LOOK YOU ~ a rolling scrapbook of life, the universe and nearly everything...
ARCHIVE 2015 - MAY

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POSTCARDS FROM
MY SQUARE MILE
click... Smile
Updated: 11/08/2013

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

400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013



                                                                                        Design: Yosida

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

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

Sunday, May 31st,  2015

                 I have nothing to offer but toil, soil and sheds

LANDSCAPE and woodcare firm Cuprinol’s glorious Shed of the Year finalists have been announced.

Back on March 5, I shared some marvellous quotes and smiles apropos the nation’s shed life ― along with a picture of one particular example that caught my eye, namely Terry’s Treehouse.

Here’s a link: shed a light

Well, I’ve had a trawl through the finalists, and as mentioned in March, I tend to embrace the off-beat, the eccentric, the humorous ― indeed a shed that really has had loads of TLC showered upon it from a great height.

Apart from Terry’s Treehouse, which makes the final, here’s a brace of XL smilers:
 

Watershed

Karen Scott’s Cliffhanger shed in Cromer, Norfolk
“I have a mansion of an imagination, and I cordially invite you to come sleep in my shed.” Jarod Kintz, 43, American writer.

 

Shed load

Mark Burton’s wheelie good Pixie Cabin shed in Surrey (and District?)  
“If you are a plumber, you can work on a shed, or you can work on a mansion. It’s just scale.” Martin Freeman, 43, English actor.
 

The Pixie Cabin is really a caravan shed, I guess, which makes it such an innovative effort. Wonderful.

Pause for thought

While searching for some shed quotes ― see above ― I stumbled over this as well, which I rather like, especially so given how many people these days appear to burst into tears at the drop of an emotion:

  “Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.” Billy Graham, 96, American evangelist.

Yesterday, I smiled at this headline:

                     Why living on a main road could be making you fatter

The stress of traffic noise makes people put on more weight around their waist, a study has shown

This response letter duly appeared in the Telegraph:

Le boeuf sur le toit  

SIR – You report that urban noise pollution affects people by making them fat. In the same edition, scientists predicted high-rise farms in city centres.
     Will the benefit of self-fattening livestock outweigh the impact of stress on the flavour of the meat, I wonder?
     Either way, I gleefully look forward to townies’ first experience of rooftop muck-spreading overspray, silage penetration of luxury penthouses, and getting stuck behind a tractor in the lift.
Victor Launert, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

I like the tractor bit. However, being a simple country boy, I had to look up Le boeuf sur le toit:  

Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof) is the name of a celebrated Parisian cabaret-bar, founded in 1921 by Louis Moysés.

That’ll impress them down at the celebrated Crazy Horsepower Saloon, I can tell you. But someone is bound to say “What’s all that bullshit?”.
 


Saturday, May 30th

                                      You for coffee?

My research into the conflictingly doolally advice regarding food and health continues. Remember this Telegraph clickbait featured yesterday?

                       “Don’t drink more than four coffees a day,” EU warns

Well, I spotted this entertaining thread on an interweb comment board:

Barryvanhire:  “Research showed that men who drank two cups of coffee per day were 42 per cent less likely than non-drinkers to report erectile dysfunction” ... I never believe anything that has got the statistic 42 per cent attached to it.

sosraboc: Everyone knows that the ultimate answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42.

Wittgensteinsfoot: Apparently, 42 per cent of people agree with you.

Barryvanhire: No, seriously, it’s a fully fledged basturd  of a statistic. It’s less than 50% so it’s not threatening in any way, it’s greater than 30% so it’s not insignificant, and it’s not divisible by 5 so it sounds authentic ... really, if you want to get an argument across use 42%, it never fails...

Wittgensteinsfoot: Ha
! I just Googled “42 per cent” and the results bear out your suspicions! Have a look!!

I did. And it’s true, 42 per cent of the results fills 42 per cent of the available space.

Be all that as it may, best practice is to give the coffee a miss. And I have found the answer, another clickbait spotted online (but I’ve forgotten where):

Terrific, with a Capital T

            Is chamomile tea the secret to a long life? Herbal
                                 brew can slash the risk of an early death


Chamomile tea was linked with a 29 per cent lower risk of death from all causes ― but only in women over 65, and not in men ― researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch found...

Oh dear, you have to smile. Mind you, even your friendly neighbourhood village idiot i.e. me, suspects that those who drink herbal tea live a healthier lifestyle anyway, and we know that women live longer than men ― but the gap is now closing. Or so 42 per cent of statistics tell us.

Next week, this headline? Herbal tea, especially chamomile, causes cancer.

But what about this, though:

    Why living on a main road could be making you fatter

The stress of traffic noise makes people put on more weight around their waist, a study has shown

Living near a main road causes people to gain weight with the risk of obesity doubling for homes that are also under a flight path and near a railway.

Researchers believe that the stress of traffic noise may raise stress levels to the point where the body starts laying down more fat because it thinks it is heading for a time for crisis, when food may be scarce...

Yes, I think we can all join Gwyneth Paltrow on that high road leading to Doolally Tap.

Enjoy Sunday lunch. And don’t forget those earmuffs.
 


Friday, May 29th

  “I believe in having sex.” Phew, reassuring news from the actress
                                                                Gwyneth Paltrow, 42, mother of two.

Our Gwynnie, spotted taking the high road for Doolally Tap.

Next, please:

“Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course, not many.” Morrissey, 56, singer and celebrated humasexualist, although he does neatly sidestep the issue of how many humans are attracted to him.

“A clean and healthy life, plenty of exercise. Go to church on Sunday ― I look in the mirror as little as possible.” Rolling Stone Keith Richards, 71, when asked about the secret of his “longevity”.

That is so funny. In the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, reaching the age of 71 is rated as hold-the-front-page longevity. Marvellous.

Mind you, of the three slebs quoted here, Keith Richards is the one that would actually be allowed within a million miles of my fondly imagined South Sea Island paradise.

Talking of Gwynnie, the confusion over what food and drink is actually good for our health continues apace. For example, this Telegraph clickbait:

  “Don’t drink more than four coffees a day,” EU warns

And this from The Times:

                      More eggs, please. Cholesterol is OK now

This U-turn on dietary advice is long overdue. All kinds of damage have been done to people’s lives and livelihoods

Look. the best advice of all, is this: everything but everything, in moderation ― and plough on regardless.

Finally, and talking of good advice:

  “Pickpockets often hang around near the ‘Beware of Pickpockets’ sign ― and then watch people instinctively tap their pockets to pinpoint their valuables.”

Spell-cheque corner: Now I expected Morrissey’s ‘humasexual’ to come up as ‘homosexual’, but that was relegated to second place ― the first suggestion being ‘hum asexual’, which is rather amusing.

Also, ‘humasexualist’ came up as ‘humasexual st’.
 


Thursday, May 28th

   “It’s like they’re all in competition with each other for who can wear the skimpiest outfit.” Dame Shirley Bassey, originally from Cardiff but now a resident of Monaco, said youngsters like Beyoncé and Rihanna do not wear enough on the red carpet and “leave nothing to the imagination”.

But, as Mail Online  pointed out, with much relish I might add, the 78-year-old diva, who sang the theme tune to three Bond films, including Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever, has flashed a fair amount of flesh in her time too ― as these glorious pictures of her bold sartorial choices through the decades show...
 


Magical montage: Dame Shirley struts her stuff along with Rihanna and Beyoncé
 

Is that not the smiliest thing you’ve seen today?

To be fair, Dame Shirley did add this: “In my day it was for the stage only, you didn’t go out looking like that.”

Fair enough, but the only time I will ever see old Burly Chassis, as she is affectionately known in these parts, is when she’s performing, or on the red carpet, and that’s the image that sticks in the mind. Indeed, she appears to have gone public in the first picture, above.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the street...

  “That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has been emptied out. It’s gone. It’s been deconstructed.” Feminist Germaine Greer, 76, criticises Sir Elton John and David Furnish for listing Furnish as the “mother” of their sons.

That wasn’t my smile of the day. That was my laugh of the day.

I’ve said it afore, and I’ll doubtless say it again: when a human being morphs into a celebrity, something sets them off on the high road to Doolally Tap. Yesterday it was The Good Lord Above, John Prescott; today it’s Dame Shirley and Sir Elton.

Clearly adding a title to a celebrity status doubles the doolallyness risk.

Going back to Dame Shirley and the skimpy dress code of today’s female superstars, earlier, while paying a visit to YouTube, I happened upon The Seekers and Georgy Girl, a live performance at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, from 1967.

I’ll put a link below, but first a few of the online comments apropos that video, especially about Judith Durham ― what a handsome and elegant creature she is ― and also the song title, Georgy Girl:

Daniel Occoner: I loved that 60s look, the girls all looked so innocent, even if they weren’t. Today the women walk around half naked. Sometimes its sexier to leave something to the imagination.

How true. And that was posted a couple of months ago, way before Dame Shirley made her observation.

Paul James Astle: Georgy (Georgie) is a traditional English name that was used for a girl or a boy. It probably refers to this girl [i.e. Georgy Girl: title song for the film of the same name] being a bit of a tomboy, not very girlie or glamorous, I would guess? :-)

Adrian Hickman (> Paul James Astle): Good comment. And you have a great surname.


When I originally read the Paul James Astle comment, the surname never registered:  “Name?”  “Mr Astle.”

Glorious. Much better than Mr Bean.

Larry John: A very cheerful song from The Seekers. Thank you for posting. Beautiful voices. Beautiful lyrics and tune. Just Gr8 all round.

Spot on ― and here it is, well worth a click; oh yes, there’s a Welsh folk group, Plethyn, and the lead singer, Linda Healy, sounds remarkably like Judith Durham ― the song is Seidir Ddoe, Yesterday’s Cider (turns to champagne):

                                      Georgy Girl – The Seekers

                                                   Seidir Ddoe - Plethyn
 


Wednesday, May 27th

                               Fly me over the moon

The interweb has today been awash with a gloriously eye-catching picture...
 

Best photobomb ever? Seagull steals the show
from Red Arrows display team


Jade Coxon, 18, a first year photography student at Chester University, captured
the above at the Llandudno Air Show in North Wales last Saturday
 

No surprise then that the above photobomb has become a huge internet hit.

No surprise, also, that some believe it to be a photoshop rather than a photobomb ― but the word in the dark room confirms it as a genuine picture, albeit made possible compliments of a huge slice of luck.

Actually, there are clues which suggest that it is genuine. The seagull is out of focus for a start. And if you look closely you can see part of the aircraft’s tail fin, so if you were going to photoshop the image then you’d make damn sure that the plane was completely covered.

Finally, when you consider the millions upon millions of pictures now captured daily all around the world, then occasionally you are going to come across spectacular examples, such as the above.

Smashing photo. No surprise then that Jade declared herself over the moon with the picture and the world-wide reaction to it.

Oh yes, I particularly enjoyed this one online comment:

@edwardzzzz9:  “Oh how a brilliant moment is ruined by one bird.”

Actually, when I spotted the above clickbait headline and photo on the Telegraph’s  online home page, the next headline down was this:

  Bird flu could be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic

                                 “Bird flu [over the Red Arrow’s nest] ...!?” Yes, honestly, I kid you not.

Meanwhile, another clickbait caught my eye...

       
Lord Prescott ridicules Labour leader candidates’ use of the word ‘aspiration’

The ‘New Labour’ grandee hits out at generic phrases used by leadership hopefuls, saying: “What the hell does that mean, ‘aspiration’? I hear a lot of the candidates talking about it. They’ve clearly got aspiration, but what the heck does it mean?” Lord Prescott said...
 

The Good Lord Prescott wonders aloud what aspiration means...?

    
Aspiration? John Prescott might consider the example of someone who starts working life as a steward
on a cruise ship, becomes a politician and then deputy prime minister, plays croquet on the lawns at his
grace-and-favour home, has a two-year affair with his diary secretary – and aspires to become a Lord
 

Oh yes, the image far right is not John Prescott with his diary secretary ― although the likeness is remarkable ― rather it’s a male elephant seal clambering on top of his mate (his diary secretary?), and that despite her less-than-impressed expression.

Captured by David Merron at Gold Harbour Beach, a meet-and-mate island between South America and Antarctica.

Males will control a group of up to 100 females in well-defined territories, mating with each in turn, with every session lasting up to 30 minutes.

Pass the oxygen and the blue pills, Ma.
 


Tuesday, May 26th

A cross-section of amusing missives, the first, spotted in the Daily Mail:

Uncommon gardens

I used to think those two blokes on Masterchef waxing lyrical about a plate of meat and veg was probably the most pretentious thing on TV. Then I saw the BBC coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show: ‘rain curtain’, ‘vortex’, ‘spinal formations’, ‘featured engineering’, ‘integrity of the landscape’ etc.
     Bring back Alan Titchmarsh and a nice bunch of daffs. Please
!
Dave K. Whalley, Birmingham

What was it Miss Piggy is reported to have said? “Pretentious? Moi?

Marvellous. Now this from The Times:

Priorities

Sir, According to Dr Hall’s letter of May 25, Gordian II [a Roman emperor] had a library of 62,000 volumes and only 22 acknowledged concubines ― an emperor, therefore, who frittered away far too much of his time and money on books.
Bob Wells, London E4

Ivor the Search Engine
  informs me that Gordian II was, apparently, a very fat man and balding ― which might explain why he preferred a good book to a good lay.

Oh yes, Gordian II got along with his father, Gordian I. Make of that what you will.

Finally, and to balance the books, a Daily Telegraph  letter:

One day’s holiday left

SIR – Now we have only one bank holiday before Christmas. Oughtn’t we to be kinder to ourselves than this?
Michael Bull, Garstang, Lancashire

Nicely put, Michael Bull. Oh, and I enjoyed the use of the word Oughtn’t”.

Speaking personally, I’ve now reached that stage in life where every day is a bank holiday. But it is curious why we’ve just enjoyed four bank holidays between 3rd April (Good Friday) and 25th May, yesterday (Spring Bank Holiday).

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried the Great British Public.
 


Monday, May 25th

 A couple of messages on Twitter raised a smile. First up:
 

Marlene Bittner @lenabitts [Director of PR/Flatiron Books]

“Saw this on Reddit as a defence of the Oxford comma.
It is now my favourite piece of writing...”

Top drawer tweet, that. Oh yes: the Oxford comma? “Let’s eat grandpa” should read “Let’s eat, grandpa”. See, the Oxford comma has saved grandpa’s life.

A couple of responses to the above tweet also caught my eye:

@profmdwhite:  “Hear, hear, and hear!

@msbellows:  “Even better than ‘I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse’ as a lesson in capitalization?”


Mind you, if we are talking about where precisely commas should be parachuted in for a sentence to make sense, then perhaps @profmdwhite should read: “Here, here, but not here
!

Next, this mysterious but smiley tweet:

@EnglishRussia1 [look left, look right, look left again...]

“Perimeter secured”

Hm, do you suppose it has something to do with halting illegal immigration? David Cameron, please note.

Headline of the day

With the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts currently in full swing, yesterday, actor Jude Law was among a group of actors who took part in an event to celebrate the art of letter writing ― which prompted this front page headline in the Western Mail:

   Hay Jude... Law stars at literature festival

10/10
 


Sunday, May 24th

Blowin’ in the wind ~ 1

Vatican City: Pope Francis’ skullcap takes flight during the weekly general audience
 

Hm, given the hot news from Ireland apropos gay marriage, perhaps Pope Francis should have been wearing a Dutch cap to avoid those troublesome little “Oops!” moments.
 

Blowin’ in the wind ~ 2

    Poo bus breaks wind to set land speed record
                                                  
(It’s number 1 at driving on number 2)

A bus powered by ‘cow dung’ has set a new land speed record after clocking just shy of 77mph on its official test run.

The ‘Bus Hound’ belongs to Reading Buses and it is now the fastest ever normal bus following its successful lap at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford.

It runs on biomethane compressed natural gas and is painted black and white like a Friesian cow. It normally carries passengers around Reading.

The UK Timing Association confirmed the new record.

And a few online comments to add fuel to the fire:

Arthur Low: When they ring the bell it goes dung-dung ... haw-haw.

Brian Murray: Does it run on pootrol?

Joy Edwards: What happens when it backfires?

Peter Metalli: But what about the skid marks?

Anyway, here
’s the driver ― no, not Stig of Top Gear fame, but Stink of Bottom Gear infamy ― letting it rip on that record run...


Cow poo bus breaks speed record
 

Hm, do you suppose the driver was paid extra, perhaps time and a turd? Or did he just get a pat on the back?

There, that’s the day’s juvenile moment done and dusted ― but I refuse point-blank to make the farting sound so beloved of modern comedy.
 


Saturday, May 23rd


                                         Shanti88

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I’ll begin. About a week ago I repeated a tale heard on the wireless, about the young schoolgirl reporting to her teacher that one of the boys was using the girls’ toilet ― she didn’t know which of the boys it was, but it was  a boy because his feet were pointing the wrong way.

Wonderful.

Well, this week I heard yet another delightful anecdote, again on the radio, this time on Vanessa Feltz’ early morning Radio 2 show, compliments of the daily Pause for Thought spot.

You know how men, usually, are these days finding ever more weird and wonderful ways to propose marriage to girlfriends, or indeed boyfriends?

Well, the Rev Dave Tomlinson, explorer of theology, spirituality and life in general, shared this marvellous story...

My Favourite Gift

Despite being a bit of a cliché, we all know that the best gifts really don’t have to cost a lot of money ― sincerity and imagination of course are much more important.

But one of my all time favourite gifts was between a lovely young couple I married. When I meet people for the first time to talk about their wedding I often ask how they met. Well, Will and Suzanne had one of the best stories ever.

Will was an artist and not long after they met he gave Suzanne a picture he’d painted just for her, which she very proudly hung on her bedroom wall.

A couple of years later he telephoned her from New York, where he was visiting on business. “I’d like you to take the picture I gave you down and tear it out of its frame,” he told her.

“Why on earth would I want to do that?” she asked incredulously.

“Just do it, please,” he replied. Well, against all her instincts, Suzanne reached for the picture, carefully removed it from its frame and took the whole thing apart ... only to discover there, on the back of the painting, in large, bold letters, the question: “SUZANNE, WOULD YOU PLEASE MARRY ME?”

From the moment they met, Will knew Suzanne was the one, yet for two years he kept schtum and, unbeknown to her, all that time, she’d slept with his proposal in her room every single night.

Suspicious of anyone who could possibly be so romantic, I mischievously enquired of Will how many other secret proposals hung on the walls of other women’s bedrooms.

I was assured this was the only one.

For me, the best presents are always the unexpected ones, rather than the customary birthday and Christmas gifts...
 


Friday, May 22nd
                                                                       
Life’s 90% rule

“I get along great with 90% of them, and a few I didn’t like at all.”
                                     Veteran American actor Burt Reynolds, 79, on his many co-stars.


Well, that’s true of the real world, too. I mean, 90% of humanity really does want to live in peace with the neighbours, whether it’s the house next door or indeed the country next door.

As you may have noticed, 90% of all the world’s problems ― whether on a personal or international level ― are generated by just 10% of the population. In other words, one in every 10 person is Trouble with a capital T. To be avoided at all costs.

Sadly, though, many of those one in 10 troublemakers go on to become the planet’s movers and shakers, hence the mess the world is in.

Meanwhile, on the sunny side of the street...

Yesterday I smiled, albeit incredulously, at Chris Evans and his Jeremy Clarkson interview.

Well, apropos nothing whatsoever to do with Jeremy, the other morning Chris delivered this throwaway line:
“Move to where the wild garlic grows.”

Chris duly interviewed the “Garlic Goddess”, a certain Natasha Edwards of The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight.

I learnt the following...

Wild Garlic, also known as ‘ramsoms’ or ‘buckrams’ ― or to give it its Latin name, Allium ursinum ― can be found growing prolifically in woodlands around the UK in the spring.

Wild garlic is particularly abundant in certain woodland areas on the Isle of Wight. You’ll usually find wild garlic in damp ground, in the shade of deciduous trees, in areas where you might also find bluebells, although they don’t often grow side by side.

Its aroma is the biggest giveaway; it smells very much the same as normal garlic. The wide elliptical leaves and small delicate star-shaped white flowers are easy to distinguish, but if you are at all unsure simply pluck a leaf, break and sniff to get that familiar garlic whiff...

Well, this time last year I shared with you my delight at regularly walking through a local wood where the wild garlic does indeed grow profusely.

And of course, unusually, in this particular wood the garlic grows alongside the bluebell. I posted a picture then ― actually, there’s also one featured alongside, in the Flower Power Gallery.

So I shall leave you with a picture which confirms that, I do indeed live where the wild garlic and bluebells grow...
 


Wild garlic and bluebells in perfect harmony at Castle Woods, Llandeilo
 

Chris Evans, I’m sure, would be impressed.
 


Thursday, May 21st
 
     0900hrs, BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans Breakfast Show:
Jeremy Clarkson has left the building ... Following much-trumpeted “first interview since departing the BBC” (under a dark cloud labelled fracas), Jeremy Clarkson goes on to tell Chris Evans absolutely nothing at all of interest. 

Well, nothing apart from the following, which we already knew anyway: that Jeremy’s sacking by the BBC following the well-documented fracas was “my own silly fault”, and that “I could  return to work at the BBC sometime in the future because I was not technically fired” (his contract was simply not renewed).

Also, he told us he had “absolutely no idea” what he would do next, keeping the rumoured House of Cars, probably with ITV, close to his chest.

Oh yes: “There are some dreadful people at the BBC, but some incredibly talented, brilliant people as well.”

So, definitely nothing that we didn’t already know, then.

Ho hum, just another day on celebrity’s Magic Roundabout...
 

Boing! “Time to rise and shine and enter the real world,” said Zebedee.


Talk of Jeremy Clarkson brings me to cars, naturally, and a couple of delightful letters spotted in The Sunday Times Driving section:

Read all about it

I was recently collecting my newspaper when the gentleman in front of me bought The Sun and the Daily Star. I followed him out of the shop. As I got into my Ford Mondeo, he was getting into his Rolls-Royce. I laughed for days.
E Paul Tuddenham, Felixstowe

Paper trail

Your correspondent who saw the Rolls-Royce driver buying copies of The Sun and the Daily Star need not draw any social conclusions from it. The driver was merely a chauffeur.
Peter Kurton, Shenfield, Essex

I laughed for days at that response. How witty and wise of Peter Kurton.

Last

As I put this together, the television in the corner of the room is tuned to Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final 2 ― well, the whole circus adds hugely to the joys of the passing parade.

My attention is drawn to the Swedish entry, the bookies’ favourite ... I am told to watch out for the clever combination of live act and graphics.

So I watch ... indeed, very clever, good song and I can see and hear why it’s a hot favourite.

Sweden is followed by Switzerland: very pretty girl, pleasant song, and she does a novel take on the memorable skirts-off routine as performed by Bucks Fizz back in 1981.

Sadly, Switzerland does not make the final, but I shall definitely watch out for Sweden on Saturday night.
 


Wednesday, May 20th

           I like a nice cup of tea, along with some toast and marmalade, in the morning

A couple of pictures and a few letters make up today’s smiles of the day.

Bridge over troubled waters

The first photo coming up features a cup of tea and an historic handshake. Yes, Prince Charles shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the National University of Ireland Galway at the start of his four-day visit to Ireland.

But what caught my eye was the cup of tea in Charles’s hand. Whenever I watch a drama or film and someone is poured a cup of tea or coffee, just a tiny amount is poured into said cup. It’s ridiculous and it distracts ― the magic spell is broken and you realise that you’re watching people pretending.

However, in the real world...

Yes, our cups are filled just a little bit too full, so when we have to move suddenly or shake hands ― bugger, tea or coffee spills into the saucer. See the tea sea, above.

It is such a smiley picture.

And then today, this headline, story and picture...

Plumber and second-hand car salesmen quizzed over Hatton Garden gem heist after
police officers arrest ‘Dad’s Army’ gang of nine men - including three pensioners 

Pensioner Brian Reader, 76, and son Paul, 50, were among those arrested

An emergency plumber and a father and son second-hand car dealers are among a ‘Dad’s Army’ of nine men with a combined age of 533 being questioned by police over the £60million Hatton Garden gem heist.

In all two men in their seventies, five more in their fifties and sixties, and two in their forties were held in simultaneous raids by 200 officers ― some of them armed ― at 12 addresses across London and Kent at 10.30am yesterday.

But this is the photo that made me chuckle...

A bad hair day

Pensioner Brian Reader, 76, helping police, etc

Now I don’t know how old Brian was in that photo, but what a hoot that mug shot (sic) is.

Mouldy old jam

Recently, I noticed a little bit of mould on my marmalade.

In fact, I read that this is because the amount of sugar in such things has been reduced. The result is that more water becomes available in the product to allow mould growth. This generally applies to jams and marmalades that contain less than about 65 per cent sugar.

Then I read this in The Daily Telegraph:

Boozy breakfast  

SIR – Due to a reduction in the amount of sugar in marmalade, it should apparently be kept in the fridge.
     An alternative method of preservation is to put a teaspoon of your favourite malt whisky in the pot of marmalade once it has been opened. This both prevents mould, and makes breakfast more convivial.
Charles Shea-Simonds, Pewsey, Wiltshire

Now that really did put a smile on my face. But hang about ― first though, a technical point:

Yes we cane

SIR – If you use cane preserving sugar, as opposed to beet sugar, when making marmalade, you will never need the services of the fridge .
Julie Grindal, Olveston, Gloucestershire

One for the road

SIR – Further to Mr Shea-Simonds’s advice, it would be wise to add a teaspoonful of malt whisky to the marmalade each time  the jar is opened.
Wallace Bowden, Denmead, Hampshire

I have taken the whisky path. Especially the Wallace Bowden scenic route, the high road, you might say.

Breakfast is definitely more agreeable. Hic!
 


Tuesday, May 19th

                               Believe it or don’t

“Photoshop may be 25-years-old this year, but many users are still making fantastic and hilarious mistakes...” MSN has just put together a picture gallery of 53 of the worst Photoshop errors ever.

Here’s my favourite...


You need hands to hold someone you care for;
You need hands to show that you’re sincere...


Repercussions following Obama’s ‘selfie’ with Danish prime minister
 Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the funeral of Nelson Mandela, perhaps?
Hell Thawing – shit no

On the other hand

When you’re the president of Russia, the last thing you need is Photoshop ― you just rearrange the world about you accordingly...

Who’s a pretty boy then?
(Don’t know about the others, though)


He shoots, he scores ... and scores ... and scores ... and scores ... and scores ...
and scores ... and scores ... and scores

Presidential privilege at work, rest and play? Old Mars Bar himself, Vladimir Putin, a powerful celebrity cult in his own right, achieves new goals as an ‘all-star’ ice hockey team led by the Russian president takes macho image to new levels.

Putin’s team won 18-6, with eight of those goals scored by the 62-year-old president himself.

Three of the other goals were scored by Russia’s defence minister.

During his 15 years as Russia’s leader, Putin has frequently displayed his athletic skills, most notably in judo and swimming. He took up hockey only in recent years to promote the sport.

I mean, you have to smile. I’m rather surprised that the opposition risked scoring six.

Rear-view mirror

My previous post, before going AWOL for a few days, explored whether we can use the words “I” and “me” correctly in a sentence. Remember the test given to primary school pupils in Sheerness, Kent? All they had to do was fill in the blanks with the appropriate pronoun.

“Hand ... the money before ... put a bullet through your head.”

Obviously, there was a fuss about that sentence.

Whatever, late afternoon today, I happened to catch a Cheers episode on Gold.

Diane Chambers, the intelligent but somewhat snobby waitress, is discussing Sam ‘Mayday’ Malone, the womanising bar owner, with “NORM! Peterson, THE bar regular. Listening to the conversation is Woody Boyd, the not-so-bright but likeable barman, along with Carla Tortelli, the wisecracking but cynical cocktail waitress.

Right, here we go...

Diane (to Norm, discussing Sam):  “Methinks the man doth protest too much.”

Woody:  “Excuse me, Miss Chambers, but shouldn’t that be ‘I thinks---‘?”

Carla:  “Not in your case, Woody.”
 

Saturday, May 16th > > > > Monday, May 18th


Friday, May 15th

University of Life > > > This Way

Sign Language: Spotted outside Guildford High School,
 Greensboro, North Carolina

And this, spotted in Rod Liddle’s Sunday Times  column:

                                
Is you I or is you me?

Can you use the words “I” and “me” correctly in a sentence? Have a go at this test that was given to primary school pupils in Sheerness, Kent. All you have to do is fill in the blanks with the appropriate pronoun.

“Hand ... the money before ... put a bullet through your head.”

Needless to say, parents were not wildly impressed at this attempt at ‘gangsta’ imagery. The really bright kids might have attempted to please their teachers by adding a couple of colourful adjectives, too ― before “money” and “head”, just to make it more authentic.

But what if the person speaking were a Rastafarian? Then it would be: “Hand I the money before me shoot you in the head.” Me hope they allowed for such linguistic diversity. It would be nice to think the Tories might end this sort of cringe-worthy crowd-pleasing by the educationalists, wouldn’t it?

I wasn’t sure whether to believe that story or not, even if it was in The Sunday Times. So I sent Ivor the Search Engine  to seek out the offending sentence ... and yes indeedy, lots online about it.

Eastchurch Primary School in Sheerness, Kent, has since apologised to parents and said the resource wasn’t checked before the homework sheet was sent home with children.

The resource? What a curious use of language. All round, really.

Miss
! Miss!

Just to balance the books, I enjoy listening to Radio Cymru (the BBC’s Welsh language station), in particular the regular weekday Bore Cothi, a magazine-style programme of music and chat, which also features a ‘Book of the week’ spot.

This week it was ‘Ody’r Teid Yn Mynd Mas?’ ― Is The Tide Going Out? ― the memoirs of Mair Garnon James, 87, from St Dogmaels near Cardigan, who has spent her life serving her community as a teacher, comic, lay preacher, Justice of the Peace, and eisteddfod adjudicator amongst many others roles.

As a compère and entertainer she has become well known over the years especially amongst the various societies she has entertained...

                                               

In the book, Mair Garnon tells a tale that deserves to be shared beyond those of us who speak Welsh.

The incident happened when she was a teacher in a primary school in west Wales...

“One of the older girls came rushing up, eager to tell a tale out of school, so to speak: ‘Miss
! One of the boys is using the girls’ toilet.’ Who is it then? I asked. ‘I don’t know, Miss.’ So how do you know it’s one of the boys? ‘Because his feet are pointing the wrong way.’ And I said to myself, this girl’s going to get on in the world.”

After I’d finished loling, my mind was split in two. Half of me wanted to know what really did  happen to that young girl. And the other half was happy to accept that her name was probably Margaret Hilda Roberts.

If you’re unsure, that particular little girl grew up to be Margaret Thatcher.
 


Thursday, May 14th

                               Saw you coming

LAST Tuesday I featured some glorious examples of the confusion dished out in the media about food, diets and health.

Yesterday I happened to read a Sunday Times  Choice preview of a television programme that was broadcast last night:

The World’s Most Expensive Food (C4, 8pm)

Caviar at £24,000 a tin; coffee at £300 a cup made from beans excreted by the cat-like civet (yes, you read that correctly); two of the luxury comestibles flogged to the rich by canny sales people who tell them how clever they are for choosing “the best”.

One woman says with a straight face that “my smoked salmon man” plays jazz music to the fish to make their flesh taste better. This series appears to be agitprop for some coming revolution.

I’m sorry I missed it. It would have added to my understanding of the doolallyness consuming humanity.

Oh yes, ‘agitprop’, not a word heard in the Bible (I think) or in the Asterisk bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon (definitely). So, every day is a day at school: agitprop - political propaganda, especially favouring communism and disseminated through literature, drama, art, or music.

Anyway, sticking with The Sunday Times  and the You say columns, where readers offer up comments on television and radio programmes.

There’s been a Sunday night television series running over the past few months, Poldark, a remake of the late-1970s adaptations of Winston Graham’s novels.

It is 1783, and Poldark returns from war in America to find his father dead, the family home and mine in ruins, his intended bride, Elizabeth, engaged to another, and a bullied waif, Demelza, in need of protection...

I never saw the series ― not my cup of tea ― but I’ve enjoyed the mixed reviews. Here’s a brief selection of the more negative ones, which are much more fun:

The return to our screens of the tedious 1970s bodice-ripper Poldark must signal that BBC drama commissioners have forgotten their commitment to original British drama. Lazy, cynical programme commissioning at its worst.
Geoffrey Lewis-Hallett

Nobody has mentioned the outrageous remark by Poldark himself. Looking at the camera, he mused: “Schoolboy
error.”
! ! Can you believe that? This is a modern phrase and schoolboys were relatively rare in those days anyway. Unbelievable.
Malcolm Harrower

The “Downton dialogue moment” has struck again. Ross to the departing Elizabeth: “I’ll see you out.” Very Cornish, very Downton.
Alec Travers

What, no comments about the Poldark family consuming swan at Christmas?
Barry Thrower

The sun rose towards the left. I have no doubt to which side Poldark dresses.
Gerard Stamp

“Wat’s goin arn? The sun be raisin’ in the west
!
Roger Robinson-Brown

There are spots in Cornwall, St Ives being one, where the sun can be seen rising over the sea. Grockles
!
Greg Gordon

So there. But hang on. Grockles? Grockle: an informal and often slightly derogatory term for a tourist, particularly used in the South of England.

Surely the most puzzling thing about Poldark was the credit “Created and written by Debbie Horsfield”. How can you create characters that already exist?
John Lee

All the above comments lead to one particularly memorable one:

I quote from a review by Clive James of the original series some 40 years ago: “I have just realised that Poldark is an anagram of ‘Old Krap’. I rest my case.”
David Jones

Final thought

Yesterday, I smiled my appreciation of Wales’s very own Broad Church. Yes, good old Charlotte.

There is a postscript to this delightful “champagne socialist”, whose personal fortune is said to have dropped from £25m to £11m: “I’ve got enough to be comfortable, if I was reasonable, for the rest of my life, but I’m not reasonable. So I will have to find a way to sustain my lifestyle.”

I mean, you have to smile. She does add to the joys of the passing parade. Let’s hope Charlotte can get that boxing match with Katie Hopkins up and punching. Superior footwork at all times, Charlotte.
 


Wednesday, May 13th

Whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes, um, er...

General Election 2015: ‘Voice of an angel’ Charlotte Church ‘mad as hell’
as she joins Cardiff protest following Conservative majority

Welsh singer Charlotte Church took to the streets to air her views on the “utterly intolerable” Conservative party at an anti-austerity rally in Cardiff after David Cameron’s party swept back into power.

Speaking at the rally, organised by Cardiff People’s Assembly , the 29-year-old said: “This week the UK masochistically condemned itself to five years of Tory rule...”

And then, as if by magic, something wonderfully doolally unfolded in front of our very eyes, compliments of what else but ― ta-rah ― that glorious ship of fools, Twitter.

It began when a magnificently loud-mouthed and controversial Sun columnist Katie Hopkins and Wales’s very own broad Church become locked in a thoroughly entertaining war of words after the multi-millionaire singer was condemned as a “champagne socialist” for marching against austerity.

Tweetie Pie Corner

    Indeed, it was a right old Carry On Slebs...

Charlotte Church @charlottechurch
“The politics of fear is the politics of control and we’ve given the reigns to the bogey men.”


Charlotte again:
“Devestated #lostfaithinhumanity”

Now enter the Wicked Witch of The Sun...

Katie Hopkins @KTHopkins
Oi
! @charlottechurch wind your neck in. Your Welsh AND you lost. Own your problems.”

Charlotte responds...
@KTHopkins I have no interest in ever conversing with you. You lack humility AND you can’t spell. Parasite.”

Oh dear, BIG mistake, our Charlotte: never, ever criticise spelling and punctuation unless you’re an expert yourself. Share a smile, yes, otherwise we are talking AMBUSH territory.

Anyway, a third party intervenes:

Tariq James Hilton @TeeJay2201
“@charlottechurch Uh oh, I see a charity boxing match.”


Charlotte responds to Tariq:
“I’d relish to opportunity to lawfully smash her face in.”

What did I say about that ambush? Charlotte makes an error within a couple of posts: “I’d relish to  opportunity...” Hm, an ‘h’ missing in action, presumed lost in space.

Anyway, Charlotte issues the challenge direct to Katie Hopkins:
“Fancy a charity boxing match?”

Katie responds:
“Charity boxing match? I’d make a cheap gag you’d be punching above your weight. But at welterweight...”

Methinks Katie missed a trick there by not going for the lowest weight class, Mini Flyweight, and really putting the boot in, so to speak.

Then someone on the wireless said: “Forget Mayweather-Pacquiao, the real fight of the century could be a lot closer to home.”

Sadly though, the Church-Hopkins pre-fight, loud-mouth sparring came to a sudden stop.

                     Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat  AS HELL
 


Tuesday, May 12th
“Anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation.”
                                     Ed Murrow (1908-1965), US journalist on the Vietnam war in The Impossible Irish (1969).

That quotation is so true about so many things in life. Take food, diets and health. Here are three clickbait headlines which featured recently on a newspaper’s online homepage:

        Could a sweet tooth lead to Alzheimer’s?

A new study has revealed high blood sugar levels could be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease

And this, sitting alongside the above:

             High-protein diets could do more harm than good ... a

                high-protein diet is as bad for health as smoking

Turbo-charging our diets with added protein could cause kidney damage and harm the digestive system, so are we eating too much of it?

Finally, this:

                  Is yogurt the secret to easing hay fever?

Probiotics, the friendly bacteria found in yogurt, can ‘relieve sneezing and itchy eyes’

And then today, these three clickbaits on the same home page of another newspaper:

               Is your BEDROOM making you fat? Bright lights

                and street lamps ‘could be causing weight gain’

Being exposed to too much light at night ― from street lamps and mobile phones ― disrupts the body clock and causes weight gain, researches from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, found


            Green is good ... or is it? As nutritionists say some contain

               more calories than a bowl of pasta, FEMAIL reveal the

                  red sugar content of your favourite ‘healthy’ juices

Sydney dietitian Susie Burrell says adding fruit to your Kale juice can have devastating effects on calorie content. Given that some juices contain more than 10tsp of sugar, how does your favourite rate?

              Why everything you think you know about diets is wrong

Genetics expert reveals counting calories is a waste of time, bacteria in your gut makes you fat ― and cheese, alcohol and chocolate are all good for you

Phew. I adore cheese and chocolate ― and I’m quite partial to a bit of alcohol.

Oh, and I enjoyed this Rod Liddle quote after he learnt that the famous Atkins diet, “which almost all women 
are on, a) makes you fat and b) kills you”
.

Rod continues: “Incidentally, I saw this stuff in a newspaper under the headline: ‘Atkins dieters 59% more likely to die’. So I assume that as someone who isn’t on the fatuous diet, I have an almost 60% chance of being immortal. Which, frankly, is rather what I expected and no less than I deserve.”

What was it Ed Murrow said? “Anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation.”

Doolallyness is all around and thriving.
 


Monday, May 11th
“There are those who spend millions buying up van Goghs, Picassos, Turners and Monets to hang on their walls ― yet all you need do is stop and look around you ... there are Old Masters everywhere: the flowers, the trees, the clouds ― and they don’t cost a penny.” Spike Milligan (1918-2002), enlightens his three young children while playing Cowboys and Indians with them in the garden.
 

50 Shades of Green

Dinefwr Castle in the Towy Valley greets spring 2015
 

EVERY autumn we glory in the celebrated colours of the leaves as they prepare to abandon their mother ship.

But actually, a similar phenomenon unfolds every spring. For a few brief weeks, when the trees begin to burst into leaf, we are treated to a glorious spectrum of green colours ------ and then, suddenly, all the leaves have morphed into a kind of uniform Sherwood green.

The photograph on today’s welcome mat, captured a couple of weeks or so ago, highlights this visual treat to perfection ― and I have only captured the scene with a rather basic camera, which doesn’t do the view proper justice. Still, it is an eye-catching range of colours.

As it happens, it was a somewhat overcast morning, and curiously, the colours are more distinctive when the sun isn’t shinning. The same is true of bluebell woods..

Just around the corner from the castle, on a different morning, and a sun-shinny one at that, I came across another attention-grabbing sight...

The green leaves of spring

A couple of trees shout hello
 

Those two trees stood out like beacons, mostly because they are surrounded by oak trees, and of course the oak, excepting sometimes the ash, is the last to come into leaf, so they are still somewhat colourless.

I recognised the bottom tree as a sycamore ― but the one at the top rather puzzled me.

This part of Castle Woods is exceedingly steep so I decided that, the following morning, I would approach the tree from the top, from the other side of the wood.

As it happens it was quite an adventure to actually climb down through the wood to reach the tree, mostly because of how steep it was.

When I neared the tree I instantly recognised it as a beech ― and what a magnificent specimen it is, and exceedingly tall. It is nearly as tall as the trees growing on the flat ground at the top.

Every time I pass those two trees now I always look at them with much wonder. And think of Spike Milligan and his words of wisdom to the kids. But both trees are slowly being swallowed by a tide of amorphous green sweeping through the woods.

Ah yes, the joys of the Towy Valley.
 

Sunday, May 10th

                            D’oh!²

MEANWHILE, back on the post-election front...

The Sunday papers were, quite naturally, awash with election post-mortems. I mean, how on earth did Labour and the Liberal Democrats die a thousand deaths, against all the odds?

Anyway, as per usual my eye was drawn to the more amusing side of things, especially so a collection of the best election tweets.

The other day I mentioned how wonderfully entertaining newspaper cartoonists are. But of course social media, especially Twitter, makes anyone and everyone blessed with an active imagination a potential cartoonist.

For example, this brilliantly clever tweet, which deservedly drew the accolade ‘Most Accurate Election Map 2015’:
 

Peter Lloyd @Suffragentleman

“The UK’s political landscape is starting to
look a LOT like Maggie Simpson.”

That really is funny. Especially so as Maggie looks suspiciously like Nicola Sturgeon to me. It’s the dummy that gives the game away (Labour). Oh, and the bow tie in her hair (Tory).

However, in  a stand-and-stare context, this is where it starts to get interesting for our Nicola. So far she has been driving a nippy little Mini Cooper around the M25, at 70mph, in the fast lane, with nothing ahead but a clear road and the odd speed camera.

From tomorrow, though, and as leader of the SNP, she will find herself in an F1 machine belting around Silverstone, an unforgiving place where other drivers will be determined to see her in the gravel (witness Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage ― who has now actually made it back onto the track).

It should make for interesting viewing.

Do not cross

I also enjoyed the following tale, compliments of Daniel Finkelstein in his Saturday Notebook column in The Times.

First, a few dots need joining up: Danny Finkelstein is also Baron Finkelstein of Pinner, a member of the Lords, and he pointed out that he was not allowed to vote last Thursday: “It’s an ancient part of common law, apparently, that bars peers because they already exercise a vote in parliament.”

He continued:

A friend of mine who was a famous MP and is now a peer came back through customs and was asked whether he was returning to the country to vote. He explained that he wasn’t allowed to. “They bar Lords, criminals and lunatics,” he said.

“Ah,” replied the customs man. “That must be difficult for you. Forbidden on three counts.”

Many a true word...
 


Saturday, May 9th

TIME for a bit of light relief following all the election stuff and nonsense.

So, a couple of letters spotted in the newspapers during the election campaign. The first from the Daily Mail:


Windows update

Ring! Ring! “Hello, my name is Mychaeeeel and I am from Windows repair.”

“Thank you, but my windows are all OK.” Click.

Ring! Ring!

“Why you put the phone down on me, stupid old woman? I am talking about your Windows computer problem.”

“Ummmmm. Old I undoubtedly am, but I’m pretty certain I would need to have  a computer before it would need repairing, stupid boy!

Replace receiver and I settle back to solving my crossword with no electronic assistance needed...
Suzanne Sainsbury, Plymstock, Devon

And this in The Times:

Caught in the act

Sir, Robert Campton’s article on bathroom cabinet snooping (Apr 28) reminded me of a friend who filled his bathroom cabinet with table tennis balls when he had guests.
     He found it amusing to see the snoopers’ faces when eventually they emerged from the bathroom after much clattering and after having spent a significant amount of time repacking the shelves.
John Kenny, Acle, Norfolk

While that is  rather amusing, I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to play such a trick. And anyway, imagine the hassle involved in filling the cabinet with balls in the first place ... I’m not sure how you could do it to proper effect. How would you build up and keep the balls in the cabinet before closing the door?

I would rather make sure I kept nothing in the cabinet that would draw attention and curious conclusions from visitors to the bathroom. Avoid the ambush.
 


Friday, May 8th

                           The winner takes it all

WHO would have thought when I signed off last night and posted yesterday’s smile, at around 9 o’clock ― with opinion poll after opinion poll showing the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck and a complicated hung Parliament in the offing ― that within 20 hours David Cameron had been to Buckingham Palace, with Alice (or was it Samantha?), to see the Queen and would be confirming his new Tory Cabinet appointments.

The clue came at 10 o’clock last night when the exit poll indicated that all previous opinion polls were hopelessly wrong and a Conservative win looked likely.

Quite obviously voters in England had taken note of the UK political version of the Green Cross Code I mentioned yesterday: Before you cross the yellow brick road to reach the privacy of the voting booth, look left ... look right – and this election more than ever – look left again, and watch out for the yellow-black mini bus with a Scottish joy rider at the wheel recklessly overtaking the big red Routemaster already trundling towards you.

Astonishing election result, though.

Be all that as it may, today I was perusing online the best moments of the television coverage of the election results by the various broadcasters, and this tweet caught my eye ... compliments of Channel 4’s coverage, hosted by Jeremy Paxman...

@Channel4News


 

As I did not vote, I suddenly feel exceedingly moron-ish.

But hang about, remember this from the other day?

“I do think on the ballot paper there ought to be a box, at the bottom, that says none of the above. Because once most of us are doing that then the message might get through that the choice on offer is not really satisfactory.”

Yes of course, Jeremy Paxman, above, former BBC Newsnight and now occasional Channel 4 presenter.

As mentioned yesterday, I only recently discovered that there’s The Above and Beyond Party, and that it’s campaigning on one single issue ― the mandatory instalment of a ‘none of the above’ option on all ballot papers for all UK general elections ― indeed, if that party was standing in my constituency, I’d have voted for it.

Actually, I can’t remember ever voting in a general election ― but I do tend to vote in local elections because I am able to form a measured opinion apropos the ethics, morality and honesty of the candidates.

As for a general election ... well, an election is the only time in a democracy where I am allowed to be totally selfish, and think only of my own needs. After all, you have your own vote so I don’t have to consider your needs.

Yes, there are still issues worth pondering: the care of the vulnerable ― the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and those people who can’t work ― and of course the constitution, indeed the survival of democracy itself. But to do that I must have absolute trust in the party I vote for. And there’s the problem.

So, given my particular circumstances in life, it doesn’t really make any difference to me which party is in power. However, I do appreciate that in not voting I forfeit the right to criticise the party that actually wins. Which I accept.

But I do retain the option to criticise politicians in their own right. After all, they are the very reason I don’t vote.

Mind you, now that it looks as if we are going to have a referendum on the EU, I am 99% certain that I will vote in that. If spared, obviously.
 


Thursday, May 7th
(Election Day, 2015)

CARTOONISTS are by definition funny and amusing, in their own distinct way ― witty, clever, cruel, ironic, whatever ― but MATT  of The Daily Telegraph  remains master of the laugh-out-loud moment. Every time I look at the above I can’t stop loling. Brilliant.

Cross with care

So, did I vote?

Well, there’s a current UK political variation on that Green Cross Code we were taught as children.

Before you cross the yellow brick road to reach the privacy of the voting booth, always look left ... look right ― and this election more than ever ― look left again, and watch out for the yellow-black mini bus with a Scottish joy rider at the wheel recklessly overtaking the big red Routemaster already trundling towards you.

After all, the last thing the United Kingdom needs is an epitaph which reads: “Run over by a bus. RIP (Rust In Pieces).”

So I decided not to vote.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have only just discovered that there’s The Above and Beyond Party, and that it’s campaigning on one single issue ― the mandatory instalment of a ‘none of the above’ option on all ballot papers for all UK general elections.

As the party isn’t standing in my constituency ― well, I’ll pass on this election, again.

Be all that as it may, time for my favourite joke of this election campaign.

Well, it just had to be Boris for some clever word play ― for those not familiar with British politics, Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party) are mostly taking votes off the Tories and thus will, perhaps, allow Labour in through the side gate ― not withstanding the prediction that the SNP (Scottish National Party) looks likely to shaft Labour with Balls on ― oops, with bells on.

So six of Tory, half-a-dozen of Labour...

Anyway, the Boris joke:


“If you vote Tory, you get broadband.
If you vote Ukip, you get Miliband.”

As we await to see if we get broadband or Miliband (with a side dish of haggis soaked in Scotch whisky), it is likely to be a desperately close run thing, at least according to the polls.

So it set me thinking...

Spot the X

Pollsters, as a rule, boast an impressive track record. Especially so as they only actually need to question a thousand carefully selected individuals ― which rather proves that there are only a thousand human blueprints, which in turn suggests that at any given time the nation boasts a thousand false gods which we all follow like sheep, Russell Brand being the latest example of such a god.

Just occasionally, though, the pollsters get it spectacularly wrong, the exception that challenges the rule.

With luck and a tail wind, today will be such a day. As to whether the ships or the hardships berth with a working majority at Westminster ― well, sometimes you just have to trust that the gods are paying attention.

An early night is called for...
 

Wednesday, May 6th

                 Just one sleep to go (before Saint Nicola comes down our chimneys)
“I wouldn’t trust Miliband, Cameron and Clegg to save a penalty in a one-foot goal, let alone the country.” Piers Morgan, a major minor meeja man.

Mind you, I wouldn’t trust Piers to score a penalty in a one-mile wide goal with Jeremy Clarkson as goalkeeper (well, he’d aim the ball at Clarkson’s head, of course).

Whatever, back with the MCC triumpirate (Miliband, Cameron, Clegg) ... the following election quote and picture, compliments of the Telegraph:


Here’s looking at you, kids ... Nick Clegg
wishes good cheer to his opponents
 

However, I believe Mr Clegg has got it the wrong way round. He should add a brain to a Conservative government and a heart to a Labour one.

Whenever I look at Mr Miliband ― well, he reminds me of Tin Man:
 

    
 

So, if Mr Miliband is Tin Man, then Mr Cameron is the Scarecrow ― and of course, by default, Mr Clegg has to be the Lion. I know, I know, but you have to suspend absolute belief a little, hereabouts.

Self drive: “What’s driving me mad about Ed Miliband? I’ll tell you what’s driving me mad: he keeps asking himself questions then answering them. ‘What do I want for this country? I’ll tell you what I want for this country’ ... Stop it!Kate Edwards of York in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Wonderfully observant, Kate. And I particularly enjoyed that final instruction to Tin Man.

Oh yes, somebody wondered aloud down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon if putting election posters in windows or display boards in fences and in fields actually have any effect. Good question.

Anyway, there was a kind of response in The Times:

Otherwise engaged

Sir, Helen Rumbelow (Notebook, May 1) suggests that displaying party election posters at home indicates somebody is a nutter. Rather, I suggest it is a perfectly sane statement saying to canvassers: “I’ve already decided, don’t bother me.”
Sebastian Marr, Chippenham, Wiltshire

Good one, Sebastian.

“I do think on the ballot paper there ought to be a box, at the bottom, that says none of the above. Because once most of us are doing that then the message might get through that the choice on offer is not really satisfactory.” Jeremy Paxman, former BBC Newsnight presenter and a major Major meeja man.

Only today did I discover that there’s The Above and Beyond Party, and that it’s campaigning on one single issue ― the mandatory instalment of a ‘none of the above’ option on all ballot papers for all UK general elections.

Sadly, the party is only standing in five seats. If it had been standing in the Carmarthen East & Dinefwr Constituency, I would vote for it ― and I am enough of a nutter to put their election poster in the window.

So there. Bollocks to Helen Rumbelow of The Times.

 

Tuesday, May 5th

                        Saint Nicola of Glasgow Southside

  “Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to escape scrutiny is one of the mysteries of this election campaign.” Michael Grade aka Baron Grade of Yarmouth, 72, English television executive and businessman.
 

I see no hardships, only ships of fortune

Nicola Sturgeon, 44, Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP)
 

Toy Town

From behind the sofa, through slightly parted fingers, I have a theory about Saint Nicola and her seemingly unstoppable climb onto the roof of the UK.

Given the way of today’s television advertising, could it be that the presumed success of the SNP at Thursday’s election will be down to a clever marketing ploy i.e. everyone who votes for the party will be rewarded with either:

1) a Salmond ‘X-me-quick’ Superman, a curio that can actually kiss itself;

2) a Sexy Sturgeon blow up doll, which inflates itself at the slightest encouragement;

3) for those eager to sign up to something called the SRA, a Guy McFawkes toy resplendent in kilt and, hidden under said skirt, a beumb (as Inspector Clouseau would say).

If I were qualified to vote, I would plump for the blow up doll, assuming of course that it has a very long flex with plunger attached.
 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson greets Saint Nicola Sturgeon

Actually, I tell a lie: a lion trainer has her face washed at the National Circus
at the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Bugger, what a shame.

One for the road:  “Nicola Sturgeon isn’t fit to lace Nigel Farage’s drinks.”
                                    George Valentine of Rotherham in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Sturgeon’s power:  “It is absurd to think that the SNP could hold a Labour administration to ransom over defence. The Conservative party would be obliged to vote with the government, and the SNP would be irrelevant.” Charles DB Pugh of London SW10 in a letter to The Times.

Blowing in the wind:  “After the election, will it be mandatory for the National Anthem to be played on the bagpipes?”
Ray Smith of Truro in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Mind you, it is said that when God wants a good laugh he asks Nicola what her plans are. We will see.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘McFawkes’ ― as in Guy McFawkes and his beumb ― curiously, came up as ‘Cakes’. Eh? Guy Cakes? What’s Mary Berry up to when nobody’s looking?
 

Monday, May 4th

                  Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to spin we go

WELL, having personally avoided as much as possible of all the election nonsense falling from the sky over the past six weeks or so, the race is now into the home stretch, so over the next few days I’ll share with you my Look You moments.

It started back at the beginning of April, when Julie Etchingham hosted a live seven-way TV debate between the leaders of the major political parties...


We spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin,
In our job we spin the whole day through...


Host Julie Etchingham with, from left, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Lib Dem leader
Nick Clegg, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader
Leanne Wood, SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron
 

As soon as I saw the above picture ― well, you know how Look You works...
 


In no particular order: Doc (Natalie Bennett), Grumpy (Nicola Sturgeon), Happy (Nigel Farage),
Sleepy (Nick Clegg), Bashful (Leanne Wood), Sneezy (David Cameron) and Dopey (Ed Miliband)
 

We British must stick together

Actually, a couple of days before the aforementioned seven-way ITV debate, I was watching the wonderful Dad’s Army episode where the platoon dresses up as fifth columnists ― and I couldn’t help but think of political broadcasts in terms of popular sitcoms.

     Conservatives: It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (hot in the kitchen, obviously).

     Labour: Only Fools and Horses (or more correctly, Only Fools and Horses Work ― see trade union manual).

     Green Party:  'Allo 'Allo! (Good Moaning).

     Liberal Democrats: Dad’s Army (Stupid boy).

     Ukip: Hi-de-Hi! (Hello campers).

     Plaid Cymru: High Hopes (where’s Sinatra when you need him?).

     SNP: Are You Being Served? (Nicola Sturgeon is of course Mrs Slocombe: “Captain Peacock [Alex Salmond], have you seen my pussy?”)

If I had to pick just one character to represent a politician, it would be Punkah Wallah Rumzan from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Indeed, my favourite sitcom line comes from the mouth of Punkah Wallah, and yes, even pushing Captain Mainwaring’s “Don’t tell him, Pike” off the top step: “We British must stick together.”

And who else, sitting outside No 10 dispensing classic insight, wit and wisdom, but Boris ‘Pukka Wallah’ Johnson.
 

Sunday, May 3rd


You say “toe-may-toe”, I say “toe-mah-toe”,
You say veggie, I say fruity,
Let's call the whole thing off...


Now c’mon, how totally clever and smiley are those Fruity Cuties?
 

And so to business: a letter spotted in the Telegraph:

Tomato carnage

SIR – Do any of your readers have any tips on how to remove the ring-pull lid from a tin of tomatoes without giving the kitchen the appearance of an abattoir?
Carol Thompson, Shepperton, Middlesex

Well?

bob3: Simple really, open the tin in the living room.

Grumpy Old Fool: Every tin has two ends. If Carol Thompson can’t manage the ring-pull, one option is to turn the tin upside-down and use a conventional tin-opener to open the bottom.

Peter de Snoo: An easy way to open a ring-pull lid is to insert the handle of a small wooden spoon in the ring and lever off the lid.


Curiously, after lifting the ring to pierce the can, I insert my index finger into the ring to pull, then press my thumb against the lid as a counter pressure, which means that the lid does not shoot back and splash the contents all over the shop.

Every day a day at school: A touch of wisdom

Q.  What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
A.  Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Incidentally, what is it that makes a tomato a fruit rather than a vegetable? Well, a tomato has seeds, so technically i.e. botanically, you have a fruit.

So what precisely is wisdom? Well...

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” William James (1842-1910), The Principles of Psychology (published 1890)

Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans recently introduced Rabbi Julia Neuberger on Pause For Thought as being “so wise”. I have no idea the truth of that, or indeed if Evans had confused cleverness, intelligence and Christian belief with wisdom.

For example, George Bush and Tony Blair were clever in toppling Saddam Hussein, but lacked wisdom in not sensing what sort of lethal monster would rise from the tribal ashes of the Arab world.

I have noted in those I personally know ― family, friends, colleagues, the community, the fellow down the pub, the lady at the church hall ― that wisdom strolls through time as if someone is clearing a path for it.

A truly wise individual appears to possess a combination of peripheral and lateral vision i.e. the ability to spot or sense an ambush at the margins, long before it appears directly ahead. It’s a rare and remarkable genetic hand-me-down.
 


Saturday, May 2nd

THIS, compliments of Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times:

                                
Oilseed on rape charge

Trouble in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, a tiny town in Canada renowned for its bee-keeping and production of oilseed rape. For 60 years, then, people arriving in Tisdale have been greeted by the sign “Land of Rape and Honey”.

Not for much longer. There have been vociferous complaints that this slogan glorifies violence against women.

Presumably by people who cannot understand the concept that some words can mean two different things. Or do understand it but just want to cause trouble anyhow.

I wonder if this sort of revisionism will spread a few thousand miles east to Newfoundland and the vibrant town of Dildo.

Hm, never mind Dildo, what about here in the UK?

For example: Cockintake in Staffordshire? Cockplay in Northumberland? Three Cocks in Breconshire? Inchmore in Inverness? Shaggs in Dorset? Twatt in Orkney? Sodom in Denbighshire? Titty Ho in Northamptonshire (where wolf-whistling is strictly prohibited)?

These are real places ― and a whole lot more, actually. What a colourful history we have here in Britain.

Oh yes, all those wonderful place names made me think of the fellow mentioned hereabouts yesterday: Billy Bonk.

A wise word

“Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother.” W Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), a British playwright, novelist and short story writer, from A Writer’s Notebook (written in 1896 but not published until 1949).

That quote brought to mind this letter from a couple of months back, spotted in The Daily Telegraph:

Wheely embarrassing  

SIR – I feel for David Beckham’s son, who is embarrassed by his father’s words of endearment when being dropped off at school. Pity my two children who insisted that they were dropped off a quarter of a mile from school as their mother drove a Reliant Robin.
S W Pearson,
Darlington, Co Durham

Oh dear, so funny. And I also stumbled upon this in the same file, again from last February:

Eating for Britain

SIR – Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, exhorts us all to “take advantage” of cheap petrol and food “while it lasts”.
     My wife and I intend to do our bit by driving rather than walking whenever possible and increasing our food consumption at every opportunity.
Roger Andrews, Tarrant Gunville, Dorset
 


Friday, May 1st

                                  Stars and stripes

DURING my brief absence from Look You, I had noted the tale of a disgruntled London homeowner who, as revenge on neighbours who objected to her basement extension, painted red and white stripes on the façade of her £15 million house.

The gloriously named Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 71, irritated her Kensington neighbours when she covered the house in the fresh paint after her request to extend the property to create a two-storey super basement with a pool was resolutely rejected by her local council.

Residents have variously described the house as a ‘beach hut’, ‘circus tent’, ‘barber’s pole’ or ‘stick-of-rock’ (presumably with ‘Up yours’ written right through it, between the lines).

Anyway, I’ve just spotted this clickbait headline:
 

£15m townhouse located in exclusive London area is stripped of its
stripes: Kensington & Chelsea Council orders owner to repaint
 ‘eyesore’ after complaints it looks like a ‘seaside house’


  “That striped house looks very nice, but horizontal stripes would have given it a broader appeal.” Richard J. Pickering of Leicester, in a letter to the Daily Mail.  

Meanwhile, more clickbait stuff...

Not Klassy! Myleene Klass turns the air blue on Countdown with ‘g******e’

I stared long and hard at that ― but I couldn’t for the life of me work out what the asterisked word actually was. So I whistled for Ivor the Search Engine...

Well, well, every day is indeed a day at school: gobshite.

Nickname of the week

Heard on last Saturday morning’s Money for Nothing on Radio Wales, a request show featuring music from the Fifties through to the early Eighties.

Owen Money, the host, read out this dedication: “Please say happy birthday to Billy Bonk...” A momentary pause and a gentle chuckle from Owen ― he continues. “From all the family in Cymmer [a small village in Neath Port Talbot].”

What a glorious nickname. At least, I presume that it is a nickname.

                                                                                                                                                                          Home


                                                                   Home
                                                                   Previously on Look You...
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2015: Apr
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2015: Mar
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2015: Feb
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2015: Jan
                                                                  
Smile of the day 2014: Dec
                                                                  
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 2015: Apr
Smile of the day 2015: Mar
Smile of the day 2015: Feb
Smile of the day 2015: Jan
Smile of the day 2014: Dec
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

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

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


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

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