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

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

ALSO...
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, a memorable song, something startling that nevertheless generates a spontaneous smile, curiosities spotted along my walks through the Towy Valley...
     This is a snapshot of life beyond the blue horizon...

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

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

You only park this way once

Spotted outside St Stephen’s Lutheran
Church in Madison, Wisconsin

FIRST UP, a curious tale, as told by columnist Rod Liddle:

Keep fingers out of fire

Robert Gladwin, 20, was strolling past his local church in Attleborough, Norfolk, when he noticed a poster to which he took exception: “If you think there is no God ― you’d better be right
!!

Beneath those words was a photograph of some flames.

Gladwin did what I’m certain you or I would do if we were to read something with which we disagreed ― he immediately rang the police to get it removed. And the rozers turned up at the Baptist church, logged the matter as a “hate crime” and the poster was taken down.

Speaking to the press after the church had been raided, Gladwin explained that when he had seen the poster he felt “astounded”.

Just imagine how astounded he will be one day, 70-odd years from now. Gobsmacked, I would reckon. Try calling the police then, mate.

It is indeed a curious tale. But I am hugely amused at the image of Robert Gladwin’s coffin, 70-odd years from now, disappearing into the furnace down at the crematorium. Mate.

The controversy has echoes of a freedom of speech debate sparked in January 2009, after the British Humanist Association launched an anti-religion advertising campaign on London buses.

The campaign was made up of posters disputing the existence of God, which read: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” (Spoilt, in my humble opinion, by that probably” word.)

Whatever, the campaign was originally intended for buses in London, but the appeal spread across the country because it became so popular.

Back with the fire, I particularly enjoyed this online comment in response to the sensitive young Robert Gladwin...

Boethius: I wonder what the response of such individuals would have been to the following church signs ― “Where will you be sitting in eternity? Smoking or non-smoking?” ― “Forgive your enemies - it messes with their heads” ― “If you can’t stand the heat, better make plans to avoid it”.

Very good. I particularly like the forgiveness one.

Mind you, we now live in the world of the electronic cigarette (e-cig or e-cigarette) ― also known as a personal vaporizer (VP) or electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS - does that mean the ends justify the means, especially following sex?) ― I kid you not about those e-cig terms, every day a day at school hereabouts.

Anyway, I guess the first church sign mentioned by Boethius should now read ― “Where will you be sitting in eternity? Smoking, non-smoking or personal vaporizer?”

Finally, a delightful tale of lateral thinking which even God, the Devil ― oh, and Robert Gladwin ― would be proud of:

Least said, soonest mended

When pupils at a Sussex school were asked to write in less than 50 words what they should do to encourage motorists to show more consideration for others, one exceedingly bright 12-year-old came up with a perfect answer ― in just four words:

“Drive a police car.”

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
 


Friday, May 30th

Eye off the ball

DOOLALLYNESS comes in all shapes and sizes. Yesterday: Ballistic Statistics. Today:

“Voting for UKIP is like picking the best of four ugly girls”: Footballer
Joey Barton apologises for “offensive” remarks on Question Time
as viewers of BBC show complain it has hit a “new low”

I did not see the programme but it seems the Queens Park Rangers (QPR) midfielder Joey Barton compared voting UKIP to picking up ugly girls on a boozy night out with the lads.

UKIP MEP for the north west, Louise Bours, at whom the remark was directed, said the comment was “offensive”.

Indeed ― and unsurprisingly ― viewers complained and accused the BBC of taking Question Time to a “new low”. [Hm. How low can you go? Could the BBC be run by a group of frustrated limbo dancers? Whatever...]

Joey Barton admitted nerves ― he’d much prefer to play in front of an 87,000 crowd “any day of the week”, thank you very much ― and he duly apologised on air for the remark.

Now I know nothing of this fellow Barton, so I sent Ivor the Search Engine out on a trawl.

Well, well, well...

Drop the Dead Barton


DECEMBER 2004: Barton stubs lit cigar in the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during a Manchester City Christmas party. Fined six weeks’ wages by the club. Forced to pay four weeks’ salary ― approximately £60,000 ― immediately, with a further two weeks suspended for a year. Tandy later sued Barton, winning £65,000 in damages.

JULY 2005: Involved in altercation with a 15-year-old Everton fan at City’s team hotel in Bangkok during a pre-season tour. Fined eight weeks’ wages by City after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

SEPTEMBER 2006: Drops his shorts in the direction of Everton fans following City’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

MAY 2007: Suspended by City after training-ground altercation with Ousmane Dabo, which leaves his team-mate needing hospital treatment. Charged with assault, and on 1 July 2008 receives a four-month suspended jail sentence. Also punished by FA with a 12-match ban ― six matches of which are suspended ― and a £25,000 fine.

DECEMBER 2007: After ten pints and five bottles of beer arrested in Liverpool city centre after a late-night incident and later charged with common assault and affray. Caught on CCTV knocking his unnamed victim to the ground, before straddling him and punching the man up to 20 times.
     At the time of the assault Barton was on bail for the attack on Ousmane Dabo.

MAY 2008: Jailed for six months and sent to Strangeways Prison after admitting common assault and affray.

NOVEMBER 2010: Playing for Newcastle United he punches Blackburn winger Morten Gamst Pedersen during a 2-1 defeat at St James’ Park.


MAY 2012: Now playing for QPR, he is sent off for elbowing Carlos Tevez on the final day of the season at Manchester City. Knees Sergio Aguero, sending the striker to the ground, and attempts to head-butt Vincent Kompany before being ushered off the field.

In light of criticism he launched an expletive-laden Twitter attack on Alan Shearer before turning on Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, saying: “Back under your stone you odious little toad with your vast closet of skeletons.”

[I actually remember that quote ― it made my smile of the day, and all down to Lineker’s splendidly amusing response: “I had a good look in my closet ― only found a few packets of crisps.”]

MAY 2014: Days after winning promotion back to the Premier League with QPR, appears on BBC’s Question Time to ‘mixed reviews’ after clearly attempting to punch way above his weight, so to speak.

All the above make the following words of wisdom he has posted on Twitter rather memorable...

Tweetie Pie Corner

   

Joey on violence

“Violence always comes from a place of misunderstanding and low to zero self-worth, well mine did anyway.”

Is that an excuse for violence rather than tackling it ― I nearly said ‘tackling it head on’?

Joey on inner peace

Quote via the Dalai Lama: “To control negative physical and verbal actions, it is necessary to get at their root, the mind, and tame it.”

Ah yes, root canal treatment of the brain. Sounds about right.

But back with his “Voting for UKIP is like picking the best of four ugly girls”.

Oh dear, Joey, Joey, Joey, they simply do not understand your sophisticated understanding of the fairer sex.

I remember Old Shaggy down at the Crazy Horsepower once telling me: “Always go for the least handsome girl in the room.” Note: the word “ugly” did not exist in his vocabulary. “They are far and away the best in bed. And boy o boy, they are grateful as hell.”

So c’mon, Joey, come back onside, we men of the world know you’re just dying to climb into bed with UKIP’s Louise Bours ― whether it be literally or figuratively is none of my concern.

Which leaves us all wondering what on earth possessed the BBC to invite someone with such a well-documented history of violence and online trollery onto Question Time in the first place?

Ah well, another paragraph added to the BBC’s exceedingly long suicide note.

Talking of which, the other BBC-related headline today was this:
 

Nation’s morning thrown into chaos when BBC Radio 4 accidentally misses
the shipping forecast and plays World Service instead

It seems that the much celebrated and trusted weather service ― as much part of the British psyche as bluebells and fish and chips ― failed to air at 5.20am as expected after a “technical error”.

Listeners took to Twitter to express their confusion and irritation over the cock-up.

One user tweeted this about not broadcasting the shipping forecast: “Isn’t that the sign of impending nuclear Armageddon?”

Oh dear, the BBC blamed a handy “technical error” for the delay in following the schedule, but the smart money says that someone simply forgot to flick a switch.

Yet another paragraph added to that ever-lengthening suicide note...
 


Thursday, May 29th

“Lies, damned lies and statistics”
Illustration by Peter Newell from
COSMOPOLITAN, August 1898

Stretching the truth

A FEATURE of Alex Lester’s exceedingly-early-morning wireless show on Radio 2 is an entertaining diversion called Ballistic Statistics.

It takes its inspiration from what many think of as Mark Twain’s famous quotation.

However, this from Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review:

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

The thing is, Ivor the Search Engine informs me that Twain’s Autobiography attribution of the remark to Disraeli is generally not accepted. Evidence is now available to conclude that the phrase originally appeared previously, in 1895, in an article by a Leonard H. Courtney.
So Disraeli is not the source.

Certainly, it is clear that misuse of statistics was complained about well before 1895.

The original author (or speaker) of the memorable quote is still uncertain, but if it originated with any one well-known figure, the most likely candidate is Sir Charles Dilke (1843-1911), English Liberal and Radical politician, one of the rare breed known as radical imperialists. (Radical imperialists? How intriguing.)

What is interesting, though, when the quote first appeared in print it looked like this: “lies, d- - - -d lies and statistics.”

“Damned” being the equivalent of today’s f-word, clearly.

Indeed, sometimes the words would be changed to avoid any embarrassment to the reader: “There are three degrees of falsehood: the first is a fib, the second is a lie, and then come statistics.”

Actually, I quite like that one. In modern terms we would describe lies in greyscale, for example...

     white lie (relatively innocent: “No, your bum does not look like the size of a small country in that dress!”)

     grey (what Tony Blair would call “sexed up” i.e. the end justifies the lie)

     BLACK (“Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?” ― MRDA, meaning, Mandy Rice-Davies Applies).

Whatever, enough of the serious stuff, back with Ballistic Statistics...

Over recent months I’ve been collecting some of the delightfully doolally stats submitted by Alex Lester’s listeners. Here’s a selection:

         
110% of people ignore statistics because they are lies, damned lies...

         
90% of women like Shakin’ Stevens
          97% of men think he’s old enough to shake himself


         
18% of Dalmatians have white spots

         
23% of grey squirrels yearn to be red squirrels and to be loved

         
5% of workmen wear camouflaged clothes under their hi-viz jackets

         
11% of spiders suffer acrophobia (fear of heights)
          31% of spiders suffer arachnophobia (fear of fellow spiders)
          87% of spiders suffer ortographobia (fear of spelling)


         
99% of people will turn down the radio in their vehicle if they smell burning

That last one is the sort of statistic that, curiously, makes sense, in its own bizarre little way. As does this one, heard this very morning, and suggested by a James Ingleby:

         
Art imitates life; and life imitates art. So 100% of all the people who you think you know are in fact, forgeries

Smashing. Also, a little while back I spotted this online comment:

         
Did you hear about the recent survey on obesity in the UK?
          It appears that 2 out of every 3 Brits are actually 1 person ...
          And 4 out of 5 said that 2 out of 3 are right but 1 in 10 said no...

 


Wednesday, May 28th

Free, at last

TODAY is Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year in which Britain as a nation has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden ― and we all start working for ourselves.

It apparently fell on the 30th of May last year, so the Chancellor should be congratulated for liberating taxpayers two days earlier in 2014.

Well, every little bit helps. But it did prompt this online comment...

JohnHB: Tax Freedom Day ― hear, hear
! As the great Gladstone (1809-1898) said: “Let the money fructify in the hands of the people.”

Fructify? I’m not sure about the Bible, but that’s definitely not a word you hear in the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. So:

Fructify 1) to bear or cause to bear fruit. 2) to make or become fruitful.
                   “They were sacrificed in order that their blood might fructify the crops.”


And then this memorably clever response to JohnHB’s Gladstone quote...

Steve The Beard: I’m fructify want to pay any more tax to this government
!

How witty.

Okay, a letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Empty promise

SIR – When asking my mother what was for dinner, she would reply: “Air pie with the crust off.”
Shelagh Parry, Farnham, Surrey


How funny, my mother would sometimes respond, in a mixture of Welsh and English: “Cwpaned o de a plâted o bugger all.” A cup of tea and a plate of bugger all.

Shades of Under Milk Wood  and the village of Llareggub ― as read backwards.

You say plague, I say pride

Remember this letter and its memorably named author, as spotted in The Daily Telegraph?

Fowl plague

SIR – Our village has been plagued by three rogue peacocks since February.
     Short of shooting them, can anyone suggest a way to get rid of them?
Marysia Pudlo-Debef, White Colne, Essex

Well, here’s a view from the other side of the fence:

Pride in peacocks

SIR – We also live in White Colne but have not been “plagued” by “rogue” peacocks. The three that visit our garden and roost close to our bedroom window are very friendly.
     Admittedly, they do tend to chat among themselves in the early hours, but it is a small price to pay for the company of such beautiful creatures.
R S Skinner,
White Colne, Essex

See? You can’t please all the people, etc, etc. You say plague, I say pride, let’s call the whole thing off.

Talking of which, I also liked this:

Yum!

SIR – Peacock is quite edible.
Chris Harding, Parkstone, Dorset

Which drew this Ye Olde online response from Sguest:

Here is a recipe fit for His Late Majesty, King Henry VIII

PECOK ROSTED

Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and kutte his throte. And fle him, the skyn and the ffethurs togidre, and the hede still to the skyn of the necke. And kepe the skyn and the ffethurs hole togiders.
     Drawe him as an hen. And kepe the bone to the necke hole, and roste him. And set the bone of the necke aboue the broche, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve. And abowe the legges to the body, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve.
     And whan he is rosted ynowe, take him of. And lete him kele; and then wynde the skyn wit the ffethurs and the taile abought the body. And serue him forthe as he were a-live; or elle pull him dry. And roste him, and serue him as thou doest a henne.


Which in turn drew this witty addendum...

One Last Try: Extract from updated 2014 Version...

Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and kutte his throte, sae preyers in obscure forien dialect oversiad Pecok ... etc

Yesterday, I mentioned the phrase “the elephant in the room”, a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth.

Well blow me, today I read this letter, compliments of The Times:

Legal drugs

Sir, Hugo Rifkind writes about “legalising drugs” but misses the elephant in the room ― alcohol. About 2 million people in the UK are chronically addicted to it at this very moment.
     The government seems to be in denial about this. The NHS certainly is, and has almost no programme or policy for helping any of this enormous number of drug addicts to recover from its devastating affects.
     What is the point of legalising more drugs when virtually no effort is being made to help those addicted to the biggest one?
HILTON SEELY, London W14


Sadly, it’s not all smiles out there. And Hilton Seely makes a worthy point of order.
 


Tuesday, May 27th

And you are?

ALEX Lester on his very early morning wireless show was discussing with his listener what makes the perfect “universal reassurance slogan”.

For example, what would be the defining slogan on your letterhead or stationery. Also, if you had a badge, what would best describe you to the world at large.

And that’s where the lapel badge at the top comes in. A trucker out on his daily grind suggested the above slogan ― which I think could best be described as a double-axeled entendre. Naughty but clever.

A nurse (I think) suggested this as a hospital badge: “Be nice to your nurse ― they stop the doctors from killing you” ― which did make me smile.

Actually, there’s a well known medical adage: “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” Now that would look good on a lapel badge.

Incidentally, I wonder if a doctor has ever uttered that line? When I next come face to face with a doctor, either socially or otherwise, I must make discreet enquiries.

Also, a working baker advised Alex that the slogan he actually uses in his business is this: “If it looks nice, people will buy it ... and if it tastes nice, people will buy it again”.

Which is rather good.

By a coincidence, today I read this wonderful little newspaper piece, compliments of Daniel Finkelstein’s Notebook  in The Times...

Dish of the day

Leaving an inspiring meeting with Holocaust survivors, I failed to remove my name badge, thus having to engage in a long discussion with the cashier at a shop on why I was Lord Finkelstein and what the prime minister’s Holocaust Commission was.

It reminded me of my father’s experience when he had gone to a party where, as a toe-curling ice-breaker, you were given a badge reading, for instance, “Shepherd’s” and then had to find the person wearing a badge that said “Pie”.

My father had to look for “Lancashire” and, once he had located the lady in question, he put the badge in his pocket.

A couple of days later at a professional conference, wearing what he thought was his university name tag, he kept getting odd looks.

He realised he had been walking around all morning with the word “Hotpot” on his lapel.

How totally wonderful. 10/10. And if that didn’t raise a laugh, well, I’d see about it.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking all day what would be an attention-grabbing message to write on a lapel badge. What would best describe your attitude to life, the universe and everything.

There’s a marvellous expression, “the elephant in the room”, a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth, a very large issue, something that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to discuss.

Perhaps a sore spot on the bum of the nation; perhaps something politically incorrect; perhaps Nigel Farage in the lead-up to the European elections...

So what should be on the badge? Well, it would have to be something that people would instantly notice and react to ― with a smile, hopefully. The perfect antidote to “the elephant in the room”:

 


After those initial few seconds, when everyone would be instantly charmed and seduced, it would then be up to you to carry it off.

And who knows, a pretty girl/handsome fella, might well ask you to perform your favourite trick ― and hopefully throw you a fish after. Well, it beats sharing a cigarette (so I’m told).

Mind you, I know plenty of people who should have on their badge “The shark in the room” ― or “the polecat”, or “the sparrow hawk”, or “the grey squirrel”, or “the roundabout”...
 


Monday, May 26th

Nigel Farage plots Nick Clegg’s downfall...

X marks the spot


“UKIP is going to win this election ― and yes, that will be an earthquake because never before in the history of British politics has a party that will be seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election.”
Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, correctly forecasts the result of the UK’s EU election, probably buoyed by private exit poll results prior to yesterday’s count.

UKIP’s Richter-style performance in England and Wales was repeated in Scotland, to a lesser extent, but gaining enough votes, though, to install its Scottish candidate, David Coburn, in the European Parliament.

Coburn then went on to provide this smiley quote:

“Working people are fed up with the Labour Party who talk a big game, and with the SNP [Scottish National Party] who are just Edinburgh solicitors doing the Highland fling and not worrying about anything that really matters to ordinary people.”

When I next see Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, all I will see is Bagpuss.

Cool for cats

Personally, I identify with the 64% of the population who merely watched the EU election from behind the sofa, through slightly parted fingers. However, I am intrigued by the growing influence of UKIP aka Nigel Farage.

Truth to tell, I am reminded of the famous Mel Blanc song, I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat. Sylvester, the pesky cat, is of course Nigel Farage, and looking the part, may I say.

Tweety Pie could be Cameron, Clegg, Miliband or indeed Salmond. And the lyrics of the song fit the current situation to perfection. (Link coming up.)

Mind you, I do tend to think that Boris Johnson is the real Tweety Pie, waiting to enter, Birdcage Walk right. I mean, just ponder the ending of the song:

Tweety Pie aka Boris (spoken): “Come on now, like a good cat.” 
Sylvester aka Nigel (spoken): “Oh, all right. Sufferin’ succotash
!

 

United Kingdom Independence Party and Boris go point-to-pointing

    


I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition of UKIP’s poster for the European elections, and of course, Boris ― well, Boris just pointing, perhaps to a pretty girl and saying: “You! Your BoJo needs you!

Well, that’s all, folks, I’m back behind the sofa
! There again, I might be about to join the revolution.

In the meantime, check out that crazy cat Sylvester and little old Tweety Pie ― and think Nigel Farage and all those other leaders fighting for their very political lives:
                                                                                           
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38aDWDUjlOY
 


Sunday, May 25th

The cat that didn’t bark in the night
[spotted on 2flashgames.com]

Shadow boxing

WHAT a smiley work of art that is; the cat that thinks it’s a royal corgi.

Talking of funny shadows: here’s a photograph that went viral a little while back, the result of some unfortunate lighting casting a shadow...


Benjamin Netanyahu – yes, it would have to be the Israeli PM – casts
a shadow across Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor’s face


Oh dear, you could never plan such a thing. I guess? But it does appear to be a totally genuine photograph, untouched by Photoshop.

Talking of the German Chancellor, I’ve just spotted the following headline and story:

                 Angela Merkel Loses Weight Without Turning to a Fad Diet


Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has made healthy changes to her lifestyle and has lost a lot of weight, it is reported.

Rather than go all out on an intense diet, Merkel has altered her diet in small, manageable ways, and lost weight gradually.

She apparently replaced biscuits served at meetings with carrot sticks, a healthy, low calorie alternative.

The sausage and cheese sandwiches she was partial to are now also a thing of the past. “She is very disciplined and eats a lot more fruit” one of her colleagues was reported to say...

So, are you ahead of me already? Cmon now, wake up at the back there. Remember this smile of the day from last Thursday?

Jeremy Paxman yesterday managed to stun the unembarrassable Silvio Berlusconi by asking whether he really called Angela Merkel an ----

                                                 

What’s coming up has carried a bleep on the airwaves and asterisks in many print versions ― but this is one instance where it is essential to go with the uncensored version...

Jeremy Paxman: “Do you have a particular problem with Angela Merkel? Is it true you called her an
‘unfuckable lard-ass’?”

Silvio Berlusconi (after a suitably startled pause for thought): “Yes, and I am glad to see that she’s lost some weight at last.”

No, of course not, Berlusconi didn’t say that. In fact he insisted that “In 20 years of politics I have never insulted anyone.”

Actually, the incident was featured on Friday night’s Have I Got News For You ― and the exchange was played without any bleeps. I have no problem with that because the incident had actually happened ― there is all the difference in the world between that and simply swearing to generate a laugh.

But what was really amusing, editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, one of the resident panelists, listed the well-documented instances where Berlusconi had indeed insulted people, especially fellow politicians.

To repeat myself: Bunga-bunga indeed.
 

Saturday, May 24th

"Gives not the hawthorn bush a sweeter shade..."
 

Under the hawthorn in the valley

THE Spring flowers and blossoms are reluctantly taking their leave.

Last Monday I featured the hawthorn tree encountered along my morning walk, in particular it’s startling stand-out blossom, looking as if it had been hit by a snowstorm.

Well, it’s been a wonderful year for the hawthorn. Last year, curiously, despite it being an exceptionally good all-round year for all sorts of blossom, the hawthorn was a huge disappointment, probably because it was such a late spring.

This year, however, it has been extravagantly showing-off all over the shop. In my square mile there are so many hawthorns dotted here, there and everywhere.

So today, my smile is dedicated to the hawthorn blossom.

Featured at the top, something quite uncommon, in this part of the world anyway: a red hawthorn. Along my morning walks I know of only two red hawthorn trees.

Oh, and I have planted one on the family farm, which is coming along nicely.

On the Dinefwr Park & Castle estate, which I regularly navigate along my morning stroll, there was one particular hedge where four red hawthorns displayed their wares, but the National Trust bulldozed the hedge to make one larger field ― the meadow that featured in the morning mist picture from last Wednesday.

The Trust may well have planted some replacements that I do not yet know about. I’ll have to make some enquiries.

The common or garden hawthorn, though, is particularly stunning when fully dressed for the Towy Valley Spring Ball.

Every morning I am greeted by a line of hawthorns, and it really is a sight for sore eyes when in bloom ― so hey presto...

But best of all, as I walk past these trees, about a mile and more in front of me, the other side of a tributary valley, where the ground rises quite sharply, there’s a field awash with hawthorn trees ― and they really are a captivating sight when in extravagant bloom, as this year...

 

The photo directly above is taken from the right edge of the row of trees I feature previously ― but what a sight.

Sadly, it only lasts but a short time.

However, it’s a perfect view with which to kiss spring goodbye and embrace approaching summer...
 

Friday, May 23rd

www.gotoworkonanegg.co.uk
[O Lion Egg Joke]

IT ALL began with a letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Fowl plague

SIR – Our village has been plagued by three rogue peacocks since February.
     Short of shooting them, can anyone suggest a way to get rid of them?
Marysia Pudlo-Debef, White Colne, Essex

Talk about not seeing the peacocks for a peacocky name: Marysia Pudlo-Debef. Splendid.

Indeed, someone in the comment section wondered aloud if the name was an anagram.

I expected some of the more witty contributors to come up with some rather jolly suggestions ... but nothing. Not a word. (Or should that be ‘toward no’?) Not a sniff. (Or should that be ‘staff not in’?)

Not being a natural-born anagramist(?)/anagrammer(?)/polysemantic(?) ― enough already ― anyway I cheated and went online.

To start at the very beginning: I type ‘anagram’ into Google ― and up comes
Did you mean: nag a ram [?]

Ho, ho, ho, even I got that ― but I am invited to click on ‘nag a ram’ ... which I do, and up comes Urban Dictionary...

Nag a ram: It’s the response that Google gives when you type ‘Anagram’ and are expecting a real definition. It’s a Google developer’s joke because it’s just an anagram of the word anagram.

A Google in-joke, eh? Go back to the ‘Go to work on an egg’ picture at the top, and I have written ‘O Lion Egg Joke’.

That’s my  little joke. An anagram of ‘Google In-Joke’. What is probably known as a double-yoke.

I also noted these classic examples of anagrams for beginners:

          The Morse code = here come dots
          A decimal point = I’m a dot in place
          Astronomer = moon starer
!
          The eyes = they see
          Punishment = nine thumps

How clever are those? Anyway, I click on an anagram solver web site and enter ‘Marysia Pudlo-Debef’: it comes up with ‘I Parade Myself’ and ‘Eduardo Bailey’ ― both very smiley, but both have three letters unused. Boo, hiss.

So I go for a more advanced programme...

Bingo, loads of suggestions ― and using up all the letters.

Given that the original letter from Marysia Pudlo-Debef was headlined ‘Foul plague’, I was amused to find:
          ‘A Dab Eyed Foul Prism’.

I also liked ‘A Dab Eyed Frump Silo’ and ‘A Bad Pilfered Mousy’.

So curiosity gets the better of me: I enter my own name, and up comes: ‘Buy Hen Now’, which is quite delightful given I was born and bred on a farm, which did indeed rear chickens.

Amazing. So I add Llandeilo to my name ― and up comes ‘A Bellowed Unholy Inn’.

Now that is truly funny, given that I drink at the Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, Dodgy City (occasionally Llandampness, depending on which way the wind is blowing).

There really is a tide of innocent pleasures out there.

PS: There were some replies to the original letter from the delightful Marysia Pudlo-Debef:


                 Rolling out the red carpet for strutting invaders

                          The pros and cons of having peacocks move to your village

SIR – We are rather enjoying visits from the White Colne peacocks since they made a first, enchanting appearance on Twelfth Night.
     They brought joy and colour to dark winter days. Our Jack Russells are less keen.
Lucy Hopegood, White Colne, Essex

SIR – The peacocks of White Colne can be permanently removed by building a wind farm in the village. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has been quite happy to back a wind farm near me, which will knock our bird-life out of the sky.
E C Coleman, Bishop Norton, Lincolnshire


Hm. I also enjoyed this online comment from One Last Try:

“Rolling out the red carpet for strutting invaders”: There was me thinking The Daily Telegraph were going to allow a comments thread, on immigration, from the EU and the rest of the world.

Indeed, OLT. However, here’s my favourite response apropos the peacocks:

Cock-a-doodle-will-doo

SIR – The village plagued by three rogue peacocks should place a peahen in an enclosure. Once inside, the four birds can be donated or sold to a stately home.
Gail Lees, St Helier, Jersey


But first catch your peahen. Or, in anagram speak: a cab fetches hurt puny trio.

I could really become addicted to this silly game.

 

Thursday, May 22nd

  The flowers that bloom in the spring,
                                   Tra la...

Beep ... beep ... beep ... beep ...
(Care: Chelsea Tractors reversing)

I’VE just watched a TV programme billed as The Chelsea Flower Show. With its proliferation of concrete, metal and wood, it might as well have been The Chelsea Builders Yard. At least it doesn’t need weeding.
PETER GASTON, Hawarden, Flintshire


As someone whose garden is a mass of daisies and dandelions ― but very eye-catching ― I actually caught snatches of The Chelsea Flower Show on telly, so the above letter in the Daily Mail  raised a spontaneous smile.

I knew precisely what Peter Gaston was on about.

And of course, as a bonus, the letter perfectly compliments the marvellous MATT  cartoon at the top, especially so given the stark warning from the Bank of England about the current property boom, particularly in places called Chelsea and the like in Old London Town. (Ah well, boom and bust all over again. Do we never learn?)

[Be all that as it may, one of the joys of
Look You is juxtaposing stuff from different newspapers. Meanwhile, on with the show...]

Bloomin’ ‘eck


“The Chelsea Flower Show is a very English event. It will be even more English when the rain starts.”
Jeremy Dickson Paxman, 64, English broadcaster, journalist and author, who has worked for the BBC since 1972 and is known for his forthright and abrasive interviewing style, particularly when interrogating politicians.

Hence the Jeremy Paxman nickname of Paxo, an exceedingly prominent brand of British stuffing.

So here’s another Paxo quote ― and one that came out of the bloom:

“Like many men I prefer cutting things down and burning them than I do planting them.” Jeremy joins up a few dots regarding his gardening technique.

No surprise then that Paxo takes his work home with him. Imagine, in a parallel universe, Jeremy is a logger chopping down our rain forests. Now there’s a thought: Chopper Chopsey.

                                                      

With much being made of Paxman’s imminent retirement from Newsnight and the BBC (above), I’ve never quite bought into this Paxo adoration thingy. I mean, he has spent his life sitting in judgment on his fellow human beings, pointing out how utterly useless they all are compared to himself.

Great value that he is with his distinctive interviewing technique, he has contributed nothing of note to the well-being of the nation ― despite calling all those politicians to account, we still went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan; we still had that massive banking collapse; and we’re experiencing yet another property boom and bust cycle.

Worst, he has had no effect whatsoever on the unravelling and disintegration of the BBC itself.

True, he has added hugely to the joy of the passing parade, but a fat lot of good he’s had at the sharp end of things.

Yes okay, he’s written some books and fronted some television programmes, but much of the success of those would be down to his celebrity status anyway. (Did not footballer Wayne Rooney pen a few bestsellers?)

Essentially, today’s movers and shakers remain as devoid of ethics, morality and honesty as they did when Paxman conducted his first interview. His celebrated style of interviewing is really no more than publicly handing out a hundred lines.

And we all know from our schooldays how useless those were.

Or am I missing something?

Mind you, there is a glorious plus side as Paxo comes to the end of his run. Unencumbered by the fear that the great and the good might refuse future interviews, he is now asking the questions he has clearly always wanted to ask.

In doing so, he yesterday managed to stun the unembarrassable Silvio Berlusconi by asking whether he really called Angela Merkel an ----

                                               

What’s coming up carried a bleep on the airwaves and asterisks in most print versions ― but this is one instance where it is essential to go with the uncensored version...

Jeremy Paxman: “Do you have a particular problem with Angela Merkel? Is it true you called her an ‘unfuckable lard-ass’?”

Silvio Berlusconi (after a suitably startled pause for thought): “No, I have never had any problems with Angela Merkel. In 20 years of politics, I have never insulted anyone.”

Bunga-bunga indeed.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Chopsey’, as in someone with a big mouth or suffering verbal diarrhoea, as in Jeremy Paxman, came up as ‘chop suey’, which is certainly worth a mention in dispatches.
 


Wednesday, May 21st

What is this life if, full of care...

As rich as you feel

“WHEN you wake up to the sound of chirping birds, you are listening to one of the simplest indicators of local environmental health.” Thus says Professor Anantha Duraiappah, the Director of the UN University’s International Human Dimensions Programme.

“Trees, a good night’s sleep, and being able to wash clothes in a washing machine should be used alongside traditional GDP measures to establish a country’s true worth. New research has begun to show that people often value non-material wealth just as highly, if not more, than monetary wealth.”

You may remember those wise words from a couple of days back.

It all came to mind first thing this morning ― it really was a picture-perfect start to the day.

A clear blue sky, an elegant stillness, a rising sun, and a typical sunrise meadow mist covering the fields as I set out on my walk ― it is all so beautiful, I stop ... and capture a picture of it.

And there it is, up there at the top...

As I write this, it’s fifteen hours later, half-eight in the evening ― and another gorgeous end of day (before the rain arrives overnight, apparently).

But the thing is, as I look out of the front window, the other side of the road a field rises up quite sharply from behind a hedge ― before it plateaus out and disappears from sight.

The field is awash with lambs and sheep (newly sheared), and as I look, on the skyline I see about ten lambs racing back and fore and dancing wildly, the way lambs express their infectious joie de vivre.

But what really captures my attention ― a few of the sheep are chasing after the lambs ... back the lambs come, followed by the mothers in hot pursuit.

I watch one of the sheep. It doesn’t appear to be chasing after the kids because it, well, feels young at heart ― but seems to be expressing concern at what the lambs are up to and whether they are going to stay out of trouble and not wander off out of sight.

I know it sounds anthropomorphic ― but I can’t figure out what else the curious body language is saying.

Anyway, it’s a joy to watch the lambs ― and we’re back again with that “non-material wealth indicator”, the joyfulness that is present all around us if we bother to look...

After taking the photo at the top, and when I got to the other end of the fields I was crossing, I looked back towards the very spot in the distance where I had taken the above picture ― and took another...
 

What is this life if, full of care...


We have no time to stand and stare?
 


Tuesday, May 20th
     

Champagne Charlies

ALL last week I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Tour of California road cycle race on Eurosport, an event which ended last Sunday at the splendidly named Thousand Oaks, a city in south-eastern Ventura County.

It is not so much the cycling events per se that grab my attention, but rather the geography lessons provided by the helicopters that follow each stage of the race.

Be all that as it may, I noted that the stage winners were presented with what looked like Magnums of wine, rather than the traditional champagne.

How wonderfully civilised, I remember noting...
 


Winning by a nose: Briton Mark Cavendish wins Stage 1 – note the bottle!
 

I tell you, if I ruled the world one of the things I’d ban is handing podium winners ― in any sport ― Magnums or Jeroboams of champagne.

I would instead hand them giant water pistols full of bubble-inducing liquid. I mean, all that the winners really want, is to regress into childhood for a few brief seconds.

And my dear, wasting all that champagne in such a fashion borders on the criminal.

However, Bradley Wiggins, as the overall winner ― the first British winner of the Tour of California, so well done, Wiggo old son ― had the regulation champagne to splash everyone all over with...
 


Bubbly bath: Bradley Wiggins celebrates winning the Tour of California
 

Incidentally, can you imagine what motor racing, especially F1, would look like if they produced finishes that come anywhere near the sheer excitement of most cycling finishes?

One for the road

While on the subject of champagne, apparently yesterday, Vanessa Feltz visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and on her wireless show this morning she told of being approached by a lady who asked her if she fancied “sabraging some champagne”.

She had no idea what it meant. She duly learnt that “sabrage” is the technique of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre. Unsurprisingly, she was somewhat startled to be invited to do such a crazy thing.

She eventually did it. And to perfection, it seems.

She explained how it was done ― but it was rather difficult to picture it in one’s mind ― so I found a fascinating YouTube clip to explain it all. So...

To sabrage a bottle of champagne:
                                                         
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ2vU3lvwx0
 


Monday, May 19th

Blossom, dearie

THERE I was, on an overcast and exceedingly dull early morning, just a few days back, strolling across this field, minding my own business ― well, sort of ― and there it  was ... a hawthorn tree in full bloom.

It stood out like a beacon. As if covered in snow.

The dreariness of the morning added dramatically to its stand-out presence. 

It all came to mind when I read this in today’s Mail Online:

Forget economic growth ― measure 'birdsong and lollipops'
instead, top UN academics urge ministers

  Governments should think about other factors that make life better

  GDP growth does not take into account a good night's sleep, UN says

  Measure 'smiles', 'random acts of kindness' and 'access to lollipops'

As soon as I read the above headline and bullet points, I caught myself smiling ― I just intuitively knew it was right. I read on...

Governments should look beyond profits and economic growth to measure a country’s wealth and take into account benefits which are less easy to measure, the UN has claimed.

Trees, a good night’s sleep, and being able to wash clothes in a washing machine, should be used alongside traditional GDP measures, Professor Anantha Duraiappah said.

The Director of the UN University’s International Human Dimensions Programme said MPs were “missing some of the most meaningful and simple signs” of successful countries.

He said the number of teenage schoolgirls on a city street, as birds sing in the background, is an important sign of a wealthy nation. In poorer countries young girls are often forced out of education at a young age, while overcrowded and polluted cities discourage wildlife.

“A crowd of teenaged schoolgirls lining the streets of an African town is a rare sight. Fewer than one in five girls in sub-Saharan Africa are able to attend secondary school.”

He continued: “New research has begun to show that people often value non-material wealth just as highly, if not more, than monetary wealth.

“When you wake up to the sound of chirping birds, you are listening to one of the simplest indicators of local environmental health.

“More sleep has been proven to lead to better interpersonal relationships, emotional intelligence and empathy toward others.”

At the moment, most countries measure GDP to gauge the health of a country’s economy. This measures the value of everything that Britain produces in a year.

But Prof Duraiappah believes that other signs of a good life are just as important.

He suggests monitoring smiles, random acts of kindness and access to lollipops, washing machines and eye glasses. “Without glasses, school kids miss out on their potential to learn, and adults are unable to make the best of their most productive years.

“A man pulling his laundry from a washing machine is more well-off than a big portion of the world population ―
only 2 of 7 billion have access to a washer...”


Gosh, it does make you think ― for some reason I instantly thought of the feelgood factor generated by the exceptionally well-run 2012 Olympics, and how well the nation
s athletes performed.

Mind you, and importantly so, for most of my adult life I have appreciated how lucky I am to have been born in the right place at the right time.

And just to prove it, here’s the beautiful hawthorn tree featured at the top (on a dull morning), captured just a couple of days later (during a picture perfect sunrise):
 


Under the blossom that hangs on the bough
(where sheep may safely graze)
 

Words are somehow inadequate to describe the simple if admittedly transient joy this one little tree generates in me.

Soon though, the blossom will be no more ― it is already morphing into a gentle pink ― but there’ll be plenty of other things lining up to grab my attention...
 


Sunday, May 18th

Sign Language: spotted in Gibraltar by John Byrne

Doggy days

I’VE been agreeably entertained by a gallery of doolally photos showing pet signs put up by owners and members of the public across the world. They feature dogs, cats, birds and even spiders that are either lost of found, as well as some more questionable looking creatures.

One sign shows a missing dog called Klaus, which is described as being “very, very crazy” ― with an increased hostility now that he is “off his medication”.

I particularly enjoyed these two from the canine world ― the first of a dog glaring at the camera in a spectacularly unsettling way...

 

                


Down, boy
! Actually, all that is missing is a number across the bottom. As for the second ― well, I appreciate that it’s an old joke, and I did see a variation on the theme once: ‘HUSBAND AND DOG MISSING FROM HOME’ etc, etc ― but like all good jokes it stands repetition, and it does boast an inherent ability to generate a smile.

It all brought to mind a delightful letter spotted in The Times:

No slobbering

Sir, You report that having a friendly dog in shot is the best way for a man to present himself in a photograph for online dating.
     Just how friendly does the dog need to be?
KEITH PADBURY, Duxford, Cambs.

 


Saturday, May 17th

Calf ahoy!


SUNRISE, and I’m crossing the large field in front of the big house ― the field where I witnessed yesterday’s newly-born calf struggle to deliver its first stand-up routine, albeit to an audience of one (mum excluded).

The field is divided by a single wire fence (electrified), and I’m walking along a track the other side of the wire to where the cattle are.

I notice one of the cows also walking alongside the fence, calling out. I recognise her as the one which gave birth yesterday ... but there is no sign of the calf.

I’m thinking perhaps it didn’t survive ― but I register that the cow keeps looking over to my side of the fence and into the ungrazed, verdant grass.

I have a look ― and there it is...


As a calf it would have easily sneaked under the single strand, waist-high wire ― but high enough to discourage the cows ― and settled down in the invitingly lush grass for the night. So I gee it up ― but it doesn’t want to move. Is it okay?

Persistence pays off, though, and I guide it back under the wire to a grateful mum.

And they both head off away from me ― the calf looking particularly lively and obviously quite healthy.

Wild garlic hey presto

I continue my walk ― another stunning morning ... I notice that the bluebells are fading fast. Except on the north facing slopes, where they are still in full bloom.

I divert into the woods, where the wild garlic is now everywhere. The scent is exceptionally powerful. Here’s an image I captured just a couple of days back, on a misty early morning...
 


What a sight it is, the woodland floor a carpet of white ― with an eye-catching border of bluebells. It’s a smashing image ... a haze of blue above the white.

Currently, I divert this way every morning ― and why not?
 


Friday, May 16th

Drip dry


05:30hrs ... A smashing morning, the sun is just rising over the Cambrian mountains ― into a clear blue sky. As I approach the entrance to Dinefwr Park, I notice ahead of me a fellow in a hi-viz jacket.

He is clearly a water board worker as he has one of those traditional listening sticks they use for underground surveillance. He keeps putting it to his ear at every stop-valve along the road and pavement.

We close in on each other. “Top of the morning,” say I.

“Mornin’,” he says.

“Do you know, I’ve always wanted to listen in on one of those things.”

“Sorry to disappoint you----“ My heart sinks as I expect him to add: “Health and safety and all that, Chief ― can’t risk you making a claim for damaged hearing.”

But he says nothing of the sort. “You won’t hear anything because I haven’t yet found the leak ― until I do there’s no sound at all, it’s all dead quiet on the water front ― otherwise I’d oblige.”

“Ah well,” I say, “that’ll have to stay unticked on my list of things to do ― without costing me any money ― before I officially go doolally.”

And we depart company, smiling.

To the Manor born

I enter Dinefwr Park ― and it really is a delightful early morning. Everything is picture perfect, with the birds furiously singing their hearts out.

As I pass Newton House, something in the field in front of the big house catches my eye.

One of the White Park cows has clearly just given birth. I pop over the fence to investigate. The calf is still yellowish in colour from the membranes and amniotic fluids associated with birth. Mum is just starting to lick the calf clean.

I’m actually looking into the rising sun, so decide to capture a few pictures in silhouette.

I spend about 45 minutes watching as mother and calf bond ... all the while the calf struggles to get to its feet ― which is quite normal ― and mum encourage it because that critical first feed beckons...

New dawn ... new birth


It is all quite wonderful to observe. However, the whole process will take a little while longer ... other cows come to investigate ... and quickly depart ― unlike the newborn calf I featured last year over on
400 Smiles A Day, where other cows encouraged the reluctant calf to get up and go to its mother.

This one looks okay, though. The sun keeps rising and the silhouette effect is lost ― so I  decide to continue along my morning walk...
 

Thursday, May 15th

Not flush

Sir, My somewhat tedious journey on a Virgin train from London to Carlisle this week was considerably enlivened by a visit to the bathroom facilities.
     A bright female voice exhorted me not to put various items down the loo, including “your mobile phone, old sweaters, hopes, dreams and goldfish”.
SHEILA GEWOLB, London NW8


Just yesterday I mentioned those wonderfully whimsical and off-beat wee missives I trip over in the bargain basement of the Letters pages of newspapers.

Just like the above, actually, compliments of The Times.

A Cothi morning

Now here’s a coincidentally funny thing: a most entertaining lady called Shân Cothi recently started presenting a weekday morning magazine show called Bore Cothi  (Morning Cothi ― but sounds like Coffee) on the Welsh language station, Radio Cymru.

Shân is a Welsh classical singer, actress and presenter. She was born and raised the daughter of a blacksmith in the tiny village of Ffarmers ― just up the road from Llandampness...

Honestly, if a picture paints a thousand words, there it is: she’s a dolphin, a pussycat, a sparrow, a red squirrel ― all rolled into one.

Shân is, I guess, a Welsh version of Vanessa Feltz. In other words, she is exceedingly amusing with her friendly gossip and her smiley views on life, the universe, etc, etc...

On the show she plays lots of Welsh music ― with a little bit of classical thrown in for good measure ― and has fascinating, diverting and often hilarious conversations with Welsh speaking people of interest.

Yesterday, the first guest on her show was a thoroughly entertaining lady called Sue Wynne, who this weekend is organising a blessing for pets at St Michael’s Church at Betws yn Rhos in Conwy, North Wales.

Sue explained how people form exceptionally strong bonds with their pets ― indeed Shân herself has a horse called Caio (pronounced Ka-yo, not CA 10, as an American visitor once did, which is the name of a village not far from her roots).

Shân always mentions Caio  in dispatches ― and blessing such pets seemed a natural step to Sue Wynne, whether those creatures be dogs, cats, budgies, horses, donkeys, whatever.

Anyway, the response in the area has been exceptional ― but she has made sure that all the cats will be down one side of the church, dogs the other. Oh, and there was one snake expected, which was a bit of a problem because the minister who would administer the blessing had a fear of snakes.

But I’ve jumped the gun. Before Shân’s actual show, she made a quick appearance on the previous programme, hosted by a Dylan Jones. On the brief trailer for her own show, Shân discussed the blessing feature: “Do you have any pets?” she asked Dylan.

“No, I don’t. Mind you, the kids do have a couple of goldfish.”

“Well they could be blessed ― and I have the perfect person coming on the show as a guest, Sue Wynne.” There’s a momentary pause ... Shân continues. “Sue Wynne? Sewin?” Much laughter, for ‘sewin’ is the Welsh word for sea trout.

Wonderfully witty. And see how the above letter about goldfish down the loo reminded me of Shân and her sewin.

Anyway, the letter that triggered the above tale brought a response:

Off his trolley

Sir, Sheila Gewolb’s pleasant reminder of what not to flush down the loo of a Virgin train reminds me of a train trip in Wales. The trolley steward wandered down the carriage offering, among other items, “ice creams, vipers noses and sea snake venom”.
DAVID FINDLAY, Shrewsbury


Goodness, perhaps we Welsh are closet cannibals.

Viper’s nose? That has to belong to Mrs Ogmore Pritchard (think of the ghosts of her two husbands stifled by her obsessive cleanliness).

Sea snake venom? That must be Mrs Pugh, the wife of Mr Pugh the schoolteacher who continues to plot the murder of his sour spouse.

Under Milk Wood lives. Round every corner.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Ogmore’, as in Mrs Ogmore Pritchard of Under Milk Wood infamy, came up as ‘Gomorrah’. How funny. The ghost of Dylan Thomas smiles.

 

Wednesday, May 14th

God’s searchlight

I CAN only presume that God was not best pleased with my Knock-Knock joke from yesterday. (Although, I suppose, his Son may well want me for a sunbeam.)

Whatever, along my early morning walk I couldn’t help but notice the above astonishing ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds and sweeping across the rising landscape in front of me ― just like a hugely powerful searchlight.

I could hear God: “I’ll find you, you little bugger ― making jokes at my expense...”

But it still made me smile though.

And now for something completely different

I thoroughly enjoy the off-beat and humorous little missives that are regularly tucked away at the bottom of the Letters pages of publications like The Times, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail ― and of course the online comments that accompany such letters.

For example, this letter from The Daily Telegraph:

Short-lived

SIR – Short men live longer (recent report)? Maybe, but I am 83 and once stood 6ft 6in. Now, if I stretch out, I might be 6ft 4in. Perhaps we should conclude instead that old men grow shorter.
Maxwell Macfarlane, Southborough, Kent

Very good. Then I read this very amusing online response from
Augeanstables:

I am really, really interested in Maxwell Macfarlane’s varying height as, over the past few weeks, in an attempt to pique the interest of The Daily Telegraph letters’ editor, whimsy section, I have written on the following subjects:

I know which one is Ant but I’m not sure which one is Dec. Do readers have any advice?

Where exactly on the cream continuum is Sainsbury’s “Soured fresh cream”? And how relevant is the sell-by date?

Why does the German word for butterfly sound so aggressive?

There were some online observations on this one. I’ve selected a couple ― these in response to a butterfly flapping its wings in The Daily Telegraph  comment section...

     Molamola: Why does the German word for butterfly sound so aggressive?
                               I think ‘schmetterling’ has a pleasant, endearing quality to it, really.

     Thatlldo:  The Dutch word ‘flinder’ is the best for describing a butterfly.

Back with Augeanstables  and a nod to the UK’s political landscape...

Who would win a 100m sprint, Samantha Cameron, Miriam Clegg or Vince Cable? And should Nigel Farage be excluded from the race?

Cleaning Panama hats? Pish
! In my day we thought nothing of cleaning the Panama Canal before breakfast. And then the Suez in the afternoon. And we still got change from sixpence.

Why is the Countdown anagram called a Conundrum? And do viewing figures rise along with Rachel Riley’s skirt?

Is it possible to have a 3rd alternative in a dilemma?

     Andrew Banks: Is it possible to have a 3rd alternative in a dilemma?
                                      No ― because then it is a tri-lemma.

Back on track...

If shepherd’s pie is made with lamb and cottage pie with beef, can I be sure that my cottage cheese is (not) halal?

I have a response to this one. At least, I am thoroughly confused with all this halal business ― however, Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times  helped throw some light on the subject:

What the halal?

It has been revealed that a large proportion of the meat we buy in supermarkets, or in the chain burger bars and pizzas joints, is halal ― that is, slaughtered according to the correct Islamic procedure.

That means the beasts must have their throats slit while they are still alive and some bloke has to read out a verse from the Koran while some other bloke burns the Israeli flag and 40 black-clad women ululate, or something.

Also, female lambs have to be veiled and must be virgins. I think. I’m not absolutely sure on all the details, but I hope you get the general point.

Yes Rod, I do. And a rather amusing general point it is. Delivered with a wink and a quiet prayer, I guess. Surely though, no one has the right to inflict cruelty on animals, whatever their religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, back with Augeanstables’  amusing list of ignored letters to The Daily Telegraph:

Are rogue wasps responsible for the dwindling bee population?

Which of these four is really a 5’3”, greasy-haired trucker from Yorkshire: Jane O’Nions, Naomi, Ann Farmer or Conchita Sausage? [Please, please, please let it not be Naomi.]

The above is very much a Telegraph  in-joke: Jane O’Nions and Ann Farmer are forever having letters published on rather serious subject matters. Naomi (O’Nions) is an amusing online contributor. As for Conchita Sausage ― see recent smiles of the day.

Is there really a joke about Polish women and bowling balls? [I know there is but will anyone else admit to knowing it?]

Yes there is ― and it’s rather naughty. At least, if it’s the one I’m thinking of. And I guess it has to be.

Meanwhile, back with England’s upcoming World Cup footie adventure:

Which of the Coles would you rather have seen in Brazil, Ashley, Cheryl or the Old King?

Why, oh why do you no longer publish letters starting with “Why, oh why …?” or “Am I the only one who …?”?
[And how many ?s do we really need?]

Since none of the above has been published am I not sad enough or do I get out too much?

Very funny, Augeanstables. Those really tickled the old smileometer.

Of course, the trouble with sending letters to The Daily Telegraph ― and I speak as someone who submits more than is good for me (and had a few published, mind) ― is that they receive about 700-plus missives a day ... and only some 20 get published.

Keep sending them in though, Augeanstables ― and keep us posted.

 

 

Tuesday, May 13th

Knock-knock!

  Who's there?
God!
GOD who?
GOD ALMIGHTY
IT'S GOD!!
Huw? IS THAT YOU?


Life, the universe and everything i.e. God v Hawking


“PROBABLY the biggest-selling, most unread book in the world.” David Suchet, 68, English actor, on the Bible.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, 72, might head our bestsellers, but it is probably also the least read book on the list.”
The Sunday Times' comment on the No. 1 on its 40 Years of Bestsellers list.

How ironic. Indeed, two book-end statements that probably reflect the thinking of perhaps 80 per cent of humanity.

We may not believe in God in the Bible sense, but we have more than a sneaky suspicion that there is much more to it than everyone is letting on, and that the precise history of time is currently beyond the grasp of the wit and wisdom of even the cleverest and most honest of people.

As I have mentioned before, for all I know, I am God, and this is all unfolding in my imagination.

And if you are reading this, then perhaps you are God, and everything is being played out in your imagination, indeed I am just a bit player in the play ‘wot you are writing’.

How else do you explain the utter doolallyness of the world we live in?

Some recent newspaper letters add to the joy of this passing parade we happen to call The Universe.

This, in The Times, from Fraser White of Bunbury in Cheshire:

Making history

I’d be fascinated to know what other events Tom Whipple had in mind when he suggested that the creation of the universe was only “arguably the most significant moment in history”.

And then this, along similar lines, in The Sunday Times, from
Terry Slater of Harlow in Essex:

Bang out of order

Regarding how the universe was born (“The biggest bang”, News Review), will this knowledge stop wars, house the homeless, feed the hungry or teach the illiterate to read? Thought not.

But let’s get back to Planet Earth, starting with the Goldilocks theory.

Just as Goldilocks found the porridge that was just right, the Earth seems to be just right for living creatures. The Earth seems to be the perfect distance from the sun for lots of water. Not too hot. Not too cold.

Venus (pictured at the top, along with Mars and Earth) is too close to the sun, and too hot for flowing water on its surface. In fact, it is so hot that, like a sauna, all the water has been evaporated into the atmosphere, and Venus has a thick and heavy atmosphere.

Mars is too far from the sun, and too cold for flowing water on its surface. Mars also has no continental drift, so particles of the atmosphere which become trapped within the ground stay trapped within the ground. Thus over time the atmosphere of Mars has become thin, and all the water is frozen into the ground...

There were some letters in The Times  about it, triggered by an article by Matt Ridley about the Goldilocks theory:

Goldilocks effect: almighty fluke or just the Almighty?

Here is part of a letter from Professor Anthony Briggs of Stoppers Hill in Wiltshire:

Everything is more complex and incomprehensible than we thought ... the likelihood that ultimate truth is unknowable to us...
     Meanwhile, we are left with the only certainty: for no obvious reason, existence exists. It is so wonderful an idea that one can readily understand the religious principle of awe and gratitude that things should be so.
     Our tiny universe, far from being a random occurrence, is likely to be an inevitable product of infinite creativity, many times replicated elsewhere.
     There are surely more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in Matt Ridley’s anthropocentric and algorithmic philosophy, and this is what we should be telling our children.


Then this from
David Levy of London N3:

How many more “lucky coincidences” would it take to convince Matt Ridley that Earth was deliberately created by a Supreme Being in such a way that mankind can survive here, alone in the universe.
     To recognise these “almighty flukes” but not to see the hand of the Almighty behind them takes rationality to rational extremes
!

And finally this, from
Peter Lindahl of Castle Donington in Leicestershire:

Matt Ridley’s conclusion that the earth must have been created by coincidence reminded me that Albert Einstein once said “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”.

Wonderful quote ― and we’re back with the idea that I am God. Or perhaps that you are God. Indeed, I recently heard this on
Alex Lester’s early-morning wireless show:

All matter is just energy reduced to slow vibration. That we are all a collective consciousness existing only in the imagination of each other...

A wonderfully thoughtful philosophical point on which to end ― and if I am God, then I though of it, so 10/10 to me ― but best of all, proof that the smiles of the day come in all shapes and sizes..

 

Monday, May 12th

Sign Language: spotted at Blackheath Village, near Guildford, UK

Signs of the times

YESTERDAY, I smiled at a gem of a throwaway line heard on the wireless. Well, by coincidence...

Just the other morning, a mature-sounding lady ― she may well have been a teacher ― recalled a time when she and a friend jumped in her car and set off for nowhere in particular ... she was simply celebrating the sheer joy at age 18 of her first journey in her first car.

Every time they came to a junction they flipped a coin. Heads left, tails right.

They kept going round in strange figures of eight, ending up, as it happened, somewhere quite near her home ― the very spot from where she had begun her personal journey into space.

It had all been a great adventure. And lots of fun.

And I believe her. Indeed, I was with her and her friend in the car. (She didn’t say, but I bet it was a Mini.)

So, sticking with driving, a letter in The Times:

Reversal

Sir, When I reverse my car with no one watching it goes perfectly. However, when another driver fixes me with a stare and an “it’s up to you” expression, I seem to lose my skills.
     Recently, I had to reverse down a single-track country lane with a ditch on either side. I really made a pig’s ear of it. The other driver did wave and smile as he sailed past.
     Perhaps I am what is known as a “dipstick”.
GRETA WARD, Hayling Island, Hants


I know precisely what Greta means. Mind you, I have no problem reversing down narrow country roads ― it’s something you need to do all the time living out here in the sticks of Welsh Wales ― but I do suffer the “dipstick” problem when having to reverse into a parallel roadside parking space.

Yet I can deliver it with aplomb when no one is watching.

Remember Reginald Molehusband?

Reggie featured in a memorable Public Information Film  from the Sixties, showing us how to reverse our car into a parking space. Sadly, it seems the original film of Reginald parking his Austin 1100 has been lost ― but the script survived:

Molehill becomes Everest

This is the story of Reginald Molehusband, married, two children, whose reverse parking was a public danger.

People came from miles just to see it. Bets were laid on his performance. What he managed to miss at the back, he was sure to make up for at the front. Bus drivers and taxis changed their routes to avoid him.

Until the day that Reginald Molehusband did it right. Not too close, far enough forward ... come on Reggie ... and reverse in slowly ... come on ... and watching traffic ... and park perfectly!

Well done Reginald Molehusband, the safest parker in town. [Loud applause from the gathered crowds watching the proceedings.]

Wonderful. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. So simple. So funny.

More strange directions

Yesterday, I also smiled at the fellow with a beard who wears a frock and won the Eurovision Song Contest, one Conchita Wurst.

What has given the whole thing an extra and joyful layer of farce is the news today that the whole shebang drove Vladimir Putin bananas. Well done, old girl.

I say “Well done, old girl” ― however, this headline appeared in Telegraph Online, tonight:
 

Conchita Wurst is a man. So why is everyone referring to him as 'she'?

So asks columnist Brendan O’Neill. A fair question. He starts thus:

I know that the only acceptable response to Conchita Wurst’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest is to gush about how grown-up Europe has become and to intimate that we haven’t witnessed such a revolutionary shift in European attitudes since those sans-culottes  stormed the Bastille.

But I’m going to be a party pooper and ask an awkward question: why, given Conchita is a man, is everyone referring to him as “she”?

The bending of gender speaks to today’s speedily spreading cult of relativism. We live in such relativistic times, in an era so hostile to the idea that there are measurable truths or concrete realities, that it seems we can no longer even speak of “men” and “women”.

There’s no such thing, apparently. There’s just a gender spectrum and you can choose where you feel you fit into it.

The most concrete categories in human history ― man and woman ― have quietly died at the narcissistic altar of allowing everyone to choose his/her/nether’s gender identity...

Now you know me and my brain: the ‘seeing part’ operates a split-second ahead of the ‘make sense’ part ― so I often read things incorrectly before the brain catches up and corrects.

Anyway, Brendan didn’t say “his/her/nether” ― he said “his/her/neither”.

Hm, at times my brain is a source of much amusement.

Incidentally, ‘nether region’ is defined thus: Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering; Subterranean (geography); Euphemism or slang for the groin or sexual parts of the human body...

A bit of subliminal thinking on my part there, methinks. Anyway, never mind all that, I actually answered the very question posed by Brendan O’Neill, yesterday. Remember?

Richard was discussing last night’s Eurovision Song Contest, in particular the bearded lady, in a frock, who won – and it seems, by general consent, that heeshee looked sexier than most women, without a beard, in a frock.

[Hm, did I get that right? What do  you call a fellow with a beard, dressed in a frock? A heeshee?]

Perfect. In fact, I’ve just shot off a brief missive to the Daily Mail's  Straight to the POINT column:

New Spice

The world ponders why a bloke with a beard in a frock is called a “she”. Down at my local Crazy Horsepower Saloon, Conchita Wurst ― an amusing little cocktail sausage on a stick ― is called a “heeshee”. Perfect ― and it rolls off the tongue.

HB of Llandampness

Spell-cheque corner: I was disappointed that the computer actually knew what “sans-culottes” meant. So out chuffed Ivor the Search Engine ― and off he went...

In the French Revolution, the sans-culottes were the radical left-wing partisans of the lower classes; typically urban labourers, which dominated France.

There you go, every day a day on the front line.

PS: For some reason I don’t quite understand, the computer suddenly decided to challenge ‘cheque’. As in ‘spell-cheque’. It suggested ‘spell-cherub’ ... followed by ‘spell-coequal’ ... followed by ‘spell-toque’ ... followed by ‘spell-chouse’ (to cheat, trick, defraud ― followed by of, or out of; as ― to chouse one out of his money).

I must go and lie down, etc, etc...

 


Sunday, May 11th
Notes from a delightfully doolally planet

Hey, Conchita, come queek

“THERE are so many countries in Europe now ― whether they want to be or not.” The smiley throwaway line that greeted me first thing this morning, as delivered by Radio 2  presenter Richard Allinson.

Richard was discussing last night’s Eurovision Song Contest, in particular the bearded lady, in a frock, who won ― pictured above ― and it seems, by general consent, heeshee looked sexier than most women (without a beard) in a frock.

[Hm, did I get that right? What do  you call a fellow with a beard, dressed in a frock? A heeshee?]

Yes, it was a win for Austria’s drag queen, Conchita Wurst, also known as Tom Neuwirth. Hm, now known as Tom Worthalot, I’d warrant.

Last night, as it happens, I did catch a handful of the performances, and the bearded lady was one of them. And I have to say, heeshee did make me smile.

Be all that as it may, on this morning’s wireless show, Richard read out a comment about the song contest from a
Helena Hancarte.

Lol, as they say in online drag.

Now that name did make me laugh out loud, and it certainly rates up there with the most memorable and/or funniest online user names I’ve spotted since humanity began its stumble through electronic time.

Truth to tell though, the ones that spring instantly to mind are of the slightly risqué variety: Tess Tickles, Hugh Jannus, Fairy Hanny, Cunningstunts, Flatulentus (I particularly like that one, lots of hot air, etc, etc)...

Talking of risqué, I particularly enjoyed this tale with a twist in its tail:

Push, push

A little girl wants to walk her dog, but her father says that she can’t because the dog is in heat. After a few “But dad!” objections, he finally relents and says: “Well, I guess, if we pour a little petrol on the dog’s rear end it will kill the scent.”

So he does. Half an hour later, the girl returns. The father says: “Where’s the dog?” The girl replies: “She ran out of petrol on the outskirts of town, and a helpful dog is pushing her home.”

When I first heard that story, and the father says “Well, I guess, if we pour---“ ― I thought he was going to say “...if we pour lots of water over her we’ll get our retaliation in first
!”.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘heeshee’, as in the word for a bearded fellow dressed in a frock, came up as ‘hee hee’ ― very amusing.

And ‘Neuwirth’, as in heeshees proper name, came up as ‘Neolith’. Which is again funny given that the Neolithic Age was also known as the New Stone Age ― or should that be the No Balls Age?

Say nothing is best (again).

 

Saturday, May 10th

Chemistry after class

Headline of the day (reproduced with mixed feelings):

Headmaster Graham Daniels, 50, and chemistry teacher Bethan Bale, 36,  suspended
over an alleged camera-phone ‘sex tape’ recorded by pupils at their school

The 30-second camera-phone video at Bryn Tawe School in Swansea, and posted online, features the sound of moans and panting apparently coming from behind a closed school office door.

Both headmaster and teacher are being investigated over allegations of sex sessions, etc, etc...

Rear-view mirror

Last month I shared with you a few lines from a wireless show called Siadwel, all about the oddball thoughts of a geeky bedsit poet who wears an anorak and glasses.

Siadwel has of course turned being a loser into an art form. In this brief quote, he is looking back at his youth, in particular his time in school. I quote:

“It wasn’t a posh school with a difficult entrance exam or anything. No, no, the only entrance exam at our school was, if you can open the door, you’re in. Although I did fail that at my first attempt.

“They were very strong on discipline though. Everybody was caned. Even the teachers...”

Back with the suspended teachers, Dai Version, down at the Crazy Horsepower, wondered if, actually, all the moaning and groaning was down to the headmaster giving his chemistry teacher “six of the best”.

Ho, ho, ho, indeed.

At the top, I indicated ‘Headline of the day (reproduced with mixed feelings)’.

Well, this tale covers all the bases.

As Chief Wise Owl pointed out following the Dai Version view of the event, this story satisfies our insatiable need for juicy gossip, as well as the irresistible necessity to make jokes to match ― yet on the other hand, there can’t be many who won’t feel extreme sympathy for these two unfortunate teachers.

There will be families involved on both sides ― indeed, more than likely children as well.

Chief Wise Owl is spot on. I really do feel so sorry for all of them.

But perhaps most telling of all is the fact that over just one generation, we have gone from a time when children had respect for their teachers ― to a time when children can bring down their teachers with a simple bit of electronic wizardry.

And perhaps, to add insult to injury, the two teachers are probably good at their jobs and liked by their pupils.

Quite sad, really. A perfect example of something smiley ha-ha ― what were the teachers thinking of? ― and smiley peculiar i.e. think safe, think ahead, think avoiding the inevitable ambush.
 


Friday, May 9th

“Please, do not eat me”

Square leg meal

SIR – I have recently bought a new pair of cricket whites. The trousers have a label attached which reads: “Mould prevention germ proofing. Do not eat.”
     I have endured some pretty indifferent teas over many years of provincial cricket, but even I would draw the line at eating my own trousers.
Julian Todd, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex


The above, compliments of The Daily Telegraph  Letters page. Imagine though, if that label had been spotted inside a hat: “Do not eat
!” As in: “If England win the footie World Cup, I’ll eat my hat.”

By a curious coincidence, this  letter appeared today:

(Clean) old hat

SIR – How does one clean a Panama hat without reducing it to pulp?
Alan J Watson, Cayton, North Yorkshire

These online comments tickled the old smileometer...

JDavidJ: Re cleaning the Panama hat ― perhaps it could be brushed gently, sponged with water and a mild detergent (whatever ‘mild’ means in this context), or washed in petrol.

Assymetric: First, blow off any dust from the inside (you could use a leaf blower); then, as you suggest, use some volatile liquid (petrol, meths etc.) by pouring it (gently) into the inside and allowing it to run through, then allow to dry. When dry, you could then pour water through it to wash out the petrol/meths.
     Attempts to use a cloth will probably embed any dust making it virtually impossible to get out. After a time, you’ll get used to the remaining smell of the petrol/meths.
     BTW, this is all theoretical since I’ve not attempted it on mine.


Peddytheviking: I should have thought the answer is to buy one woven out of plastic fibre. Then it could go through the gentle wash programme (no spin).


Hm, a plastic Panama: that would be quite a sweat-inducing thing to plonk on your head. Never mind a Panama, perhaps Peddy should recommend one of these, a Scania:

Sticking with giving things a good going over, another Telegraph  special:

Cleaning instructions

SIR – My wife recently bought a vacuum cleaner. An instruction on it advises: “Do not put in dishwasher.”
Michael Porter, Devizes, Wiltshire


Well, I’ll give the makers the benefit of the doubt and take it that they are actually referring to the filters. But you never know in theses days of whine and doolallyness.
 


Thursday, May 8th

Why TV viewers use subtitles

It's a foreign film
I'm a bit hard of hearing
I want to watch Jamaica Inn on the BBC

You what?

Before I get to the BBC’s new drama series, Jamaica Inn, this delightful letter in The Times...

Defibrillator

Sir, On Friday’s TV London news, in an item about heart attacks, there appeared the subtitle: “The only way to bring someone back to life is to use a decent beer later.”
J ANTHONY C MARTIN, London SW18


Follow that, as they say in the Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

Okay, Jamaica Inn.

But first, for those in faraway places with strange sounding names i.e. Llanllwchaiarn ― Jamaica Inn  is a novel by English writer Daphne du Maurier, an eerie period piece set in Cornwall in 1820, about a group of murderous wreckers who run ships aground, kill the sailors and steal the cargo.

In modern terms, they would be called bankers.

Anyway, the BBC’s new adaptation proved a ratings disaster. During the showing of the first episode it lost 1.6 million viewers ― a quarter of its audience ― and prompted some 800 complaints following the mumbled dialogue which made it so difficult to follow.

Inn-comprehensible was the meeja’s favourite word to describe the fiasco.

Here are a selection of comments from both The Times  and The Sunday Times:

The BBC drama Jamaica Inn had bad reviews, was criticised for terrible sound, had actors that mumble, and has been reported in all the news channels and the major newspapers in a negative way.
     As Ian Fletcher from the fabulous W1A [a mockumentary where the BBC does a bit of self-mocking navel gazing] would say: “It’s all good then.”
Chris Nott

First Shetland, now Jamaica Inn. We could hardly understand a word.
John Taverner

I didn’t think I would be moved to write, but I feel let down by the BBC, yet again. Shetland was bad enough, but Jamaica Inn was even worse. My viewing was made worse by my husband moaning, tutting and sighing.
Pamela Taylor

Classic last sentence, Pamela. Meanwhile, on with the show...

I couldn’t decipher a word, drowned out by the so-called background music.
Peter Morton

The best bit of Jamaica Inn? No Routemaster buses.
Jo-Ann Rogers

Unlike many others I had no problem in understanding the dialogue in Jamaica Inn. However, the reference to a Routemaster bus did come as something of a surprise.
David Webb

LOL
! And Double LOL! What else can I add? This, perhaps:

Oh dear, oh dear. The mail coach portrayed in the first instalment of Jamaica Inn was patently obviously a Mark 3, four-horsepower Routemaster, which was not introduced on the Bodmin run until 1828.
     Can’t the BBC get anything right?
Fred Forshaw

Brilliant, Fred Forshaw ― with a name like that you obviously saw the whole flotsam and jetsam thing coming.

As you may well have deduced, I really enjoy such silly comments.

However, I’ve submitted my own response to The Sunday Times  You say column. You see, I think I’ve discovered where the BBC has been going wrong these last few years:

Empathy ― lack of

Jamaica Inn? Jamaica Out, more like. I was one of the original 1.5m or so who made their excuses and left.
     In the first Points Of View following the series, the fellow in charge of production was hauled to account. Honestly, he was hardly out of nappies. We should not therefore be surprised that the BBC has as much empathy with its middle-age-plus audience as an amoeba has with a dolphin.


Incidentally, have you noticed that when commercials come on (or programme trailers on the BBC), not only is the lighting just perfect, but every word is crystal clear? How odd.

 

Wednesday, May 7th
Dunn & Dusted

From tastes of the unexpected...

...to tales of the unexpected

Headline of the day:

Artist who tied rooster to penis guilty of sexual exhibition

A South African artist who tied a live rooster to his penis in the name of “performance art” [it sort of grows on you] has been found guilty of sexual exhibitionism.

Last September, Steven Cohen, 51, appeared without warning in the Trocadero Plaza and paraded in front of the Eiffel Tower, together with the farmyard bird, in a performance entitled “Wotcher Coq/Cock”. [I tell a lie: it was entitled simply “Coq/Cock” ... they do not use early Middle Ages English in either South Africa or France.]

Cohen was dressed in platform heels, a corset, elbow-length red gloves, feathers on his fingers, an elaborate feathered headdress made of a stuffed pheasant ― and tethered the cockerel to himself with a ribbon.

Little Red Coq a Vignette


A classic case of nominative determinism? Steven Cohen?
 

Against a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, and under the perplexed gaze of tourists, including a group of nuns ― wouldn’t it be lov-erly to know what went through their minds as they politely averted their gaze, well, apart from one or two? ― Cohen danced for only a few moments before police pounced, dragging him across the plaza, rooster still attached.

He accused them of having “no understanding of what art is”, and now he can feel vindicated, for despite being convicted of “sexual exhibitionism”, he walked away from a Paris court a free man.

The court confirmed that no complaint had been filed against him ― not even by the nuns ― and that he had not engaged in sexual acts.

Cohen said the rooster, named Franck, was not harmed during the performance of his “powerful political statement”. Oh, and the cock was chosen “because it’s the emblem of France”.

His lawyer said she was “relieved”.

“This is a rather measured decision,” said lawyer Agnès Tricoire, warming to her ho-ho-ho task. “In my opinion, this case should never have gone to court.”

Steven Cohen told the newspaper that the Paris piece was a reaction to an increasingly homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic world.

“In showing the most intimate part of me, I’m saying: I’m male, I’m Jewish, I’m queer, I’m white,” he said.

Nearly a full house there, Steven. Anyway, a couple of online comments tickled the old smileometer no end:

Alyn of Neath: Apparently, according to people that saw him it was beautiful and graceful. They said it was poultry in motion.

Kevin of Newcastle: I was there. It was pretty fowl, actually.


I sort of imagine the scene straight out of a Carry On film. One of the passing nuns is Joan Sims, and she approaches Cohen: “My, what a rousing cock-a-doodle-doo you’ve got there.”

Oh dear, I remember Joan as Belle, the sharp-shooting saloon queen in Carry On Cowboy, when she confronts Sid James, the Rumpo Kid, in the bar, glances down as he hands her his gun, and declares: “My, but you’ve got a big one.”

And the Rumpo Kid responds: “I’m from Texas, ma’am, we’ve all got big ones down there.”

Yes, it’s all in the mind. And not an obscenity in sight.

 

Tuesday, May 6th
Who loves ya, baby?
     
 

Famous royal plays second fiddle

I RECENTLY quoted two rather amusing letters apropos the lady wot features in today’s top spot.

The first missive appeared in The Times, when Kate, William and Georgie Porgie visited New Zealand and Australia, in particular following the one official day they had off, and a reader noted: “Wednesday’s paper did not have a photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge. I do hope she is all right.”

And then, just the other day, in The Daily Telegraph, a reader remarked: “No wonder Harry and Cressida broke up. What girl would play second fiddle for the rest of her life to you know who?”

Both exceedingly smiley efforts.

Anyway, during the royal visit Down Under, Kate posed for thousands of photographs and looked picture perfect in pretty much every one.

But there was one image from the three-week tour that particularly captured Kate’s heart.

Unsurprisingly, it features a very cuddly looking Prince George. It was presented to her, in a black and white format (curiously), by the photographer Simon Woolf.

I only ever saw the coloured version in the media, but curiosity did get the better of me, so I did a simple ‘greyscale’ conversion...

Obviously the quality, sharpness, intensity and depth of the original would be far removed from the one I feature, above ― but, I’m not sure whether in this instance I’d prefer black and white over colour. And I enjoy looking at black and white photographs.

But here’s the thing: yesterday I smiled at this year’s abundant crop of dandelions.

And of course the flowers are now rapidly turning to seed. I captured a photo along my early morning walk of a dandelion flower slowly opening to the rising sun ― next door to one that has already turned to seed...

 


 

The image made me think of the one of Kate and young George.

Kate is obviously the flower ― obviously ― and George is the fluffy, delicate looking seed waiting to drift away on the breeze, as all children do, eventually...

In the years ahead, Britain will probably come to see George as a bit of a dandelion in the nation’s flower meadow.

Around 70 per cent of the population will see him as a handsome creature decorating the passing parade and born to draw all the honey bees ― while the other 30 per cent or so will see him as a weed that must be eradicated at all costs.

C'est la vie
! (Well, we are today celebrating 20 years of the Channel Tunnel.)

Before I go, have you ever wondered about the transformation of the dandelion flower into those delicate and beautiful seed heads?

You must watch this wonderfully shot short film of such a profound metamorphosis. Amazing.

Dandelion turns to seed:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ_QqtXoyQw
 


Monday, May 5th
Dandelion & Honey

To bee, or not to bee

SIR – The dandelion season is here; and much to the chagrin of lawn lovers, this vigorous plant continues to flourish.
     The dandelion is the honey bees’ spring saviour, as each flower contains at least 120 florets containing valuable nectar ― a one-stop filler for each honey bee.
     For their sake, homeowners and councils should resist the urge to mow their lawns, verges and recreation spaces too early.
Commander Alan York RN (retd), Sheffield, South Yorkshire

The above letter is from The Daily Telegraph. The photograph at the top, though, is one I took when I was living in the cottage on the farm: the bee really was tucking in with all its might.

But here’s the thing. Yesterday I featured a photo of the two distinctive sheep I’d encountered along my morning walk.

Coming up is a picture I took just a few days ago...

As you enter Dinefwr Park & Castle ― from the direction of the town that is ― you immediately walk through quite a large field, which the National Trust is slowly ‘converting’ back to being a traditional flower meadow.

It is quite a lengthy process, which will take many years. The field hosts no stock. Just a couple of crops of hay (or silage) are taken off each year.

Some years though it’s plastered with dandelions ― and this year is one.

The other day I shared with you the glorious trail through the bluebell wood. Well, here’s the path through the dandelion field...


What a glorious sight that is, with all the trees coming into leaf framing it just perfectly. And as the Good Commander (retd) in his letter, above, points out, the honey bees are addicted to the dandelion.

Indeed, they were all over the shop, furiously feasting on the goodies.

They do say that a good walk in the countryside lifts the spirits.

Who am I to argue?
 


Sunday, May 4th
A sisterly combo

♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫

Sisters, Sisters,
There were never such devoted sisters.
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir;
I need to keep my eye on her.

Caring, sharing,
Every little thing that we are wearing.
When a certain Rambo arrived from Rome,
She wore the dress and I stayed home.

All kinds of weather, we cling together,
The same in the rain and sun;
Two different faces, but in tight places,
We think and we act as one.

Those who’ve seen us,
Say that not a thing could come between us.
Many rams have tried to split us up,
But no-one can, nobody can.

Lord bless the Rambo,
Who comes between me and my combo;
And Lord help the sister,
Who comes between me,
Me, Me, Me
And my boyo
!

With apologies to the Beverley Sisters (and Irving Berlin).

 

I spy with my little eye

THE moment I noticed the above combo watching me intensely as I crossed the field ― well, how could I resist taking their picture and slightly paraphrasing the famous Beverley Sisters song to taste.

What a smashingly smiley photo though (its those ears, of course).

Talking of sisters, this letter, spotted in The Daily Telegraph, fits the bill just perfectly...

Second fiddle

SIR – No wonder Harry and Cressida broke up. What girl would play second fiddle for the rest of her life to you know who?
David Silber, Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire


Excellent.
 


Saturday, May 3rd

Alice in Potholeland

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
Alice follows him down the pothole...

When you find yourself in a hole

IT ALL kicked off last Friday, with that basic test to see how many common or garden road signs we motorists could identify ― with a few alternative explanations thrown in for good measure.

Then yesterday, Look You featured a brace of alternative road signs suitable for today’s motorist, as designed by a group of imaginative London cabbies.

Well, it seems that it’s not only here in the UK that potholes are an ever growing menace ― it apparently frustrates motorists all over the world.

So much so there’s an amusing website, My Potholes, dedicated to the phenomenon (link coming up down below).

The picture at the top, of Alice following the wascally white wabbit down a likely-looking pothole, is from Canada, and a typical example of the work of Canadians Claudia Ficca and Davide Luciano.

However, and amusing as Alice and her pothole is, truth is forever stranger than fiction.

Here’s a marvellous tale that surfaced here in the UK, back in March, following our winter of discontent ― or rather, our winter of rampant storms:

Is this Britain’s biggest pothole? Cavernous 6ft wide hole nicknamed ‘the swimming pool’
opens up in Devon ... and council’s own investigations have made it worse


Three coins in the pothole ... all contributions welcome

One in a hole

Residents in a Devon village claim they have the biggest pothole in the country.

Back in February, storms caused the underlying hardcore to be forced up through the tarmac ― but the unclassified road remained perfectly passable, with care.

But then Devon County Council workmen dug a larger hole to investigate the problem ― and yes, it grew and grew and grew ― resulting in the road, between Crediton and Newbuildings (yes, there really is a place called Newbuildings), having to be closed.

And the council said it did not have the cash to repair the hole until the next financial year, at the earliest.

Fortunately, that was just over the horizon.

So April was pencilled in as a likely date for the work to be done ― in the meantime some 300 vehicles a day, including school buses and milk lorries, had to be diverted through a series of quiet lanes and tranquil villages.

What was it Bernard Cribbins sang? “There I was, a-diggin’ this ‘ole, ‘ole in the ground, so big and sort o’ round...”
Very funny. Here’s a link:
                                           
Bernard Cribbins - Hole In The Ground

And here’s the link to the funny potholes web site:
                                                                                     
http://www.mypotholes.com/#1
 


Friday, May 2nd

Hamming it up

Could the above really be true, I wondered, SOL (smiles out loud).

Especially so as the actual HAM / SANDWICH part of the signpost has been given an immaculate spring clean.

There again, the other signpost doesn’t say DEAL / OR NO DEAL, which gives the whole thing an air of credibility.

So I got out my RAC Road Atlas ― yep, sometimes a traditional map beats an online one hands down ― so let us have a peep ... yes indeed: Ham is a hamlet near the town of Sandwich in Kent. (And it would have to be a hamlet.) Also, the distances involved make sense.

What is more, I spotted four other places called Ham: a tithing (the term implies a grouping of ten households) in Berkley, a civil parish in Gloucestershire; also, a suburban district in south-west London; and, a village in the Caithness region in the Scottish council area of Highland; finally, a village and civil parish in the county of Wiltshire.

But there’s only one Sandwich. BLT.

Anyway, sharing the above amusing signpost diversion ― I wonder how many pictures have been taken of that sign? ― was triggered by yesterday’s piece about road signs.

Apparently, cabbies in London have come up with a range of new road signs to reflect motoring in modern Britain, especially so in Old London Town.

But first, a couple of letters spotted in The Daily Telegraph.

This appeared towards the end of 2013, following the Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne:

Hole in one

SIR – I am delighted to see that there will be billions invested in infrastructure but I have a question: when will the potholes in my road be filled?
David Thorne, Knighton, Radnorshire


Followed by this missive:

Dangerous driving

SIR – Yesterday I narrowly missed a pothole in a speed bump. Is this a first?
Peter Scott, New Milton, Hampshire


Which in turn drew this online comment...

Chezz: “Yesterday I narrowly missed a pothole in a speed bump. Is this a first?” It might be, Mr Scott. It depends on whether you have ever narrowly missed a pothole in a speed bump before. Only you will know.

Okay, new signs: first up, a reflection of the nation’s pothole-scarred streets and highways...

 


 

Very good. And many a motorist will empathise with its message.

The second road sign is to do with the on-going battle on our roads between motorists and cyclists. Forever bitter, and sometimes fatal...


 

As I’m about to watch Live Cycling: Tour of Turkey on Eurosport  ― it seems like a perfect place to call it a day.

 

Thursday, May 1st

The Highway Codicil

THIS, spotted in Mail Online...

A third of motorists are so clueless about road signs they don’t even know
what the national speed limit symbol is ... so how will you get on?

Test yourself with our road quiz, below


A survey of 2,000 drivers by car insurers More Than  found widespread ignorance of safety warnings and speed limits ― and revealed that many people ignored the laws on speeding, even when they did understand.

Drivers mistook ‘slippery road’ signs and weren’t able to tell when they were being warned of the road narrowing ― so we’ve compiled some of the most-mistaken signs for you to test yourself...
 


 

I surprised myself by scoring 8/10. A few of them, to be honest, were educated guesses ― but I had no idea what numbers 6 and 10 were.

Anyway, here at Look You, every day is a day at school...

ANSWERS:

     1) Cycle route ahead     2) Road narrowing     3) Slippery road     4) Dual carriageway ends
     5) Uneven road     6) T-junction with priority over vehicles from the left     7) Tram crossing ahead
     8) National speed limit     9) Start of motorway     10) Diversion route for motorway traffic

However, what turned this tale of passing interest into something smiley was this response in the Comments from
Romparose:

     1) Bike shop     2) Clay oven ahead     3) Thru-road for drunk drivers     4) Squatting area
     5) Breast augmentation clinic     6) Free hammers      7) Tram museum
     8) No snow allowed     9) M25     10) Dark Crystal fan club HQ

One or two of them might not be correct because I recently failed my written test.

Very good. I particularly enjoyed No. 8 & No. 9 (that the M62 is actually the M25).

But it set me thinking ― along different lines, as is my wont ― but I was initially influenced by yesterdays talk of Dylan Thomas, and by implication, Under Milk Wood...

     1) Here lives Polly Garter, ever-pregnant village bike     2) Is your arse the size of a small country? Diet
!
     3) Bankers making quick getaway     4) Tuning fork factory     5) Here lies Gossamer Beynon, village beauty
     6) Hairy Mohawk Bikers Convention Ahead     7) Trams, Tramps & Trollops     8) NHS dentist available
     9) My Sixty-Second Lego factory     10) Diamonds Are Forever ... now showing

Well, that is  my best shot. I shall retire for the night. Quietly.

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