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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 ...
Saturday, August 31
RIP Special Relationship
“WE ARE a country tired of fighting wars that have
nothing to do with us.” UKIP leader Nigel Farage, prior to
Parliament’s debate and vote, urging against military action in Syria.
How fascinating then that Nigel Farage, because he is not
a Member of Parliament, had no say in David Cameron’s surprising and
humiliating failure to secure parliamentary backing for military strikes
against the Syrian regime.
Well, for once those dreadful people we call politicians
reflected the view of so many British people who share the feelings of
Nigel Farage. A YouGov poll following the vote found that 68% thought
parliament took the right decision (16% against), while 70% think we
should share intelligence about Syria and support America at the United
Personally, it’s not that we shouldn’t do something about
what’s happening in Syria, but why must our political leaders always
lead the charge of the ever lighter British brigade?
First it was Tony Blair thinking he was Churchill
strutting the world stage. Now it’s Cameron.
What I don’t understand is this: we are members of the
European Union. Overwhelmingly our laws, rules and regulations now come
from Brussels and are merely rubber-stamped by Parliament. So why not a
united Euro front against the Syrian regime rather than leaving it to
individual countries, which surely goes against the whole point of the European
I don’t understand it and I wish someone would explain.
Mind you, a Roland White report comes close:
Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, began his speech
in the Syria debate with this simple appeal: “Why us?” That might have
caught the public mood, but on reflection is uncomfortably close to the
election slogan by Homer Simpson in his successful campaign to become
Springfield’s sanitation commissioner: “Can’t someone else do it?”
The delightfully doolally news from last night is that France has now
taken the place of Britain as America’s “oldest and closest military
ally” in confronting Syria ― ho, ho, ho!
― meanwhile deep doubts emerged over whether MPs were right to throw out
David Cameron’s war plans.
Anyway, I have been captivated by two newspaper front
pages. One from America in response to Britain’s failure to back Obama ―
and the reply from our own Sun newspaper (when all else
fails, we can rely on the Sun).
First, the amusing headline compliments of the New York Daily
Definitely positively not going over the top
This is the Sun’s witty response:
THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP died at home after a sudden illness
on Thursday, August 29, 2013, aged 67. Beloved offspring of
Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dearly loved by
Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Regan, John Major, George Bush Snr,
Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W Bush. Funeral to be held
at the French Embassy, 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT.
Strictly private. No flowers please.
Typical Sun ― and rather good. Now I have been a
little bit naughty: I actually added the ‘Strictly private’ bit ― just
in case nobody turns up to pay their last respects. Now that would be embarrassing for all concerned.
Incidentally, there was one picture that surfaced last
night and I thought: my God, after Dai Cameron’s mighty cock-up and
humiliation in not securing parliamentary backing for his great
adventure, he has been forced to walk the greasy plank, in full view of
Dai the plonk walks the plank
Yes, I know, Cameron has put on quite a bit more weight
than I thought from that picture just the other day of him strutting his
stuff on a Cornwall beach.
Truth to tell, I’ve told another lie. Here is the actual
caption to the above picture:
A man runs up the gostra, a pole covered in grease,
during celebrations for the feast of St Julian, patron of the town of St
Julian’s, outside Valletta, Malta, last Sunday.
In the traditional
gostra, a game stretching back to the Middle Ages, young men (sic),
women and children have to make their way to the top and try to uproot
one of the flags to win a prize.
Takes all sorts. Mind you, when I saw the word ‘gostra’,
I intuitively thought it a misprint and that it should have read ‘Cosa
Nostra’. Never mind the flag, watch out for the horse’s head.
Friday, August 30
A game changer
”I WANT everyone
to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”
Bradley Manning, 25, the American army whistleblower sentenced to 35
years in prison, reveals his plans to undergo gender reassignment.
What a wonderful undercover expression that is.
Chelsea, eh? Isn’t it astonishing the effect
José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, or simply José Mourinho, or
confusingly The Special One, has on people. He’s back as manager of
Chelsea and everyone wants to be named in his honour.
whenever I watch or listen to these whistleblowers ― I’m particularly
thinking of someone like Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks fellow holed up
in that Embassy ― I am instantly reminded of something somewhere between
the very model of a modern Pvt Walker, the spiv of Dad’s Army fame, and
Kaa the snake from Jungle Book:
“Trust in me...!”
Gosh, they all appear so plausible ... and yet terribly shifty.
Just like those they are allegedly blowing the whistle on, really.
Should I trust any of them further than I could throw them?
Indeed, who whistleblows the whistleblowers? Well, it is
intriguing that in the case of Julian Assange,
Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of
raping one woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in
Stockholm in 2010, something which he strongly denies.
Welcome back, Mrs Mills. And where have you been of late?
Anyway, not to worry ― on with the show. Something here of particular
interest to Chelsea Manning, methinks:
UNDRESS TO IMPRESS
Why is it that every time every woman that has ever lived
takes off a T-shirt or jumper, she crosses her arms, reaches for
opposite bottom sides of the garment and lifts it over her head, whereas
no man has ever used this technique?
Because it messes up the hair less. The male technique of
just yanking forward runs the garment completely over the hair, usually
with a great crackle of static. This doesn’t matter for most men, who
have either short or very little hair.
The female method also means that the breasts are seen
to emerge perkily upwards, rather than scrunched forwards, which is good
to know if you are disrobing in front of an audience.
Now that is proper smile of the day stuff. I mean, at that very
moment when Bradley morphed into Chelsea, do you suppose he >>> she
intuitively crossed her arms to reach for the opposite sides of her
jumper ― or was he always doing that anyway? Little things say so much.
Short back and sides
Talking of hair ... I was looking through the TV Guide
and I was scanning BT SPORT 1, a new satellite sports station,
and I saw listed a programme called Life’s A Pitch. Obviously a
programme on football, or perhaps rugby ― whatever, a really clever
Hm, I thought, life’s a pitch ― and then they give you a
crew cut and subject you to some waterboarding.
You know how the sound of running water is supposed to
make you want to go to the toilet? Well, there’s been much in the media
of late about the rate at which our local authorities are closing public
toilets. For example, a missive spotted in The Daily Telegraph:
SIR – Here in Melton Mowbray, we spend thousands every
year trying to attract visitors to the town, but keep the public
lavatories firmly locked, unless it is a “special occasion”.
One would think that a three-day arts festival, a St
George’s Day parade and the finish of an international cycle race, all
on the same day, might be a special occasion. Requests that the loos be
unlocked were ignored.
The council should ask volunteers to keep a keen eye on
the loos, for the benefit of all who have the need on a “special
Brian Hodder, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Pondering on Brian’s revelation that Melton Mowbray only
opens its public lavatories on “special occasions” (when senior council
officers are visiting?), it’s fascinating to speculate on those
seemingly superficial, little throwaway things, that label a country
“civilised” or otherwise.
To my mind, what makes a country “civilised” is that the
air ambulance is part of the nation’s ambulance service and not
dependant on charity; and that there are plenty of public toilets, which
are clean and free at the point of use.
Yes, the UK is becoming uncivilised at a rate of knots.
Back with the letter about the loos in Melton Mowbray ―
these follow-up gems:
In for a penny
SIR – In Kirkby Lonsdale, the town council was encouraged
by the local authority to take on two public lavatories and have them
One of them was considered over-large, so was split
into two. One half is now fully converted into up-to-date
unisex/disabled toilets with baby-changing facilities.
The other is about to open as an art gallery. The name
of this new enterprise? The Loovre.
Mike Marczynski, Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland
Nothing to lose
SIR – We had a pair of public lavatories
on the sea-front which were closed and then redeveloped as a restaurant,
called the Toulouse.
Quintin Davis, Westcliff on
I was intrigued by those names, so I Googled The Loovre Art Gallery
― and landed in Ontario, of all places. However, I came across this
Art Gallery for Kennington toilet
underground toilet block in Kennington Cross, Central London, is now
open for business as an arts venue after having electricity and water
installed in March...
Nothing at all about a Loovre in Kirkby Lonsdale. How odd.
You’ll be delighted to know though that there really is a
Toulouse Restaurant in Westcliffe on Sea.
And if Bradley can change into Chelsea, then Two Loos can
change into a Toulouse.
I happened to zap onto The One Show on BBC 1
tonight and landed upon a feature on the hobby, a bird of prey which
feeds mostly on dragonflies. Programme host Chris Evans declared his admiration for the
dragonfly ― not just their beauty and grace but their clever way of
“I love dragonflies,” said Chris, “they are so, so
beautiful. They tilt forward like helicopters to go forward ― exactly the same
No, Chris, it is helicopters that tilt forward like
dragonflies. Insects have been around a little bit longer than humans,
let alone helicopters.
We make that mistake all the time, about how animals,
especially pets, ape our behaviour patterns. No, we ape their behaviour.
That’s how nature works. The ones that have been around longest rule. It
is called the survival of the fittest.
Thursday, August 29
A better class of trolley dolly
YESTERDAY, I smiled at the picture of Lupo the cocker
spaniel ― oh, and of course Kate, William and Georgie Porgie. Well blow
me, today the meeja has been awash with pictures of Kate on her first
private public outing since you know when.
She is now back in Anglesey where William is stationed
until next month, and she was pictured on a shopping expedition to her
local Waitrose supermarket.
Most comments were dedicated to her figure, which has
magically morphed back into its default configuration. As I’ve
speculated before, Kate is probably one of these natural-born slim
Whatever, I was rather tickled by some images spotted in
Duchess goes shopping: who’s holding the baby?
Wonderful. And what gives the
cartoon that especially smiley ‘X-factor’ is the “...or fewer”. Clever.
Incidentally, when I saw the picture of Kate pushing the
supermarket trolley the first thing that came to mind was the rather
witty VW Polo ad currently on TV, where a couple are shopping for those
best buys to save precious pennies ... the female chooses one loaf over
a similar one because it is 12 pence cheaper.
And then they come to some VW Polo cars perched on
a shelf ... the lady is impressed with the terms ― her man agrees ― and
the next we see is this car coming round the corner, stacked on their
Polo, with free insurance and £1,000 off the deposit
Unbelievably clever and amusing.
Being that today’s smile of the day revolves around families going about
their daily lives, and applying a bit of lateral thinking, this letter
appeared in The Daily Telegraph last weekend:
Woman awaits proverb
SIR – I was at a wedding last
week, and on the back page of the service sheet was a Xhosa proverb that
when translated was: “A man without a wife is like a vase without
I am wondering what a “woman without a husband” might
Juliet Dettmer, Hambledon, Hampshire
Well, the suggestions came flooding in ― but first, a Sign Language
special spotted in Rio by Alan Godfrey:
Proverbial woman without a husband
Robert Sunderland: “A woman without a husband is
like a garden without a compost heap.” There it is, quietly mouldering
in a corner, but nevertheless doing a useful job.
Stewart Macdonald: “A woman without a man is a
vase of flowers without water.”
Roy Butler: “A woman without a husband is like
flowers unencumbered by a vase.”
Dusty Roades: “A woman without a husband is a rose
without a thorn.”
Richard J C English: A woman without a husband?
Pat, my dear wife, had a one-word answer: “Happy.”
Richard Moorey: After 42 happy years of marriage,
I would suggest that the answer is: “A woman without a husband is like a
motor-bike without an ashtray.”
Heather M Tanner: “A tooth without the ache!”
Robert Stephenson: “Like a possessive without an
Bo Bates: A sentence that has been used to improve
care in the use of punctuation is: “A woman without her man is a
savage.” But where should the commas be placed?
“A woman without a husband can always ask for directions.”
Very good. What came to mind was the rather old-fashioned idiom that
goes something like: “I was afraid my daughter would never find a
husband, that she’d be left on the shelf.”
So, I am wondering what a ‘woman without a husband’ might
Wednesday, August 28
Whispers in the dark
ALEX Lester on his
wireless show is featuring Celebrity Wake Up: you have an alarm
clock with a famous person of your choice whispering in your ear; even
your favourite singer serenading you awake, if you so wish.
I didn’t even have to think about it. Fenella Fielding
— “England’s first lady of the double entendre” — an
actress, popular in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In her prime ― she is now 85 ―
she was known for her wonderfully seductive image and distinctively
husky voice. Fenella’s idiosyncratic tone of voice was exceedingly sexy
Fenella was a proper smileometer. And she was proof that
women do not need to be blessed with classic beauty for men to find them
irresistible. I’ll put a link at the tail end of today’s smile which
will deliver you to her memorable performance on the radio show Just A
However, back with Celebrity Wake Up, the only
listener choice I remember is this, from
Paul the Bedford Milky:
“For my one and only lie-in of the week, my Sunday
alarm voice would be ― Marcel Marceau.”
Smashing. And made all the better because it instantly
brought to mind one of Kenny Everett’s genius creations: yes, Morris
Mimer, the delightfully doolally mime artist...
There’s another link at the bottom, to the above
65-second Morris Mimer sketch that has me in LOL mode every time I watch
it ― and I know what’s coming at the end.
proper comedy, just like “Don’t tell him, Pike!”
from Dad’s Army, or the crashing chandelier sketch from Only
Fools and Horses. See, even introducing the sketch with the punch
line doesn’t distract from the genius of proper humour.
Incidentally, Alex’s Cartoon Care Home (from yesterday) grows
ever more wonderful by the day.
Mick the Trucker:
“Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men [two little men made of
flower pots who lived at the bottom of an English suburban garden, along
Little Weed (of indeterminate species, somewhat resembling a sunflower
or dandelion, with a smiling face)], go on to have their own garden
does the planning, Ben is a dab hand at DIY, and Little Weed has
blossomed, she makes gorgeous water features, wears tight fitting
clothes and loves showing off her beautiful rose buds.”
(Yes, yes, I can see
Weed’s beautiful rose buds sticking out from under her ― no, no, I
didn’t think that, honest, let alone say it.)
“Hang on,” adds Mick the Trucker, “have they stolen the
idea from someone else?”
Priceless. And here’s a visual guide to the magical
morphing of Ben, Weed and Bill into Tommy, Charlie and Alan...
Brilliant beyond, Mick the Trucker. Now that’s what I
call a Ground Force. And if you look extra carefully, you can just about
catch sight of one cute little rose bud sticking out from the foliage.
What would we do, eh, without
the ability to smile?
One for the family album
A week or so back we saw the rather charming
point-and-shoot picture of Kate, William and bambino Georgie Porgie, as
shot by gramps, Michael Middleton. Probably 99% of those who saw it
loved it because it looked just like the sort of memorable family photos
we all shoot:
Mrs What A Hoot, she of the Chief Wise Owl combo, handed me this rather
sweet letter spotted in The Times:
Never appear with...
Sir, With all due
respect to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new son, whom we all wish
well, in your lovely front-page picture (Aug 20) he is completely
upstaged by their cocker spaniel, Lupo.
TONY PHILLIPS, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks
Yes indeed, never appear with animals and ― er... Also, avoid being
photographed with someone who is blessed with a natural-born smile...
And so to the Morris Mimer sketch referred to above. Now this is why the
expression LOL was invented ― and keep an eye open for the rose buds:
And here’s Fenella weaving her magic on Just A Minute.
In fact, I shall put both Morris Mimer and Fenella’s soirée in the
comedy section of my Desert Island Video Jukebox...
Tuesday, August 27
Wake up little Susie, wake up…
SADLY, I didn’t have a little Susie alongside me when I
awoke this morning ― I did once upon a time, more moons ago though than I care to
remember. Anyway, the music fades...
Alex Lester is talking about Cartoon Care Home i.e. what
happens to those favourite cartoon characters from childhood when their
moment in the sun fades. For example:
Twizzle: a boy doll with the ability to extend (or
“twizzle”) his legs and arms and who wears a pixie-like hat and has a
cat companion known as “Footso”. Well, he joins the police and becomes the
long arm of the law.
Even though Twizzle means absolutely nothing to me, I
enjoyed hugely the Cartoon Care Home punch line compliments of a
listener. Oh, and Tom the Cat bought a mouse trap and lived happily ever
Presumably Tom bought a proper mouse trap ― not one from
the ACME Corporation as favoured by Wile E. Coyote ― and Tomcat was then
free to become the Casanova he always wanted to be. How could we forget
this from Springtime for Thomas...
All the above nonsense set me thinking: Wile E. Coyote
clearly gave up chasing old “Beep-beep!”
and became a politician ― he could then go on being totally useless at
his day job and nobody would notice the join. Road Runner on the other hand
went on to create and host a top-rated television motoring show called
Basil Brush went on to enjoy a brief period of employment
as a Concorde pilot. Boom-Boom!
And what of Ivor the Engine ― no, not regular Ivor from
the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, who lives in the “bottom left-hand corner
― but rather the adventures of a small green steam
locomotive who lived in the “top left-hand corner of Wales”?
had a derailment when the trolls who lived under the bridge kept
at him every time he passed. Poor Ivor.
Anyway, enough of such delightful silliness.
Sunny side up
Back on August 15 I shared with you that entertaining
thread of letters from The Daily Telegraph about how best
to store eggs in the home. The definitive letter on the subject was
Your friendly neighbourhood lay preacher
SIR – For
optimum quality, eggs need to be kept at a constant temperature below
20C. So a traditional cool larder is perfect.
However, in modern kitchens the only place to keep food cool and
avoid temperature fluctuations is the fridge, hence the advice on egg
Eggs do not need to be refrigerated by retailers, as the typical
retail environment is temperature-controlled. Ambient storage avoids the
large temperature fluctuation that would arise if eggs went from chilled
storage to the car boot after purchase.
Amanda Cryer, British Egg Information Service, London SW7
Well now, The Times also discussed the problem. This letter
Eggs safer in fridge
Sir, You suggest (Aug 10) that
eggs can be stored at room temperature. The British Lion Quality Code of
Practice advises that in the home eggs should be stored, preferably in
their original packs, in a fridge.
If an egg is contaminated with Salmonella, storing it
at room temperature allows the Salmonella to multiply, and without
causing any obvious change in colour, smell or consistency. Salmonella
will not multiply in the fridge.
Salmonella infections have decreased significantly in
the past 15 years and very few UK-produced eggs contain Salmonella, but
Lion eggs account for only 85 per cent of the UK egg market, and
imported eggs are much more often positive for Salmonella.
DR ROSAMUND M. BAIRD, Sherborne, Dorset
DR JANET E. L. CORRY, School of Veterinary Science, University of
Back in April I featured a series of amusing
passive-aggressive notes left for flat mates, whether it be in response
to not replacing the loo roll or never washing the dishes. The notes,
believed to be from America, highlighted precisely the sort of behaviour
that won’t exactly endear you to your housemates.
One of my favourites was the individual annoyed to
distraction by the toilet roll never being replaced...
My guess at the time was that the pissed-off flatmate had
cleverly unrolled the paper when it was nearly finished, and then wrote
that message before rolling the paper back on and gluing a corner of it
to the cardboard
Well, enjoy this letter, spotted in The Daily
SIR – My husband and I lived in Aden for several years.
Things became difficult and I came home, leaving him in our company
Before leaving I wrote notes such as: “Don’t just sit
there”, “Missing you already” and “Who loves you baby?” and inserted
them into the loo roll.
Two days later the company moved him out and someone
Pip Griffith, Hartford, Huntingdonshire
Proceed with caution
Never mind cyclists frightening the horses by not giving
gentle notice of their approach from the blind side, I have just watched
an exciting Stage 4 of the major cycle race La Vuelta a Espana, which
came to a sudden conclusion at Fisterra Fin Del Mundo ― the commentator
informs me that it translates as “The End of the World”.
How very apt, given how dramatically the place sticks out
into the Atlantic.
considering the number of accidents the race participants have suffered thus
far, I was disappointed that neither the camera nor the commentators
pointed out a sign or banner which read:
“Welcome to the end of the world ― please cycle carefully!”
Monday, August 26
Magic bank holiday moments
I SWITCH on the radio as soon as I’m awake. It’s always
agreeable to start the day with a trip up the smileometer, and Alex
Lester’s early-early wireless show does what it says on the tin, even if
I only catch the tail-end of it. For example...
Words that men don’t want to hear: “Darling, you’re
tired. I’ll drive.”
Smile delivered in the fast lane, job done.
Next, I grab a bite to eat before I set off on my
early-morning walk: toast, some pate and cheese, and a mug of tea.
As I breakfast like a King on a crash diet, I peruse
The Sunday Times Culture Magazine: TV & Radio guide. Actually, there’s a
reader comment in the
TV listings: this section has improved tremendously ―
well done. Please consider same for radio listings.
John is spot on. I am not a dedicated telly viewer ― I am
more a wireless man ― but I peruse the TV Choice section every morning.
Choice delivers brief previews of the pick of the day’s programmes
always around 100 words ― and do you know, I have no need to watch the
programmes because the previews satisfy my curiosity.
Ponder just two of
this morning’s Choices...
It takes all sorts
Most Pampered Pets
“I put my dogs in the shower with me,” says one so-called
“pet parent”. “Is that crazy?” Well, it depends on who you are judging
yourself against. By the standards of the other eccentrics interviewed
here, it is probably perfectly normal.
There is an Australian man who dresses his ducks in
frocks, a woman who has 200 couture outfits for her dog and another
owner who takes her pooch for face-pack and reiki treatments. She does,
however, have a grip on her pet’s limitations: “I do understand she is
never going to go to college.”
Yes, they’re all out there. But see what I mean about the
preview? It is so good I have no desire to actually watch the
But what is “reiki”, I ask myself? Click ... click...
“Reiki” (ray-key) is Japanese for ‘universal life
energy’, and is also a word used to describe a system of natural
healing, This tradition was founded by Dr Mikao Usui in the early 20th
century and evolved as a result of his research, experience and
And a dog needs a lesson in ‘universal life energy’? Ho
And on a slightly different tack, here’s the second preview
that caught my eye:
No smoke without...
(National Geographic, 9pm)
Howard Marks does not look like a drug dealer. Charming,
likeable and laid back, it is hard to believe the Oxford graduate had
the energy to smuggle anything, let alone what America’s Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimated was 15% of the cannabis that
entered the US in 1972-87.
Looking back without rancour or blaming others, he
describes an extraordinary criminal career that made him a fortune until
a DEA officer made it his mission to arrest him and finally tracked him
down. As Marks says himself: “If only I had had the good sense to stop.”
I am always intrigued how women ― it is nearly always
women ― describe Marks as “charming, likeable and laid back” (the two
reviews here were penned by Emma Perry and Sally Kinnes).
Whenever I see Howard Marks on television, or listen to
him on the wireless, a little shiver goes down my back. To me he comes
across as someone you should never, ever turn your back on. Indeed, that
he was handling 15% of the cannabis that entered the US is a warning
Ladies: drug dealers are not dolphins, pussycats
and sparrows ― they are sharks, polecats and sparrow hawks.
Still, I thought the write-up was a jolly good read.
Anyway, off I go on my walk ― a picture-perfect and
really warm Bank Holiday Monday morning ... I’m home two-and-a-half hours later.
I check the online news:
Giant Panda birth could happen ‘any time’ soon
Edinburgh Zoo says UK’s only female giant panda Tian Tian
could give birth at any moment after confirming that she is ‘probably
But there again, perhaps she is not pregnant, as Edinburgh Zoo
always add as an afterthought. It seems you can’t always tell with these
pesky preggie pandas.
It all brings to mind a smashing Sunday Times tail-gunner
Comment piece from a couple of weeks back, which I cut out and put in my
physical scrapbook, convinced it would deliver some day
soon ― but first, an amusing cartoon from a recent edition of The Times:
Je t’aime like a panda
The Lindo wing at St Mary’s Hospital is so last month.
The new place for high-profile baby news is the panda enclosure at
Tian Tian, one of the zoo’s pair of pandas, is thought to
be pregnant. Her hormones are being carefully monitored, but we’ll know
for sure when she calls for a marmalade and chilli pickle sandwich.
This is not such happy news for her mate, Yang Guang,
however. It is not entirely clear that he is the father. Tian Tian so
firmly rebuffed his attempts at courtship (which must explain those
nasty black eyes) that she had to be knocked out by the keepers and then
inseminated. And, just for good measure, they also used the sperm of
another panda ― called Bao Bao.
In a separate development, French men are reportedly
suffering a crisis of masculinity in the face of newly assertive French
The Gallic male should take note of the sorry fate of
Yang Guang. Because once pandas start to reproduce in numbers, how long
can it be before the world decides to act to save the Gallic population
and begins mating French males in captivity?
Very amusing. Incidentally, no wonder Yang Guang is
thought not to have done a Paul Hollywood and risen to the occasion ― should he not be called Yang
Yang, or Guang Guang? Mind you, Bao Bao sounds very much like the type
who eats, shoots and leaves.
Incidentally, you know how I maintain that there is no such thing as
original thinking, just really clever lateral thinking. Well, the above
Times cartoon appeared on August 10 ― now here is the
with his current take on developments at Edinburgh Zoo:
“Her behaviour suggests she
may be about to give birth”
From ashes to splashes
Before toddling off to bed I take a quick look online at
The Daily Telegraph’s home webpage. just to see if there’s any news of
interest ... well blow me...
There’s been a story in the news all day about the
England cricket team, having won the Ashes series 3-0 against the
Aussies (with two tests drawn), they then went on to celebrate late into the night,
out on the pitch at the Oval.
So here was the headline inviting me to click:
Surrey furry after England ‘urinate’ on Oval pitch
And the next but one headline down?
Britain’s 10 best piers
Honest, cross my heart and all that.
The first headline continued:
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson urges England to look at
allegations that their players relieved themselves on the Oval pitch
after fifth test----
And the other tale:
As Brighton is named the UK’s worst holiday resort for
being “too trendy”, we look at the most traditional features of our
seaside towns – the pier----
I began the day with a smileometer contribution ― and I
round it off in perfect style. Just your bog-standard bank holiday way
out west here in
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Reiki’,
‘universal life energy’, came up as ‘reek’,
as in the doctor responsible for same, came up as
Hm, very Gilbert & Sullivan, very comic opera.
Drug Enforcement Administration’,
came up as
Say nothing is best.
as in Tian Tian, came up as
Tina as in What's Love Got To Do With It?, I presume. And
as in Yang Guang came up as
... oh dear, Gang Bang? What’s
love got to do with it indeed.
Sunday, August 25
Stepping out in their Sunday best
I AM suddenly overtaken by a fit of the giggles; my
imagination goes into overdrive ... but let’s start at the very
beginning, always a very good place to start.
I’m perusing the Mail Online website ... and
I come across this headline, complete with picture montage and a brief
Donkeys in donkey jackets, swans in turtle necks and deer donning
sheepskin coats: Artist imagines how animals might dress if
they could choose clothes themselves
Miguel Vallinas, Madrid, tried to imagine how the animals
would express their personalities through clothes if they had the
ability to do so. The collection, named Second Skins, or Segundas
Pieles, not only displays animals dressed up in the clothes but
gives each animal the assumed personality of the clothes they are
Vallinas places the animals in distinct stances which
best speak to their outfits. Among the featured animals is a zebra,
swan, deer and owl. A previous collection, called Skins, or Pieles,
depicted various men in different work uniforms. The project was aimed
at investigating the internal aspects of being a human being.
I am instantly captivated by the above montage: I click ... the images really are
marvellously eye-catching ― there’s a link at the bottom.
The one that really catches my eye in the above pastiche is the swan. However,
before I deliver you to the link, what actually grabs my imagination is
an observation in the Comments section of the web page,
compliments of the wonderfully named
Puddleduck, This Side of the
Like these a lot. Hmmm. But the Vulture and
the Donkey ---- Dead ringers for the BerCows :)
I really did chuckle at that suggestion. So much so I set
about compiling my own montage from Miguel Vallinas’s Segundas Pieles.
First, here’s a picture of “the BerCows :)” ― and then below, the couple come
alive in their Second Skins...
Now how memorable is that? Thanks,
Puddleduck, you made
my smile of the day, with bells on.
Here’s the link should you wish to see the range of
rather clever Second Skins. Well worth a visit:
Saturday, August 24
The Great British Burn Off
“IT’S difficult to think too much about politics if
you are in danger of burning the pancakes.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who says he enjoys cooking pancakes on
a Sunday morning.
Every day a day at school refresher:
Told to mind the pancakes cooking on the fire, David let
his thoughts wander to his troubles. The pancakes burned, and Sam Cam
gave her husband a good scolding for his carelessness. (With apologies
to King Alfred, his burnt cakes and the peasant woman he was supposed to
be looking after ― yes indeed, history is busy repeating itself.)
I don’t know about you, but I think our PM is starting to
lose the plot big time. Half a bubble off plumb isn’t even the half of
Yesterday, he was wandering about a Cornwall beach
exposed to sea, sand and sun and looking suspiciously like a boiled
lobster whose GPS had suddenly packed up; and not long back he was
obsessed with the gay marriage business instead of concentrating on the
economic mess the nation is in.
What is happening to our Dave is what happened to Tony
Blair and Gordon Brown before him. Part of the job description of taking
up residence at No. 10 Downing Street is that it drives every occupant
But first, they burn the cakes ... and then their
There again, Dave could have been making a clever joke
about those burnt pancakes.
No bubbles, no plumb
“I left school without an O-level, an A-level or even
a spirit level. So it was a special day for me. I am very proud.”
Badly-burned Falklands War hero Simon Weston, 52, recently congratulated
his son James on graduating from Cardiff University.
Lost in Heaven
Talking of Dai Cameron looking like a lobster whose GPS
had packed up ― this, spotted trending online today:
Man rescued on Welsh
mountain after climbing with Scottish map
An unnamed man was left cursing his luck, as well as his
technology, after he had to be rescued from Snowdon because his
electronic mapping device smashed, leaving him with only a paper map ―
The rescue services say this happens regularly when GPS
systems suddenly run out of power and climbers do not have a back-up
While on the subject of 10 Downing Street, as I was
earlier, and politicians not having a back-up map or plan:
Cry me a river
“Love is a
bourgeois construct” sing the Pet Shop Middle-Aged Men on their new
Nah, give me “Love was too plebeian” from Cry Me a
River (1953―) anytime.
Ah yes, Plebgate ― sorry about the gate thing after the
‘Postgate’ feature last Tuesday ― but it really did happen in front of
some very important gates, when Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell
supposedly demanded that the police open the big gates protecting
Downing Street so that he could ride his push-bike through.
the cops refused, Mitchell allegedly called them “plebs”, a word few of
us would have been familiar with outside the context of the song Cry
Me A River. The Plebgate River is still in full flow and there’s
talk of things wigs and gowns...
Anyway, back with Love Is A Bourgeois Construct
... if, in 60 years, a self-important, jumped-up politician feels
insulted if a policeman on duty outside No. 10 Euro Way, Old London
Town, accuses said politician of calling him a “borgeois construct” ―
well, I had better get my apology in first ‘cause I clearly won’t be
around in 2073.
Sorry, Mr Politician, that’ll learn me.
An all-embracing party
Still on the subject of politicians, the storm over UKIP
MEP Godfrey Bloom and his “Bongo-Bongo land” reference refuses to be put
“We still hope that he somehow manages another term
and he remembers us.” Godfrey Bloom jokes that he and UKIP party
leader Nigel Farage are holding out for an invitation to one of Silvio
Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga parties.
Bong-bongo, bunga-bunga ― it’s a job to keep abreast of
Who goes there?
“What’s new pussycat?” What David Cassidy, 63,
American actor, singer and songwriter, reportedly said to a New York
policeman called Tom Jones, who arrested him for alleged drink-driving.
Police mug shots are rarely flattering but the former pop
idol who once sent millions of teenage hearts fluttering is almost
I guess Tom the Cop should have responded: “Nothing new,
Sir, just that funny, familiar but sadly not forgotten feeling when we
catch someone drunk-in-charge.”
Finally, please be upstanding
“I have to listen to a lot of boring speeches, but I have discovered
there is nothing so boring as not listening to a boring speech.”
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, 73.
That definitely hits the smileometer.
Friday, August 23
Signs of the times
TODAY, with my imagination in neutral, I sat down and
perused a whole batch of entertaining Sign Language
pictures garnered from online over recent times ... they are so, so smiley, especially
when I can mix ‘n’ match to suit my appreciation of the doolallyness of
the world about us.
So here we go, brace yourself:
Diarrhoea of Samuel Peeps
Spotted in Tokyo by Charles Hanshaw
Spotted in Venice by Ed Hone
I don’t know what it is with these Oriental countries but
their English translations are priceless. I can only presume that it is
the literalness of the interpretations that renders them totally
memorable. In truth, the translations are better than standard English.
I mean, how would you say “watch out for upskirting” in such startling
English without being rude, crude or obscene?
As for the Pee-Peeping Tom in Venice, I have no idea what that
attempting to say. Except, perhaps, that it’s a unisex toilet and that ladies
are being warned to watch out for dirty old men taking a peep. The
opposite of “upskirting”, perhaps? Downsizing? Downcleaving?
And then these...
Flash in the Cam
Spotted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Joanna Wilkinson
Spotted in Majorca by Sally Collins
Again, what could the “Expose yourself outdoor” possibly
mean? I have a sneaky feeling that if we saw the whole sign things would
become a little clearer. Very smiley though.
Whatever, I couldn’t resist “uplifting” the Majorca
photo. It sits so perfectly.
But hang about. Do you suppose that old Dai Cameron,
Prime Minister of this
‘ere Parish, saw the invitation to expose
himself “outdoor”, and took it literally. Today’s media has been awash
with pics of Cameron on yet another holiday, this time on home territory
though, down there in the south-west...
Cam exposed in Cornwall
Spotted on Polzeath beach by many
Oh dear. What an image. Tell me, are these public figures
all determined to become Generals George Armstrong Custer and to never,
ever sense the ambush at Little Bighorn?
Mind you, my favourite online comment was the top rated ‘worst’ one on the Mail website:
Hannah, 8, London, United Kingdom
no, hang on, hang on, hang on: it was
― a small but critical difference. Oh yes, there was no
exclamation mark, which is rather worrying for Hannah8.
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Polzeath’,
as in Polzeath beach in Cornwall, came up as ‘Polecat’. I guess the computer
must have caught sight of Cameron strutting along the beach like an
overweight lobster on heat. Very LOL.
Surprisingly, the computer never challenged
PS: I forgot to add yesterday’s
Spell-cheque corner, but I have now corrected that oversight ...
some intriguing suggestions from the computer apropos those historically
pesky Reds hiding under our beds.
Thursday, August 22
Something quaint and qwerty
THEY say that if you have no fashion sense whatsoever, and
always wear the same type of clothes all the time ― cough-cough: me, me, me!
― then once in a blue moon or so you are again the very model of a modern
So there we were a few weeks back, me and my shadow, strolling up
Carmarthen Street in Llandeilo, and I pass Chess, a rather classy
menswear shop. Yes, even someone like me who, somewhere along the line
had a fashion lobotomy, notices these things (www.chessmenswear.com).
But what caught my eye was not so much the clothes
but a good old-fashioned typewriter sat in the window...
grabbed my attention today again because a
recent news story has resurfaced ― and don’t talk to me about the wheel turning full
circle and everything coming back into fashion, eventually:
Kremlin security agency to buy typewriters ‘to avoid leaks’
A source at Russia’s Federal Guard Service (FSO), which
is in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications and protecting
President Vladimir Putin, claimed that the return to typewriters has
been prompted by the publication of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the
whistle-blowing website, as well as Edward Snowden, the fugitive US
The FSO source told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper the aim
was to prevent leaks from computer hardware.
“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents
by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry
Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in
2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper
documents,” the source said.
The source added that typewriters were already being used
at Russia’s defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret
notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin
However, unlike printers, every
typewriter had its own individual typing pattern which made it possible
to link every document to a particular machine, Izvestiya said.
Wel-i-jiw-jiw, as they say down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, now that
what I call the good old typewriter daisy wheel turning full circle.
Oh, and a return to paper documents, eh. Unbelievable.
You can say what you like about the Russians, but they do
have a practical side that shouldn’t be lightly dismissed.
Remember the tale, from the 60s space race, about how
the Americans spent millions of dollars developing a pen that would
function properly and efficiently in zero gravity? They were successful, and pens that
astronauts could use to write at any angle while in flight became
standard equipment on U.S. manned space missions.
In the 70s, during one of the Apollo-Soyuz joint missions, a
Russian cosmonaut on board marvelled at this innovation and how much it
had cost. “We used pencils,” the Russian said. “We knew they would
Not to fast with the typing, Mr Bond
Back with using typewriters because things non-electronic
cannot be bugged, I did read a story that during the cold war, the
Russians did indeed bug manual typewriters. It seems that just as every
typewriter has its own individual typing pattern, every key makes a
distinctive sound as it hits the paper, so what the cunning Ruskies did
was fit little transmitters inside the typewriters ― and then a man would
sit outside the office in a van, switch on the transmitter and record
the sounds. Someone would then be able to transcribe the sounds back
I do so hope that’s true. I mean, it does sound perfectly
plausible and very Q and James Bond-ish.
My own memory of undercover tales of the typing pool goes
back to my first proper job, working in a local bank. Every year, on the
anniversary of joining the bank, the manager would submit an individual
staff report to head office.
The manager would ask one of the staff to bring into his
office a typewriter along with some carbon paper to enable him to make a
copy for the branch’s own records.
The staff would always take him a clean carbon sheet,
because if it was just the one report, which was usually the case in a
small branch of say half-a-dozen or so staff, they could then read the
report in the carbon paper.
And that is a true story.
I am reminded of American composer Leroy
Anderson (1908-1975), who built a career composing distinctive yet
sophisticated short works for instruments and orchestra. Every Christmas
we are treated to his atmospheric “Sleigh Ride”. And of course there’s
extraordinary “Typewriter” song.
And yes, Leroy really does make the
typewriter sing. Have a look at a YouTube video which accompanies the
music, and features typewriter
photos ― 63 glorious old machines in 95 seconds flat.
And just below, a link to a live and rather amusing
presentation of a fellow ‘playing’ the typewriter. Glorious.
the original Leroy Anderson recording, together
with the gallery of photos ― oh, and at the :50 mark, spot the very Imperial
which sits proudly in the window at Chess:
And of course the smiley live performance of the
Finally, just relax, watch and listen
Whilst on the subject of music in all its glorious forms, today
we’ve been party to a wonderful Google doodle, marking the 151st
anniversary of the birth of the composer Claude Debussy. It’s a 5-Star
musical doodle, honouring the stunningly melodic Clair de Lune ― I
particularly enjoy the way the lights flash in rhythm to the music:
The doodle has created so much social media interest that people have
been flocking to YouTube to share the complete version of Debussy’s
extraordinary beautiful piece of music
― so here it is, and all performed by the light of the silvery
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Dmitry Medvedev’ came up as ‘Dirty
Midvale’. Hm. And rather enigmatically,
‘Ruskies’ came up as ‘Riskiest’.
Wednesday, August 21
THE Saturday edition of the Western Mail newspaper
carries a Week End Magazine cum TV & Radio Guide.
Last Saturday the mag’s front page highlighted a
‘Words of wisdom’ feature. Or rather, tips on how to be
successful compliments of those already blessed with talent, ambition
and dedication ― something rather different to wisdom, I would suggest.
Anyway, inside the magazine, there was a headline:
‘Good advice is totally powerful’
A good mantra can build success but what are the words
that made some of Wales’ movers and shakers a triumph? From life to home
to business to parenthood, they share their tips to get to the top
Anyway, here is said front page, showing a selection of
All things wise and wonderful
As you can see from the quoted examples, they are not
really what I would call wisdom, but rather, as the above headline
suggests, just slices of good advice which worked a treat for each of
Wisdom though is a fascinating business, for there
appears to be two variations on the theme: acquired and innate.
The quote that caught my eye, above, is the one
“Always double check your work”,
originally trained as a solicitor but now a BBC news journalist and
presenter of Crimewatch Roadshow:
“When I was in school, my mother told me ‘always double
check your work’. I always wanted to be the first to finish a test or
exam quickly but didn’t realise that getting it right was more important!
I remember I was amazed to see how my marks improved. By reading my work
through I instantly spotted mistakes.
“I still use the advice today re-reading news scripts
that I’ve written, seeing how they can be improved. I’ll tell my son
when it comes time for him to sit tests in school. We can learn a lot
from people with experience.”
Sian sums it up rather well apropos the advice her mother
passed on: “Always double check your work”, or what I term “Measure
twice, cut once”.
I vividly recall the time I first saw Candid Camera on
the telly, in black and white. The stunts and the practical jokes back
then were clever and rather cunning; there was no shouting and swearing
and people blowing their tops as Jeremy Beadle featured on his ‘Bastard
Son of Candid Camera’ shows.
There was one trick where a carpenter was called in to
put some shelves into a recess in an office. He measures up the space
available, and then moves away to trim the first shelf to size. Behind his
back one of the walls closes in a fraction, so when he returns the shelf
he has measured and cut is just a wee bit too long to fit.
The look on the carpenter’s face is a treat. Anyway, he
measures again. The moment his back is turned to re-trim the shelf to
size, the wall returns to the original position. The
shelf is now too short. Very clever and funny.
However, if memory serves, the carpenter quickly twigs
that something is not right because having been caught out the first
time he measures twice. But those puzzled looks on his face during the
opening shots were ― well, priceless.
Anyway, back with the mantra “Measure twice, cut once”:
mostly we learn the importance of this along our own walks through time,
usually making mistakes by not measuring something accurately the first
time, or perhaps not bothering to re-read something we need to send to
someone, much as Sian says.
This is acquired wisdom. Learning on the hoof. Sadly
though, this is not included in the DNA baton passed on to the next
generation because humans mostly reproduce before such wisdom is
captured in our genetic reservoir.
It explains why the world is in a perpetual state of
chaos. Each generation learns only from its own mistakes, it never
benefits from the learned wisdom of previous generations and their
cock-ups. Just think modern day politicians.
also featured that headline “Good advice is totally powerful”: well, if
life were that simple, then just hand your children a dictionary of
famous quotations because the answers to life, the universe and
practically everything can be found there. All wrapped up in memorable
sayings, full of insight, wit and wisdom: short, sweet and to the point.
Innate wisdom though is rather different and much more
rare. I define it as the ability to sense the ambush before entering the
pass, the gift to spot the smoke signals and to “Measure thrice, cut
once” in anticipation of your own Little Bighorn suddenly manifesting
round the next corner or two.
Such wisdom is inherent. You either have it or you don’t.
It can’t be taught and it can’t be learnt. At the moment of conception,
you were either at the front of the queue headed “Wisdom” ― or you were
Most intriguing of all, it is ordinary people who appear
blessed with this gift rather than the rich, the powerful and the
famous, who seem to suffer ambush after ambush, and that despite their
perceived cleverness (think Saatchi).
So keep an eye open for those individuals who seemingly
have a clear run through life, as if some unseen power is clearing a
path for them. No, it ain’t God in a snowplough ― remember that
wonderful car ad: how does the snowplough driver get to work? ― but
rather nature has blessed them with more than their fair share of
Let’s leave the last word on the subject to
Mark Twain, perhaps the wisest owl of all:
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
Finally, and talking of things black and white i.e.
Candid Camera ― let’s have a look at one of the top television ads of
all time, something so magically creative: “Have you ever wondered how the man who drives a
snowplough . . . drives to the snowplough? This one drives a―”
and stop wondering:
Tuesday, August 20
IT ALL began with Watergate and the subsequent downfall
of Richard Nixon, way back in 1972: “There will be no whitewash in the White
House.” Ah, one of the great lines. (And here’s another memorable one,
compliments of Anonymous: “Spin ‘em a line ― and the longer the line the
more they love it.”)
it hasn’t stopped since. We now live in a gated society. It’s gate this,
gate that, gate whatever ― from:
arms sales to the Government of Angola by the Government of France in
Via more smiley stuff i.e.
Prince Charles, back in 1992, wanting to come back as a period piece
(who could possibly forget his wanting to be a tampon)
Janet Jackson has a wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl 2004, exposing
herself to America’s largest television audience of the year
Zzzzzzzzzzz-gate ― enough already, shut that bloody door
First though, let’s celebrate some proper gate-gate tales of the
unexpected, all compliments of Sign Language, those amusing and
confusing signs spotted by readers of The Daily Telegraph
on their travels along the highways and byways of Britain and Ireland:
Open and shut case
A shot in the dark
Spotted in Inverness by Dave Drew
Spotted in Kildare, Ireland by Simon Barker
That self-closing gate sign, above, is a proper mystery.
I can only think that the gate is occasionally propped open for some
reason ― perhaps a cross-country training run to the sports field it
pretty sure those are goal posts and nets in the background), with the athletes propping the gate open to avoid the obvious
... and then the last person through forgets to un-prop it.
As for the Maganey Gun Club, the sign must be rather old
because a search online suggests there is no such club now in existence in Kildare. There
again, it is an Irish sign, and if there was a strictly no shooting
policy ― well, let’s
not bang on about it. Mind you, could it be that someone was simply having a laugh?
Meanwhile, here is a very English notice ― and this one
deserves its very own
Heritage Blue Plaque,
King Canute lived here, before all that business with the tide
Spotted in Norfolk by Chris Allen
Finally ― and this is what happens when you don’t
pay attention to what
it says on the tin:
Spotted somewhere in the UK by Joanne Hooson
“...Otherwise The Ponies Will Turn Into Heifers ― Thanking You”
would have thought that four gates could generate as much pleasure as
Monday, August 19
Cricket, lovely cricket
THERE has to be a God of Coincidence somewhere up there,
forever guiding me in the right direction. (Chief Wise Owl of Crazy
Horsepower fame suggests Epimetheuse, the Titan of afterthought and the
father of excuses. Many a jesting word spoken with a hint of truth.)
Anyway, whether there is a Geek God or Goddess or Titan of
Coincidence, yesterday I smiled at a cricket tale surrounding the expression
Well now, today I stumbled upon a photograph online which
left a curiously quizzical expression on my face.
Is it something from an old Monty Python Sketch? Perhaps
a variation on the theme of the famous John Cleese funny walk? Or a
carnival in some faraway place called Kashmir (where it was shot)?
There again, perhaps it’s a new variation on the theme of
the cricketing “box”, worn
to protect the bowler should the batsman decide to return a “bouncer”
with added enthusiasm? Or just a different kind of fashion shoot?
A whole new ball game?
Or perhaps a new Gagman Style Kashmere jumper hits the high street?
Now be honest, the first thing you did was grin, yes?
The image turns out to be one of a series of
recent pictures of clashes between Muslims and Hindus during Muslim
holiday celebrations in Kashmir, the Northwestern region of the Indian
subcontinent. Reports suggest that four people were killed and over 24
In the picture, above, an Indian policeman throws stones
at Hindus protesting against the state government after rival
communities clashed in Kishtwar, in Jammu.
Isn’t it just the smiliest picture you’ve seen in a
while? Never mind the “body box”, the cricket pads alone are a hoot. You can
hear the protesters throwing stones at the policeman and shouting “How’s
Mind you, the new Hot Spot technology would go down a treat,
So there you go, I can’t
top that smile today.
Sunday, August 18
“I AM old enough
to have gone to grand houses where they had servants’ bells. What else
is a phone ringing but somebody summoning you? So, like a servant, you
are listening for a bell. I won’t have it.”
Joanna Lumley, 67, English actress and author, on why she does not
have a mobile phone.
Well, believe it or don’t, I share precisely the same
aversion to telephones. Not just mobiles, but also your common or garden
landline. Of course life would be quite an obstacle course without a
phone, but I detest the sound of a telephone ringing.
In fact Joanna has thrown up something fascinating,
especially so when you learn that 85% of the UK population now owns a
mobile. Which suggests that 50 million of the nation’s population are
natural-born slaves i.e. servants listening for the bell ― and the
remaining 10 million could be natural-born masters i.e. the old fashioned
ruling classes cum landed gentry, who have other people to listen out
for the bell on their behalf.
Class distinction is alive and well and working in
exceedingly cunning ways. Mother Nature has a ruthless way of balancing
her books and emphasising the natural order of things.
Mind you, it’s not quite as straight forward as that. I speak as someone who does
indeed posses a mobile phone - but it is always turned off. I take it with me when I go on my morning
walks through the Towy Valley, just in case, and also when I go out in
Thus far, fingers crossed, the only time I’ve ever used it is
to occasionally call my landline answerphone, just to make sure the
mobile still works and that I actually remember how to operate it.
So does that make me a slave or a master? Something in
between I guess, which sort of sums me up pretty succinctly.
Sticking with the mobile theme, a letter spotted in The Times:
Sir, You say that
street theft of iPhones is known as “apple picking”.
Scrumping would be more accurate.
DAVID KOTTLER, Cogenhoe, Northants
Very good. Meanwhile...
Everyone’s an expert
“We have gone from a vertical society to a horizontal
society where everybody has an opinion about every decision you make.
Basically the respect for people who make decisions has gone because
every decision is questioned.”
Arsene Wenger, 63, a French football manager who is in charge of
English Premier side Arsenal, and who yesterday lost its opening game
of the season, at home, against Aston Villa, 1-3.
Oh dear. A rather horizontal result that, Arsene.
Mind you, his quote rings a bell because, back at the
beginning of July, I mentioned a parked-up, sit-on road roller, the kind
used for minor road maintenance such as filling pot holes, etc ― but
pinned on the back of the machine was a telephone number and an
invitation to the public to ring the local council to tell them how the
driver was, well, driving.
I pondered the absolute doolallyness of the notice,
suggesting that 99.9% of the folk who pass and observe the machine at
work will never have sat on, let alone operated, a heavy-duty,
specialised commercial vehicle such as a road roller.
So why the hell are we invited to pass judgment on
something we have not the slightest idea what we’re talking about?
And isn’t that precisely what Arsene Wenger is on about?
Horizontal thinking at its worst. And all endorsed by the doolallyness of social media
with its instant response without a pause to ... well, just a pause to
think about it first.
Tales from Down Under: A bum wrap
“No-one, however smart, however well-educated, however
experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.” Australian
opposition leader Tony Abbott, 55, makes an unfortunate verbal slip-up
in an attack on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, also 55.
When I read that, I smiled, naturally ― and I tried to
think what the proper word was ... I went blank. I couldn’t get my brain
into gear to move away from suppository ... I had to fiddle about online to
rediscover the word ‘repository’. What a cracking quote though.
Staying with things Australian, another letter spotted in
He is a what?
Sir, You report
Michael Clarke, esteemed captain of the touring Australian (men’s)
cricket team, as saying “I am a bat nuffy”.
What is a “bat nuffy”?
ASHLEY TUCKER, Leeds
I never spotted a response in the paper, so I ventured online:
Nuffy: A term used to describe people that are
mentally retarded (or just plain stupid). Derived from the term
nuff-nuff. Australian slang for retard.
then read this relevant story cum explanation, also online:
England hits back at silicone sledge
THE England and Wales Cricket Board is understood to have
asked for an explanation and apology from Channel Nine (Australia) over
its claims that players on both sides of the Ashes battle have been
using silicone tape on the edges of their bats to defeat the Hot Spot
Yet despite the Hot Spot anomalies, both the Australian
and England camps issued strong denials yesterday that any of their
players are cheating by tampering with their bats.
“I think I would know,” said captain Michael Clarke. “I’m
a bat nuffy, I pick up everyone’s bats. I go through everyone’s cricket
bats. I find the accusation quite funny, to be honest. I can’t talk for
everyone but if that’s the case and we’re talking about cheating, I can
guarantee you there’s not one person in the Australian changing room who
will cheat. It’s not the way we play cricket.”
England squad member Graham Onions was similarly
nonplussed by the report.
(Source: The Australian)
At least in using the term “I’m a bat nuffy”, the Australian cricket
captain was talking about himself. But I’m still unclear what he
actually means when he says “I pick up everyone’s bats ... I go through
everyone’s cricket bats”(?).
Saturday, August 17
WITH Llandampness living up to its name on its annual
agricultural show day, it’s an opportune moment to water-slide back down
to the beginning of the month, Sunday the 4th.
My smile of the day featured a picture of a delightful
little frog, spotted just east of Java,
sheltering from the rain. Well blow me, another
picture of a similar nature has just surfaced online, and it seems too
good an opportunity not to show Frog No. 1 and Frog No. 2 in tandem.
First up then, the curtain-call photo of the resourceful tiny tree
frog taking shelter from a downpour by using a leaf as an umbrella. The
photographer had observed the frog take cover for some 30 minutes in his
neighbour’s back garden in the city of Jember, East Java, Indonesia...
Frog day afternoon
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
Also caught in the pouring rain, yet another petite tree
frog, but this time it appears to be doing its nut, reproaching itself
for getting caught out and drenched in the downpour. The amphibian is a
female peacock tree frog and was snapped by photographer Mark Bridger
while on a trip to Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool, west of Manchester.
Appearing to exclaim “Damn!
I should have grown accustomed to the damp!”,
in best Rex Harrison mode, the wee thing is pictured wiping its eye
as raindrops keep dripping on to its head.
“Most people really like the photo,” said Mark. “It’s
quite quirky and cute for a frog, especially the brief ‘D’oh!’
moment when she wiped the rain water from her face.”
Can’t argue with that.
Desert Island Video Jukebox spot
When I originally featured the frog with the umbrella, I
added Singin’ in the Rain to my Jukebox. Both the Gene
Kelly and the Morecambe & Wise versions.
Well, the second frog photo prompts me to add another
great old favourite, Just Walkin’ in the Rain, a Johnnie Ray
This dates from 1956, recorded on the Columbia Records
label. The A&R man at Columbia was Mitch Miller and, as it happens, the
talented Ray Conniff arranged and conducted the session using his own
big band and chorus. As he did at Columbia for many major stars of the
Fifties and Sixties.
Also, Elvis Presley died 36 years ago yesterday ― 36
― so it would be an appropriate time to add another Elvis classic to the
Rock ‘n’ Roll section of my Video Jukebox.
I’ve gone with Hound Dog because, apart from the
performance itself, the backing harmony is so relevant to the way those
early Elvis records bridged the gap between the traditional music of the
Fifties ― Mills Brothers, Andrews Sisters, that kind of melodious sound
― and the new shake, rattle and roll on the block.
I always enjoy reading the Comments section on YouTube sites ―
by-passing the bad language ones obviously ― and I’m forever intrigued
by the curious things people say. On one Hound Dog site I
Jose Esteban Navas:
“I knew a hound dog...”
Yeah? And did it never catch a rabbit?
First up then, Johnnie Ray’s Just Walkin’ In The Rain:
And here’s 2:19 of
“Fetch!” heaven, Elvis and his Hound Dog:
Friday, August 16
No such thing as bad publicity
YESTERDAY, rounding off the day’s smile with a nod and a
wink to the alleged ‘apostrophe abuse’ we all secretly enjoy ― I
declared a sneaky suspicion that many such errors are not mistakes at
all ― and I noted that there is no such thing as bad publicity. At least not
in this context.
And to make this point rather spectacularly ― do you
remember this from a dozen or so moons back?
She who laughs last
MADRID, Spain —
A year ago, Cecilia Gimenez’s botched attempt to restore a fresco of
Christ inspired ridicule and references to monkeys. Now, the 81-year-old
Spanish artist is having the last laugh.
The disfigured fresco has drawn more than 40,000 visitors
and raised more than $66,285 for a local charity in the town of Borja
since gaining worldwide attention. It has spurred the town to put the
likeness on merchandise it hopes will sell for years to come. And
Gimenez has even had her own art exhibition, with two dozen of her other
works showing through August 24 in the town of 5,000.
Gimenez and a local council are to sign a deal next week
to share profits from merchandise featuring the image, with the artist
getting 49 per cent and the council the rest, said councillor Juan Maria
Ojeda, who listed the tourism and income figures.
The turnaround is apparently quite the relief for the
Spanish retiree, who was overwhelmed by the attention a year ago.
“Now it seems like everyone’s happy,” local paper Heraldo
de Aragon quoted the once-media shy Gimenez as saying in Sunday’s
edition. “I’m grateful that things have quieted down.”
(Online source: The Province)
marvellous is all that? Smiley tales don’t come much better. Be that as
What’s in a name?
Yesterday also, I mentioned the chickens from the farm:
Chickadee, Chickaboo, Chiquita and Henrietta. And of course, Pussycat
At the Crazy Horsepower today, Ivor the Engine and his
good lady Glad Eyes mentioned that they enjoyed the names I’d given the
As it happens, the conversation with Ivor and Glad
reminded me of a recent Pause For Thought on Radio 2, delivered
by one Steve Williams. He was talking about the importance of names and
how much thought people put in to naming their children.
I mean, just think Prince George Alexander Louis of
Anyway, Steve was talking about his 8-year-old daughter
and how she has to have a name for every stuffed toy in the house. For
example, the rabbit is called Vanilla Toffee, and the giant teddy
glories in the name of Stuffed Chimney. Stuffed Chimney, eh? Ah, the
splendid imagination of children.
Steve then went on to tell this tale:
Many years ago, one head of a
legendary Oxford college welcomed a young Japanese prince into his
study. The prince sat down a bit awkwardly and said: “I’d like to change my name.”
The head of the
college smiled: “Why is that?”
“Well,” said the Prince, “I’ve only one name at the
moment, and it’s a bit embarrassing. When you translate it, it means Son
The head of the college laughed, leaning back in his
chair: “Don’t be embarrassed. We have the sons of lots of famous people
A knotty problem
Finally, a memorable smile from Alex Lester’s very, very
early-morning Best Time of the Day Show on the wireless, in
particular his Things I Have Learnt Over The Past 24-Hours spot.
“Today I learnt that when the wife says do whatever you like she doesn’t
actually mean that. Now I either have to sell my brand new motorsickle ―
or move out.”
The only advice I can offer Anonymous is something
said on his Radio Wales wireless show from last Sunday:
“If you feel
you’re coming to the end of your tether, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
Thursday, August 15
Chicken ... rooster ... egg ... fridge...
did come first? The egg
or the chicken? The chicken or the cockerel? But first, meet some friends...
Chickadee, Chickaboo, Chiquita ― oh, and Henrietta;
there's also some bitch who insists we play ball or else!
I really miss Pussycat the dog, and indeed the chickens
that wandered around the farm where I hung my hat until a year or so
ago. Honestly, if I turned my back and left the kitchen door open they’d
all be in the cottage, scrambling for the high ground and the best perches.
themselves very much at home.
They were all rather sweet and I was always talking to
them, thanking them for their productivity ― the chickens would forever
return the chat in that gentle “balk, balk,
balk” sort of sound they make when they feel all laid back.
As I have said before, I would never want to talk to the
animals, but it would be a wonderful gift to be able to understand what
they are communicating.
Anyway, what with all this talk of chickens, there’s been
a thread of correspondence in The Daily Telegraph about
that confusing issue apropos whether eggs should be kept in the fridge
So let’s track the tale, which leads to a really
fascinating and exceedingly ‘every day a day at school’ conclusion:
SIR – Hummus may start going bubbly if it is kept outside
the fridge (Leading article, August 6), but eggs are happy without
Why do people insist on wasting fridge space for them?
Is it just the influence of those little egg-shaped holes that some
fridge shelves used to have?
Heather Johnson, London SW7
How do you like your eggs in the morning?
SIR – Heather Johnson is right. Eggs should never be kept
in the fridge as their shells are porous and readily absorb any smells,
such as cheese.
Incidentally, they should also be stored upright (why
not remove those egg-hole shelves and put them outside the fridge?) as
this keeps the yolks centred.
Jean Pike, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
SIR – The reason people put their eggs into a refrigerator is because
instructions on supermarket egg cartons tell them to do so.
I have no idea why this is. In their journey from warm
hen to warm supermarket shelf, eggs go nowhere near refrigerated
storage. Quite why they should need it once they arrive in the
customer’s house is a mystery.
In any case, putting eggs in the fridge just means you
have to bring them out 30 minutes before you cook them in order to get
them back to room temperature.
Nick Serpell, Darwen, Lancashire
An elephant bird egg ~ memory-side up
A complete and partly-fossilized egg of the long-extinct Elephant
Bird of Madagascar recently sold for more than double its
estimate, fetching £66,675 at auction at Christie’s in London
After purchase, store in a warm atomic sub
SIR – When I served on nuclear submarines in the
Nineties, the bulk of the eggs would be stored in the sonar electrical
compartment, in relatively warm ambient temperatures, and would remain
perfectly edible throughout the long voyage.
The only precaution taken would be to turn the boxes
over every few days to prevent the yolks settling.
Michael Perkins, Fareham, Hampshire
Chicken and egg [and happy event]
SIR – A word of warning: when
storing your eggs, be careful not to keep them in too warm a
temperature, or after 21 days, you might have chicks hatching out of
John Snook, Urchfont, Wiltshire
And the final word goes to...
Your friendly neighbourhood lay preacher
SIR – For optimum quality, eggs need to be kept at a
constant temperature below 20C. So a traditional cool larder is perfect.
However, in modern kitchens the only place to keep food
cool and avoid temperature fluctuations is the fridge, hence the advice
on egg packs.
Eggs do not need to be refrigerated by retailers, as
the typical retail environment is temperature-controlled. Ambient
storage avoids the large temperature fluctuation that would arise if
eggs went from chilled storage to the car boot after purchase.
Amanda Cryer, British Egg Information Service, London SW7
And there you have it. End of.
Well, not quite. The
child-like genetic streak in me must be momentarily exorcised:
Who wrote the book Great Eggspectations?
Oh, and let’s not forget the cock of the walk, that old
rascal the roistering rooster:
What do you call a city of 8,336,697 eggs?
New Yolk, New Yolk [so
good they hatched it twice!]
New Yolk, New Yolk,
I want to rouse that
That never, ever sleeps,
And find I’m cock of the
Top of the list,
Head of the heap,
Cock of the walk...
with apologies to John Kander & Fred Ebb
Oh yes, which really did come first?
Chickadee and an egg are abed, laying low (pray, what
else would they be doing?). Anyway, Chickadee is all stretched back and
relaxed, smoking a
cigarette with a very satisfied smile etched across her face. The egg is
frowning and looking extremely frustrated.
The egg says: “Guess we answered that question.”
Yesterday I explored the endlessly entertaining
apostrophe ‘problem’, and I wondered aloud whether that marvellous
picture I featured of “Professional Sign's & Lettering” was a deliberate
ploy to create interest and free publicity.
And I started thinking about the very first example I
used, the one just below: “H's Caf'e” ... and the more I think
about it ― well, where did the apostrophe in “Caf'e” come from anyway?
I think “H's Caf'e” and the sign writers knew precisely what they were doing. I mean,
there is no such thing as bad publicity ― and everyone has some innocent
fun at the expense of these signs ― but crucially, it does not
necessarily reflect on the business itself. I mean, you always blame the
I bet you anything that people are not put off visiting
H's by that annoying apostrophe. On the contrary, I can hear
an endless parade of people saying: “Oh look!
Lets call. I really fancy some scrambled egg's and bacon for brekki'e.”
I’m starting to look at apostrophe abuse in a different
Wednesday, August 14
Eat’s, Shoots’ & Leave’s
The apposed approach to apostrophes
Spotted by Mathew Robinson, on the A2 in Dover, Kent
Meanwhile ... a flash ‘every day a day at school’
I say MPG, you say CAFE...
US government-mandated average fuel-consumption rate for the vehicles
produced by a manufacturer. Full form: Corporate Average Fuel
Well, it made me smile:
say MPG, they say CAFE, let’s call the whole special relationship thing off...
Okay, I’m now back in the middle lane.
I recently spotted an Apostrophe Abuse picture gallery on
MSN, and all, coincidentally, endorsed by a series of letters spotted in The Sunday
Times TV & Radio listings guide, which is also home to
You Say, comments submitted by readers about programmes they have
either watched and/or listened to with mother.
This first letter takes us back to last month’s
Wimbledon men’s singles final:
Lets do it
Pity that the woman cheering Murray on with the “Lets
make history” sign forgot the apostrophe between the t and s on “lets”.
A slight blemish on an otherwise perfect Sunday afternoon.
Martin J McGuinness
Yes, I remember seeing that banner on the telly ― but
sadly I can’t find a picture.
Never mind, this instead, an ace serve...
Irritation of the conjunctiva, so to speak
An exchange on Tumblr, spotted by Captain Faggo
Captain Faggo, eh? Best not go there, methinks.
Anyway, these replies came in response to the Martin J McGuinness point-of-order comment:
Lets do it one more time
Martin J McGuiness states that his Wimbledon was
“Blemished” by the woman whose sign read “Lets make history” rather than
“Let’s make history”. I presumed that she was drawing attention to when
the ball touches the top of the net. Let it go, Mr McG, let it go.
Neat observation, very clever and witty. But this
next comment takes the low road as opposed to the high road:
Sorry if that woman’s
banner spoilt your day ― it certainly made mine even more perfect, and
was texted with triumph around the family.
that was perfect ‘smile of the day’ stuff ― but how about this?
Now how memorable is that? It doesn’t say who spotted it,
or where. But talk about making your mark.
I’m just wondering if it’s a deliberate error ― imagine
the attention it draws i.e. even here on
Especially so as it is such a neat, eye-catching and ― well, a
professional-looking sign anyway.
And after all, it is the duty of the client to pass on
the correct spelling and punctuation to the sign maker.
Incidentally, I’m intrigued as to what happens at
MIDNIGHT ― note the sign writing and lettering on the side of that van?
PS: Please God, I hope there are no catastrophic
apostrophobic errors in this piece ― apart from the deliberate ones,
that is ― after all, my reasonably trusty spell-cheque does not
necessarily spot rogue words and apostrophes. Or indeed those little
buggers that go AWOL when you are looking but not seeing...
Tuesday, August 13
Free Willie 3
THE Curious Tales Of The Little Willies That Baulked
In The Night i.e. me receiving an invitation to add 2-4"
to my manhood; the fellow who had the 10-stone testicles surgically
removed and then ended up with a one-inch penis; and the New York Postie
who won a competition to find Brooklyn’s smallest penis ― simply will
not go away.
Sorry to repeat myself, but the story does keep growing and
I mean, I just stumbled upon an image in one of my
picture galleries ― I have no idea where it actually came from, but I must have
sensed that some day soon it would come in handy...
But before I go there,
last Saturday I touched on this “I say potato, you say potato” business,
highlighted by the graffiti on the microwave plate.
Remember this headline?
Graffiti artist David Bussell leaves amusing messages
hidden in funny places in hotel rooms around the world for guests to
Next time you’re staying in a hotel, think about checking
behind the mirrors and paintings, or under the tables and chairs,
because you might just find a funny scribble left there by comedy writer
“Boredom is my big motivator. I tend to just write or
draw whatever seems funny in the moment but certain objects have been
known to inspire ideas; bathroom fittings, kitchen appliances, Gideon’s
“Mostly though I just write in places that will only be
searched out by the extremely curious ― guests rather than cleaners, I
suspect, given that some of the rooms I’ve stayed in obviously hadn’t
had a vacuum cleaner run under their beds in years.”
First though, Little Willies that grow on you:
“It’s not the length of the barrel but the power of the
A dual-blush toilet: funny or a vulgarity?
“The sad part of the process,” says David Bussell about
his works of graffiti, particularly the exceptionally clever and witty
Cistern Chapel one featured above, “particularly for a
comedian who’s used to getting immediate gratification from a joke in
the form of audience laughter, is that I never get to witness the
“Nothing would make me happier than someone sending me
a photo of one of my pieces they found by accident, unless it’s the
hotel management that is, in which case I’d better hope I paid by cash
and didn’t leave them a deposit on my credit card.”
Last Asterisk Saloon Bar
For some reason, both above images brought to mind the
motoring vicar, The Rev Alice Goodman, who is unrepentant about putting
a bumper sticker on her car with the letters WTFWJD ― which I must admit
I thought she would claim stood for, especially so given the current
brouhaha over getting gas out of the ground:
“What The Frack Would Jesus Do?”
The Rev Alice claims the default “f-word” is not
blasphemous but a vulgarity, so that’s okay then. So, should the good lady not now be invited onto
Top Gear to deliver a lap in “a reasonably priced vulgar car”? After
all, with a name like ‘The Rev’, she can’t go wrong.
And can you imagine the delight of being in that car when she’s having a
conversation with Jesus about navigating those horrible bends at high speed.
Oh I do so hope Top Gear oblige.
Monday, August 12
wonders of the world
BACK on July the 8th, in the wake of Andy Murray’s
Wimbledon success, I marvelled at this online headline:
The magic power of seven: Murray’s win came on 7/7
and 77 years after Fred Perry
(...and Murray broke Djokovic’s serve in the seventh game of each set)
And I added:
When I next pop into town, I shall buy a scratch card
which features the number 7.
Well, I duly bought a £2 card called ‘Ruby 7s Doubler’
... when I got home I couldn’t believe it when I saw the serial number
at the bottom: 077.
Now that’s what I call a good omen, I thought with much
excitement ― scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch ― D’oh!
£2 down the drain.
“However,” I declared, “I have a cunning plan ... to be continued...”
And I never did get round to deploying my plan or continuing...
Well blow me, today the number 7 comes back to
rub it all in. I am drawn in by a Mail Online headline and
The furry Fuhrer and other animals with bizarre markings
Yes, from Herr Purr to the moggy with the extraordinary
split-face personality (blue and green should never be seen) ― via the
cute little kitten with the word ‘cat’ growing into its fur ― the above
pictures show how curious bodily markings can transform the appearance
And of course, there is that wonderful ‘7’ on the
face of the calf.
Hang on, I thought, I’ve got a photograph similar to
that, one I captured a few years back while wandering through some
farmland along my daily early-morning Towy Valley walk.
Have a look at this ― first up though, a repeat of the
calf from the above collage, followed by my picture:
How extraordinary is that? Okay, my ‘7’ is a
continental one with a horizontal black stroke through the middle!
Actually, I remember my ‘7’ so well because the
young female calf was ever so laid-back and allowed me to crouch
and shove a camera right in her face.
Now isn’t that wonderful? Coincidence is fast becoming my
favourite word (after ambivalence, that is).
There’s a whole range of eye-catchingly unusual creature
faces on the Mail’s online page, and well worth a quick peep. Here’s the
Sunday, August 11
That time of year.
That time of year when?
That time of year when autumn leaves start to fall...
I LEAVE home just after half-five this morning: it’s
overcast ― with a surprising chill in the air. But it’s not cold, indeed
I feel quite comfortable in my short-sleeved shirt and lightweight
jacket for my morning walk.
I jump into my trusty 23-year-old Saab to travel into
town ― I need to pick something up after my walk ... half-a-mile down
the road my backside feels just a wee bit toastie. Gosh, my first Hot
Cross Bum of the season.
The heated seat suddenly clicking in is a sure sign that
summer is slowly releasing its grip and autumn is surreptitiously
sliding in under the wire.
On August the 11th? Just a blip, surely? Not really, even
the autumn leaves are starting to drift by the window. Or at least
they’re just beginning to gather on my doorstep (which, admittedly, is a
bit of a wind trap).
Impatiently waiting to fall into a rut
Walking through Dinefwr Park, I notice that the bucks
have already separated from the deer herd, as they always do in the
weeks leading up to the rut. One or two are even attempting to mount
fellow bucks, obviously refreshing those parts that may have seized up
during the lay off (everything must be in perfect working order come the
Dinefwr Park, this morning: Most eye-catching bum of the 'I
to rut' parade? No contest, far right
God, where did that brief but agreeable summer go? Yep,
autumn really is knocking on the door, pardon the pun.
Back with the deer, and the lads spontaneously separating
from the girls ... now how civilised is all that?
Imagine if the female of the human species was only
sexually receptive for three months of the year, say December to
February, then for the next nine months she has the sun of spring,
summer and autumn (fingers-crossed) on her back ― after all, women morph
into butterflies when the sun shines.
But best of all, for nine months of the year, we men
could cheerfully shrug George Melly’s memorably identified sexual
lunatic off our backs, and off we go to do proper
child-like things like listen and watch with the BBC; oh, and drive cars
that are much too powerful and fast for our ageing reflexes ― just like
Compo, Cleggy and Foggy on Top Gear, or Last of the Summer
Whine, as I fondly think of it.
Goodness, imagine the joy of such a perfectly defined
nine-month hassle-free life. For both the boys and the girls. Annually.
POSTCARDS FROM MY SQUARE MILE,
added a rather atmospheric picture of the pre-rut gathering, captured a
few years back. It is of the senior males getting together, similar to the
above picture, but on a mist-laden mid-August morning in Dinefwr Park.
Saturday, August 10
The week in revision
“MY JOB is to upset The Guardian and the BBC. I love
it. I love it. I don’t do political correctness.”
UK Independence Party (UKIP) MEP Godfrey Bloom, 63, who raised a sand
storm with his reference to “Bongo-Bongo Land”
to describe countries receiving government aid.
I mentioned the Bongo-Bongo incident last Wednesday, and I have to admit
that I greeted it with a mixture of LOL and DOL (D’oh!
Out Loud). Also, the above quote raised a generous SOL (Smile Out Loud) moment. Oh,
and there’s more:
“If anyone would care to get out an Oxford dictionary
and look it up, they will find that bongo is a white antelope and lives
in the forest. There is no connotation of racism about that whatsoever.”
Godfrey Bloom bangs the drum, again.
Well, there’s an Oxford dictionary on the shelf ...
“Either of a pair of small long-bodied drums usually held
between the knees and played with the fingers.”
“A rare antelope, native to the forests of central
Africa, having spiralled horns and a chestnut-red coat with narrow white
Now why did our Godfrey describe it as a “white antelope”,
which it clearly ain’t? My guess is that someone told him about the
meaning but he didn’t look it up himself. On the other hand, he knew
exactly what he was saying for he had The Guardian and the BBC
All in all though, I guess
Godfrey Bloom comes out of that episode surprisingly well.
Also on Wednesday, I mentioned The Curious Tales Of The Little Willies
That Baulked In The Night i.e. me receiving an invitation to add 2-4" to
my manhood; the poor fellow who had the 10-stone testicles surgically
removed and then ended up with a one-inch penis; and of course, the New
York Postie who won a competition to find Brooklyn’s smallest penis.
Well blow me, if you’ll pardon the expression, just today
I come across this hard-to-believe Sign Language picture:
Lost in translation
in Kuching, Malaysia by Ron Manley
Shame that place in Malaysia isn’t called Kerching.
Anyway, talking of Sign Language (which is a feature of the
Telegraph website), it seems that MSN has, unsurprisingly, jumped on the rolling
bandwagon. I enjoyed this story:
Hotel graffiti artist leaves hidden funny messages for guests to
David Bussell leaves amusing messages hidden in hotel rooms
around the world
Next time you’re staying in a hotel, hostel or some such
like, think about checking behind the mirrors and paintings, or under
the tables and chairs, even in the microwave, should there be one,
because you might just find a funny scribble left there by comedy writer
The Londoner and ‘hotel graffiti’ enthusiast has made his
mark in unsuspecting places in all of the hotel rooms that he has
visited over the last seven years.
“I got the idea from a holiday in Paris back in the
nineties when I stayed in a backpacker hostel and found travellers had
been using the flipside of a tacky painting as a kind of secret bulletin
board”, David explains.
“When I was a kid I remember my
parents redecorated the house and let me draw doodles on the plaster
before they put up fresh paper. I was fascinated by the idea of the next
occupants stripping it off one day and seeing the pictures I’d left them.
Similarly I love the idea of people discovering the messages I write in
hotel rooms and wondering about the person who left them.”
Apart from the notion that there is no such thing as original thinking,
only lateral thinking (David got his idea from someone else doing
I like the story and I shall return at a future date. However, there’s one bit of
graffiti I’ve just noticed ― and talk about yet another coincidence.
Yesterday I did the tale about the fellow caught with the
prostitute in his car and his excuse being that she was there to show
him where to buy tomatoes ― and I rounded off the piece with my brief
take on the story:
I say tomato, you say: “You’re nicked, sunshine!”
call the whole thing off
A David Bussell
slice of graffiti
invites the next visitor to sing-along
I say ... you say...
The above brings me to another point of order: most of us will be
familiar with the song Let’s call the whole thing off, and the following
different interpretations: either, either; neither,
neither; potato, potato, tomato, tomato.
As you read those I bet you
pronounced them as they do in the song.
Whatever, the last two verses of the song declare pyjamas,
pajamas and oysters, oysters! While pyjamas/pajamas sort of
half-heartedly works because the Yanks spell it differently to we Brits,
oysters/oysters definitely doesn’t.
We need some new words to replace pyjamas and oysters. To that end,
I was rather taken with these letters spotted in The Times:
I say lido...
Sir, As a user of the Guildford Lido in the 1950s I was
pleased to see it in your 30 Best Lidos list. However, I think David
Terry may have been mistaken when he suggests that lido should be
pronounced to rhyme with Fido. We always called it the “leedo” ― and the
inhabitants of that distinguished Surrey town could hardly be a
COLIN DANIELS, Bexhill-on-Sea, E Sussex
Sir, Happily no less a personage than Bryan Ferry agrees,
as the peerless Roxy Music’s Do the Strand makes clear: “We’re incognito
/ Down the lido / And we like the strand”.
RODDY WALDHELM, Edinburgh
Sir, It is all very well for David Terry to say that lido
rhymes with Fido, but my first pet was a French poodle named Fido,
pronounced “feedo”, because he was French. Does this make me
pretentious? I was 9.
STEPHEN COMBEN, Godmanstone, Dorset
God forbid that someone from the village of Godmanstone should be
thought of as pretentious. Actually I tried to find out why the village
is so called ― but no luck.
Anyway, Let's call the whole thing off: I think I can now start the ball rolling. Pyjamas
is out, lido is in:
“I say lido, you say leedo...”
Now all I want is something to replace oysters...
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Pajamas’,
the American version of pyjamas,
came up as ‘Panamas’. How very LOL.
Friday, August 9
“SHE'S only here to show me where to buy tomatoes.”
A man in Walsall, West Midlands, offered up this five-a-day excuse
when the police caught him red-handed with a prostitute in his car.
West Midlands Police said officers found the
woman sitting inside Muhammad Ikhlaq’s car while he withdrew £20
from a cash machine, which he said was to pay for tomatoes.
Ikhlaq, 39, of New Street, Dudley, was found
guilty of soliciting and fined £400 at Walsall Magistrates’
Court. He was also ordered to pay £665 in costs.
Ikhlaq was spotted by officers who saw the known
sex worker in his Nissan Micra car in Wednesbury Road, Walsall,
on 9 May.
PC Stacey Paterson, from Walsall police, said:
“I’ve heard some excuses before but in the 10 years that I have
been a police officer I have never heard a kerb crawler covering
up his crimes by claiming to be buying tomatoes. Our officers
and the courts saw through his lies and [Ikhlaq] has now been
(Source: BBC online)
I say tomato, you say: “You’re nicked, sunshine!”
On the subject of being nicked, remember from a
couple of days ago, the tale from Russia (with love), of the
naked woman that had to be rescued by the emergency services
after getting her head stuck in a staircase balustrade after
trying to “spice things up” with her lover (who had come and
by the time help arrived, the scoundrel)?
Just like the policeman from Walsall, a fireman
in Lipetsk, Russia, said something similar: “In all my time
working as a rescuer, I don’t recall any incident like this
Now this from The Sunday Times
Fighting passion’s fire
A fire brigade has blamed erotic fiction for a rise in
the number of couples it has had to rescue from handcuffs. Crews in
London have responded to 79 appeals for help over the past three years.
Third Officer Dave Brown said: “The number of incidents
involving handcuffs seem to have gone up. I’m sure most people will be
50 shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them.”
London fire brigade added: “If you use handcuffs, always
keep the keys handy.”
Come again, 79 calls in three years? Well, I guess you will never hear a
London fire fighter say: “In all my time working as a rescuer, I don’t
recall any incident like this one.”
Keeping up the sexual theme: the following caught my eye on a fleeting visit to Mail
“Om! Om! Om!”: Woman, 51, claims to have
11 orgasms a DAY thanks to 'orgasmic meditation'
Actress Karen Lorre, from California, claims that
Orgasmic Meditation, or 'Om-ing' as it is also known, enables her to
be more sensitive ― both physically and emotionally ― and appreciate men as well as to experience multiple orgasms
in a day.
[Honestly, you wait ages for an orgasm ― and then 11 come all at once.]
The female orgasm is a sensation that many people find
complex and perplexing, but Lorre
[red Lorre, yellow Lorre?] claims to have had 11 orgasms in
one day using the orgasmic meditation or ‘om’ method.
Oming is taught in 'orgasmic meditation centres' called
OneTaste by long-time practitioner and founder Nicole Daedone...
blah, blah, blah...
I hurried to the Comments section, as is my wont ... the highest rated
contribution ― by a country sigh ― was this from
Nick of Aldershot: I asked my wife to let me know
when she has an orgasm and she said “I don’t like to ring you at work”.
went through my mind was that “Om-ing” is shorthand for “O-my-God-ing”
as in “Omygod! Omygod! Omygod!”
Returning to the poor fellow who didn’t know where to find tomatoes:
Found and lost
So, are you a person that could home-in on those tomatoes
with your eyes shut? Are you blessed with a natural sense of direction?
Can you instinctively find your way around a place you are unfamiliar
with? Or are you always lost? Even on somewhat familiar territory?
Well, it seems that a team of US scientists have
discovered that humans, like other animals, appear to have a type of
brain cell that behaves like a GPS. It is called a ‘grid cell’.
Researchers had already discovered that the brains of
rodents and non-human primates have ‘grid’ cells that help the animals
keep track of their relative location when navigating in an unfamiliar
“Without grid cells,” explains a scientist, “it is likely
that humans would frequently get lost or have to navigate based only on
landmarks. Grid cells are thus critical for maintaining a sense of
location in an environment.”
Well fancy. The trouble is though, the cell is not
switched on in all humans. Either that or the battery is forever flat.
For example: I took delivery of my posh new car yesterday afternoon, all
mod cons, cost me an arm and a leg. Bugger me, this morning I had to
call the garage. Do you think I could find the bloody GPS?
Wel-i-jiw-jiw, I just made up a joke. And yes, I’m still driving my
trusty 23-year-old Saab.
Spell-cheque corner: Perhaps the most obvious suggestion cum
correction yet ― ‘Oming’,
as in ‘O-my-God-ing’
came up as ‘Coming’. Bet you saw that one arriving.
Thursday, August 8
Body and Soul
YOU know how it is, you see a photograph or a painting ―
and it nags away because it reminds you of something ... but you can’t
for the life quite put your finger on it.
Well, this happened just the other day when I spotted
wonderfully creative image of the human form morphed into a desert
Then a slice of lateral thinking clicked into place. First though, I will put the two
photographs together ― with words of explanation down below. First then:
The Gland Canyon
A Wave from beyond the blue horizon
Okay, the Gland Canyon:
London-based photographer Carl Warner has created optical
illusions by turning nude, muscular bodies into clever artworks
that look like desert landscapes. Each composition is a single shot of
one contorted volunteer, or a composition of different angles of the
Wonderfully inventive or what? And as I say, it reminded me of
The Wave Sandstone Curve,
The Wave is a sandstone rock formation near the
Arizona-Utah border. It is famous among hikers and photographers for its
colourful, undulating forms, and the rugged, trackless hike required to
The first time I saw a photograph of The Wave it made me think of ...
well, in that split-second before the brain made sense of the image,
what I saw was a water line and a huge lake with what I thought were reflections...
What an amazing looking place though, Mother Nature at her most
The Wave is, unsurprisingly, a hugely popular place to
visit. But the location is a challenge to reach, and is also very
fragile. A day-use permit is required to visit. Access is limited to
just 20 permits per day. Ten of the permits are available in advance by
an on-line lottery conducted four months before the month for which the
permit is sought.
The remaining ten permits are made available by lottery
the day before one’s intended hike.
Two smashing images. Mother Nature and human inventiveness sit together
in perfect harmony.
Wednesday, August 7
A Tale of Two Inches (give or take)
SIZE-MATTERS: BETER SEX BY ADDING 2-4 INCHES TO YOUR MANHOOD
Yes, the above was the junk male ― oops!
― the junk mail that awaited me in my Inbox this morning ... but I’m no fool, I did
notice that the social services people couldn’t even spell ‘beter’.
Oh yes, when I first typed that headline out it read
MANHOOF ― well, the F is next to the D on the ASDFGH (just below the
QWERTY) ― I must have been subconsciously thinking about my new life as
the local ‘stallion’.
I’m sure that I’ve received one of these junk things before, but back
then it promised just an extra 2".
I remember thinking: gosh a 100% increase overnight. Now it’s 2-4".
But there you go, that’s inflation for you.
Anyway, I toyed with the notion of responding to the junk
e-mail thus: “Look, I can’t even handle what I’ve got, leave me alone,
go away, shooo!”
But Mr Editor, the parrot on my shoulder, said: “NO,
HUBIE. Respond and one of these days the doorbell will ring ― and there
will stand a very naughty girl in a schoolgirl uniform: ‘Hello babe,
I’ve come to straighten out your problem.’ So DON’T click the ‘send’
Another fine mess you’ve gotten me out of, Mr Editor.
Close call. Thanks.
But, you know how one thing can easily lead to another.
Well, a couple of weeks back, this headline caught my eye.
Man with 10-stone testicles has one-inch penis
The 49-year-old Los Angeles resident had a 13-hour
operation to remove his testicles, which had grown to the size of a
space hopper and weighed a back-breaking 10 stone.
But now, as The Sun
newspaper reports, he is worried he may never be able to make love to a
woman again after he claimed the operation left him with a one-inch
I suddenly felt I should get in touch with this fellow and tell him what
Pearl of Joy from behind the bar down at the Crazy Horse once told us
regulars: “Look, lads, it isn’t the length of the barrel but the power
of the shot. And never measure it in its resting position. Arousal
affects some tiddlers in an explosive way.”
That’s what she said, and I
Whatever, there was a picture of the fellow before his op
with his 10 stone dangle ― and it made my eyes water just looking at it,
so I thought I’d leave it to your imagination. (If you insist on having
a quick peep, just Google the headline to this story.)
And then, this in The Sunday Times
column pointed me in a certain direction:
Postie’s winning package
A New York postal worker has won a competition to find
Brooklyn’s smallest penis. Nick Gilronan, 27, pictured here with Cherry
Pitz, one of the judges, beat a field of five ― including a man calling
himself Rip Van Dinkle, but tellingly no black men ― to the $200 (£130)
The contestants had to parade in a mankini and compete in
a question-and-answer round during the event at a New York bar.
Gilronan, who calls himself The Delivery Man, was presented with
a crown and a “scepter” — a giant magnifying glass.
His acceptance speech, like his penis, was short. “Some
people wouldn’t advertise the fact that they won, but this was a lot of
fun,” said Gilronan. “The opportunity to do this will probably never
come around again.”
“My advice for people like me is don’t worry about things
you cannot control. All that does is waste time.” He also said he was
approached by several women after the contest: “Most wanted photos with
me. I was more than happy to oblige.”
The bar’s owner,
Aimee Arciuolo said that she got the idea for such an event after an
unexpectedly fun romp with a guy who had a penis the size of an acorn.
Curiously, I never saw any mention of the winning measurement, but I did
again think of Pearl of Joy at the Crazy Horse and her words of wisdom.
After all, big oaks from little acorns grow.
Oh, and why didn’t they call the contest ‘The Wee Willie
There is a rumour that the next contest will be to find
Brooklyn’s biggest fanny.
I am reminded of what Old Shaggy once told me about being
with a certain local lady of note: “Christ,” he told her, “you’ve got a
big fanny. Christ, you’ve got a big fanny.”
“Okay, okay,” she said, “I know that, but there’s no need
to repeat it.”
“I didn’t ― must have been the echo.”
Sticking with the subject of things sexual:
Stuck on stairway to heaven
A naked woman has been rescued by the emergency services
after getting her head stuck in a staircase balustrade after trying to
“spice things up” with her lover.
A fireman in Lipetsk,
Russia, said: “In all my time working as a rescuer, I don’t recall any
incident like this one.” The woman’s lover had disappeared by the time
Sadly, when you want a picture, there isn’t one ― but you know what
rascals these firemen are. I bet you there is one doing the rounds,
Mind you, the worst thing with all these tales of sexual
shenanigans is, that I now see hanky panky innuendo everywhere. For
example, just this morning...
I guess my lateral thinking
must have had something to do with that thing sticking up.
Be that as it may, there are two other stories spotted in the news today
that nearly made me write LOL ― but I decided instead to scribble
Land’: UKIP bans use of ‘outdated’ phrase
The UK Independence Party
(UKIP) has banned its representatives from saying the phrase
“Bongo-Bongo Land”, after its Euro MP Godfrey Bloom used it to describe
countries receiving government aid...
Jimmy Savile-themed float ‘inappropriate’
The organisers of an annual community event in Scotland
have been criticised for allowing an “offensive and insensitive” Jimmy
Savile-themed float to enter the fancy dress parade.
One man dressed up as the disgraced former television
presenter while others wore schoolgirl uniforms as part of the Lauder
Common Riding event in the Scottish Borders.
The Jim'll Fix It branded float was entered into
the Lauder parade by members of the local Twenty 10 Club on July 31 ―
and was awarded third place in the Best Vehicle category.
(Source: The New Zealand Herald)
Yes, it really is an upside-down world out there, just
beyond the blue horizon!
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Gilronan’,
as in Nick Gilronan, the fellow with the smallest penis, came up as ‘Geronimo’
― no it did not, I tell a lie, it came up as ‘Gerona’, but I
‘mankini’ came up as ‘manikin’
― if the cap fits, etc; and
as in the name of the Russian place where the woman got stuck in the
staircase balustrade, came up as ‘Limpets’. LOL
Tuesday, August 6
Crowing cock keeps Nick up all night
“AWOKE contemplating murder...”
No, no, no, definitely not Michael Palin (remember yesterday?):
“I seem to be renowned as the nicest man in Britain and I have often
wondered how people would react if I murdered somebody.”
back to square one:
Tweetie Pie Corner
“Awoke contemplating murder ― the Suffolk countryside
isn’t big enough for me and the bloody cockerel who sat outside my
window at 5am.” Nick Robinson, 49, English journalist and the
BBC’s Political Editor, tweets a tongue-in-cheek (allegedly) threat to
his 180,000 followers after being woken up by a noisy rooster while
staying at his holiday home in the Suffolk countryside.
Surprise, surprise: there’s been a fuss. Local newspapers
reported Robinson’s tweet, which led to some debate over whether or not
he is just another Monday-Friday city-dweller failing to understand the
true nature of rural life.
“I would no more want to have the cock-a-doodle-doo
silenced than to pave over the fields or fill in the estuary.”
Nick Robinson backtracks like crazy and tweets that he was only playing the court
Be that as it may,
the town-countryside tension appears to have now died down, with
Robinson apologising for his remarks. He said: “I have never and would
never dream of complaining about what makes the countryside such an
escape ― the sights and sounds are natural and not man-made.”
He added: “My tweet was a one-off cry of frustration ― a
sort of anti-cockerel troll if you like ― from a grumpy middle-aged man
who had not had enough sleep.”
“Mirror, mirror on the wall...”
“...who is the biggest cock of them all?”
So, was it just a joke, or did he really want to screw that cockerel’s
neck rather than the good Mrs Robinson? Hm. Watch this clip of him in
action from 2010:
What I particularly enjoyed was the second placard
popping up straight away. DOL!
So what does your instinct tell you about Mr Robinson?
Dolphin or shark? Pussycat or polecat? Sparrow or sparrow hawk? Lay-by
or roundabout? Well, I wouldn’t like to go cock-a-doodle-doo outside
Nick’s window at 5am.
My humble guess is, that at the moment of conception,
Nick was at the back of the queue marked ‘Humour’ ― so ‘funny’ isn’t
really a currency he trades in.
That cockerel should count its blessings. It is doubtful
that anything will now happen to it following all the fuss.
Move over, cock
The cockerel episode exposes two things about celebrity
and the Townie. Twitter ruthlessly highlights the fact that slebs ― I
presume that old Cock Boy with his 180,000 Twitter followers is classed
a celebrity ― are nowhere near as wise and witty as they think they are
without scriptwriters, editors and sub-editors to knock their dodgy
thinking into shape.
Remember my highlighting the Top 25 Celebrity Quotes
following the royal birth? They were all a load of old rubbish,
desperate for someone, somewhere in the background, shouting at the
Tweeters: “DON’T press the ‘send’ button.”
And what is it about townies that, the moment they buy a bolt-hole in
the country ― any country ― they immediately set about changing the
locale into the very place they are all running away from?
It is one of life’s more curious observations.
which did came first, the cockerel or the
Slip of the tongue revisited
“If you missed the
first two hours of the show, don’t forget, you can always listen back on
liar ― er, online.”
The Freudian slip of the year, methinks, by Nikki Bedi, as she sat in
for Alex Lester on his Radio 2 “Best time of the day” wireless show.
Well blow me, this afternoon I’m listening to the Louise
Elliott show on Radio Wales. Actually, Mal Pope is sitting in for
A feature of the show is ‘Headline Hits’. The presenter
selects one of the day’s lighter news stories, and listeners are invited
to nominate the song that best reflects the story. The top two choices
are played near the end of the show.
Today, the story was the new survey about the nation’s
favourite sandwich filler. Apparently our most liked is the good old egg
sandwich. (Hello, we’re back with that cockerel again ― in a good lay,
sort of way.)
Anyway, the winner was Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.
Very good. But the runner-up was, rather wonderfully, Bread of Heaven,
which isn’t really surprising given that it is, after all, the nation’s
unofficial rugby anthem.
Anyway, Mal Pope introduces the famous hymn: “So here it
is, Bread of Sandwiches ― er, Bread of Heaven, with sandwiches all
That really did make me smile. Actually, like Nikki
Bedi’s Freudian slip, Mal Pope’s slip of the tongue would have done the
job much better: “Bread of Sandwiches, with heaven all around.”
Monday, August 5
A thoroughly agreeable sort
“I seem to be renowned as the nicest man in Britain,
and I have often wondered how people would react if I murdered
somebody.” Michael Palin, 70, English comedian, actor, writer and
television presenter of travel documentaries, but perhaps best known for
being a famous founder member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and an expert on
dodgy Norwegian Blue parrots.
Oh, and a very, very nice man.
A pussycat and his cat
no tom-toms, only dead parrots...”
Well Michael, if you did murder somebody, and
because you are a top celebrity, you would still be forgiven and adored.
Just as that actor fellow in Eastenders who did murder somebody in real life,
served his time ― and still went on to become a celebrity and much adored,
mostly by women.
Suddenly you begin to understand why Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall got
away with it all those years, and that despite plenty of people knowing precisely what they
were up to.
“I have a passion for cast-iron drain covers. I
photograph these drain covers wherever I go in the world.”
Michael Palin, having a second bite at the cherry.
Mind you, if Michael did murder somebody, his celebrity
pussycat status would provide cast-iron cover. There again, and given his
passion, the police would know exactly where to look for the body.
And now for something completely different
Yesterday I wrote about clouds and what they get up to
behind our backs. Well...
a line under a cloud
An odd dark vertical line that was observed in
the sky over Florida last week has left meteorologists puzzled.
The shadowy apparition was spotted and
photographed by Mike Weight, 73, at Honeymoon Island State Park
near Dunedin, Florida, on Wednesday.
Weight was walking on the beach at around
12.30pm. The day was bright and sunny, but there were
thunderheads forming to the east. At first Weight thought it was
an optical illusion ― pictured alongside ― because he could see
right through the line, and which lingered for about a minute
Mike Clay, chief meteorologist at the local
station Bay News 9, was stumped by the unusual black line
shooting down from a cloud.
The weatherman shared Weight’s pictures with some
of his colleagues, one of whom came up with a possible
explanation, suggesting that the dark line could be the shadow
of a condensation trail left behind by a jet aircraft (known
as a contrail).
Online there were the usual sceptics, especially
those who thought it a rather obvious Photoshopped image.
One pointed to the curiously smiley face near where the dark
line comes out of the clouds. Hm.
I would say the smiley face is a trick of the light through the
cloud, and that a Photoshopped effort would not be so, well,
amateurish. Also, funny what you see when you stare: travel up from the
smiley face, in a north-westerly direction ― and there, a face in
profile, sticking out of the cloud: big nose, mouth wide open, a
Another online comment reckoned it was a plane running on
red, agricultural-use-only diesel, hence the black condensation trail. I liked that.
Mind you, several comments confirmed that they too had
spotted similar phenomena, but were also unsure as to what caused it.
However, if I am to be an absolute cynic ― believe
nothing you hear and only half what you see, sort of thing ― I was taken with the
explanation that it’s the shadow of a contrail. The key word obviously
The news today has been awash with information on the new
Doctor Who. Now I have never sat down to watch Doctor Who, not even all
those alien moons ago when
it was a bit of a television novelty.
True, I enjoy Star Trek. Indeed, Seven of Mine
and the Doctor singing You are my sunshine is over there on
my Desert Island Video Jukebox.
Anyway, that nice Michael Palin would make a perfectly
Whatever, the first I heard of the new Doctor Who was on
the radio this morning, that it was an actor called Peter Capaldi.
Peter Capaldi? Never heard of the fellow. However,
the very first line after his name was: “...best known for his role as
foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It.”
When I went online, every news outlet carried the story ―
and every piece introduced the chap with that very same opening line.
Doesn’t that perfectly sum up what a trashy, foul-mouthed
little country we’ve become. I mean, that an actor is best known for effin’ and
blindin’ on telly.
I presume that the new Doctor Who series will now carry
the BBC’s revised motto:
Universe shall speak obscenity unto universe
Sunday, August 4
Croakin’ in the rain
WELL, after a good turn of fine weather ― or should that
be a fine turn of good weather? ― including of course the recent
heatwave, the heavens opened with a vengeance way out here, in the west.
Today, Llandampness lived up to its name.
So what better to attract my attention than a couple of
This amusing image has been all over the shop of late...
Frog day afternoon
resourceful tiny tree frog takes shelter from a downpour by
using a leaf as an umbrella. The photographer, P. Palme, watched
the frog shelter for some 30 minutes in his neighbour’s back
garden in the city of Jember, East Java, Indonesia.
Now that’s a proper smile of the day. Move over Gene Kelly,
Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
The Cloud, Shelley (1792-1822)
Abrams, 23, has just taken this picture, above Coventry, of a cloud
formation that looked surprisingly like the United Kingdom on a summer’s
I thoroughly enjoy silly season stories such as this.
After all, here at
all four seasons are silly seasons.
And anyway, I truly appreciated those few lines from
Shelley’s poem, The Cloud. Magic. I shall never look at
clouds in quite the same way again.
Curious happenings in Old London Town
While frogs were croaking in the rain out in Jember, and
we Welsh were singing in the rain down here in Llandampness, up there in
London it was a perfect summer’s day.
On television there was coverage of the RideLondon
bicycle festival, which saw members of the public, as well as
professional riders, take to the streets of London and the roads of
Surrey in competition.
I watched quite a bit of this afternoon’s professional
men’s race, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
How different London looks from the air. As with the Tour
de France, the race was shadowed by a helicopter ― and I have to say the
pictures from the air give a whole different dimension to the lie of the
land, especially somewhere as complex as London.
I’m surprised that in this country we don’t use more of
these helicopter cameras. For example, imagine what Trooping the Colour
and London would look like from the air.
Anyway, back with the bikes. What on earth is happening
up there in Old London Town?
First, we out here in the sticks had to stand and stare
at David Cameron’s curious obsession with getting gay marriage through
Parliament; and now, where were the pretty girls on the podium at the
end of the men’s race?
The flowers were presented to the winners by ― gulp ― a
posy/posse/pussy* of old men. Thank God there wasn’t any kissing.
(Please note: no pictures allowed!)
To make it all even harder to understand, the whole
RideLondon caboodle was organised by ― double gulp ― Boris Johnson.
Do you suppose that Boris woke up one recent morning and
a voice inside his head insisted that, “Girls are okay ― but you can’t
beat the real thing”?
Or even worse, a pretty girl kissed Boris one night ― and
he turned back into a frog (perhaps that is the real Boris up there at
the top, taking shelter from the elements).
* posy/posse/pussy of old men:
delete to taste
While on the subject of singing/croaking in the rain, how could I not
include these two clips on my Desert Island Video Jukebox? And they
follow on perfectly from Dancing In The Dark.
Singin’ In The Rain
Singin’ In The Rain (+ Bonus: “And I love
you all!”) ― Eric, Ernie
& Janet Webb:
Saturday, August 3
Ah yes, I remember it well
THAT’LL learn me to make fun of Tesco’s “EAT ME” bananas
― see last Thursday’s smile. This headline put me firmly on banana skid
World’s oldest man credits his longevity to
eating a banana a day
Living to be the world’s oldest man is becoming less of a
challenge than finding him: 90% of super-centenarians are women. But now
the Guinness World Records folks have anointed 112-year-old
Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez of Grand Island, New York, as the granddaddy
of them all after Jiroemon Kimura died last month at 116.
A native of Spain who came to the States in 1920 via
Cuba, “Shorty” worked in coal mines and construction before retiring. He
says “I’m an old man and let’s leave it at that”, and attributes his
long life to eating a banana and six aspirin a day...
Well, it does make a change from Welshman John Evans of
Swansea, who died in 1990 aged 112, who put his longevity down to: “No
smokin’, no drinkin’, no cursin’.”
Obviously he should have added: “And plenty of aspirin!”
Mind you, new record holder Shorty’s daughter has another
idea. “I think it’s just because he’s an independent, stubborn man,”
said Irene Johnson, with presumably just a hint of a smile.
Also, looking at that picture, above, it looks as if
Shorty’s short of a few teeth, so the banana makes absolute sense. The
banana is one of those miracle foods that you can munch and munch without
need for teeth.
Nice story though.
Yesterday, I told the delightful tale of Vanessa Feltz going out with a
male friend, and he not complimenting her on how young and well and fit
Well now, back in March of last year, I told this tale,
and like all great stories it is definitely worth a repeat, bearing in
mind Vanessa’s amusing anecdote.
School days revisited
Have you ever been guilty of looking at someone of your
own age and thinking ― bloody ‘ell, I can’t be that old,
Well, you will
love this tale of the unexpected.
Open mind wide
My name is Sandra Jones and I was sitting in the waiting room for my
first appointment with my new dentist, having just moved back to my home
town of Llandeilo after a lifetime spent in far away places with strange
My eyes wandered nervously about the room, the way they
do before coming face to face with the dreaded dentist and his drill ...
I noticed his dental diploma on the wall; I looked closely, for it bore
his full name.
Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark haired
boy with the same name who had been in my grammar school class, oh, all
those years ago.
Could he be the same gorgeous hunk? The one I had a
secret crush on back then? Surely not? Life doesn’t work quite like
that. Or does it?
When I was called and came face to face with my new
dentist, I quickly discarded all previous thoughts. This balding,
grey-haired man with the deeply lined face was far too old to have been
my classmate ― but what a coincidence with that name.
After he had examined and attended to my teeth, in a
most professional and reassuring way I might add, I asked him if he had
attended Llandeilo Grammar School.
“Yes, yes I did,” he beamed with pride. “I’m one of the
last of the pure Llandeilo Gram pupils ― before it amalgamated with
Llandybie Secondary Modern to become Tregib Comprehensive.”
“When did you leave to go to university?” I asked.
“In 1968,” he answered. “Why do you ask?”
“You were in my class!”
I excitedly exclaimed.
He paused, looked at me closely ... then that old,
ugly, balding, grey-haired, wrinkled, decrepit, fat-arsed wombat of a
“WHAT DID YOU TEACH?”
Now how wonderful is that? My apologies to a lady called Sally
Scott, for it is her name that appears in the original tale, which I
have tweaked somewhat to add local flavour. In fact, reading the
original, it is obviously an American yarn ― but very funny though. I
enjoy such tales of the unexpected.
If I said you had a beautiful body...
Last Thursday I told the tale of coming face to face with
the gorgeous female I’d spotted across a crowded bar:
“Hello, my name’s Hubie and I’m a man of very few
words: do you or don’t you?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I do,” she says, “my place or
“Look,” I say, “if you’re gonna make a song and dance
about it ― forget it.”
Then I followed up with the tale of writer Jeannette Kupfermann, 72, who
claimed that many older women would rather eat scones than have sex.
“When I was young and beautiful, I enjoyed sex. Now I don’t. I haven’t
had sex for 15 years ― like most 60-plus women I’d rather have a scone.”
It struck me after I’d posted that tale, that the girl
who said “My place or yours?”, could well have been Jeannette, given her
enjoyment of sex in her younger days.
But best of all, my response of “Look, if you’re gonna
make a song and dance about it ― forget it”, takes me directly to my
Desert Island Jukebox.
I am a great Ray Conniff fan. A goodly while back I
mentioned Conniff’s Dancing in the Dark, and how on a
particular YouTube channel, Conniff’s version has been substituted for
the original soundtrack when Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dance in the
film The Band Wagon (1953)...
Now I freely admit that I am not a dancing man ―
cheek-to-cheek in soft light excepted ― but I must say I enjoy this
version so much, not least because Fred and Cyd are dancing to a
different arrangement of the song. And you simply can’t see the join.
It all highlights what an exquisite routine the pair had perfected
But before we go there, what has surfaced in the meeja
today is a three-year-old video of some dancing dogs, Hope and Rosey, a
brace of beautiful spaniels twisting the day away in startling precision
prior to being fed. Honestly, 34 seconds of sheer delight. If you don’t
laugh at this, you should go and see someone.
Take a quick look:
Now how memorable was that? Such obedience as well, with
no jumping up. And I
enjoyed the wit of the online comment from
they twirl in the other direction if it was south of the equator?”
Very ho, ho, ho, Oogleblerp.
With Hope and Rosey in mind, now watch humans dancing for
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Tregib’,
as in Tregib Comprehensive, came up as ‘Tragic’, which is very funny
given that the school has earned itself a good reputation. Best of all
‘Astaire’ came up as ‘Satire’:
act. Balding. Can dance a little.”
(Notes from Fred Astaire’s first screen test.)
Friday, August 2
Looking like a million dollars
EARLY-MORNING, and I am enjoying the company of Vanessa Feltz
on the wireless. She is probably the most delightfully gossipy presenter
wafting the air waves.
Our Vanessa leads a breathtakingly hectic social life.
She hardly ever seems to be at home, which is of course perfect fodder
for her show. Add to that the fact that she’s a polished raconteur,
knows perfectly how to paint a verbal picture ― and as a bonus, she has
a wonderful command of the English language.
go then, I heard her relate this tale at about eight minutes past five
YESTERDAY my day was
going so swimmingly well, heatwave not withstanding: it was about a
million-and-three degrees, certainly it was down here in the south-east,
Anyway, so I went out for lunch with a chap who was my
neighbour when I was a little girl. We grew up two doors apart, so we
went to the same nursery school, the same primary school, our birthdays
are about three days apart ― so we sit down in this restaurant to have a
bit of lunch, and the menu comes.
He reaches into his briefcase for his glasses and he
says: “Oh, you know, we’re 51, we need glasses to read the menu,
And I launched into what I thought was an appropriate
speech. I said: “Well, you don’t look it, you look absolutely
marvellous, no one would think you were 51 ― gosh, 37 at the max, you
know; you’re so slim, unlined and so fit...”
And, and ... I just waited for him to say something
similar back ... there was absolute ... silence.
Isn’t there a code of behaviour which dictates, even if
he thinks I look 104, he should have said: “And you look utterly
gorgeous, radiant, beautiful, you’ve always been stunning” ― or
something of that ilk?
Well it put me right
off my chicken salad I can tell you.
And the music played ... and I smiled and smiled. Yep, an
important part of being a great raconteur is self-deprecation.
Coming up on the rails
Yesterday, I recalled the tale of the fellow in the fancy
dress spotted at the Tour de France, the bloke dressed as a jockey with
a horse strapped to his back, running along the side of the road as the
cyclists sped past.
And I mentioned that, sadly, I never did find an image of
the memorable vision to share with you. Well, today I had another go ...
still no luck. However, my ‘2013 Tour de France picture of horse and
jockey in fancy dress’ did throw up a fascinating image.
For once I was pleased that the search engine paid no
attention to my specific request ― and up came a picture from the 2012
Tour de France. So how about this?
Whoa ... easy there, Trigger!
lady and horse spotted along the 13th stage of the Tour de France, on
July 14, 2012
What a great image. Apart from the obvious, there’s the
bloke sat on a chair in a field in the middle of nowhere watching the
passing parade; and the photographer on the back of the motorsickle
pointing a camera ― wouldn’t it be wonderful to
see the picture captured of the horse and rider from the parade,
presuming the snapper was paying attention.
And of course, there’s Bradley Wiggins, as he then was,
in his yellow jersey, on his way to fame and glory and tolling the big
bell to commence the extravaganza called the 2012 Olympics Opening
Talking of Wiggo, who missed this year’s 100th Tour
“I didn’t watch. I couldn’t watch.” Sir Bradley
Wiggins reveals that he could not bring himself to watch fellow Team Sky
rider Chris Froome win the Tour de France and inherit the title he won
Very honest of Wiggo ― and I think I know precisely what
I also come across this image, which did tickle my old funny bone, for
it does sum up the delightful doolallyness of the fans who follow the
Tour de France...
Irrespective of your thoughts on Wiggins, or cycling, or
the Tour de France, if you enjoyed the picture of the horse, click on
the link below, which will take you to a website called The Atlantic
― and a gallery of some wonderfully eye-catching images from the 2012
(Incidentally, if you like the photographs on show, be
sure to click on the ‘Part one’ link at the top of The Atlantic
page ― plenty more stunningly crafted pictures...)
But first, take a look at this quite astonishing video of
a horse jumping a fence and joining a major bike race:
And The Atlantic link:
Thursday August 1
Sex and the older couple sat in the corner
Top of the evening to you,” I say with a smile to the rather gorgeous woman
across a crowded Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. “My
name’s Hubie and I’m a man of very few words: do you or don’t you?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I do,” she says, flicking her hair the
way receptive females do. “My place or yours?”
“Look,” I say, “if you’re gonna make a song and dance
about it ― forget it.”
Yes, I know, it’s a recycled joke, except last time it was Old Shaggy being the
chatter-upper. But it came to mind when I decided to revisit the
following from the Look You Confession Box...
I have now reached that stage in life ― strictly between
you, me and the CIA, you understand ― where I now prefer the pleasure
of sharing a good joke to enjoying sex (hush my mouth).
The reason for this is simplicity itself: if sex suddenly
appears on the menu as a possible starter for ten, then I have to go
through the whole chat-up rigmarole, not to mention the demanding
physical application of making love, obviously. And as I grow older it
becomes more of a somatic challenge.
And of course, how could I forget one of the local
doctors enlightening me during a social get-together that more “older” men die “on the job” than I should care to
Now when it comes to a good joke ― well, I can simple
play it over and over in my imagination, and I will laugh over and over
without any excessive physical excursion. (Note to brain: Must ask
doctor how many people die from excessive indulgence in laughing. Just in case.)
Anyway, just yesterday, down at the Crazy Horsepower, I
was telling Ivor the Engine and Dai Aphanous about that unexpected
moment watching the Tour de France a couple of weeks back, what with all
the crazy fans and their elaborate fancy dress outfits ― when suddenly
there was this fellow dressed as a jockey with a horse strapped to his
back, running along the side of the road as the cyclists whizzed past at a
All three of us shared a hearty laugh at the vision.
Honestly, just thinking about it again now, as I write, makes me laugh out
loud. Sadly, I never did find an image of the fellow to share with you.
Whatever, back with the central issue: it did cross my
mind whether sharing with the world at large my preference for a good
joke over sex should come under the heading ‘Way too much information’.
Then I read this in The Sunday Times:
Tabloid week by Roland White
According to the Daily Mail, many women would rather eat
scones than have sex. “I am sick of the sexualisation of the older
generation,” says the writer Jeannette Kupfermann, 72, “where all of us,
no matter how ancient, feel we should be swinging from the chandeliers
until we meet our maker.”
“When I was young and beautiful, I enjoyed sex. Now I
don’t. I haven’t had sex for 15 years ― like most 60-plus women I’d
rather have a scone.”
If you feel this way, you should be able to pick
something up at Tesco. Smother liberally with cream and enjoy a
delicious treat. On the other hand, scones can be very tasty too.
Hurly-burly of the chaise longue: Jeannette Kupfermann, aged 24
Actually, from the pictures of Jeannette in the Daily Mail, she is
still a very handsome woman ― but I guess I know what she means.
When the late and characterful journalist and jazz supremo George Melly
realised, at the age of 60, that his libido was finally on the wane, he
was strangely euphoric: “I woke up one morning and felt as though I’d
been unchained from a lunatic,” he said with a big, fat, contended smile
on his face.
Talk about coincidence and picking something up at Tesco
... today I needed to go to nearby Ammanford, so I paid a visit to the
town’s Tesco store. Now I am not a lover of big supermarkets ― I’m quite
happy to visit my local Co-op because I think of it more as a friendly
corner shop ― but the vast expanse of these huge supermarkets puts me
Anyway, I was perusing the fruit and veg section ... I come to
the bananas ― and I see this...
Pray, what would you do with a banana except eat it? Don’t
Perhaps it is all part of the massive dumbing down exercise the nation
is undertaking, led by the BBC.
Life’s a drag
“I often have a cigarette on a Saturday. I love it ― it
is just the right amount of naughty.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, 40, American
actress, singer, food writer and regular dispenser of “way too much information”.
Do you suppose that Gwynnie enjoys a cigarette only after
she makes love? Perhaps, horror upon horror, she is slowly but surely going
down the Jeannette Kupfermann route, 20 years before her time? Just
thinking aloud, like.
“It has taken five years off me and is like having your
face smacked with an elastic band.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, again, on a laser
treatment called Thermage.
Do you suppose that crazy sounding word comes from thermal imaging? And that you
start to glow in the dark after treatment?
Honest, talk about that delightful doolallyness cum
half-a-bubble-off-plumb phase we all have to go through and suffer,
Spell-cheque corner: My computer had a field day. ‘Sexualisation’ came up as ‘Equalisation’.
Now, now, computer.
as in Jeannette Kupfermann, came up as ‘Superman’. Naughty computer. And
‘Thermage’ came up as ‘Herbage’.
Keep chewing on your 5-a-day greens, Gwynnie.
Previously on Look You...
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
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:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
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
Postcards from my Square
Here's lookin' at you
400 Smiles A Day
What A Gas
400 Smiles A Day