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400 Smiles A Day
It seems that
the artist Leonardo da Vinci kept a notebook, Notes to Self,
a list of “things to do today”: buy paper; charcoal; chalk ...
describe tongue of woodpecker and jaw of crocodile...
These are my Notes to Self, a daily record of
the things that make me smile and which brighten up my day no
end, whether read in a newspaper, seen on TV, heard on the
radio, told in the pub, spotted in the supermarket, a good joke,
a great story, a funny cartoon, a film clip, an eye-catching
picture, 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...
everyday a doolally smile of the day
The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
Thursday July 31st, 2014
Live at the White
YESTERDAY I told the tale of
happening to walk past the window of Bentley the Jewellers here in
Anyway, after I’d photographed the
Bentley window, along with the noteworthy dress on display, I carried on with my stroll
As I passed the White Horse pub,
the chalk board at the entrance to the property, just off the pavement,
caught my eye ― there it is up there, on today’s welcome mat.
I instantly noticed that something
quite crucial was missing from the sales pitch. There’s “― Award Winning
Evan Evans Ales”, “― Real
Welsh Welcome”, “― Live Sports”, “― Live Music”...
can you see what
should, perhaps, be there?
I mean, why do you
go to a pub? Well, for the company, for the fun, for the gossip, for the
Anyway, I popped into Spar to pick
up the morning paper, and I said to Mr Patel, the proprietor: “Your
doesn’t happen to have a bit of chalk upstairs, something suitable to
write on a blackboard? I only want enough to scribble a couple of
“I sell chalk!” he said
with a wry smile. I
explained that I really didn’t want a whole box, not because of the cost
but it would be a total waste of chalk. “I sell it as individual sticks,”
Brilliant, 10p, job done.
The early-morning after, as I set off on my walk, just before half-five,
I make a detour past the White Horse. At that time of the morning there
nobody about, not even any passing traffic ― and I do my Tommy
Tucker deed while “Sir” is preoccupied with “Miss” (fingers crossed).
In fact, the pub had added a poster
to the board ― so here’s my added sales pitch...
See what I’ve done there? I reckon
they’d missed out the most important attraction of all.
what with most young people now
seemingly addicted to social media, there is less and less face to face
contact in this doolally old world of ours ― people are no longer having
actual conversations. And for a pub, live chat has to be the most powerful
selling point of all.
As I stood back to admire my work,
I was startled by a voice from behind. “Very nice.”
God, talk about a creeping Jesus. I
never even heard the fellow ― an unfamiliar face ― approach. And funnily enough he looked
something of a Jesus
figure. He was about 40, I guess, a beard, a bit bedraggled ― my first
thought was a homeless person.
But truth to tell he did not look
dishevelled enough to be without shelter.
Perhaps he’s a drunk, I thought,
still out on the town from last night ― and he was clutching a bottle.
But it was a plastic bottle of water. Yes, it could be full of vodka ― but really I
could sense that he wasn’t drunk.
“Yes,” I responded, glancing at what
he’d been watching me write on the board, “I thought it an important
selling point to entice folk into the pub.”
“Do you have a cigarette?” he
“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t smoke.”
I next expected him to ask for
money. I had on me a few quid to buy a paper on the way back
from my walk ― and perchance a couple of lottery tickets. There
again, Mr Patel will give
me credit for the paper until tomorrow, I thought, and I can give the lottery
a miss. Hope he won’t feel insulted by how little I offer.
But what he said next surprised me.
“By the way, I’m the Prince of Wales.”
And in a wee 0 to 60 in 2.5
seconds burst of inspiration ― normally I’m a 0 to 60 in 10
seconds i.e. I think of a perfect answer 7.5 seconds too late ― anyway,
in a flash I said: “And I’m the Duke of Edinburgh and me and your mum
wondering where you’ve been hiding of late.”
His expression was a complete
blank. And in that split-second I realised that I was actually dealing
with someone who was clearly mentally challenged, to some degree or other.
Shut up, I said to myself, make
your gentle excuses and quietly slide away ― which I did.
I haven’t seen him around town
since. And my work of art is still on the pub board. Best 10p investment
of the week.
And believe it or
the two Euro lottery tickets I bought that morning (cost £4), won me
Well, it did generate a smile.
Wednesday, July 30th
A Llandeilo shop window
Bentley & Co, Jewellers: Gallery & Workshop
Hitting the right note
A WEEK or so back (July 18 to be exact) I acknowledged Llandeilo’s
annual music festival.
Or more to the point, I mentioned
in dispatches that most of the town’s shops had entered into the spirit
of the celebrations with window displays to reflect the melodic nature
of the week.
In particular, I shared a picture
of a couple of music dictionaries in the window of Home & Interiors shop
Coffor Bach ... one of the books opened up to project the
word ‘Music’, while the other shared a few tuneful notes with us.
It was all very clever. If you need
a refresher, here’s a link to that particular smile of the day ...
Well now, I have just walked along one of the streets in town, a road I
normally just drive down ― and as a consequence I hadn’t noticed that
one of the shops, Bentley & Co, the jewellers, had decorated its window
rather eye-catchingly, and fortunately for me, the display was still
holding on to its final note.
There it is up there, on today’s
welcome mat. But what really caught my eye is the dress on the mannequin
― and here it is, in all its glory, made up entirely of rolled up old
On the sunny
side of the street
seduced and undressed
me on the sofa with
his tonic sol-fa...”
How brilliant a creation is that?
Out of curiosity I Googled ‘picture
of dress made out of sheet music’ ... and yes, there were a few examples
― but none quite as good as the above, in my humble opinion, anyway.
Tuesday, July 29th
The Sky falls in, but the caravan moves on
Sir Bradley Wiggins: “Team Sky and Va Va Froome can stuff
their caravan where the sun don’t shine”
Carry On Biking
EVERYONE just knew that the cycling spat between Team
Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome would end in crashes and tears.
that’s not hindsight. Pretty much everybody was saying so before this
year’s Tour de France got going ― and lo and behold, within just a few
days Froome had crashed out and Sky were stranded up that mountain creek
without a back-up paddle.
when I saw the above vintage photograph from the great outdoors of
yesteryear, of a man taking a most unusual holiday back in 1940 ― well,
I couldn’t resist.
Sky boss Dave Brailsford’s technical ability as a cycling coach is
beyond question, but his man management remains problematic. The spat
between Wiggins and Froome, which took root two years ago, should not
have been allowed to fester.
Anyway, when Bradley found himself overlooked for the Team Sky squad for
this year’s Tour de France ― he won the event two years ago but was
injured last year ― Wiggo decided to switch his attention back to track
racing, where he first made his mark.
entered the Commonwealth Games as part of the four-man England squad in
the 4,000 metre team pursuit ― but the lads were well beaten to gold by
world champions Australia.
speaking after his race, Wiggo said the team had always seen the event as a
preparation for the Olympics in two years’ time. “It's been a great
break from the road and a good start for Rio.
“Four weeks ago we sat in a room for the first time in six years and
wondered how far we can go. We’ve had limited preparations for this and
hopefully will look back in two years with gold medals around our necks
thinking this was the starting point in Glasgow.
don’t want to sound like Roy Hodgson [England football manager], but
there were plenty of positives.”
At least Wiggo hasn’t lost his sense of humour.
on a Sir Raleigh
many others, I believed that Bradley Wiggins should not have been
knighted until he’d hung up his racing hat. I mean, there he was at
Glasgow, Sir Wiggo, climbing the podium to receive ― a silver!
was not in the script.
my humble, all
such honours should only be handed out when the recipient has finished
doing what brought fame and fortune in the first place.
Imagine how wonderful it would be if Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton
John et al had had to make the choice between a title and continuing to
make the nation cringe as they persistently attempt to recapture their
glory days on stage (albeit in the name of increasing their personal
better, imagine if such a rule applied in banking.
There would never have been the fuss of publicly having to strip Sir
Fred the Shred; and poor old Mervyn King, retired Governor of the Bank
of England, having failed completely to spot the ambush that brought the
country to its financial knees, would still be basic old Mr Mervyn King and
thus spared having to explain away the “Sir” because he was totally
brilliant at his day job. Not.
Anyway, I’m returning to the Tour for one last visit, and all down to a
marvellous Watts video of race highlights I’ve just watched online.
Yesterday I told the smiley tale of the rider fined for taking a
roadside pee without exercising proper discretion.
forgot to mention the most cheeky moment of the Tour, when rider Arnaud
Démare decided to stop on a climb and walk into a stranger’s camper van
to go to the toilet.
bring it up again because about halfway through this 14 minute video,
there’s a glorious sequence of riders taking ‘comfort breaks’ ― very
funny ― and the cheeky moment featuring the fellow walking into the
camper van is included.
Watts: Tour de
France funnies and fails on Yahoo ... as Vincenzo Nibali celebrates his
Watts rounds up all
the triumph, tragedy and tomfoolery of the world’s greatest bike race
with a Tour special, with exceptionally clever deployment of music and
various sound effects to back up every sequence.
Monday, July 28th
The Italian Job
YESTERDAY in Paris, Vincenzo
Nibali, 29, won the 101st Tour de France. He took control of the Tour
from stage two; in fact he wore the leader’s famous yellow jersey for 18
of the tour’s 21 race days.
In truth the race was over as a
contest when his two main rivals, Britain’s Chris Froome and Spain’s
Alberto Contador, both crashed out early with bad injuries.
Still, Italian Nibali was a worthy
champion, indeed he came across as a most agreeable and modest fellow.
So well done he.
(Is it not
astonishing that those three words, The Italian Job, remain as
evocative today as they did 45 years ago?)
The Tour de France itself, along
with the fans decorating all the stages, was as doolally as ever, with
some memorable images and tales of the unexpected.
My visual smile of the tour goes to
this most magical of images...
Don’t move: a very young fan captures the magic of the passing parade
As it happens, I’ve noticed this
kind of thing before out in France, during rugby internationals, where
an artist on the touchline will capture the scene as the game unfolds,
very much in the above fashion.
Marvellous. The above is obviously
a carefully constructed set-piece. Made even better by that old VW
camper, variations of which you will spot parked up all along the Tour.
The only shame is that the yellow
jersey is not actually among the passing parade. Having gone to so much
trouble to dream up such a magical moment I would have moved on to the
next stage to try and capture the leader in the frame.
Still, great shot, and a worthy
smile of the tour.
And so to my smiliest commentary
When you gotta go...
Sports commentary and punditry is currently coming in for a great deal
of stick here in the UK for its dumbing down and child-like nature.
Especially the media’s obsession with having celebrities passing
themselves off as sports experts ― who then go on to talk a load of
glorious old bollocks.
However, the exception which
challenges the rule is cycling, particularly road racing, such as the
Tour de France.
As it happens, the commentators
have to put in many hours as any one stage can last anything up to five hours
This year the Tour was covered by
three broadcasters: Eurosport, cycling’s most travelled and experienced
broadcaster; ITV, relatively new to the game; and dipping its Welsh toe
in the pedal clip for the first time, the Welsh language channel, S4C.
As is my wont, I zapped between all
of them ― especially so when the ad breaks came on, shhh, don’t tell
anyone ― and found all three exceptionally good in their different ways.
Eurosport even boasted a daily
poetry corner (indicating viewers, as well as cyclists, with style and
rhythm?), and of course they had the amusing commentator Carlton Kirby,
who delivered the witticism of the Tour, in my humble opinion.
Given that the cyclists spend such
long periods in the saddle, and drink an awful lot of liquid to combat
the heat and energy burn-up, they are allowed to answer the call of
nature, the euphemistically termed ‘comfort break’, alongside the road,
the only rule being that they must choose their spot carefully and must
not, under any circumstances, frighten the women and the horses.
During the opening stages in
Yorkshire, it was reported that an unnamed rider was nominally fined for
“indiscretion”, but as a Eurosport commentator pointed out, such were
the crowds all along the routes that it would have been rather difficult
to find a strictly ‘no peeping’ spot anyway.
To which Carlton Kirby responded: “Ah, perhaps he was
done for flamboyance.”
I laughed out loud. Made even better because every pub has one or two of
those. You go to the toilet for a quick pee ― and someone will be there
flashing it about and putting the rest of us to shame.
Spell-cheque corner: ‘Vincenzo’, the Tour winner, came up as
‘Incense’, which, given the Italian connection, is rather good. ‘Nibali’
came up as a straightforward ‘Nibble’. But ‘Contador’, the Spanish rider
who crashed out, came up as ‘Contender’. I am endlessly amused by these
Sunday, July 27th
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly...
‘Shed of the year’ finalist, 2014
The Teapot, Serene and Genteel
very sight of a teapot puts a smile on the face of most people.
One cannot help but think of more serene and genteel times. From
a whimsical child’s teapot to an elegant English Teapot, to
collectible teapots that adorn some homes, they are a subtle
reminder of all that is good in this world.”
and share a pot of tea,
My home is warm and my friendship’s free.”
how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of
solitude and the pleasures of company.”
More than a toolbox
Yes, it’s that time of year again, and this most delightfully eccentric
of British affairs, The Shed of the Year, is once more into its final stages.
a woman, as Virginia Woolf put it, needs ‘a room of one’s own’, a man
needs a shed,” says The Sunday Times. “In this context, however, the
word is a generous umbrella term for some of the structures on display,
and ordinary they are not.”
On today’s welcome mat is Ian Hunter from Roxburghshire with his
Now how wonderful is that?
A subtle reminder of all that is good in this world?
Built entirely from reclaimed materials, Ian uses the ground level as a
drying shed for timber. Upstairs is a summer house accessed by steps
through the teapot handle. And the spout doubles as a drawbridge.
lid of the teapot can be opened and shut by winding a reworked old hand
than a toolbox, indeed.
just to balance things, this smiley picture compliments of
Even better in HD
Spotted in Elland, West Yorkshire by Bruce Carlin
always fear that creation will expire before tea time.”
Rev. Sydney Smith
Saturday, July 26th
Francesca Jones (Wales) bewitches at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games
in them thar valleys
“SOMETIMES sport delivers great scripts. Rhythmic gymnast Francesca
Jones retires after an eventful career, with a gold on her very last
routine and Wales’s first of the Games.” Gabby Logan, BBC Sport
presenter and former Wales Commonwealth Games gymnast.
Imagine: over a period
of three days you climb the podium five times to receive five silver medals at the
Commonwealth Games ― and then you have to endlessly listen to
the Canadian anthem as an exceedingly talented 17-year-old gymnast wipes the
smile off your face at every twist and turn.
Next you have to
gather and compose yourself and take to the floor to perform your sixth
and final task, the
individual ribbon rhythmic gymnastics discipline,
in what will be your last ever public performance as you retire from
professional competition at the grand old age of 23.
Do you feel down? Do you feel as if the sky is falling in on your head?
That the whole wide world is against you? “I’m going to dance my heart
out as if it’s the last routine of my life!”
declares the up-beat Welsh gymnast.
And Frankie Jones, pictured up
there on today’s welcome mat, proceeds to put the young Canadian
whippersnapper in her bronze place, even allowing for a protest by the
Canadians about the scoring.
In a telling way, Frankie Jones’s five silver and one gold is a more
powerful CV statement than
impressive five gold and one bronze.
Indeed, Frankie sounds the sort of person I would be
reassured to find
alongside me in the trenches. “KBO”, as Churchill famously
Winston Churchill ended almost every telephone call with “KBO”, KBO
being an acronym for “Keep Buggering On”.)
Frankie post KBO...
someone did mention that if Frankie had been a country, what with her haul of
one gold and five silver medals, she would, at that moment, have been in ninth
place on the medal table.
Mind you, Patricia
Bezzoubenko, with five gold and one bronze, would currently be fifth.
I did, however, smile at how
seemingly miserable the Canadian looked accepting the
bronze; after all, she was hot favourite to make a clean sweep.
“But I’ll put a
sprag in your wheel afore you gang far,” as miner Robert Sinclair once
PS: Frankie carried
the Team Wales flag at the Opening Ceremony, recognition of her
dedicated services to rhythmic gymnastics in Wales.
extraordinary achievement, what a perfect
circle if she also carries it at the Closing Ceremony.
Friday, July 25th
Dock of the Bay by Bev Howe
LAST Monday my smile of the day featured the type of female that
triggers my ‘morning seller’ gene i.e. the woman who catches my eye at
Using arm’s-length illustrations, I featured Gretchen Corbett (Beth
Davenport in The Rockford Files) and Jackie Swanson (Kelly in Cheers).
what of a female that makes me go weak in the knees ― without ever
seeing her face or hearing her voice?
There she is, up there, on today’s welcome mat.
Well now, this morning I was looking for some old papers I needed to
refer to and in the process delved into a
big box of files I’d packed away when I moved home a couple of years
During the hunt I happened upon a 2003 scrapbook, where I
serendipitously tripped over a Western Mail newspaper
cutting from May of that year.
Here’s part of said article...
Artist with sensual style
HOWE’S paintings celebrate the female form in a warm and sensual style.
latest collection has just gone on display at the Adam Gallery in
larger-than-life images were displayed for the first time just a year
[a UK and Canada based artist] started painting when she was 17 years
old as she was fascinated by the human form but when her children came
along she was forced to put her artistic ambitions on hold.
After gaining a fine art degree at the University of Wales Institute,
Cardiff, Howe staged her first exhibition at the gallery of St Brides
Hotel in Saundersfoot.
work has since gained several awards and been exhibited at galleries
here’s the painting featured in the newspaper piece and which had caught my eye...
Church on the Bay
Honestly ... talk about warm and sensual and sexy ― that’s got the lot. And
I originally set eyes on the above image in the paper, I remember thinking
in that first split-second, with my luck
she turns around ― and it’s a fella sporting a beard, probably a
resident of Tipi Valley, a famous hippy community just up the road from the
just as instantly I noticed the very feminine arms and the cut of the body
― then I read the piece quoted above.
I have no idea who the model is.
for that reason she remains my perfect specimen. (Assuming, of course,
she’s not [Charlotte] Church on the Bay.)
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
Thursday, July 24th
@michaelhogan: “Rod’s wearing hair by Gloria
Hunniford, skin by World of Leather
and suit by BacoFoil.”
Games opening ceremony
I WATCHED the first 20 minutes or
so of the opening ceremony, and while it was a wee bit smiley, I found it
all a bit too CBBC, a bit too kids’ telly, for my taste.
It all started to go wrong for me
when Rod Stewart appeared. I have nothing against Rod, a great
character, and I enjoy listening to him singing.
The pertinent word is ‘listening’.
The moment I see him ... well, with every change of camera shot, his bum
gets bigger and bigger and bigger ― and he then floats up, up and away
... to eventually kiss some gorgeous blonde lady in the circle who shouts “I love
I blame Kenny Everett in those
leopard print pants and his memorable take-off of Rod singing Do Ya
Think I’m Sexy. Scarred for life, I am.
Also, Michael Hogan’s tweeted
message, shared on the Telegraph’s live blog of the opening
ceremony, and featured above, did not help.
However, watching a report on
television this morning, it seems that the stars of the show were the 41
Scottish Terriers, deployed to lead each country into the
arena, and each Scottie labelled with the relevant nation...
Cute beyond. However, while the wee
Scotties are smashing little dogs, it seems they can be more than a little
obstinate at times, and last night was a case in point.
A couple of them refused point
blank to trot along in front of the teams, and had to be carried instead
― as here, with the Kenyan team...
Lazy dork alert
Never work with children or
animals, as WC Fields famously observed.
However, the opening ceremony
itself came in for quite a bit of stick, much of it along the lines I outlined
above, curiously. But a popular social media comment, it seems, was linked
to the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum:
This is what happens when the Scots are left to their own devices...”
No comment. But a very funny
Spell-cheque corner: ‘BacoFoil’, the trade name
used in the tweet to describe Rod Stewart’s
XL shinny suit, came up
as ‘Backfill’. Now how funny is that?
Wednesday, July 23rd
Contents of a letter sent by a pupil to
British writer Philip Pullman, 67
Last will and
THE above ‘hold the hatch, match
and dispatch page’ request was tweeted to his followers by Philip
It drew a great deal of interest;
unsurprisingly his Twitter account received all sorts of suggestions
about how best to die in dramatic fashion.
However, I liked this from a Richard Evans, who looked to Baron von Münchhausen, German nobleman and
famous teller of tall tales.
“Captured by brigands, Baron Münchhausen was asked
how he would like to die: ‘Of natural causes,’ he replied.”
Philip Pullman himself gave no indication as to what his response will
be ― fair enough
because I presume he will reply to the pupil direct ... and then await
the obituary, with more than a passing interest, I guess.
However, he did indicate a liking
for the response from a Joanne Harris, who describes herself thus:
“Test-driver of experimental dream machines. Does a bit of writing.”
Joanne suggested this:
“Aged 105, of spontaneous
combustion brought on by a bottle of 1932 Armagnac and an eruption of
Nice one. I can see why Pullman
Mind you, “Burning up in an
experimental dream machine during re-entry” would suit me rather well.
Trouble is, that’s all too make-believe.
Historically speaking, I like this from ― who else but Oscar Wilde:
“I suppose that I shall have to
die beyond my means. [When asked a large fee for an operation.]
I also like this
from Jonathan Swift: “I
shall be like that tree, I shall die at the top.”
And perhaps taken out by the mother of all lightning strikes?
Now that would be dramatic.
So how would I like to meet my maker in the dramatic fashion insisted by
that anonymous pupil? I rather like the idea of a lightning strike.
So, struck by lightning on the golf
course immediately after a ‘hole in one’. A problem, though: I’d better start
playing golf, first.
However, I shall leave the last word to Anonymous:
Tuesday, July 22nd
Games start tomorrow,
at Glasgow’s Celtic Park
When Team Scotland proudly revealed its bold tartan parade
costume to the world, the sky proceeded to fall in on its head
Dressing on the
NOT being a fashionista, the
Team Scotland outfits passed me by. However, social media got
@almurray: “What in the
name of British Home Stores is that?”
@bonGarcon: “The ‘well plaid’ puns about the
Scotland Commonwealth Games outfits have already started...”
@hugorifkind: “I can’t stop looking at this. It’s a
colour which clashes with itself.”
@andynairn: “I’m petitioning Google to expunge all
images of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games kit.”
JA: “They look like a Paddington Bear tribute
Mr Ploppy: “My eyes, they burns...”
Western Lad: “Will they be dancing the ‘Gay Gordon [Bennett]’?”
Grayson Perry [the cross-dressing potter]: “I hate
kilts. They are like the coward’s transvestism.”
I particularly enjoyed this letter in The Times:
If the cringeworthy uniform to be worn by Scots competitors at the
Commonwealth Games is an example of Scottish decision-making, it will do
much to swell the No vote in the independence referendum.
Frankly, one would not do that to a sofa.
JOHN EOIN DOUGLAS, Edinburgh
At least I shall keep a sharp eye open for the outfits
when they enter the parade ring on Wednesday evening.
Be all that as it
may, the hullabaloo reminded me of a brace of recent letters spotted in
The Daily Telegraph:
SIR – As a current
A-level student, I read with interest your report regarding the theory
that wearing a lab coat could improve performance in a science exam.
What shall I wear to help me in my politics exam tomorrow?
Alice Roberts, Kineton, Warwickshire
politics with an A-level examination
SIR – Alice Roberts
asks what to wear for her politics exam.
A fixed smile will do. Also, she should avoid answering
any of the questions.
David White, Grantham, Lincolnshire
Very witty response. Perhaps, though, David White should have added: “Also, she
should avoid answering any of the questions, and do so at great length.”
Monday, July 21st
“THIS is Jim
Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message I’ll get back to
BEEP: “This is Shirley from the bank. The answers are no, no and
yes. No, we won’t loan you money; no, we won’t accept any co-signers;
and yes, your account’s overdrawn. I get off at 4.30.”
Yep, one of my favourite TV series: those
marvellous answerphone messages at the start ... the great theme music
... the hero permanently harassed and frequently roughed-up by dodgy
characters and villains ... the sexiest lawyer in the whole wide
Yep, James Garner as the wisecracking and
world-weary private detective Jim Rockford,
a wrongly accused ex-convict starting life over in a
beachfront trailer home, on The Rockford Files, who has just died
definitely had that X-factor thingy.
If Sam Spade was a tough guy [obituarised the LA Times], Jim
Rockford was ... well, he could throw a punch, but he didn’t like to
because it hurt his hand.
Rockford’s idea of a good time was eating Oreos [a sandwich cookie] and
fishing with his dad, not spending a lost weekend with some smoky
blonde. And tough talk just wasn’t his thing; when some hood was beating
the tar out of him, Rockford spluttered: “Does your mother have any idea
what you do for a living?”
Still, the perennially broke investigator always managed to set things
right, and by the end of every episode of “The Rockford Files”, Rockford
— a.k.a. actor James Garner — also gave viewers something they weren’t
getting from other tough guy heroes: laughs.
effortless flair for delivering humorous dialogue — and delivering
straight dialogue humorously — made him one of television’s biggest
never missed an episode of The Rockford Files. No secretary for
our Jimbo, just an answerphone. And it was endlessly
reassuring to watch a detective series where you were never quite sure whether
our hero would actually get the better of his adversaries.
Unlike Columbo, say, who
always got his man (or woman). Bo-ring.
But most of all, I
was madly in love with Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett, now 66), Jim’s
long-suffering bulldog of an attorney. A smart and assertive,
tough-talking but also attractive and sexy, young woman...
Gretchen takes me
back more moons than I care to remember, for she reminds me of ... well,
not quite the girl-next-door, but a young lady that lived just up the
street. She too was a little something special, delivered to earth on
one of those extra-smiley sunbeams.
Back with Rockford,
Beth was a perfect contrast to most of Jim’s disreputable pals and
hangers-on, especially Angel. But Angel too always made me smile ― like
so many similar characters I’ve encountered down the years at the Crazy
Horse, and later the Crazy Horsepower.
Curiously, there are
very few women in films and television that I truly fancy. Gretchen was
one. Another was Jackie Swanson in Cheers. She was barman Woody
girlfriend before becoming Mrs Kelly Gaines Boyd.
Kelly was a totally
spoilt and naive little rich girl, perfectly portrayed by Swanson (now
But as with Beth in The Rockford Files,
both girls had those magical qualities that make girls irresistible.
Most of all both were blessed with a perfectly agreeable nature, and if
you have that quality, every other positive human characteristic tends to
follow and fall into place...
Gretchen Corbett as Beth
Jackie Swanson as Kelly
Obviously, I am
attracted to a certain type of female, who must be blessed with a nice
Gretchen Corbett was also to feature in an episode of Cheers...
Corbett (Diane’s friend) with Ted Danson (Sam) and Shelley Long (Diane)
Gretchen was Sam’s
blind date in a most entertaining episode ― but why she had to dress
like Woody Allen remained a bit of a mystery.
Well who would have
thought, a tribute to James Garner morphs into an A to O of the sort of
woman who triggers my H-Spot, my Hallelujah Spot.
Anyway, back once more with James Garner:
“Marriage is like the army. Everyone complains, but
you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.”
James Garner, survived by wife, Lois,
whom he married two weeks after they met in 1956; his stepdaughter
Kimberly; and his daughter Greta, who is known as Gigi.
And the very last
message on Jim Rockford’s answerphone?
BEEP: “Hey, Rockford,
is Old Nick. I got a job lined up for you but my contacts tell me Big G
is waiting for you at reception. If it don’t work out I’ll
still be here.”
Finally, a YouTube link to ‘Rockford Files Answering Machine Messages
Only (complete season 1). Entertaining ― oh, if you keep wondering who Noah
Beery is ... he was Jim’s dad, Rocky:
Sunday, July 20th
sights and sounds
PERSONALLY, I wouldn’t want AA
Gill, television critic of The Sunday Times, within a million
miles of my fondly imagined South Sea Island Paradise.
But I quite enjoy reading his
reviews, even if it is whilst crouched behind the sofa.
For example, today he began his
weekly piece thus:
You’ve probably forgotten by now,
but the very best bit of the BBC televising of the World Cup was the
final five-minute montage of the music and images of Brazilian football.
It was just beautifully done, elegiac, but without pretension. Whoever
the editor was who got all that together in a tearing hurry, take a bow.
You’ve probably failed to
remember that it was the same with the Olympics ― the compilation edits
at the end were sublime little bits of television.
Montage is the cutting together
of images to make a visual mosaic: it elicits rather than imparts
emotion, information or plot. It’s a particular television skill. It was
invented by cinema, but it doesn’t really suit the monolithic
self-importance of the wide screen.
Where it really works is on the
internet, and your telephone; and lots of people do it really badly on
YouTube. When you see it made with this much skill and thought, it’s
like the broadcast version of keepy-uppies.
Montage is having a moment ― or
perhaps that should be three or four moments, all spliced together...
Old Breakdown Gill got a bit pretentious there (“It was invented by
cinema, but it doesn’t really suit the monolithic self-importance of the
wide screen” ― whatever that means). Definitely not Crazy Horsepower
Neither is the word “elegiac”. Truth to tell you would be much more likely to hear “threnodic”
bandied about down at the Asterisk Bar.
Anyway, I hadn’t seen said montage
― I’d gone to bed before the end of the programme ― so thank goodness
It really is a stunning piece of
appreciation of Brazil, its music, and of course the World Cup. Even if
you have no interest whatsoever in football, take a peep ― so many magical moments. I was particularly captivated by the young girl dancer strutting her
stuff. Marvellous. Here’s the YouTube link...
BBC Sport World Cup
2014 ― Closing Montage:
Now isn’t that worthy of all the
plaudits? (I nearly said “How’s about that, then?”, God forbid.)
Oh yes, AA Gill wonders who the editor was. Well, all he
had to do was Google it ― if you search “We spoke to the guy who made
the BBC’s Word Cup final montage”, you’ll see that it’s a fellow called
Tom Gent, and he answers a few questions on the putting together of the
As you might have guessed, he
didn’t have to pull it “all together in a tearing hurry”. All that was
left to slip in quietly at the whistle were just a few images from the final
Passport to power
Mention of the cutting together of
images to make a visual mosaic, and what with Germany winning the World Cup and Angela
Merkel having just celebrated her 60th birthday ― I came across this
wonderful montage, compliments of Mail Online.
Changing faces: Angela
Merkel, pictured left to right
from top left, 1991 to 2014...
Angela Merkel: 60 on July 17, 2014
Marvellous. Mind you, much as I am a big fan of Angie Baby, she is
coming in for a bit of stick for not standing up to the big bully boy on the
block, Vladimir Putin.
Watch this space.
Saturday, July 19th
And now for something vaguely familiar...
IT IS AN
As Monty Python’s live show nears the end of its run, Matt Hyde,
the chief executive of the Scout Association, has shared a
letter he received as a child from John Cleese after asking
whether the actor had a fan club. “There is no John Cleese fan
club (despite my importance) because they were all murdered in
1983 by Michael Palin’s fan club,” Cleese wrote. “I enclose a
photograph to remind you of my importance.” A few days later
Hyde then got an unsolicited letter from Palin, who suggested that rather
than murder, it had been a “merciful release for those poor
(Compliments of Patrick Kidd, Times Diary)
No prizes for
“’WIN two free tickets to
Monty Python’s Live Show’. I presume second prize is three free
Alan Jacobs of Biddenham, Bedford, in a letter to the Daily Mail.
Believe it or
“It’s a bunch of wrinkly old
men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money ― the best
one died years ago!”
Sir Mick Jagger, 70, on the Monty Python revivalists, namely Eric
Idle (71), Michael Palin (71), Terry Jones (72), Terry Gilliam (73),
John Cleese (74) and Graham Chapman (48 – but very deceased).
Yes, Mick Jagger was joking. And
apparently, all part of a promotional video for the Monty Python Live
― One Down, Five To Go show.
Incidentally, tomorrow night, Sunday, the final show of 10 will happen
at London’s 02 Arena, and will be broadcast live on Gold at
And the Monty Python
Flying Circus will be no more. Apparently.
However, all this talk of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth...
Shake well before use
When ageing pop and rock stars ― no
names no pack drill ― take to the stage to relive their glory days, do
you suppose their children feel as embarrassed as the rest of the
nation’s children do when their parents take to the dance floor
to perform You’re The One That I Want one more time for old
Or does the thought of another few
million quid added to the inheritance fund, compliments of astonishingly
gullible punters, override the human default position?
It was a dark and stormy
Over the past couple of days the
meeja has been awash with spectacular pictures of the lightning strikes that have
been here, there and everywhere over the UK. (One Met Office report
quoted 3,000 lightning strikes across the UK in just two hours.)
But now for something definitely,
positively completely different...
Some clouds have no obvious silver
It was a most pleasing sunrise ...
but the rising sun quickly disappeared behind some ominous looking
I caught the above before any storm
had manifested itself ― but the cloud moving in looked exceedingly
scary and threatening.
So I made my excuses and hurried on home.
Friday, July 18th
A music dictionary
week has seen Llandeilo hosting its annual music festival. Music
that is listened to and enjoyed on the more serious side of the street,
I would suggest.
all of the shops in town have entered into the spirit of things and have something in their windows to reflect the nature of
particularly enjoyed what I spotted in the window of Coffor Bach,
Home & Interiors (“Welsh gifts with a stylish, contemporary accent”,
look you). Coffor Bach, incidentally, means a small chest or
(Tap-tap-tap): “Okay guys, listen up...”
clever, a couple of music dictionaries ... which open up to project some
the very top, on
today’s Welcome mat, is the corner of the page of the
dictionary on the left.
Incidentally, I like
the reflection of the double-yellow lines in the window: in musical
terms I guess that would be a maxima, a whole note (definitely no
I also enjoyed the
clarinet in front of the books ― nice touch.
While on the subject of music, earlier this week I signed up to be a
full member of the Angela Merkel Fan Club.
Yesterday, the good lady celebrated her 60th birthday ― and there’s been
an item all over the interweb, where, at a televised press conference in
Brussels, a German reporter serenades her with the traditional “Happy
a delightfully cringeworthy version ― he attempts to get everyone else
to join in, without much success ― and Merkel sits awkwardly sporting a
somewhat sheepish grin.
there are two aspects of the episode which really did strike me as I watched it ―
here’s a brief clip of the memorably melodic moment...
was quite taken aback that a German reporter sings to a German Chancellor ----
in English. Except for the personalised line, of course.
can only presume that the song does not work ― or perhaps rather does
not scan ― with a German translation. Mind you, in my tongue we sing
the whole ditty in Welsh ― and crucially it scans perfectly.
There again, the press conference follows a EU meeting of ministers in
Brussels, so perhaps the German reporter appreciates that there are many
nationalities present, and there is a greater chance of everyone joining
in if he actually sings it in English. Yes, that has to be it.
The other gem from the video report is that Angela Merkel enjoys a 70% satisfaction
rating with the German people.
Somehow I’m not
surprised ― but 70%? Wow. Respect.
this morning’s Daily Mail, there was a letter from a
of Doncaster. This missive would have obviously gone to print yesterday, and
presumably well before the news broke of the downed plane in Ukraine:
“Which country is supplying the
rockets that Hamas is launching into Israel? The international community
should be looking into this. No rockets, no retaliation, no conflict.”
Thursday, July 17th
Sign Language: “Odour eater” ... spotted in
Shanghai by Bill Dixon
Wafting in on the
HOW wonderful it is when three
silly smiles converge on an inevitable collision course ― and as a bonus
it enables me to both exercise and exorcise the demands of my juvenile
At the top, an eye-catching effort
spotted in The Daily Telegraph’s Sign Language
gallery, those marvellous pictures submitted by readers of curious
notices and signs spotted on their travels about this entertaining old
planet of ours.
And then the following piece, compliments of Rod
Liddle in last weekend’s Sunday Times.
In fact, I had glanced at
this curious tale last week, but Rod puts it across rather
An ill wind that blows plenty of
Here’s something to cheer you up.
Apparently, inhaling other
people’s flatulence can stop you having a stroke or getting cancer,
heart disease and indeed dementia.
This is the conclusion of
research from Exeter University; the gas released ― hydrogen sulphide ―
is beneficial to our immune systems. I am not sure how this important
research was carried out: 100 or so subjects strapped down like
laboratory beagles while white-coated professors continually broke wind
at them, maybe?
Either way, next time you’ve
eaten a plate of sprouts [or some curry] and are in a lift, or on a
crowded train ― let it rattle.
And proudly explain to your
disgusted fellow passengers that you are in the business of saving
Tailwind Tours ‘R’ Us
“Choose the healthy option, you know it makes sense”
Sign Language: “Flatulence will get you anywhere” ...
spotted in Bratislava by Dave Jones
Wednesday, July 16th
Fully paid up
I DID wave the World
Cup circus a fond farewell yesterday ― but it refuses to go gentle into
that good night. And why should it?
Pause For Thought
on Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show this morning,
Methodist Minister Leslie Griffiths mentioned that women
are at the centre of so many news items this week. I quote:
Cameron’s government reshuffle has brought the number of women in the
Cabinet up to five. That’s the world of politics.
Church of England, not to be beaten, will soon be ready to accept women
as bishops ― did you see on the news all those deliriously happy faces
when the vote was announced?
And then there was
that one woman, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, jumping for joy as
she watched her team win the World Cup. I just love the photograph of
her standing in the middle of the players----
I’ll finish off Leslie’s thoughts on Merkel in a moment ― but first I
send Ivor the Search Engine off to track down said photograph ... and I
land on a Guardian article where journalist Philip Otterman
traces Merkel’s slowly blossoming relationship with her nation’s
football team since she first came to power nine years ago.
Gosh, she’s been in
power nine years?
Anyway, here’s the
picture Leslie Griffiths was referring to...
Angela Merkel poses with the German team in the changing
room after the players won the World Cup final
This is how Otterman
describes the above scene in his Guardian article:
“Merkel framed by a
crowd of sweaty, cheering footballers---”
Straight to the point. But here’s how Minister Leslie Griffiths
describes the very same scene:
flower with the white-shirted players fanning out around her like the
petals on a daisy.”
wonderful? Have another look ... a perfectly painted picture.
As for the two descriptions ― well, I’ve always maintained that every
article, every paragraph, every sentence we write discloses something
about ourselves. While not necessarily doing the same about the person
or thing we are writing about.
Back with the German Chancellor: The Guardian article also
takes us back to the World Cup of eight years ago, which was held in
2006: Angela Merkel’s picture with the squad was fairly formal
Eight years ago
Germany finished in third place, beaten at the semi-final stage by
Oh yes, I must share
with you an online comment from The Guardian article.
Someone had posed a question about Angela Merkel, which was answered
thus ― and the response was duly awarded top marks in the ‘Recommended’ stakes:
Model: “What has ‘that woman’ done to deserve to be up there?” Eh?
Run one of the most economically and socially successful countries in
Europe, that’s what. And wear a cute outfit.
Nice one. Especially those final five words. If you look at
both pictures, she is wearing the same style of outfit: “I am
dependable. I am reliable. I am not a follower of fashion. What you see is what you get.
Resistance is futile. You will be
effortlessly embraced within our loving family...”
I am fully signed up
to the Angela Merkel Fan Club.
“Ours is perhaps
not the most stirring of national anthems. I feel sorry for the Royal
Family who have to hear it everywhere they go. At least it’s short.”
TV choirmaster Gareth Malone.
trouble is, Gareth, the Germans beat us on that score as well.
the best anthems shall inherit the earth, then I would not only treat
every German you meet with respect, but every Russian as well (including
Vladimir Putin). Not to
mention the Welsh. Are you listening AA Gill?
MP Tracey Crouch, 38, a qualified coach and manager of the Meridian
Girls under-18 football team in Kent, may have an answer to console male
footballers who cry when they lose. A week ago she sent the following advice to
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari:
“When my girls went out of the cup, they cried. We bought them ice cream
and they stopped crying. Happy to help.”
Let’s hope no one attempted to cheer up a Brazilian defender after their
thrashing by the Germans by offering a fizzy drink, in particular a 7UP.
whether such advice by Tracey was very wise is another thing. Just a
month ago she was hot news in the gossip columns after her boyfriend
her by text message, which she received during a Commons vote ― and unsurprisingly, she was seen
wandering about the House in
there is all the difference in the world between a broken relationship
and a broken football game ― but you’d think she would have sensed the
ambush before tweeting the above helpful advice to Brazil’s now
Tuesday, July 15th
YESTERDAY I mentioned the Celtic rule of support when it comes to sport.
ABE (Anyone But England). Out in Brazil it’s ABA (Anyone But Argentina).
what of the English? Well, last Sunday I quoted The Sunday Times; this is what The Times had to
say on the subject:
Forget 1966 and all that as England fans get behind Germany
just as long as anyone alive can remember, England football fans have
had a useful rule of thumb for deciding who to support in any important
international fixture that does not involve England: [ABG] ― cheer the one
that isn’t Germany.
Generally speaking, it works pretty well. But Argentina is a problem.
First, Argentina is in South America, and we do not tend to like teams
from South America, what with their falling over and their biting and
Secondly, there was
that other problem, the one from a few years ago, which there is really
no need to go into here...
Argentinian banner unfurled before a
World Cup warm-up match against Slovenia in Buenos Aires, June 7
extraordinarily, and to the utter dismay of tabloid headline writers
everywhere, a significant portion of the British public find themselves
Nothing about 1966, or the war, or the Dambusters theme, or
anything like that: just Englishmen and women shouting, “Come on
It may be a cultural
shift that represents a complete rejection of all those values that have
made this country great ― jingoism, racial stereotyping, blinkered
nationalism ― but Germans living in England reacted with a complete lack
of surprise at the volte-face...
Well, I have a theory. We Brits yearn to be ruled over by someone like
Angela Merkel. Without the European Union angle, obviously.
do I say that?
are desperate for another Margaret Thatcher to sort us out. And Merkel
fills the bill to perfection.
she rules without all that handbagging business that so infuriated the
most of all, and as I mentioned yesterday, Merkel has so much of that
clever Star Trek creation, the Borg Queen, about her. We Brits are
desperate to be told: “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
You mark my words.
(I know, I know, but “you euro my words” sounds too wet and limp and
During the World Cup final, there was one image that puzzled me. What
was Putin doing there, sitting next to Sepp Blatter, president and head
honcho of Fifa?
someone mentioned that it’s Russia who hosts the next World Cup.
However, given all the alleged corruption and profiteering supposedly
uncovered by The Sunday Times investigation into all things Fifa, I was
tickled by this photograph from Sunday night...
Vladimir Putin: “The
Sunday Times will attempt to explain the big suitcase you'll find
under your bed when you return to your room as the final payment for
Russian Federation the next tournament. Just ignore them and they will
Normal service now resumed...
happened to catch comedian Jasper Carrott on tonight’s The One Show.
Very funny man is Jasper. He is one of those individuals
that you only have to look at ― and you catch yourself smiling.
Even when he is not smiling. That, is a
gift from the gods.
Anyway, he is now 69 ― and looking remarkably fit and well. He was
talking about his grandchildren: “The other day I was playing piggyback
with my young granddaughter ― after about an hour I fell off...”
Monday, July 14th
Bless you, my Sun
“Ahh, it looks just like a football”
BBC commentator Mark Lawrenson sets foot on the first rung
of the Dylan Thomas Poetic Licence ladder as he observes
the sun setting over Rio and the World Cup Final
It's a funny old
recent days I’ve used social media images of the statue of Christ the
Redeemer to reflect the despair of Brazil following its footballing
defeat at the feet of Germany ― so how nice to share the magical shot,
above, of the sun setting, as caught by the helicopter floating over Rio
during the World Cup final.
Anyway, the final.
Normally, I never watch the build-up to major sporting events. Much too much
bollocks spoken, nonsense just to fill the space available. For example,
last night’s World Cup final kicked-off at eight, so my usual routine
would be to switch on just a few minutes before.
However, curiosity got the better of me, so I start with the BBC...
Don’t suit you, mate
oh my, how wonderful it would be to meet the fellow ― and it has to be a
man ― who instructed the BBC’s World Cup final pundits to come to the
Rio party, arguably the planet’s capital of cool, dressed as if going to
a funeral, “but be sure to wear your favourite tie”.
suggested they looked like sales reps. Others noted that Rio Ferdinand,
left, looked like a budget airline pilot.
Sadly, the BBC lot were less Reservoir Dogs, more wet pussies.
Meanwhile, the ITV crowd had taken the other fork in the road and
appeared to be attending a beach party. And why not?
As for the game, a
few paragraphs from the Telegraph:
deservedly lifted the World Cup because of the team’s resilience and
intelligence, because of the tackling of the outstanding Jérôme Boateng,
because Bastian Schweinsteiger kept going even when battered by
Argentine tackles, even when bruised, even when bloodied as his cheek
was opened up.
because of a moment of brilliance from Mario Götze (Mario de Janeiro?).
the best player on the pitch, spilling sweat and blood for the cause.
My thoughts? So many crucial passes were a foot too far in front of the
striker, or six inches too far behind ― and players kept slipping and
sliding as they swivelled to get at the ball. But that was because both
defences were brilliant and attackers had to hurry their passes and
is defences that win championships and World Cups, and last night there
were two brilliant defences on show.
the Germans were that little bit more efficient in nullifying all
Incidentally, perusing the above picture of the German team holding up
the trophy ... not a tattoo in sight. And as we all will have observed
along our walk through time, a tattoo is a classic sign of a lack of
lack of such self-confidence with the Germans. Especially so their
leader, Angela Merkel.
more I see Angela, the more I see the Borg Queen: “Resistance is
Incidentally, there was an incident during the game when an intruder ran
onto the pitch. As always happens now, television does not show such
demonstrations so as not to provide the oxygen of publicity.
The smart money says
it was Angela Merkel.
Celt I have always felt ever so slightly guilty about our sporting ABE
support policy (Anyone But England).
However, I see that out in Brazil they operate an ABA policy (Anyone But
Yep, it’s the same
the whole world over: tribalism rules, ok?
Finally, I enjoyed this online comment following the final whistle,
which wonderfully summed up England’s woeful performance out in
World Cup 2014...
Goatbirth: COME ON ENGLAND!
COME ON ENGLAND!!
COME ON ENGLAND!!!
Did we win!?!?
Sunday, July 13th
WELL, another relaxevoo day in front of the telly coming up:
stage nine of the Tour de France this afternoon; followed by World Cup
But first, poor old Brazil.
watched the first-half of their misery-laden third-place play-off
performance against Holland ... before departing for beddy-byes.
from the Guardian:
Wilful cruelty, needless indignity or sheer torture? Luiz Felipe Scolari
and his Brazil players could take their pick after finding the
third-place play-off anything but a road to redemption.
Instead, a second
stumble in the space of a week ensured they headed off into highly
uncertain futures with the jeers of the Brasília public ringing in their
Well, well, who would have thought when watching the opening ceremony of
World Cup 2014 (ironically, a half-hearted affair, compliments of
that great gift called hindsight) that within three weeks Brazilian football and its passionate
supporters would experience a conscious uncoupling*.
that Germany would cause Brazil to sob rather than samba.
Many silly people have written Brazilian football off for years to
come. Total rubbish. Football is in their genes (it’s that
exposure to the sun I mentioned just the other day).
Look, give ‘em a World Cup or two and they’ll be back, firing on all
* Conscious uncoupling: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin recently
announced that, after more than 10 years of marriage, they had decided
to separate. The couple said in a joint statement that they were to
stressed, in the statement, that while “in many ways we are closer than
we have ever been”, they had come to the conclusion that “while we love
each other very much we will remain separate”.
all sounded wonderfully amiable. And I guess that sums up the Brazilian love
affair with football. They have consciously uncoupled ― but they’ll be
back in bed together in no time. All they need is a win or two under
Before leaving Brazil to sort itself out and pick up the pieces, I enjoyed this highest
rated comment on the Guardian website...
Meltwaterfalls: “Brazilian football is truly in the doldrums”?
but as an Englishman in my early 30s, Brazil’s doldrums are the
equivalent of England’s high point of my lifetime.
Tonight is the big night, the World Cup Final. And I bet Angela Merkel
will be there with her enthusiastic and passionate support, arms in the
You pays your money: Argentina vs.
Germany. Messi vs. Merkel. Nature vs. nurture. Flamboyance vs. simplicity.
Spontaneity vs. order. Uncertainty vs. dependability. Ambivalence vs.
Interesting (delivered with an exaggerated German accent,
Seriously though, shall I support Cristina Fernández de
Kirchner’s Argentina or Andrea Merkel’s Germany?
I must quote a few
lines from a Sunday Times leader ― which is written from an
England point of view, and addressed to the Germans:
Tonight you face Argentina in the World Cup final. To be frank, we’ve
not been getting on very well with them either. In fact, England fans
have suddenly noticed how much they have in common with you Germans.
gave our country the Angles and the Saxons. You sent the Hanoverian
monarchs to reign over us, and you introduced us to Christmas trees.
ST could also have added: We adore your cars ― Vorsprung durch
Technik and all that jazz; we’ve fallen hook, line, etc with
the German duo of Lidl and Larger (oops, Aldi); and it seems that a
German football jersey is impossible to get hold of in London these
tonight we will be on your side. Los geht’s, Deutschland!
Or, as we don’t say here very often: “Come on, Germany!”
I’ll go with that:
Or more correctly, in Welsh:
mlaen yr Almaen!”
(I shall be posting this ― and turning off
the computer ― well before the final starts. I wonder what, if spared,
I’ll be reflecting on come the morning?)
Saturday, July 12th
Tour de France 2014: Matteo Trentin edges out Peter Sagan
photo-finish to win stage seven - after 145 miles of racing!
A damned near-run
THE above eye-catching image has been all over the meeja shop today.
Italian Matteo Trentin
yesterday piped Slovakian Peter Sagan by the narrowest of
margins to claim racing team Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s first win of this
year’s Tour de France, a boost for the Belgian squad who lost Briton
Mark Cavendish following a bad crash on day one in Yorkshire.
was an extraordinarily tight margin after 234.5km (145.7 miles) of
racing ― the second longest stage of the Tour ― and afterwards Matteo
dedicated the win to his absent friend.
Just think on that. They race for nearly 150 miles ― and it finishes
that close. And take it from me ― I watched it unfold on live TV ― Peter
Sagan was not best pleased that he had failed yet again to win a 2014
Imagine if Formula 1
could come up with finishes like that. Well, we and wee Bernie
Ecclestone can dream...
On a wing and a prayer
While on the subject of photo-finishes ― and you know me and the curious
world of coincidence ― the image below has just exited the dark
had a flutter!
Extraordinary moment a seagull beat
into third place after it photobombed the race finish
bird swooped down to clinch second spot by a beak in the 19.10 race at
Brighton last Tuesday evening.
Morris, riding Sagesse, came in second to Richard Hughes on Jewelled at the East Sussex racecourse,
but he was just edged by the seagull who was the unofficial second.
Apparently, and somewhat surprisingly given the number of birds forever
floating above our racecourses, especially those near the coast, it’s the first time a camera has
captured such a memorable moment.
Luckily the race wasn’t decided by a nose,
otherwise the bird would have duly veiled said schnozzles and blown a
raspberry at everyone.
Lee McKenzie, who provided notes on the race
for the Racing Post, said: “It
flew home up the final stretch and clearly beat the next horse by a long
beak. Pity it wasn’t the next race on the card (7.40) won by Byrd In
Hand from Hawk Moth, with another flyer Abigails Angel third.”
Yes, I did check out those winners ... spot
Friday, July 11th
over your papers now
EVERY year university lecturers submit a series of silly
answer papers to the Times Higher Education magazine’s exam howlers
competition, writes one Maddie Cannon [hang on to that name] in the
year’s crop ― including describing Hitler’s role in World War Two as
“overlooked” and saying the hole in the ozone layer is caused by
“arseholes” ― have had teachers up and down the country in stitches.
Whether intentional, mistaken or simply a bid to make their teachers
laugh, we round up the worst howlers of all time.
I pick out a few of those on parade:
Why are there rings on
Because God liked it, so he
put a ring on it.
Give a brief
explanation of the meaning of the term ‘hard water’:
What is the
process for separating a mixture of chalk and sand?
A process called flirtation.
like that because you appreciate what it is that was struggling to
separate itself from the student.
To change centimetres to
What is a
There are good vibrations and bad vibrations. Good vibrations were
discovered in the 1960s.
I was there. And I remember it.
Name one of the
early Romans’ greatest achievements:
Learning to speak Latin.
What is meant
by the term ‘hermaphrodite’?
What do we
call the science of classifying living things?
A star in the
sky suddenly brightens to many times its original brightness and then
over the next several years. Hypothesise what happened
in terms of a star’s life cycle:
It just had a hot flush and is probably going through menopause.
hundred thousand in figures:
“Two hundred thousand in figures.”
What is the
main reason for Divorce?
Brian has 50
slices of cake. He eats 48. What has he now?
phosphorus trichloride is polar:
God made it that way.
Poor old God has a lot to answer for.
to your body as you age?
When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.
That’s presumably what will be happening to Richard Branson and his
Virgin Galactic space rocket thingy.
Name a major disease
associated with cigarettes:
How can you
delay milk turning sour?
Keep it in the cow.
What is a
A small lie.
Wonderful. But hang on. If a fibula is a white lie, I guess a fibulua is
a medium size lie, a grey one ― and a fibularis (which rhymes with
Polaris) is a big lie, a really black one.
Give the meaning of the term
The caesarean section is a
district in Rome.
and what did the Romans ever do for us?
What is a turbine?
Something an Arab or a Shriek
wears on his head.
If you threw a red
stone into a Blue Sea, what will it become?
Simply, a wet stone.
the above question baffled me completely. Thankfully, comments online
came to my rescue. I liked this...
CrankyMiddleAgedGuy: Having been a teacher and done teacher
training, some of these questions are badly framed. For example, “If you
threw a red stone into a Blue Sea, what will it become?”.
The answer given is technically
correct. In exam conditions, when short of time and under pressure, it
is not unusual to not recognise what the question is supposed to be
Remember: the purpose of an
exam is to test knowledge, not to determine if you are on “the same
wavelength” as the examiner. A better question would be, “If you threw a
red stone into a Blue Sea, what colour would the stone appear to be?” It
is quite possible the student knew the answer to that question.
I see a lot of this sort of
poor question setting in my son’s GCSE practice exams and marking
schemes. For example, I’ve often discovered “explain”, but it should be
“explain and give an example of”.
It says a great deal about the
quality of the people who set exam papers today.
One final Q&A:
Suggest one reason why it is a good idea to collect data by asking the
public to observe when conkers open:
So the government doesn’t have to do it.
completely, for I haven’t a clue what all that is about ― and I couldn’t
find anything in the comments section to help. I can only think that it
will give a general picture of when autumn officially arrives.
Finally, I thought these comments were more than fair, indeed they
attracted a large number of positive ticks...
Thebleedinobvious: These are clearly not the “worst howlers of all
time”. Some of them suggest that the next generation of comedians might
be a lot better than the current crop, assuming the whole thing wasn’t
made up by Phil Space.
I come across the name Phil Space quite often apropos the increasing
volume of rubbishy articles spotted online. They are of course penned by Phil Space. Very good.
No, these are not genuine; they’re just jokes, some of them older than I
am. If you are going to just cobble an article together from a couple of
Buzzfeed lists, at least try not to pass them off as real.
George: They are not howlers, just “witticisms”, and besides, I
suspect three-quarters were made up by English teachers. Stuff like this
adorned the cork boards of every school and college I went to.
DavidofKent: For such a bunch of stupid questions, many of those
answers are the best I have read in years. Well done, those students. I
particularly like “Write two hundred thousand in figures”: the answer
was the sort of thing I would have loved to have written in my exams,
had I had the courage.
Joseph: I stand by the European
Studies exam from the 1970s on which a pupil wrote, “The French national
anthem is the Mayonnaise”. Another favourite, in maths: If I have £12.43
in one trouser pocket and £45.71 in the other, what have I got? “Someone
Oh yes, remember I said to remember the name of the person who penned
the article for the Telegraph?
Bikboks: How naive you are Maddie Cannon ― you ought to go off!
Bikboks, nearly a pass mark. You should have said: “You should be fired!”
Thursday, July 10th
YESTERDAY, while empathising with
Brazil’s footballing grief (well, sort of), I said this:
birth of the internet and social media it would have been left to
newspaper cartoonists to take a more light-hearted view of the event ...
but these days there are imaginative and witty people dotted all over
the globe, folk who are eager to instantly share with us their spin on
And I gave examples of such humour
as spotted on the interweb.
Well, right on cue, I pick up this
morning’s Daily Telegraph ― and there’s
(above), emphasising precisely the point I’d made. Very clever.
Back with the social media crowd, I
thought this effort also delightfully imaginative, the German shark
in hot pursuit of the Brazilian dolphin...
What I particularly like about the
above (authors unknown) is the home-made nature of it ― note the stone holding down the
flag, bottom left. Wonderful.
Do you know, I can just imagine the German
equivalent of the Crazy Horsepower Saloon and some of the locals
dreaming up a bit of a wheeze to stick up there on the wall and then the web.
And I’m delighted to promote their
Incidentally, last night I sat down
to watch the Argentina-Holland semi ... yawn!
Ten minutes into the second-half I called it a day and toddled off to
This morning, I listen to Radio 2’s
5 o’clock news to find out which country had made it through to the
final ... nothing. Not a word. So the game really was as dull as I
thought it was.
Incidentally, yesterday morning,
the Brazil-Germany game was the lead item on the news ― and remained so
well into late morning, such was the impact of the result.
Oh yes, after returning from my
morning walk, I discover that Argentina had made it through following
a penalty shoot-out.
Hm, so it’s going to be Messi vs.
Germany. Sounds good.
Germany, and by implication Angela Merkel and the EU, there was a letter
in today’s Daily Telegraph, something about the
European Arrest Warrant helping to keep the public safe,
blah, blah, blah.
to say it was mostly straight over my head. However, the letter was
Bradley MP (Con)
Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime
you probably spotted it too, as did loads of people on the online comment
Surely, should it not be ‘Minister AGAINST Modern Slavery and Organised
Whatever, I enjoyed this particular response...
The Hidden Paw: No, I think they’ve probably got that right, judging
by my tax bill.
Wednesday, July 9th
The moaning after the night before
If you don’t want to know the score,
look away now
They think it’s
all bossa nova. It is now!
A MAIL ONLINE headline perfectly
sums up the misery of Brazil’s defeat in the World Cup. A result that
has been described as the most remarkable in footballing history.
Who would have guessed that Germany
would make Brazil sob rather than samba.
To put the 7-1 result into context,
its the equivalent in rugby union terms of England defeating New
Zealand in a World Cup semi-final to the tune of 70-10. Quite
As it happens, I haven’t watched
many games this World Cup campaign, but I did watch last night’s
extraordinary performance, especially so as I’d explored both Brazil and
Germany’s inherently different styles of play back on June the 30th.
However, I guess
collapse last night was more an emotional thing. They still have the
skills, obviously ― defence was very dodgy though ― but it was that
crucial top two inches that went AWOL. In my humble opinion.
Smile though your
heart is aching
Before the birth of the internet
and social media it would have been left to newspaper cartoonists to
take a more light-hearted view of the event ― after all, it is
only a game, however seriously we may view it ― but these days there are
imaginative and witty people dotted all over the globe, folk who are
eager to instantly share with us their spin on events.
Redeemer, the iconic statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, is
normally seen as an image of hope ― but the famous landmark was quickly
Photoshopped at the expense of the defeated host nation, following their
perfect example is seen up there on the welcome mat ... it really is
rather clever. And without causing undue offence, I would suggest.
also like this skilful morphing of a cheerful Brazilian child slowly
engulfed by the torn asunder emotions of a nation as the game unfolded
in all its horror ― and finishing off with the official emblem of World
Alongside, far right, is a marvellous example of a professional cartoon, which
represents the logo being redrawn to highlight all the alleged
corruption surrounding Fifa, the World Cup organisation.
However, before we get too carried
away with Brazil’s unfortunate plight, just remember that a few days ago
a British Royal, the Duchess of Cambridge, presented a German (rather
than an Englishman who crashed out), with the cherished first stage Yellow Jersey of the
Tour de France.
How deliciously ironic was that?
German Marcel Kittel then went on
to win the London stage, as well as the first stage on the Tour’s return
to French soil. And I did notice that Kittel celebrated his wins on
English soil with huge emotion ― but displayed none at all winning out
Let’s be honest, Angela Merkel is
already wearing the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de EU. Yes, there are a
few stages left, but does anyone really doubt that she will eventually
climb the podium in Brussels.
And all done without a single shot
being fired in anger. Respect.
All that is missing from the above
rather clever effort is Merkel wearing the Yellow Jersey ― which would represent both stealing the shirt off
Brazil’s back, and of course highlighting the fact that she is the real
power in the Tour de Europe right now.
Thank goodness the German national
anthem is such a stirring piece of music to sing along with!
I shall finish today as I did
yesterday: If you personally know any Germans, be very, very nice to them...
Tuesday, July 8th
(especially if you're German)
gathered no Moss
“Kate Moss burned my teddy
bear. She wanted to cause me as much emotional damage as possible.”
Pete Doherty, 35, English musician and frontman for British rock
bands The Libertines and Babyshambles.
I had no idea what all
that was about ― but it did make me smile. So I sent Ivor the Search
Engine out on a scouting mission...
Well, it seems that English supermodel Kate Moss, 40, was so determined
to get revenge on her rocker lover Pete Doherty that she torched his
beloved childhood teddy bear. The bitch.
She dated The Libertines star for
two years until their split in 2007, and he has now revealed the depths
of hatred Moss had for him following the break-up. She targeted his most
precious item and torched it.
Doherty tells British magazine
Event: “It’s a big, genuine and totally heartfelt regret that I didn’t
keep my eye on Pandy, who was my first-ever teddy bear. My sister gave
him to me as a huge gesture of love and kinship.
“I held on to Pandy all my life but
he ended up getting burned by Kate, along with a lot of other stuff,
when we split up. There was no need for that unless she simply wanted to
cause me as much emotional damage as possible.”
Say nothing is best.
So, having not said anything ... I
then stumble upon this from Rod Liddle:
I think, therefore I
... shock myself
Most men would rather receive an
electric shock than sit quietly and think for 15 minutes, according to
an experiment devised by some nasty-minded scientists in the US.
The subjects were given a choice
of doing nothing or administering unpleasant shocks to themselves, and
two-thirds chose the latter option.
Introspection is not a terribly
male trait, is it?
Women were far less likely to give
themselves electric shocks when they had the opportunity ― and there is
no evidence whatsoever to suggest this was because they were confused by
the instructions on the apparatus or expected men to press the button
Well, all I can say, Rod, is that women would much rather set fire to
your teddy bear. Which is a worry.
“Prince Harry isn’t alone in
thinking Prince George ‘looks like a young Winston Churchill’. To me,
most babies look like him. The rest resemble pickled prunes, so George
is lucky.” Peter Saunders of Salisbury, Wiltshire, in a letter to
The Sunday Telegraph.
Now that did make me smile ― and
resembling a pickled prune didn’t stop my mother insisting that I’d been
And crucially, I believed her.
(These things are very much in the mind.)
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: BRAZIL 1 ― GERMANY 7
About a week ago I compared and
well documented and historical samba style of Brazilian football ― with
the ruthlessly efficient marching band style of the Germans.
Even so, and
else, I was quite astonished at what I watched tonight.
I shall sleep on
Yesterday I finished my smile of
the day thus: If you personally know any Germans, be very, very nice to them...
The advice still
stands. With lederhosen and bells on...
Monday, July 7th
Tour de Fun lands in England
Silsden, a very civil parish in West Yorkshire,
welcomes very civil riders to The Tour 2014
Once upon a
IT ALL began some four years ago.
One idle July afternoon, I was zapping through the television channels,
as is my wont ― after all I am a bloke ― and I landed on Eurosport,
and something called the Tour de France was in full flow.
I mean, I had no particular
interest in bike racing, and I was aware of the famous race, but no more
However, I was instantly hooked.
It wasn’t so much the delightful
and absolute doolallyness of the race itself with its mad and
exceedingly entertaining followers, but mostly the glorious helicopter
shots of France.
Having never been to France ― no
particular reason, just one of those things ― I was captivated by the
variety and spectacular beauty of the country.
And being from farming stock I
could see clearly what they farmed, and just as importantly, how they
set about it. As a man of the Towy Valley, it was truly fascinating.
And I become a fan...
“We’re just going to draw the raffle now”
Then two years ago, someone called
Bradley Wiggins suddenly appeared at the head of the race ― and duly
won. Indeed, how could we forget the opening line of his victory speech,
Last year Chris Froome ― or Va Va
Froome as some wits have christened him ― won the 100th edition of the
I now watch bike races from around
And do you know, since I began
following these cycling Grand Tours on television, I have learned more
about the history and geography of the places they visit than I ever did
at school, thanks to those breathtaking helicopter shots and the worthy
efforts of the commentators to explain and entertain.
And then, three days ago, here was
the Tour de France, in England. Yorkshire, to be precise.
Germans on top
Didn’t you just know it? The
perfect opening day, which begged for a British winner, what with Kate,
William and Harry present and correct ― Brit Mark Cavendish was one of
the favourites but crashed on the home straight ― ended with the Duchess
of Cambridge presenting German Marcel Kittel with the first stage Yellow
And having won Stage 3 again,
today, I must say that Kittel comes across as a most agreeable sort of
fellow. The sort of chap you really wouldn’t mind seeing moving in next
door. How ironic.
Between you, me and the crash
barrier, the Germans are already wearing the Yellow Jersey in the
European Union anyway ― yes of course, there are a few stages left to
run before they climb the podium in Brussels to officially claim first
place ― but watch this space.
Oh, and there’s the World Cup
semi-final against Brazil tomorrow night.
If you personally know any Germans, be very, very nice to them...
Spell-cheque corner: Would you believe it.
The town of ‘Silsden’, featured at the top in the smiley pic of the bike
crash, came up
as ‘Slide’. I don’t
care how clever you are, you would be hard pressed to come up with such
a glorious alternative.
Sunday, July 6th
IN THE face of a new
extremist bomb threat to transatlantic aircraft, the government has
dramatic increase in airport security amid fears in the US that
terrorists in Syria and Yemen were developing explosives that could be
smuggled on to planes undetected.
that curious business that mobile phones must be fully charged before
being taken aboard flights.
Which must make all air travellers rather nervous. But I did enjoy how
The Daily Telegraph’s
was able to manufacture a smile out of something so serious.
that is the talent that all the great cartoonists are blessed with.
Looking at the cartoon, I found myself wondering if I had any suitable
images in my picture files. After all, I’ve taken hundreds of snaps of
birds landing on my outstretched hand to grab a quick nibble.
I did come across this, which tickled me no end.
The Candy Man becomes a Jobsworth
“I know you’re only off to the field next door –
but a security check is a security check”
Saturday, July 5th
Oh what a curious civil war
You say, look you
YESTERDAY I mentioned that there are three specific newspaper columns
that pull me in.
There’s the Letters pages (not strictly columns, but you
know what I mean), and then there’s the ‘They said what?’
celebrity quotes in the Western Mail.
never got round to the third.
Well, The Sunday Times Culture Magazine features a
weekly ‘You say’ column, where readers are invited to submit
comments about television and radio programmes. And indeed their
thoughts on the programme
a hoot. And I hardly watch any television. Most of the time I have no
idea what ‘You sayers’ are on about, but the comments are rarely less
much so, last Christmas, Culture’s holiday edition covered the
whole two week period, and because there was so much programme
information to pack in, the ‘You say’ column was dropped.
sent in my own comment, with tongue slightly in cheek ― and Culture duly
printed it after the holiday:
The outrage, the
insight, the wit, the wisdom, the appreciation, the delightful
doolallyness ― I am suffering withdrawal symptoms with no You say
fix in the Culture Christmas edition. Welcome back.
Anyway, each day the main television page will include a ‘You say’
corner which will feature comments from readers. So each morning, as I
peruse the TV and radio listings to see if there’s anything on telly or
radio which might appeal, I always read the comments.
now, yesterday morning, the day’s comments were taken up by responses to
a previous contributor. The original did not ring a bell, but as always
I keep the papers for a month or so, just in case I need to refer back,
so I looked up the original comment...
And here it is ― the
observations are clearly directed at the programme makers:
All the TV
programmes have become so boring. All you seem to do is create ghastly
hospital programmes and endless cooking programmes, which include simply
disgusting food. Masterchef is nothing more than a disaster ― so many
ingredients to disguise the real quality of the food.
There are no more natural comedians ― you should come
to Norfolk, where one thing leads to another. What has happened to your
imagination? Do you rely on repeats as it is more economical?
What we need is more romance, adventure, and not all
those boring law cases, murders, etc.
What you need is revolution and new ideas. Why don’t
you employ somebody like Boris Johnson, or even Nigel Farage? Too
scared? Rightly so.
I never watch anything on the television anymore. It is
just so stale, and why do we have to pay for a television licence if we
have such distaste for the many rubbishy programmes you expect viewers
15-Love to Roundhead Sarah, I’d say.
Okay. Now here are
the responses ― and this is precisely why I enjoy ‘You say’ so much:
My goodness, Sarah
Holt-Wilson’s fiery rant against all things “telly” was excellent. I
don’t agree with anything she said but you have to admire her energy.
One point though: she says she never watches anything
on television, so how can she comment? However, I give her full marks
someone who says she doesn’t watch television, Sarah H-W has an awful
lot to say about it. Maybe if she watched occasionally she would find it
isn’t quite as bad as she thinks it is.
Sarah Holt-Wilson no longer watches her TV then she need not buy a
licence. An acquaintance of mine only watches DVDs and hasn’t bought a
licence for years.
on earth do her views qualify for publication in ‘You say’? Do people
not read their own letters and realise what they are saying makes no
Game to the Cavaliers
there, Sarah Holt-Wilson.
Well blow me, on
today’s TV page, there was this comment:
Thank you so much for printing my letter. Probably the first and last
letter I will ever have printed.
I have been teased by the whole family and friends. It
is so good to make friends laugh in these desperate times, I feel so
sorry for people in the Middle East and further afield who can never
have the peace of mind that we have in some areas in England.
I will say no more, but a huge thank you for publishing
my letter ― everyone who has spoken to me agrees with my views.
Everyone, Sarah? Are they afraid of incurring your wrath or what?
Whatever, you were
exceedingly good value ― and I was inspired to submit this
‘You say’ has to be
the most amusing of British newspaper columns; it is also the equivalent
of a radio phone-in, or even TV’s Question Time.
Horrible Histories: the English Civil War Song...
On the one side you have the Roundheads, the 10% of the
population, the rabble, who are driven doolally by every issue under the
sun and insist it is only their opinion that counts ― on the other the
Cavaliers, the 10%, the loyal servants, who feel just as strongly about
maintaining the status quo.
In the middle sit the great unwashed, we the perplexed
80% whose reactions range between LOL and SOL (Scream Out Loud).
The authoritative ‘You say’ example was Roundhead Sarah
Holt-Wilson’s list of complaints about things she never watches ― and
the delightful responses from the Cavaliers (Diane Allen, Pam Maybury
Anne Colman and Les Driver).
Keep ‘em coming folks.
PS: The Cavaliers seem a lot more fun ― and as a fashion statement the
Cavalier hat is way ahead of the game.
As I say, ‘You say’ is a rather smiley experience.
Oh yes, as someone who is not as well up on things Roundheads and
Cavaliers, as one should be, I had a nose around on YouTube ― and found
this delightful singy-songy contribution...
Friday, July 4th
Emin: The bedrock of modern doolallyness. Amen.
THERE are three sorts of newspaper columns that draw me in like a magnet.
The first is not strictly a column,
but rather, the Letters page. Always full of insight, wit and wisdom. For
“Tracey Emin’s controversial artwork, her
unmade bed, which has just been sold by millionaire art collector Charles
Saatchi for £2.2 million, must be a fake. My teenage daughter insists
she bought it three years ago and that it’s been in her bedroom ever
since.” Sandra Parsons of Keston, Kent, in the Daily Mail.
What is extraordinary is that people can
now buy artworks of “millionaire art collector” Charles Saatchi publicly
throttling Nigella Lawson at Scott’s
restaurant last year ―
and even loopier, Saatchi stands to
profit from what is now called “throttle art”...
Saatchi Art is the ironic shop of choice
for these prints, and Charles Saatchi enjoys a minority interest in this
online shop (which takes a 30% cut of all sales).
The whole world is mad, except for thee
and me ― etc, etc...
“So Harry Wallop isn’t going to miss
his landline. How else will he find his misplaced mobile phone?”
Matthews of London NW1, in The Daily Telegraph.
Very good. Also Tim, out in the country,
beyond the confines of the M25, a mobile signal
can often be problematic. And a landline works through a power cut (indeed, major power
cuts such as happened last winter, and lasted for more than a week in
some parts, will knock out transmitters as well, so no signals for mobile
“The ‘joke’ told by Stephen Hawking about
the building of an intelligent computer which is asked the ultimate
question ‘Is there a God?’ (Answer: ‘There is now’) is, as I am sure he
would acknowledge, derived from a short story by Fredric Brown,
Answer (1954).” Alan Nisbett of Steyning in West Sussex, in The Times
Hang on, hang on: I thought
I was God,
and this whole madness we call the Universe is all unfolding inside my
imagination. Or, if you are reading this, then you are God, and I am just a
figment of your imagination.
Anyway, on with your Letters show...
is interesting that among the Wimbledon commentators, Mark Petchey is
familiarly referred to as Petch. Had his actual name been Petch he would
probably have been called Petchy.”
Peter Hamilton of London SE3, in the
“Wimbledon is quintessentially
English (well, except for the bottled water, which is quintessentially
John Holmes of Matlock, in the Mail.
Alight, going out
“Recently, when our train was held up at Clapham Junction, the guard
advised us to ‘detrain’ When were railway passengers last invited to
‘alight’?” Patricia Nice of Tilford, Surrey, in the Telegraph.
Or even to
Setting the place alight
“Patricia Nice was told to ‘detrain’. A headline in our local newspaper
ran: ‘Fire on bus, passengers alight’.”
D B Davies of Aberystwyth in
Cardiganshire, responds to Patricia.
Incidentally, do you suppose Patricia Nice pronounces her surname nice
or Nice? I suppose it depends how nice immediate members of the Nice
Give us a clew
“It’s no good telling us that the sail of the AC72 catamarans in the last
America’s Cup race was the same size as a Boeing 747 wing. We want to
know how many cricket pitches you can fit into it.”
Tony Phillips of
Chalfont St Giles, in The Times.
Precisely, Tony Phillips. Who the hell can relate to the size of a Jumbo’s wing ― and
I’ve stood directly under one, somewhere in Africa, as I recall.
Be all that as it
I presume that the headline “Give us a clew” had to be some sort of joke or pun, no? So
I reached for the dictionary:
“Naut. Either of the lower corners of a
square sail or the after lower corner of a fore-and-aft sail.”
Every day a day at school.
And my second
daily port and stilton of call?
favourite column is
“They said what?”
in the Western Mail,
quotes of the day which encompass the doolally, the curious, the tease,
the funny ― and of course, the wise. For
example, first up...
“David Cameron is incredibly witty, incredibly bright, and incredibly
genuine.” Helena Bonham Carter, 48, English actress who sees
absolutely no wrong in
the Prime Minister and his wardrobe full of Magic Suits.
first time I went to Wales I thought I had landed in a land of hobbits.
Everybody was really small and the houses were small and the writing was
backwards.” David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff, 61, American celebrity, who has
a Welsh girlfriend, Hayley Roberts, 33.
though at first that The Hoff had been reading too much RAC Gill ― oops,
sorry, Green Flag Gill ― bugger, I’ll get it right in a moment ― AA
― who famously described us Welsh as “loquacious,
dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious
as they say. After all, the day you allow a wanker to get under your skin,
The Twitter Tease:
“Rabbit ate my parsley. I am eating the rabbit.”
Jeanette Winterson, 54,
English writer, broadcaster and activist, who enraged animal lovers
with her Tweets, which included pictures of one really gutted bunny.
phoned the local gym and I asked if they could teach me how to do the
splits. The fellow said ‘How flexible are you?’. I said ‘I can’t make Tuesdays’.”
Tim Vine, 47, English comedian and master of the one-liner.
great reputation is like virginity. It can be preserved but not
restored.” Warren Buffett, 83, American business magnate and philanthropist.
a great quote that is. And well worthy of a repeat.
A senior BBC figure, Alan Yentob, said on television
recently that the BBC had lost the public’s trust following all the scandals
Savile, the huge pay offs to senior figures, etc, etc ― but trust was
slowly but surely being regained.
I guess Warren Buffett has my vote.
yes, that third newspaper column which ensures my daily attention?
Come in, come in!
Wicked Willie rides again...
All hail the Nouveau-Queenie
“I DO have a real cock ... a psychic cock ... I do ― I mean, I love my
vagina, but maybe it’s that that’s got me here, I don’t know...”
There is nothing like a Dame: Dame Helen Mirren, 68, English actress,
collects her Glamour Icon award at Glamour Magazine’s Women
of the Year Awards ― and seemingly intent on convincing us that she
really is nothing like a Dame..
And actors wonder why we call them
Anyway, it seems that host Graham
Norton had joked earlier in the evening that he couldn’t receive an
award because he had a “cock”. Are you sure about that, Graham? Perhaps
you have a real fanny? Or a psychic fanny?
Dame Helen rose to the Norton
challenge, clearly. Mind you, if it was only “cock” and “vagina” she tickled her
audience with ― phew!
She is normally quite addicted to rampant obscenity during these
Dame Helen, bless, would feel quite
at home in the Asterisk Bar down at the Crazy Horsepower.
Caught on the horniness of
“I do have quite a few
tattoos. I have a pair of horns on my hips so when I am wearing a bikini
it looks like there is some sort of goat down my pants.” Davina
McCall, 46, English television presenter ― who has hosted a show called
The Jump, ho, ho, ho!
As long as it’s
not the ghost of famous yesteryear prime minister David Lloyd George hiding down
be fine, Davina ― you know, the fellow who knew all our grandfathers, nudge-nudge,
wink-wink (Lloyd George was
known as the randy old goat of politics, the Old Shaggy of his day).
As English Heritage tightens up on its blue plaque awards, it seems that
Dame Elizabeth Taylor was denied
such an honour (she was born in London to American parents and held
dual citizenship of the UK and the US).
By coincidence, Radio Cymru, the
Welsh language wireless station, recently revisited an interview between
two celebrities no longer with us: Ivor Emmanuel, one of the stars of
the film Zulu, and the great rugby legend and character Ray Gravell.
Ivor spoke of his friendship with
Richard Burton, both hailing from the same village in South Wales.
Burton had been pencilled in for a main role in Zulu, but given his
rather wild lifestyle at that time, he was considered too high risk for the
trip to Africa. He was instead signed up for his distinctive delivery of
the opening and closing narration to the film.
Anyway, Ivor Emmanuel went on to
talk about his memorable first encounter with Elizabeth Taylor. No, it
wasn’t her beauty or her distinctive violet eyes he recalled, but it was
the first time he had ever heard a woman swear.
And it was no slip of the tongue
either; she swore like a trooper from the 24th Regiment of Foot (Ivor
and Ray had, remember, been discussing Zulu).
How odd then that Helen Mirren’s
dodgy language has its genesis in Elizabeth Taylor’s method
Even more remarkable is the notion
that two such talented and good looking women lack self-esteem, to the
extent that they need the prop of talking in tongues (obscene) to hide
English Heritage should revisit their Elizabeth Taylor blue plaque denial ― but offer
different kind of blue plaque.
Wednesday, July 2nd
Kick start every day with a smile
Al Paca goes Al
Rzeszów University of Information Technology and Management Centre Zoo
in Poland has imported a crew of alpacas ― 35 females and 3 males (lucky boyos) ― from
delightful animals are to be used in children’s therapy.
wonderful. But never mind children, they would work wonders for many adults ― especially politicians.
Incidentally, see at the very bottom, left, of the above photo ... where
they get that little straw hat?
Anyway, sticking to the smile trail...
Three little piggies
don’t eat you don’t crap ... and if you don’t crap you die
(and that’s why politicians are purveyors of quality crap)
Chewing the fat
Labour leader Ed Miliband (along with brother David) should
stay clear of photo shoots, especially so those involving food in any
shape or form.
Last month, Ed (that’s him on the right, above) did what for the rest of us would be a
perfectly normal thing to do: he enjoyed a bacon sarnie at a café in New Covent
Garden in London ― a photo shoot to keep Labour supporters onside.
yes, it backfired spectacularly.
For Twitter’s Photoshoppers it was a gift from the gods.
They transposed the
image of him scoffing his ham roll onto a memorable cross-section of
scenes familiar to us from yesteryear.
The Telegraph has a marvellous gallery of the
Twitterati’s efforts ― including the one of the three little piggies,
above ― and it all kicks-off with the actual photo that triggered
imaginations all over the land.
I particularly liked this online comment:
That weren’t no
bacon tree, that were an ‘am bush.
How true. And what a self-inflicted ambush it were.
The gallery is well worth a quick click:
Tuesday, July 1st
Happy Birthday, etc...
FOUR years have passed, unbelievably, since I launched the daily aspect
of this Smile of the Day
scrapbook cum diary.
even more remarkably, I haven’t missed a day, excepting those two
computer breaks ― a few days in September 2012 when I changed my computer;
and then back in April this year when the software that lifts this whole
caboodle up onto the internet called it a day and had to be replaced
(including the 100,000 click service, of course).
not bad. In fact, I’m about to take a bit of a break ― or at least a
more restricted contribution. But more of that a few days further down
Anyway, I had a look at what made me smile back in July 2010...
The football World Cup was on ― out in South Africa. Oh yes, and
those dreaded vuvuzelas were going full blast and sounding like a swarm of
bees going berserk inside your head, and driving everyone doolally.
And, the star of
2010 was Paul the Octopus, the only faultless superstar of World Cup
with his remarkable run of predictions. There he is up there, on today’s
Yes, the whole world
was just as doolally back then. Thank the Lord.
the psychic octopus maintained his flawless performance in the final by
correctly predicting Spain’s victory over Holland.
Dubbed the “oracle octopus”, punters gambled on the mystic mollusc’s
predictions and duly won around half-a-million squid ― sorry, quid ―
during the month-long tournament, at least according to bookmakers
What I liked back
then was the conspiracy theorists. Sceptics suggested that somehow or
other, Paul the Octo in his tank was being manipulated towards the correct flag.
But as I concluded,
that meant a human being was actually making those astonishing
predictions ― on Paul’s behalf.
And that was even
more impressive than a bloody octopus making the call.
Having said all
that, Paul has a lot to answer for.
During this year’s
tournament there is no escaping the bloody psychic animals: there’s Yalu the
Elephant, Flopsy the Kangaroo, Madame Shiva the Guinea Pig, Big Head the
Turtle, Alastair Campbell the Donkey (so I believe) ― and here in Wales,
Nanny the Goat.
Yes, Paul has many
pretenders, mostly copycat candidates proposed by those seeking to boost
visitor footfall or readership ― how gullible we are ― but none with the accuracy or animal
magic of the choosy cephalopod.
Earlier, I mentioned the dreaded
vuvuzelas. And yesterday I discussed the magic of Brazilian football
down the years. Well now...
Tall and tanned and young and lovely
Something has been amiss watching
Brazil at this World Cup. No, it’s not the quality of the Brazilian
football ― even the best team in the world is allowed the occasional
blip ― but something much more basic.
It’s the support inside the stadia.
Where’s the music, the drums, the
samba...? Yes, the pretty girls from Ipanema are there in droves ― but
where’s the rhythm of the crowd?
Or is it that I am not picking it
up over the non-stop waffling of commentators and pundits?
Time, surely, for all sports
broadcasts to offer us the red button option of no commentary, just the
background sounds ― as if we are actually there, inside the stadium.
There must be very few viewers who
need to be told that the round thing is the football; and that those
players with high numbers on their backs are frustrated U-Boat captains
i.e. whenever they enter the penalty box a little voice inside their
head goes: “Dive! Dive! Dive!”
Yes, where has that samba disappeared to?
Previously on Look You...
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
the day 2013: Nov
Smile of the day
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2013: Jan
Smile of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
.. Smile of the day 2012
(Apr-Jun) .. Smile of the
day 2012c (Jul-Sep) .. Smile
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
Previous 2011 smiles:
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
.. Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
.. Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2010
(Jan to Jun) 2009
March to May '07
June to Aug '07
Sep to Dec '07
You are here, way out west,
aka Dodgy City
Previously on LOOK
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2014:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day 2013:
Smile of the day
Smile of the day 2013: Jan
of the day 2012d (Oct-Dec)
of the day 2012c (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the day 2012
Smile of the day 2012 (Jan-Mar)
Smile of the day 2011
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jul-Sep)
Smile of the Day 2011 (Jan-Jun)
Smile of the Day 2010
2010 (Jan to Jun)
Sep to Dec '07
June to Aug '07
March to May '07
As it was in
ST DAVID'S DAY, 2007
Postcards from my Square
Here's lookin' at you
400 Smiles A Day
What A Gas
400 Smiles A Day