little Ri-Shard?
It’s A Long Way To The Top –
Theme From Shaft – Isaac Hayes
Every day a day at school: I will know no rest
until I have used the word “integument”
― meaning a
protective layer: an outer protective layer or part of an animal or
plant, for example a shell, rind, husk, or skin ― in casual
conversation in the Asterisk bar down at the old Crazy
Saturday, February 2
I’m Mandy, fly me
FOLLOWING Wales’s walloping on the rugby field by the men
of Ireland, Chief Wise Owl and me lifted our spirits with a discussion
on another thread of
letters spotted in The Times, this time though some missives which
depart from the norm ― but nevertheless a fascinating series with a most
unexpected and glorious twist in the tail.
First, for those in faraway places with strange
sounding names i.e. Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, let’s join up some dots
left over from all of 50 years ago......
The Profumo Affair was a 1963 British political scandal named
after John Profumo, the then Secretary of State for War. His affair with
Christine Keeler, a model, showgirl and the reputed mistress of an alleged Soviet spy,
followed by lying in the House of Commons when he was
questioned about it, forced the resignation of Profumo and damaged the
reputation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government.
Macmillan himself resigned a few months later due to ill
Crucial to the infamy of the court case, with its tales of
wild parties, paid sex and nuclear secrets, was Welsh-born Mandy
Rice-Davies, a socialite and supposed good-time girl, noted today for
her small part in the Profumo affair and her association with Christine
On 28 June 1963, appearing as a witness in the trial of
Stephen Ward, an osteopathic physician and artist who became notorious
as one of the central figures in the Profumo case, Mandy Rice-Davies
earned her place in the modern books of quotations when, in reply to the
defence barrister putting it to her that one of the men on a certain
list, Lord Astor, had denied any involvement with her, replied: “Well he
would, wouldn’t he?”
The court burst into laughter and the phrase came to be
used in various circumstances, helped by the touch of innuendo from the
Indeed, 50 years on and the phrase is regularly deployed
both in the media and in the real world to cleverly call into question someone’s
account of events.
But did Mandy Rice-Davies really say what the quotation books
attribute to her? Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, in a letter to The
Times just last month, said that is not actually what she replied.
However, before we get there, at the height of the Profumo Affair in
1963, Christine Keeler sat for a photographic portrait that became as
famous as the court case itself. The photo shoot was to promote a
proposed film, The Keeler Affair, a flick that was eventually only
distributed outside Britain.
Keeler had previously signed a contract which required
her to pose nude for publicity photos, but was reluctant. The film
producers insisted so Keeler was persuaded to sit astride an imitation
of an iconic Fritz Hansen plywood chair, so that whilst
technically she would be nude, the back of the chair would obscure most
of her body ― and the result was a quite memorable image...
…oh, and Dame Edna takes the piss ― and all done in the best possible
taste, of course. Incidentally, that marvellous Keeler photograph proves
beyond any doubt that obscene language, overt sex and gratuitous
violence in films and on television is glorious proof of a lack of
imagination at the sharp end, the production point.
Meanwhile, back with the letters:
The first missive does indeed come from Sir Ivan John
Lawrence QC, 76, a distinguished and much respected criminal barrister,
who was also a British Conservative politician from 1974 to 1997. Right,
here we go...
Mandy didn’t say that, did she?
Sir, Daniel Finkelstein’s article was, alas, not wholly
accurate. It is not just that June 30, 1963, was a Sunday, and our
criminal courts do not sit on Sundays, it is also that Mandy Rice-Davies
did not actually say in court what your distinguished writer says she
It is indeed widely accepted that, when Lord Astor’s
denial of the suggestion that she had slept with him was put to her in
cross-examination by Stephen Ward’s defence counsel James Burge, she
answered: “He would (say that), wouldn’t he?” But what she actually said
was: “Of course it’s not untrue that I have had relations with Lord
Astor. I’m not going to perjure myself in court.”
I am sure of this because I was Burge’s pupil, acting as
his junior in the committal proceedings at Marylebone Magistrates’
Court, and anxious to impress with my note-taking efficiency. I have
before me, as I write, the precise note. With all my imperfections, I
could hardly have avoided recording such a significant and witty
statement had it been uttered.
Never mind, it has
been an amusing ― and useful ― aphorism for nearly 50 years.
SIR IVAN LAWRENCE, QC, London EC4
Well, who would have believed it? However, a few days later came this
She did, didn’t she?
Sir, Mandy Rice-Davies did, indeed, say, “He would,
wouldn’t he?” when questioned about Lord Astor’s evidence at Marylebone
This is confirmed on page 6 of The Times of July
1, 1963, the day after Ms Rice-Davies gave evidence.
Sir Ivan Lawrence’s
assiduous note-taking related to an earlier exchange, which is also
given verbatim in The Times report of that day.
DR JOHN DOHERTY, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Now it’s getting exciting: Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, distinguished and much
respected criminal barrister ― and a Conservative politician to boot ―
is seemingly talking through a very private orifice. Typical lawyer and
All rather delightful ― then comes this bolt from a very
Well, I did say that, didn’t I?
Sir, I too was present at Stephen Ward’s hearing at
Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in June 1963 and most certainly did say:
“Well he would, wouldn’t he?” The correct quote by the way.
It was said in reply to Mervyn Griffith-Jones
(prosecution) when it was put to me that Lord Astor had denied any
sexual allegations in regard to myself. The palest ink is not always
better than the best of memory, Sir Ivan ― besides I have before me the
MANDY RICE-DAVIES, Virginia Water, Surrey.
Now how terrific is all of that? I always sensed that someone called
Rice-Davies back in the Sixties would have been more than just a pretty
face, as her original court response testifies; she
was never going to be browbeaten into submission by a pack of
natural-born bully-boy lawyers. Plus
of course, there’s her clever play on the Chinese
proverb: “The palest ink is better than the best memory.”
And to show up someone who is both a lawyer and a
politician, the two professions we hold in perpetual contempt, well,
it’s a stroke of pure smile-of-the-day stuff.
So Mandy, here’s lookin’ at you...
...and nine cheers to boot.
the days when I was busily clocking up air miles, it would have been a
real pleasure, Mandy, to have you fly me to the Moon.
Incidentally, she wrote a book,
The Mandy Report,
which I see was actually rather cleverly formatted as a
tabloid-style magazine, and inside Mandy claimed to have serviced
the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Robert Mitchum, Bob Hope, George
Hamilton and many others...
the men denied it, of course, but to paraphrase Mandy herself: “Well,
they would, wouldn’t they?”
Friday, February 1
It’s true. We really are man’s best friend.”)
THERE ARE few things more certain to put a smile on the
face of we humans than our dogs. True, there are people who inflict
great cruelty on their pets, but they impose great cruelty on
everything within their orbit.
I have never kept a pet. However, I was brought up on a
farm where we had both working dogs and working cats (to keep the vermin
at bay), but they would regularly wriggle their way into our
I have previously written about Tuppy ― or Pussycat, as I
call her ― my neighbour’s dog at my last place of abode, and she never failed
to put a smile on my face with her eccentric but lovable behaviour.
Knowing how vicious all creatures become when their young
are threatened, it has always intrigued me how both dogs and cats allow
we humans to pick up their very young, even remove them from their
bosom, without their becoming aggressive and vicious. Now that’s what I
call absolute trust. It’s shameful that we often betray that trust.
Anyway, I have come across a couple of pictures which say
so much about our relationships with our dogs...
Put that away ― you don’t know where its been!
“ayes” have it: huskies during a training session at Feshiebridge in
where the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain held its annual sled dog
Pic: David Moir
Huskies always bring to mind sheepdogs. Anyone who has
worked with border collies will know that you can spend all day rounding up sheep off the mountain, at
the end of which the dogs may well look shattered as
they pant with tongues hanging out, but if you suddenly point and say
― they will be off as if they have a rocket up their arse.
They have endless energy and enthusiasm to please.
I am not familiar with huskies, but from what I see of
them, they are exactly like collies in their work ethic and need to show
willing to the pack leader. Great photo, above.
Talking of border collies...
toy gives pets a toothy grin when they play “Fetch!”
A new creation has put a novel twist on what can
sometimes become a tiring game of fetch: the Rogz Grinz ball, designed
by Porky Hefer ― great name ― features large grinning teeth, so when your dog runs
back with the ball, it will also greet you with a warm, toothy grin.
Created by South African based company Rogz, the Grinz
ball can be stuffed full of your doggie’s favourite treats, ensuring even
the laziest pooch will go after the toy.
Two perfectly smiley photographs.
PS: Along my morning walk I recently met two ladies out
walking their dog, a border collie, which reminded me very much of
Pussycat. But the dog’s name was Whisper, which certainly made me smile.
I enquired where the name had come from, but the owner
wasn’t sure. “Actually,” said the lady, “it’s a most inappropriate name
because she is anything but a whisperer.” And right on cue, Whisper
started barking furiously. Not in any aggressive way, just the way
collies do when they become excited.
Smashing name though.
PPS: Finally, it’s well worth three minutes of
your life watching this little puppy battling to join his dad on a
treadmill. Hugely smiley:
Previously on Look You...
Smile of the
day 2013: Feb
Smile of the day 2013: Jan
Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
.. Smile of the day 2012
(Apr-Jun) .. Smile of the
day 2012c (Jul-Sep) .. Smile
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Previous 2011 smiles:
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
.. Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
.. Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2010
(Jan to Jun) 2009
March to May '07
June to Aug '07
Sep to Dec '07
You are here, way out west,
aka Dodgy City
Previously on LOOK
Smile of the day 2013: Feb
Smile of the day 2013: Jan
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
of the day 2012c (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the day 2012
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
Smile of the Day 2010
2010 (Jan to Jun)
Sep to Dec '07
June to Aug '07
March to May '07
As it was in
ST DAVID'S DAY, 2007
Here's lookin' at you
400 Smiles A Day
What A Gas
400 Smiles A Day