LOOK YOU ~ a rolling scrapbook of life, the universe and nearly everything...
Archive 2013 - August

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POSTCARDS FROM
MY SQUARE MILE
click... smile
Updated: 11/08/2013

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for a taste of life on the wild side of my square mile, click...

400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013



                                                                                        Design: Yosida

 
                                                                 ♫♫♫ TO SELF                            
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...

    
                                                                               ...and everyday a doolally smile of the day
PS: The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
                                                                             
Contact Me
 

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 Nations.

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 UNION?

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 News:

Definitely positively not going over the top

       

This is the Sun’s witty response:

 

          DEATH NOTICE
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 the nation...

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.

Gender reassignment
! What a wonderful undercover expression that is.

But 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.

Seriously though, 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.

Hello Dear

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?
PP, LEICESTERSHIRE

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 title.

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:

Public inconveniences

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 occasion”.
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 refurbished.
     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 Sea, Essex

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 headline:

                The Loo-vre? Art Gallery for Kennington toilet

A converted 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.


Hobby dragonfly

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 flying.

“I love dragonflies,” said Chris, “they are so, so beautiful. They tilt forward like helicopters to go forward ― exactly the same principle...”

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 individuals.

Whatever, I was rather tickled by some images spotted in the Telegraph:

Duchess goes shopping: who’s holding the baby?   MATT, perhaps?


Wonderful. And what gives the
MATT  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 shopping trolley...

 


Polo, with free insurance and £1,000 off the deposit
 Unbelievable value

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 flowers”.
     I am wondering what a “woman without a husband” might be.
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 apostrophe.”

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?

Lesley Thompson: “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 be?: Shelf-ish? 

 

Wednesday, August 28
Whispers in the dark


ALEX Lester on his wake-up-to 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 and smiley.

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 Minute.

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.

Now that’s 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.
     This from
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 with Little Weed (of indeterminate species, somewhat resembling a sunflower or dandelion, with a smiling face)], go on to have their own garden makeover show.

“Bill 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:
                                                
     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWhE-u62ZZc

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...

                                                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gahoXXYLU98
 


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 after.

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 Top Beep-Beep!

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 of Wales” ― but rather the adventures of a small green steam locomotive who lived in the “top left-hand corner of Wales”?

Sadly, Ivor had a derailment when the trolls who lived under the bridge kept shouting “HS2! HS2! HS2! 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 this:

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


Well now, The Times  also discussed the problem. This letter appeared recently:

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 Bristol


Caught short

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 roll.

Well, enjoy this letter, spotted in The Daily Telegraph:

Roll reversal

SIR – My husband and I lived in Aden for several years. Things became difficult and I came home, leaving him in our company flat.
     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 else in. 
Pip Griffith, Hartford, Huntingdonshire

Finally:

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.

However, and 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 You Say section:

      TV listings: this section has improved tremendously ― well done. Please consider same for radio listings.
      John Thorpe.

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
World’s Most Pampered Pets
(C5, 6pm)

“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 programme.

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 dedication.

And a dog needs a lesson in ‘universal life energy’? Ho hum.

And on a slightly different tack, here’s the second preview that caught my eye:

No smoke without...
Banged Up Abroad
(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 writ large.

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 pregnant’

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 Edinburgh Zoo.
     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 women.
     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 marvellous MATT  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 Llansunshine.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Reiki
’, as in ‘universal life energy’, came up as ‘reek’, and ‘Mikao’, as in the doctor responsible for same, came up as ‘Mikado’. Hm, very Gilbert & Sullivan, very comic opera.
    
‘DEA’, as in America’s Drug Enforcement Administration’, came up as ‘DEAD’. Say nothing is best.  ‘Tian’, as in Tian Tian, came up as ‘Tina’, Tina as in What's Love Got To Do With It?, I presume. And finally, ‘Guang’, as in Yang Guang came up as ‘Gang’ ... oh dear, Gang Bang? Whats 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 introductory piece:

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 wearing.
     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 Pond:

   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:

               http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2401396/Bizarre-pictures-animals-dressed-clothes-humans-created-Spanish-artist.html

 

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 it.

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 doolally.

But first, they burn the cakes ... and then their fingers.

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.

Smashing quote.

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 ― of Scotland...

The rescue services say this happens regularly when GPS systems suddenly run out of power and climbers do not have a back-up paper map.

Unbelievable.

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 release.

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.

When 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 to bed:

“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 developments.

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 unrecognisable.

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:

Scotchmen beware!

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 door is 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? Downslashing?

And then these...

Flash in the Cam

Surely titbits?

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:

                                        “Very sexy.” Hannah, 8, London, United Kingdom

No, no, hang on, hang on, hang on: it was “Hannah8, London” ― 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 Scotchmen. Hm.

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 fashionista.

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...
 

Old Imperial 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 intelligence contractor.

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 by typewriter.

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 is  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 always work.”

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 into text.

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 theres his 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. Amazing.

And just below, a link to a live and rather amusing presentation of a fellow ‘playing’ the typewriter. Glorious.

Here’s the original Leroy Anderson recording, together with the gallery of photos ― oh, and at the :50 mark, spot the very Imperial model which sits proudly in the window at Chess:
                                                                                                         
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_q5iuaBvOk

And of course the smiley live performance of the Typewriter song:
                                                                                                            
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2LJ1i7222c

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:

                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQXgB8uenRQ

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 moon:
                           
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiiJkXFWbuU

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Dmitry Medvedev’ came up as ‘Dirty Midvale’. Hm. And rather enigmatically, ‘Ruskies’ came up as ‘Riskiest’.

 

Wednesday, August 21
Wise beyond


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 the quotes...

 

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 the authors.

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 centre-bottom: “Always double check your work”, compliments of Sian Lloyd, 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.

Week End  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 itself 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 not.

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 natural-born wisdom.

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―”

Watch and stop wondering:
                                             
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfirnP08FP0
 


Tuesday, August 20
Postgate

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.”)

Anyway, it hasn’t stopped since. We now live in a gated society. It’s gate this, gate that, gate whatever ― from:

Angola-gate ― arms sales to the Government of Angola by the Government of France in 1990

Via more smiley stuff i.e.

Camilla-gate ― Prince Charles, back in 1992, wanting to come back as a period piece (who could possibly forget his wanting to be a tampon)

And:

Nipple-Gate ― Janet Jackson has a wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl 2004, exposing herself to America’s largest television audience of the year

To...

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 serves (Im 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, lets 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, surely?
 

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”


Now who would have thought that four gates could generate as much pleasure as fork handles.
 

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 “bat nuffy”.

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 injured.

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 that?”.

Mind you, the new Hot Spot technology would go down a treat, I’m sure.

So there you go, I cant top that smile today.
 


Sunday, August 18
Absolutely fabulous


“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 the car.

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:

iNicking

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 The Times:

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.

I 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 technology.

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
Reigning frogs


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! Damn! Damn! 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 classic.

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 years ago?! ― 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.

Oh yes, 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 read this:
    
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:
                                                                                             
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcjirqmyj7I

And here’s 2:19 of Fetch! heaven, Elvis and his Hound Dog:
                                                                                                    
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HWhrPaDTj4

 


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?

Undercover alfreshcoatofpaint

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)

Now how marvellous is all that? Smiley tales don’t come much better. Be that as it may...

What’s in a name?

Yesterday also, I mentioned the chickens from the farm: Chickadee, Chickaboo, Chiquita and Henrietta. And of course, Pussycat the dog.

At the Crazy Horsepower today, Ivor the Engine and his good lady Glad Eyes mentioned that they enjoyed the names I’d given the birds.

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 Cambridge.

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 of God.”
     The head of the college laughed, leaning back in his chair: “Don’t be embarrassed. We have the sons of lots of famous people here.”


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.

This from Anonymous: “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
Roy Noble 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.”

Precious advice.
 


Thursday, August 15
Chicken ... rooster ... egg ... fridge...

YES, which did  come first? The egg or the chicken? The chicken or the cockerel? But first, meet some friends...

Knock-Knock!
Who’s there?
Chick
!
Chick who?

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. And making 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 or not.

So let’s track the tale, which leads to a really fascinating and exceedingly ‘every day a day at school’ conclusion:

Free-range eggs

SIR – Hummus may start going bubbly if it is kept outside the fridge (Leading article, August 6), but eggs are happy without refrigeration.
     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 them.
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?
          Charles Chickens
!

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 city
          That never, ever sleeps,
          And find I’m cock of the hill,
          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.”


Finally...

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 sign writer.

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! H's Caf'e! 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 light already.
 


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’ diversion:

♫♫♫  I say MPG, you say CAFE...
(CAFE:
a US government-mandated average fuel-consumption rate for the vehicles produced by a manufacturer. Full form:  Corporate Average Fuel Economy)

Well, it made me smile: ♫♫♫  We 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.
Keith Clover

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.
Jenny Taylor


Okay, 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 Look You. 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 growing.

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 discover

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 David Bussell.

“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 bibles.

“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 shot...”

 

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 payoff.
     “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
'7' 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 picture collage:

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 of animals.

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 link:
                     
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2385610/The-furry-Fuhrer-And-moustaches-love-hearts-cat-animal-bizarre-markings.html
 


Sunday, August 11
                      Knock-knock!
                      Who’s there?
                      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 starter’s gun).

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.

PS: Over on  POSTCARDS FROM MY SQUARE MILE, I’ve 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. Click ... smile
 


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.”

Or:

“A rare antelope, native to the forests of central Africa, having spiralled horns and a chestnut-red coat with narrow white vertical stripes.”
                                              

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  in mind.

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

Spotted 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 discover

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 David Bussell.

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 something similar), 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!

 Let’s 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 “pretentious minority”.
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
♫♫♫  I say tomato...

“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 found guilty.”

(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 gone 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 one.”

Now this from The Sunday Times  Weird but wonderful column:

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 Online...

    
“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”.

What 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 environment.

“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 online this wonderfully creative image of the human form morphed into a desert landscape.

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 same body.

Wonderfully inventive or what? And as I say, it reminded me of something:

The Wave Sandstone Curve, Arizona

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 reach it.

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 creative.

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’.

Also, 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’ button.” Phew!

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 after op

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 penis...

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 believe her.

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  Weird but wonderful 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) prize...

Any cock-a-doodle-will-do

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 Winkle Show’?

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 help arrived.

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, somewhere...

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 DOL (D’oh
! Out Loud).

Bongo-Bongo 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... DOL

(Source: BBC)

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! DOL

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 couldn't resist. Anyway, ‘mankini’ came up as ‘manikin’ ― if the cap fits, etc; and ‘Lipetsk’, 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.” Okay, 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.

Cock-A-Hoop Corner
 
   “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 jester.

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:
                                                                           
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMNXACuCiPQ

What I particularly enjoyed was the second placard popping up straight away. DOL! (D’oh! Out Loud).

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.

Incidentally, which did  came first, the cockerel or the chicken?

Slip of the tongue revisited

Remember this: “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 Louise.

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 round.”

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


“I see 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...

         Drawing 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 before fading.

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 prominent chin!

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 being con-trail.

Trash talk

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 wonderful Doctor.

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. Extraordinary.

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 weather-related pictures.

This amusing image has been all over the shop of late...

Frog day afternoon

This 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)
 

Amy Abrams, 23, has just taken this picture, above Coventry, of a cloud formation that looked surprisingly like the United Kingdom on a summers day...

I thoroughly enjoy silly season stories such as this. After all, here at Look You, 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 ― Original:
                                                       
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

   Singin’ In The Rain (+ Bonus: “And I love you all!”) ― Eric, Ernie & Janet Webb:
                                                                                                             
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mDTn-QvO9I
 


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 row:

                          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 the 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 she looked.

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, surely? 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 sounding names.
     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 bastard asked...
     “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 yours?”
     “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 between them.

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:

                                                 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYnQQL5oB7k

Now how memorable was that? Such obedience as well, with no jumping up. And I enjoyed the wit of the online comment from Oogleblerp: “Would 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 their supper:
                                                                                                  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVU3MVdvWu0

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 though, ‘Astaire’ came up as ‘Satire’: Can’t sing. Can’t 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.

Here we go then, I heard her relate this tale at about eight minutes past five this morning:

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, in London.

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, Vanessa.”

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, a
n 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!

Unnamed 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 Ceremony.

Talking of Wiggo, who missed this year’s 100th Tour through injury:

“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 in 2012.

Very honest of Wiggo ― and I think I know precisely what he means.

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 Tour.
     (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:

                                                                                                               http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQSkmsFCjSA

And The Atlantic  link:
                                      
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/07/the-2012-tour-de-france-part-2-of-2/100341/
 


Thursday August 1
Sex and the older couple sat in the corner


“HELLO! Top of the evening to you,” I say with a smile to the rather gorgeous woman first spotted 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 think about.

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 furious pace.

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.

Double-entendre cream

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 right off.

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? Dont answer.

Perhaps it is all part of the massive dumbing down exercise the nation is undertaking, led by the BBC.

Eat me bananas, indeed.

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.


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, eventually.

Spell-cheque corner: My computer had a field day. ‘Sexualisation
’ came up as ‘Equalisation’. Now, now, computer. ‘Kupfermann’, 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.

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Smile of the day 2013: Jan
                                                                                                                                   
Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)

Previous 2012 smiles: 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)
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Reception

You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City

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Previously on LOOK YOU......


Smile of the day 2013: Jul
Smile of the day 2013: Jun
Smile of the day 2013: May

Smile of the day 2013: Apr
Smile of the day 2013: Mar
Smile of the day 2013: Feb

Smile of the day 2013: Jan
Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Smile of the day 2012c (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the day 2012 (Apr-Jun)
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)

Smile of the day 2011 (Oct-Dec)
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)

Smile of the Day 2010
2010 (Jan to Jun)
2009

2008
Sep to Dec '07

June to Aug '07
March to May '07

As it was in the beginning:
ST DAVID'S DAY, 2007

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Postcards from my Square Mile @
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Updated: 11/08/2013

Here's lookin' at you @
400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013


What A Gas @
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