LOOK YOU ~ a rolling scrapbook of life, the universe and nearly everything...

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Updated: 11/08/2013

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400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013

                                                                                        Design: Yosida

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

                                                                               ...and everyday a doolally smile of the day
PS: The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
Contact Me
Friday > Sunday, November 28th > November 30th 2014

‘You stay here, I’ll go on ahead’

Spotted on scurvyprawn

Must dash

I’m late
! I’m late! For a very important date! Just time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!

So see you Monday, if spared.

Final Word

“Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage.”
Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)

Thursday, November 27th

Make mine a large one

THIS morning I popped into Tesco at Ammanford. Whenever I’m near a Tesco store I always look to pick up some ‘cheap’ whisky.

As I may have mentioned before, I am not a home drinker, except when I have a visitor(s) and I join in.

However, one of the many joys of my sunrise walks through the Towy Valley is returning home and making myself a jumbo mug of coffee, with an exceedingly generous splash of whisky, and all topped off with double cream. What I call a Cymric Coffi ― or perhaps more correctly, Coffi Cymric ― which is the Welsh version of a Gaelic Coffee.

Although I enjoy a good whisky, I am no connoisseur, indeed the finer points of a scotch are somewhat lost when you pour it into a mug of coffee. It is merely there to give the coffee a delicious edge. That is why I go for Tesco’s own Everyday Value  blended whisky, which is cheaper than any recognised brand.

However, this time of year the major labels have promotional drives where the prices often beat even the Tesco ‘own brand’ stuff.

So today I checked out the offers and went for a Whyte & Mackay Special Blended Scotch Whisky  (“Double marriage blend”?), at £15 a litre.

As I reached for a few bottles, an elderly lady, oh, in her late 70s, early 80s I would guess, all prim and proper and jaunty, her trolley neatly stacked with goods, pulled up in front of the whisky shelves and she instantly reached for a litre bottle of Famous Grouse, without even looking at the price.

After she had placed the bottle in her well-ordered trolley, she looked up at me, our eyes met, and as is my wont, I smiled ― and she returned a cheeky little smile, turned and departed.

Not a word was exchanged ― but it was an interaction that was worth a thousand words: “I know, I’m a very naughty girl, but Nan’s the word...”

On my drive home I couldn’t help but chuckle at the exchange. And I began to speculate. Did she have a husband at home who enjoyed a ‘Low Flyer’ ― what the regulars at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon call  the Famous Grouse  whisky ― every evening? Indeed it could have been her secret indulgence. And why not? She looked exceedingly well on it.

And it was obviously a regular stop on her supermarket round for she knew where to go with her eyes shut.

Ahh, she looked a lovely old lady with her cheeky smile.

While on the subject of supermarkets, a clickbait spotted online this very evening:

  Named and shamed: The supermarkets where up to 78% of fresh chickens are
                                   contaminated with potentially lethal food poisoning bacteria

By one of those delightful coincidences that makes Look You both a doddle and a delight to put together, the Telegraph  published another Sign Language gallery, a selection of those amusing and confusing signs sent in by readers as spotted on their travels around the globe...

Bon appétit

Spotted at the Daysun Park Hotel, Guangzhou, South China by Katarina Aikio

Wonderful. And forewarned is forearmed.

In fact, someone on the wireless mentioned the other day that you should always freeze fresh poultry first in order to kill off all the nasties lying in ambush. I must say, it did make sense to a simple caveman like me.

Incidentally, what a magical name ‘Katarina’ is (as per the above sign language picture). The name simply rolls off the tongue with perfect elegance.

While on the subject of names, and indeed supermarkets, there’s currently a Christmas ad on the telly boasting this sales pitch: “That’s why Peter goes to Iceland.”

The shoppers at Iceland, especially the ladies, stare and swoon at busy-bee shopper Peter as if he has just descended the mountain weighed down with tablets marked ‘Ten Commandments for a priceless and sexy shopping experience”.

And do you know, I haven’t the faintest idea who this Peter fellow is.

Last word

Talking of shopping and what we eat and drink ― this from Daniel Finkelstein’s Notebook in The Times:

Fat use

The chief nutritionist of Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone, has provided some advice on healthy eating.

“Government advice is to eat plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy food, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and some milk and dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, beans and other sources of non-dairy protein.”

I am not sure this helps me a great deal.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Cymric Coffi’, my Welsh version of Gaelic Coffee, came up as ‘Citric Coffin’. I shall hurriedly make my excuses and leave.

Wednesday, November 26th

Autumn leaves

YESTERDAY morning, Tuesday ― and Llandampness experiences its first proper frost of autumn. So much so, along my walk I am totally captivated by the above clump of trees flaunting itself in the cold sunrise air.

In particular that one tree perfectly highlighted by the sun and which is refusing to let go its leaves. I wondered what the tree was, so I went to investigate.

Surprise, surprise, it’s a sweet chestnut, somewhat unusual because the sweet chestnut trees on Dinefwr Park tend to be short-ish and stubby.

And talking of falling leaves, when I arrived home I witnessed one of the joys of the first proper frosts of autumn. At the bottom of the garden there’s a row of hazel trees, still hanging on to most of their leaves.

But once the frost arrives and the rising sun heats the leaves and the branches, the warmth breaks their hold and the leaves drift to the ground like giant orangey-yellow snowflakes. They make a gently distinctive bumping sound as they push their way through the leaves lower down still refusing to budge.

It’s a marvellous stand and stare occurrence.

Whatever, the frosty weather brought to mind the poppies at the Tower of London, now rapidly disappearing as they are removed and sent to those who have bought them.

And the moat itself is churning into a sea of mud as a result of the wet late autumn. How ironic.

Leading up to Armistice Day there had been a clamour for the poppies to remain in place for longer ― all the politicians got in on the act, as they do when they sniff a popular cause ― but the Tower of London rejected calls to extend the exhibition: “Transience is part of the overall artistic concept.”

In fact another little throwaway line from the Tower made their prompt removal essential. Apparently, because the poppies are ceramic, they will crack in frost.

And that is why yesterday’s frost made me think of the poppies.

As it happens, here in the UK frost in November is quite a common occurrence, so the Tower of London has been lucky that we’ve enjoyed such a mild autumn.

On Armistice Day itself, I was watching an evening news bulletin on the telly, and at the end there was a brief compilation of the most memorable images of the day ― and one I particularly enjoyed was a blackbird landing on one of the poppies and doing a quick balancing act.

I had a look online for the image, or similar, with no luck ― but I did find other birds captured on the poppies. The one I liked best was this starling, as spotted on the ITV news website...


Final word

Apropos the transient nature of the poppy exhibition at the Tower, I thought this by India Knight in The Sunday Times summed it up perfectly:

“The poppies are there, blood-red and ‘alive’, and then they are gone, like the men ― sons, brothers, husbands ― they commemorate. Those men got no extensions. That is the whole point. The poppies shouldn’t either.”

Tuesday, November 25th

The Chocolate Whisperer

Skulduggery @ Heavenly, Llandeilo
But is it a trick (Grim Reaper) or a treat (Willy Wonka)?
“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“FROZEN yogurt is tastier than ice cream, nobody is too old for cartoons, bald men are sexy, chocolate is the best medicine, BIG books are better, cats secretly rule the planet, and everything should be available in the color pink, including monster trucks.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, American author and novelist, from her book Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year.

Good quote ― however, I am not sure about “BIG books” and “everything should be available in pink”. But I am eager to check out the frozen yogurt claim. (When I look in the mirror, I have to go along with the “bald men are sexy” bit. But I am easily fooled.)

Whatever, all this talk of ice cream takes me back to last weekend when Llandeilo held its Christmas Festival of the Senses. On the Friday night the Christmas lights were switched on, followed by a fireworks display ― it was all very Llandampness, but come Saturday and Sunday and it turned out nice again, which is the way of the world hereabouts.

And I am told the whole shebang was a huge success. Apparently there were loads of people around.

This morning, early, I happened to be walking past the window of Heavenly, Llandeilo’s famous Yum-Yum emporium: “Exquisite desserts, luxurious chocolates, luscious ice cream” ― and a display in the window pulled me up short.

I burst out laughing ― see today’s welcome mat...

It was actually a chocolate display with a Halloween theme ― held over by popular demand? ― and the message thereon seemed so deliciously apt.

Here’s the festive-themed shop front...

Three steps to Heavenly...

1)  It looks good
2)  It tastes even better
3)  And a choccie a day keeps the doc at bay

Incidentally, the Halloween chocolate masterpiece is in its box, and just to the right of the doorway, as we look ― and a fair sized effort it is, too.

It duly inspired a chocolate themed...

Last word

“Strength is the capacity to break a Kit Kat bar into four fingers with your bare hands ― and then eat just one of the fingers.” Slightly paraphrased to UK taste, with apologies to Judith Viorst, 83, American journalist and author of Love & Guilt & The Meaning Of Life, Etc

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.” Dave Barry, 67, American author and columnist.

Hm, we men have the same problem with sex ― we simply refuse to involve our brains.

When I die,’ I said to my friend, ‘I’m not going to be embalmed. I’m going to be dipped in chocolate at Heavenly.’ At least it will make the worms smile.”
Heavily and Heavenly paraphrased ― with thanks to Adrianne Marcus for prompting a bit of lateral thinking.

“You may have noticed we have no sex lives. As a result there
s lots of chocolate in this house.”
Keryl Raist, part-time writer, part-time blogger, “and full-time mom”.

can’t buy happiness. But, it can buy a chocolate, which is pretty much the same thing.”
Hanako Ishii.

PS: Today’s ‘Last Word’ juxtaposes quite magnificently with the previous one, just below. And all by chance, really, as I had no idea on Sunday that I would be writing about chocolate, today.


Sunday > Monday, November 23rd > 24th

Free an’ easy, that’s my style;
Howdy-do me, watch me smile;
But fare-thee-well me after a while,
‘Cause I gotta roam
An’ any place I hang my hat is home...

Last word

A letter in The Times:

Eating fungi

Sir, Just remember: all mushrooms are edible. It’s just that some are edible only once.
BILL LEIGHTON, Wolverhampton


Saturday, November 22nd

A staging post along my early-morning walk: acquaintances come
to say hello ― and just be nosey and pull a long face, really

Having a nice day

LAST night, my home town (along with many towns and cities up and down the land) turned on its Christmas lights and threw a fireworks party; indeed, the folks who live on the hill in Llandampness were last seen dancing and singing in the rain.

First thing this morning though, last evening’s heavy rain had gone and it was a still and agreeable start to the day; I departed on my regular sunrise walk.

At half-eight I was deep in the heart of the Towy Valley, in my shirtsleeves, my coat tied around my waist, and feeling totally comfortable, such was the extraordinary balminess of the southerly breeze.

Even the wee songbirds I’ve befriended down the years and who accept me as their Candy Man were mostly missing, probably tweeting about white vans, England flags and the big white-tailed eagle called Farage floating over the UK and seemingly picking off puny political bunnies at will.

I have to pinch myself on all fronts: it is, after all, November the 22nd.

The other side of the pond, in North America, they are experiencing exceedingly early winter weather ― with a vengeance.

Mind you, the forecast does say that we here in the UK are due a little bit of coldness this coming week, but nothing on the American scale.

We do indeed live in interesting times.

Whatever, I was  having a nice day ... until I watched the final 11 minutes of the Wales-New Zealand rugby game. At last, I quietly thought to myself, a reason to open that bottle of champagne in the fridge.

Then: bang-bang-bang!!! Three tries from the All Blacks ― just like that.

Twas ever thus.

I dunno, we’ll have to wait for the next Three Wise Men to come along before we beat the Blacks. So that’s another 2,000 years, then.

There’s been much in the media of late as to why New Zealand are so good at rugby. Especially how they manage to pull so many games out of the loss column right at the death.

Well, nobody seems to notice one aspect of their game, so I wrote to The Sunday Times  Sport section ― and my little missive was published last Sunday:

That old Black Magic

The All Blacks are what they are because they have magically combined the natural-born talent, flair and exuberance of the Polynesian with the ruthless application, dedication and single-mindedness of the Caucasian.
     The best way to explain this to those who stand and stare is to imagine a national football team made up of six Germans and five Brazilians. An unbeatable mix ‘n’ match.

Last word

A letter in The Times:

Sullenness, please

Sir, The “have a nice day” culture has invaded the internet. Completing an online form, I entered my first name and got an ingratiating “Hello, Reg!”.
     So far, so creepy. When I added my surname the algorithm responded with “Great name
     At this point I logged out. Give me BSI (British Sullen Indifference) every time.
REG MANSER, Cranleigh, Surrey


Friday, November 21st

“What have things come to that a bloke waving around a pint and a cigarette and offering common-sense solutions to the world could ever be taken seriously.”
Comedian Al Murray, the so-called Pub Landlord.

WITH the news first thing this morning that Ukip had overnight won its second House of Commons seat, I was duly confronted by the above Adams cartoon in the Daily Telegraph. LOL²

As soon as I saw the cartoon I knew it was meant to trigger memories of a once famous advert ― but I was stumped as to what that ad was. What first came to mind were those glorious cigar ads: “Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet ... a mild cigar from Benson & Hedges”.

After all, these days: Happiness is a politician called Farage ... a thorn between two deadheaded roses called Cameron & Miliband.

Actually, I remember Alex Salmond doing those Hamlet ads with his famous comb-over. At least, the fellow who did the ads looked remarkably like Alex Salmond. (And I bet Salmond enjoyed a Hamlet after losing his ‘Yes’ vote.)

But that wasn’t the ad I should have been thinking of. So Ivor the Search Engine  chuffed off with “Ahh...!” as his search signature ... bingo, a period tea towel!

Yes of course, the Bisto Kids ... these days we are stuck with the Westminster Kids.

Anyway, I shall leave politics to those who think they understand the subject. But I want to stick with Ukip.

“These days, Downton Abbey types vote Green while the footmen, butler and kitchen maids vote Ukip. Mind you, the Queen Mother was more Ukip than Ukip.” Nigel Farage.

Now Farage rhymes with fromage (say “Cheese
!” ― well, Nigel is always smiling), or potage (a thick political soup?), or homage (ask David Cameron, David Miliband and Nick Clegg), or mirage (it could, of course, all be an illusion, even an allusion).

But I liked this letter in The Times:

Garage, Farage

Sir, With the increasing repetition of the name of the Ukip leader, I am hopeful broadcasters will encourage us to use the word “garage” with its proper pronunciation.
KEITH TURNER, Horringer, Suffolk

Oats quiz-zine

Sir, I understand Keith Turner’s point about “garage” rhyming with “Farage”. However, I am now gazing at my porage with some puzzlement.

And, in the interest of balance:

Sir, I always refer to the man as Nigel Farrago.

Whatever, never mind Farage and garage and porage ― what about cabage, forage...?

Back on the political front, poor old Ed Miliband is coming in for much stick ― or should that be shtick?

“Thirteen per cent of Britons believe Ed Miliband is up to the job of PM. Thirty-four per cent believe in ghosts.” Political commentator Dan Hodges, son of Labour MP Glenda Jackson.

“The time for false praise and flattery, prevarication and procrastination is long past. Ed Miliband should resign his leadership of the Labour Party voluntarily if possible, forcibly if necessary.”
Joe Haines, who was Labour prime minister Harold Wilson’s press secretary, goes over the top.

“When you are standing on the edge of a cliff it is unwise to believe that by jumping you will suddenly learn to fly.”
Labour’s former home secretary David Blunkett, calling for an end to this “bout of political insanity” in the party over Ed Miliband’s leadership.

“The conclusion they have reached is that he is in the ground, in the coffin, but the earth isn’t quite over him.” BBC political editor Nick Robinson reporting on what he believes Prime Minister David Cameron and senior Cabinet colleagues think about Labour leader Ed Miliband.

And then today, this clickbait:

  Ed Miliband: I feel respect when I see a white van

                                  Labour leader says it is “right” that Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Attorney
                                  General, has been sacked after a photo-tweet that appeared to mock a family home
                                  draped with England flags ― and a white van parked outside

A most curious little story this ― but the clever quote of the day, apropos the
‘white van’, ‘England flags’ and Labour coming a distant third in the overnight by-election result, goes to a comment spotted on a message board...

Anneallan: I love the smell of panic in the morning.

Oh, and I did enjoy this letter from a couple of months ago in The Times, which says so much about why politicians make such a balls-up of everything:

A fitter PM?

Sir, The article on Alan Johnson [spoken of as the man most likely to replace Ed Miliband as Labour leader] reminds me of a saying in a factory many years ago. “It is easier for a fitter’s mate to become prime minister than to become a fitter.” For without serving an apprenticeship it was impossible to become a fitter.
MAX LINES, Frome, Somerset

Last Word

Actually, today’s last word is an image. Above, I mention the famous Hamlet series of adverts from many moons ago: this amusing example juxtaposes rather snugly with yesterday’s welcome mat cartoon...

Thursday, November 20th

Humpty Dumpty comes good
(or bad, if you’re the chicken)

Eggsy over easy

I WAS reminded of the above cartoon today. Brilliant. Yes, the oldest question in the world, answered at last.

Not so much “Go to work on an egg”, more “Go to work on a chick”.

I’m reminded of the Jeremy Clarkson quote from last Tuesday: “When I was young I was told to go to work on an egg, but now I’m told that if I have two in a morning I will have gangrene by teatime.”

It also brought to mind a couple of perfectly complimentary pictures, as spotted in the Telegraph’s  Sign Language gallery...

A rotten place?

Scrambled thinking?

Oh no, my Lord, parts of it are excellent!
Spotted in Zurich by Mark Elsley

But not as stupid as it cooks!
Spotted in China by Steve Foster

Another fine mess

When I first saw that ‘stupid egg’ illustration, I did wonder if this was a special meal provided for the locals down at the nearby Leekes retail store in Cross Hands. Then my brain caught up with the spelling.

Mind you, it would be rather wonderful to know what the original Chinese word actually is that’s been translated as ‘stupid’. Could it be ‘scrambled’? Whatever, sticking with food ... now here’s some proper clickbait stuff...

   Dodgy diets, unreliable advice and fitness fads that just don’t work:
                      How searching for weight loss tips online can make you fatter...

No, I did not click, but it did bring to mind a letter I smiled at and shared last August, as spotted in
The Sunday Times:

Spelling it out

Rod Liddle (“Drop the staple gun, Doc, and tell Fatty to grow some willpower”, Comment, last week) would have welcomed the advice of my GP in a local practice with every modern computerised aid, but still blessedly traditional in its approach.
     When told I should lose weight, I asked what diet she recommended. She replied: “I’ll spell it for you in capital letters. Pen handy? E. A. T. New word. L. E. S. S.”
Francis Hitching, Oxford

Well worth a repeat, that.

The other day I told my doctor about it ― he laughed and thoroughly appreciated the humour. Indeed, he confirmed that obesity is becoming a huge problem ― no pun intended ― and that one significant and deadly ambush lies ahead, especially for the increasingly stretched NHS.

In fact, it reminded me of a recent letter in the Driving section of The Sunday Times:

Squeezed middle

Ken Atkins’s response to Brian Haynes’s question about why cars are getting wider ― [they are keeping up with the ever-increasing size of their customers] ― also answers the question about how to cut the UK’s obesity rate.
     Manufacturers should make their cars narrower so people are forced to slim to continue to be able to drive.
Jon Tout, Timperley, Greater Manchester

Champion idea. Oh, and for good measure I thought I’d throw this letter in as well, from the same section:

Viral marketing

Surely Renault should have come up with a better name for its eco-car ― the Eolab ― than one so obviously an anagram of Ebola (Car of the Week, last week).
David Lederman, northwest London

Do you suppose Jeremy Clarkson knows? He should definitely take an Eolab, bearing the registration E8 OLA, on his next trip to Africa. That should learn him.

Wednesday, November 19th

Pssst! Look at me, look at me...

Autumn's starter for ten at Castle Woods in Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo:
You can just about see Llandyfeisant Church for the trees

No Spring, nor Summer beauty hath such grace,
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.

John Donne (1573-1631)

WITH the leaves now rapidly abandoning ship, the above photograph was actually shot a month ago. The leaves were just starting to change colour: I was on my sunrise walk ... it was an overcast, dull morning, poor light, I did a bit of a detour ― suddenly I caught sight of this eye-catching view from some distance away.

In particular those two trees in the middle of the ‘Autumnal face’. Perhaps it was down to the poor light ― but they stood out like decorative illuminations.

I wondered what the trees were. Castle Woods is home to a roll call of familiar British trees: oaks, beech, sycamores, ash, hazel, hawthorn, holly, a traditional yew tree...

So I made a detour ... when I arrived under the trees I was pretty sure what they were, but I took a couple of leaves home to check against my Illustrated Book of Trees...

Yes, a pair of large-leaved lime trees. Normally it’s the small-leaved or common limes that are mostly seen in this part of the world, but the large-leaved ones are rather eye-catching. As indeed highlighted in the ‘Autumnal face’ on today’s welcome mat.

I mention the above because I was attracted by this curious clickbait...

   Westminster cancels autumn: Worker seen pulling leaves from the trees

                                   Now come on, how could I not click...

Doolallyness rules, OK? Authorities are accused of wasting money on pointless
task as woman is seen busily stripping lime trees at Westminster

Wake up! Wake up!

This must be a dream, I thought. Half in greyscale, half in glorious technicolour. But no.

I tell you what though, I shall leave it to Rod Liddle to sum it all up in his inimitable style...

Honeybun, the ‘Westminster stripper’

Sick of dead leaf misery? Tired of raking the autumnal detritus from your garden?

A woman was seen painstakingly removing the leaves from 50 lime trees in New Palace Yard, trees owned by the House of Commons. Up she climbed and, snip, snip, snip, soon there were no leaves left.

A commons spokesman explained that this approach was “more time efficient” than allowing the leaves to fall off naturally.

I suppose it would be even more time efficient to snip them off in spring, when they’re smaller. The woman doing the snipping is called Annabel Honeybun.

I haven’t made up any of this, by the way.

At moments like this it seems curiously reassuring that the doolallyness of the nation is safe in the hands of our movers and shakers, especially so our politicians.

Mind you, the snip, snip, snip should be carried out on all men of a political bent to stop them generating more plebs to fill the nations House of Commons.

Last word

“I didn’t realise that an anagram of ‘Houses of Parliament’ was ‘shameful operations’.”
Lord Ashcroft, 68, businessman and politician.

And this letter from The Times  follows on perfectly:

Crossword thanks

Sir, Regarding the cryptic crossword being built up of a series of readers’ contributions: “carthorse” and “orchestra” are mutual anagrams familiar to any cruciverbalist.
     The ones that occasionally make me believe that there might be a God are “schoolmaster” and
“the classroom”.


Spell-cheque corner: ‘Honeybun’, the Westminster stripper, came up, rather agreeably, as ‘Honeybee’.
     But ‘cruciverbalist’ stumped my computer completely ― I could sense it scratching its head and saying “No, that just doesn’t fit”. Not a single suggestion. My clever computer silenced and crucified by a cruciverbalist? Unbelievable.

Tuesday, November 18th
“SO, if I want to live much past the end of next weekend the doctor says I must give up smoking, drink less, walk more, lose weight and ― he really did say this ― stop going to Argentina.”
                Jeremy Clarkson, 54, informs us that he recently had a full medical and the news was not good.
“Having spent an entire day making me run about on a treadmill with a selection of enormous probes up my bottom, the doctor pulled a stern face and described my fitness as ‘atrocious’. He’s right, of course. I get tired pulling on my socks these days.”

Now that did make me smile. And it rang a bell.

A couple of months back I mentioned that I’d bought a brand new car, a cheep and cheerful wee runabout of a thing, something suitable to launch me on my final lap on this old planet.

Although I’ve now heard the bell for that last lap ― well I did recently choose to call it a day on the work front ― fortunately though I have no idea what distance that lap is, so I’ve decided to slow down a bit, both on the driving and walking front.

I will of course continue my sunrise walkies, but I think a bit more standing and staring is called for.

Anyway, what with this new car of mine, it’s the first time for more moons than I care to remember that I haven’t had to take a car in for an MOT. And over recent years the Saab’s MOT fell due in November.

And by coincidence, it’s around this time of year that the local surgery calls me in for my annual health MOT.

Although my trusty old 900 ― God rust its soul ― never cost me more than one would reasonably expect of an older car to get through its annual MOT, indeed last year, along with the previous two years actually, it cost me no more that the MOT charge itself.

However, last year I remember telling the nice lady at my friendly neighbourhood garage, and much to her amusement, that bringing the car in for its MOT stressed me out more than going for my annual health MOT.

What a strange species we are. Or at least, we men are.

So I enjoyed Clarkson’s article. He also said this, which tickled me old funny bone no end, for it sums up this mad world we live in:

“When I was young I was told to go to work on an egg, but now I’m told that if I have two in a morning I will have gangrene by teatime.”

Incidentally, Jeremy mentioned that the doctor told him not go back to Argentina: remember that car registration wheeze, H982 FKL, which nearly backfired with deadly consequences? Well, I enjoyed these letters in the Daily Mail:

“Just spotted Jeremy Clarkson’s number plate for his next Top Gear trip to Africa ― E8 OLA.”
Pamela Stones of Southport, Merseyside.

“But will Jeremy Clarkson dare use the number plate PUT 1N for his trip to Ukraine?”
W George Tyson of Crowborough, E Sussex.

Talking of diets and food and drink, which I think we were...

“Having considered politics on many occasions ... I would prefer to eat kidneys naked with Janet Street-Porter.” Ben Fogle, 41, English adventurer, author, broadcaster, writer and all-purpose celebrity, concludes that being an MP is not quite his scene.

I feel what is missing from that quote of Ben’s is this: “I would prefer to eat kidneys naked with Janet Street-Porter, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” After all, I presume he was speaking of Janet’s kidneys.

And this too made me smile XL:


“I couldn’t see him overthrowing a table of drinks.” Noel Gallagher, 47, of Oasis fame, expressing his doubts about the ability of writer, entertainer and delightful doolallyist Russell Brand to start a revolution.

Top quote that, Noel. Very witty.

And seamlessly moving on from revolution to the topic of immigrants:

Seat belts on

“Whether you are here on business, pleasure or seeking asylum, I wish you a pleasant stay.”
An unnamed British Airways captain, on landing in London from New York.

And now, a perfectly related letter, loosely speaking of course, as is the way hereabouts, and spotted in
The Times:

Stealth by numbers

Sir, Apropos your report which said that “stealth jets are to land in 2018, but only four of them”. How will we know if there are only four?
DAVID LEIBLING, Pinner, Middlesex

Last word

Spell-cheque corner: Having just coined the word ‘doolallyist’ (apropos Russell Brand), the computer pulled me up short and wondered aloud if I had meant to say instead ‘Doolally St’. How marvellous. Sesame Street for adults.

Also, ‘Leibling’ as in David Leibling, author of the day’s final letter, came up as ‘Libelling’. Say nothing is best.

Saturday > Monday, November 15th > 17th

To the woods, to the woods...

“No, no, I’ll tell the caveman.”
“But I AM the caveman.”
That’ll learn me.
Hopefully though, she is well versed
in the art of reducing the size
of a man’s problem at a
stroke (rather than
 a thump).

Last word

TO LET(TE): “What do women want in an ideal man? Oh, nothing special, as long as he has bulging pectorals, a PhD, a nice bum, a non-sexist attitude, a top tan, advanced Kama Sutra skills and can cook soufflés ― and arm-wrestle crocodiles. Now is that too much to ask of a billionaire?”
Kathy Lette, 56, Australian author, who “writes the way women talk when there’s no men around”, and “it’s cheaper than therapy”.

Pssst, Kathy, I tick all the above boxes.

Well, all except the bulging pectorals bit. Er, I actually have a D’oH rather than a PhD, a pinkish glow as opposed to a top tan, not even 11-plus Kama Sutra skills let alone advanced ones, can’t cook won’t cook a soufflé ― and can just about arm-wrestle the cat (at a push).

At least I have a nice bum (as opposed to a nasty one), and a non-sexist attitude (fingers crossed). Oh yes, I am  a billionaire ― as long as we understand that we are not necessarily talking money (I must have a billion smiles etched away on my hard drive). Three out of nine ain’t bad.

That’s all folks. See you Tuesday, if spared.
Your friendly neighbourhood caveman...

Friday, November 14th

Anton’s Animal Kingdom should have gone to WIX.com

Definitely, positively, absolutely no dead parrots at Anton’s

I WAS watching some American College Football (the gridiron variety) on the box.

Along with road racing, of the bicycle variety that is, i.e. the Tour de France, Yankee college football has to be one of the most extraordinary and entertaining sports to watch.

Imagine the annual varsity rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge ― except there’s a crowd of 102,000, mostly young people but not exclusively so, all making a glorious sound (as opposed to a noise); then there are those delightfully doolally marching bands and their spectacular routines; and of course the cheerleaders.

Oh, and the whole shebang lasts some three hours. (The quality of the football ain’t bad, either.)

Anyway, there’s a commercial break. Being a typical bloke I often do a quick zap-a-dee-doo-dah ... and then miss some of the programme that I was actually watching. D’oh!

So this time I leave the zapper alone ― with American football there’s no telling how long the commercial breaks last ― and I sort of half catch a short ad, the conclusion of which makes me laugh out loud. Literally. It was definitely not just a passing and fleeting LOL!

There’s a fellow in a pet shop, surrounded by parrots. He answers the phone ― and that’s when his problems start.

Having not caught the full commercial I pay particular attention to the remaining breaks because ads often repeat themselves during a lengthy programme.

Nothing. After the game I go online. I instruct Ivor the Search Engine  to seek out pet shops and parrots ― without success. Sadly, I didn’t catch whose ad it was, except that it was something to do with web sites.

So Ivor adds that particular info to the search line ... bingo!

                 If Only Everything Was Easy as Wix: Pet Store (TV Commercial)

On the YouTube site where my serendipitous prayer was answered, there’s the following comment:

Royal Bakaness: Man, I work at a pet store that specializes in birds, and I can say this commercial is dead on. Makes me laugh every time.

Indeed, on another web site featuring the ad in question, a lady who has three pet parrots at home also confirms that the commercial is spot on because, like unruly children, the birds regularly drive her mad, but in a funny and agreeable sort of way.

So if you haven’t seen this 31-second ad, and you do nothing else today, be sure to click on this link (just ignore the commercial before the commercial!):

                                                               Experience the very antithesis of a dead parrot

Last Word

“Stressful things happen to us all the time. Someone cuts us up in their car, someone throws a lemon at us ― someone sells us a dead parrot ― whatever it might be, we need time to allow things to settle, to stop being cross and process our emotions.”
John Cleese, 75, famous for a memorable encounter in a pet shop ― and yes, I added that 'someone sells us a dead parrot' bit to his quote.

Thursday, November 13th


LISTENING to Vanessa Feltz early this morning on her Radio 2 show, her conversation topic of the day was linked to the news that a collection of intimate letters written between Marilyn Monroe and two of her husbands are to go on sale.

The letters are part of a lot to be auctioned by Beverley Hills gallery Julien’s Auctions next month entitled ‘The Lost Archives of Marilyn Monroe’, which also includes photographs, a film reel, and other personal items such as pieces of clothing.

In one of the letters, Monroe’s second husband, Joe DiMaggio, opens up his heart about the pain he felt on finding out the star was filing for divorce after seeing her make the announcement on TV.

“If you are under a certain age,” said Vanessa, “you may never have written a letter, never received one, even never held one in your hand. Over a certain age you may well still be writing letters. Who do you write to? When did you last write? Perhaps you haven’t written for years and years. You may have letters hidden away in a box somewhere.

“E-mail or text me ― but please first make sure it’s safe to do so ― and share with me your letter tales...”

I am forever tickled by that standard warning to listeners to only text if it’s safe to do so. How child-like as a nation we now are. Childish, even.

Anyway, I’m going to jump ahead to the halfway point in the programme ... and this memorable exchange live on the show...

Vanessa:  “Now it’s time for Pause for Thought, and today, joining me in the studio is writer, editor and
                  Anglican priest Malcolm Doney ― hello.

Malcolm:  “Good morning.”

Vanessa:  “Nice to see you. Are you someone that writes letters?”

Malcolm:  “No, sadly not.”

Vanessa:  “Don’t you really? When it says writer I imagine someone with a quill and a parchment, furiously
                   writing letters---”

Malcolm:  “Dressed in a frock coat? No, I’m rubbish ― but I receive a letter almost every week from
                   my 92-year-old mother, though.”

Vanessa:  “She writes to you? Gosh, how wonderful. I know this is an impertinent question ― but what sort
                   of things does she say?”

Malcolm:  “Mostly she tells me how she’s helping all the old people in the village.”

Vanessa (chuckling):  “Oh she must be fantastic. So what’s your mum’s name, in case she’s listening?”

Malcolm:  “Winifred Doney ... NO! I’m sorry, I’ve done it wrong! She’s Winifred FIELD ― because she got
                   married again at the age of 75.” (Much hearty and cosy laughter from Vanessa ... meanwhile,
                   Malcolm continues.) “So that’s why I got her name wrong. SORRY MUM

Now how many people get their mum’s name wrong? And on live radio? Not many Anglican priests, I warrant. Still, old Winifred Field at 92 sounds a character, remarrying at 75 and now helping all the old people in the village.

How marvellous. To those disbelievers out there, its present and correct on the iPlayer.

As I always say, there’s nothing quite like starting the day at quarter-to-six of a morning with some cheery and joyous laughter. Lol, as they regularly utter in many a dark corner down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

Last word

“For my 40th birthday, I bought a new BMW 745 for £63,000. I have just sold it and bought a ride-on lawnmower.” Men Behaving Badly actor Neil Morrissey, 52.

What a glorious juxtaposition: Man behaving badly buys ride-on lawnmower.

Mind you, I do wonder what Neil will be buying himself in 2054, when he’s the same age as Winifred Field?


Wednesday, November 12th

Horse brought to hospital to say goodbye to its dying owner

Moving photograph shows final goodbye between Sheila Marsh
and horse Bronwen outside Wigan Royal Infirmary

OVER the weekend, whilst I was out goodwill hunting, this touching story surfaced, a tale that rests rather befittingly alongside yesterday’s events.

A fond farewell

A dying grandmother was granted a final wish of seeing her favourite horse one last time ― after the animal was brought to visit her in her hospital bed.

Sheila Marsh, a 77-year-old grandmother-of-four, passed away from cancer just hours after the horse, named Bronwen, was brought to see her at Wigan Royal Infirmary.

Mrs Marsh, who had raised the horse over 25 years since it was a foal, was wheeled outside the hospital for the meeting.

Their last encounter was captured in a moving photograph that shows the horse nuzzling up against her.

Hospital officials granted Mrs Marsh’s dying wish and arranged for Bronwen to be transported to Wigan Royal Infirmary after her condition deteriorated.

Her hospital bed was wheeled outside for the reunion, which her daughter Tina Marsh, 33, described as a “beautiful moment”. She said: “I was crying my eyes out and all the nurses were crying too. She took comfort out of it.”

Gail Taylor, the bereavement liaison specialist nurse, said: “Sheila gently called to Bronwen and the horse bent down tenderly and kissed her on the cheek as they said their last goodbyes.”

Hours later, Sheila Marsh died...

Looking again at the photograph, you can see that there’s a person leading the horse and kneeling down and hidden by it’s head, but the rein or lead is hanging loose which suggests that the horse did indeed lower its head spontaneously without being ‘persuaded’ to do so.

Incidentally, Bronwen is a Welsh female name, literally ‘white breast’, but I guess the near full blaze on Bronwen’s forehead qualifies.

Anyway, it seems Mrs Marsh had a life-long affiliation with horses and had worked at Haydock Park racecourse.

Her daughter added: “She loved her horses and she loved and adored all animals. She had six horses, three dogs, three cats and other animals.”

Which all goes to prove that whether we are talking humans or animals, we respond best to those who treat us with respect, and by definition creatures blessed with a kindly nature.

A smashing little story that, and a worthy if gentle smile of the day. And perhaps best of all, the hospital showing what can be done to allow patients to die peacefully and with dignity intact.

Last Word

“If you have good manners, people will like you. And if they like you, they will help you.”
Good manners are more important than a good degree, says Kate Reardon, 46, editor of Tatler.

Armistice Day

Time to stand and stare

“WITH thudding predictability, The Guardian’s art critic, Jonathan Jones, took agin the spectacle of the great field of ceramic poppies filling the moat around the Tower of London. He would rather have seen the moat filled with barbed wire and bones; more in-your-face, more now.
     “I feel for him. It is a novice’s howler, for criticism isn’t having a preference. What he did was the arty version of going into a Chinese restaurant and complaining that they couldn’t serve him a pizza.”
AA Gill, writing in last weekend’s Sunday Times.

We do indeed live in interesting times. I particularly like the line that proper criticism is all about having no preference. Oh, and of course the pizza.

It is difficult to think of another work of conceptual art that has so captured the public’s imagination with its beauty, simplicity and meaning, especially as each poppy represents a life lost.

It is no surprise then that Britain excels in staging pageantry, pomp and ceremony on such a memorable and eye-catching scale.

Listening to Vanessa Feltz this morning, and following the Pause For Thought segment on her programme, she said this about the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red  installation:

“There’s an interesting piece in today’s Times, that when people go to see it, they’re not sure what to do. Some are reverential and solemn and bow their heads in mourning; and some are joyful, taking selfies with the poppies in the background, and celebrating it.
     “It is such an interesting experience because nobody quite knows how they’re meant to behave. And yet they feel a very emotional pull showing them how to behave in a certain way.”

A pause for thought indeed. Having not personally visited the work of artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, I have no idea how I would feel or respond ― but from the images it is an astonishing sight to behold.

My favourite picture is this...

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

888,246 red ceramic poppies, each of the individual flowers
representing a British or Colonial Military fatality

Stunning photo, with the juxtaposition of the poppies pouring out of the Tower into the moat ― and in the background the Shard, towering like a Phoenix rising out of the sea of red.

There are two stories linked to Armistice Day that captured my imagination, the first featured in many of today’s news programmes.

Ivor the Search Engine  found this piece from The Northern Echo, a north of England newspaper:

Wolsingham school adds new oak to first war memorial

A SCHOOL whose oak trees were the first memorial to the First World War have planted a new sapling to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

In March 1918, Wolsingham Grammar School, now called Wolsingham School and Community College, in County Durham, planted 18 oak trees lining the playing field, one for each student killed in the First World War.

The oaks have been recognised as the first memorial to the war, with the most iconic ― the Cenotaph in London ― not being installed until a year later.

A further 40 trees were planted in the school grounds in memory of pupils who fought and died in the Second World War, while in 2003 another was planted for Company Sergeant Major Colin Wall who was killed in Iraq.

Pupils from Wolsingham Primary School joined the secondary students in planting the new oak along with 4,000 poppy seeds.

What a worthy tale. How interesting though that twice as many pupils were lost in the Second World War as in the First. I suppose that many more children were receiving Grammar School education leading up to the Second World War.

And my second story? Well, every one of the 888,246 poppies bought will have its own special story to tell, but I liked this, a letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Villagers bring the ‘old pals’ home to Wiltshire

Wilcot plans to create a portable memorial using nine of the Tower of London poppies

SIR – Our village has purchased nine poppies from the Tower of London. They will be set in oak to remember the nine “old pals” from the Wiltshire Regiment who are named on our village monument.
     This will become a portable memorial for the church, village hall and school, reuniting the old pals and bringing them home.
Tim Hollier, Wilcot, Wiltshire

Smashing story. And it seems apt that the most moving picture I’ve seen connected with the Tower of London poppies is this one...

The known unknown soldier?

There was no information as to who the soldier is ― the writing on the photo appears to be the name of the studio where the picture was taken ― so in a way it is quite apt that he remains anonymous to the people who visit and look at the photograph, in line with the poppies behind.

Talking of poppies, and on a lighter note, this letter, again from the Telegraph, tickled my old funny bone.

Letting the side down

SIR – I was shocked that the animals on BBC’s Countryfile on Sunday were not wearing the obligatory poppies.
Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

Finally, a couple of YouTube links to short but memorable memorial films featuring the poppies at the Tower of Old London Town.

The first, a Telegraph  time-lapse film, from dawn to dusk on a beautifully sunny day:
Dawn to dusk at the Tower of London

Secondly, an official film released by the Historic Royal Palaces ― a silent film, mostly captured from on high, lasting a couple of minutes, its silence and length a neat and suitable touch.

The Tower Poppies from above:
                                                   Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red from above

Saturday > Monday, November 8th > 10th

Larder empty

Gone goodwill hunting
(back soon, if spared)

Friday, November 7th

That’s entertainment

LAST Saturday, early-afternoon, I switch on the TV and decide to zap-a-dee-doo-dah through the sports channels to see what rugby is on.

But I land on BBC2 ― and the film That’s Entertainment, Part 2  is just starting. This is MGM’s 1976 sequel to its enormously successful compilation film That’s Entertainment (1974) ― BBC2 showed that the week before, and I have to say I watched and thoroughly enjoyed it.

That Fred Astaire and his leading ladies, eh? [Dancing In The Dark – Conniff, Fred & Cyd]

So stuff the rugby. I decide to stay with Part 2.

A departure from the first film was the decision to include comedy highlights from MGM’s extravagant and extraordinary library of films. And surprise, surprise, that  is the segment which lingers long in the memory.

In particular one scene, indeed a film, which I had never seen before.

It comes from the 1962 film Billy Rose’s Jumbo, where Jimmy Durante, decked out in morning suit, furtively leads a huge elephant out of its circus enclosure as he attempts to liberate it, talking to the beast all the while, with the elephant following him just as a dog would. (That image itself is funny ― coming up down below.)

Suddenly, round the corner rushes a group of people, led by a policeman. They all stop and the copper points at Durante: “What are you doing with that elephant?”

Durante slowly and deliberately looks to his left ... then to his right ... and finally straight ahead at the policeman:
“What elephant?”

This scene, I learn, originally comes from a Broadway stage musical, Jumbo (1935), where it became a regular show-stopper.

It is believed that this sequence likely contributed to the popularity of the idiom the elephant in the room.


The elephant next door

The UK-EU row over that surprise-surprise £1.7bn bill, along with immigration control, rumbles on and on and on.

“You don’t frighten me.” Jean-Claude Juncker, newly elected president of the European Commission, taunts David Cameron, boasting that the British leader does not scare him and duly mocked the Prime Minister for failing to win his battles with the European Union.

So, David Cameron does not scare Jean-Claude Juncker. Fair enough. But do you suppose the British people give him any cause for concern?

When Juncker has the courage to look us in the eye and say “Look, you Brits are now governed from Brussels, you do what we tell you, full stop”, I just wonder how we’ll react. Especially so as his name happens to remind us of historical death and destruction raining from the sky. (The Junkers 87, better known as the screaming and much dreaded Stuka dive-bomber.)

Going back to that elephant in the room idiom, I caught a picture of Juncker looking directly at the camera, with a load of Euro MPs on the picture wall behind ― and I was instantly reminded of ... well...

Jean-Claude Juncker speaking as president of the European Commission,
perfectly juxtaposed with Jimmy Durante and his good old pal Jumbo

“Elephant? What elephant?”

Now c’mon. The look ... the arms spread-eagled ... and note the outstretched fingers. You could not make it up.

I reckon that clever cartoon on today’s welcome mat should have a slightly paraphrased and topical punch line...

"I'm right there in the room, and no one even
acknowledges me - except for some fellow
called Nigel Farage."

Thursday, November 6th

Gordon Strachan, 57, former Scottish footballer and currently
manager of the Scotland team – memorable quotes coming up...

Quote ... endquote ... smile

I JUST happened to catch on the wireless the top three most recent and smiley football lines delivered out of the mouths of football folk.

3)   Stuart Pearce, 52: “Mick McCarthy is cut from granite. I’m cut from a different cloth.”

2)   Paolo Di Canio, 46: “Every game for West Ham I gave everything. Sometimes even more.”

1)   Gordon Strachan, speaking of Ikechi Anya, 26, a Scottish professional football player (born in Glasgow):
       “He’s a radiator, this fella. When he walks into a room he lights it up.”

Paolo Di Canio
’s sometimes even more is a welcome departure from the old “I gave 110 per cent” favourite.

However, when I heard the name Ikechi Anya ― well, I had no idea how to spell it, so I reversed Ivor the Search Engine  out of the shed and off we chuffed ... I eventually traced Ikechi via the quote itself.

But what I did trip over on my trip with Ivor was a Daily Mirror  page, dated 2013...

Strachan’s Law: 20 pearls of wisdom from Scotland’s new manager Gordon Strachan

Here’s our top 20 classic quotes from the new Scotland gaffer:

Now even if you are not a football fan, not even a sports fan, you must  peruse these.

I am forever driven to distraction by the meaningless and often stupid questions asked of sports stars, along with their trainers and managers, by the meeja.

Then suddenly, along comes someone like Gordon Strachan who has a most wonderful wit and turn of phrase.

Enjoy these glorious gems...

1)  Reporter:  “Gordon, can we have a quick word, please?”
     Strachan:  “Velocity” (walks off).

2)  “I’ve got more important things to think about. I’ve got a yogurt to finish, the expiry date is today.
       That must be my priority rather than Agustin Delgado.”

3)  Reporter:  “Bang, there goes your unbeaten run. Can you take it?”
     Strachan:  “No, I’m just going to crumble like a wreck. I’ll go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump
                        off a bridge. Umm, I think I can take it, yeah.”

4)  “I tried to get the disappointment out of my system by going for a walk. I ended up 17 miles from home
       and I had to phone my wife, Lesley, to come and pick me up.”

5)  Reporter:  “Gordon, do you think James Beattie deserves to be in the England squad?”
     Strachan:  “I don’t care, I’m Scottish.”

6)  Reporter:  “Gordon, you must be delighted with that result?”
     Strachan:  “You’re spot on
! You can read me like a book!

7)  Reporter:  “Welcome to Southampton Football Club. Do you think you are the right man to turn things around?”
     Strachan:  “No. I was asked if I thought I was the right man for the job and I said: ‘No, I think they should
                        have got George Graham because I’m useless.’”

8)  Reporter:  “There’s no negative vibes or negative feelings here?”
     Strachan:  “Apart from yourself, we’re all quite positive round here. I’m going to whack you over the head
                        with a big stick. Down negative man, down

9)  On good friend and former Aberdeen team mate Alex McLeish: “We even competed for the acne cream
      when we were younger. Obviously, I won that one.”

10)  Reporter:  “So, Gordon, in what areas do you think Middlesbrough were better than you today?”
       Strachan:  “What areas? Mainly that big green one out there...”

11)  Talking about Wayne Rooney: “It’s an incredible rise to stardom. At 17 you’re more likely to get a call
        from Michael Jackson than Sven Göran Eriksson [England manager].”

12)  On Eric Cantona’s bizarre press conference: “If a Frenchman goes on about seagulls, trawlers and
        sardines, he’s called a philosopher. I’d just be called a short Scottish bum talking crap.”

        [It is well worth repeating the famous Cantona quote: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is
          because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”]

13)  “Pahars has caught every virus going except a computer virus and he is probably working on that even now.”

14)  Reporter:  “This might sound like a daft question, but you’ll be happy to get your first win under your
                           belt, won't you?”
       Strachan:  “You’re right. It is a daft question. I’m not even going to bother answering that one.
                          It is a daft question, you’re spot on there.”

15)  Talking about being attacked by a Celtic fan while an Aberdeen player in 1980: “It
s always great
        fun getting attacked. One of the highlights of my career. The fella who beat me up got fined £100
        for that but they had a whip-round in the pub and he got £200

16)  On his cooking ability: “It’s embarrassing, I’m not proud of it. I can’t even make myself anything to eat.
        I had to phone the wife and she said, ‘I’ve left something to put in the microwave’. An hour later and
        I’m asking, ‘Where’s the microwave?’.”

17)  Reporter:  “Is that your best start to a season?”
        Strachan:  “Well I’ve still got a job so it’s far better than the Coventry one, that’s for sure.”

18)  Reporter:  “You don’t take losing lightly, do you Gordon?”
       Strachan:  “I don’t take stupid comments lightly either.”

19)  “I have discovered that when you go to Anfield or Old Trafford, it pays not to wear a coloured shirt
         because everyone can see the stains as the pressure mounts. I always wear a white shirt so nobody
         sees you sweat.”

20)  On Sir Alex Ferguson while at Aberdeen: “He used to play tapes of Bill Shankly talking. I remember
        that, and a singer he liked. I don’t know who it was but it was crap. He played it on the team bus too, 
        and all the boys hated it. Until one night it got chucked away. If he’s still wondering who threw that
        tape off the bus, it was me. So maybe he was right and I’m not to be trusted.”

Bloody marvellous. Wit at its very best. Especially that first one:
“Can we have a quick word?” “Velocity.”

Repartee does not come much better than that, surely?

Gordon Strachan is well worthy of featuring on today’s welcome mat.

Wednesday, November 5th

ANOTHER visit to my favourite newspaper pages.

But first, remember a few days back, there was a missive in The Times  explaining how to check the freshness of eggs, compliments of correspondent Kay Bagon:

“Fresh eggs lie horizontally at the bottom of a vessel of cold water because they contain only a small amount of air. As they age, more air enters through the shell. Eggs that are not completely fresh ― but still fine to eat ― will tilt upwards. If the egg floats, then it has gone bad.”

And here is another fascinating every-day-a-day-at-school lesson, again spotted in The Times:

Lock but no key

Sir, When visiting a clients’ farm recently, I managed to lock my “smart” keys in the back of my car. As the spare set were more than 100 miles away at home, I took the advice of the farm manager and rang my wife and asked her to press the unlock button of the spare set and hold it close to her mobile.
     At the farm manager’s instruction, I pointed my mobile to the unobtainable set in clear view on the rear parcel shelf of the car and, hey presto, the car locks unfastened.
     It cost me a bottle of whisky in grateful thanks to the farm manager who was not only knowledgeable in matters relating to farming but also in the mysteries of wireless technology.
T MATTHEW HORTON, Bromsgrove, Worcs

No wonder then that, last Sunday, this was the cover page of The Sunday Times  Driving section:

“As some insurers refuse to cover Range Rovers after a spate
of electronically triggered thefts, car makers are finally
admitting to a security flaw. The good old metal
key could soon make a comeback...”

Honestly, we really are a species that is too clever by half.

Indeed, here is an even more intriguing letter, spotted in the paper’s  Business section:

Bank branches beat an unsafe internet

It is a short-sighted policy to close bank branches, as it is a foregone conclusion that within the next 5 to 10 years it will become impossible to do financial transactions over the internet due to lack of security.
     At present, antivirus services are just one step ahead of the hackers and fraudsters, but this will not continue. Online banking will become unsafe and customers will return to over-the-counter transactions.
     There are, and always will be, financial dealings that need to be done in person in a bank. They should be opening branches, not closing them.
Robin Linger, Wirral

Honestly ... cars, bank accounts, personal details...

As I think I have mentioned before, I treat every visit online as a quick gallop through the pass, where I am likely to be ambushed by bandits and renegades ― which is why my computer saddlebags are so light that it won’t be the beginning of the end of life as I know it if I am actually ambushed.

Now some letters from the Telegraph. This first one spotted at the end of last week...

Christmas bewitched

SIR – I have just been in the first shop of the season playing Christmas music. The staff were dressed as witches and there were fireworks on sale.
     The only product missing was Easter eggs.
Neil Asher, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire

But the thing is, Neil Asher, there are hot cross buns available all year round.

Whatever ... now for something completely different:

Spin dry

SIR – You speculate that Stonehenge may be an ancient practical joke.
     The late Spike Milligan once stated that, in order to confuse archaeologists of the future, he wanted to be laid to rest in a washing machine.
George Brown, Manchester

Wonderful. Can you imagine someone in the future finding this buried washing machine with a human skeleton curled up inside. Only Spike, eh?

But what would archaeologists make of the notice pinned to Spike insisting KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE. Not to mention Steam iron recommended.

And finally, being November the 5th, when we should not  be keeping away from the fire, a quote with a flourish to round things off:

A nose by any other name

“The dung that sustains the rosebush of democracy.” London’s Mayor Boris Johnson’s view of the output of the influential right-wing political blogger Guido Fawkes.

Tuesday, November 4th

Acker Bilk, who has died aged 85, was a bowler-hatted titan of Trad
jazz who conjured up a warm, sentimental sound from his clarinet

All that jazz

ACKER BILK was one of those characters who always made me smile. Was it that bowler? The waistcoat? The ‘goatee’ beard? Those missing front teeth along with the top joint of a finger, all lost in an accident when young?

Was it perhaps his obvious sense of fun along with an unaffected and avuncular manner? His distinctive singing voice? Or the simple fact that he made marvellous music?

A share of all of those things, I guess. I didn’t quite realise that I had three of Acker’s recordings on my Desert Island Video Jukebox.

I say had...

There’s That’s My Home, a signature tune I empathise with because it says so much about my own square mile.

And of course Maria Elena, simply a perfect example of his elegant clarinet playing, and as a bonus, features a beautiful and colourful video.

Then there was Don’t Roll Those Blood Shot Eyes At Me, a wonderfully joyous live performance ― which has sadly now been taken down off YouTube because of copyright issues, apparently. Shame.

Reading Acker’ obituary, I was intrigued to learn this:

Bernard Stanley Bilk was born on 28 January 1929 in Pensford, Somerset, the son of a cabinet maker. His mother played the organ in the chapel where his father acted as a lay preacher. Bilk acquired the nickname “Acker”, a local word meaning “pal” or “mate”, as a boy.

How wonderful. He clearly displayed his distinctive friendly character trait from an early age.

Oh yes, on May 26, 1962, Acker’s great hit, what he called his “private pension plan”, Stranger on the Shore,  became the first ever British recording to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. 

And here’s a further slice of out-of-this-world trivia: the crew of Apollo 10 took a cassette recording of the song on their mission around the moon, the journey that paved the way for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Finally, some peripheral parting thoughts...

Smoke signals

Whenever one of our Trad jazz greats dies I always think of poor Roy Castle, who died age 62, from lung cancer brought on, it is said, by passive smoking through endless performances in smoky clubs and dens.

Yet Acker Bilk (85), Humphrey Lyttelton (88), Kenny Ball (83), Monty Sunshine (82) and George Melly (81) all passed that 80 hurdle (threescore years and ten plus a bit of index linking/inflation).

Chris Barber (84) is still with us, as is Mike Cotton (75).

Whilst it would be naïve to ignore the link between smoking and early death, that connection is much more complex than the experts would have us believe, in my opinion.

Perhaps a clue lies in what Acker Bilk’s manager, Pamela Sutton, said: “He had a great sense of humour in every way. He just loved life.” I guess you could say that about each and every one of the old stagers mentioned above. Is that a pointer?

My guess, though, is this: if you have a weak link in your immune system, smoking will ruthlessly seek it out. However, if you don’t smoke, then something else will go for that gap in your defences anyway. Otherwise everybody who smokes should die relatively young. Just a thought.

RIP Acker. Or perhaps I should say RIP, mate.

PS: I can do no better than echo this comment spotted on the message board of That’s My Home
Dave Davidson: From a Welshman to a Somerset boy, raising a glass to the old Acker tonight.
♫♥♫♥♫ ... Back where the old shady elm trees grow...

Sunday/Monday, November 2nd/3rd

Saturday, November 1st

Dylan Thomas’ 'insufficient' cheque for £3 ― c£75 in 2014 values ―
given to his local pub landlord to clear his slate and now up for sale

Bouncing along on the crest of a wave

CONTINUING the Dylan Thomas season, a brace of bounced cheques made out by the poet to the landlord of his local pub, recently surfaced and are to be auctioned.

The cheques and other Thomas memorabilia are going under the hammer at Bonhams in London this month.

The £3 cheques ― dated 29 August 1952 (pictured above) and 30 August 1953 ― were made out to Phil Richards, the landlord of The Cross House Inn pub at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.

Auctioneers Bonhams are estimating the value of the memorabilia at £3,000.

As a point of reference, that £3 in 1952 is actually worth in real terms about £75 today.

However, linking yesterday’s tale of the bill for £1.7b which the UK has received from the EU...

Please! Do not represent

What I find particularly fascinating about that bounced cheque, as featured on today’s welcome mat is, that it is not marked the traditional “Refer to drawer” ― or indeed “Refer to drawer, please represent” ―  but rather the more startlingly pointed “Not sufficient”.

Straight to the point, I would say.

Anyway, and given the extraordinary level of debt this country has sunk to, should not the Governor of the Bank of England return the EU’s £1.7b demand marked “Not sufficient”?

One for the road

Being that the Dylan Thomas bounced cheques were made out to the landlord of a pub, an unpublished poem titled Song, which has never appeared in any anthology of Thomas’ poems before, has also surfaced.

The pub ditty ― dashed off in pencil by Thomas while seated at a London bar ― is most definitely smile of the day material:


          When Mr Watts-Ewers
          (Licensed to sell
          Beer wine & spirits
          And tobacco as well)
          Advertised in the papers
          He would open that night
          His brand new hotel
          The town had a fright -
          Mr Alf Measure
          Who kept the Bull’s Head
          Wept like a baby
          And took to his bed


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

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

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

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


You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City



Previously on LOOK YOU......

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

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

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

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

Smile of the Day 2010
2010 (Jan to Jun)

Sep to Dec '07

June to Aug '07
March to May '07

As it was in the beginning:

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

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

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

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