LOOK YOU ~ a rolling scrapbook of life, the universe and nearly everything...
ARCHIVE 2014 - FEBRUARY

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POSTCARDS FROM
MY SQUARE MILE
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Updated: 11/08/2013

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

400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013



                                                                                        Design: Yosida

 
                                                                 ♫♫♫ TO SELF                            
It seems that the artist Leonardo da Vinci kept a notebook, Notes to Self, a list of “things to do today”: buy paper; charcoal; chalk ... describe tongue of woodpecker and jaw of crocodile...
     These are my Notes to Self, a daily record of the things that make me smile and which brighten up my day no end, whether read in a newspaper, seen on TV, heard on the radio, told in the pub, spotted in the supermarket, a good joke, a great story, a funny cartoon, a film clip, an eye-catching picture, something startling that nevertheless generates a spontaneous smile, curiosities spotted along my walks through the Towy Valley...
     This is a snapshot of life beyond the blue horizon...

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


Friday, February 28th

Where was Moses when the lights went out?

A remarkable satellite image has been released by the NASA Earth Observatory website...

Light and shade
 


The stark contrast between North and South Korea ...
the South glows bright next to its neighbour


North Korea ― which is of course ruled by supreme leader Cuddly Kim Jong-un ― is almost completely black appearing to show a distinct lack of power or energy supply.

Outside of the relatively bright lights of capital city Pyongyang, and a few other densely populated centres, the rest of the country ― which has a population of 24 million ― is pitch black, looking almost like a sea between South Korea and China.

If a picture paints a thousand words...

D-Fence

Yesterday I mentioned the tale of rugby-playing politicians. Here’s another curious news item with a political bent, again spotted in The Sunday Times:
 

Conservative MPs are being warned: keep your hands off Winston Churchill’s feet...

Churchill’s statue in Parliament

Tories rub the great statesman’s statue for good luck before entering the chamber (rival MPs touch Lloyd George and Clem Attlee respectively).

Commons officials, who say the practice is damaging the statues, have appealed in vain for MPs to stop. Now a protective fence is planned.

What is to be done? The MP Nicholas Soames is Churchill’s grandson. Would it help if he volunteered to stand in the lobby before big debates? Then Tory MPs could touch him instead.

Curiously, if you look closely at the above statue of Churchill you can spot the shine on the tip of his left boot, which Tory MPs presumably mistaken for a Genie lamp.

Doesn’t that explain precisely why the country is in a mess? Our politicians have to touch statues, as if they’re Genies, for good luck and guidance before legislating.

Mind you, over in North Korea the people have to rub Cuddly Kim Jong-un’s feet ― his actual feet, that is, not a statue.

Anyway, I felt I should add this:

Rub-a-dub-dub!
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?

The Cameron, the Clegg,
The elastic Miliband;
They all jumped out of a rotten manifesto
!
Turn ‘em out, knaves all three.
 

PS: I did send Ivor the Search Engine  out on the off chance of finding ‘Churchill coming out of a genie lamp’ ― Ivor came back with this, the insurance dog:


 

Mind you, Winston Churchill was known as the British bulldog. Oh yes!
 

Thursday, February 27th

Scrumbags

THIS curious piece from last weekend’s Sunday Times, compliments of Atticus:

England played Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday, but for the first time in 22 years there was no corresponding match between the country’s MPs. The Irish refused to travel to London, accusing one of the British players of having made an “off-colour” joke at the expense of an Irish team member last year.

It’s probably just as well. During that game, a 19-5 victory to Ireland, there were two broken legs and Tory MP Stephen Crabb ended up with his arm in a sling. And that was supposed to be a friendly.

Well, only the one thing interested me: what was that “off-colour” joke? So I sent Ivor the Search Engine  off on his travels ... no luck though. However, Ivor did come up with three possibilities.

Shaun shorn of dignity

Young Shaun was in his junior school class on the fringes of Belfast, when teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up: fireman, policeman, salesman, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker (“Oops, sorry Miss, it’s my mum that makes the candlesticks.”):

Anyway, young Shaun was being uncharacteristically quiet, so the teacher asked him about his father.

“My father’s an exotic dancer in a gay club in the City and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes, if the offer’s really good, he’ll go out with a man, rent a cheap room and ― well, they do things I’m not supposed to know about.”

The teacher hurriedly set the other children to work on some colouring, and then took young Shaun aside.

She asked him: “Is that really true about your father?”

“No, Miss,” said Shaun. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fib. My father’s a politician ― but I was just too embarrassed to say in front of the class.”

The urge to smack

Travelling in a train are ... the Irish republican politician Gerry Adams, the Mayor of Old London Town Boris Johnson, model Kate Moss, and famous Australian housewife Dame Edna Everage. The train happens to pass through a dark tunnel and the unmistakable sound of a fierce slap is heard. When they exit the tunnel Gerry Adams has a big red slap mark on his cheek.

     (1) Kate Moss thinks: “That horrible Irish politician wanted to touch me and by mistake he must have put
           his hand on Dame Edna, who in turn must have given me a right old slap."

     (2) Dame Edna Everage thinks: “This dirty Irish politician laid his hands on Kate and she smacked him.”

     (3) Gerry Adams thinks: “That bloody English Mayor chap put his hand on Kate and by mistake she slapped me.”

     (4) Boris Johnson thinks: “I hope there’s another tunnel soon so I can smack that dreadful Irish fellow again.”

Short-changed

Last year, one of the rugby-playing English MPs told the offended rugby-playing Irish MP that he used to like the fact that, before Ireland joined the Euro, the Irish punt rhymed with Irish politician.

Well, I think my money would be on that last one.

Home truths

Sticking with rugby, especially so the crucial game between Wales and England coming up in 10 days time, this quote from a former Secretary of England’s Rugby Football Union: “Our relationship with the Welsh is based on trust and understanding. They don’t trust us, and we don’t understand them---”

Many a true word etc...
 


Wednesday, February 26th

Stocks and shares are like sex

“A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.” Billionaire Warren Buffett,  83, whose investments have consistently beaten the stock market over the past 50 years, quotes late money manager Barton Biggs in advice for new investors.

Buffett added that new investors tend to buy shares when the markets are rising and optimism is high, only to get disillusioned when prices fall.

He advised investors to “keep things simple” by “accumulating shares over a long period, and never sell when the news is bad and stocks are well off their highs”.

Hm, if investing is like having sex, then it follows that these things too will eventually pass. What was it the journalist and jazz supremo George Melly said, when he realised, at the age of 60, that his extravagant libido was finally on the wane ― but was strangely euphoric? “I woke up one morning and felt as though I’d been unchained from a lunatic.”

Yes, greed, just like the sex urge, is an addiction.

Mind you, Warren at 83 is still going strong and can’t get enough of money ― $58.5 Billion and counting ― and neither age nor prostrate cancer has unchained him from that lunatic called greed.

He does have a thing about sex-related quotes though: “A great reputation is like virginity. It can be preserved but not restored.”

Excellent quote mind, especially so as he said it to Piers Morgan who, as we recall, lost his ‘virginity’ when he was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror  after the newspaper conceded that photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner were fake.

And of course, a generation ago the BBC was trusted, not just here in Britain but around the world ― and its reputation was lost with the Savile scandal and everything else that has surfaced since. Talk about loosing trust, eh?

PS: The ‘sex’ intro photo at the top is turning into one of my handiest signposts.

Which reminds me: there was a thread of letters in The Daily Telegraph  about what women do with their wedding dresses once past their ‘use by’ date (the dresses, that is). I liked this, in particular the online response:

Something old...

SIR – It is not true that all wedding dresses are worn only once. I wore my wedding dress on our 25th, 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries.
Freda Poole, Farley Hill, Berkshire

One Last Try: With apologies to the writer, perhaps this is a glimpse of a Daily Telegraph letter, dated
February 2064:
     SIR – It is not true that all wedding dresses are worn only once. I wore my wedding dress on our 25th, 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries.
Fred Poole

I also spotted a thread of letters about us men and our beards. However, I enjoyed this online response...

Fairy Hanny: There was a young lad who joined the navy and like many others decided to grow a beard ― he wrote home after about six months and enclosed a photo of himself with his beard. In the letter he said: “Don’t you think it makes me look like a count?”
     His father shook his head and said: “Six months in the navy ― and he still can’t spell.”


Finally, another Telegraph  letter that raised a smile:

Veggie poser

SIR – In hospital, contemplating my lunch of grey mince and overcooked sprouts, I looked with envy at the patient in the next bed who was tucking into a plate of rolls and butter, cheese, tomato and lettuce, dates and a big rosy apple. I asked her if she was a vegetarian. She replied, “No, I just tell them I am ― you get much better food!
Gillian Wynn-Ruffhead, Montgomery


Now you just know that that makes sense.

 

Tuesday, February 25th
 

      TODAY, a quick stroll along the shady side of the street ― well, I do have to regularly exercise and exorcise a significant juvenile DNA strand embedded within my genetic code.

So where better to start than with the trusty Sign Language gallery, those marvellous sights spotted by travellers as they wander and wonder at the magic of the world about us.

For your eyes only

Spotted in Kuwait by Ghada Al-Bahar

And what a juxtaposition I have coming up ― I am particularly charmed by the jocular ocular double entendre ― but first, a quote heard on Radio Wales  this very morning:

“A double entendre does not exist until it has been dipped in the rich sauce of the dirty mind.”
Terry Victor, lexicographer and editor of The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, quotes English novelist and journalist Angela Carter (1940-1992).

So, sauce at the ready?

A flash in the panhandle of
Sochi’s Olympic flame


Spotted during the closing ceremony of the
successful Winter Olympics of 2014

I’m sayin’ nuthin’. I shall now make my excuses and leave.

But not before saying thanks for popping by. Do come again.
 


Monday, February 24th

Putin on the Ritz

“HOT. COOL. YOURS.” It was the Winter Olympic Games’ rather fitting motto.

Or, as the intriguingly doolally Swiss-Russian Iouri ‘iPod’ Podladtchikov put it as he clutched his snowboard halfpipe gold: “Hot. Cool. And it’s f------ mine!

Well, you have to be essentially doolally anyway to perform these extreme sports. In snowboarder speak, it was ‘iPod’ who dethroned the Flying Tomato (American Shaun White, the red hot fav).

Iouri Podladtchikov’s nickname is ‘iPod’, a clever play on his name. He is noted for the move he calls ‘YOLO Flip’, meaning ‘You Only Live Once’. Marvellous.

His parents aren’t snowboarding fans. Both are mathematicians, and his father is a professor of geophysics. However, they support his endeavours and were “excited to hear about his gold medal”. Even more marvellous.

Apropos ‘iPod’s’ reaction to winning gold, occasionally, just occasionally, the proper deployment of an obscenity sounds just right. Most times it doesn’t. For example, “I only told you to blow the f------ doors off!”, would never have worked. Not least because the line would not have been endlessly quoted in the media, certainly it wouldn’t have been used in the closing ceremony of London 2012.

Which brings me neatly back to Sochi 2014.

So startling was the youthful brashness of the slopestylers and the freestylers as they brought their ‘wow’ factor to proceedings, I did wonder if Tony Blair had offered the Russians some input with his expertise on how to sex things up for public consumption.

The next event to hit the Olympic slopes, they say, is ‘Big Air’, a more extreme form of slopestyling. Ever more dangerous and thrilling.

Yet as crashes littered the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park (described as the happiest place at the Games), it was sobering to think that in a Munich hospital, the handsome Russian ski cross athlete Maria Komissarova was still lying with a broken back.

They are a different breed of athlete in a different world and with a different language.

The good news? Britain, celebrating six Top 10 finishes in ski and snowboard events, now thrive in this mad, mad world with the likes of new personalities like Jenny Jones.

According to Mike Hay, Team GB’s chef de mission, thrilled with the record-equalling haul of four medals and 14 top 10 finishes in all events, they look like the future. “That’s where we should focus, where we have real talent. And that talent comes from the snowdomes across our country.”

In the end, after all the fears and the controversies and the politicking, Sochi was all about the athletes.

But surprisingly, the best laugh of the games came during the closing ceremony. Much fun was had by all when that rotten, refusenik snowflake, one of the five Olympic rings, refused to open during the opening ceremony (appropriately symbolising, perhaps, the fact that Russian did not quite embrace the Olympic spirit of tolerance).

What made the media have such fun was of course that for the television viewer watching Russian state TV channel Rossiya 1, it cut from the reluctant snowflake to flawless rehearsal footage.

Well, we learnt, not so much that the Russians do indeed possess a sense of humour, but more importantly, are prepared to laugh at themselves...


Dancers mock the moment the ring failed to open – and after a suitable pause ...
they danced to complete the five rings

Don’t ring us

As always, it’s the silly thoughts that really tickle the old funny bone. There is something quite noteworthy about a medal ceremony within a closing ceremony.

For the Summer Olympics, the men’s marathon gets the honour. For the Winter Games, it’s the Women’s 30 Kilometre Cross Country Mass Start race, and the Men’s 50 Kilometre similarly named event. Must be something about these endurance events: race a long time ― get the biggest audience for your medal ceremony.

Both medal presentations were unusual in as much that both ceremonies featured clean-sweeps.


Marit Bjoergen from Norway celebrates her gold medal. She is one
of the most accomplished Winter Olympians of all time, with 10
medals, six of them gold. Well deserving of such a medal ceremony

Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach presented the medals, and gave each Norwegian girl a kiss on both cheeks.

The next medal presentation was a Russian clean sweep in the Men’s 50 Kilometre Cross Country Free Mass Start ― yes, who does name these sports?

Given that during the opening ceremony, Bach had made comments about discrimination and embracing diversity ― I was disappointed that the German didn’t stop the world in its tracks and kiss the Russian medallists. Can you imagine?

After all, fraternal kisses among socialist leaders were not unusual ― my black and white television memories are awash with Russian leaders kissing everyone in sight. And of course there’s the famous Brezhnev-Honecker kiss. What was the joke at the time?

What did Soviet leader Brezhnev declare following that mother of all smackers with the East German President? “As a politician, rubbish ... but what a good kisser!

As we would say here in Wales: Oh Thomas bach, you really missed a trick there, look you.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Khutor’, as in Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, came up as ‘Chute’, would you believe ― which is memorably ironic for such a winter playground. In Russia.
 


Sunday, February 23rd

From Russia with love

WELL, the final day of the Winter Olympics is here ― so what has lingered in the memory, from a Brit Award point of view, that is?

But before I go there, this comment appeared a week ago in the You say columns of The Sunday Times  Culture magazine’s television and radio guide:

Move along there

Why are we subjected to hours of “bowls with housework” (aka curling) when there’s fast and furious ice hockey on?
Paul Garforth, Berwick


Now here in the UK, curling is a sport that essentially has its footprint and foothold in Scotland, which is why both our male and female teams over there in Sochi were Scottish.

So I was amused that the above letter comes from Berwick (-upon-Tweed, I presume), a town in the county of Northumberland, which is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated just 2½ miles south of the Scottish border.

Whatever, I thought I would respond, so I submitted this comment:

What happened?

Ice hockey may indeed be “fast and furious”, as Paul Garforth suggests, but the trouble is, I have to wait for the replay following a particularly exciting sequence ― such as the puck hitting the back of the net ― just to see what actually happened. Now with curling, and to slightly paraphrase Joyce Grenfell: “Stately as a galleon, it sails across the ice…”

As it happens, there was another letter in today’s Culture magazine on the same subject:

What happened? Take 2

The BBC2 coverage of the Winter Olympics was superb, but for one glaring omission: the lack of slow-motion replay for the curling.
Tony O’Sullivan

Are you sure, Tony? Something tells me we that we did indeed see some slo-mo action ― but that would, of course, have spoilt a rather splendid joke.

Sochi memories are made of this

So what does  linger in the memory?

Well, there was the unbridled joy of Jenny “It’s ridiculous! That’s me! From Bristol!” Jones winning bronze in the Snowboard Slopestyle, Britain’s first ever Olympic medal on snow (as opposed to ice ― there’s a black-ice joke lurking in there, somewhere).

And the marvellous girl-next-door persona of gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold, here carrying the flag in the closing ceremony:

                     “It’s been an indescribable experience here in Sochi,” Lizzy said. “I came to these Games with the goal of competing to the best of my ability, doing my country proud, and supporting my team-mates across all of Team GB.”

Move to the top of The Class of 2014, Lizzy.

Oh, and how could I possibly forget characterful farmer and father of Lizzy, Clive Yarnold, resplendent in Crocodile Dundee hat sporting the Union flag...

                                                                                                 ...and pictured here with wife Judith and daughter Katie, declaring that it is the duty of every parent to embarrass their children, especially their daughters.

Indeed, he and Judith appear to have brought up three astonishingly level-headed girls ― which suggests that that Yarnold slice of advice should go into the ‘How to bring up your kids’ manual.

Back with the Olympics, I also vividly recall the intense concentration in the ice-cool blue eyes of the aforementioned Scottish girl curlers, captured in mesmerising close-up detail by the television camera.

And of course poor old Elise Christie, forever in the blue-on-blue line of fire, penalised in all three disciplines she took part in.

So, with apologies to the ghosts of both Oscar Wilde and Ian Fleming: To be disqualified the first time may be regarded as a misfortune; to be disqualified the second time looked like carelessness; to be disqualified the third time suggests enemy action ― but enemy action from the enemy within.

Yet, even Elise’s tales of woe, unsurprisingly, made her short track races unmissable theatre.

From Russia with love, indeed. Over to you, Matt:
                                                                              
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVuL_zgCi4U
 


Saturday, February 22nd

The love of money is...?

JUST occasionally, a rather serious political cum philosophical conundrum will generate a generous smile. For example, this recent letter, compliments of The Daily Telegraph:

Say again

SIR – Have I got this right? David Cameron’s “moral mission” is based on the idea that the only way to motivate poor people is to give them less money and the only way to motivate rich people is to give them more money.
Nigel Pedley, Matlock, Derbyshire

Which drew this online comment...

The Central Scrutiniser: Nigel Pedley ― No, the principle is that you motivate poor people by giving them an incentive to work rather than an incentive not to work, and you motive rich people by allowing them to keep more of the money they earn rather than taking more of it from them and giving it to the people who do not work.


Hm. I vividly remember the time when our top bankers were paid extraordinarily high salaries, and all because, we were assured, that “if we wanted the very best people running the show then we had to pay the very best wages”.

Well, it was the very best that brought the country to its knees ― and all because of personal greed. Despite their already extravagant wages they were prepared to cook the books to generate every higher profits, which in turn would boost their bonuses into the stratosphere.

And of course these exceptionally clever people brought the whole house of cards tumbling down.

In 2014, the banks are still paying huge wages and bonuses to attract the very best spivs around, those solely attracted by the most humungous carrot on offer. Unbelievable.

Then today, as if by magic, this story has surfaced and is all over the shop:

                  
BBC DJ claimed to be car dealer to avoid tax

Chris Moyles claimed to be second-hand CAR DEALER to save £1 million in celebrity tax avoidance scheme

Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles claimed to be a second-hand car dealer to save himself from paying HMRC £1 million in tax.

A tax court duly named Moyles as having taken part in a scheme called ‘working wheels’ which counted ‘450 fund managers, celebrities and other high earners between 2006 and 2008’ as members...

Yes of course, Moyles has never dealt in second-hand cars. Indeed, he has publicly admitted his “mistake” and said he had “learnt a valuable lesson”.

I’m not sure “valuable” is the word he should have used. Expensive would be more apt because you don’t need a degree in anything to deduce that he’s going to receive the mother of all tax demands from HMRC.

Oh yes, just to add the sublime to the ridiculous, I see that footballer Wayne Rooney has just signed a 5½ year deal at a cool £300,000 a week. Wonderful.

I guess if we asked those ‘450 fund managers, celebrities and other high earners between 2006 and 2008’ ― that was in the period leading up to the financial crash, remember ― how much is enough, they would all answer “Just a little bit more”.

But what is most extraordinary about that ‘working wheels’ fiddle is, that not a single one of them, despite having never been an Arthur Daley trading in second-hand cars, sensed the ambush they were riding into as they approached the pass.

Unbelievable. And so smiley in its shameless greed.

Yes, the love of money is indeed the root of all doolallyness.

 

Friday, February 21st

The conjunction of Moon, Venus and Mars
 – as seen from Canada, 1st Dec 2002

A word in your award

This, from The Guardian  newspaper:

‘Scotland, stay with us’ ― David Bowie weighs into independence debate at Brits

Singer gives statement through Kate Moss, who collected his best British male award
 

And this is how BBC Online  reported it ― oh yes, a point of order: the show was shown on ITV:

Veteran star David Bowie, 67, is named best British male at the Brit Awards in London ― but the live TV show scores its lowest viewing figures since live broadcasting of the show replaced pre-recordings in 2007

N
ow it’s a show I’ve never watched; however, I was drawn by the headlines generated in its 2014 wake. This report, again from The Guardian:

David Bowie capped his surprise musical comeback by winning best British male at the Brit Awards on Wednesday night, using the occasion to make an equally unexpected intervention in the Scottish independence debate

The reclusive star did not attend the Brits ceremony at London’s O2 Arena, choosing to remain at home in Manhattan, where he lives a low-key existence with his supermodel wife, Iman, and their 13-year-old daughter.

Presenting the award, Noel Gallagher, looking particularly glam in his jeans and trademark jacket, told the audience: “You didn’t think he would actually be here? He is too cool for this shit.”

Instead he sent the model Kate Moss, billed as his “representative on earth”, to accept the award on his behalf.

Kate walked to the stage looking cooler than cool wearing Bowie’s original Ziggy Stardust costume ― first worn at his 1972 Rainbow Concert.

Reading a statement on behalf of the singer, Moss said: “Good evening ladies and gentleman, David has asked me to say this: In Japanese myth, the rabbits from my old costume that Kate is wearing, live on the Moon.
     ‘Kate comes from Venus and I from Mars, so that’s nice. I’m completely delighted to have a Brit Award for being the best male ― but I am, aren’t I Kate? I think it’s a great way to end the day.
     ‘Thank you very, very much. And Scotland: stay with us.’.

 

Major TomTom to Planet Earth


The conjunction of Moon, Venus and Mars –
as seen from the O2 Arena, 19th Feb 2014

Oh dear, you just have to smile. Anyway, here are some choice online comments from both Guardian  and Telegraph...

severnboar: Following David Bowie’s example, I have just written to The Queen to say that I have asked Naomi Campbell to collect my well-deserved knighthood when it is awarded. I have also warned her that I have requested that Naomi have a quiet word about the fate of the Elgin Marbles.

Mosstrooper: Considering Bowie hasn’t paid tax in Britain since 1976, what has it got to do with him? Perhaps he should stick to what he knows best ... wearing women’s underwear.

Dickfrancis: I’d be interested to hear Bowie’s new single ... Donald Where’s Your Troosers.

Gelert: Sean Connery, resident of the Bahamas, tells Scots to vote Yes.
               David Bowie, resident of Switzerland, asks Scots to vote No.

Dune1959: I think the more interesting comment came from Billy Connolly, who, despite being determined not to try and use his fame to influence anyone (good for him, take note Sean Connery) did let slip he has more in common with a welder in Liverpool than a Highland farmer, without disrespecting the latter.
     I think that is one of the best arguments for the Union I have seen.

Corneilius: As someone from Liverpool I would suggest a welder from Liverpool has more in common with a Highland farmer than most of the occupants of the City of London or the Home Counties.
     Run for it Scotland, run as fast as you can and don’t stop running until you get away from them.

Yep, I enjoyed those comments. My thoughts?

Well, if  Neil Armstrong could deliver “That’s one small step for a man” live from the surface of the moon, it seems strange that 45 years on Major TomTom (coo-ee, over here, David) needed his Earthly Representative to instruct all those taking part in the latest Scottish Play to “Stay with us”.

What is more, do you suppose that when David Bowie electronically sent his message of goodwill to the Brit Awards from his home in Manhattan, via his “representative on earth”,  he accidentally clicked on Moss instead of Moses?

However, on the plus side, how four little words, casually thrown into the mix, can generate acres and acres of comment which neither Bowie nor the Brit Awards would have attracted otherwise.

 

Thursday, February 20th
 
 

Headline of the day
(Compliments of Telegraph Online)

       
‘Dots of sauce on a plate ― culinary masturbation. Lose 10 points’

Anthony Peregrine, our expat expert on the French proposes a new scoring system for the Michelin restaurant guide

Are the French losing their taste for the Michelin guide? Leading food critics are increasingly sticking the knife into Michelin...

I did notice that later in the day the Telegraph  had removed the ‘culinary masturbation’ bit from their click-link ― I’m not sure why because it really is a perfectly amusing turn of phrase to describe those ridiculous blobs of sauce on a plate (blobs that might well make you go blind while searching for them).

The child in all of nature

Do animals experience ‘fun’ the way we humans do, especially so the kids of the species? If nature is inexorably locked in a battle for the survival of the fittest, where did all the frolicking come from?

It’s an interesting question, and has been endlessly explored on programmes such as Springwatch, Autumnwatch...

For example, watching young foxes at play; or adult crows riding strong wind currents and diving toward the ground before pulling out at the last, just like planes performing aerobatics.

Specialist Chris Packham believes they are not ‘playing’, at least not in an anthropomorphic sense. Everything that looks to us like play has a specific reason.

The fox cubs are learning the art of protecting themselves, and of course, the need to learn to hunt; the crows are perhaps showing who is the most eye-catching and natural leader of the group, or indeed part of a sexual display to establish who will make the best mate.

Experiments have shown that play-deprived rats quickly “succumb to rat-rage or scarper, quaking, to a corner; and the lack of play is responsible, because if you let an isolated rat fool around for just one hour daily, it turns into a normal chilled dude; and there’s also evidence that primates (including humans) behave in the same way”.

More of that fascinating quote, via a link, later.

So who knows. But what ‘the experts’ do say does make sense to those of us who stand and stare.

Well, today a 70-second video clip has gone viral ― if you haven’t already seen it, the link will follow.

Don’t worry be happy

Acting the goat


Out with sheep, in with the goats ... Meet the Goats:
there’s Billy Goat, Nanny Goat
and the kids

The French Family Chèvre discover a sheet of bendy metal in a field ― a shelter for the animals from the elements? ― which they turn into a sort of trampoline which provides them with endless amusement.

The Billy Goat, on the left, is tethered, which he clearly finds frustrating, and is ready to head-butt members of the family that come sliding his way.

Here’s the link to the brief but exceedingly entertaining 5* video...

Billy Goat Gruff guards against the Troll:
 

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58-atNakMWw


What a joyful video that is.

It does raise a fascinating query though. Are they just curious? Overwhelmed with playfulness (including the adult)? Learning a few tricks of the goat trade? Or are they perhaps inherent surfers?

It certainly looks as if they’re having fun ― and the surfing adult does indeed have a wonderful sense of balance.

But what is intriguing about inherent goat behaviour is, when left to their own devices, they will always look for the highest point in their vicinity ― and climb it.

Whatever, it’s a marvellous video clip and deservedly makes my smile of the day. So much so I’m going to add the link to my Desert Island Video Jukebox...

I must also share with you this quote from Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593):

            My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
            Shall with their goat-feet dance an antic hay.

                                                                             
GAVESTON, Edward the Second

Finally, and apropos the above behavioural play-deprived rats quote, I came upon an online article headed ‘So you think you know why animals play...’

Here’s a comment, which I think sums up the piece perfectly...

billsmith: Thank you, SciAm, for showing that an article written in an easy-to-read, casual tone can still convey facts without fluff and provide copious journal citations to back up those facts.

Yes indeed, I commend the article to the house:
                              
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/05/17/so-you-think-you-know-why-animals-play/
 


Wednesday, February 19th

Can you tell which One is the fake?

A CLUE: One features rather virtuously on a stamp; the other has a rather viraginous stamp (“Shut the f*** up” has none of the elegance of Mandy Rice Davies’s “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”, but Helen Mirren’s effort will doubtless make it into a F*** U2 Quotations Dictionary).

Anyway, quiz time: which One is fake?

The Moving Finger wags; and, having wagged---


---was discreetly chopped off shortly after
(see Royal Finger Cutter at the top)

And I bet you were wondering what the hell that torture instrument up there was.

Actually, it’s the ultimate handcrafted cigar cutter.

Trust me, I’m a doctor

Back on February 10 I featured a series of Letters to the Editor,  about a doctor, his stethoscope and the police.

Dr Liz Sowler from East Lothian told the tale of her father, a doctor in a small town in Scotland, speeding to a medical emergency, and he was caught by a police car: “He waved his stethoscope hopefully out of the car window,” said Dr Liz, “and the police overtook him, waving a pair of handcuffs as they passed.”

Smashing tale, but Sue Ware from Neath in South Wales had heard the same story but it was a different doctor in a different town in the Usk valley.

Well, a couple more letters duly appeared in The Times:

Urban myth

Sir, I first heard the anecdote in 1973, when it featured a consultant from the Birmingham Accident Hospital.
FRED TOLLEY, Surgeon Commodore RN (ret’d)
Barão de São João, Portugal

Canadian myth

Sir, The stethoscope/handcuff story has a long history. I first heard it in Toronto in 1970.
MICHAEL YOUNG, Cardiff


Given that the earliest recorded date of the tale, as detailed in the Letters columns of The Times, is 1970, there is nothing that does not persuade me that the father of Dr Liz Sowler was indeed the doctor involved in the original incident.

Unless of course someone out there really does know differently.

But how about this to put a smile on your face, again from The Times:

Benefit of doubt

Sir, A friend once parked illegally in Bude, Cornwall. Returning to his car, he found a policeman with notebook and pencil in hand. “Sorry, sir,” he said, “but I shall have to book you” and duly took my friend’s name and address. “Occupation, sir?” he said; my friend replied “Physicist”.
     After a short pause the officer snapped his notebook shut and said “Then we’ll say no more about it, sir”.
     My friend was left wondering whether his good fortune was because the officer couldn’t spell “physicist” or had misheard it for “physician”.
KEITH ALSOP, Devizes, Wiltshire


Five stars, no problem. And a golden stethoscope to hang above Keith Alsop
s mantelpiece.
 


 

Tuesday, February 18th

Rock ‘n’ Roll @ Sochi

I MUST say, the Winter Olympic Games are turning out to be exceedingly entertaining, much of it down, it strikes me, to the new sports that have been added to give the whole proceedings a bit of sexed-up glamour (Tony Blair has a lot to answer for).

There’s the curiously named Halfpipe Skiing (or freeski halfpipe), which is astonishingly acrobatic. But best of all is the Snowboard Cross, a competition in which a group of six snowboard racers start simultaneously atop an inclined course.

They go bombing down over a series of features ― moguls (no, not David Attenborough taking 40-winks on the slopes), obstacles, banks and jumps ― amazingly spectacular. Unsurprisingly, the event is a carnage-strewn affair.

Claire Balding referred to it as the rock ‘n’ roll event of the Sochi games. And I guess she is right. I mean, take a look at this...

Cleared for take-off

Staying upright is much harder than it looks, especially so when the racers
give the impression of flying through the air with the greatest of ease
 

Where’s the salt shaker?

Actually, at first glance it looks like a time-lapse image, rather than a tailgating of snowboarders concentrating on throwing salt over the tail of the racer in front. Wonderful picture though. The action shot of the Games?

I’ve also been looking back at some other great images from Sochi ― and I have to say, I like this from the opening ceremony:

The horses whisper

The Troika ... seemingly pulling the sun toward Britain fingers crossed!

Jingle bells

Troika means a Russian vehicle, usually a sleigh, pulled by a team of three horses.

That gives me an excuse to add a piece of music to my Desert Island Video Jukebox, the Christmas music
selection ― weeeeell, only 10 months to go:

Yes, Prokofiev’s Troika, as atmospheric a piece of festive music as you could wish for while quietly dreaming of a White Christmas:
                    
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKCw03cY9zE
 


Monday, February 17th

One for the road
(but whatever can it all mean?)

Short back and sides

ANOTHER clutch of marvellously smiley signs spotted by folk while on their travels. The above ‘Hair today, gone tomorrow’ notice spotted in Bangladesh.

Then these two, which compliment each other in a surprising way.

Mind your head!

From a Jack to a King

Spotted in Colombia by Tony Kemp Jones

Spotted in Brixham, Devon, by Ken Andrew

Now if the above had said ‘HUMP AHEAD’ ― well, it would probably indicate a brothel or a dogging spot.

Best move on, I guess. However, the ‘SHORT CUT’ sales pitch is pretty much perfect. And so funny. Not so much from a Jack to a King as from a Dodd to a Clooney.

And talking of Mr George Timothy Clooney (Timothy Clooney? LOL!):

A curse on your Marbles
(“Language, Timothy!”)

The row began when George Timothy Clooney, 52, American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter and a fellow who seemingly can drop a woman’s knickers at 40 paces, was asked about some Greek sculptures or other.

The Elgin Marbles, I learn, were taken to Britain from the Parthenon in the 19th century. During a press conference to promote Clooney’s new film, The Monuments Men, inspired by the true story of a team of soldiers on a mission to rescue valuable artwork stolen by the Nazis during the invasion of Europe, old Georgie Porgie Puddin’ and Hairy Pie  declared that they should be returned to Greece...

“Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney’s marbles. Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Goering himself had plans to plunder the British Museum.”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, criticises the actor for suggesting that Britain should return the Elgin Marbles to their place of origin. Johnson also claimed the actor was “advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London’s cultural treasures”.

Much as I admire Boris, that quote of his didn’t really make much sense to a simple soul like me. Unsurprisingly, Clooney has come back.

He dismissed comments made about him by Boris as “too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies”.

Clooney told the Huffington Post:  “I’m a great fan of the mayor, and I’m sure my right honourable friend had no real intention of comparing me to Hitler. I’d chalk it up to a little too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies. I’ve found myself in the same spot a time or two so I hold no ill will.”

Very good: George 1 Boris 0. And I tend to agree with Georgie Porgie’s commendation to the House.

However, listening to Clooney offer up advice apropos the Elgin Marbles, I am reminded of the anthropologist who asked Chief Sitting Bull what the Native Americans ― or Red Indians as they were then known ― called America before the White Man arrived: “Ours
!

 

Sunday, February 16th

Take a pew!

YESTERDAY I smiled at one of the cleverest tweets of 2013.

Today ― well, I feel this should really be a tweet too, but rather, it would have to be one of the least wittiest tweets of 2014...

Meet the Chair: Mrs Odd Job
(hubby was in Goldfinger, where he got a hat and got a head)


It’s a neat trick – but doesn’t she get tired? The Chair, that is.
 

Abramovich girlfriend sparks outrage after posing on naked
 ‘black woman’ chair for fashion website blog

Seat of Power

An image of Dasha Zhukova, the partner of Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, sitting on a chair made from the mannequin of a half-naked black woman with legs in the air, recently sparked a predictable internet firestorm after it was published online ― on Martin Luther King Day.

In the image the 32-year-old Dasha Zhukova, looking so delightfully prim and proper, perches on the extremely life-like black mannequin.

In the crazy, grim world of fashion photography, this does seem a step beyond the doolally, even in my scrapbook.

The editor of the magazine interviewing Zhukova, Miroslava Duma, has since issued an apology and deleted the picture from Instagram and cropped out the chair on fashion website Buro 24/7  after the photo sparked an angry backlash.

The photoshoot was for an interview with fashion website Buro 24/7  about Ms Zhukova’s new magazine Garage, where she is editor-in-chief. (Ivor the Search Engine  tells me that Garage  is a bi-annual magazine featuring art, fashion and visual amusement.)

Hm, so was the chair picture meant to be amusing ha-ha or amusing peculiar? Best of all though, what on earth was she thinking when she agreed to sit in the hot seat? Did nothing warn her of the ambush round the next corner?

Oh yes, do you suppose the chair comes in any other colour? White, for example?

Well, yes it does, because the chair is similar to the fibreglass piece “Chair” produced by Allen Jones, 76, a British pop artist best known for his sculptures...

Well, it nearly  comes in white.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Dasha’, as in Dasha Zhukova, the partner of Roman Abramovich, came up as ‘Dacha’ ― which, amusingly, is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes. Now how funny is that? Apart from all the houses, Abramovich has become the world’s greatest spender on luxury yachts, and has been linked to five yachts in what the media labels ‘Abramovich’s Navy’.
 


Saturday, February 15th

Ne’er a crossword

CROSSWORDS are not my thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve never tackled one in my life. Or more correctly, I’ve never completed a crossword.

Probably, somewhere along the line, I would have had a go ― after all, I do enjoy the clever deployment of words, especially so in an amusing and smiley context ― but crosswords are something you perform within the privacy of your own mind, which is not really my thing. I like to share my silly thoughts.

Nevertheless, I’m full of admiration for those who are good at it.

Which all brings me neatly to what was one of the wittiest tweets of 2013 (only just caught up with it, but well worth the wait):

@JamieDMJ


“Is it me or are the puzzles on
The Guardian website really easy?”

That is exceptionally clever.

The sort of thing that, once you’ve seen it, you wonder why you never thought of it yourself.

From crosswords to crossroads.

On September 18, Scottish voters will be asked the yes/no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Now that’s what I really call arriving at the crossroads. Or more correctly, a fork in the road. Will the Scots fork off to the right? Or disappear down the wrong?

I have not really followed the arguments, except in headlines and highlights. Probably because Alex Salmond, the current First Minister of Scotland, has the face, voice and body language that puts me on red alert...

 

My instincts, rightly or wrongly, warn me that here lies a shark, a polecat, a sparrow hawk, a grey squirrel, a roundabout i.e. a person to be approached with great care, navigated at arms length with wits on full alert ― and exited with a huge sigh of relief.

In other words, a born troublemaker. After all, he is a politician.

To that end, a few newspaper letters tickled my intuitive prejudices, the first from The Sunday Times:

Currency exchange

Dominic Lawson [columnist] was quite correct to ask that Alex Salmond produce a plan B for a Scottish currency.
     The only quibble I have with the article ― as many Scots would ― is that the appeal to Salmond in the last sentence should not have read, “Come on, big fella, put your money where your mouth is”, but rather, “Come on, fella, put your money where your big mouth is”.
Phil Johnson, Bishopton, Renfrewshire

This, from The Daily Telegraph:

Scottish liquidity

SIR – If Scotland feels left out of the sterling area, Alex Salmond could consider monetary union with Armenia. Its currency is the dram, which should suit nicely.
Mark Horne, Odiham, Hampshire


And of course, if the whole independence thingy goes ahead and it then starts to come apart at the seams, well, the Scots could change the name of the currency to the wee dram.

Here’s lookin’ at you, Alex...

Finally, and again from The Sunday Times:

Question Time

Prime Minister David Cameron says stick with nurse, while Salmond says go for it. Which of them is brave, brilliant and buccaneering?
Alasdair Frew-Bell, Manchester.


Hm, so will the Scottish people remain in the ward with Nurse Cameron, or end up in intensive care with Dr Salmond?

Only time, ladies and gentlemen please, will tell.


Spell-cheque corner:
‘JamieDMJ’, the tweeter who posted the crossword at the top, came up as ‘Jimmied’ or ‘Jemmied’ ― to force open (a door, window, etc) with a jimmy.

Intriguingly, Jimmy is a generic name to call a Scotsman you don’t particularly want to refer to by actual name i.e. Cameron to Salmond: I’ll stick a spoke in your independence wheel, Jimmy!
 


St Valentine’s Day, 2014

A rotten/clever tease of a Valentine's message,
spotted in the Launceston Examiner, Tasmania
and is Alex male or female, butch or effete?

I won’t send roses

“IF A man presented me with a bunch of catkins he’d just been out in the wind and the rain to pick, just for me ― I’d be putty in his hands.” A lady on the wireless emphasising that overwhelmingly the flowers that will be presented today ― particularly roses ― will have incurred an alarming number of air miles before arriving in our shops.

Said lady went on to point out that there really are many wild flowers out there right now, especially catkins, those dangly, furry flower clusters of tiny leaves and petal-less flowers, produced by trees such as willows, birches, alders, and poplars.

Yep, it’s the thought that counts (see further down for a bird-in-the-hand, with catkins: Flower Power Gallery).

And of course, this song:

                             I won’t send roses – from Mack & Mabel and sung by Robert Preston

 

Fen club

Sir, Here in Norfolk we are used to “doing different”, but this notice in a local pub raised a few eyebrows as it seems a bit racy even for us ― “Valentine’s Day Romantic Dinner, £49.50 for 2 tickets, Extra person £25.”
ROGER BURFORD, Norwich

Normal for Norfolk

Sir, The Norfolk pub offering tickets for an extra person at its romantic Valentine’s Day dinner understands, as did Miss Austen, that a single lady dining with a gentleman is in need of a chaperon.
FIONA PUSHMAN, Basingstoke, Hants


Hm, I like the surname, Fiona.

And how about this? Froggy speaks with forked-tongue:

Grab a bite

Sir, I note with interest that Raymond Blanc advocates not eating after 7pm (“Wine-loving British women ‘are too fat’”, Feb 4), yet his restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, does not open until 6.45pm.
WENDY BRIERLEY, Nether Alderley, Cheshire


All the above, compliments of The Times  Letters page.

        Gold run: Fizzy Lizzy slides to Sochi triumph

Finally, a nod and a wink in the direction of Lizzy Yarnold, 25, from Sevenoaks, who tonight won Britain’s first gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics, beating American Noelle Pikus-Pace in the skeleton (where you hurtle down an ice-track on a tea tray, head first, at 80mph).

Clearly never one to get carried away by the occasion, she declared herself “chuffed” to have struck gold on Valentine’s Day...


Nice touch: Lizzy holds a red envelope during the flower
ceremony after her win – before handing it to James Roach,
her boyfriend (a technician with the British bobsleigh team)

Thirty years to the day after Torvill and Dean’s gold medal in Sarajevo, Lizzy succeeded her landlady Amy Williams, who won the same event in Vancouver four years ago, by sliding to victory almost a second ahead of her nearest rival (a second is as good as a minute in this slide-rule sport).

A word, too, for the other man in Lizzy’s life: Mervyn, the sled.

The name of the sled has its origins in the summer job she took with Hardy Underwriting, an insurance syndicate at Lloyd’s of London, where she met senior executive Mervyn Sugden, of Haslemere, Surrey. He was so impressed by her fortitude that he sponsored her on the early stages of her career.

It also tells us something important about Yarnold’s personality that she buys her Christmas presents in the summer. Preparation, control and steeliness are her watchwords. (Preparation, control and steeliness sound like three key ingredients essential for an ideal simple life, as explored in yesterdays smile of the day.).

Nothing is left to chance. She even secreted that Valentine card in a friend’s bag before the race.

Back in Haslemere, meanwhile, the real Mervyn was wondering whether her other talents might now be put to use. “She was working in the catastrophe modelling team,” he said. “I don’t know whether she can tell us when it’s going to stop raining.”
 


Thursday, February 13th

Looking good

A MATURE-SOUNDING Welsh lady called Dorothy was on the wireless, telling tales from yesteryear about typical Welsh Valley humour in her home village. It was a story her grandmother had told her about a sudden death in the locality.

Over to Dorothy:

There was a fellow living up the top of the village, known to everyone as Long Ted [Dorothy didn’t say whether he was very tall or rather short]. Anyway, he passed away suddenly ― and a good mate went to see his wife and to offer condolences. “Would you like to see Ted?” the widow said.

“Yes, I’d like to see Ted one last time and say goodbye ― we go back a long way, Ted and me.” So the wife took him into the parlour where Ted was laying.

So he said to the wife: “Well I know this is a strange thing to say ― but Ted looks better now than I’ve seen him looking for years.”

And the wife said: “”Yes, we just had a week in Porthcawl ― and it done him the world of good.”

Well I laughed ― and my granny said: “You shouldn’t laugh, it isn’t funny you know.”

Oh yes it is, granny, very funny. And you just know that the story is true because people really do say things like that. Even today.

A grounded bird

I noticed this online teaser for ten:

     Flappy Bird taken down: App creator removes addictive smartphone hit from app store

As I read the headline, Vanessa Feltz was on the wireless, reviewing the morning papers. Take it away, Lady V:

There’s an interesting piece in the paper ― in several papers ― about the inventor of a mobile phone game; apparently it’s a highly compulsive game ― I’ve never played it, but apparently once you start you can’t stop.

It’s called Flappy Bird and it was such a big hit that it was making its inventor ― Vietnam based Dong Nguyen ― over £30,000 a day. That’s how successful it was; so you would imagine that he would be extremely interested in keeping that game going for ever and ever ― but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

With its booming popularity, however, Nguyen began receiving abusive messages from users who had become haunted by its trickiness. In one of the game’s more light-hearted reviews, he was called an ‘evil genius’ for devising such a devilish game. Other messages were sent with an angrier tone as players became increasingly frustrated.

So he said he could not stand it anymore. He didn’t need it. He didn’t want it. All that money was ― and I quote, “Interfeering with my simple life” ― so he has withdrawn it from use. You can’t play it anymore.

[“This bird is no more, ‘e ‘as ceased to be, ‘e’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible ― THIS IS AN EX-FLAPPY BIRD! THIS IS A FLOPPY BIRD!].

Yes, it has just disappeared because he couldn’t bear anything interfering with his simple life.

And it made me think about the simple life ― so I’d ask you this morning the three key ingredients for your ideal simple life. If you could lead the ultimate simple life as you see it ― maybe you do live such a life: a place, the time, could be a companion...

Here are just some of the triple-ingredients listeners recommended:

     Tea, sleep, love.

     My woman, my boy, my golf clubs.

     Tea, hot bubbly bath, a beach view.

     Stability, loyalty, romance.

     Eat, sleep, banjo.

     Easy-going partner, always tell the truth, treasure good friends...


Much as I like the thought of the banjo, I guess the last one comes closest.

Personally, the question rather threw me. I lead a simple and a contented life, but I’m not sure why.

I can only surmise that I’m a simple soul because it’s an inherently genetic thing: I’ve never been ambitious, never felt the need to earn a fortune ― and I guess I get on with pretty much everybody, which is quite an essential ingredient for a simple life recipe, I would have thought.

Then I happened upon this quote at the bottom of a newspaper page, compliments of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), known to Roman Catholics as Saint Thomas More; an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist.

This from Utopia, a work of fiction and political philosophy, published in 1516, in Latin. The book is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs (so it says on Wikipedia):

“Nobody owns anything but everyone is rich ― for what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety?”

And there you have it, Vanessa, three simple ingredients to a simple life: cheerfulness, peace of mind and freedom from anxiety.

PS: While searching for a lead-in, headline photo, I found the wonderfully memorable epitaph to Rex the dog. But even better, yesterday, oral sex was my thing ― and today I found a rather apt gravestone, which I have quietly inserted into yesterday
s dispatch from The Smiley Front. Just a quick stroll down...
 


Wednesday, February 12th

Word of mouth

“THE great oral sex debate: am I alone in thinking oral sex is not
proper sex?” ponders columnist Rebecca Holman

The State of Virginia plans to make oral sex illegal for teens, but those same teens can still legally have vaginal sex. Rebecca Holman asks if that’s the right way around...

First thing this morning I spotted the above slice of online foreplay riding high on the Telegraph’s  home page ‘Top Ten Most Viewed’ tales of the day.

Mind you, I did wonder if it was April Fool’s Day: I mean, the State of Virginia? And it does sound like an invitation to those teens to try this grown-up thing called oral sex.

Whatever, I resisted the click ― in school I was average-minus in oral, but average-plus in practical; all-in-all I was probably the school’s most average pupil. Ever. The same was possibly true in academic terms as well.

So I smiled at the delightful doolallyness of the Telegraph’s  headline, made my excuses ― and, deploying my inherent rhythm method, withdrew precoital.

But not before admiring this gravestone...

                                                              

Meanwhile, back live...

“Their sex scandals involve people actually having sex.” French intrigues have the vital ingredient British ones lack, observes Ian Hislop, 53, editor of Private Eye magazine.

Ian was obviously referring to the scandal involving President Hollande, 59, and his Last Lady, 60, First Lady, 48, and Reserve Lady, 41, so to speak. (Intriguing age scale: as Hollande grows older his women grow younger.)

Meanwhile, here in the UK we had that short, sharp burst of hot gossip involving Liz Hurley, 48, and Bill Clinton, 67, fiercely denied of course by Liz.

Talking of Liz and Bill:

“Bill Clinton’s alleged charisma is merely proof to me of the potency of cheap music.” Ann Leslie, 73, British journalist, who writes for the Daily Mail.

Good line, Ann.

And then there’s the curious business of Tony Blair, 60, and Wendi Deng, 45. Here’s an up-dated headline and opening shot from Mail Online:

Blair, Wendi and the email trail: 300 pages of messages fuelled
the suspicions of Murdoch about wife and ex-PM

Ms Deng, who in a love-struck note praised Mr Blair’s “good body”, his “really, really good legs”, and even his “butt”, has met Mr Blair at least eight times.

On one occasion they were together at her husband Rupert Murdoch’s London home when he was out of the country. They also met aboard music mogul David Geffen’s yacht in the Mediterranean and at the Mayfair private members’ club, home of the exotic Loulou’s nightclub.

I revisit the above tale because I rather enjoyed this online Comment  (Loulou and Lalakin riding in tandem was too good to miss anyway, irrespective of content):

Lalakin: This is hilarious ― surely as the wife of Rupert Murdoch she would think most other men had good bodies, legs and butts
! Tony must have been over the moon to think that at least one person in the world, other than Mrs B, actually liked him; and the funniest part is that Ms Deng’s staff felt uncomfortable, very Downton Abbey!
     Cheered me up for the day
!

I know what Lalakin means, the tale does hit the old schadenfreude smileometer with a flourish.

“Blair has long been the butt of jokes. Now it seems he’s the joke of butts.” Peter Maller of Henley-on-Thames, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Hopefully, Peter Maller, you are not now living at Henley-in-Thames, or even worse, Henley-under-Thames, what with those dreadful floods you are suffering up there. Talking of which...

We used to rule the waves. Now the waves rule us. Collin Rossini of Dovecourt, Essex, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

“VACANCIES: 200 fully qualified carpenters required; top wages paid. Immediate start: overtime guaranteed. Call the office and ask for Mr Noah.” Raymond Gallagher, Crowborough, Sussex, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Anyway, enough of the gloom. A letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Sunny disposition

SIR – While I was on a bus in Barbados recently, an elderly Bajan lady boarded and said “Good morning” as she took her seat. Almost all the other passengers, around 25 people, replied with the same salute.
     Perhaps the sunshine helps.
Brinley Moralee, Alnwick, Northumberland

I guess it’s much more than sunshine, Brinley. It’s a community thing. Probably most of the passengers knew each other, to some degree.

I remember many moons ago a girlfriend coming down from London to stay with me in Llandeilo. On the Saturday morning we walked into town and she was intrigued that I exchanged fleeting pleasantries ― a smile, a quick “Hello”, even the occasional brief exchange ― with pretty much everyone I passed.

Llandeilo is a community. I know most people, to some degree or other.

Say goodnight, Hubie

Last thing tonight, I spotted yet another slice of online foreplay creeping in at the bottom of the Telegraph’s  home page:
                  
Are we having more sex because of the floods?

The extreme weather in the UK right now may have a silver lining in the shape of a baby boom, writes Dr Brooke Magnanti...

I know The Daily Telegraph  has a spanking new editor ― do you suppose he is somewhat obsessed with sex? Watch this space.

Spell-cheque corner:
‘precoital’, as opposed to postcoital, came up as ‘recital’. Honestly, this computer of mine.
 


Tuesday, February 11th

Dear Sir or Madam

YESTERDAY I was endlessly entertained by a thread of Letters to the Editor, compliments of The Times; today it’s The Daily Telegraph’s  turn:

                 Women, kick off your heels; men, cast off old ties

(Sadly I could only find a picture of a high heel wearing a bow tie, rather than a tie ― but bow ties are rather characterful anyway. Back with the letters...)

What is the point of high heels and ties?

SIR – I share Cristina Odone’s joy at seeing Emma Thompson shrug off her “painful and pointless” high heels at the Golden Globes ceremony.
     I feel exactly the same way when I see Richard Branson, Jeremy Paxman and other high-profile men shrug off the tyranny of the tie. Ties must vie with high heels for the title of most uncomfortable and pointless item of clothing.
Dr Steven Field, Wokingham, Berkshire

Truth to tell, I included the above letter so I could repeat this tale, spotted in the Comments  section...

Oldgit13: I remember a cartoon in one of the Wicked Willy books in which the blonde considers the gift of high heels and says “They’re very nice, but I couldn’t possibly walk in them”, and Willy replies “Walk in them? You take them off when you get out of bed”.
     Clearly the gag would have been lost on Dr Field.


And I enjoyed the logic of this response to the good doctor’s missive...

JDavidJ: I don’t believe women are under any compulsion to wear high heels. As a man, however, I was for many years forced to wear a tie, even in factory temperatures in the high 90s.

Then the correspondence does what it nearly always does...

The long good tie

SIR – A tie is uncomfortable only if the collar size is wrong. And as for pointless: choosing a tie to reflect one’s mood can brighten the morning and smooth the path to the office. Wear a tie at home to reduce heating bills: it increases body temperature by around 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mik Shaw, Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex

SIR – The long tie first appeared around 150 years ago. Has it suddenly become uncomfortable and pointless, as Dr Steven Field suggests?
     I have found over the years that my informal ties have enhanced my rapport with both the patients and their parents at my children’s hospital clinics.
Professor Julian Verbov, Liverpool

Hm, Professor Verbov puts down his good bedside manner to his informal ties. Well, 60% of what we are is written into the face; 30% into the voice; and just 10% into body language (including superficial appearance, such as ties).

That is why we have made our minds up when meeting strangers within the first 10 seconds or so. And our instincts are ruthlessly efficient.

Children are particularly brilliant at reading these signals because education has yet to subliminally convince them that being clever is more reliable than instinct in deciding to what degree they should trust the person in front of them.

Just to go off at a slight tangent, here’s a quote that surfaced today ― no pun intended ― in the wake of the horrendous floods affecting parts of the country:

“If you buy a house on a flood plain you know the risks.” Outrage nationwide as Environment Agency boss Lord Smith, 62, suggests flood-hit families must share the blame for damage to their houses.
     Today there were 16 severe flood warnings ― meaning risk of death ― in place; two were in Somerset and 14 along the River Thames in Berkshire and Surrey.

Can you believe that at a time of huge stress and heartbreak for the affected householders and businesses, the idiot boss of the Environment agency attempts to shift blame onto them? And what of the planners who allow houses to be built on flood plains? Never mind Wicked Willy, Smith sounds a proper Woeful Wanker.

How on earth do individuals who have no empathy with those they serve end up in such powerful public positions?

Remembering what I said up there apropos how we intuitively judge people by face, voice and body language, this online comment rather confirms that others also notice the connection between appearance and character:

toots: Labour Lord “Chris” Smith gets my vote for having the most peculiar and disagreeable countenance in
public life...

                          

                                                             ...and you can’t disagree. He really does look like the baddie from a scary children’s story, the sort of bloke you certainly wouldn’t want living next door. In fact he does remind me of some dodgy character from literature ― but my mind is blank...

Anyway, back with ties:

Prince of ties

This photograph of Prince Charles appeared ― and, many letter writers to The Daily Telegraph  wondered aloud
about the tie...

                                 

                                                                   ...was it an RAF tie, asked Bob Jones of Radcliffe-on-Trent?

No, responded Jon Andrews of Epsom in Surrey, the Prince was wearing a University of Wales tie, with stripes diagonal to the left. The RAF tie has stripes to the right.

N K de Courcy-Ireland of London W8 disagreed: “The Prince’s tie was the regimental tie of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, as he is our Colonel-in-Chief. Our previous Colonel-in-Chief was the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) when she was Duchess of York. It was her first regiment.”

Readers continued to tie themselves in knots over the significance of the Prince’s tie:

According to Peter Crouch of Camberley in Surrey: “The Prince of Wales was wearing the country tie of the Royal Thames Yacht Club. In 1974, he succeeded Lord Mountbatten as Commodore, a post now held by the Duke of York.”

Meanwhile, Dr John Black of Henleaze, Gloucestershire, suggested this: “The tie worn by the Prince of Wales is very similar to the one I bought from Tesco’s just after Christmas. It has vague similarities to the regimental tie of the Royal Army Pay Corps, in which I was proud to serve many years ago.”

J P G Bolton of Bishops Lydeard, Somerset, added a note of sanity: “The Royal Air Force? The University of Wales? The Queen’s Dragoon Guards? It would seem that the tie is not infallible in conveying a person’s club, military or academic affiliations.”

Finally, Paul Parker of Hampsthwaite, North Yorkshire, delivered this beauty:

“When appearing as an advocate in magistrates’ courts many years ago, I often wore a tie with a distinctive stripe.  When asked once, by the chairman of the bench, which regiment it represented, I could only reply that it was the 5th Marks & Spencer Light Cavalry.”

Paul Parker is docked half-a-mark though for not saying it was “the 5th Marks & Spencer Light Cavalry Twill”.
 


Monday, February 10th
 

Looking well

TIME to catch up with a thread of entertaining letters (on gently related topics), compliments of The Times:

Not fade away

Sir, Great to see that Acker Bilk, 85, is still with us (birthdays, Jan 28). I seem to recall that he was the top act at the Barnet Jazz Club (held fortnightly in a Scout hut) when I was a teenager.
     Second on the bill was an unknown new group of youngsters called the Rolling Stones.
BRIAN LOUDON, London NW6

What a wonderfully upside-down internal rhyme of a name that is: Brian Loudon of London.

Anyway, and yes indeed, I too am a fan of Acker Bilk. Actually, he features three times on my current Desert Island Video Jukebox  playlist, alongside, under three different headings. Quickly moving on...

It suits you

Sir, When I bought my first stethoscope in Edinburgh almost 50 years ago, the elegant young assistant measured out some two feet of rubber tubing and informed me that stethoscopes were “being worn long this year”.
     He was right, as the instrument was more useful as a fashion accessory placed casually around the neck than a diagnostic tool.
HARVEY BERTFIELD, FRCSE, Bowdon, Cheshire


When
Harvey, FRCSE (
Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Ivor the Search Engine  informs me) mentioned “the elegant young assistant”, were you, like me, somewhat caught out when the “elegance” belonged to a male?

Stethoscopes

Sir, I long envied a friend who never got a parking ticket, no matter where he parked his slightly battered Jaguar in central London. He achieved this by leaving a well-used stethoscope on top of the dashboard in the window of his car. He was not a doctor.
ANDREW KNIGHT, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

Listen up

Sir, Avoiding parking fines in London by leaving a stethoscope on the dashboard so traffic wardens think the driver is a doctor? It must have happened a long time ago. The vultures that operate there now would give a ticket to a corpse.
TONY PHILLIPS, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks

Sir, My father was a GP in a small town in Scotland. Speeding to a medical emergency, he was caught by a police car. He waved his stethoscope hopefully out of the car window; the police overtook him, waving a pair of handcuffs as they passed.
DR LIZ SOWLER, Musselburgh, E Lothian


Oh dear, Dr Liz, there’s always someone determined to stick a spoke in your wheel and stop you dead in your tracks:

Hit or myth

Sir, The anecdote about the speeding doctor, the stethoscope and the policeman waving the handcuffs has a familiar ring. I have heard the same story but it was a different doctor in a different town in the Usk valley. Now I wonder who else has heard it? Urban myth in the making, methinks.
SUE WARE, Neath, W Glamorgan

Ah well. When I hear a great story or a good joke, perhaps an urban myth, I too always personalise it ― it happened to me, or one of the colourful characters down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon ― it makes the tale easier to tell, and probably makes it that little bit more believable in the telling.

There again, perhaps the father of Dr Liz Sowler was the doctor involved in the original incident.

Talking of doctors and stethoscopes, there is currently a BBC2  television documentary series, Inside The Animal Mind, which focuses on how animals see, hear and smell. One example in the first programme was quite astonishing: how a spaniel could detect the smell from a canister at the bottom of a lake.

This starter for ten review of the programme and said pooch, by Sam Wollaston of The Guardian:

I knew dogs were good with their noses. I didn’t know they were that  good.

Fern here ― a cutely life-jacketed sprocker (half springer, half cocker) spaniel hanging eagerly over the front of a rubber dingy ― sorry, dinghy...

                                                                                                                                                                        ...can sniff out a tin of pork under seven metres of water and a further metre of silt at the bottom of lake on a howling windy wet day in Northern Ireland. As Chris Packham says, it kind of makes a mockery of those fugitives running down creeks to escape baying bloodhounds in the movies...

So this letter duly appeared in The Times  following its review of said programme:

Snorkel sniffer

Sir, Fern, the dog locating a scent source under water, is not a police dog (TV review, Jan 29) but a search dog with the Search and Rescue Dog Association (Ireland North).
     She was not “sniffing out a tin of meat from the bottom of the lake”, she was searching for a large canister of pig meat, which closely resembles human flesh. So far Fern has located eight bodies from beneath the water surface.
     We are all very proud of her.
NEIL POWELL, Training Officer, Search and Rescue Dog Association (Ireland North), Newcastle, Co Down

I saw the documentary, and what I remember, apart from her remarkable talent, was, that Fern’s reward for pinpointing the location of the canister was... being thrown a ball to play with ― and she was delighted.

Incidentally, is that why so many of us humans enjoy pig meat, because it closely resembles human flesh? It is probably written into our DNA, inherited from our days as cannibals.

Sticking with death...

Late arrival

Sir, It is encouraging that “people are becoming more comfortable talking about their mortality and planning their own funerals”. However, there may be limits to “taking the guesswork out of a situation at a time of grief”.
     I recently attended a funeral where a late mourner arrived just as the coffin entered the church. We all heard his smartphone announce: “You have reached your destination.”
BERNARD KINGSTON, Biddenden, Kent


I remember reading about someone who insisted on having a mobile inside the coffin with him, plus just the tip of an aerial poking out of the ground ― just in case he woke up after being buried.
 

End of the road

Sir, Apropos your funeral satnav tale, in 1967 a sign outside an undertaker in Edgbaston read “Do not enter box unless your exit is clear”.
JIM HAWORTH, Abingdon, Oxon

Following the recent death of Pete Seeger, American folk singer, songwriter and activist, at the age of 94, this letter appeared, again in The Times:

Sir, In Britain you know that a cause is lost when people at a rally start singing “We shall overcome”.
TONY WOODHEAD, Lindley, W Yorks

I wonder if that song has ever been sung at a funeral service? Especially if the exit is not clear.

Spell-cheque corner:
‘Sowler’, as in Dr Liz Sowler, whose doctor father had the handcuffs waved at him for speeding, came up as ‘Slower’ ― I kid you not, Dr Liz Slower. I mean, I couldn’t make that up. And ‘satnav’ came up as ‘satang’, which I discover is a monetary unit out in Thailand.

Talk about every day being a day at school.
 


Sunday, February 9th

Bear witness

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, 48, the Russian prime minister, has been mocked online after footage seemingly showed him dozing off during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics...
 

Bear down

The clip sparked a flurry of ridicule, according to The Sunday Times, mostly puns on the prime minister’s surname, which is derived from the Russian for bear. “The Bear is sleeping,” wrote one user. “Good night, sleep well, Bear,” said a second. “Dream on, Medvedev!” declared another.

Hm, sort of punny, but not particularly funny (in my humble opinion).

The question I asked myself was this: Where was the hare? And the alarm clock?
 

Bear grills

Yes of course, how could we forget the popular ‘Bear and Hare’ Christmas television advert from John Lewis. For ever more and a day I will think of the Russian PM when the ad is mentioned in dispatches.

As another internet user wrote: “It’s hard to imagine a worse time to take a nap, at a ceremony watched by 3bn.”

Poor bugger. Not only that, there was that high-profile hiccup with the snowflake that wouldn’t morph into an Olympic ring ― but even before that, Russia’s Olympic venture got a chilly Twitter reception from journalists who discovered that Sochi’s hotels weren’t entirely finished.

The BBC reporter Kevin Bishop found a welcoming picture of President Vladimir Putin in his hotel’s reception but no floor, while Dan Wetzel, a Yahoo sports writer, made this poignant appeal: “I am now in possession of three lightbulbs. Will trade for a door handle.” He included a picture of said lightbulbs.

Talking of pictures, here are two of my favourite tweets, with added observations to boot:

Tweetie Pie Corner

   

There’s clearly one instruction missing:
“Please use paper on both sides”

You will be marked for ‘presentation’,
‘technical merit’ and ‘artistic impression’

Bare necessities

Apropos the notice directly above, comments online suggest that the instruction to refrain from flushing the toilet paper is quite common in many a far away place with a strange sounding name.

Well, well. For some reason, I am reminded of what an American DJ once said (according to Radio 2’s Alex Lester):
     “If you haven’t been to a toga party you don’t know sheet.”

Bare admiration

Finally, how could I not smile along with Jenny Jones, 33, who has made history today as Britain’s first Olympic medallist on snow after 90 years of trying, winning bronze in the splendidly named Snowboard Slopestyle competition. (Britain though has previously won 22 medals on ice ― well, we are a nation noted for skating on ice, most of it very thin.)

And of course her parents, a midwife and a retired fireman, normally banned from watching her live because they make her nervous, were there to surprise her.

Unsurprisingly they said they were proud of their supremely focussed, “no fuss” daughter. Her mother said: “I did text her last night and said ‘love you, xxx’. That was it. That is all she could manage. She doesn’t want her mind cluttered with anything. It’s best to keep it short.”

Oh yes, I enjoyed these two online comments, spotted on the Guardian  web site...

Chrisg29: Well done, great achievement, especially from a nation that has no snow
!!!!

Jimmyji: Britain, a NATION that has no snow?
                Aha, I see. You have anticipated the result of the Scottish referendum this coming September----

 

Saturday, February 8th

The best laid plans and all that

I WAS going to share some funny tweets serendipitously stumbled upon along the road to the launch of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi ― but that will have to wait.

Today, my good pal Chief Wise Owl told me a marvellous story concerning Alan Bennett, 79, English playwright, screenwriter, actor, author and raconteur par excellence.

Oh, and it helped erase a little of the misery of Ireland giving Wales a good going over on the rugby field this afternoon.

Anyway, I arrive home and I reverse Ivor the Search Engine  out of the shed and go looking for more fine detail on the smashing tale to do with Alan Bennett ... no luck ― but I do come across a Spectator  blog by journalist Rod Liddle, dated September 2012.

                              Three northern breakfasts

Breakfast is simply more fun in the North. Ask Alan Bennett.

I’ve been in Scarborough, working on a story, writes Mr. Liddle. Stayed in a perfectly nice hotel and this morning came down for my breakfast. I was greeted at the entrance to the dining room by a waitress who addressed me thus: “Good morning sir. Have you had breakfast before?”

I said well, yes, I’m 52, you know. I’ve had loads of them. This response seemed to satisfy her and nothing more was said on the matter. If I’d said no, I’ve never had breakfast in my life, would she have explained to me what breakfast was, do you suppose? Told me about Kellogg’s and stuff? Very odd.

A few months ago I was in South Shields working on a story, and in another perfectly fine hotel. At breakfast this nice Geordie waiter came up with his pen and pad and said: “Good morning sir. Would you like any kind of juice?”

     Yes please, I replied, I’d like some  orange juice.

     He wrote this down.

     And would you like tea or coffee, sir?

     Yes, coffee please, filter coffee.

     He wrote this down.

     And would you like a cooked breakfast, sir?

     Yes please, I said. I’d like scrambled eggs on toast, please.

     He wrote this down.

     Brown or white toast sir?

     Brown please.

He wrote this stuff down too. Then he looked up at me from his pad, narrowed his eyes, and said the following:

“You may have noticed, sir, that my pen does not work. However, I am optimistic that I will be able to read your order from the indentations I have made on the paper.”

And off he went.

Both of these incidents made me laugh a lot, later. Neither were quite as funny, though, as Alan Bennett’s anecdote about staying in a guest house in Hartlepool and overhearing the following conversation snippet, between a businessman guest and a waitress:

     Businessman: “Excuse me, but do you have any fresh grapefruit, as opposed to tinned?”

     Waitress: “Why? Are you diabetic?”

First things first: perhaps someone should tell Rod that
“Good morning sir. Have you had breakfast before?” is Northern speak for “You look to me like someone in need of a bloody good slap.” Oh, and is all this “Working on a story” code for “Having a bit on the side”? Having a good breakfast, that is.

And I find it hard to believe that Rod is quite as polite as he makes out.

Anyway, here come the comments...

Bella Tiranah: Yes, yes, yes. But were either of those who waited on you black, bent or a ‘religious nutter’? And if not, why are you wasting our time?

Rod Liddle: Oooh, I do love a bit of satire.

Oooh Rod, I am disappointed. That sounds like a stock answer straight off the shelf. Meanwhile, back with the good stuff...

Guest: Brown toast, Rod? Dear o dear. I like it brown, but only once it’s been through the toaster. Otherwise, it’s like barbecuing rabbit: I suppose you could, but what’s the point?

Stephen Griffiths: A Brummie workmate [a native of the British city of Birmingham] said to me one day, speaking about “The North”, that, “You’re all brown sauce and kestrels”.
     A Blooming Hestanthal favourite, no doubt.


And as if by magic, here’s that story told to me by Chief Wise Owl:

Alan Bennett pops into a take-away. Alan gives his order. Alongside him, a youngish fellow, who has also just ordered. “Oh
!” adds the young man. “Gimme a kestrel as well.”

Goodness, thinks Bennett, what an earth is the world coming too ― and isn’t the kestrel a protected bird under British law anyway?

And then the young man is handed a can of lager...

Anyway, back with the blog...

Prince Rupert: Completely off the point about breakfast but in tune with oranges, I read some time ago about some graffiti written on a wall in Belfast, before the peace agreement was signed, and Ian Paisley was shouting “Never!” etc, and the graffiti said: “The people of Ulster say NO!
     And some wag had written next to this, “But the man from Del Monte he say YES
!” ― and next to this someone had written “And he was a good Orange man”, boom-boom. That last bit was mine, not a bomb going off.

Daniel Maris: Didn’t James Joyce write a poem about the Irish sense of humour that led someone to fling lime in Parnell’s eye? [
Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891), Irish landlord, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.]
     The one thing people from that benighted corner of the island like to think is that they are a good-humoured sociable breed ― even as they are at each other’s throats

AGS: If they are at each other’s throats, Mr. Maris, it is only because you and your kind are not readily to hand. Donkey.

Daniel Maris: I remember now ― the poem referred to quicklime.

Shame that AGS added “Donkey” as it rather distracts from the wit of the response. Whatever...

Baron: Baron’s preferred answer to a question he’s asked (not often, now, and mostly at tobacconists, baker shops and in the rural wilderness of East Anglia), “What would you like, love?” is: “That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for all my life.” More often than not it causes a slight confusion that has to be dealt with quickly.

What a wonderful answer. I must remember that next time I’m asked it. Oh, and I must flash my Working Man’s Brief Case at the same time, nudge-nudge, wink-wink etc-etc...

Just as an afterthought, I wondered about canned grapefruit, diabetes and added sugar ... this online exchange, from August 2012...

artmuzz: I have been buying canned grapefruit from Tesco and according to the ingredients there is no sugar added. However, when I look at the nutritional information on the can there is 13.1% sugar.
     I like canned grapefruit for the convenience but I’m not sure if it is as healthy as the fresh grapefruits.

lu_: I assume this is added sucrose or fructose and not total sugar content; then you’re probably dealing with BPA from the can, definitely better fresh.
     PS: I hate breaking bad news: BPA (Bisphenol A) is a compound used in plastics and as a sealant in canning.
     It was designed as an artificial Estrogen originally. It promotes all sorts of health problems from cancer to
     hormonal dysregulation. It should be avoided by all people but particularly pregnant women and young males.
     It’s in a lot of clear hard plastics; it’s not in all cans, but it is in the majority.


Well, I reckon we have two choices, presuming no inherent health problems. 1) We avoid all food and drink. 2) We eat, drink, be merry and make mad passionate love ― but only in moderation.

I think I’ll stick with the second option, excepting (at my age) the mad passionate love bit.
 


Friday, February 7th

Sochi under the searchlight

SOCHI 2014 kicked off with some spectacular fireworks. There’s something truly mesmeric about a firework display, and the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games did not disappoint.

While it is best to be actually present at any pyrotechnic display, television is a good second best simply because of the different angles on offer, especially from the air.

However, a perfectly captured still image takes some beating...

How!


Fireworks explode to announce the start of the opening ceremony – looking
remarkably like a headdress of feathers over the Fisht Olympic stadium

Under Russian Skies

To begin at the beginning: It is winter, moonless night in Russia’s largest resort city, starless and bible-black...

“With the staging of a world event comes the world,” BBC host Claire Balding had curiously warned us before we entered the stadium.

“Tonight, Russia’s many diverse regions are flying to us,” added Hazel Irvine from inside the Fisht tank ― and Hazel was armed with endless Russian facts with which to impress us. For example, Russia covers one-eighth of the world’s surface, with nine time zones and 185 ethnic groups.

Wow, now I didn’t know that. Also, Norway, surprisingly, is the most successful nation in winter Olympic history with 306 medals, a third of them gold.

As for near-neighbour Denmark, “believe it or not, it has only one winter medal ― a silver”.

Should I believe it? Or not? Oh go on then, yes (I did check it out: one medal in curling).

“Keep your eyes on the big flakes!” Hazel suddenly instructed ― what, Putin and pals? ― no, five huge snow flakes expand, blossoming into the Olympic rings, reminiscent of the London 2012 pyrotechnics.

Well, four of them did. There was one refusenik snowflake, a ring that refused to open, appropriately symbolising the fact that Russian did not quite embrace the Olympic spirit of tolerance (perhaps?).

You could picture the poor sod who was in charge of the snowflakes being hauled off to Siberia as President Putin made his entrance looking eerily like Mr Burns from The Simpsons (description compliments of the Daily Mail).

I wasn’t going to mention the refusenik snowflake ― it’s too easy to mock something going wrong in such a complex presentation ― that is, if it hadn’t been for a couple of official images of Putin preparing for his entrance...
 

The curious case of Vladimir Putin and the Fifth Ring that did not bark in the night

   

It seems that if you were watching Russian state TV channel Rossiya 1, then it cut from the
reluctant snowflake (left) to flawless rehearsal footage (right)

Anyway, on with the show:

Enter stage left, 11-year-old Liza Temnikova, playing the character of Lubov (Love), who will float into the air on a giant kite, and whose dreams will “take us on a journey across this vast land”.

She then takes-off in her white dress ― I sense a parody of Alice in Wonderland meets The Snowman ― and I wasn’t to be disappointed...
                                          

Lubov takes us on an enchanting journey through Russian history, visually colourful and elegantly presented, albeit a clever piece of political propaganda (surprise, surprise). It makes fabulously fascinating television, which is not easy for this kind of Cinemascopic, blockbuster spectacle.

I even enjoy the Bolshoi Ballet’s interpretation of the 560,000 words in Tolstoy’s War & Peace ― which, incidentally, I can now cross off my ‘Must read’ list. (Note to the Bolshoi: I haven’t read Lady Chatterley’s Lover  either.)

Then the Revolution of 1917 arrives in the form of a giant red steam train, floating across the stadium to symbolise “Bolshevism, Lenin, Trotsky, civil war, a bloody end to the era of the Czars, the Soviet Union and Communism”.

Phew XL.
                

Mind you, and much to my chagrin, given my Welsh heritage that is, I had never quite appreciated the mesmeric musical rhythm of a steam train on full bore.

Is that why we love Ivor the Engine and Thomas the Tank so?

And finally the arrival of the Olympic torch, and the big talking point of the night would be, that one of the six torch bearers was Alina Kabaeva, widely rumoured to be Putin’s lover, but described on television as merely “a very, very talented rhythmic gymnast”, but no more than that.

As someone pointed out, considering the incredible nature of the spectacle that had gone beforehand, “it was disappointing, not to say disturbing, that this was the image that we were left with as the ceremony came to a close”.

Now there’s a thought. Do you suppose that the fifth snowflake refusing to open into an Olympic ring at the start of the ceremony was a message from the Gods on Mount Olympus, that you don’t mess around with the Olympic ideal?

Apropos that snowflake that refused to open in the night, a few suggested online that the guy responsible for operating his ring was probably gay and this was his protest ― and I did smile at this comment...

Roger89: The closing ceremony of our last games was 100% homosexuals prancing about. Thanks Putin for some normality. Do they take heterosexual asylum seekers?
 

Thursday, February 6th

Mind the prick

WELL, the front pages this morning were a fiesta of doolallyness. Here’s the top-half of the Daily Mail ― and beneath, the memorable front page of The Sun:

            
 

            

Safety first

Whenever I read or hear the name Liz Hurley, there’s just one image burnt onto my hard drive. Yes, that glorious safety-pin dress, above. And ― shock, horror ― that’s all of 20 years ago.

I do so hope that the Hurley-Clinton story is true ― if only to justify the Sun’s front page play on Clinton’s quote following his denial of the affair with Monica ‘I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman’ Lewinsky.

Liz has denied that any hanky-panky took place. And the fellow who made the claim now says he was under the influence of drugs at the time he shared the secret with the World and its Mistress. What is more, he didn’t know what he was saying anyway (mind you, many online comments are wondering aloud how much pressure has been put on said sneak).

Be all that as it may, perusing the photographs published of Liz and Bill back in the night ― just a starter for 10 on the front page of The Sun ― the images are all over the shop today.

Hm, never mind there being no smoke without fire, there is certainly no smouldering without passion. You get the impression that if Bill wet the tip of his index finger and placed it on the back of his other hand ― well, the sizzle would fizzle off the scale.

I had to go and lie down in a darkened room to get over the photos ― but all I could think of was ... what fun it would be to undress Liz out of that golden-safety-pin dress.

Oh, and who is that fellow in the safety pin picture with Liz?

“The disclosure that Hugh Grant has gone from childless playboy to largely absent father of three in 15 months has set off a national conversation about men and commitment...” Sunday Times headline.

Well I dunno, I haven’t heard anyone discussing it, especially in the Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, which is an undisputed sounding board and barometer of national conversation.

Mind you, I also liked this Sunday Times Atticus piece penned by Roland White, and spotted in a separate column:

Ah, Grasshopper

Apparently there are some species of grasshopper that, like the actor Hugh Grant, possess testicles amounting to more than half their body mass.

I am indebted to Professor Petter Bockman of the University of Oslo for this indispensable nugget of information. He has also advanced the theory that the larger the testicles, the more likely a creature is to cheat on its missus. Which is possibly why female grasshoppers, if you look closely, always wear a rather bitter expression.

Professor Bockman’s previous research “proved” that there are gay penguins.

It is cold, dark and miserable in Oslo at this time of the year.

Very good, Roland.

Meanwhile, back at the coal face with Hugh Grant: have you noticed how he has suddenly become super virile following the phone hacking scandal? Now I presume that he stopped using his mobile when it became known how easy it was to listen in on conversations.

And you know what they say: excessive use of the mobile and other electronic equipment near the head burns away essential junctions within the brain and affects how we perform in all sorts of ways. Burning our bridges behind us, so to speak.

Do you know, I have personally observed that the memories of those who regularly use mobiles start to play tricks much earlier in their lives than is healthy. Hm, I wonder?

There was a study in America some years ago which concluded that if you owned a mobile you were 500 times more likely to be involved in a road accident. Yes, that’s FIVE HUNDRED.

Oh, and that statistic had nothing to do with using the mobile while driving. Just owning a mobile puts you in the high risk bracket.

There has also been much said about men leaving their mobiles switched on whilst the phone is parked-up somewhere in the vicinity of the bollocks.

You know what they say: if you crack an egg onto a hot pavement and surround it with mobile phones, switched on and transmitting, the egg will be cooked to a frazzle in no time (allegedly!).

Make of all that what you will. Especially apropos Hugh Grant’s bollocks suddenly finding their default setting and exploding into action.

Finally, and returning to the Daily Mail  front page, I must mention the curious case of Tony Blair and Wendi Deng.

Deng Dong, the wecked wetch

It is claimed Wendi Deng wrote a note to herself while still married to Rupert Murdoch, rhapsodising about former prime minister Tony Blair’s “good body”, his “really, really good legs” ― and even his “butt”.

Written in broken English by a woman to herself, pouring out her love for a man called Tony, the passionate note has mysteriously surfaced amid the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwrecked marriage.

Vanity Fair claims to provide startling new revelations about Miss Deng’s relationship with Mr Blair, revealing they were once seen feeding each other during an intimate dinner. Staff were shocked on another occasion last year when Miss Deng announced she would be spending the weekend alone at the Murdoch’s California ranch.

Whatever ... this is Wendi on her Blair infatuation (from the notes to herself):

“Oh, shit, oh, shit.  Whatever why I’m so missing Tony. Because he is so charming and his clothes are so good. He has such good body and he has really, really good legs Butt ... And he is slim tall and good skin. Pierce blue eyes which I love. Love his eyes. Also I love his power on the stage ... and what else and what else and what else...”

What else, indeed?

And on Google’s Chief Sitting Bull, Eric Schmidt:

“Lisa [girlfriend of Eric Schmidt] will never have my style, grace ... I achieved my purpose of Eric saw me looking so gorgeous and so fantastic and so young, so cool, so chic, so stylish, so funny and he cannot have me. I’m not ever feel sad about losing Eric ... Plus he is really ugly ... I’m sooo happy I’m not with him.”

Hm. And what is the second greatest truth ever uttered?

Whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make doolally.
 


Wednesday, February 5th

Dying matters

IT SEEMS that a growing number of Britons are shunning traditional funerals and going for a somewhat off-beat send-off.

Last September I told the tale of Welshman Billy Jones, 83, who made the last leg of his final journey on a JCB digger similar to the ones he had driven for 40 years before he retired.

The grandfather’s coffin was lowered into the bucket of the JCB for the journey to his funeral service. Mourners clapped and cheered as the coffin arrived at Coychurch Crematorium in Bridgend, South Wales, on the JCB.

Remember this?


Retired JCB driver Billy Jones was carried to his funeral in the bucket of his favourite JCB digger

Final call

Mike Ryan, a funeral director from Newport, quoted some unusual requests: a self-employed painter and decorator who wanted to be transported in the van that had been his “office” for the past 10 years.

Then there was the HGV driver who wanted to be taken on the back of a lorry, his dying wish being that he should be driven over the Severn Bridge and back one final time because he’d made the journey pretty much every working day of his life.

Also, many are customising their funerals. Crazy Coffins, a Nottingham firm, has made caskets in the shape of a guitar and a Rolls-Royce. It is now working on a replica of a Jack Daniel’s bottle.

And then there’s 79-year-old Malcolm Brocklehurst who has commissioned an aeroplane-shaped coffin painted in tangerine, the shirt colour of his beloved Blackpool football club.

“My last wish when I pop my clogs is to have a party at Blackpool football club,” said Brocklehurst. “We had a dress rehearsal where I went in a white sheet as the ghost of myself so I could see how it would work.”

Oh dear, glorious doolallyness, even on that last lap after hearing the bell.

But what about this as a curtain call? Caught dead to rites, you might say...

On the highway to heaven: US biker is buried in leather astride
his beloved 1967 Harley-Davidson in a transparent casket


Angels to angels, dust to dust: dedicated biker Billy Standley is gently lowered by crane into his grave

Looking one corner ahead

Dressed in his leathers and sunglasses, and sitting on top of his 1967 Electra Glide cruiser, Billy Standley of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, who died last week, was taken on a last ride to his grave.

The body of the 82-year-old, who died of lung cancer, was visible through the transparent and reinforced Plexiglas casket that his bike had been placed in. He was escorted to the ceremony by a procession of bikers.

He started the funeral preparations himself, buying three large burial plots next to his wife, Lorna, so the hole would be big enough to accommodate his unique casket. Bill and his sons had spent years preparing for the somewhat unusual burial.

It didn’t actually say whether his wife had already been buried in a sidecar, which is an image too good to let go.

If I had been standing by the side of the road when Billy’s funeral procession passed ― well, the word gobsmacked springs to mind. I just hope I’d have had the presence of mind to grab a photo.

As some pointed out, good job he wasn’t a dedicated trucker ― mind you, he once worked as a bareback rodeo rider, so that would have been interesting. Or the captain of an oil tanker.

I wonder if the captain of the Italian cruise ship which ran aground off the western coast of Italy a couple of years back, one Francesco Schettino of Costa Concordia infamy, wished he’d gone down with his ship.

Back with Billy: some even speculated that a rotten thief in the night might dig him up and steal the bike ― unless of course the machine has been embalmed with superglue to give it a proper sticky end.

Oh dear, smiling to the last.

May Billy Standley, bless, rest in peace. And the Harley-Davidson, bliss, rust in pieces.

PS: Just before going to bed tonight, I hear this news item on the wireless:

A Harley-Davidson motorcycle ... I hold my breath: the speculation that a thief might dig up Bill Standley and steal his Harley-Davidson was a rather smiley notion ― surely not?

To continue: A Harley-Davidson motorcycle, donated last year to Pope Francis, is being sold at a Paris auction to benefit charity. [Phew XL!]

It’s unknown whether the pontiff ever rode the custom 2013 Dyna Super Glide that was a gift from Willie Davidson, a retired Harley-Davidson designer and grandson of the company’s co-founder...

 

Tuesday, February 4th

For ever more and a day

YOU know how it is, a headline or an image catches your eye ― and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get that first impression out of your mind.

It’s a bit like meeting people for the first time: in those initial few seconds your brain decides dolphin or shark, pussycat or polecat, sparrow or sparrow hawk, red squirrel or grey, lay-by or roundabout ... and your brain is simply unable to override that thought.

You may well decide to ignore what your brain is telling you, but you can never delete that initial impression off your hard drive.

Anyway, here’s a headline ― and a picture to go with it...

 

Is this the birthplace of British civilisation?

 

Or simply true to type?



 

         Gosh, is this really where QWERTY was born?

My goodness me, I thought, in that initial burst of revelation, it really is the birthplace of the typewriter. More than that, the planet was previously occupied by a giant race of people who obviously kept dinosaurs as pets.

Even more remarkable, they were into computers because the above is more in line with a modern keyboard than the traditional typewriter, pictured alongside.

No, hang on, I’m getting a bit silly now.

Anyway, I read on:

                    One million-year-old remains of the first settlers found
                      buried under a £15-a-night caravan park in Norfolk

Scientists now believe early humans created their first settlement at the Manor Caravan Park (pictured above) in Happisburgh, Norfolk, after finding a series of stone tools and fossilised animal remains there.

The artefacts have been dated to nearly one million years ago, which makes them the oldest found in Britain ― and suggests the species that lived there was a primitive predecessor of modern humans.

They could have been the Homo antecessor or the Homo erectus species. The discoveries are to be revealed in a new Natural History Museum exhibition...

Now how disappointing is all of that?

But no matter how hard I try, those caravans can’t replace the computer keyboard now burnt onto my hard drive.
 


Monday, February 3rd

That’s My Home > > > >

As for man, his days are as grass...

ONE benefit of an online newspaper over a print version is the ability to serendipitously trip over a story which is, strictly speaking, old news.

For example, this tale from last November, a rather whacky practical joke (spotted compliments of Mail Online):

          What on turf is growing on my desk? Engineer returns from three-week holiday
                         to find office pranksters have covered his entire workspace in GRASS

The green, green grass of Mowvember


Charlie Harris (pictured), 32, was greeted with a swathe of lush ryegrass, planted
on a bed of earth, sprouting between his computer, coffee cups and stationary.

I want to be a lawn

The elaborate prank was planned by colleague Daniel Hurlbert, 33, who carried it out with the help of work mates at the DIY marketing company, Home Improvement Leads, in Austin, Texas, where the pair work.

The prank was the culmination of a series of escalating office jokes.

Daniel Hurlbert said: “After many years of honing our pranking skills this was perhaps the best one yet. The idea came fairly organically ― [ho, ho, ho] ― I asked the engineering team for an epic prank for Charlie, as he was going on holiday for so long.

“We bounced ideas around until eventually I said, ‘he’s going to be gone so long, we should just grow a lawn on his desk’...”

When I first saw the pictures I thought, hm, they’ve bought some turf and covered his desk. But no. They covered the desk with soil and planted proper seeds. After a week they feared the worst when nothing appeared. After another week there were seedlings sprouting all over the shop.

By the third week there was a lush covering ... and the joke worked a treat, much to Charlie’s amusement, it appears.

However, as someone from a farming background, it did seem most unusual to grow that lush a covering of grass in just three weeks.

Then a comment online simply said “Already proven fake” ― the notion being that Daniel, Charlie and Uncle Tom Cobley and all were actually playing a joke on the viewing public.

And of course it worked because the story went VD (viral dysentery), and generated many a laugh in the process.

There again ― and as the online comment warned ― believe nothing you hear and only half what you see.

And talking of a smiley moment passing by on the shady side of the street...

Snow balls

Jon Snow, 66, is an English journalist and television presenter, best known as the longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News ― and as doolally as a dingo with a hard on, at least if his latest utterance is anything to go by.

           Jon Snow admits that he thinks about sex every time he meets a woman

Viewers are used to Jon Snow’s sober presence on the nightly news. But they might be shocked if they knew what was going through his mind.

The veteran Channel 4 host has confessed he thinks of sex every time he meets a woman. And he says he likes to consider ‘what could be’ with his female friends and co-workers.

Insisting it is a ‘natural animal element of sustaining life’ for men to think of all women as potential sexual partners, he said being a man was ‘all about women’.

What tickled me though was the idea that he thinks about sex whenever he meets a woman, irrespective of age, appearance, or indeed any inherent quality control. I am fairly sure I never thought that, even back in the day when I quietly fancied myself as a young buck about town.

Personally, my guess is that nature is slowly but surely castrating him, as it does all us men as we grow older, and poor old Jon is desperately trying to convince himself that he’s still got it.

And if it helps keep his end up ― well, why not.

Most surprising of all though, and as a typical celebrity, nothing seems to have warned him of the ambush ahead once he uttered such a delightfully doolally comment. For example:

“Jon Snow says he thinks about sex every time he meets a woman. I bet no woman thinks about sex when she meets Jon Snow.” Commentator Julie Burchill.

I also enjoyed this letter in the Daily Mail:

Snow joke

The other morning, my wife looked up from the Mail and asked: “Do you want to make love to all the women you meet?”
     “No,” I stammered, not knowing where this was going.
     “Then, according to Jon Snow, you aren’t normal,” she said.
     “Okay,” I said, trying to prove my normality, “there are some.”
     “Who?” she demanded ― and that’s when the argument started.
There are some thoughts best kept to yourself, Mr Snow.
TERRY PAYNE, Woodmansterne, Surrey


But the final word goes to this online comment (the very last word does the trick):

Sandra: Ah sweet, I think of a hot coco every time I see Jon Snow ― bless!
 


Sunday, February 2nd

Return visit

IT has to be a first. The same subject ― more or less ― has hit the smileometer three days on the trot.

On Friday it was a celebration of the Chinese Year of the Horse. I am, of course, a horse.

Yesterday it was a celebration of things Sagittarius i.e. half-man, half-horse. I am, of course, a morse.

And now today ... well, before I go there:

Too close for comfort

I happened to turn on the wireless, just after seven this morning:

“I am shortly to go away for quite a long time, so I’m going to hold you close this morning...”
Thus broadcaster and celebrated lesbian Clare Balding (about to jet off to cover the Winter Olympics) greeted me on Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday (“a topical faith show with inspirational music and chat about ethical and religious issues”, at least that’s what it says on the tin).

Oh dear, you have to laugh. Not long ago Clare was effin’ and blindin’ on the TV panel show Have I Got News For You, sounding as if she was the Devil’s spin doctor and the very model of a modern two-faced celebrity.

Where does the BBC find all these split-personality slebs? (Or should that be spilt-personality?) Has the Corporation learnt nothing from the fallout of Savile, Hall and goodness knows who else?

Extraordinary how gullible we, the Great British People, are.

Then I read this in the Mail:

       
The BBC just loves swearing ― until it gets a dose of its own @!X*! medicine

The corporation, writes Peter Hitchens, refused to accept a complaint about bad language transmitted without warning on national radio on Tuesday, January 21 at 2.15pm ― because the complainer’s letter began by repeating precisely the same words that they had used on air.

The BBC told Colin Harrow that his letter’s tone and language were “unacceptably abusive or offensive”.

In other words, the BBC are ready to transmit words into our homes which their staff are not prepared to read...

You really couldn’t make it up.

Sign of the times

Anyway, back with Sagittarius and the world of the half-man, half-horse.

As I recall, the Sagittarius sign reflects bravery, direction, focus, poise and thought! What is more, according to my Horseyscope, a Sagittarian represents an inner spirit to free one’s self from mankind’s animalistic nature, and perchance to enhance the purpose of the soul.

Hence the human fighting to get out of the horse, I guess. Unfortunately, given that my bottom half is the horse, I still need a permit to poop on the Queen’s public highway.

Whatever, I’m not sure what to make of all those gifts the world of astrology has blessed me with ― but it brings me neatly to this cartoon, spotted in the Western Mail  some time back, and duly cut out and pasted into my old-fashioned, print scrapbook:

Centaur of attraction

That really could be me up there, you know.

Which might explain why I have remained a bachelor. Mind you, I certainly don’t look the type given to brawling and uncivilized behaviour, a central trait of the centaur. A quick kick in the bollocks, perhaps, if someone crept up behind me without fair warning.

Be all that as it may, I previously forgot to wish you the following:

Kung hei fat choy!  Happy Chinese New Year (I am advised under caution), from your friendly neighbourhood Sagittarian morse!
 

Saturday, February 1st 2014
         

Boy morphs into man

YESTERDAY I celebrated the Lunar New Year, also the Chinese Year of the Horse.

Just this morning though, the penny dropped ... 2014 should be an extra special year for me ― hey, I’m a Sagittarian, which means I am actually that Archer-half-man, half-horse thingy ― a morse? ― armed with a bow and arrow to nip any mischief at source.

Apparently, and according to my personal Horseyscope, this half-human, half-beastie creature represents the Sagittarian’s inner spirit to free itself from mankind’s animalistic nature, and thereby enhance the purpose of the soul.

It symbolizes the animal natures and desires of man, as well as its spiritual aspirations. In Greek mythology, centaurs were adventurous, brave, and wise; they were also given to brawling and uncivilized behaviour. Oh dear.

The glyph for Sagittarius is a straightforward one ― it depicts the archer’s arrow slung in a bow. This glyph-hanger symbolizes the desire for direction, a higher purpose, oh, and abundance.

I dunno, it sounds like a load of old bollocks to me. But that’s just me. O me of little faith.

Curiously, I can’t find anything that says Sagittarians ‘believe nothing they hear and only half what they see’!

So, looking for something to generate a smile, I clamber aboard Ivor the Search Engine ... chuff, chuff, chuff...

Undercover work

 

Sagittarians are known for their worldly pursuits, gamesmanship, cosmopolitan attitude and knack for doing things in a big way. Sagittarian condoms are the sportier models. They come equipped with travel cases.

Sagittarian condoms are the ones that go with you and grow with you. They promise a lot and they are extra thick to protect against fluids of a dubious nature. The archer symbolizes Sagittarius. When you want to be on target with Cupids arrows, you want a Sagittarius condom.

Now how wonderful is that?

And thereby hangs a true tale. A girlfriend once gave me as a present a packet of condoms ― and yes, they really were all coloured ― but it’s the presentation pack that made me stand up and take note. It remains the most memorable gift I have ever received...

A travelling man:
toothbrush and briefcase in breast pocket


Size really matters:  a 50 pence coin offers up a sense of proportion
(mind you, I’m not sure the Queen is amused at being used as reference point)
                                                                  
Travelin’ Man – Ricky Nelson

Now isn’t that a most wonderful present? A leather ‘Working Man’s Brief Case’. Mind you, I did wonder why she had ‘Brief Case’ printed on it rather than ‘Briefcase’? Was she trying to tell me something?

And of course, what with my condom-always-to-hand days having long disappeared, even out of my rear-view mirror, I now use the ‘brief case’ as my calling-card holder.

My cards fit perfectly into the case. And best of all, when I whip it out to present a lady with my card, it always offers up a conversation starter for ten:

“Have you come far? And do you come here often?”

                                                                                                                                                                          Home


                                                                   Home
                                                                   Previously on Look You...
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2014: Jan             Smile of the day 2013: Dec
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Nov
                                                                                                                                       Smile of the day 2013: Oct
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Sep
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Aug
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Jul
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Jun
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: May
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Apr
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Mar
                                                                                                                                      
Smile of the day 2013: Feb

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

Previous 2012 smiles: Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar) .. Smile of the day 2012 (Apr-Jun) .. Smile of the day 2012c (Jul-Sep) .. Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Previous 2011 smiles:  Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun) .. Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep) .. Smile of the day 2011 (Oct-Dec)
                   Home

 Previously: Smile of the Day 2010
Home   2010 (Jan to Jun)   2009   2008   March to May '07   June to Aug '07   Sep to Dec '07


Reception

You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City

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Previously on LOOK YOU......


Smile of the day 2014: Jan
Smile of the day 2013: Dec
Smile of the day 2013: Nov
Smile of the day 2013: Oct
Smile of the day 2013: Sep
Smile of the day 2013: Aug
Smile of the day 2013: Jul
Smile of the day 2013: Jun
Smile of the day 2013: May

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

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

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

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

2008
Sep to Dec '07

June to Aug '07
March to May '07

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

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

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


What A Gas @
400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 17/05/2009

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