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400 Smiles A Day
It seems that
the artist Leonardo da Vinci kept a notebook, Notes to Self,
a list of “things to do today”: buy paper; charcoal; chalk ...
describe tongue of woodpecker and jaw of crocodile...
These are my Notes to Self, a daily record of
the things that make me smile and brighten up my day no
end, whether read in a newspaper, seen on TV, heard on the
radio, told in the pub, spotted in the supermarket, a good joke,
a great story, a funny cartoon, a film clip, an eye-catching
picture, something startling that nevertheless generates a spontaneous smile, curiosities spotted
along my walks through the Towy Valley...
This is a snapshot of life beyond the blue horizon...
everyday a doolally smile of the day
The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
Thursday, January 31
Nudge-Nudge, get yourself connected to the real world
JUST A few days ago I saw a marvellous photograph
featuring Chinese artist Liu Bolin ― yes, you know the fellow, he who
paints his entire body to exactly match the scenery behind him.
I have previously featured Bolin’s extraordinary talent
as my smile of the day, so when I saw one particular example of his new
work I thought, yup, a bit of copy and paste ... this will definitely
come in useful one of these days.
And, sooner rather than later, that day has arrived. It
all began with this headline and picture in the Telegraph, from a piece by a
It’s time to switch off your mobile and
set yourself free
Experts have found an effective new formula for happiness
― ditching the smartphone
That’s enough mobile phones: “I found myself paying closer attention to
world around me, and having conversations that felt like real
Will miracles never cease? I learnt yesterday that there
is a team of officials in the Cabinet Office known as the Nudge Unit,
charged with suggesting “ways people can make small changes to improve
their lives”. Naturally, this sent the taxpayer in me into a lather of
indignation. No wonder the national debt is so mountainous if crackpot
initiatives like this are given the green light in Whitehall.
But then, wonder of wonders, out of the Behavioural
Insights Team, as it is formally known, emerged common sense so
beautiful and bracing that it was like being nudged by Marilyn Monroe.
Suppose, asks Prof Paul Dolan of the London School of
Economics, a former stalwart of the unit, a man who nudges for England,
happiness is not owning the latest, smartest mobile phone, but is, in
fact, having that phone switched off? Suppose silence truly is golden, a
necessary antidote to a shrill, intrusive world?
The problem with smartphones, warns Dolan, an expert on
happiness, is that they distract users’ attention from the people around
them. “Turning your phone off and enjoying being with your friends is
much better for you than constantly checking your phone and emails,” he
told an audience at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia.
What? Enjoy the company of your friends when you could be
reading tweets from Wayne Rooney or perusing the weather forecast in New
York? The professor is flying so much in the face of fashionable opinion
that, the next time he switches on his mobile, he may find he has been
denounced as a fascist Luddite by the Twitterati.
But he is hardly a
lone voice. He is only articulating something that millions share: a
vague sense that our super-connected world is also dangerously
disconnected from things that matter...
Speaking from a ‘stand and stare’ point of view, I tend to agree with
all of that. I have a pay-as-you-go mobile, but strictly for emergency
use only. I carry it with me when I go walking, as well as when I jump
in the car.
Fortunately, the only times I have used it thus far are
occasional calls to my landline answerphone to make sure the mobile is
still charged and working ― and to remind myself how the blasted thing
Coincidentally ― there goes that word again ― back on
January 7, I featured a piece on some research carried out in Finland,
observing how people in all walks of modern life spend their lives
staring down at their mobiles ... this headline summed up that
Why we never look
up any more: Photos capture the way mobile phones
have changed the way we interact with the world around us...
Both articles say the same thing, which neatly takes me back to Chinese artist
Liu Bolin. In his specialised form of genuine art ― people turn up in
their droves to simply watch him gradually being painted out of sight ― he is
camouflaged so well it is sometimes almost impossible to spot him.
His latest exhibition,
Hiding in the City, at
the Eli Klein Fine Art gallery in New York, shows him melting
into various urban backdrops, including a picture of a mash of mobile
Traditionally we can’t see the wood for the trees
Nowadays we can’t see the world for the message
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David
Now how wonderful is that? I was more than happy with my
headline for this picture, and indeed the Thoreau quote. Both sit
comfortably alongside what the Nudge-Nudge
Unit conclude i.e. we really can’t see what’s happening around us for
all the information and communications coming at us from all angles and
at the speed of light.
The smile of the day is clear: Dump Thumbelina and escape
from under her thumb culture.
Wednesday, January 30
Looking for a good time?
THERE IS nothing like a dame; and there is definitely
nothing quite like a good opening line: “So what’s a bad girl like you
doing in a nice place like this?” ― and that is definitely nothing like
a good opening line.
Well, truth to tell, it depends on the delivery ― or more
properly, the messenger. If it draws a smile ― bingo, back to my HOUSE!
The above nonsense came to mind when I caught up with the
latest Sign Language picture gallery in the Telegraph.
Honestly, these pictures generate so much pleasure.
For example, here’s what I call a brace of perfect
‘opening lines’, irresistible invites to ‘come in, come in’, and both
spotted here in the UK...
Without rhyme, but with rind and reason
Quick one for the pavement
Spotted in Devizes, Wiltshire by Jerry Whiteside
Spotted in Manchester by Gill Emerson
Perfect RSVP invites
Now how could you resist such ‘opening line’ invites? I’d
pop into both businesses like a shot; and I’m as sure as sure can be
that the welcome would be wonderful.
I presume the first pavement board is for a butcher’s
shop. When I spotted the ‘Bacon’ sign-off, the first thing that
crossed my mind was that the famous ‘Roses are red, violets are
blue...’ was the work of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an English
philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist and, crucially, author.
However, a quick Google reveals the origins of the poem
can be traced at least back to lines written in 1590 by Sir Edmund
Spenser (c1552-1599) from his epic and incomplete poem The Faerie
Whatever, a perfectly smiley invite to pop in for a
As for the pub board ― how could anyone walk past that without popping
in for a quick pint or ten? Honestly, that invite would sit perfectly
outside the Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.
Incidentally, as far as I can tell, the scribble at the
very bottom says: PLEASE DRINK REsponsibly!
I particularly enjoyed how they ran out of space to
responsibly write ‘responsibly’. My Smileometer is off the scale.
Tuesday, January 29
“Hello, my name’s Geraint Woolford.”
“How strange, my name’s Geraint Woolford too.”
GOING ONLINE is much like entering the pass ―
fingers-crossed, no ambush lying in wait, please God.
Agreeably, I seem to trip over the most surprising of
things once I enter the pass. On today’s Telegraph home page
‘Most viewed’ list was this teaser for ten:
Two retired policemen with same name
ended up side by side in hospital
The only two men in Britain called Geraint Woolford ended
up in neighbouring beds in the same hospital ― and discovered that they
were both retired policemen who had worked for the same force.
Intrigued, I joined them on the beat...
Geraint Woolford, 77,
was a patient at Abergele Hospital in North Wales when Geraint Woolford,
52, was admitted.
The more senior Mr Woolford is a past president of the
Conservative Club in his hometown of Llandudno. Meanwhile, his namesake
is the current vice-chairman of the Conservative Club 34 miles away in
the town of Ruthin.
The pair had never met before and after checking
back in their family trees found they were not related. Checks
with the public records office showed they are the only two
people in Britain called Geraint Woolford.
Having two patients on the same ward with the
same name caused a headache for staff who had to make sure they
were dealing with the right one. The older Mr Woolford, who
underwent a hip replacement operation, had arrived on the
hospital ward first.
The younger Mr Woolford, who was in hospital for
a partial knee replacement op, said: “They had to double check
and triple check everything. But we’ve both definitely had the
right operations. It was just uncanny that we ended up in the
neighbouring beds. I think the hospital would have been glad to
see the back of us. It was a nightmare for them.”
A hospital spokesman said: “It was an amazing
coincidence ― the chances of the only two Geraint Woolfords in
the country being admitted at the same time must be millions to
Here's lookin' at me:
the Hopalong Geraint Woolfords
Pic: Andrew Price
How come, I thought, that this is the first I’ve heard of this
extraordinary story? Why hasn’t the Western Mail, the ‘national
newspaper of Wales’, carried the tale? So I scrolled back up to the top
of the Telegraph page: 8 Dec 2009!
So I Googled the story ... and yes, other newspapers had
indeed carried it ― back in 2009.
I’ve noticed this before, how dated stories suddenly
appear from nowhere into the ‘most viewed’ list. I can understand it
once the story is on the list, because visitors to the web site like me will click out of
But how do these dated stories suddenly appear in the
‘most viewed’ in the first place when there are no obvious links to
current stories. I mean, there is clearly no hidden agenda in the tale
Since I started this online diary cum scrapbook, and if I
had the software to check how many times I’ve actually used certain
words ― excepting one-two-three-four-five-letter words used to join up
all the dots ― I guess the most used word, after ‘doolally’ of course,
would be ‘coincidence’ ― but a tale like
this pushes happenstance to the limits.
Incidentally, reading the story, there was concern that
the hospital would get the two patients mixed up. Well, I reckon they
would have been the two safest hospital patients in the country ― in the
world ― for rather obvious reasons.
Great story though. How I missed it the first time around
I shall never know.
Monday, January 28
Gotcha by the balls
CHIEF WISE OWL
has been busy with his scissors yet again: another series
of intriguing and amusing letters spotted in The Times:
Sir, Perhaps a police
officer could confirm the rumour that bored traffic policemen play
“speeding snooker”, where cars are apprehended in colour order: yellow,
green, brown, blue, pink and black. On a busy road the game is
lengthened by interspersing reds between the colours in order to “clear
the table” in one shift.
DAVID FINNIGAN, Leatherhead, Surrey
Then came a follow-up letter:
Sir, The snooker
balls approach to the selection of police targets is probably true. We
asked a policeman friend if he had a clue why, as an amiable middle-aged
couple, we had been chosen to have our car searched for explosives by
police, plus two delightful spaniel sniffer dogs, while one of us was
trying to catch a train at Paddington station a few years ago.
“What colour is your car”, he asked. “Bright red”, we
said. “Ah yes,” he said, “snooker.”
HILARY and ROBERT BRUCE, London W9
My first reaction was to smile ... before realising that over the past
20 years I’ve owned a couple of cars, both red, which, given the above
“speeding snooker” game, meant that my car was as irresistible to a
police jam sandwich as a jar of strawberry spread is to a traditional
Quite how I’ve managed to escape being snookered while
behind the wheel comes as a bit of a shock. Mind you, over the past 20
years I’ve probably done just average mileage; what is more, I tend to
keep to the speed limits and drive in an orderly fashion along mostly
Whatever, the above gives me the opportunity to feature a
truly smiley picture I first spotted back in August last year ― and I’ve
been patiently awaiting an opportune moment to share it with you...
Big boys’ toys
$9,995 Mustang pool table for the Top Gear aficionado who has everything
isn’t that too delightfully doolally for words? I tell you, it’s a
parallel universe out there.
Meanwhile, back with the “speeding snooker” game, another
Sir, Presumably, if traffic officers were forced to
apprehend a speeding white car, this would count as an “in off”.
Would the officers have to let the motorist off with a
warning, and start the “break” again?
DAVID READ, Littleham, Devon
Wel-i-jiw-jiw, as they say down at the Crazy Horsepower
Saloon, every day a day at a speed awareness school.
And as Chief Wise Owl pointed out, the car to own is
obviously a white one. But I do feel sorry for those who own pink cars
for they are quite rare and likely to be snookered rather often.
Anyway, here’s an observation apropos our love-hate
relationship with the police. We Brits have gone from PC 49 (1947) via
PC Plod (Sixties) to PC Pleb (Downing Street, 2012). Whatever next?
Sticking with the sort of games that pass the time during
a night shift, yet another surprising letter from The Times:
Sir, You report that
the Taiwanese bet on the death of patients, but they are not the first.
In his memoir of 1920s Dublin, the surgeon Oliver St John Gogarty
describes a nightly hospital sweepstake where the person who draws the
first “stiff” of the morning wins the prize.
There was a second inter-hospital competition in which
nurses took the temperatures of all patients in a selected ward and
added them up, the ward with the highest aggregate being the winner.
ALAN CAMERON, Consultant Surgeon, Ipswich
It’s a fascinating world out there: what is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare and place bets...?
Spell-cheque corner: ‘sniffer’, as in ‘sniffer
dogs’, came up as ‘snuffer’, while ‘Gogarty’, as in ‘Oliver St John
Gogarty’, came up as ‘Go Arty’. Cool!
But the snuffer dogs were a worry.
Sunday, January 27
One for the road
don’t get drunk, don’t be sick down your front, don’t break your heels
and stagger about in the wrong direction at midnight.” Joanna Lumley,
66, English actress, voice-over artist, author and former model, offers
up advice to today’s “laddish” women.
Hang about though ... surely, Joanna is best known to
today’s young women, especially the “laddish” ones, as Patsy Stone,
Edina Monsoon’s best friend in the hugely popular British television
series Absolutely Fabulous? Here’s Patsy, the one holding the
glass and stoned, obviously...
...as you can see, what today’s “laddish” young women
subliminally admire is someone who looks like trash, gets drunk, is sick
down her front, breaks her heels and staggers about in the wrong
direction at midnight.
Yes, the world gets more spectacularly doolally by the
hour ― and where would my daily Smileometer be without these
celebrities? Mind you, I am quietly concerned about Joanna if her recent
utterances are anything to go by.
I was suitably amused by this headline and opening couple
Why can’t we laugh at the old jokes any
A ‘racist’ joke in Fawlty Towers has been cut because it
might offend. Well, it might ― if you didn’t get the joke.
Strange place, the past. It appears to have been full of
people who had next to no understanding of 21st-century mores. For some
reason, they all seem to have carried on as if it didn’t remotely matter
how their 20th-century attitudes and language would be judged by us,
their descendants and superiors, in 2013.
This week the BBC was
confronted with this problem when airing a repeat of Fawlty Towers. The
episode had a scene with the words “wogs” and “niggers” in it. The old
major, played by Ballard Berkeley, is explaining the difference between
the two. The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. Or it used
to. This time, the BBC cut the line out.
It is impossible to make sense of the censored dialogue without quoting
the line. Very sensitive visitors to my scrapbook should look away now
and study the football results...
In his anecdote, the Major tells Basil Fawlty that he
went to a cricket test match with a woman who “kept referring to the
Indians as niggers. ‘No, no, no,’ I said, ‘the niggers are the West
Indians. These people are wogs.’.”
So there you have it, and no marks for guessing that a raging debate
One of the things I remember from the time when I was
just a boy and the devil called my name, was someone asking “What’s a
wog?”. And the response? “A wump of wood.”
I am, old enough to know better and the devil still calling out my name...
There are the two online comments I actually recall
from the Fawlty Towers comment board, the first from a
who reminded us of this exchange from the television series Yes
HUMPHREY, A VERY CIVIL SERVANT: All we know about
(this leader of an African republic) is that he’s an enigma.
JIM, A DELIGHTFULLY SILLY MINISTER: Humphrey, I
don’t care for that word.
HUMPHREY: What, Minister ― enigma?
JIM: Oh. Ah...
Very clever, that ― and just to prove that we can still laugh at the old
jokes, this from a
What’s black and slides down Nelson’s column?
The devil’s work
If you recall, at the end of 2012 I chose my ‘quote of
the year’ as this, compliments of Chrissie from Norfolk: “Always remember that men are just small boys in long
trousers. That way you won’t expect too much of them and you won’t be
Well, tonight the truly “laddish” Top Gear was back ―
with loads of beautiful-looking women in the audience ― and I couldn’t stop thinking of
Chrissie’s little gem.
When I was just a boy and the devil called my
Incidentally, when Jeremy Clarkson did “The P45, the smallest car in the
world” sketch ― whatever you think of Clarkson, he is a brilliant comic
actor ― I’m amazed that when he appeared in the Dragons’ Den
with his wonderfully silly P45 invention, and was duly ridiculed, why
didn’t one of the judges simply hand Jeremy his cards?
Saturday, January 26
Hokey pokey politics
were Ed Miliband, I
would keep my powder completely dry at the moment.” Former prime
minister Tony Blair offers advice to the current leader of the Labour
party in the wake of David Cameron’s announcement that the Tories will
hold an IN/OUT, SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT referendum on European membership in
The great shame is that Blair never thought to keep his powder
dry rather than sex-up that infamous war dossier which took Britain to
war out in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do these politicians have no ethics,
morality or honesty at all?
Talking of Tony Blair, yesterday I introduced you to
Wally Fawkes aka Trog, the satirical cartoonist, in
particular his exceedingly smiley image of the old Queen Liz behind the
bar down at the old Queen Vic.
While researching Wally, I came across a marvellous Tony
Blair cartoon. Now who remembers these famous Blair quotes?
“I think most people who have dealt with me, think I’m a
pretty straight sort of guy. And I am.” Tony Blair, on the BBC’s On
The Record, during the controversy over an exceedingly generous donation
to the Labour Party by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, 16 November
A point of order:
Tony Blair assures us that he’s a pretty straight sort of a guy ― but it
is only others who can say whether we are straight or not, surely?
Indeed, beware of people who keep telling you that you can trust them.
suspect Blair is pretty much like every other politician: he can’t even sleep
straight in his bed of a night. But I digress:
day like today is not a day for sound bites, really. But I feel the hand
of history upon our shoulders. I really do.”
Tony Blair, arriving in Belfast for the talks which produced the Good
Friday Agreement to bring some temporary peace and quiet to Northern
Ireland, 8 April 1998.
And here it is: ‘The Hand Of History’, a wonderfully
smiley yet alarmingly unsettling cartoon of Tony Blair by Wally Fawkes,
which appeared in
The Sunday Telegraph on the 12th of April 1998...
Crouch, touch, paws, engage
Anyway, back with the UK’s promised referendum on
European membership. This has generated quite a stir the other side of
the Channel, as you would expect ― honestly, they are all like a
bunch of cats on heat, as this curious quote
“Say that Europe is a soccer club. You join this soccer club, but you
can’t then say you want to play rugby.”
Laurent Fabius, 66, the French
Laurent should remember one of life’s great truths:
soccer (or football) is a
gentleman’s game played by bullies, while rugby is a bully’s game played
Personally though, I’m with
the Telegraph’s master cartoonist, on this one...
we nearly there yet?”
reminds us that political creatures, whether here in the UK or within
the EU proper, are just a bunch of little kids who always want to arrive
before they depart i.e. they have no idea whether they are coming or
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Crouch, touch, paws, engage’
is not an error ... Miaow!
Friday, January 25
Don’t judge a book by its cover
ago I featured the Duchess of Cambridge’s much
commented-upon first official portrait.
Unsurprisingly, folk extended their arms in the direction
of said painting, closed one eye, stuck their thumbs up and focused on
what they saw. Some turned their thumbs down, mostly those with a
supposedly professional eye.
just come across a couple of comments, one which says nothing, and one
which says something revealing:
“I can’t remember a
royal painting as bad as this. She deserves better, we deserve better
and the people of the future deserve better.” David Lee, editor of
the art magazine Jackdaw on the portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.
“The portrait of the
Duchess of Cambridge resembles the cover of a romantic novel.”
Fine Art Commissions, London.
That first, overwhelmingly pretentious comment, from David Lee says just “I don’t like it ― nah, nah
na-na nah”; it’s a nothing comment, offers no insight whatsoever. But Sara Stewart’s comment ― well,
I smiled as soon as I read it and I now look at the portrait in a
slightly different light.
Curiosity made me Google Sara Stewart ... I landed on
Fine Art Commissions, and a brief biography of Sara Stewart ― along with
...the wonderful thing is ― nah, nah na-na nah!
― doesn’t Sara’s portrait also look like the cover of a romantic novel?
Anyway, what’s wrong with a portrait looking
like the cover of a romantic novel, if that is a true reflection?
Indeed, the rise of Kate Middleton from the ranks to being the darling
of the nation has a touch of the romantic novel about it, surely?
Keeping to a royal theme, I came across this marvellous cartoon by a
Wally Fawkes (Trog):
Queen Liz at the Queen Vic
Trog’s 2005 cartoon of Queen Elizabeth II
Wally Fawkes (born 1924 in Vancouver, departed in 1931 for Britain) is a
British-Canadian jazz clarinettist and, until recently, a satirical
cartoonist. As a cartoonist, he generally worked under the name of
‘Trog’, until failing eyesight forced him to retire
from cartooning in 2005 at the age of 81 to concentrate solely on his
I wondered where the idea for the above cartoon had come from ―
the heading above the cartoon is mine ― so I wondered whether the Queen
had visited the set of any of our soap operas, most of which I am aware
have a pub at the centre of the action.
I Googled the query ― and here she is, behind the bar on
the Eastenders set...
Incidentally, there’s an exhibition of Wally Fawkes’ work currently on at London’s
Cartoon Museum in Great Russell Street,
and will also feature cartoons by his former jazz
colleague, the late Humphrey Lyttelton.
Thursday, January 24
fails to raise a smile of anticipation when I spot a
Telegraph picture gallery headed Sign Language, a
collection of the amusing and the confusing, as spotted by readers on their
travels both at home and abroad.
Today I happened upon a couple of pictures which clearly
sit comfortably alongside one another...
Avoiding a cold snap in the nether regions north
of the border
Please don’t tell me it’s a dream
Spotted in Aberdeen by Sally McGrath
Spotted in Shenzhen, China, by Sam Baird
As always, the Chinese translations are wonderful and funny
― but brutally honest. It’s the literal translation that makes them so
It brings to mind a letter spotted last month in The
Sir, You report (Dec10) that South Yorkshire Police
states that its 280 cardboard cut-outs of officers have reduced crime by
50 per cent in some areas.
Just imagine what real police officers might do.
RICHARD MORTON, Ilkley, W Yorkshire
Sparrow or sparrow hawk?
don’t like myself so why should I want to see anyone else like me.”
Chris Packham, 51, TV wildlife presenter, who plans to have no offspring
of his own...
Funny that, for while I admire hugely
both his wildlife
knowledge and his talent for sharing his understanding and enthusiasm
for wildlife, my instincts have always sensed an individual whose toes I
really wouldn’t like to step on, even accidentally.
I always sense a
roundabout, a person you approach with caution, navigate at arm’s length
with your wits about you ― and sigh with relief as you speed away in one
piece. Indeed, he’s had a peep behind the mirror and, fair play, seems
Dead end piece
“I received an ‘I
wish you were dead’ Tweet just now. My dear friend, I am in my 80s, just
Richie Benaud, 82, Australian cricket veteran and commentator.
Spell-cheque corner: The computer suggested Beau
for Benaud ― which I guess is the very last thing that horrible
twitterer thinks of Richie Benaud.
Mind you, Richie Benaud’s tweeted response can be
regarded as very beau geste, literally a ‘fine gesture’.
Wednesday, January 23
Time for another laugh
humour is one of the best articles of dress one can wear
in society.” William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863).
I tripped over Mr Thackeray’s little gem today ― and
thought it so good I decided I must somehow include it on the welcome
mat at the top of the page.
While on the subject of good humour...
“I’ve been and panic-bought a cabbage.” Jen, from
Lampeter in mid-Wales, a lady of mature-sounding age, phones a Radio
Wales programme to deliver an update on the snowy conditions in her home town.
Oh yes, it was a red cabbage ― but unforgivably I didn’t
catch the recipe involving said vegetable.
Who the Fook?
Later, with flurries of snow falling on my head in
Llandampness, I bumped into Ivor the Engine at the Crazy Horsepower ... I’m
not sure how we got round to talking about Ned Kelly (1854-1880), the
infamous Irish Australian bushranger; however...
“Did you know,” says Ivor, “that Ah Fook was Ned Kelly’s
first victim?” I chuckle, as you do. “They are also believed to be Ned Kelly’s last
words before he was hanged.”
Very funny, Ivor ― but as a matter of ‘every day a day at
school’ interest, when I got home I Googled ‘Ah Fook’...
Well, would you believe it:
Ned Kelly’s first brush with the law came when, at age
14, he was charged with beating up a Chinaman.
Ah Fook had asked Ned’s sister for some “water” (Fook was
possibly a police spy, checking out unlicensed ‘sly grog’ sellers;
indeed, Ned’s mum was to be later charged with selling ‘sly grog’), and
had become abusive when she only gave him water.
When Ned told him to “Clear out you Chow!”,
Fook brandished a bamboo stick at him, whereupon Ned took the stick, hit
him, and chased him away.
Ned was later locked up in remand for 12 days, but was
not convicted. It has been said that Ned hated the Chinese presence in
Australia for several reasons, one being that he blamed them for his
friend Joe Byrne getting addicted to the opium drug, provided in their
What is it about the Irish ―
overwhelmingly a delightful and charming people ― that they struggle to
get on with anyone but their own tribe? One of the great mysteries of
The Lord works in mysterious ways
What I also learned on my visit today to the Crazy HP was
that David Cameron has been feeling a little down of late, worried by
the state of the world and its travails ― the economic situation, the
EU, Afghanistan, global warming ― God, I really must catch up with
what’s happening out there on the shady side of the street.
Anyway, taking a break from all the pressure, Cameron
happens to spot a personal ad in The Times:
“Need help? Call Jesus on 020 1660 4820”
Out of curiosity, with a hint of desperation at the gloomy
sky threatening to fall on his head, the Prime Minister called the
A Mexican showed up with a carpet cleaning machine and a hoover.
Gosh, imagine what Jesus would find, what with all those
things that have, down the years, been brushed under the carpets at
and 11 Downing Street…
Talking of Prime Ministers
Welshman David Lloyd George (1863-1945), 1st Earl Lloyd
George of Dwyfor, was a British Liberal politician and statesman. He was
the first man to rise from humble beginnings to become prime minister of
He was nicknamed ‘The Welsh Wizard’ by his admirers, ‘The Goat’
by those who mistrusted him and his sexual shenanigans ― but the press
labelled him ‘The Man
Who Won The War’ (the First World War, that is).
However, he still found time for a colourful personal
life, noted for his inexhaustible sexual appetite and his inability to keep his Stephenson Rocket in his
In a radio drama about him on Radio Wales, he says this:
“Love was an undercover operation. Every tree in the park, every grave
in the cemetery, seemed to have eyes...”
Do you know, I have a feeling the script writers may well
have got their Lloyd George and their Dylan Thomas mixed up ― well, it
is a good line.
Tuesday, January 22
to Chief Wise Owl today, the subject of practical jokes
came up, in particular that dreadful prank the Australian radio station
pulled when the Duchess of Cambridge was in hospital with morning
sickness, and which resulted in such dreadful consequences.
We both found it extraordinary that ‘modern humour’
deemed it okay to use a hospital with its full-frontal vulnerability as
fair game for a laugh.
The subject came up because CWO gave me a series of
letters from The Times detailing how a practical joke should be played.
First, a letter to set a background to the main story, but which is
wonderfully smiley in itself...
Sir, In the days before parking meters, traffic wardens
would patrol streets where one was able to leave a car for a limited
period. They judged the time the car had been parked by feeling the
bonnet. If it was cold, expect a ticket.
When the VW Beetle first appeared on our streets many
wardens were unaware that the engine was at the rear. As a consequence
the bonnet was always cold, which resulted in tickets being issued even
if one had arrived just minutes earlier.
DAVID HOUSDEN, Elton, Cambs
The pros and cons of the VW Beetle
Sir, A quirk of the early Volkswagens was that they had
no petrol gauges. In the 1950s a colleague in my publishing office
boasted about his new VW’s low petrol consumption. So for a few weeks we
used to top it up secretly, so that its miles per gallon became so
amazing that even he stopped boasting.
Then we reversed the
process and used to drain it. After running out of petrol several times,
he stopped boring us about his Beetle altogether.
JOHN HEMMING, London W8
Now that’s what I call a proper practical joke. Indeed those were the days when
petrol caps did not have locks and siphoning was a relatively simple
task, excepting the occasional mouthful of petrol if you were not well
practised in the withdrawal method. And all done with the siphoned
tank’s full agreement, of course.
I’m reminded of the original Candid Camera
television series and the marvellous tricks and jokes they played. No
shouting, no effin’ and blindin’, no aggression ― just puzzled people
pushing back their flat-caps and scratching their heads trying to make sense
of it all.
Curiously, I found the Jeremy Beadle reincarnations
nowhere near as clever and amusing as the original Candid Camera.
But there again, I am perhaps one of only 6,000 people in Britain who
didn’t find Mr Bean’s appearance in the Olympic Opening Ceremony funny
(however, Edmund Blackadder amuses me no end, which I guess proves it
has nothing to do with an intuitive dislike of Rowan Atkinson, the actor
Anyway, back with Candid Camera: one of the more
memorable wheezes was the car freewheeling down a gently sloping road
into a garage forecourt and stopping in front of some petrol pumps.
“Fill her up,” says driver Jonathan Routh (and host of
the show) to the attendant, as was the case back then, no
self-service in those days.
After paying for the petrol, Routh seeks help from the attendant when he can’t
start the car. The attendant duly checks a few things and then asks Routh to open up the bonnet ― and
there’s no engine.
The bewildered attendant looks under the car, even in
the boot, for the engine ... after all, how did the car arrive there in
the first place?
The attendant next calls out his colleagues, including
what looks like a mechanic, to solve this baffling problem and mystery.
“I’ve just driven from Basingstoke,” insists Routh. “There was
definitely an engine there when I left.” Then a policeman arrives...
Another of my favourites was the carpenter called in to
put up some office shelves. He measures the first shelf, and as he’s got
his back turned to trim the shelf to size, one of the walls gently
closes the gap a couple of inches. Of course the carpenter is totally
puzzled when the shelf is marginally too long.
He measures again and goes to cut ― meanwhile the wall
moves back a couple of inches. Clever stuff.
And of course the fellow in the shop who, when the
shopkeeper’s back is turned, dips his hand
into an aquarium full of goldfish, grabs one and quickly swallows it ―
much to the horror of others in the shop. Of course what he was actually
eating was a slice of carrot already concealed in his hand, which looked
exactly like a wriggling goldfish. Marvellous.
Weather is here, wish you were lovely
Sticking with curious happenings, last month farmer Keith
Potter was baffled by a postcard delivered to his home 100 years after
it was sent.
The postcard was delivered to Paradise Farm, Christian
Malford, Wiltshire. The original postmark on the postcard was January 3, 1912 and
it was posted from Monkton Farleigh, near Bradford on Avon. Here’s
characterful-looking farmer Keith Potter with the postcard delivered in
2012 but posted in 1912...
The postcard was addressed to Vida Doel but the farm has been occupied
by the Potter family since 1925. Mr Potter, 65, has no idea why it was
delivered 100 years later. He wondered if it had been stuck behind a
machine or a drawer in a sorting office somewhere.
A spokesman for the Royal Mail said: “There are also two
postmarks ― the original one and a very recent one. Everything points to
this being put back in the Royal Mail system.”
Hm. Anyway, this letter from The Times in response to the
Sir, So I’m not the only person who finds mischievous
pleasure in buying old postcards at antique fairs and re-posting them to
their original address.
STEPHEN O’LOUGHLIN, Huddersfield, W Yorks
Yes, I like that very much, essentially playing a joke where you don’t
really know what the end result is, the above tale being the exception which
tests the rule, obviously. I wonder if Farmer Potter had
anything to do with it in the first place?
Whatever, here’s a link ― hope it works ― to the ‘missing
engine’ prank ... note Routh’s cigarette with all those petrol fumes;
oh, and the mechanic in his white overalls and wearing a tie. And here’s
a tip: watch it with the sound off, for it somehow makes it much
funnier knowing what the situation is:
wireless first thing this morning, just after five, as usual, and Vanessa Feltz was
asking her listener to let her know about “the last thing that made you
Apparently, the third Monday in January i.e. today, is
known as ‘Blue
Monday’, and is traditionally associated with depression due to the
culmination of factors including miserable weather, Christmas debt and
failed New Year’s resolutions.
So Vanessa was busily trying to get me into a good frame
of mind from the word go. Which is quite amusing, really, given that I
am irresistibly attracted to the things in life that make me smile
(which probably explains why I have never watched soaps on the box,
except when zapping through on my way to the sunny side of the street).
Anyway, having just woken up, I couldn’t for the life of
me think what the last thing was wot made me smile, which itself made me
smile given that this scrapbook revolves around those endless things that
exercise my old chuckle muscle.
Anyway ... the last thing that made me smile? I hardly
ever remember my dreams even, certainly not last night ― so no smiles
Then I remembered, sort of ... the last thing I did last
night before switching off the computer and toddling off to bed was
prepare the picture I used to illustrate yesterday’s smile, of the
horses and the fondly imagined Tesco sales pitch. There, it makes me
smile, just thinking about it.
Anyway, what was it that made me smile today? What came out top of the
Look You Smileometer
on Blue Monday?
Well, the media has been awash with glorious and
amusing pictures reflecting the snowfall up and down the land.
There were snowmen galore; and what has made an
appearance this year is the snowdog, inspired it seems by the appearance
last Christmas of
The Snowman And The Snowdog,
the sequel to Raymond Brigg’s classic Christmas tale.
However, my favourite was a snowman with a difference, a
Tour de Force pedalling that extra mile:
Wiggo chills out in the back garden
Picture submitted to Mail Online by Lizzy Eddy, an impressive
sculpture of a snowman riding a bicycle built for one.
Mind you, I’m never sure these days whether photographs
are real or beautifully crafted things compliments of Photoshop or some
such like. Is the above real or a work of art? There were no clues spotted in the accompanying article.
However, the one giveaway which suggests that everything is not
quite what it seems is the fact that it must be pretty much impossible
to build such a complex thing without disturbing any of the snow
build-up on the bike itself. I mean, if you simply touch the branch of a
tree carrying that much snow ― it all comes crashing down.
Be that as it may, it still makes my favourite picture of
the day, irrespective of how the Wiggo snowman got there. Oh, and closely followed by this one...
A clever spot of driving captured by Lauren Haynes, of a romantic
picture of two hearts driven into the snow in Brighton.
Again, I wasn’t sure whether the tracks had been
spontaneously created and spotted by Lauren ― or were they deliberately shaped by a clever bit
of driving? Whatever, it makes no difference because the picture does
what it says on the tin: Look At Me, Look You.
Naughty but nice
Also in the papers today, plenty of tips how to turn
Blue Monday into Red Hot Monday. I liked this one...
Pump up your feel-good chemicals!
The ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin, released during sex and
orgasm, helps us feel more cared for, can help soothe relationship
spats, and can make people act with more caring and generosity. So treat
yourself to some loving this January ― especially today ― ‘Blue
I found myself wondering ... why isn’t there a
perfume or aftershave called Oxytocin? I mean, imagine the
sales pitch: Oxytocin ― the original sin.
Mind you, there does appear to be something called Oxytocin Nasal Spray, marketed as
Oxytocin Factor. Hm, perhaps that’s
the real X Factor.
Sunday, January 20
A girth of mirth
horse is a thing of beauty but it is still something to eat, a source of
protein far superior to much that pleases the British palate.”
French chef Raymond Blanc, 63, who says he has been relishing horse
meat since he was a child.
wouldn’t surprise me if horsemeat is one of the healthier
ingredients to be found in a Tesco burger.”
Martyn Pitt, of Gloucester, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Yes, the comments keep coming. In fact, both Raymond
Blanc and Martyn Pitt are on
the button if this paragraph from today’s Sunday Times is
anything to go by:
The real joke about the Tesco Irish horseburger is that
its buyers may in fact have eaten something healthier than they
intended. Horse has higher levels of iron than beef, less saturated fat
and more omega 3 fatty acids.
I was duly inspired to do a little visual joke after
spotting something similar elsewhere within The Sunday Times, and
wondering what would happen if Tesco teamed up with a cooking
personality from yesteryear, Graham Kerr, 78:
A light at the end of the Tesco horseburger tunnel
animals were harmed in cooking up this promotional image
I captured the above image along my morning walk: a
parcel of land I trek through nearly always has some horses in
attendance, and I make friends with most of them. Above, they spot me,
and rather dramatically race towards me out of the rising sun.
There was a picture of some horses in the snow in The
Sunday Times, with the punch line “Tesco launches new range of
frozen meals”, but given that those gee-gees up there were hot-footing it towards
me, I thought I’d add my own rather obvious extra ingredient.
On the same subject, another couple of letters from The
SIR – How have horses acquired a more powerful trade
union than cattle, sheep and pigs? If the latter group had allowed us to
ride on their backs, would they too be awarded the same protection from
ending up in our kitchens?
Brian Christley, Abergele, North Wales
Another school of thought
SIR – Eating horse is
like eating dolphin. However, I hope the rejected burgers have been
given to charity and not thrown away.
A C Kidman, Fletching, East Sussex
Now there’s an interesting three-course meal that would put a smile even
on the face of Hannibal Lecter: Chunky Dolphin Soup for
starters; Saddle of prime Welsh Cob steed as main course; and to round things off, a
Juicy Lucy Pudding (a fruity, guilt-free dessert that’s both delicious
and nourishing ― the fruits of the forest ― but we won’t tell
Things that walk into bars
Finally, there’s an old joke that needs updating:
A horse walks into a bar. “Why the long face?” asks the
landlord. “Been to Tesco recently?” says the horse.
I’ve also been trying to come up with something similar
A zebra walks into a bar code ...... nobody
pays a blind bit of notice, they just go “beep!”
every time they walk past...
Hm, nearly there.
Saturday, January 19
It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it
seminar, women and men were divided into gender groups and asked to
correctly punctuate this sentence:
“A woman without her man is nothing.”
Nearly all the men wrote: “A woman, without her man, is
Most women, however, wrote this: “A woman: without her,
man is nothing.”
Chief Wise Owl shared the above with me today. He added
that some bright spark enquired as to what percentage of the women wrote
this instead: “A woman without her man is like a fish without a
That last quote is now widely attributed to the American
feminist Gloria Steinem, 78, but seems to have originated as an
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”
was penned as a Woman’s Lib slogan, but was met by the male response:
“Yes, but who needs a stationary haddock?” Well, anyone who’s hungry and
isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, I guess.
All this punctuation business brought to mind Cole
Porter’s song, What Is This Thing Called Love?
Consider these options:
What is this thing called, love?
What is this thing called? Love?
What? Is this thing called love?
Anyway, we know that punctuation is there to make the written word
easier to read, and more importantly, to help make sense of it.
As a point of order, today’s print media keeps
punctuation to a minimum, which explains how often I have to re-read a
sentence because first time around it simply doesn’t make sense.
However, punctuation can be used to great comic effect.
Read this paragraph:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind,
thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and
inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no
feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy ― will you
let me be yours?
Now, approached from another angle:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind,
thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and
inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn!
For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be
forever happy. Will you let me be?
Is this a glass which I see before me?
Shooting off at a slight tangent, how about this? An
applicant for a job arrived at the interview and was asked to separate
the words in this sentence: “Thejobsarenowhere.”
Well, what did you make of it?
Most people, of course, end up with: “The jobs are
nowhere,” but that’s only because they’re thinking negatively.
Those of a positive bent come up with this: “The jobs are
Now isn’t that clever. I have to admit that I came up with “The jobs are
nowhere” ― and I really don’t think I could be described as a
I think it has something to do with the way you scan the
written word; for example, I am aware that the seeing part of my brain
operates fractionally ahead of the reasoning part of my brain.
That’s my story ― and I’m sticking to it. Fill it up,
Finally, how about this, a letter in today’s Daily
SIR – One night, to
reassure my sister about a relation sick in hospital, I sent a text
saying: “He’s fine.” Unfortunately, the predictive text changed it to:
Zippy Milburn, London SW17
I found myself pondering whether Zippy Milburn is actually called Dippy
Milburn ― Slack Alice, even ― before, that is, the predictive text got
hold of it.
I’m not familiar with predictive text, but it sounds much
like the suggestions thrown up by my computer’s spell-check thingy, or
what I call my computer’s spell-cheque.
Remember these recently highlighted examples?
Following the shemozzle between Manchester City football
manager Roberto Mancini and his troublesome player Mario Balotelli, the
computer suggested Mario Belatedly, which was really putting the boot
Lionel Messi, football player of the year, came up as
Lionel Messy; and curiously, Viscount Linley became Viscount Lonely.
best of all, Tesco morphed into Tosco. Clever computer.
Friday, January 18
warning said anyone travelling in snowy and icy conditions should take a
shovel, hat, blankets, a supply of food and drink, de-icer, rock salt, a
torch and spare batteries, a petrol can, first-aid kit and jump leads. I
felt a right prat on the bus.”
Bob Lowe, of New Milton in Hampshire, in a letter to the Daily Mail.
I awoke this morning and gritted my teeth. Yes, the snow
had arrived, as forecast, although here in Llandampness it was but a
Mind you, walking along the country road outside the
bungalow was much like edging carefully along a wubbering springboard.
Whatever, a winter wonderland of pictures were plastered
all over the media, probably because proper snowy conditions are quite
rare in this country. Mind you, this is now the third winter in four
we’ve had major disruption due to a dump of snow. Its rarity probably
explains why we are so useless at coping with it.
Retro pains and pleasures
Anyway, many of the pictures looked back at previous hard
In a perfect world I would now show an image that would
somehow connect the slippery topic of the past couple of days i.e. the
horse burger scandal ― to the snow.
And would you believe it, just sitting there in a
Telegraph picture gallery, was a photo from January 1940, of a car
almost buried in the snow near Macclesfield, just to the west of the
But best of all – what does it say on the notice board?
Horsepower grounded in the snow near Macclesfield in Cheshire
Children sledging down a hill in Devon in the hard winter of
A rest home for horses?
Whoa, do you suppose that Tesco ― other supermarkets are also
available in a roundup of usual suspects ― went on to build a knacker’s
yard on the site? Well, our supermarkets do appear to delight in putting
down most other businesses in the high street.
Anyway, as for the second picture, those children do
bring a smile to the face ― but what caught my eye is the lady in the
centre, walking away and dressed in the dark clothes. Oh how the world
of fashion has changed. She looks as if she’s just been to church,
probably wearing her best shoes as well.
It is an image that is both puzzling and amusing.
Back at the beginning of the month, I ever so discreetly
pointed you in the direction of a Guardian newspaper article all
about last year’s most coveted and dreaded literary prize, the
2012 Bad Sex Award
shortlist ― just in case you missed it, especially so the wonderfully
witty comments section, the link coming up once again, er, down below.
However, I must bring you this particular example:
The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine
And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate
jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too
high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder.
Then came this online comment...
EmpireHancock: I will know no rest until I
have used the phrase “like a wubbering springboard” in day-to-day
Handy name, incidentally:
Be that as it may, I duly entered into the spirit of things and took up
the challenge ― as you probably noticed, above: “the country road
outside the bungalow was much like edging carefully along a wubbering
I must also quote these couple of online comments apropos
the original challenge...
Celsius233: “Is that a wubbering springboard in
your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”
All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air,
With one enormous chair.
Oh, wouldn’t it be wubberly?
What is there not to smile about in this doolally world of ours? Here’s
the link to the Guardian article:
Thursday, January 17
The Burger Handicap: runners and riders
The horse meat burger saga continues to sizzle apace.
This morning, the cartoonists had their say...
The Daily Telegraph’s
The Daily Mail’s MAC
“You remember you wanted a pony?”
“HE’S BEHIND YOU!
The Tesco burger man”
What wonderful expressions, whether it’s the overjoyed
young girl heading for a nasty fall or the startled horse as it attempts
to avoid a nasty put down.
The MAC cartoon was mentioned in a newspaper review on
the wireless this morning ― I thought the caption mentioned in the
dispatch was “He’s behind you!
― The Tesco burger van”. I had smiley visions of a Tesco delivery van,
with its corporate slogan “You shop ... We drop” plastered on the side,
chasing the poor creature down the home straight.
Eating on the hoof
What makes this burger shemozzle so entertaining is its
schadenfreude nature, which rather explains why the story looks as if it
will run and run.
On the one hand (ho, ho, ho), experts now say that
supermarkets may well have been selling beef contaminated with horse
meat for years and years due to lax food regulations ― the Food
Standards Agency was criticised after admitting it had never carried out
tests for horse meat on food sold in Britain ― yet we know, all things
being reasonably equal, that horse meat poses no health risks. Which
means there are no handicapped jokes.
Unless, of course, we suddenly
hear of something called Mad Bucking Disease, gulp, and we have
to see the doctor for that previously mentioned permit to shit on the
Whatever, on the other hand, there’s a sense of delight
in seeing the supermarkets being called to book. We all know that, while
they’ve been raking in billions in profits, they have also been
riding their suppliers into the ground with extravagant use of the whip.
From the farming industry struggling to make any profits,
to cheap child labour in far away places with strange sounding names,
they represent everything that is wrong with this country and why we as
a nation find ourselves in such a mess.
People holding powerful positions in society, driven
purely by personal ambition and greed with no regard for the sort of
world they are handing the nation’s children and grandchildren. And that
includes their own descendants because when the revolution rides into
these people really think they’ll be safe hiding behind electrified
fences patrolled by armed guards?
I guess if a Gallup poll ― sorry, the subject matter just
invites puns and the like ― if a poll was carried out, people would not
be too upset at finding horse meat in their burgers but rather pleased that
the supermarkets are having their comeuppance because of their arrogant
conviction that they can do as they please.
Incidentally, if the Food Standards Agency had never
carried out tests for horse meat on food sold in Britain, what made it
do so now? Hm, I sense a whistleblower. Perhaps a man with a red
Anyway, I’m sliding away from the smiley aspect of the
situation. A letter in The Daily Telegraph caught my eye...
SIR – Many people will happily consume salami, several
brands of which contain donkey meat. What’s the difference?
Ruby Gordon-Wilson, Newick, East Sussex
A comment board response from
The Hidden Paw:
Usually about 3-4 hands (12-16 inches).
Also spotted online...
Jptaylor: On Terry
Pratchett’s fantasy planet Discworld, certain catering establishments
have on the menu: “Curry with meat: $3. Curry with named meat: $3.50.”
PS: Luckily I wasn’t drinking coffee when I saw today’s Matt
last couple of days have shown just how many horse related words and
phrases are contained in the English language. I've enjoyed them all.
Life and death: a fine margin
“I’m going to go and do the lottery.” What a witness
claims the Vauxhall high-rise crane driver said after his lucky escape
from yesterday’s dramatic helicopter crash in central London which
resulted in the death of the pilot and one person on the ground.
What was remarkable about the crane operator, who
would normally have been in the cab when it was hit by the helicopter,
is that he survived because he was late for work. Site workers said the
man had never been late before.
Paul Robinson, 42, a lorry driver, said the operator
would have been “wiped out” if he had been on time. Instead, he was
still climbing up the crane’s shaft when the crash occurred. He is
understood to have been delayed while dropping his children off at
The crane operator, who had been harnessed to the
structure, was said to be recovering from his ordeal last night.
As for doing the lottery, I would guess that he has
already had his stroke of luck in winning life’s rollover jackpot.
Just before I sign off, here’s another extraordinary
headline I spotted yesterday:
Swedish woman crashes train after taking
it for a joyride
A Swedish cleaner
stole a train and took it for a joyride before driving it into an
That was so good I didn’t bother to click to find out more ― in fact I
was reminded of we men’s favourite Swedish lady, who also went for a
joyride on a train.
It’s one of my favourite Abba song ― and my goodness me, they
really knew how to perform melodic, catchy and rhythmic melodies. Remember
Wednesday, January 16
Every Little Bit Helps
smile of the day was effortlessly spotted coming up on the rails...
meat found in burgers on sale in Tesco
Tesco Group Technical Director Tim Smith says the company
is investigating how horse meat came to be in burgers on sale in some of
Scientific tests have
found traces of horse DNA in burgers in some of the UK and Ireland’s
leading supermarkets. The inspection revealed horse meat accounted for
approximately 29% of the meat in Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers...
Tesco, surprise, surprise, has unseated the product from its shelves.
No more Tesco Dobbin’s
Delights for you.
The burgers were supplied to Tesco by Silvercrest, an
Irish company, but suppliers in continental Europe are suspected of
being the source of the horse meat found in beef products.
It also emerged that other supermarkets, including Lidl,
Aldi, Dunnes and Iceland, are also selling burgers containing horse
meat. Asda and the Co-op have removed some frozen products because they
use the same supplier.
Reaction overwhelmingly suggests that supermarket customers see the
story more as an excuse for a bit of a laugh rather than mounting anger
at the possibility of having eaten horse meat. After all, Dobbin’s
Delights and Gee-Gee Joints are
officially on the menu in other parts of the world, France for example.
The news caused a torrent of gags to be unleashed on
Twitter and Comment boards. Incidentally, hope you got my little
headline joke: Every Little Helps is Tesco’s current sales
slogan, so it seemed quite natural to insert ‘Bit’, for rather obvious
Including ‘a bit of a laugh’, as above; indeed, looking
at all these burger pictures today is making me so hungry I could eat a
...make mine a 2 Hands, please (that’s a John Wayne
tall, for the unsaddled).
Horsemeat burgers: the best and worst jokes
Spot the difference
A bog standard Sir Loin Burger Tesco sleeve...
...however, an anonymous Photoshopper leads the field
So here we go then, gags spotted or overheard today:
At least the Tesco
burger is a stable diet.
A Tesco burger walks into a bar.
“Pint, please”. “I can’t hear you,” says the barman. “Sorry” replies the
burger, “I’m a little bit horse”.
Those Aldi horse burgers were
nice, but I prefer My Lidl Pony.
The Food Standards Agency
confirm that all those who ate horse burgers are in a stable condition.
Two Tesco burgers please ― hold
Visited my local Tesco’s today ―
I can confirm that the going in the car park is good to soft.
I paid a visit to Tesco’s cafe
and the waitress asked if I wanted anything on my burger: “Yes, a fiver
I've just checked the Tesco
burgers in my fridge ... and they’re off!
Those Tesco burgers gave me the
trots, they won’t be on sale furlong.
Never mind the burgers. I've long thought that their huge sausages are
Hm, do you suppose black stallions provide bigger
sausages? Anyway, on with the BBQ...
I like my burgers
Medium to Redrum.
A horse fell in love with a cow, nothing more to say on the matter...
It looks as though a
few mad cows have been indulging in some horse-play.
Why are they only removing them from the stores now? Fetlock of good
that will do for those who have already eaten them.
Apropos those last two images, it always surprises me the pics I
suddenly remember taking and I find hiding away in some forgotten corner
of my computer. Whatever, to shoot off at a delightful tangent...
Has anyone tested
Tesco’s veggie burgers for uniquorn yet?
Traces of Zebra found in Tesco
Tesco, Twitter, newspapers and web sites are flogging a dead horse
repeating all these endless jokes.
Be that as it may, and much as I enjoyed the
joke, my favourite goes to
with this clever effort:
Is it a coincidence
that ‘HAMBURGERS’ is an anagram of ‘SHERGAR BUM’?
Yes, I did check it out ― and it works.
My own effort? Well, I was chatting to Dai Aphanous down at the Crazy
Horsepower late afternoon and I told him that I’d eaten some of Tesco’s
burgers, so I went to see the doctor, just in case. “What did he say?”
Oh, I say, he was quite unconcerned, but the Doc added:
“Just to be safe I’ll make out one of these...” He reached for a pad on
his desk and started scribbling out a per - a per - a per-
“A prescription?” volunteers Dai.
“No,” say I, “a permit to shit on the road.”
I know, I know, I’ve used the joke before, but it’s so good ― and so
perfect in this context ― I think it can stand a few shovel-full of
... For “Tesco’s”, my computer suggested “Tosco’s”. I couldn’t possibly
Tuesday, January 15
Thursday I featured those wonderful letters about
doctors, as spotted by Chief Wise Owl in The Times.
Well, not to be outdone, here are a series of equally
smiley letters about vets, as spotted by yours truly in The Daily
As mentioned before, the beauty of featuring these
letters in my scrapbook is, that I can take letters published over many
days and put them together as one continuous thread.
So here we go ― and they really are rather good:
SIR ― Tim Stafford Thornton wonders whether he should
take his troublesome knee to the vet instead of the doctor.
Vets are allowed legally to treat humans although doctors cannot treat
animals. In my experience, vets offer the efficiency, pragmatism, charm,
humour and common sense so often lacking in the NHS.
Elaine Griffin, Bassingham, Lincolnshire
European vets were military medics in WW2
SIR ― During their advance through Europe in the Second
World War, leaders of 45 Commando, in which my father, Hugh, served,
preferred the help of local vets to doctors in the event that one of the
men was wounded or fell ill. They took the view that if a vet was
capable of curing an animal that couldn’t tell him where it hurt, there
would be no misunderstandings arising from the language barrier.
It is recorded that this practice saved the lives and
limbs of many servicemen.
Richard Muir, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
SIR ― My friend’s father always said: “A doctor asks what is wrong; a
Mabel Green, Leek, Staffordshire
SIR ― I also find it easier to book a same-day appointment with my cat’s
vet than with my GP. However, I also have to pay £50 for my cat’s annual
vaccination and one-minute check. I would complain bitterly should it
cost me the same hourly rate to see my GP for a check-up and annual flu
This just shows the esteem in which we hold our pets
Adrian Waller, Woodsetts, Nottinghamshire
SIR ― The enthusiasm recently displayed by your
correspondents for consulting a vet instead of a doctor would, I fear,
soon wane upon the first requirement for a temperature reading.
John Benson, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Final word of comfort
SIR – A vet may be better at reading a patient’s mind
than a GP. But if the vet can’t find a cure, or it is too expensive, his
treatment would be to put the animal down.
John Proudley, Sowerby, North Yorkshire
Now aren’t those wonderful? And do you know, as someone
brought up on a farm, my parents echoed the thoughts of the above
correspondents in their admiration of the local vets ― and that despite
having local doctors my parents had the highest regard for.
Mind you, perhaps my parents were influenced by the fact
that my uncle ― my father’s brother ― was at one time the Chief
Veterinary Officer for the UK.
Local people and family members could never make out why
I didn’t go on to study and hopefully qualify as a vet ― after all,
taking basic qualifications as a given, it isn’t what you know
in this old world of ours, but rather, who
However, training to be a vet seemed too much like hard work ― after
as one of the correspondents above points out, you can’t ask an animal
what the problem is ... oh, and where precisely does it hurt, you old
Staying with the animal kingdom, I have written before
about my experiences with upside-down sheep ― well, imagine spotting
this headline and article:
the upside-down sheep
Coming up, the link to a mind-bending video of a sheep
with an upside-down HEAD ... and Allan McNamara of Middlesbrough in North
Yorkshire, the man who filmed it, insists that it’s no fake.
Look a bit closer at the picture alongside ... and
you will notice something very odd about this sheep.
Seemingly quite happily defying nature as it
nibbles grass, it is indeed a sheep with an upside-down head ―
but is it real?
[Actually, I contend that it’s more a
back-to-front head rather than an upside-down head ― but that
doesn’t distract one iota from the intriguing image.]
The owner of the YouTube video of the weird
animal insists that it is genuine; the clip sparked curiosity and
doubts among onliners, becoming an internet hit with almost
50,000 views in just five days.
Allan spotted the creature while walking through
the countryside with a friend.
The 30-year-old computer technician believes it had twisted its
link, below, compliments of Allan McNamara
While it would be fairly easy to Photoshop a picture of
the kind shown above, the video coming up looks genuine enough. So much so, it drew this response on the comment
Vet18, Norfolk: This sheep has probably got torticollis
(a neurological condition) sometimes caused by the bacteria listeria.
Actually pretty common ― we see a dozen or so of these a year at our vet
I did a quick Google ... indeed
is spot on. On the
Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) web site, it
was also called the uncomplicated
Well, it’s something I haven’t spotted along my walks ―
as yet, anyway ― so here’s the YouTube link...
Monday, January 14
I’m sorry, I’ll subtitle that again
subtitles regularly get viewers’ vicars in a whist―
I’m sorry, I’ll read that again: the BBC’s mangled
subtitles regularly get viewers’ knickers in a twist, especially so when
told during one local BBC news broadcast that a town was expecting a
visit from the “Arch bitch of Canterbury”.
How delightful is that? Now that’s what I call a proper
As I’ve mentioned on here before, the BBC is regularly
criticised by deaf groups over “ludicrous” computer-generated subtitles.
For example, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was famously labelled “Ed
Miller Band”. Hard-of-hearing viewers have been left “utterly perplexed”
by errors in the live captions.
Oh yes, remember this? In another embarrassing faux pas,
a reporter visiting a farm spoke of how the pigs “love to nibble
anything that comes into the shed, like our wellies” ― unfortunately the
subtitles beneath the report changed the last word into the delightfully
childish homophone “willies”...
Yes indeed, that slip we could well call a poke in a pig.
And of course there’s the infamous example when, during
the Queen Mother’s funeral, the solemn words “We’ll now have a moment’s
silence for the Queen Mother” became “We’ll now have a moment’s violence
for the Queen Mother”.
All of which, topically, brings me to Northern Ireland
campaign of street demonstrations and violence that started just over a
month ago, when Belfast councillors inexplicably voted on 3 December to
limit the days when the union flag flies over Belfast City Hall.
I see that the cost so far of policing the flag protests
is believed to be over £7m. It is astonishing that no politician in
Belfast sensed the ambush they were charging into when they made that
decision over the flag. Did they not grasp what history was shouting at
them from inside the pass? Unbelievable.
Be that as it may, this all brings me back to the BBC’s
mangled subtitles: the Ireland rugby team was once renamed the “Island”
rugby team. Now that is a quite wonderful slip because rugby union is
the one aspect of Irish life where north and south come together as an
island ― and always have without any demonstrations or violence from
participants or supporters.
The sport is organised on an all-Ireland basis with one
team, one governing body and one league for both Republic of Ireland and
Ireland is the third-oldest rugby nation after England
and Scotland respectively, and the game was organised there fractionally
before here in Wales, surprisingly.
A lesson for politicians everywhere, there, methinks.
Anyway, back to subtitling ... this afternoon I popped in
on Chief Wise Owl at his home to collect some Times letters
he had saved for me. As it happens he wasn’t there so I had a chat with
his good lady, Mrs What A Hoot.
The television was on in the corner, the BBC’s News
Channel as it happens, and as Mrs What A Hoot is slightly deaf she had
the subtitles on, with the sound turned right down.
What came on was Adele winning her first Golden Globe
award, taking home the honour for best original song in a motion
picture. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh, oh my God!”
she gushed in her acceptance speech, much like a geyser on heat; she
dedicated the Skyfall prize to her partner, Simon Konecki, and their
three-month old son.
However, the subtitling come out thus: “Oh my Guard ...
oh my Guard ... oh, oh my Guard.”
Now I put it to the House that computer-generated
Freudian slips don’t come much better than that. Thinking about it
after, I can only presume that the technical observer, who would have
repeated what Adele was saying into a microphone for the computer to
then change into subtitles, was an American. Fascinating stuff.
By one of those delightful coincidences, given that above
I mention “The Island rugby team”, one of the letters Chief Wise Owl had
saved from The Times was this, a classic example of my
every day is a day at school:
Sir, With reference
to letters on games, pastimes and sport, there are only three sports,
which are hunting, shooting and fishing. The rest are all games or
pastimes. Hence a game of cricket, football, rugby, etc; and the
pastimes of synchronised swimming, diving, jumping, etc.
We do not have the Olympic Sports but the Olympic
BRIAN STORRINGTON, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Sunday, January 13
The overtaking parade
another gem from the Telegraph’s Sign
Language series, a picture gallery featuring some of the weird and
wonderful things spotted by readers on their travels about the planet...
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Spotted by David Drew in Kolkata, India
I’ve got your number
Back in October, I featured some letters from The
Sunday Times motoring section, missives to do with
personalised car registration numbers.
Now I’ve never purchased the right to display a
personalised plate, but I enjoyed this letter:
The DVLA may not have issued the number plate SEX, but it
has issued X92, which looks pretty innocuous until you read it in your
Vic Brown, Morpeth, Northumberland
If you write X92 on a piece of paper ― be sure to write
it as printed ― it is indeed surprisingly smiley.
What is more, add
(with a curvy flourish) to the
and it really becomes a bit of a hoot.
The things people catch sight of in the mirror, eh?
Be that as it
may, seeing the ‘Glamour’ car reminded me of something I read somewhere
A sexy little number ― or
If you are struggling with
finding that perfect birthday present for that special someone ... how
about a moderately offensive car number plate?
Car registration sales firm Regtransfers.co.uk has taken
the strange decision to put a range of rude registrations up for sale.
Imagine the delight on the face of your loved one as he or she eagerly
opens up the birthday package to reveal a number plate that reads PEN
15, ORG 45M or even BO11LOX.
Even if the recipients do turn out to be less than keen
on the idea of driving a car with ‘53XEY’ emblazoned across the front,
they’ll soon perk-up when they realise how much these number plates
cost. That sexy little number will set you back £9,000 but you’ll need
just under £23,000 for BO11LOX. The PEN 15 plate is on the market for
£90,000 and ORG 45M is a staggering £135,000.
Despite strict rules banning “number plates likely to
cause offence or embarrassment”, Regtransfers.co.uk insists that these
plates are perfectly legal and fully expects someone to cough up the
kind of prices it is quoting.
A note of caution though ― the DVLA says: “If we are made
aware that a previously issued number is deemed offensive, we would
consider withdrawing the number.” In the past, a number of questionable
registrations have been banned including DR12UGS, PE12VRT and MU12 DER.
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear ORG 45M,
Happy birthday to you...!
Imagine a lady
with a vehicle bearing this registration number, reversing into a tight
space, and behind is a fellow offering guidance: “You’re okay, love,
just keep on coming…!”
Saturday, January 12
perhaps, the subject blessed with the most smiles potential for a while
― yes of course, the official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.
Yesterday it caught my eye and made the smile of the day spot. Today, a
quick visit to Mail Online came up with this...
Now this is an art attack!
Internet pranksters run riot with Kate’s new portrait
Some aspiring artists have lent a hand ― and some
Photoshop skills ― to try to improve Kate Middleton’s first official
portrait which was unveiled yesterday to mixed reviews. The Duchess of
Cambridge declared she was “thrilled” with the work by Paul Emsley but
others were not so impressed.
Robin Simon, editor of the British Art Journal, described
the painting as “rotten”...
Kate Through the Looking Glass
One newly adapted portrait has been given a makeover with
Mr Bean’s face placed over the Duchess’s ― very funny; another the botched fresco of
Jesus which became an internet sensation last year; and in yet another,
the face of Vigor from Ghostbusters II is used to terrifying effect.
But far and away my favourite smile generator is this...
The artist is anonymous. In fact I wouldn’t be at all
surprised if the painter is someone famous, probably a well known artist
Every time I look at it my face lights up. Compare and
contrast ... it’s the attention to detail ... for example, I hadn’t
registered the subtle difference in Kate’s eyes, something our anonymous
artist has exaggerated to great effect.
Wonderful. Ten out of ten.
The 101 best pieces of advice ever
Viscount Linley, 51, furniture maker
My father advised me
to always strive to do better, learn from my mistakes and aim for
perfection. Within my business I encourage this and am always asking:
“is this the best of the best?”.
Friday, January 11
Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist,
not of the sitter ~
the smiley end of the news spectrum, the meeja has today
been getting its knickers in a twist over the first official portrait of
the Duchess of Cambridge, by the artist Paul Emsley, 65.
The response to the painting suggests we should perhaps
redefine the old expression “the curate’s egg: good in parts” as “Kate’s
first portrait: good in parts”.
She is known around the world for her youthful energy and
captivating smile, but the painting of the Duchess unveiled today
portrays a more mature Kate, and if Oscar Wilde is correct, then Paul
Emsley is mellowing in his old age...
Gently smiling with her face framed by her glorious hair,
the artist admitted it was difficult to paint such a beautiful woman. At
Kate’s request, the oil on canvas painting portrays her natural rather
than official persona.
I’m unsure what to make of it. It was quite revealing
that after reading a brief online Telegraph article, I
perused the comments section, and the one contribution which drew a huge
number of ‘recommends’, far in excess of other comments, was this one...
Oldgit13: One of the prettiest young women around
today with the most beautiful and uplifting smile. I barely recognise
her from this attempt.
And I have to mention this other one, given that I spend
much of my time at the Crazy Horsepower in the company of Chief Wise
Notwiseoldowl: Kate is a vibrant and lovely young
woman. The artist has managed to portray her as a dowdy middle aged
lady. And I don’t like to say this but the flesh tone is that of the
recently deceased ... they should do as Lady Churchill did with Graham
Sutherland’s portrait of Winston, burn the damned thing.
Yes, I know what both
mean ― mind you, I wouldn’t like to comment on the flesh tone without
actually seeing the painting in the flesh, so to speak, for the image
tones I’ve seen online vary hugely ― but the relevant part is this: At
Kate’s request, “the oil on canvas painting portrays her natural rather
than official persona”.
What Kate’s look made me think of was this: I attend the funeral of a
drinking pal, a regular at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, someone I know
well and have shared many happy and funny moments with ― then after the
funeral service I look for his nearest and dearest to share a few words
of appreciation of times past, but I don’t want to approach them with a
long face so I wear a gentle smile, which hopefully transmits my fond
memories of their loved one.
By one of those curious coincidences, the very last thing I saw last
night before switching off the computer was a just-released picture of
Kate enjoying a family night out at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate
her 31st birthday.
The Duchess, who spent four days in hospital before
Christmas after being struck down by a severe form of morning sickness,
went to see the Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza show with the Duke of
Cambridge, her parents, her sister Pippa and brother James.
The Duke and Duchess and their guests sat in the Royal
box at the venue, though St James’s Palace said their visit on Wednesday
night was entirely “private”.
the picture was not captured by a professional because if I zoom in, it
becomes very grainy; I guess it was taken by a member of the audience,
either on a mobile phone or a little compact camera ― photo compliments
...I like it because it captures so wonderfully Kate’s
default look, as if she’s saying: “Look, you really are very naughty, this is a
private visit ― but I’ll give you just the hint of a little smile
anyway.” I much prefer this smile to the one in the portrait.
Thursday, January 10
The doctor may well see you now
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) coming under
increasing pressure and scrutiny, not least the perceived drop in the
standards of service and TLC prescribed by our local general
practitioner doctors (GPs), Chief Wise Owl handed me a series of
wonderful Letters to the Editor as spotted in The Times...
Sir, I suggest that the doctors of an earlier generation,
whose surgeries were open on Saturday and Sunday, who routinely carried
out home visits after hours, and who were pillars of their local
society, entered the profession as a vocation.
Today’s practitioners see medicine as a good career
choice. Furthermore, I can confirm as an estate agent that most GPs
entering a new practice and seeking a home specifically request that it
should not be too close to their surgery.
TIM BLENKIN, York
A doctor’s calling
Sir, Just when my embattled GP colleagues thought that
things couldn’t get any worse, they are accused of lacking a sense of
vocation by an estate agent.
DR BOB BURY, Leeds
Sir, My father ran a
busy, single-handed, north-west London medical practice until his
retirement in the 1960s. He held two surgeries every day except Sunday,
was on night duty every night, and had a
secretary/receptionist/dispenser for two hours every weekday.
He died aged 98.
EDNA THOMAS, Windsor, Berks
Sir, On the topic of
single-handed GPs, my father ran a busy, single-handed, Swansea medical
practice until he died in 1983. He held two surgeries every day except
Sunday, was on night duty every night, often seeing patients who were
not his own (as their own doctor refused to come out). My mother was his
secretary and receptionist with three young children to look after.
He died aged 57.
RAVI MIDHA, Caswell, Swansea
As I read that last letter, I was overtaken with thoughts of the famous
Monty Python sketch about “kids today don’t know their born”, with each
story teller topping the one before with the extravagance of his tale ―
and then came that dramatic twist in the tail of Ravi Midha’s letter.
So thanks, Chief Wise Owl, for those. As it happens, I
too spotted a letter in The Daily Telegraph, which rather
dramatically highlights why our National Health Service is under such
Longer lives heap
more pressure on the NHS
SIR – Although it is
good news that, for a variety of reasons, “we’re living longer than we
thought” (report, December 18), it should be remembered that, generally,
while every year’s rise in life expectancy produces 42 weeks of healthy
life, it also brings 10 weeks of illness ― thus heaping even greater
stresses on the NHS.
Dr Michael Irwin, Cranleigh, Surrey
Truly a pause for thought moment, there ... meanwhile, back with Chief Wise
Owl, he also handed me another Times letter, a proper
little gem, which does somehow juxtapose with the above subject matter:
Sir, Stephen King, Chief Global Economist of HSBC [British
multinational banking and financial services company with its
headquarters in London],
writes about “Britain’s problem: ‘You don’t make anything’.” (Opinion,
And what does HSBC make?
ANNE-MARIE SUTCLIFFE, East Rudham, Norfolk
that’s what I really call a twist of the knife in the tale.
The 101 best pieces of advice ever received
it was perhaps the easiest, and most appropriate ― choice I’ve had to
make thus far:
Justin Webb, 52, BBC
Radio4 Today presenter
A cardiologist friend
once told me: “Lifestyle changes don’t add up to much, mate, just take
the pills and hope for the best.”
Wednesday, January 9
Top hat and tales of the unexpected
know what it says up there on the Welcome Mat:
...and everyday a doolally smile of the day.
Honestly, there are so many things lurking out there in
the meeja undergrowth ― and all dedicated to putting a smile on my face.
Yesterday it was the crazy world of polka-dot football; the day
before how wedded (welded?) we are to our phones and other mobile devices;
and the day
before that, the delightful world of Pippatips and Cock-a-doodle-do (the
worst individual sentence about sex) ― and back and back and back...
Today I spotted a fashion picture gallery ― not exactly
my scene, but there was one image included in the ‘Hello Big Boy’
introductory collage which pulled me in like a magnet:
Men’s fashion: only for the brave
Amid the wonderful displays at London Collections there
have also been a few “You’re not going out in that!”
As models dressed in outlandish outfits stalked the
catwalk, British Fashion Council member David Gandy has vowed to make
London the “menswear capital of the world” ― meanwhile
wearing planks of wood across their faces stalk the catwalk.
The ambassador for
Men’s Fashion Week said the event would be “bigger than ever” this
Where did you get that hat?
Looking at the images, especially the ones where the male
models have sawdust rather than dandruff on their shoulders, I felt much like that little boy
who ― well, imagine Danny Kaye doing the honours:
Now Saturday came and the streets were just lined with
thousands, and thousands, and thousands of people, and they all were
cheering as the artillery came by, the infantry marched by, the cavalry
galloped by. And everybody was cheering like mad ... except one little
You see, he hadn’t heard about the magic suit and didn’t
know what he was supposed to see. Well, as the King came by the little
boy looked ― and, horrified, said:
“Look at the King!
Look at the King!
Look at the King, the King, the King!
The King is
in the all together
together the all together,
together as naked as the day that he was born.
The King is
in the all together
together the all together
together the very least the King has ever worn.”
All the courts positioned to call an intermission,
is wide open to ridicule and scorn.
The King is in the all together
together the all together
together as naked as the day that he was born;
And it’s all
together too chilly a morn!
Anyway, I couldn’t resist adding my own captions to the men’s fashion
week in London...
/ Pic: Vladimir Potop
/ Pic: Getty Images
“Look, I wanted a Top Hat straight off the Top Shelf
― I didn’t mean you should call in a bloody carpenter.”
“God, I really did have a shed-full last night ― truth
to tell my head still feels like the side of a shed.”
Away from the splinter movement, I was mesmerised by
it’s the fashion world’s idea of what an orange, genetically engineered
with a banana, would look like.
What’s there not to like?
Tuesday, January 8
Faced with an open goal
mentioned in passing, just the other day, I am not a
natural-born football supporter; I tend to watch the game from behind
the sofa, through slightly parted fingers.
However, watching the most talented in any sport is a
joy, and football is no exception, and that despite the suspect
behaviour of all participants.
So step forward Lionel Messi, the 25-year-old Argentinean
forward who plies his trade with Barcelona ― or should that be
Whatever, Messi strengthened his claim to be considered
the greatest footballer of all time by winning a record-breaking fourth
consecutive Fifa Ballon d’Or last night.
The award is
given annually to the global player who is considered to have performed
the best in the previous season. It is awarded based on votes by
coaches and captains of international teams, as well as journalists from
around the world.
Messi took the honour ahead of Barcelona team-mate Andres
Iniesta and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo at an awards ceremony
The Argentinean enjoyed a remarkable 2012, even by his
own high standards, most notably surpassing German Gerd Muller’s
40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year, finishing with an
Messi ― the computer spell-check
suggested Messy, the very antithesis of his footballing skills ―
anyway, Messi, wearing a polka-dotted dinner jacket and matching
bow tie, said: “To tell you the truth, this is really quite
unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great
for words. I would like to recognise my other colleagues from
Barcelona; Andres, it has been great to train and play alongside
Well done that man. It also goes
without saying that his eye-catching outfit generated an instant
smile; it predictably drew its fair share of online comments.
Here are just a couple, which rather reflect the sum of the
A truly brilliant player, dressed by Disney.
Gonnafall: When you have that kind of talent, you dress like
you want to and don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks.
Lionel Messi spotted accepting his fourth Fifa Ballon d’Or
The first thing that came to mind when I
spotted the outfit was ― and I never saw anyone else take this track ―
that clearly each polka-dot represents a goal he has scored.
Oh how I’d wish that to be true.
the, black, the, kettle
(rearrange into a well known phrase or saying...)
Staying with football, last Friday I featured the
high-profile altercation between Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini
and his fellow-countryman (and one of his star players), the Italian
striker Mario Balotelli.
...talk was rife that Mancini would be exceedingly keen to pass
Balotelli (in red) on ASAP in the current transfer window.
Well, Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of
Italy and football club AC Milan owner ― and a man noted for his ethics,
morality and honesty ― has described Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli
as a “rotten apple” after it was suggested the striker could make a
return to the Stadio San Siro.
The controversial owner of AC Milan was talking on Monday
after the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich.
“The name of Balotelli never came into my thoughts,” said
Berlusconi, who last year served a prison sentence for tax evasion (oh
dear, what was it I said earlier?). “He is a rotten apple and could
infect every group where he goes, even Milan.”
Yes Silvio, that really and truly does tend to happen. In
fact, and more to the point, the way any organisation conducts itself ―
neighbourhood pub, local council, high street or online giant, famous football club,
the BBC, Channel 4, News International, Barclays Bank, the Government of
the day ― is a precise reflection of the ethics, morality and honesty of
the person at the very top, its Chief Sitting Bull, or let’s not be
sexist, its Chief Sitting Cow.
Reading Silvio’s comments about Mario, I was going to
say, talk about the Berlusconi calling the Balotelli black, but thought
better of it just in case someone decided it was somehow racist.
But you have to smile at the delightful doolallyness of
I’m not sure why, but I was reminded of a recent letter
in The Times:
Stand and deliver
Sir, George Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer and
Second Lord of the Treasury of the United Kingdom] would be well advised
to echo the thought of that other famous economist (and bank robber)
Willie Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks replied: “Because
that’s where the money is.”
JOHN LEY, Littlehampton, W Sussex
Monday, January 7
Life on the small screen
headline in Mail Online drew me in...
Why we never look up any more: Photos capture the way mobile phones
have changed the way we interact with the world around us
Long, long ago, a telephone was a way of contacting
somebody if they happened to be at home. Now, the phone has become a
Society has become fixated by a hand-held device that has
transformed the way we communicate, enabling us to send instant
messages, photographs, audio recordings and videos to friends and family
across the globe.
With access to the internet, applications, games and even
banking on a mobile, people rarely spend a moment looking up at their
Instead, with their heads bowed, they become mesmerised
by technology, to the point where playing on their mobile phone
supersedes interacting with others.
A series of photographs were taken by a mobile researcher from
Finland, who has captured people from all walks of life on their mobile
Here’s just one example from a gallery of images...
...but we don’t need to be shown any photographs. All we need do is
stand and stare, whether on the pavement, in the pub, the café, the
supermarket, the train...
But what fascinates me even more is this: if ET really
landed on Planet Earth today, the first thing he, she or it, would notice,
would be this greeting routine where a multitude of ever so strange and curious
Earthlings just stand there with their arms outstretched holding
something shinny in their hands, devices which endlessly emit flashes of
How odd, ET would doubtless think. Not so much Men in
Black but Humans in Odd Skins.
And just to prove the point, here are a couple of
photographs involving presidents of the United States of America, but
images separated by nearly 60 years...
Say cheese, Mr President
photographers wait for Dwight D Eisenhower, 1951
Photo: Gordon Parks / LIFE Magazine
members photograph Barack Obama, 2009
Photo: Pete Souza / White House
Do you know, I first became aware of this extraordinary
phenomenon when I was watching on television the Olympic Torch make its
way around Britain prior to the Games ― and everywhere the Torch went
there would be masses of people, all with their arms outstretched
holding their mobiles or cameras.
It was a quite surreal thing to behold ― as the Obama
photo above underlines to perfection...
The 101 best pieces of advice ever received
it was difficult to find something apt ... I then spotted this:
James Cracknell, 40, Olympic rower
Abraham Lincoln said:
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my
axe”. No wonder he’s the only US President with a statue in Parliament
Square. It took me years to understand the value of this but I genuinely
try to abide by it.
And I bet the statue of Lincoln has had a few cameras pointed at it over time. But I like the advice: do your research,
your preparations, your sharpening i.e. do your homework thoroughly before you start
Oh that today’s
media interviewers would do that. Does the BBC’s
coverage of the Thames Jubilee Pageant back in June spring effortlessly
Sunday, January 6
in The Sunday Times, part of a collection of the most toe-curling
literary quotations of 2012...
Best of Pippatips
[Pippatips are tweets spoofing the over-obvious ideas and
explanations in Pippa Middleton’s book Celebrate]
1) “Many ready meals aren’t quite ready to eat, you’ll often
need to pop them in a microwave or oven first.”
2) “The cold, white stuff on many of your lawns is snow ―
frozen, fluffy rain that falls from the sky.”
3) “In the cold you can wear hand-socks (called mittens or
gloves) to keep your fingers and palms and backs of your hands toasty.”
4) “Breakfast in bed can be anything from a pot of tea with
a few digestive biscuits to a tray laden with early morning goodies and
5) “In a sack race ... the first person to cross the finish
line is declared the winner.”
6) “Conkers is a game where each player has a conker
threaded onto a piece of knotted string and pairs of players take turns
to hit each other’s conker.”
From twitter.com/Pippatips, except the last three, which are from
Talking of things literary, along with proper English
Usage ― not my strongest point as you may have noticed ― I came across
Partridge [A Guide to Good English by Eric Partridge]
cites: “Avoid the split infinitive wherever possible; but if it is the
clearest and most natural construction, use it boldly. The Angels are on
Apart from the fact that for years I thought a
split-infinitive was something a Chinese tart wore, I was suitably
amused that the most famous split infinitive of all (apparently) occurs
in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: “...to
boldly go where no man has gone before.” (Here,
“boldly” splits the full infinitive “to go”, or so I am boldly told.)
Whatever, the juxtaposition of the word “boldly”, as
by both Partridge and Star Trek, suggests that the angels are indeed on
My Dearest Jane
“One of his more benign observations on his employers
came in a letter to me in the late Sixties: ‘My sports editor on The
Sunday Times is leaving. I shall be lucky if I ever get anyone so
indolent and disinterested again. In 20 years not one word of praise or
blame. Only the wage packet on the dot each month. What more can you
A quote from My Dearest Jane, Letters from a Wayward Father ― a
collection of letters from the racing journalist Roger Mortimer to his
daughter, Jane Torday.
What a smashing quote. And I agree absolutely with that sports editor, whoever he
was. If someone is doing his or her job to an acceptable standard,
without fuss or bother ― leave well alone. Do not praise do not
criticise, just post the bloody cheque. It juxtaposes perfectly with the adage
“never complain, never explain”.
And so to
The 101 best pieces of advice ever
Geoff Boycott, 72, cricketer
I took Uncle Algy’s advice: “When two people get involved
in a run-out, one of them is going to be very disappointed. Make sure
it’s not you.”
Which brings me back to The Sunday Times and their most toe-curling
literary quotations of 2012...
Worst individual sentence about sex
Truth to tell I couldn’t bring myself to write the example quoted ― and
that from someone who drinks in the Asterisk bar down at the Crazy
However, below is a link to a Guardian newspaper article
apropos the 2012 Bad Sex Award shortlist ― I commend it to the house,
and be sure to peruse the wonderfully witty comments section, er, down
My favourite, I think, comes from
NT86: This is my kind of cliterature.
Oh, and the references to Rolf Harris are a hoot...
Saturday, January 5
are wonderfully entertaining ― but often ruthlessly
I’ve just spotted a photograph of a monkey in a zoo in
China. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. What makes it
smiley though is that it is hugging a radiator for warmth during an
exceedingly cold spell.
Someone ― no names, no pack drill ― pondered aloud if
Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney had his roots in
Sichuan Province out
in China. Especially his hair roots.
Well, what do you think?
The monkey’s hair-line is what does the trick because not
long back Rooney had a high-profile hair transplant ― and I guess that’s
what makes the picture so special in that particular context.
Just in case someone suggests that I should look in the
mirror before pointing fingers ― here’s a picture the family took of me
on Christmas Day, opening the only present I got...
the picture was captured by Lucy Ray at Longleat Safari Park (while I
was on a visit
see my pals!).
As for the bananas ... don’t laugh: dotted about this
scrapbook of mine is plenty of evidence of my admiration and fondness for the
banana. I quote a previous post:
On the Seventh Day, God – or Mummy Nature as I call Her –
poured Herself a large glass of something yummy, put Her feet up and
contemplated what She had learnt over the previous six days of intense
evolution. Could She come up with the perfect creation?
Well, in the morning She fashioned the banana,
Her all-purpose, all-singing, all-dancing
herb-cum-fruit: the colour is pure, bright and sunny; easy to harvest
and transport; grows all year round; ripens best off the plant; no need
to wash hands or fruit before eating; no messy peeling, just a quick
zip-a-dee-doo-dah; tastes great; no bones or pips; easy to eat, even for those with no
teeth; even easier to digest; full of goodness, contains three natural
sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – which combine with fibre to
generate instant, sustained and substantial energy boost; can be safely
eaten even as it begins to go off, when it turns all gooey and browny; a
sure way to cure a hangover i.e. a banana milkshake sweetened with
and as a super-duper bonus, the magical banana can be used as an
emergency Post-it note, even a postcard.
And here’s the proof, a banana I posted a
few years back to a local pub ― on May the 3rd, very important that date
― and duly delivered the following morning by Royal Mail, albeit in a
plastic bag because it had become slightly squashed along its journey
through the postal system...
...and the message on the reverse of the banana?
the 4th be with you. From: The pick of the bunch.”
“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot ― but
don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”
And talking of Monkey Business, today I shall allow
The 101 best pieces of advice ever received:
Friday, January 4
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by---
And never knew.”
Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It
Every day a day at school spot:
The lyrics of ‘A Boy Named Sue’, the song made famous by Johnny
Cash, is a poem by Shel Silverstein.
Cock of the Walk Named Roberto
the last day of 2012 I shared with you what I rated my
quote of the year:
“Always remember that
men are just small boys in long trousers. That way you won’t expect too
much of them and you won’t be disappointed.”
Well, who would have thought that the great truth oozing
out of every pore of that quote would be so spectacularly verified so
soon into the new year.
First things first: back in December I happened upon a
Telegraph picture gallery titled Sexy Managers Calendar
Cartoonist James Husbands has produced a collection of ―
described as sometimes disturbing ― images of some of the most
recognisable managers in world football as you’ve never seen them before
for his ‘Sexy Managers’ calendar (there’s a link just round the corner,
so to speak ― and well worth a peep too).
Although I am not a
natural-born football supporter ― I sort of watch the game from behind
the sofa through slightly parted fingers ― but I do find the behaviour of the
players, managers, supporters and owners of the clubs hypnotic in the extreme; much
like watching a kind of U-boat pantomime where someone is always
Anyway, one manager featured in the calendar is Roberto
Mancini, 48, an Italian former football player and current manager of
Premier League Club Manchester City; indeed last season he guided the
club to its first league title in ― a suitable fanfare, please ― 44 years.
(All you need to know at this point is that Manchester City play
in a sky blue kit, although arch rivals Manchester United in their red
kit, who have won a dozen league titles in that 44 year period, would probably call it
Be that as it may, you know how it is: as soon as you
spot some individuals you start to smile ― and sometimes it’s a grin which
straddles that dangerous territory between smiling with them and smiling
Roberto Mancini perfectly fits the bill ― but I’m never
sure quite why. At first I thought it was his cock-of-the-walk persona,
an aggressive little farmyard bantam, always with a big hard on.
Curiously, he always looks smaller than he actually is:
Wikipedia has him down as 5ft 10½in (1.79m), which is not particularly
short, but it could be that he is slight of build which makes him look
somewhat frail. Whatever, he is one of those characters that, whenever
the camera focuses in on him ― I am sort of mesmerised by the fellow.
Then I saw James Husbands’ take on him...
Mancini sports his ManCity kit
Roberto poses under the blue moon, wearing only his City scarf
Put ‘em up, put ‘em up
This very morning the media was awash with pictures of an
altercation between Mancini and one of his star but somewhat wayward
players, fellow Italian Mario Balotelli.
The incident happened towards the end of City’s Thursday
morning training with watching photographers able to capture the images
of the clash. The snappers reported that Balotelli dived in recklessly
on team-mate Scott Sinclair.
In the ensuing confrontation Mancini was pictured angrily
shouting at his wayward striker and reportedly charged up to remonstrate
with him, which resulted in a bit of an altercation, as captured in
these memorable pictures by Eamonn and James Clarke...
...Mancini was seen trying to continue the incident even after the pair
were pulled apart by members of the coaching staff. Balotelli for his
part was not seen to fight back and left the training ground minutes
after walking off the training pitch.
The training pitch confrontation is the latest, and
potentially most serious, incident of Balotelli losing control during
training. His position at the club had already been cast in doubt after
Mancini appeared to lose patience with him last month, with the
suggestion he may be sold in the current transfer window should a buyer be
laughed at this online comment from the memorably named
He’s a clown, doesn’t
know how to behave and knows nothing about the profession he gets paid
millions for. Time for him to go. And maybe Balotelli should join him.
I wonder if
is a Man United fan? Whatever, when I ran a spell-check on the day’s
efforts, I was
greatly amused when the computer, confronted by Balotelli,
suggested Belatedly. I sometimes worry about how clever these
computers are getting.
Anyway, we’re back with the quote Chrissie from Norfolk
so memorably shared with us: “Always remember that men are just small
boys in long trousers. That way you won’t expect too much of them and
you won’t be disappointed.”
Dear Chrissie from Norfolk: You understand your men
This all leads me perfectly to another in
The 101 best pieces of advice ever received:
Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph fashion editor
My mother taught me how to remain sane when faced with
the implacable logic of small children [especially small boys in long
trousers?]: always give them choice, but controlled choice with inbuilt
distraction. Not “would you like to eat your vegetables?” but “would you
like to eat your vegetables from a green or a yellow plate?” Worked like
PS: Here’s the link to the smiley football calendar:
Thursday, January 3
Make Room For 101
grand plan was to round off each day’s smile bulletin
with another in
The 101 best pieces of advice ever received
Wendy Holden, 51, author
One should always be slightly improbable.
I like it. There’s something rather grand in the thought that others
can’t quite make you out, can’t quite figure out what makes you tick.
I mean, human beings are, by definition, totally
predictable. That is why opinion pollsters only have to interview a
thousand carefully selected individuals to establish precisely what a
nation is thinking. Yes, pollsters will often interview 1,500 (belt),
even 2,000 (braces), just to ensure that their sample cross-section of
the population is accurate.
So there is something rather attractive in
the notion of behaving in a slightly improbable manner ― which brings me
neatly on to a couple of images from The Best of Sign Language,
the weird and wonderful signs spotted by Telegraph readers on their
travels about the planet.
And talking of things slightly improbable...
by the bowel',
spotted by Charlotte Williams in Vienna
spotted by Saralie Pincini in Ontario
Google the front page
Watching tonight’s half-nine news review of tomorrow’s
newspaper front pages on Sky News, the guests were discussing a
Financial Times newspaper headline:
“US clears Google’s core search business”.
It seems that Google does not unfairly manipulate its search results.
one of the paper reviewers pointed out what Google actually knows
If you search Paris Hilton, Google will instantly know
from your previous search trails whether you are looking for web sites
involving the celebrity or the hotel...
I smiled benignly, for I think it’s fair to say ― at least from what I
know of the lady ― that Paris Hilton is someone you would describe as
being “slightly improbable”.
Yes, curiosity killed the cat ... and up came Paris
Hilton Twitter. No surprises there because I’ve never, ever searched hotels or
holidays, yet I’m always looking for celebrity background information when I use
But here’s something really odd. As I typed in Paris Hilton (PH)
... the first option that came up was PH Twitter, followed by PH Shoes, followed by
So I Google Paris Hilton ho ― and up came PH homophobic
rant ― but once I added the “t” to complete the Paris Hilton hot search,
the Google suggestions disappeared and I was invited to “Click” ― which
I did and up came this:
Paris Hilton hot ― Video Dailymotion. Adult content. Over
18 only. Find webcam hotties, erotic dancers and hard-bodied guys
[ho, ho, ho!]
on Dailymotion’s sexy channel. No pornography.
So I chuckled, made my excuses and left.
But I returned to Paris Hilton on Twitter ... and
searched best quotes...
“I’ve only done it with, like, a couple of boyfriends.
People think I sleep with everyone, but I’m not like that. I like
kissing, but that’s all I do. I’m not having sex for a year, I’ve
decided. I’ll kiss but nothing else.” Paris Whitney Hilton, 31, American heiress, socialite, television
personality, businesswoman, fashion designer, entrepreneur, model,
actress, producer, author and singer – phew!
– reveals that
she had sex with only two men in her life, GQ magazine, August 2006.
“I want kids next year, so I’ve got to get my body
ready.” Paris Hilton,
planning for motherhood, September 2007, but so far, still getting ready.
“Every woman should have four pets in her life: a mink in
her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass
who pays for everything.” Paris Hilton.
Wow, that last one, how clever, respect. But something didn’t feel quite right about
the quote ― so I Googled it … ah, it actually belongs to the
wonderfully witty and wise Mae West. Suddenly its cleverness made sense.
And on that note,
I shall leave you with another Mae Oui classic:
man is good to find.”
Wednesday, January 2
Advice is seldom welcome...
who want it the most, always like it the least
Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773)
perusing the Telegraph’s web site ... suddenly, the
following headline threw me a wink and a smile and beckoned me to click
on and to come in, come in:
101 best pieces of advice ever received
Introduced by the
Telegraph’s agony uncle, Graham Norton, 101 well-known people
from all fields of work and life pass on the best pieces of advice they
have ever received. Read on for enlightenment...
Before doing just that, I had to first pick myself up, prick myself
sharply ― and read that all over again ... yes, Graham Norton is ... the
Telegraph’s agony aunt – oops, agony uncle. No, it is
agony aunt: a big bloomer of a clue coming up...
wonder why the country is in a permanent state of doolallyness?
Thankfully for me, mind, otherwise I’d have nothing to write about.
Anyway, I was intrigued to see what Aunty Graham had to say...
Even the most wizened
of misers will be generous with one thing ― their advice. People love to
give it. No matter how sad the jilted lover, everyone else will be only
too happy to tell him or her about the other fish in the sea. Patience
may be a virtue, but wise friends can’t wait to reveal their trite
insights into how best to navigate a path through the emotional maze of
The modern world
means that to even approach a computer results in a tsunami of memes
telling you to be strong, or kind, or explaining why friends are like
your knicker drawer.
Hang about ― and never mind Graham and his bloomin’ “knicker drawer” ― I feel an Every
day a day at school spot coming on: a tsunami of memes?
A meme (pronounced
meem ― so why isn’t it spelt meem?)
is “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person
within a culture”. An internet meme is a concept that spreads
from person to person via the online world.
The concept of the meme was created by Richard Dawkins
for his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as an attempt to explain the way
information spreads, although his concept involves a much broader
category of cultural information.
there we go; meanwhile, back with wee Graham and his knickers...
Yes, to give advice
is clearly one of the greatest pleasures in life, so why, then, do so
few people ask for it and an even fewer number actually take it?
We can all recognise the wisdom in really good advice but
when we are hunched, sobbing on the bed, very little really helps. Of
course, I know what the Persian Sufi poets said: “This, too, will pass,”
but in reality, until it does, I’m going to feel like moving to Minsk to
start a new life.
I firmly believe that
the vast majority of those who write to me in the Telegraph
aren’t really looking for advice. Composing the letter will probably
have been the most helpful part and they will have decided on a course
of action long before I respond with a lovingly composed epistle...
I lost the will to go on right there ― but the prospect of 101 bits of
advice fascinated me no end ― so I swiftly scrolled down ...
as I browsed the list, I realised that there are two
types of advice. The first is the one you can do nothing about. For
Sir Richard Branson, 62, entrepreneur
My mother, Eve, always taught me never to look back in
regret but to move on to the next thing. A setback is never a bad
experience, just another one of life’s lessons.
Jilly Cooper, 75, author
My darling grandmother told me: “Whenever you meet
anybody, look for something nice to say about them, because even if
they’ve got a hideous face they might have fantastic ankles or lovely
hair, and compliments do cheer people up enormously.” She did cheer
people up and I always wanted to emulate her.
George Carey, 77, former Archbishop of Canterbury
On becoming Archbishop in 1991 a student of mine said:
“George, power changes people. Be yourself, always. Your integrity is
crucial to all you stand for. Value and honour all people and laugh,
often, at yourself and the ridiculous antics of the Church.”
Pritchett, 48, Telegraph cartoonist i.e.
Advice from my
grandmother: “Never grow old.”
Now the thing about all the above dos and don’ts ― fascinating as they
all are ― is that they are genetically based. For example, we normally
need critical advice at decisive moments, the very moments when our
thinking tends to be under extreme stress or pressure ― and at such moments our
default genetic settings kick in. And all the advice in the world counts
for nothing. We do what comes naturally.
For example, “never looking back in regret and moving on”
is built into our genetic make up. As is the gift of being able to
“cheer people up”. Interesting that Jilly Cooper said of an ugly person
that they might have “fantastic ankles or lovely hair” rather than “a
sunny disposition or a welcoming nature”.
Also built into our DNA is the quality of “being
yourself”, especially so when you become rich, powerful, famous ― as is
the ability, crucially, of being able to “laugh at yourself”. This is a
gift. You either have the ability ― or you don’t. You can never be
taught to laugh at yourself when truthfully, deep down, you feel a bit
of a fool and all you want to do is hide.
And finally, dear old
advice: never grow old. That is the one thing above all else that is
programmed into us at the moment of conception: we are all born either
young, middle-aged or old ... we all know children who are miniature
grown-ups, and elderly people who behave like kids; I am reliably
informed that I was born middle-aged, which was a bugger when young ―
but once I crossed 35 I’ve been way ahead of the game.
Be all that as it may, I guess this sums it all up:
Richard Madeley, 56, TV presenter
Passed on to me by
the playwright John Mortimer, who received it in turn from his father:
“All advice is useless.”
Now isn’t that the truth? However, there is a second kind of advice, which
is ever so useful. And that’s the sort of advice that you can ponder
and sleep on. and yes, you
realise that you really can apply it to your lifestyle.
I’ve picked out some of my
particular favourites, and I shall round off future smile
bulletins with an example...
Advice of the day
Stephen Bayley, 61, author, design guru
I have three
favourites: 1. The old Foreign Office directive: never tell a lie but
never tell the whole truth, and never miss an opportunity to go to the
lavatory. 2. From Henry David Thoreau: “Beware of all enterprises
requiring new clothes.” 3. From Jay McInerney: “Treat everyone you meet
as if you have secret information that they are about to become
Those are really wonderful, especially about never missing an
opportunity to go to the lavatory. When I plan to have an away morning or
afternoon ― say a dreaded shopping expedition or a business
meeting ― I make a point of
drinking hardly any liquids in the hours leading up to my jaunt.
Not that I am overwhelmed with a regular need to go for a
pee, but if I do need to spend a penny, I really can’t be bothered with
the hassle of a) finding a public toilet and b) making sure I’ve got
I always think it’s the mark of a truly civilised society
if there are plenty of public toilets ― and that they are clean and free
at the point of use; oh, and the other indicator of a civilised society
is having the Air Ambulance as part of the nation’s Ambulance service
rather than being dependant on charity.
Back with Stephen Bayley’s No 3: “Treat everyone you meet
as if you have secret information that they are about to become
Along the same lines, I’ve discovered that if you talk to
everyone you happen to end up in close proximity to while passing the
time of day, whether in a pub, on a train, in a slow moving queue... I
have found that, as a rule of thumb, one in every ten strangers will
eventually open up all sorts of unexpected and extraordinary doors for
Yes of course, often you will curse the moment you opened
your big mouth to speak to someone ― but the thought of that tenth
stranger you are likely to strike up a conversation with, well, it makes everything okay.
To be continued...
New Year’s Day 2013
Lucky for some
Happy New Year to you!
days the world welcomes the New Year and its extravagant
promises with ultra-spectacular fireworks displays.
For mega moons Australia, with its Sydney Harbour Bridge
and Opera House as a backdrop, had the field pretty much to itself.
Helped of course by the logistical fact that it was the first country to
welcome in the new year ― New Zealand and a few Pacific Islands
excepted, of course.
Oh, and in 2013, for just
the second time, residents in Samoa were also among the
first people to welcome in the new year ― rather than being the last.
The island country lost a day as it changed its time-zone at the end of December 2011 by
moving to the west of the International Date Line in an effort to boost
its economy by doing business with Australia and New Zealand on the same
day and thus avoiding confusion over weekends and holidays.
So for years Australia had this fantastic exposure on the
31st December/1st January. And still does. Slowly but surely though, other
countries realised that eye-catching fireworks displays were loved by
the camera. Colourful explosions offered up priceless exposure to a
Even London, which traditionally handed out some
sparklers and let off a few bangers and rockets, is now up there with
the best ― witness the Jubilee and Olympics displays of 2012.
Watching highlights of the 2013 efforts from around the
world, the one that really looked spectacular and I guess claimed first prize
came compliments of the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai, in particular the
tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifu. The display exploding
off that structure was quite something to behold.
However, as often happens, less is sometimes more.
The one picture that winked at me across a crowded
gallery and beckoned me to click and come on in ― indeed it also made the front page of the Independent
newspaper this very morning ― is the one coming up, and it duly claims pride of place on my
Off to a sparkling start
Revellers write the year 2013 with sparklers during Hogmanay street
party celebrations in Edinburgh
Now that’s what I call a smiley picture to welcome in the
New Year. Just four people and a some sparklers ― and I particularly enjoyed how the lady tracing the
perfectly captured. Definitely a 20 out of 13.
Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
.. Smile of the day 2012
(Apr-Jun) .. Smile of the
day 2012c (Jul-Sep) .. Smile
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Previous 2011 smiles:
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
.. Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
.. Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2010
(Jan to Jun) 2009
March to May '07
June to Aug '07
Sep to Dec '07
You are here, way out west,
aka Dodgy City
Previously on LOOK
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
of the day 2012c (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the day 2012
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
Smile of the Day 2010
2010 (Jan to Jun)
Sep to Dec '07
June to Aug '07
March to May '07
As it was in
ST DAVID'S DAY, 2007
Here's lookin' at you
400 Smiles A Day
What A Gas
400 Smiles A Day