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

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POSTCARDS FROM
MY SQUARE MILE
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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
 
New Year’s Eve 2014

GREETINGS. Here I am, back in the driving seat after a brief break. And talking of ‘driving seat’, here are three 2014 Tweets that tickled the old Look You smileometer.

First up, Sarah Wright goes on safari in deepest somewhere or other...
 

Sarah Wright @SarahWright89

“And here we see a wild bus drinking water from a river”
 

I bet Sarah wrote that in a whisper, à la David Attenborough. Very funny, though. Actually, when I first saw it I read it as “And here we see a wildebus...”.

And this next one certainly generated a smile...

 

Mike Clarke @Mr_Mike_Clarke

“Once you’ve seen a guy walking his pet Hoover,
there really is nothing left to see.”
 

As it happens it’s a Henry vacuum cleaner, which somehow makes it even more Hooverfilarious i.e. you can’t beat it for sweeping up the laughs:

♫♥♫♥♫♥♫

I’m ‘Enry the vac, I am,
‘Enry the vac, I am, I am;
I got married to the ‘Oover next door,
She’s been married seven times before.

And every one was an ‘Enry (‘Enry),
She wouldn’t have a Pullman or a Dyson (No Dyson);
I’m her eighth old vac, I’m ‘Enry,
‘Enry the eighth I am.
 

Looking at that marvellous image up there of Henry, I found myself wondering what the story is. Perhaps the couple had picked up the vac from the repair shop ― well he is Henry the Eighth and so must be quite exhausted ― and they were on their way home and had a break to indulge in a spot of window shopping.

Last word


            
@emmyblotnick: “Invent a drink called ‘Responsibly’ and your advertising is set forever.”

And on that clever and witty observation ― a job in advertising beckons @emmyblotnick, I reckon ― here’s lookin’ at all of you who pop in hereabouts for a quick look around my smile emporium to see if anything tickles your funny bone.

So: Goodbye Old Year > > > > > Hello New Year... 
 

Saturday, December 27th > > > > > Tuesday 30th
 

ME and me Kit Kats are taking a snap break...

Last word

Having subliminally and effortlessly planted the notion of chocolate in your mind, this from Daniel Finkelstein’s
Notebook column in The Times:

Bitter sweet

My son Sam has correctly observed that, disappointingly, tins of Quality Street never seem to contain chocolates. “When you open them, they always have inside someone’s sewing supplies or the cash take from the school fête.”

I have to laugh because when I departed the family gathering following the feast at the Christmas Day table, hostess Delyth, my nephew’s wife, gave me a bumper take-away plate for my Boxing Day pleasure.

She also presented me with a filled gravy boat to complement the meal; to make it safe for the car journey home she placed the boat in a container of ― no, not Quality Street, but a Cadbury Roses tub.

Smiles are made of this.

Anyway, Daniel Finkelstein returned down Quality Street in his column the week after:

A Quality gesture

I never fail to be astonished by the generosity of readers. Last week I mentioned my son’s disappointment that tins of Quality Street never contained any chocolates.

Yesterday I took delivery on Sam’s behalf of a parcel from a reader that, when opened, contained a large Quality Street tin, satisfyingly full. How wonderfully thoughtful to respond like that.

This week I would like to point out how disappointed I am with my car and how much I would prefer to be driving an E-Type Jaguar.

Very good. But I did find myself wondering if Danny Finkelstein had had a bet with the paper’s editor that, if he mentioned in his column a story about Quality Street, a reader, subliminally motivated, would duly send a complimentary box as detailed.

Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone does indeed send him an E-Type Jag. But perhaps a Dinky toy version.

Back in a few days, if spared.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Delyth’, my nephew Phillip’s wife, came up as ‘Duluth’. Eh? First, ‘Delyth’, a Christian name derived from the Welsh words for neat and pretty; ‘Duluth’, a seaport city in the State of Minnesota and the county seat of Saint Louis County. Every day a day at school.

Delyth, though, will be pleased to learn that my computer’s second alternative suggestion was ‘Delight’. Very apt. You will of course have heard of Turkish Delight ― chocolate, again ― well, meet a Welsh Delight.
 


Boxing Day

Take the money or open the box?

BOXING DAY, a curious name for a national holiday. Yes, Boxing Day is a truly British event and one steeped in history and traditions.

It seems the term is originally English, dates from the early 1800s and probably comes from the world of the landed gentry and the upper classes of that time.

It is thought that, on the first week-day after Christmas-day, employers would give their servants, along with post-men, errand-boys and the like, a festive gift, and always presented in boxes.

This was not done on Christmas Day itself because all ‘the workers’ would have been busy, well, working ― and the term Boxing Day was born.

It eventually became the first day after Christmas Day, and a national holiday was born. After all, 99% of the nation are now ‘workers’. (Britain’s richest 1% have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population put together; the other 44% are wisely keeping a very low profile.)

And here we all are, Shadow Boxing, just to keep ahead of the game.

Mind you, I did like the telly advert on BT Sport, wondering why it is still called Boxing Day when there is never any boxing on – and as there is now always a full football programme, shouldn’t it be renamed Football Day?

Last word

My favourite column in the Western Mail, the ‘national newspaper of Wales’, is ‘They said what?’, a daily collection of topical quotes, pretty much exclusively involving celebrities of some kind or other.

And thoroughly entertaining it is too in its absolute doolallyness. The column usually contains somewhere between six and ten quotes (depending on the length of said quotes), along with one picture of a relevant sleb.

Well, today, this is what confronted me:

Quote, Unquote

Now that did make me laugh. Obviously a sub had forgotten to insert the first quote ― there were five other quotes, which were all present and correct.

In the above image, I’ve added one other quote to show what it should look like. And it comes of course from Tim Vine, master of the clever word-play cum funny one-liner, although this amusing effort is in fact a three-liner. But none the worst for that.

Mind you, I think the “Quote-quote” above, by “Who said it”, could catch on. Here’s a recent quote:

“I have not taken drugs ... but I have read about it.” Ed Miliband, 45, the Labour leader, and possibly the next prime minister, admits to a non-misspent youth.

How much better if we had actually read this: “Quote quote quote quote quote ... quote quote quote quote quote quote.” Ed Miliband admits to an exceedingly boring youth.

I mean, we would all have nodded sagely at his understanding of life, the British economy, immigration, the EU, the universe and everything ― and felt obliged to place an X in the right box, er, I mean the left box, come next May.

There again, perhaps not.

 

Christmas Day

Memories of ... the most recent White Christmas
enjoyed here in the Towy Valley...



I wish you a Merry Christmas; 
I wish you a Merry Christmas; 
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
Good tidings I bring to you and your kin; 
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 

At this point I am reminded of the great version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas  by John Denver and
The Muppets (
♫♫♫):

          Gonzo: “Now bring us a figgy pudding, now bring us a ---”
          An ultra-aggressive Miss Piggy: “PIGGY PUDDING?
!
          Gonzo: “No
! Figgy ― made with figs.”
          Miss Piggy: “Oh ... sorry.”
          Gonzo (softly): “With bacon---“
          Miss Piggy: “WHAT?
!
          The gang: “We wish you a Merry Christmas...”

By the way, thanks to everyone who has been in touch over recent months. If spared, I’ll drop you a direct line before the New Year.

Last word

With a White Christmas mentioned on today’s welcome mat, what else but just a couple of lines from Dylan Thomas:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

...I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six...

But here a small boy says: It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.
 


Christmas Eve

Who’s naughty or nice time of year again

AS the purpose of this diary cum scrapbook is to record the things spotted in the passing parade, those marvellous fascinations that never fail to tickle my old smileometer, I thought I’d share with you a couple of pictures that have been all over the interweb of late, of pets behaving badly, somewhere in the UK, in the run-up to Christmas...

♫  We are lumberpets and we're okay

      
We sleep all night and play-up all day,
We cut down trees, we eat our lunch,
Then go to the lava-tree...

Now have you ever seen a more guilty looking bow-wow in your life? Wonderful shot. And the pussycat is determined to be the fairy on top of the tree this year.

Last word

A brace of letters spotted in The Daily Telegraph:

A family affair

SIR – My son sent me a Christmas card signed by the family plus dog, and the “spider who lives under the tele”.
Elizabeth Luders, Knebworth, Hertfordshire

SIR – Overheard in a local shop where a couple were buying Christmas cards: “Do you sell personalised cards headed ‘To my ex-wife’?”
Nigel Turner, Worlingham, Suffolk
 


Tuesday, December 23rd
 

Today, 1pm – the golden hour for Christmas shopping frenzy

What to give the MILLIONAIRE in your life: From a £63,000 iridium, personally
engraved razor ... via a pair of £12,000 hand-woven 24-carat gold shoe laces
... to a £60,000 18-carat yellow-gold ‘crisp packet’ clutch bag ...
gifts for those special people in your life who have it all

Totally wonderful. Doolallyness at its most extravagantly delightful.

I am reminded of a recent television documentary: Spike Milligan ― Love, Light And Peace.

It was made with the co-operation of the comedian’s three children, and paid tribute to a complicated genius who was, by all accounts, a fantastic father, but who, nevertheless, abandoned them to the care of their convent school for six months, while he honeymooned with his second wife in Australia.

The programme explored Spike’s fragile mental state ― but it was also marvellously entertaining and edifying. Typical Spike Milligan.

His eldest daughter, Laura, recalled the time when, as children, they were in the garden with their father, playing Cowboys and Indians.

Suddenly Spike stopped and turned to the children: “People pay vast fortunes to put van Goghs and Constables and Turners and Monets on their walls...” He paused and looked about the garden. “...when it’s all under your feet, all around you, above your head. This is the real beauty, right here. And it costs you nothing.”

I may have marginally paraphrased Spike’s words ― but the central message is spot on.

I have thought much about Spike’s counsel along my morning walks through the Towy Valley ... every painting by a van Gogh, Constable, Turner, Monet et al are well and truly trumped by what’s on display. And the canvas changes on a daily basis.

Remember this picture from December 3rd, when I thought Castle Woods had caught fire?
 


 

Actually, it was just a young beech tree reluctant to shed its colourful autumnal leaves. A Turner in the flesh, so to speak.

But most thought-provoking of all, what does Spike Milligan’s memorable slice of extravagant wisdom say about those people who actually do pay huge amounts of money for paintings in preference to ― well, sharing poet William Henry Davies’s thoughts on Leisure, which begin thus:

                                                                                 What is this life if, full of care,
                                                                                 We have no time to stand and stare?

Ditto those extraordinary presents listed above. What does it say about not just those who give them, but those who receive?

Last word

Today, it goes to one of the cleverest and wittiest Sign Language pictures spotted by a Telegraph  reader in a long, long time ― and so perfectly topical...

Dear Dinner


Spotted here in the UK by Keith Hughes
 


Monday, December 22nd

Blowin' in the wind

09:00hrs: I’m walking through the Towy Valley in shirtsleeves, feeling comfortable and perfectly at one with the world about me.

And it’s the 22nd of December. Incredible.

There was a bit of rain about first thing, at least according to the Met Office rainfall radar. By eight o’clock it had cleared, but daybreak was overcast and dull with a really stiff south-westerly blowin’ my way.

As I continue along my circuit I can’t believe how balmy the strong wind is, so I think ... hm, I’ll take off my coat and wrap it around my waist in traditional manner, just to see. And that’s how I finished the last couple of miles of my walk. Yes, there certainly was just a touch of a chill in the air, but being that I’m a brisk walker anyway that wasn’t a factor.

This time last year the country was being battered to submission by fierce storm after fierce storm. Thousands of people had their Christmas ruined by prolonged power cuts ― and much worse, extensive and damaging flooding.

This month though the old jet stream has been up and down the Atlantic weather map like a see-saw. A few days of mild, breezy and damp weather ... then a couple of days of colder, frosty weather ... then back to a brief period of conveyor belt mild and wet conditions ... followed by a few days of cold...

In fact, the current brief spell of exceptionally mild and damp weather will give way to a cold-ish few days over the Christmas period ― and then a return to more mild and wet weather...

Quite extraordinary, really. Still, it makes for a refreshing life.

But whatever the weather, online clickbaits still catch my eye:

  Former Olympian runs a mile a day for 50 years

I didn’t click, as is my wont, but it did remind me of this little gem from Ellen DeGeneres, 56, American comedian and all-purpose sleb:

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

My morning walk is around five miles a day ― but at least I do a circuit around Dinefwr Castle and as a consequence always end up where I started.

And now, a few headlines spotted in a newspaper:

                                    Always read the small print

The article was actually about an individual caught out by the fine detail in a contract of employment ― but it reminded me of the saying...

                         The large print giveth, the small print taketh away

Nobody is sure who coined that witty aphorism, but it has been around for many a moon.

“2014 was ‘unforgettable’.” Apple chief executive Tim Cook praises employees who helped the company raise more that $20m for charity.

I’m not sure whether Apple employees were also praised for helping raise many a $20m for Tim Cook himself. Just wondering, like.

Last word

Vladimir Putin named Russia’s Man of the Year ― for the 15th time running...

   For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was Accelerati Incredibus. Yes, the Road Runner. But I did wonder if the decision was reached before the sky fell in on Vlad’s head. Not that it would have made much difference to the result, I guess. Beep-beep!
 


Sunday, December 21st

< more first & last words >

I’m Mandy, fly me

SINCE the death of Mandy Rice-Davies ― born Marilyn Rice-Davies in Pontyates near Llanelli, just down the rocky trail from Llandampness ― and mentioned in dispatches hereabouts last Friday, the media has been awash with memories of the girl who was clearly great fun to fly with, both literally and metaphorically.

It is quite notable that of all the hacks and columnists who had actually met her and spent time in her company ― of both sexes ― nobody appears to have a bad word to say about her.

She was a goldmine of memorable quotations, which made her even more attractive to the media, and here are three more which I hadn’t heard before.

Libby Purves, a British radio presenter, journalist and author, recalls why the Sixties icon was such a good companion on an unusual boat trip ― recreating Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat, a boating holiday on the Thames, but this time with women.

Looking for a third woman for the trip, Libby remembered having met Mandy many years previously: “There’s a girl to go up the Amazon with,” she told her editor.

Libby remembers the morning after a particularly miserable night in the rain. Mandy successfully cadged cigarettes from a stranger on the towpath after hers were soaked, but ever the lady shocked herself as she inhaled:

                                                  “I have never smoked in the street in my life. Never!

“We had a good lunch at Henley,” adds Libby, “and we were happy.”

Never smoked in the street? Now there’s class, look you. And I bet she never ate food in the street. Or had a mobile conversation in public either.

Which neatly brings me to Mandy’s next quote:

                               
“I have this innate instinct not to be unhappy.”

Millions of words are written about happiness and how to achieve it. But as Mandy suggests, it is all down to our genetic inheritance i.e. choosing the right parents.

I am fortunate that I share something with Mandy. I was born on the sunny side of the street. Some are born, sadly, on the gloomy side of the street. Overwhelmingly though, most are born in dappled sunshine.

And finally, a piece from Tom Mangold, former senior correspondent for BBC TV’s Panorama, who covered the Profumo scandal for the Daily Express in 1963-4.

Earlier this year she gave Tom a long taped interview, and he recalled some of it in today’s Sunday Times. Here’s a brief extract ... she is talking about Stephen Ward, the well-connected osteopath at the heart of the Profumo affair, and who was answering pimping charges, but committed suicide before sentence was passed.

“Stephen used girls like me as a passport to enter the society he wanted to belong to. He also enjoyed the company of young women.

“Stephen was witty, a good-looking 50-year-old and a chronic name-dropper. He was the most wonderful raconteur and he could make a good anecdote last 20 minutes. People really liked him. Sexually he was an oddball; I wouldn’t call him a pervert, but he was into voyeurism.

“I had him between the sheets a few times but never saw a depraved side of him; he was a normal lover, nothing outstanding. I was a steamy lady at the time.”

I enjoyed the wake-up call to us men: “He was a normal lover, nothing outstanding.” But best of all:

                                    “I was a steamy lady at the time.”

I am fortunate to have known a couple of “steamy” ladies along my own stroll through time. And the one thing they taught me? That a woman can’t fake an orgasm. Whatever Sally made Harry believe in that restaurant.

When a lady experiences a “steamy” moment, an exceedingly faint electrical current flows through her body, which simply can’t be faked.

Ah, sweet memories are made of this.
 

Saturday, December 20th

  “A friend of mine always wanted to be run over by a steam train ― when it happened
                      he was chuffed to bits.”
Comedian Time Vine, 47, master of the funny one-liner.

Speaking of being run over by a train, or indeed a bus, last Thursday I cautioned Cherie Blair against Wendi Deng catching sight of the admirably slimline Tony in his (perhaps) Tone Tee undergarment, otherwise there could well be the mother of all Ding Dong Deng in the Tone Tee Tipi.

Well bless my soul, a clickbait just noticed...
  Tony Blair gets sweaty but stays stum after Economist grills him on rumours
                      alleging Wendi Deng affair...

In a nutshell: Tony Blair says he will “never” reveal truth about the relationship ― he has always denied having an affair and there is nothing, apart from the headlines apropos some curiously clandestine meetings, to suggest that he did.

My favourite online comment was this...

Frankofile: “Well I believe him. It’s not as if he has told any other lies ― is it?”

Well, you pays your money, declare your default political setting,  and takes your choice.

Last word

I’m not sure why, but Tony and Wendi sprung instantly to mind the moment I caught sight of this Sign Language festive cracker...

The bells! The bells!


Spotted in Boston by Tan Ser Klat
 


Friday, December 19th

< first & last word >

MANDY RICE-DAVIES, regularly quoted here at Look You compliments of her noted repartee,  and a key figure in the infamous “Profumo Affair”, a Hot Swinging Sixties sex-and-politics scandal that rocked Cold War Britain, has died at age 70 following a brief battle with cancer.

Mandy Rice-Davies was the star performer in the Profumo scandal and could be said to have almost single-handedly opened the door to the swinging sixties with a cheery “Come in, come in...”.

She then went on to reinvent herself as a successful businesswoman, adding that “The rest of my life was a slow descent into respectability”.

 

Mandy Rice-Davies, born in Wales to a policeman father and a former actress mother, but raised in Solihull in the West Midlands of England, pictured celebrating her roll-in-the-heydays of an entertaining and engaging walk through time.
 

 

Mandy Rice-Davies (MRD) was a 19-year-old model and nightclub dancer in 1963 when her friend Christine Keeler had an affair with War Secretary John Profumo. Keeler had also slept with a Soviet naval attaché, and the resulting collision of sex, wealth and national security issues rattled Britain’s establishment, almost toppled the Conservative government and fascinated the nation.

The scandal led to pimping charges against Stephen Ward, a well-connected osteopath who had introduced Keeler to Profumo at a country-house party thrown by aristocrat Lord Astor.

Ward, as it transpired, committed suicide before sentence was passed, but the real star of the show was Mandy Rice-Davies.

Her pert reply to counsel when told that another participant in the drama, Lord Astor, had denied having slept with her — “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” — brought laughter in court and shot straight into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

MRD’s sparky spirit and wit endeared her to the public. Yes, Mandy was the girl who cheeked a leading lawyer and ushered in a less differential age.

Mandy later performed on stage and in cabaret in several countries, ran a chain of restaurants in Israel and was married three times to wealthy men.

She told a tale about sitting next to a psychiatrist at a dinner party. He seemed fascinated by her, as many men and women were, and said solemnly: “I think you must be a very complex woman.” “No, I’m not, dear,” she replied sassily, “I’m four or five different women, and they’re all very simple.”

Unlikely as it may seem, it has just emerged that Mandy Rice-Davies in later life became a friend and an unlikely holiday companion of none other that Baroness Thatcher.

MRD got to know Lady Thatcher because her third husband, Ken Foreman, was a friend and colleague of Sir Denis Thatcher.

The former model and dancer kept a framed photograph of herself with Lady Thatcher in her home, but remained utterly discreet about their connection.

Intriguingly, Mandy always refused to allow herself to be photographed in the nude on the ground that “You never know, you might become prime minister”.

Despite being seen as a symbol of 1960s hedonism, Mandy said the decade’s reputation for sex was overstated: “In those days, there were good girls and there were bad girls,” she told The Associated Press  last year. “Good girls didn’t have any sex at all, and bad girls had a bit.”

Yes, Mandy had a talent for the memorable line.

Yet she was to say later in life: “If I could live my life over, I would wish 1963 had not existed. The only reason I still want to talk about it is that I have to fight the misconception that I was a prostitute. I don’t want that to be passed on to my grandchildren. There is still a stigma.”

She also insisted there were no secrets which she would take with her to the grave. “Everything is out. That is why I have no concerns whatsoever about anything.”

And now a few choice online comments...

John DeMetropolis: As schoolboys we were all recovering from having lost Marilyn Monroe the year before. So, Mandy and Christine were a welcome sight. The schoolboy joke was that the British had lousy carpenters: A few screws and the cabinet falls apart.

Terence: I always liked her, whatever she did, she was the true tart with a heart.

Simon Coulter: She comes out of it all rather splendidly ― “well, she would, wouldn’t she?” RIP.

Anton Deque: Among all the hypocrites and fantasists of that time this woman from the Welsh Valleys remains somehow, not exactly admirable, but true and brave.
     Her remark “Call me Lady Hamilton” [directed to the press at the time of the Profumo trial] is apposite. Unlike that lady, this one was sharper and in a world run by men, vanishingly more successful at playing the cards life dealt her. Shalom, Mandy.


Good quote from Anton Deque (brilliant username, incidentally). Indeed, as Mandy proved, life is not about the cards that life deals us, but rather how we play them and how good a poker face we can project.

PS: I guess Mandy would quite enjoy the fact that I have managed, somehow, to use the word ‘poker’ in my tribute to someone who was clearly a much-liked, much-loved human being ― and we can’t really ask for more than that as a final acknowledgment of our walk through time.
 


Thursday, December 18th
                                   Too Tee, Tone

LAST Friday I shared the nation’s joy apropos Cherie and Tony Blair’s marvellous 2014 Christmas card. And lovely it was too.

I particularly remember Hunter Davies’s opening gambit in his Sunday Times  article:

“I don’t know why people have been so horrid this year about Tony Blair’s Christmas card. I think he looks great ― toothy grin, no attempt to touch up his grey hair, and his fragrant wife patting his manly chest. What’s wrong with all that?”

The moment I caught sight of Tone’s lovely missus “patting his manly chest” ― well, it reminded me of something ... but I just couldn’t retrieve it...

Then last night, watching television, a particular commercial grabbed my undivided attention. Bingo!

                               Tone Tee fitwear for men

“Revolutionary new body toning fitwear specifically engineered for men who want to look slimmer, trimmer and leaner. Sleek and streamlined for men who want to impress.

“Tone Tee is a new male shape wear garment which claims to instantly slim down men with large tummies, back fat and love handles...”

Our Tone down to a Tee

           
 

And there you have it: Cherie, I suspect, is patting hubby’s new Tone Tee undergarment. Brilliant.

But don’t let Wendi catch sight of the slimline Tony though, otherwise there’ll be another Ding Dong Deng in the Tone Tee Tipi.

Incidentally, I wonder if the Blairs’ Christmas card carried some sort of disclaimer...

Last word

A letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Mistletoe and wind-up

SIR – I was delighted to receive an email from a council harbour authority wishing my family and me “a very Merry Christmas”.
     Of course, the disclaimer underneath reads: “The views in this message are personal; they are not necessarily those of the Council.”
     There’s much to be said for the old Christmas card.
Malcolm Williams, Chichester, West Sussex
 


Wednesday, December 17th

My, my, my, Delilah

DELILAH  is a Tom Jones classic, a Welsh rugby anthem, but according to one senior politician, a murder ballad is no longer an appropriate song of choice for the masses at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Delilah  acts as a secondary (nay default) national anthem for Welsh rugby, one shared, incidentally, by supporters of Stoke City Football Club, with the Welsh Rugby Union displaying the lyrics on the big screen before matches.

Yet the song itself, recorded in 1968 by Our Tom, centres around the revenge killing of a woman by a scorned lover.

Should this matter? La Marseillaise  and Flower of Scotland  also feature exhortations to violence but Dafydd Iwan, a former Plaid Cymru president and an accomplished folk singer himself, says the iconic ballad should be abandoned for promoting domestic violence.

“It is a song about murder and it does tend to trivialise the idea of murdering a woman and it’s a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem,” Dafydd Iwan said. “I think we should rummage around for another song instead of Delilah.”

The above, marginally twigged here and there, comes compliments of the London media. Today, this letter appeared in Wales’s own Western Mail, from the man himself, Dafydd Iwan, who has generated quite a jolly brouhaha with his thoughts...

Spare a thought for ‘Delilah’ victim

Sir – The debate about “Delilah” has been fascinating especially as it is largely based on the false premise that I launched a campaign to get the song banned. Banning songs is not something I would ever advocate ― even if it was possible.

What I did in my short article for the “Cristnogaeth 21” website [Christianity 21] was to ask whether the words of songs mean anything to us any more.

My own song to the survival of Wales against all odds (Yma o Hyd) is usually sung by the choirs in the Millennium Stadium, followed by Delilah and two hymns (Cwm Rhondda  and Calon Lân). A strange mix, and great songs to sing, but do the words carry any meaning?

It was in this context that I mentioned that a song about a woman being killed was a strange choice for elevation to the status of a national anthem.

All I can hope for ― and perhaps that hope will now be partly fulfilled ― is that next time you belt out this very singable song, you spare a thought for the poor woman who “laughs no more”, and avoid feeling any sympathy for the poor sod who killed her because he “just couldn’t take any more”.

In the immortal words of Polly Garter: “Thank God we’re a musical nation”.

Dafydd Iwan, Carrog, Caeathro

All together now

Dafydd Iwan in his roll call of songs belted out at the Millennium Stadium missed out Max Boyce’s amusing Hymns and Arias, which Welsh football crowds now also sing. Hm.

Anyway, Dafydd asks whether the words of songs mean anything to us anymore. Of course they don’t. Never have. Not in a ‘hit’ context anyway. A hit song is all about melody, melody, melody.

All the memorable popular songs of history, from Daisy Bell via Rudolph and his red nose and the aforementioned Delilah to the complete works of Abba, are all about the perfect musical structure of the songs.

Think of it in reverse. Down the years the hit charts have regularly reverberated with songs awash with silly lyrics: Agadoo, The Chicken Song, Ob-la-di, My Ding-a-Ling...

Yet the moment you hear them you catch yourself joining in. Ditto Delilah, and indeed Dafydd’s own song Yma O Hyd (yes, I’m aware of the message, but mostly it’s a perfect sing-along song).

The reason why Britain now does so badly in the Eurovision Song Contest is that those at the BBC who choose the annual ditty have no appreciation that to stand any chance of winning it must have a structured and catchy melody, preferably awash with harmony and blessed with a captivating beat.

Back with words, it is no coincidence that front line atheist Richard Dawkins freely admits to enjoying Christmas carols because, as he says, they are stunning pieces of music in their own right and lodge in your brain. I believe it’s called ‘earworm music’.

Last word

The Delilah debate has been picked up by the London papers ― see my opening shots ― and, fair play, has been treated with much good humour, especially the comment sections of various articles.

I was hooked by one thread, which amused me no end...

Al Hamilton: And just how many pairs of ladies’ panties does this fellow Dafydd Iwan get thrown on stage when he sings?

ourtone: There is only one pair of women’s pants on stage with Dafydd Iwan, and they are always there...


Toxic Ace: ...who’s going to tell the French that
La Marseillaise  is now banned?

Al Hamilton: The Germans, they will close down any café where it is sung, it’s happened before ;-)

proctor03: Allo
! Allo!

Al Hamilton: Not the café I was thinking of. At least Rick didn’t ask the band to play it again ;-)

Ah yes, that memorable scene in Casablanca, where the clubbers at Rick’s lustily sing La Marseillaise  and drown out the Germans singing their own song. But of course the Germans get their revenge by closing down the place with immediate effect. Great film.

Grouchy: I thought Delilah was a Norwich supporter. [For those visitors not familiar with English football, celebrity cook and television presenter Delia Smith, 73, is a majority shareholder in Norwich City Football Club.] Witty comment though from Grouchy.

Oh yes, if the Welsh have elevated Delilah  to the status of a secondary cum default national anthem, then so has English rugby with Swing Low Sweet Chariot ― which drew this comment...

tonydnelson: “I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?” Well, potentially a mob of ISIL fighters, originally from Luton, coming for to carry me somewhere unpleasant. Ban it.

Al Hamilton: What sort of person thinks that violence by fans after a game would be the result of the songs they sung during the match? Does Dafydd Iwan suggest that increased obesity among Welsh rugby supporters is caused by singing Bread of Heaven?

Phil: Ban it ... I just couldn’t take any mooooore...


And there you have it, 10 smiley comments. I did think of leaving you with a link to a performance of Delilah  by a Welsh rugby crowd ― but I came across this surprising version by the Russian Red Army Choir and someone called the Leningrad Cowboys (honestly).

Marvellous ― and I’m still smiling at the drummer doing his thing sat astride a tractor, while beautiful Russian girls in national costume dance all over the shop. Four minutes of pure magic.

                                                         Delilah by the Red Army Choir & Leningrad Cowboys

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Carrog, Caeathro’, as in Dafydd Iwan’s address as per his letter to the Western Mail, came up on my computer as ‘Carrot, Creature’, which definitely generated a smile. Do you suppose Dafydd can see in the dark?
 


Tuesday, December 16th

That time of year


“Just a quick one for the road...”
Spotted in America by Jim Cobbs
 

ANOTHER smiley pick from the Telegraph’s  Sign Language gallery. I particularly like the note under Flu Shots: ‘No appointment needed’.

Discretion is the better part of, er...

While on the subject of a quick snifter, Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip, was recently drawn into the debate over breastfeeding in public.

Last Friday, Farage told a radio interviewer that breastfeeding mothers could “perhaps sit in a corner”, a point of view that sparked heated debate on social media and parenting websites, and of course it became a political hot potato, two potato too.

Farage told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed [by breastfeeding], it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious.”

I first spotted the story on the Guardian’s  website, and it did sort of surprise me in the comments section that, whilst Farage didn’t condemn the practice but rather advised caution, far and away the most popular posts pretty much agreed with him.

As do I, actually.

In fact these two letters spotted in The Daily Telegraph  seem to capture the public mood rather well...

Look away now

SIR – Pity poor Nigel Farage for his comments (“Nigel’s made a big boob about breastfeeding in public”), which many of us secretly endorse. Of course breastfeeding is natural. So is going to the loo or having sexual intercourse. These are not performed in public.
Linda Randall, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

SIR – On one side, we have women demanding the right to show their breasts in public in order to feed their babies. On the other, we have women demanding that other women should not get their breasts out for a tabloid newspaper.
     Could we not compromise? Perhaps Page 3 should carry only photos of breastfeeding mothers.
Colin Hedgley, Great Bealings, Suffolk

That last letter tickled old Hubie no end, what I would call a win-win situation ― which neatly brings me to today’s...

Last word
(Compliments of Atticus in The Sunday Times)

Green light turns red

Charlotte Green has revealed how she was told to deal with sex pests at the BBC: by using a panic button hidden under a studio desk.

The former Radio 4 announcer was told of the buttons on her first day as a World Service studio manager. “This was apparently to be pressed if you were at the mercy of a presenter’s carnal urges or fumbles,” she says in a new memoir. (In the same bizarre pep talk, she and her fellow trainees were urged to use deodorant and wear clean undies every day.)

Alternatively, if a leering producer asks about his chances of a cuddle after the shipping forecast, just tell him: “Rockall.”

Do you know, we should all have a panic button hidden about our person. Imagine, you’re waiting for ever in a telephone queue, standing at the bar or sat on a train or a plane and the person next to you is boring you to death... 
 

Monday, December 15th


Bond, James Bond 007, with Martin, Aston Martin DB5, in Goldfinger
 

Oh, Oh, Seven of Twenty-Six

WITH new Bond film Spectre  much in the news today ― film number twenty-six in the franchise, incidentally, two of which were not made by Eon Productions ― and hitting the headlines mostly because an “early version” of the script was among the vast trove of documents stolen in the hacker attack on Sony Pictures, I rather enjoyed this letter in The Daily Telegraph...

Shaken not shtirred

SIR – In deference to Sir Sean Connery, the new Bond film should be called Shpectre.
Malcolm Ashton, Ramsbottom, Lancashire


Wake up at the back there

Also, I heard on the wireless this trailer for a comedy programme called The Leak,  which is heard on Radio Wales. I quote the host, comedian Tom Price, who is addressing a live audience about stories in the news:

“The new Bond film is to be called Spectre ― which, interestingly, Aretha Franklyn used to sing before she sorted out her dyslexia...”

There’s a minimal audience reaction ... a couple of seconds pass ... and then a burst of laughter as the audience gets the joke.

But I never did get the joke. Now, while I am  familiar with Aretha Franklyn, I am not intimately familiar with her catalogue of hit songs, so out of the shed chuffs Ivor the Search Engine...

Of course, Respect.

What a clever joke. Respect, Tom Price.

However, and speaking as someone who lost interest in the Bond films after the first dozen or so ― the franchise, sadly, morphed into something deliberately targeted at those with minimal attention spans ― I do hope Spectre deserves Respect.

Last word

The above letter is from a
Malcolm Ashton of Ramsbottom in Lancashire. If, like me you thought, hm...?

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

A touch of toponymy

The name Ramsbottom probably means “ram’s valley” from the Old English ramm, a ram, and botm, a valley. However, some toponymists interpret it as wild-garlic-valley, with the first element representing the Old English hramsa,  meaning “wild garlic”.
     A record from 1324 recording the name as Ramesbothum is inconclusive. The town was alternatively recorded as Ramysbothom in 1540.
(compliments of Wikipedia)

Yes, but why would someone in the distant past have decided to pair ram and valley in order to name the place?

Well, if we can’t sort the how and why of Stonehenge, then Ramsbottom will have to remain one of those curious if delightful mysteries of life.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘shtirred’, as in ‘Shaken not shtirred’, came up as ‘shirred’. Eh? I learn that there is indeed such a thing as ‘shirred eggs’, also known as baked eggs. Now here’s a good line for Connery’s Bond.

Pussy Galore: “How do you like your eggs in the morning?”
James Bond: “Shired.”
 


Sunday, December 14th

“YOU are so handsome that I can’t speak properly.” A gushing Gwyneth Paltrow, 42, on meeting President Barack Obama, 53.

“I think that when anybody criticises anyone it really is revealing more about where they are in time and space, as opposed to where you are in time and space.”
An enigmatic Gwyneth Paltrow, still 42, and still struggling to overcome the moment she consciously uncoupled her thought processes on meeting President Obama, still 53.

And now to more serious stuff, I bring you the latest contender apropos leader of the nation’s pending revolution...

   
“The economic arm of the individualism and materialism ideologies that keep us framed in a narrow bandwidth of consciousness prevents us from seeing that we are all connected.”
Russell Brand, 39, on capitalism ― an example of the gobbledegook which earned him the annual Foot in Mouth prize from the Plain English Society.

Perhaps Russell should meet up with Gwyneth Paltrow. Here he is on the subject of Time: “People don’t realise that the future is just now, but later.”

Oh, and I just knew that one day soon the following piece, spotted a few months back in The Sunday Times’  Prufrock column, and penned by Simon Duke, would come in handy:

Jenkins’ jumble of gibberish

CONGRATULATIONS to the CBI [Confederation of British Industry] for its attempt to restore the reputation of business with its “Great Business Debate” series.

It may have to try harder, however. The contribution of Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays Bank, is a ghastly combination of management-speak and platitudes ― the kind of thing, in fact, that makes people distrust big companies.

An example: “At Barclays, we are working hard to build a Values-based organisation ― led by a common Purpose and set of behaviours, and measured against a Balanced Scorecard framework that considers the needs of our primary stakeholders.”

The capital letters are not errors of ours, but Barclays’ own work. I despair.

I note that those superfluous capital letters mentioned by Simon Duke read VPBS. Could there be an in-joke there? Very Professional Bull Shitter?

Last word

“What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922).

Incidentally, if Russell Brand won the Foot in Mouth Award, Boris Johnson, Mayor of Old London Town, was named the Plain English Communicator ― and here’s a great example, Boris on why the city is the natural habitat of the rich:

“London is to the billionaire as the jungles of Sumatra are to the orang-utan.”

Spell-cheque corner: ‘VPBS’, as in Very Professional Bull Shitter, came up as ‘VIBES’. How ‘Purrfect’, which, funnily enough, is what the computer suggested for ‘Prufrock’.
 


Saturday, December 13th

This is a governmental stick up

LAST week, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament, his last throw of the dice before the 2015 General Election.

Essentially: “Warning lights are flashing on global economy” and “Savings need to be made in public spending ... even more cuts will have to be found”, boom boom! Or perhaps bust bust!

In other words: “This is a stick up ― give me back that money those spivs we call bankers lent you a few years back to trick you into living well beyond your means.”

Incidentally, last October, ousted Barclays Bank boss Bob Diamond ― at the centre of the ‘Lie-bor’ rate-fixing scandal, of which Bob, then Chief Sitting Bull at Barclays, knew nothing, honest, Guv ― threw his daughter a lavish wedding ceremony at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France.

Now that’s what I call sticking two fingers up at the hoi polloi and the great unwashed, and all without a hint of irony.

Anyway, further to the Autumn Statement, I was intrigued by this letter in The Times:

Fighting to the last

Sir, There was something vaguely familiar about your front-page photograph (Dec 4) of Messrs George Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer] and Danny Alexander [Treasury Chief Secretary] appearing at the same time through an open doorway [on their way to the House of Commons on Autumn Statement day], and then I remembered: the last “still” of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  
     Oh dear...
JOHN LLOYD JONES, Tywyn, Gwynedd, north Wales

I never registered the front-page photograph mentioned by John Lloyd Jones, but I did have a vague idea about that Butch and Sundance “still”.

Now this is where the interweb comes into its own. So, with a puff of smoke and a Hi-Yo Silver & Gold, away ― off trundled Ivor the Search Engine ... and, just like that, here are the two photographs mentioned in dispatches...

 

George and Danny go head-to-head with Butch and Sundance
 

   
“For a moment there I thought we were in trouble...”
 

Magic mirror on the wall...

How totally wonderful and perfectly observed, Mr Jones. (Incidentally, I suspect that you must  be the Jones from Alias Smith and Jones.)

I mean, just look at the body language in the two images. Quite extraordinary and uncanny.

When did you last see two better juxtaposed pictures?

Oh yes, of course, yesterday! Well, Tony and Cherie were nearly  as good.

Last word

“Where observation is concerned, chance favours only the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist and biologist.

“Exit signs ― they are on the way out aren’t they?”
Comedian Time Vine, 47, master of the funny one-liner.
 


Friday, December 12th

 

Ho, ho, ho!

“I don’t know why people have been so horrid this year about Tony Blair’s Christmas card. I think he looks great ― toothy grin, no attempt to touch up his grey hair, and his fragrant wife patting his manly chest. What’s wrong with all that?
     “It’s gone straight into my collection of Christmas cards, which already includes one every year for the past 10 years from Tony and Cherie ― signed by them ― to moi. I do treasure them...”

Hunter Davies, 78, a British author, journalist, broadcaster and star celebrity ― and a keen collector of cards ― enjoys the annual greetings he receives from the Blairs. They sit with those from famous footballers and the Queen ― but he has no idea why they are sent.

 

Spot the ambush

HUNTER DAVIES wonders aloud why he is on the Blairs’ Christmas card list. Well, because he is a celebrity, I guess. And a journalist to boot. Added bonus points there, Hunter.

Incidentally, I enjoyed “and his fragrant wife patting his manly chest”. Is there a more loaded word in the English language than “fragrant”?

It takes me back to that infamous court case which arose from the allegation that Jeffrey Archer had forged two diaries to support a false alibi during his libel trial against the Daily Star newspaper in 1987, when he won £500,000 damages over the report that he had paid the prostitute Monica Coghlan for sex.

The judge in the original trial, Mr Justice Caulfield, famously told the jury in his summing-up: “Remember Mary Archer [wife of Jeffrey] in the witness-box; your vision of her probably will never disappear. Has she elegance? Has she fragrance?” Of Jeffrey Archer, he wondered: “Is he in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex in a seedy hotel round about quarter to one on a Tuesday morning after an evening at the Caprice?”

The needs of a man, Mr Justice Caulfield ― and to slightly paraphrase Benny Hill’s memorable song about Ernie and the fastest milk cart in the west ― are many fold.

Indeed, the jury in the perjury case agreed and Archer was found guilty and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

Whatever, back to the subject at hand, and as Hunter Davies says, the Blairs’ Christmas card has been a source of much fun.

When I first saw it I thought it was a parody, a spoof by those Twitterati rascals, the Tweet elite. But no, Tony Blair’s office confirmed that it was indeed the card the couple sent out, and added that it was a “very nice picture”.

Look, we all cringe when we see ourselves in photographs, but given the high-profile nature of this Christmas card did not the Blairs sense the obvious ambush? And what on earth did the other photos look like if this is the best?

The first thing I noticed, apart from the obvious, was the curiously uninspiring background ― and the fact that the ‘Season’s Greetings’ is askew because it follows the level of the window pane. It just looks all to cock.

What next came to mind was that perhaps, just perhaps, Tony had received a Xmas card from Wendi Deng and that he and Cherie had just finished having another row about those ‘multiple’ encounters he was alleged to have had with Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife when hubby Dirty Digger was not around.

Be that as it may ― incidentally, cuckolding or cockolding? ― I was intrigued with a compare and contrast brace of moments in time.  

Background information
Never mind the passage of time, it is always those bloody little things...!
 

Party like it’s 1999 ~ the Blairs in the
State Rooms at Downing Street
 

Party like it’s 2014 ~ the Blairs in a bit of a
state at ... well, somewhere or other
 

Here are just some of the smiley comments apropos the 2014 Christmas card...

 
Baroness (Karren) Brady of Knightsbridge: “Well, it’s obvious. She chose the photo! Doesn’t her hair look nice? Who cares about him!

Carl Maxim: “The strange thing about Tony Blair’s Christmas card is how the teeth seem to follow you round the room.”

Peter Watts: “I see Tony Blair is sporting the ventriloquist dummy look in their Christmas card.”

Fair & Reasonable: “Print the photograph onto toilet rolls, donate the profits to a good cause, and it will outsell everything.”

“I’m sealing my letterbox this Christmas in case someone shoves a Tony Blair card through it and upsets my dog.”
Raymond Griffin of Doncaster in a letter to the Daily Mail.

There we are, a gentle smile as we approach Christmas.

Last word

It’s grand to be back up and running again. The computer’s software decided to play up and not play the game once more, in particular the thingy that lifts my daily updates onto the web. (I experienced a similar problem in April.)

Back at the beginning of the year I had a letter published in The Sunday Times  wondering aloud whether my imagination was playing tricks: was I really seeing more and more newish cars being carted about on the backs of recovery trucks?

Indeed, the following week Jeremy Clarkson wrote on the subject, confirming what I had suspected; whilst cars are now mechanically incredibly reliable, it is the electronics and computers that play hard to get and go glitch in the night (and the day), and when they do, the vehicle can’t be sorted out at the roadside the way it used to be.

And so it is with computers. Modern computers and their hard drives are now fundamentally sound, but the software is often a headache and tends to be temperamental (note the chaos following today’s London airspace computer glitch).

But as Andrew, my computer expert points out, when you think of the complicated and tortured trail all the information I post has to follow to actually arrive online, then any tiny glitch in the software is magnified out of all proportion.

A fair comment. So I just keep my head down and carry on best I can.

See you soon, fingers crossed...
 


Tuesday > Thursday, December 9th > 11th

Last word (for a few days, anyway)

“Stephen Hawking warns us that artificial intelligence is taking over the world. At least it’ll be cheaper than local council chief executives.” A letter in the Daily Mail from Collin Rossini of Dovercourt, Essex.

“Matt Ridley’s piece [apropos artificial intelligence] calls to mind the prediction of a few years ago that soon every flight deck would be crewed only by a man and a dog. The man’s job would be to feed the dog; the dog’s job would be to bite the man if he tried to touch anything.” A letter in The Times from Clive Toomer of Emborough, Somerset.
 


Monday, December 8th

Just relax ... look into my Treemendous Suit...



 Please do not adjust your vision

A dazzling Christmas

I DON’T know about you, but that festive suit plays havoc with my eyes. I mean, what a gloriously aggravating and doolally design.

The Ugly Sweater Store has created the Ugly Christmas Suit (there are two other versions, which feature snowmen and snowflakes, both not quite so hard on the eyes as the Christmas tree design, above ― just Google ‘What the well-dressed wally is wearing this Christmas’ to take in the view).

Already sold out, the Polyester suits (with tie, obviously), retail at $110 (£70) and boast the most wonderfully colourful and garish designs.

In fact there was someone on the radio this morning who had been to a rugby club dinner over the weekend and a guest was wearing one ― and everyone, unsurprisingly, found it exceedingly amusing and conversational.

Apparently it was not the one above, sadly, so I had no feedback as to whether it dazzled others the way it does me.

Last word

To go with the Ugly Christmas Suit there’s the craziest Xmas trees ever, a range of quirky alternatives to your
usual festive fir.
                                     

From a Snowing & Musical Tree at £39.99, which has a hidden tube pumping polystyrene balls from the umbrella-style base up to the top, for it to gently cascade down the branches as snow ― via a Rainbow Tree at £45, which boasts luminous artificial leaves in all the colours of the rainbow ― to a Recycled Cardboard Tree at £7.99.

I also enjoyed the Personalised Wall Sticker Tree at £28, the most minimalist tree imaginable, which is two-dimensional and sticks straight on the wall. Brilliant.

But my favourite, what with a rather sweet tooth, is the Chocolate Treat, a personalised chocolate tree from notonthehighstreet.com, at £83.

At around 24 inches tall, it’s handmade, fully edible and includes Belgian chocolate leaves, trunk and soil.

Yum, yum...


 


Sunday, December 7th

Benchmark

Compliments of Twitter@DoctorChristian

Last word

This, from Daniel Finkelstein’s Notebook in The Times:

Social climber

My (actually Michael Grade’s) Tommy Cooper story last week (he asked the Queen if she liked football and when she said that she didn’t, asked: “Can I have your cup final ticket?”) prompted a friend to tell me his favourite Cooper joke.

Cooper knocks on a door and asks: “Is Pete in?”

The dolorous man answering, says: “I am very sorry to tell you ― but Pete died very suddenly this morning. I am his brother and,” he says pointing to a crying woman, “I am here to comfort his grieving widow.”

“Oh,” responds Cooper. “Did he say anything about a ladder?”
 


Saturday, December 6th

Stressed? Plunge a pin into
Cameron’s crown jewels


Sometimes the political class must feel it’s just not worth the slog. You work hard, you make sacrifices, you become prime minister at last ― and what happens?

Somebody fashions a replica of your delicate parts and sells them as an anti-stress device, that’s what.

The artist Morwenna Catt is offering sets of David Cameron Stress Testicles ― available in a presentation box for £25 ― on the website Etsy.

“Pop into your handbag, keep handy on your desk or dangle affectionately from your car mirror,” say the instructions. “The pair of true blue crown jewels must be squeezed tightly while Cameron speaks, offering full yogic flexing of the fingers.”

To add possible injury to insult, each box comes equipped with a set of “voodoo pins”.

Wipe that smile off your face, Ed Miliband ― this is what’s in store for you this time next year.

(Compliments of Atticus in The Sunday Times)

For some reason, I thought a neat companion item would be The Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool.

Last word

Yesterday’s quote about gardener Alan Titchmarsh and his very small onions brought to mind this marvellous tale:

What’s up, Doc?

While performing a vasectomy on David Cameron, the doctor slipped and cut off one of the Prime Minister’s testicles. To avoid a huge malpractice claim, he decided to replace the missing testicle with an onion.

Several weeks later, Mr Cameron returns for a check-up. “How’s your sex life?” the doctor asks, somewhat matter-of-factly.

“Okay,” replies Mr Cameron, much to the doctor’s relief. “But I have  experienced a couple of strange side effects.”

“Oh, in what way?” the doctor asks, rather anxiously.

“Well, every time I have a pee, my eyes water. And whenever I pass a hamburger stand, well, I get an erection.”
 


Friday, December 5th

< more bits & pieces >

“ALL OF A sudden he put his hands on me. I turned in all tranquillity and blew his face, like a cat stroked the wrong way, and said ‘Don’t you ever dare to do that again. Never again!’. As I pulverised him with my eyes, he seemed small, defenceless, almost a victim of his own notoriety. He never did it again, but it was very difficult working with him after that.”
Sophia Loren, 80, recalls her reaction when Marlon Brando tried to get amorous with her.

That marvellous quote brought to mind a perfect picture from the Telegraph’s  Sign Language Gallery...
 

"Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!"


Spotted in China by Lois Freeke

Hope you smiled, Sophia.

And now, a different class of put-down:

“Your onions are very small.” Alan Titchmarsh, 65, gardener, broadcaster and novelist, recalls the first words the Queen uttered to him when she inspected his vegetable garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1985.

I bet that brought a tear to his eye. It did mine.

Continuing the male-female interaction theme, this from Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times:

Whistler’s womanopause

Things are getting very confusing if you’re a man. Having been told for years that it is sexist to wolf-whistle at women in the street, we are now being told that it is ageist if we do not wolf-whistle at women who have passed the menopause.

The cookery writer Prue Leith reckons that a pernicious ageism begins with the cessation of expressions of commendation from passing men. That’s terrible, isn’t it? I tried to put things right on my local high street by making appreciative noises at all the women over 60.

I cannot wolf-whistle, because I have too few real teeth, but I did go “phwooar!” at them and made a gesture with my hand over my arm. However, the women seemed to think I was being sarcastic ― and after a while I stopped, just in case I got put on some sort of register. But at least I tried to help matters.

Can you say the same?

Oh dear, I did LOL² at the “register” line.

And now, a perfect letter to compliment the above, as spotted in The Times:

Wheet-whoo

Sir, I was pleased to see Kevin Maher’s piece on wolf-whistling [similar to Rod Liddle, above]. As a woman well past the menopause, I remember with nostalgia a builder telling me that he whistled at all the women. He told me: “The young ones expect it and the old ones appreciate it.” Those were the days!
MOYA HERMON, Kidlington, Oxon

What a wonderful tale, and yet more proof why I enjoy the Letters  pages so much.

It all reminds me of the tale I’ve mentioned here before ― and is well worth a repeat because of its relevance ― of me walking along the pavement on my local high street in Llandampness one dull and colourless morning.

Walking towards me is a blonde lady, not of my acquaintance. A white van passes me and heads in the direction of the lady ... a loud, concerted wolf-whistle ― “WHEEEET-WHOOOOO! ― blasts from a loudspeaker in the van.

Everybody looks around ― and the van continues on up the road. As I close in on the blonde our eyes meet, we smile and I say something along the lines of: “Now why can’t I come up with an opening line like that.”

She stops, laughs and says: “That made my morning...”

I think Moya Hermon, above, would approve.

Last Chance Saloon

A brace of low-flying letters spotted in The Times:

A third martini?

Sir, Patrick Kidd reminds us that after one or two drinks judgment goes out of the window. That’s why ― to paraphrase James Thurber ― one may debate the wisdom of a second martini but have no doubt about a third.
TONY PHILLIPS, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks

Just one martini

Sir, Apropos “A third martini?”, Dorothy Parker surely wrote the best poem for everyone to contemplate on this subject:
               I love to have a martini,
               Two at the very most,
               After three, I’m under the table,
               After four, I’m under my host
!
GILLIAN ROYALE, London SW11

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Wheet-whoo’, the wolf-whistle in print, compliments of The Times, came up as a perfectly wonderful ‘White-hot’.
 

Thursday, December 4th

< bits & pieces >

  Frenchman develops pills to make flatulence smell sweeter

Talk about comin’ out smellin’ of roses. And it would have to be a Frenchman. Indeed, what would today’s Juliet have to say on the matter:

          “What’s in a name? That which we call a fart
            By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Meanwhile...

“A man walks into a chemist’s and says: ‘Can I have a bar of soap, please?’ The chemist says: “Certainly. Do you want it scented?’ And the man says: ‘No, I’ll take it with me’.” Comedian Ronnie Barker (1929-2005).

And now, Camerooned and Clegged (for Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, read Cons and Rats):

Cheeting in numbers

“On a recent trip to a game reserve in Africa, I was surprised to learn that the collective noun for cheetahs is a ‘coalition’. How appropriate.” A letter in The Daily Telegraph from Alexander Pincus of Etchingwood, East Sussex.

Fast food

“Lidl’s magazine says its new line in reindeer meat ‘resembles antelope in flavour and texture’. That’s helpful.” Another letter in the Telegraph, from Tim Barnsley of London SW16

“Two cannibals were eating a clown ― one said to the other: ‘Does he taste funny to you?’.”
Comedian Tommy Cooper (1921-1984).

And a bonus...

“A few decades ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don’t let Kevin Bacon die.”
Bill Murray, 64, American actor and comedian.

And now, a true story:

Accentuate the positive

The great Danny Blanchflower (1926-1993), a Northern Ireland international footballer and football manager, also a journalist and broadcaster ― and who famously married one of the Beverley Sisters, the middle one ― had a tough time when hired as commentator for an American channel.

“The trouble is,” he once opined on air, “these guys can’t play football”. At the commercial break he was berated by the producer. “Danny, Danny, you can’t say that stuff here. This is the US of A. You gotta be more positive. Say something positive, Danny.”

So when the broadcast resumed Danny duly complied: “You know, I’m positive these guys can’t play football.”

  Sex is energising. Dating is tiring. I have 8 lovers.
                                          Guilt-free sex coach Lauren Brim wants to change the way
                                          
we think about our more intimate encounters...

Hm, Brim and improper, ho, ho, ho.

But why were there not any sexually generous girls like Lauren about when I was a young buck about town? Hang about, hang about, there were ― and, whisper it, all us boys loved them to bits.

Anyway, I resisted clicking on Lauren’s C-Spot (C as in Come In, Come In), and made my excuses and left.

This all brings me neatly to a recent story here in Wales...

A supermarket is offering shoppers ‘free erections’ after
a sign was wrongly translated into Welsh


A tease of a hole-in-the-wall at Aberystwyth
 

The sign on the above cash machine at the Tesco store in Aberystwyth should read ‘arian am ddim’, which means ‘free cash withdrawals’. But the supermarket blundered by saying ‘codiad am ddim’ which means ‘free erections’.

The error was seen by Welsh speaking Aberystwyth councillor Ceredig Davies who said: “There were a few titters in the town so I went down to have a look myself.

“Ten out of ten to Tesco for considering the Welsh language. But perhaps they should have had it checked by an actual Welsh speaker before putting the signs on the machines.

“People get their Welsh translations wrong from time to time but this one is hilarious.”

Managers at the Tesco Express store in the university town took the sign down and were investigating the mistake and promised to replace it with the correct translation.

But shoppers believe the supermarket used Google to translate ― and got it badly wrong.

But here’s a funny thing: the word ‘codiad’ can also mean withdrawal when related to money, technically ‘raising cash’, so the sign was, to the pure of thought, correct.

As someone put on the W-Spot observed: “Will they pull down ‘Withdrawal’ because it can mean coitus interruptus? A fuss over nothing, really.” True, but some innocent fun along the way-hey!

Final word

Perhaps Tesco should have gone for the latest in Sex Lessons Aids for schools, something magnificently titled
The Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool...


 

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Clegged’, as in Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy PM, came up as ‘Clogged’, but best of all, ‘Legged’, which considering he did not appear at the House of Commons for Wednesday’s Autumn Statement ― Liberal DemocRAT deserting a sinking ship and all that? ― was priceless.

‘Ceredig’, as in Ceredig Davies, the Welsh speaking Aberystwyth councillor who commented on the Tesco cock-up, came up as ‘Credit’. How perfect.

I really couldn’t make these things up.
 

Wednesday, December 3rd

Autumn’s last hurrah

Sight for sore eyes

A WEEK ago I welcomed the first frost of winter, and I featured the sweet chestnut tree that had resolutely refused to shed its leaves.

Well, seven days later ... all gone to ground.

Today though was the first proper frost of winter, in as much that the fields were actually frozen along my sunrise walk.

It was a picture-perfect morning. And deep in the heart of the Towy Valley I spotted the view as featured on today’s welcome mat.

The leaves everywhere have now mostly gone ― the oak trees excepted ― but there was something that instantly caught my eye. At first glance, and as captured in the above photograph, it looked as if there was a fire.

It was quite startling. I went to investigate.

It was a youngish beech tree ― a juvenile, I guess ― which had curiously retained its leaves in eye-catching colours, and perfectly highlighted because it was flanked by some ivy which neatly brought out the bright yellow and orange foliage. Quite a sight.

However, with direct and bright sunlight slowly warming the tree, the leaves were now falling at quite a rate.

But what a picture to greet one on such a beautiful if agreeably cold morning.

My day had actually started on a similarly bright note. It was around six ― the later sunrise means I don’t depart on my walk until around half-seven ― so I was online perusing the usual clickbait stuff...

A couple of days ago I featured a letter spotted in The Times  complaining about how miserable the scowling, arrogant-looking catwalk models come across as they strut their stuff ― and I had to agree, especially so with those funny walks they do.

But then there was that photo of 40 or so of the world’s top supermodels posing outside Victoria’s Secret’s New Bond Street store and getting in the mood for their London catwalk show.

And there they were, all smiling and laughing and having a jolly old time.

And I wondered why they couldn’t look like that when charging full pelt along the catwalk.

Well, the American lingerie brand’s catwalk show Shine a light  happened last night and pictures of the event were all over the shop this morning ― and blow me, most of the images had the girls smiling away as they sashayed their stuff.

Yes, a few were doing the default scowling bit, but we can ignore them.

Last word

So I have chosen to go out today with the photo that lifted my spirits no end first thing today ― and an image that perfectly balances those fiery leaves up there at the top.

Incidentally, more years ago than I care to remember, while on a visit to South Africa, I had a brief howdy doody thingy with one of the country’s top models, ships that pass in the night, sort of thing ― mind you, it was more tug-bumps-into-sleek-speed-boat, but it was exceedingly bracing.

Anyway the picture that grabbed my attention was of South African beauty Candice Swanepoel showing off her enviable abs. Gorgeous or what? And I must say, I rather like those mini bow ties, just inviting to be undone. Ah yes, memories are made of this...


Candice’s first hip, hip, hurrah!

 


Tuesday, December 2nd

Needed grammar in lessons :language sign


Witheridge Emma by China in spotted
(Sense perfect makes everything and backwards read)

Deviation

“One can get interesting results when something is translated into another language, then back into the original. During my time working in the Middle East, I was puzzled by an item in a building bill of quantities for ‘wayaround’. It turned out to be skirting.”
A letter in The Daily Telegraph from Mike Keatinge of Sherborne in Dorset.

And now for something completely different

I’ve mentioned before that, as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as original thinking. Every great slice of inspiration is actually triggered by something slightly different, or indeed often by something completely different.

The great inventors and thinkers possess the gift of lateral thinking. They latch on to something they’ve seen, heard or read ― even experienced ― and it takes them on a journey somewhere exciting and marvellous, and often a million miles from the one thing that set them off on their voyage of discovery in the first place.

This came to mind when I read another amusing letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Fair warning

SIR – Nailed to a tree where a local garden runs close to a footpath is a vintage sign, which reads:
NO TRESPASSING. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.

Jonathan Goodall, Bath, Somerset

And Jonathan’s missive instantly took me back to the Telegraph’s  Sign Language galleries and some images from yesteryear...

Welcome to England: Gun lore

Welcome to America: Bible belt

Spotted in Cambridge by David Betts

Spotted in Florida by Steve Loader

Actually, the above is probably the very sign spotted by Jonathan Goodall as detailed in his letter. Yes, he’s from Bath, but that doesn’t mean that’s where he spotted it.

Mind you, I like the prayer one. Very clever. And the missing letter somehow makes it even more threatening.

Final word

While on the subject of dicing with death, this from Daniel Finkelstein’s Notebook in The Times:

Dying to win

This week I learnt that while shortlisted for two awards, I hadn’t won either. I wouldn’t have minded had I not been told a few days earlier that Oscar winners on average live four years longer than Oscar nominees.
 


Monday, December 1st

How should we charge you? AC, DC or Three-Phase?

BRIGHTON Council is to include the title “Mx” on its official forms in order to be more accommodating to the trans-community. Campaigners say that “Mx”, short for “Mixter”, is a gender neutral alternative to Mr, Mrs, Ms and Miss.

“Mx” is a title commonly used by non-binary people (or genderqueer ― or indeed three-phase, as they say down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon) as well as those who do not wish their gender to be known.

This drew an entertaining thread of letters to The Times  newspaper:

Surely a mxtake?

Sir, Pronouncing “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Miss” was never a problem. “Ms” is a lot harder but not impossible.
     How on earth do you pronounce “Mx”?
ROGER LYNCH, Romford, Essex

Sir, Surely the pronunciation of “Mx” is “Mex”. It neatly covers ex-Mr, ex-Mrs, ex-Miss and ex-Ms.
IVAN K ROWLAND, London SE23

Sir, In the circumstances, “Mix” seems entirely appropriate.
JUNE BROUGH, Halesowen, W Midlands

Sir, Mux.
JOHN DOWIE, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Sir, How to pronounce Mx? It’s obvious, “Middlesex”.
ANDREW FRANCIS, London WC2

How clever, Andrew Francis. Mind you, I also enjoyed this:

Mxyzptlk

Sir, Anybody having difficulty in pronouncing “Mx” has not spent time reading Superman.
     I remember these comics in the 1960s, when there was a trickster from a different dimension called
“Mr Mxyzptlk”. It gets worse. The only way to send him back to his own dimension was to trick him to say
his name backwards. “Kltpzyxm”.
DR NIGEL HEARD, Great Barrow, Chester

Whilst on the subject of sex in all its confusion, this, also from The Times:

Discretion?

Sir, If M Hollande’s “discreet” dalliance merits two pages, and a leader column too (Nov 22), it is alarming to contemplate the consequences had he been indiscreet.
LINDSAY GH HALL, Theale, Berks

Oh I don’t know, Boris appears to draw no more than fleeting comments apropos his alleged indiscretions.

And this letter, which takes me back a couple of months or so:

Shine a light

Sir, Times2 (Sept 17) has on its cover “Oh you pretty thing ... London fashion lightens up”. A glance inside shows the usual scowling, arrogant-looking models. Shouldn’t “lighten up” also include a smile or two?
JEREMY HORNSBY, London N1

I bring you that last missive because today’s online world has been awash with the following... 
 

Forty of the world’s top supermodels descend
on Victoria’s Secret’s London store...


The modelling troupe was paying a visit to the American lingerie brand's Mayfair
 branch on New Bond Street to promote their forthcoming London catwalk show

On the sunny side of the street

As you will note, the girls ― 40 and counting ― are all smiling and having a ball. Obviously they only scowl when they are actually working and promoting their wares. How odd.

Yes, why do you suppose they look so miserable and aggressive when strutting their funny walks down the gangplank? Especially so when I read that the top ten models have earnings this year alone ranging from $1 million all the way up to a dizzy $8 million.

Incidentally, when I saw ‘Victoria’s Secret’ I automatically thought it was something to do with Victoria Beckham ― and that she had flown all the girls in to cheer up husband David and son Brooklyn following their nasty-looking car accident, from which thankfully everybody walked away without serious injury.

But no, apparently Victoria’s Secret has nothing to do with our Posh.

Last word

Patience

Sir, A potential female soldier at interview when asked if she could kill a man, replied, “Eventually”.
DON EVANS, Inverness, Highland

Spell-cheque corner: I had a feeling that today’s smiles would challenge the computer.
     ‘Mx’ came up as ‘Mix’, followed by  ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘Maxi’.
     ‘Mixter’ came up as ‘Mixture’. And ‘Mxtake’, as in the headline ‘Surely a mxtake?’, came up as ‘Mutate’.
     Unsurprisingly, the computer had no suggestions for the Superman villain ‘Mxyzptlk’ and ‘Kltpzyxm’.
 
 

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)

                                                                                                                                                                          Home


                                                                   Home
                                                                   Previously on Look You...
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2014: Nov
                                                                  
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)
                   Home

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


Reception

You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City

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Previously on LOOK YOU......


Smile of the day 2014: Nov
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)
2009

2008
Sep to Dec '07

June to Aug '07
March to May '07

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

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

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


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

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