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

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Updated: 11/08/2013

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400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013

                                                                                        Design: Yosida

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

                                                                               ...and everyday a doolally smile of the day
PS: The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
Contact Me
Tuesday, June 30th 2015

                            Another walk on the wild side

THERE I was, about 90 minutes into my early-morning walk, strolling along a track through Castle Woods, I round a bend and approach a gate that leads into a hay meadow ― and I freeze...

There, some 250 yards/metres/strides away, three deer are peacefully grazing and minding their own business in the gloriously sunny and relaxing start to the day.

I gently lift the camera that’s hanging around my neck up to eye level, and as I do I remove the lens cap and switch on.

At that moment, one of the deer senses my presence ― I’m in shadow, hugging the hedge, what little breeze there is blows in my face ― somehow though, that deer knows I’m watching it. Probably it’s the gentle beep-beep sound the camera makes as it switches on that actually alerts it.

After all, deer do have extremely sensitive hearing what with those biggish ears.

Whatever the reason, the creature knows I’m there ... I click...


The other two deer instantly look up and towards what I presume was the ‘click’ of the camera ... they stare in my direction, unsure what to make of me and my curious sound ... I click again...


And with that second ‘click’ they switch from yellow-alert to red-alert ― and they engage warp-drive...


It’s as glorious a moment as I’ve experienced highlighting how clever animals are at sensing and detecting danger all around them.

Those three deer rightly claim my exclusive smile of the day.


Monday, June 29th

                           Top Gear and the afterlife

LAST night, Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear took its final pit stop and was unceremoniously retired from the race in the wake of the infamous steak-gate fracas, when Clarkson thumped an inattentive junior producer. (I still ponder why we have not seen any footage of the incident, given that the whole shemozzle was witnessed by many people, including BBC staff.)

For some time now, though, whenever I think Top Gear I always see Tom and Jerry and Spike (well, I had to fit Jeremy in there somewhere).

Richard, James and Jeremy hold a Top Gear production meeting

Although William Hanna and Joseph Barbara created Tom and Jerry, once the smiley name of Fred Quimby disappeared off the credits as producer, the cartoon instantly lost its LOL-factor, never to recover.

I fear that once the name of producer Andy Wilman disappears off Top Gear’s credits (along with Jeremy’s, obviously), the show will forfeit those magic beans that enabled it to climb the heights.

However, new presenter Chris Evans may prove me wrong with his own brand of shouty beans.

Anyway, last night the show featured two extended items the crew had previously filmed ― that is, before Clarkson was given the order of the boot.

The segments were introduced and linked with just Jerry (Richard Hammond) and Tom (James May) in an empty studio ― oh, and an elephant in the room...

Very clever touch, that Jumbo in the corner, made better because neither presenter referred to or acknowledged ... the elephant in the room.

Whatever, watching the show I realised what a brilliant actor Clarkson is. He always looks surprised, bemused or endlessly entertained by what is happening all around him ― but he wrote the scripts.

How good is that?

Here are the lines I particularly remember. First, Clarkson is racing round a dirt track in a Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 towing a caravan ― and the whole thing jackknifes disastrously: “Oh no, I’ve crashed into myself.”

And then: “I’m 54! Why am I doing this? ... I hate working on Top Gear.”

Remember, these items were filmed before steak-gate, so I did wonder if those lines were cleverly added in the editing suit.

Anyway, it’s now over to Chris Evans: “I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone before and take the show forward.”

Overdrive, over here and OTT

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was born middle-age with a juvenile streak. For much the same reason that I tend to watch Top Gear, so I tune into Chris Evans on the wireless of a morning, at least for an hour or so, because it’s very much like plugging in an electric car for a quick top up to see me through the day.

So, with Clarkson’s Top Gear having now morphed into Last of the Summer Whine (I’m unsure whether I’m referring to the noise of the cars or the presenters, perhaps both), the Chris Evans version is preparing to phoenix as The Young Ones. Yes, we live in interesting times.

Incidentally, I can understand why Chris Evans is not giving up his Radio 2 show because it is now a daily three-hour trailer for Top Gear and his new Channel 4 TFI Friday series. Mind you, even my juvenile gene finds that hard to up with put.

Oh yes, my favourite image from the final Top Gear...

“That’s you sorted, Chris Evans, now all we need do is push it over a cliff”

Talking of pushing things over a cliff, one of the features last night was three old 4x4s ― including the one above with Chris Evans in (allegedly) ― pushed over a quarry face to see how the vehicles would survive the tumble.

It reminded me of that famous opening scene in The Italian Job where the Lamborghini crashes into a caterpillar in the tunnel and is unceremoniously dumped into the ravine...


And then the Mafia boss takes the wreath from his sidekick and rolls it down the ravine in the wake of the car. Glorious touch.

Pity the Top Gear lads hadn’t rolled a wreath down on top of the 4x4s lying in the quarry ― but as I say, that was all filmed before the fracas which led directly to the final lap of Clarkson’s Top Gear.

RIP, Top Gear.

The future is ginger and will be delivered an octave higher than it should. Or perhaps that should read an octane higher than it should.

Sunday, June 28th

SIGN LANGUAGE : Request Stop

Shop 'til you drop

But Health & Safety certificate awaited

Spotted in Istanbul by C Henshaw

Spotted in Uckfield by T H Merchant

Hm, nothing showing about the evening opening times, though. However, my basket is still empty...

Saturday, June 27th
“We have registered our interest in a horizontal house.” Elderly charmer Alisoun Grant discusses her and husband Sandy’s imminent downsizing from a 15th century Scottish castle to a common or garden bungalow.

What a delightful description of a bungalow. I have never thought to tell anyone that home is a “horizontal house”. Marvellous.

The other evening I happened upon a documentary on BBC4, Keys To The Castle, a touching and often funny observational film about a charming couple in their twilight years, who have lived in their beloved Inverquharity Castle, Angus, since rebuilding it from ruins forty years ago, and now they prepare to sell up and leave.

It was the narrow and twisting steps of the castle that finally did for them, especially so husband Sandy whose mobility was severely restricted.

What I particularly remember though was the lady’s glorious use of the English language ― see the quote above ― and delivered in a marvellously posh accent but deploying very down-to-earth words among the gold. She came across as a sort of female Boris Johnson.

Anyway, talking of castles brings me back to Newton House, which I featured yesterday, wrapped in that rainbow.

I guess that Newton House squats somewhere between a proper castle and a bungalow, so I had a quick look through my picture files to seek out an eye-catching image of this most photogenic of properties.

And here it is, a smashing photo captured exactly a year ago...

Light and shadow

Newton House, perfectly caught in the spotlight of a sunrise

I mentioned that Newton House is rather photogenic ― well, just the other morning, around half-five, I approach Newton House ... and there, a fellow busy clicking away...

Say cheese!

Newton House wets its fingers and smoothes down its fringe

Now that’s a real photographer right there: a jumbo tripod needing a step ladder to navigate. (Incidentally, do step ladders maintain contact with their birth ladders?)

Anyway, I never saw the actual camera because, much a nosy parker as I am, I do appreciate that individuals concentrating on the task at hand don’t like being disturbed ― so I swung off to the right to leave the fellow in peace.

And off I toddled along my walk...

Friday, June 26th

GIVEN today’s dreadful events, it is important to remember to return to the sunny side of the street and not let the mad bastards get to you.

So I was captivated by this clickbait on the Telegraph’s  home page:

      China warns Glastonbury over Dalai Lama’s invite

Tibet’s spiritual leader has been invited to speak at the festival, much to the ire of China

Oh dear, I can understand China and America squaring up to each other, and yes, Russia and the EU ― but China and Glastonbury?

But of course the point is that China appreciates that Glasto is such a unique and long-standing event that it seemingly mesmerises much of the world and is reported in detail all over the planet.

Not least because the weather so often makes it a mud bath, which doesn’t seem to put anybody off attending. I believe the tickets for this year were sold out in about 90 minutes.

Curiously, the weather at Glastonbury was discussed on the wireless this morning. So far this year the Gods have been kind, but there is now a bit of a problem with dust storms.

Whatever, this afternoon some light rain was forecast ― which is perfect because it keeps the dust down.

I mean, you have to laugh. But I also liked this clickbait, again in the Telegraph:

            Why nobody over 29 should go to Glastonbury

Hear, hear. There’s something odd about middle-aged-plus people going there. Much like those in their 70s boasting about enjoying sex while swinging from the chandeliers.

Older folk taking their children to Glasto are of course, excused.

Whatever, talking of the sunny side of the street, not to mention a little bit of rain ― that sounds like a perfect recipe to conjure up a rainbow or two.

Back on the 1st of June I set off on my sunrise walk, and as I crossed the field in front of Newton House, there it was, captured inside a rainbow, in fact a brace of rainbows, although the second is a bit faint…

Newton House at Llandeilo, right there, under the rainbow

What makes the picture a little bit different is that I’ve caught the reflection of the rising sun in one of the windows.

Then last Tuesday morning, a gorgeous start to the day, if a little chilly, with meadow mist all over the shop ― but it quickly burnt away.

As I stood at the top of Dinefwr Castle to enjoy the view, some mist suddenly manifested itself on the field a couple of hundred feet or so below the castle ― and a rainbow appeared around the shadow of the castle.

The misty shadow of Dinefwr Castle tied-up with a rainbow

I’ve experienced such a curious rainbow before while walking the valley. It’s called a Brocken Specter, a phenomenon called diffraction which causes a circular rainbow in a mist ― much like coloured bands around the shadow.

But just as quickly as the mist appeared ― it was gone, and I was no longer a Brocken Spectator.

It was a marvellous experience though, and a perfect reason why I always carry a little camera with me on my walks.

Money to burn

Finally, as the Greek financial crisis continues, there’s a MATT  cartoon in today’s paper showing two fellows in conversation outside a ‘Greek Bank’, and the one holding a bundle of money says to the other: “I just withdrew 2,000 euros, which is great, because I don’t have an account there.”

Thursday, June 25th
  “It goes so fast that you can still remember why you went upstairs.”
   Actress June Whitfield, 89, on the latest stairlift model.

Actually, didn’t she once advertise stairlifts? Or is she angling for a new ad spot? Whatever, it’s a funny quote ― and talking of things going very fast ... just over a week ago an online clickbait caught my eye:

             Mercedes C63 AMG: Is this the perfect car?

And I duly imagined that, somewhere out there, in a showroom, in an exceedingly laid-back state, there’s a brand new Mercedes C63 AMG ... being caressed and fondled ― and the machine is wondering if this potential purchaser turns out to be the perfect owner. A pretty much impossible dream I would guess.

But there again, does a Mercedes deserve a perfect driver? A couple of letters in The Sunday Times  Driving section are worth a share:

Extortion bracket

After our Mercedes-Benz CLC was serviced at a main dealer, we were given a form entitled “visual health check”. Included was “exhaust condition, hanging bracket broken”; recommended repair, £611.76 including VAT.

Next, a visit to Ashby Garage, an independent. “Yes, we can repair that.” Car duly presented for repair. Cost £10; time taken 10 minutes. Now I know where Lewis Hamilton gets all his money.
Howard Day, Appleby Magna, Derbyshire

Blimey. Followed up a week later by this:

Body shot

I had a similar experience with pricy Mercedes services to Howard Day. I scratched my A-class on a gatepost very superficially. The body shop recommended by Mercedes quoted £2,200 and wanted the car for four days...”

                               [You sort of know what’s coming ― but how much? Anyway, to continue...]

A mobile repair firm did the job at my home for £200 plus VAT and took about three hours.
Alan Cohen, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Looking as good as new, I bet ― which brings me neatly to this quote:
“I’ve seen far too many people looking like Klingons and I don’t want to
                       look like that.”
TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, 55, says she will never use Botox.

I’ll never be able to watch Star Trek in the same light again. Very funny, though. As is this one:

“Gregg Wallace looks like a lava lamp: fun to work but not that bright.”
The comedian Helen Lederer assesses the presenter of MasterChef.
And the proof of the pudding...

Yep, that works for me

Slip of the ear of the day

The Greek debt shemozzle shuffles on. Lunchtime today and the TV in the corner happens to be on: BBC 2 ― Daily Politics  show, and presenter Jo Coburn says this:

                “As far as we can tell it’s stalemate between Greece and its predators...”

Eh? Now that’s what happens when you’re not paying proper attention. She actually said (I think) “...between Greece and its creditors”.

Actually, on reflection, my brain had probably heard correctly first time round.

Wednesday, June 24th

                                 If the cap fits

A LETTER in the Telegraph  put its hand up as a smile of the day contender:

Life after the EU

SIR – As I dressed this morning, I carried out an audit of where my clothes were made. My trousers are from Indonesia, my shirt from Cambodia, my sweater from Bangladesh, my shoes from India, my underpants from Sri Lanka and my socks from China.
     It is such a relief to know that if we leave the EU, my sartorial standards will be unaffected.
Tony Collingswood, Stockbridge, Hampshire

So I thought, hm, I’d do an audit while getting dressed this morning for my sunrise walk ― but before I get there, this funny little tale.


Bumping into someone wearing the same outfit is considered by many to be the ultimate fashion faux pas. But how about realising you have matched your clothes with the floor?

This is what happened to Imgur user beedat, who found herself in the embarrassing situation of potentially being mistaken for a portable carpet sample...

“I walked into the room and realised the
floor had chosen the same outfit”

This young lady discovered that her two-tone outfit blended perfectly with the carpet she was standing on and the patterned linoleum below.

But rather than dash home for a quick wardrobe change, she saw the funny side of the situation and lay down to document the amusing moment in a memorable picture.

Now I’m not wholly convinced that it happened quite so spontaneously. I have a sneaky feeling that she walked into a room with some friends and said: “Gosh, I’ve a top at home just like this linoleum.” And perhaps her friend said: “And I’ve got a skirt just like this blue carpet...”

Whichever way it happened, it is rather marvellous.

And on which side (of the planet) does Sir dress?

Now then, my wardrobe: my pyjamas are from Bangladesh; in the bathroom my face cloth is from India; back with my clothes: my Y-fronts from India, my trousers from China, my shirt from Indonesia, my casual waistcoat from India, my light overcoat from Laos, my cap from China and my Wellington boots from the Netherlands.

However, the toilet paper, bathroom towel and my socks were made here in the UK. Phew.

Makes you think, though. Incidentally, I had a look through several casual trousers, especially jeans, and I was surprised that most do not show where they are made. Sweat shops?

And on the trouser front, one more letter from the Telegraph:

From uniform to fashion label: it’s in the jeans

SIR – The most remarkable thing about jeans is that the public has been persuaded that such cheap fabric, suitable for hard agricultural labour, is a fashion statement.
Brian O’Gorman, Chichester, West Sussex

Tuesday, June 23rd

Beware of Greeks bearing debts

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gives Angela Merkel what
can best be described as a grand old-fashioned look


AS the Greek financial crisis rumbles on to some sort of temporary conclusion, this recent tweet caught my eye, the gentleman mentioned in dispatches being Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister.

@NelderMead: Bloomberg headline: “Varoufakis predicts no dead at Finance Minister meeting.” Best misprint of the crisis.

You could say the typo risk is critical and on life support.

Incidentally, when I first saw the name of the Greek Finance Minister, I read it as Varicose, as in veins i.e. swollen and enlarged debts.

Coming apart at the seams

With news of the £7.1bn that it’s going to cost to fix an ‘unfit for purpose’ Houses of Parliament, there is much talk of the benefits of a transitory rehoused Parliament ― which prompted this letter in the Telegraph:

To relocate, or not to relocate...

SIR – During the Second World War, Stratford upon Avon was considered a perfect place for a relocated Parliament, because of its theatres. This, of course, never came to anything.
     It would be lovely to bump into an MP or two strolling by the river.
Joan McFarlane, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

Which in turn prompted this online comment:

sosraboc: “It would be lovely to bump into an MP or two strolling by the river.”
                   Shouldn’t that read: “Strolling by, it would be lovely to bump an MP or two into the river.”

Very witty.

Indeed, someone suggested that our politicians should relocate to the Aldwych Theatre in the West End, which is, after all, the home of British farce. For Brian Rix read David Cameron.

Talking of politicians:

November 2014: Former Tory MP David Mellor apologises for calling taxi driver “sweaty stupid little shit” and telling him to “f*** off”.

June 2015: “Why don’t you f*** off and die ― and not in that order.” Tory MP and still Mayor of London Boris Johnson enjoys a robust exchange of views with a London cabbie.

Which prompted this from Daniel Finkelstein in his Notebook column in The Times: 
“David Mellor swears at a taxi driver and we are all appalled. Boris does it and everyone says: ‘Is there anyone who hasn’t wanted to do that?’ Amazing the difference it makes if people like you.”

Monday, June 22nd

Smile of the day

A palm-sized baby ray in its ‘Kindergarten Aquarium’ at
AquaDom & Sea Life in Berlin, Germany

Quote of the day

  “I have been to more than 10,000 funerals and I have seen more dead stars
                        than the Hubble telescope.”
Hollywood celebrity undertaker Allan Abbott.

And talking of Hubble...

Final word of the day

Jack King, a NASA public affairs official who became the voice of the Apollo moon shots, died the other day,
age 84.

King counted down the historic launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, and it is replayed pretty much every time the moon landing is revisited. “I wish I had a penny for every time it was used,” he once told The Associated Press.

And here it is:

  “Fifteen seconds, guidance is internal ― 12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence start ―
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero, all engine running. We have a lift-off, lift-off on
Apollo 11 ... 32 minutes past the hour.”

I particularly remember the “ignition sequence start” bit at 8 seconds because that meant there was no turning back. Incidentally, he meant to say “all engines running” ― but in the excitement of the moment the singular slipped out. I guess he was excused that little blip.


Sunday, June 21st

AFTER being greeted this morning by the above gem of a MATT  cartoon in the Telegraph  ― that pair up there, incidentally, could so easily be Bart and Homer ― I then went on to select the following shortlist from a gallery of 20 uplifting quotes and sayings for Father’s Day:

So, from the sublime:


“Never take liquor into the bedroom.
 Don’t stick anything in your ears.
 Be anything but an architect.
 Live in a nice country rather than a powerful one. Power makes everybody crazy.
 Get somebody to teach you to play a musical instrument.”

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), author of Slaughterhouse-Five, in a 1969 letter to his 22-year-old son Mark, offers up some quirky fatherly advice.

I suppose if that first slice of advice up there was offered in 2015 it would be: “Never take liquor, a television or a mobile device into the bedroom.”

Mind you, I did rather like his final two pieces of wisdom. Actually, I wouldn’t mind living in any of the Scandinavian countries. It probably has something to do with what I perceive to be some of my Viking genes.

There again, even a nice country like Norway has its crazy individuals.

Kurt Vonnegut also said that his greeting for newborn children would be: “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies: God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” 

Can’t fault that greeting with its golden rule.


“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

Umberto Eco, 83, Italian writer and philosopher, best known for the historical mystery novel, The Name of the Rose.

Hm. Actually, I would dare to suggest this: “I believe that what we become depends on what DNA forms on our hard drive at the moment of conception, when only Mother Nature is paying attention. We are formed by little scraps of genetic hand-me-downs.”


“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticising any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’.”

The memorable opening to The Great Gatsby by F SCOTT FITZGERALD (1896-1940)

Yes, a perfect line. And now, from the sublime, to the delightfully ridiculous...


“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

Who else but the one and only Homer Simpson. Homer’s other advice for his children, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, was:

“I want to share something with you. The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, boss!
Number 3: It was like that when I got here.”

And here is my favourite ― and if you don’t recognise the quote, you really will be surprised by the author.

“My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh ― anything but work.”

President ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865)

Do you know, that quote really could be mine ― except of course my father never taught me to work, but not to love it.

I worked that out all by myself. And along my stroll through time it has stood me in great stead.

Finally, I enjoyed these online comments which accompanied the gallery...

lustrediadem: My father was a quiet man, always reading some place quiet. I hated him for that when I was a boy, I thought him unaffectionate. But now I have three young girls and, often I sneak away to read quietly in a quiet place.

I wasn’t sure what to make of that ― but then I read this response:

Lesprit Delescalier (> lustrediadem): So, they’ll now hate you. What a lovely story

Efreet [this was the first comment added to the gallery, which adds much poignancy to everything that followed]: Happy Father’s Day, dad, and thanks ... wherever you are and whatever you might be doing at this moment.

Wow. Talk about tickling one’s imagination bubble...

Saturday, June 20th

À la carte extra

FURTHER to last Wednesday’s menu apropos my enthusiastic search for the perfect diet cum lifestyle headline, my education is coming on a treat. More ‘Starters for Ten’:


Five day ‘fasting’ diet may add years to life:

10 small changes that can lead to big weight loss

Snacking on nuts ‘could cut risk of early death’

Superbugs in your sausages fuel fears over factory farms:

Strain of MRSA found in pork products from British farms for the

first time

All this, as they say in the meeja, is a steep learning curve. And here are some further eye-catching clickbaits spotted in the newspapers over the past couple of days:

  Is this the holy grail of dieting? Soup containing ‘resistant starch’

ingredient, which makes us feel FULLER, is developed by scientists

The ingredient is filling as it is broken down in the large intestine which sends signals to the brain to make us feel fuller

But of course: never give a sucker an even break-fast.

  Why we’ve all been doing the Fast Diet wrong: A newer nutritional

regime claims to narrow your waistline and increase your life expectancy

But don’t think for one moment that you’re just getting away with a perfect diet. Oh no.


Will your house be able to read your mood? Homes will change temperature, lighting, and suggest films to suit how you feel ― and researchers say it’s only a couple of years off

A wearable wristband would measure your heart rate and sweat levels and transmit details to your home so that it can prepare for your arrival, according to researchers at Goldsmiths University

I think I shall go and lie down in a darkened room and watch some cat videos on YouTube...

Some what? Oh!

    It’s official: Watching cat videos is good for your health

Cat owners and “people with certain personality traits”, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos. About a quarter of the videos watched had been sought out ― the others just happened

Cats and doolally diets, eh? Just perfect for your wellbeing. But am I agreeable or shy?

Friday, June 19th

A touch of coincidence
(or co-ink-ee-denk-ee, as they say down the Crazy HP)

YESTERDAY morning I spotted the following letter in The Daily Telegraph  ― and it instantly triggered a line of thought...

Family life offline

SIR – I would like to congratulate BT for its ineptitude in failing to provide me with an internet service for a week.

The results have been amazing: full attendance from my children in the living room, conversation, a desire from them to go to their bedrooms for the purpose for which the rooms were primarily designed and getting up early at the weekend (having had a good night’s sleep) ― not to mention making coffee for their parents.

Unfortunately, I learnt on Monday morning that some clever men have managed to restore the service, so I will see little of my children for the foreseeable future.
Robert Courteney-Harris, Stone, Staffordshire

As I pondered my response ― it was around noon ― I noticed that my own broadband signal had suddenly gone AWOL.

Ah well, it does occasionally fail ― but always returns in short order.

So I got on with looking through my computer files for a few things ... about an hour later, I noticed from my BT hub that broadband was still down.

Then I remembered something quite curious: over the past week or so I’d registered that, when taking in-coming telephone calls, the broadband link would go down ― but once the call was finished the connection would came back within a couple of minutes.

How odd, I kept thinking, something must be wrong somewhere in the works. Was it my end?

Perhaps yesterday’s sudden extended loss of connection was something to do with that particular problem.

Anyway, I put the computer on ‘sleep’ and caught up with the newspapers ... did a bit of tidying up in the garden ... watched a bit of telly...

So 9 o’clock arrives ― and the signal is still down. I decide to check and I ring the 0800 helpline number ... it seems that broadband is down throughout south and mid-Wales. And a whole lot of other areas as well.

Fair enough, tish happens, as they say.

But do you know, apart from those temporary glitches I mentioned, in about seven years or so of using broadband this is the first time I remember such an extended breakdown. Not bad, really, considering I live in a village on the outskirts of civilisation.

So I toddled off to bed...

This morning, after returning from my walk, I check the hub ― and everything is up and running. So I post yesterday’s ‘Goin’ nowhere fast’ notice ... and here I am, today, all present and correct.

So what a coincidence that that Telegraph  letter featured on today’s intro is about a failed internet service.

Anyway, here’s the response to that letter which came to mind:

No signal

On a recent shopping expedition I couldn’t help but notice that everywhere, people were deeply engaged with something they were holding in their hand(s), whether in their vehicles, on the street, at the supermarket, all over the shop in fact ... it was quite extraordinary how glued everyone was to their mobile devices.

It’s fascinating to reflect that Great Britain was at its most inventive, industrious, wealthiest and venturesome ― a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, a time when GB was a world superpower ― Britain was at its most influential long before iPads, mobiles, computers, electricity, and indeed the telephone, were available to make life a doddle.

True, flag semaphore and smoke signals would have been available to help things along.

Mostly though, folk got on their bikes and trains and boats and just got on with things without ever having the need to tell someone, anyone, that they were “just off to the toilet for a slash, back in a mo”.

How on earth did we become so addicted to these mobile devices?


Thursday, June 18th

Broadband down at 12 o’clock...

Wednesday, June 17th

                              À la carte

MY search for the perfect diet cum lifestyle, which will hopefully allow me to live forever and die suddenly, continues apace ― but with ever confusing results.

Remember these recent clickbait headlines?

More eggs, please. Cholesterol is OK now

Is chamomile tea the secret to a long life?

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

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget this classic:

       Why the stresses of living on a main road could be making you fatter

Anyway, here are some recent expertly positive headlines for your delight and delectation:

How an avocado a day can fight cancer: Fat from the fruit
‘targets leukaemia cells and stops them growing’

How eating two chocolate bars A DAY ‘cuts your risk of heart attack
and stroke by up to 25%’ ― and milk is just as good as dark

And how about this for some rather obvious lifestyle advices, excepting the pillows, obviously?

Sleep on silk pillows, smile at strangers and cut toxic friends from your life:
The life hacks that will add 10 YEARS to your life

In the quest to stay eternally youthful, Australian naturopath Barbara Botani reveals to FEMAIL 10 easy ways you can add a decade to your life...

Oh dear, which way to turn? Which is why I avoided the other seven easy ways to help prevent confusion.

Finally, this intriguing Telegraph  clickbait:

        Mercedes C63 AMG: Is this the perfect car?

Imagine, somewhere out there, in a car showroom, in an exceedingly laid-back state, there’s a brand new Mercedes C63 AMG ... being caressed and fondled ― and the classy saloon is thinking to itself: Is this the perfect owner?

Not if it’s Jeremy Clarkson, it ain’t. Or the Stig. Even worse, it could be Chris Evans. What did our friendly neighbourhood Mercedes C63 AMG ever do to deserve all this?

Go well, go Shell ― as we used to say back in the day.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Botani’, as in the Australian naturopath Barbara Botani, came up as ‘Botany’. Hm, interesting.

Tuesday, June 16th

Sign language special

Spotted on Route clickety-click?

IT ALL started when someone suggested that a motorway gantry sign insisting “Don’t drive tired” was grammatically drowsy ― but a Mike Shaw wondered if the complainer had actually woken tired and, perhaps, grumpy.

“I always drive tyred,” confirmed a witty Owen Hay.

And that opened The Daily Telegraph  floodgates:

Dubious signs

Alison Macchi: My husband’s favourite motorway gantry sign is one that stated, helpfully: “Sign not in use”... [indeed, quite a common sight, it seems]:


Alison Macchi continues: My mother’s favourite was one from some years back: “A moment’s inattention may cause an accident.”

Margaret Powling: “Is there a biker in your blind spot?” How the hell should I know?

John Troughear: I always feel that the sign “Think bike. Think biker,” requires a final, “Think bikest.”

Taking road signs literally

Gerrard Portslade: As a law-abiding motorist I always obey the instruction displayed on dual carriageways that says: “Use both lanes.” Why is my straddling of them both not always appreciated by fellow drivers?

John G Prescott: Two signs that I like are “Old folk drive with caution” and “Children drive carefully”. Do these imply that the middle-aged can drive recklessly?

Tore Fauske: Driving through a Cotswold village, I came to one of those rather charming bridges, made from Cotswold stone, across a small stream. There was a sign saying: “Weak bridge.”
     What was I supposed to do? Creep carefully over the bridge in first gear, hoping the bridge wouldn’t really notice we were there. Or should I have reversed a bit and then build up speed so the car would be shot up in the air and clear the bridge that way?
     I still don’t know.

Richard Widenka: “Take your rubbish home with you, other people do,” always makes me see red.

Relief road

Gervase Hulbert: It is sad that my favourite sign, which stood for ages on the M40 near Oxford, has now been removed. It read: “Emergency toilet 20 miles.”

Looking for somewhere pleasant to hang out? Tourists to Dornoch in the Highlands of Scotland have been left bewildered by the above sign ― in fact, the abattoir has been closed for several years and is scheduled for demolition.

Actually, the UK’s familiar brown signs are there to show tourists where to find an area’s finest hostelries and attractions. For example:


Spotted near Blaxhall in Suffolk ― mind you, there is a rumour that it’s a signpost left over from an old Monty Python Flying Circus sketch.

Meanwhile, back with reader observations:

Chris Bocock: Whenever I see a sign saying “Road works ahead”, I always mumble to myself: “Oh no it doesn’t.”

Silent surprise

Patricia Fuller: I find that near-silent electric cars are as surprising as bicycles that approach from behind on the pavement.

Good point. I personally think that all electric vehicles should utter a gentle, low key and drawn out wolf-whistle, which plays on a continuous loop. I mean, everyone would look around ― and then write to the newspapers complaining about being wolf-whistled at by a car. (Fond memories of my tale of the wolf-whistling white van.)

While stocks last

Bruce Chalmers: Whenever I drive past a local farm shop sign, it makes me smile:
                              “Homemade sausages ― 80 yards left.”

The last word, however, goes to a letter in The Sunday Times:

Throwaway line

Jane Whiter: A few years ago my son sent me a photo of an Australian litter bin with the label “Don’t be a tosser”. Unfortunately, followers of this admirable example have run into difficulties with the mealy-mouthed when it has been tried in the UK.

Perhaps our politicians, both Upper and Lower, demand that some titles be reserved exclusively just for them.

Monday, June 15th

Time, you old gypsy man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?

Ralph Hodgson, 1871-1962

ON THE last day of May I featured a couple of the finalists for the ‘2015 Shed of the Year’ competition, a brace of somewhat eccentric beauties that managed to catch my rather off-beat eye.

Anyway, I recently perused a gallery of what are judged to be the world’s coolest and most eye-catching caravans and recreation vehicles (RVs).

One of the caravans that caught my eye came under the heading “A Celebration of Caravanning” ― but first, a recap of one of those ‘Shed of the Year’ finalists, a shed that thinks it’s a caravan: Mark Burton’s ‘Pixie Cabin’ shed, aka Tiny House UK...


                                                                                          ...and alongside, a caravan that thinks it’s a shed. Now a caravan does not have to be specifically road-worthy to make it of interest. This particular be-wheeled retreat was the centrepiece of “A Celebration of Caravanning” ― a garden created by designer Jo Thompson for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012.

Both of them truly marvellous, the very essence of relaxing on the laid-back side of the garden...

And now, proper caravans and RVs ― from the sublime...


Volkner Mobil Performance


What to buy the man or woman who has (almost) everything? Perhaps the “caravan” which inverts the basic rule of caravanning i.e. car tows caravan becomes caravan stows car. Produced by German company Volkner Mobil, the Performance is so gargantuan that it comes with a garage where you can store your sports car. It also has full-sized beds, full-sized showers, a built-in wine cooler and a host of security cameras. A snip at just £1.2million. We’ll take two: His and Hers.

To the delightfully ridiculous...

The QT Van


From the person who has (almost) everything, to the man who believes that big is boring but that small is beautiful.
     The world’s smallest caravan is a slice of London discretion. Yannick Read (pictured) is the man responsible for the QT Van ― the tiny contraption (just 2.4 metres long, 1.5 metres high, 0.8 metres wide ... in old money, thats roughly 11 feet x 5 feet x 2½ feet) is so understated that it has been listed by the Guinness Book of Records. Despite its compact nature, the van has enough room for a single bed, a bar and tea-making facilities. How very bijou.


Parting thoughts: Good vibration

  “The men and women arrested for stripping off on top of a mountain denied causing an earthquake. I should have thought they would be flattered by the suggestion that merely by taking their clothes off they had made the earth move.” Daniel Finkelstein in The Times Notebook.

Many of us have probably said or done something regretful after a drink or two too many ― my hand shot up just there ― but thankfully didn’t end up in jail as a result. 

Watching and listening to Eleanor Hawkins, the girl who decided to go topless on a mountain top in Malaysia, deliver her heartfelt apology, I was overwhelmed with the need to ask just one, non-judgmental, question, something I guess her parents have already done: why?

I presume we can rule out drink, so why precisely did a bright, handsome and seemingly agreeable girl feel the need to stick two tits up at the Gods?

Canadian Emil Kaminski, one of those arrested, said that it’s “just a f------ mountain”. That could well be something similar to what the White Man, indeed perhaps Emil’s very own ancestors, said as they were trailblazing across North America: “They’re just f------ Red Indians.”

Some things take hundreds, probably thousands, of generations to delete off our hard drives.

Sunday, June 14th

Saturday, June 13th

                                     Tweet and sour

REMEMBER that magical picture from last Tuesday of Angela Merkel and Barack Obama taking five to the sound of Julie Andrews during the G-7 summit in Germany?

Unsurprisingly, the Twitterati went to town. Here’s one of my favourites ― sadly though, I know not who the photoshoppist is...

@Twitter (via Mail Online)

“C’mon BO, get that kit off ― let’s see if it’s true what they say about you black guys.”

And here’s another tweet that tickled the old funny bone:

  @asabenn: This morning’s headlines: “The spy who bugged me”,
                                                             “Eu’ve lost that loving feeling”, “The Blair Rich Project”...

Spell-cheque corner: ‘@asabenn’, above, came up as ‘@ashbin’. Hm, has my computer found the smoking gun? Yes, if those clever headlines are anything to go by.

Friday, June 12th

                                Seismic waves

IT WAS only when I started putting together this scrapbook cum daily diary of the things that tickle my old funny bone did I realise quite how regularly I do smile at the delightful doolallyness of the passing parade. Take today.

A quick peruse of the Telegraph’s  online home page captured this clickbait:

       Eleanor Hawkins pleads guilty to indecent behaviour over
                                      nude photos in Malaysia

British woman, 23, blamed for having angered the Gods and triggering a deadly earthquake by posing naked on a sacred mountain, has pleaded guilty this morning

This is a typical shake-of-the-head smile. However, a point of order: I heard on the wireless that, actually, she was topless rather than naked, which must have lessened the Richter scale magnitude of the offence against the Gods somewhat, I would suggest.

I also note that she was her school’s head girl, has a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, and had been travelling solo around south east Asia since January, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

So it does make you wonder what went through her mind, bearing in mind that she and her group were clearly not drunk ― which would have been a sort of excuse ― and also that their guide had specifically warned them not to do it.

This clickbait has since appeared:

        Eleanor Hawkins to fly home after serving three-day
                          prison sentence over topless photos in Malaysia

Ms Hawkins and three others were arrested after they stripped on Mt Kinabalu. They were given the same sentence ― for time already served in prison ― and a £900 fine

At least it
’s better than a three-month sentence, which had been mooted.

Whatever, looking across the page, there’s a magnificent MATT  cartoon, where he cleverly combines two topics for the price of one.

But first, a relevant weather forecast:

After a beautifully sunny and pleasant week, there are thunderstorms, downpours and flash flooding forecast for southern England, Wales, the Midlands and the north of England through Friday evening into Saturday, though the south-east of England, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland may stay dry.
     Things should be more settled on Sunday, with just a few showers predicted in parts of the south.

Right, the ever entertaining Mathew Pritchett:

Brilliant. Then my eye was drawn to this feature:

        What's on this weekend in the UK: June 12-14

           14 brilliant things to do in the UK this weekend, from interactive art to naked bike rides

I clicked ― and from the list, I liked this one best...

3 [of 14 ... plus ‘Best of the rest’]

Ride a bike ― starkers

Reasons to be cheerful: Global warming


For something entirely different this Saturday, the World Naked Bike Ride is a self-explanatory protest against car culture and oil dependency. Anyone with a bike is welcome to join the gathering at one of six starting points in London. The groups will ultimately converge at Wellington Arch.
     But it’s not just the capital that will be hosting nude pedalling this weekend. Events are also taking place in Manchester (Friday), Edinburgh (Saturday) and Brighton (Sunday).


Yes, yes, all well and good ― but what about that marvellous picture up there? And what do you suppose it says on her front?


Thursday, June 11th

                            Springwatch Unsprung

WITH the current series of Springwatch coming to an end tonight, there were two polls unveiled over recent days, one to find Britain’s favourite flower, the other our favourite bird.

Both results endorsed the pre-poll favourites.

So I thought I’d look through the pictures I’ve captured along my regular Towy Valley walks. Both winners have featured regularly.

First, the flower:

Blue and green should never be seen?

A bluebell wood in the shadow of Dinefwr Castle
Blue and green should always  be seen

Yes, the good old bluebell was the winner, with the primrose second, and the common poppy third.

Curiously, the primrose won the vote in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which did surprise me.

Not that I dislike the primrose; actually it’s a particularly welcome spring flower ― but a bluebell wood in all its glory is a wonderful thing to behold, not least the exquisite fragrance.

As for the nation’s national bird ... well, America has the impressive bald eagle, France has the rollicking Gallic rooster ― and now Britain has...

Christmas greetings all year round

A bird in the hand: a robin redbreast catches the eye

The robin soared away with 34% of the vote, beating competition from the barn owl, which came second with 12%, and the blackbird, in third place with 11%, to claim the title.

Actually, I rather like the blackbird, especially so its beautiful song ― but I have no problem with the robin because it’s always there, in the garden, all present and correct. And legs up to its wingpits.

When the project was launched last year by ornithologist David Lindo, a letter appeared in The Daily Telegraph  ― I smiled at the time, and it’s well worth a repeat:

How terribly British

SIR – Mike Elliott asks for suggestions for a national bird for Britain. Surely the robin would be the obvious choice.
     It is friendly, can appear puffed up at times, enjoys spending time in the garden, but is brave and willing to fight to the death when its territory is threatened.
Frances Williams, Swindon, Wiltshire

Wednesday, June 10th

Thank your lucky stars

A RECENT GCSE examination question stumped and horrified many students. They found the question impossible to answer. So much so they took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

It was all about Hannah eating sweets and resulting in the equation n² – n - 90 = 0. So what is the value of n?

                                                            n of course = 10  i.e.  10x10 = 100 – 10 – 90 = 0

But you have to show how you get to 10 ― which is way beyond my mathematical ability. Even perusing the endless explanations online didn’t help.

Now you can present me with a long list of numbers to add up ― without a calculator, obviously ― and I’m there. Thankfully, though, I’ve had no call for algebra along my stroll through time. Not yet, anyway.

Whatever, this letter in the Daily Mail:

Finger lickin’ good

THE poor dears are complaining about a ‘difficult’ GCSE question about greedy Hannah gobbling ten sweets. When I ran a sweet shop, she would have got only nine, as I used to ‘weigh the finger’.
Michael Jennings, Hartley, Kent

‘Weigh the finger’ eh? That’s a new one on me.

So, with Twitter weighed down with the problem, I thought I’d refigure the equation, with some culture thrown in, culture both modern and ancient:

                                 LOL²- LOL – 20 = 0

What is the value of LOL?

In the meantime, a couple of letters spotted in The Times:

Drone alone

Sir, I routinely see signs for lost cats and dogs strapped forlornly to lampposts on my evening walk. Today offered some variety: a lost drone.
Mathew Bennett, Maidenhead, Berks

And this, following the death of Welsh writer Carole Seymour-Jones, at the age of 72:

Joint discussion

Sir, My wife and I are in the same age group as Carole Seymour-Jones (obituary, May 30) and frequently discuss with our contemporaries our deteriorating joints and other ailments. We call it our “organ recitals”.
Adrian Bradley, Wilmslow, Cheshire

Thus far, I remain fortunate on the “deteriorating joints and other ailments” front. Mind you, I have noticed that I sigh with increased vigour when I sit down, especially when I get into my car after completing my extended but enjoyable sunrise walk through the Towy Valley.

Anyway, apropos nothing to do with joints and ailments, these two letters in the Daily Mail:

Extra time

I’VE just bought a Fifa watch: it has an hour hand, a minute hand, a second hand and a back hand.
David St John, Cannock, Staffs

IF Russia loses the right to host the World Cup, might Putin invade Switzerland?
Mike Walker, Leek, Staffs

Oh yes, LOL²- LOL – 20 = 0

What is the value of LOL? “Oi’ll give it foive.” And all compliments of Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Tuesday, June 9th
                       Notes from the passing parade
A BRACE of photographs tickled my imagination hugely today...

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga play the Albert Hall
(I resisted ‘Look what the cat dragged in’. Phew!)


Angela Merkel and Barack Obama take five during the G-7 summit in Germany

Two intriguing pictures for sure, but here’s the rub: which of the two made you instantly want to burst into song? The answer is, of course, both surprising and unsurprising, in as much that it is linked to our inherent need to smile at the delightful doolallyness of the passing parade... 

Yes of course, it has to be Angela Merkel doing her Julie Andrews routine. And what a magical photograph that is of her and Barack. But what will Mrs Obama say?

Oh yes, I enjoyed this brief online exchange, a reminder that not everyone has an affinity with music:

DarqeSideOfTheMoon: “I once caught a fish THIS big.”

jmark: It was called Poland. But it got away.

Yes, but  ― has
jmark not heard of the EU and its desire for full integration? With Germany in the driving seat? She who laughs last...

  “It’s nice that we have Facebook ― it’s nice like having a car or a decent washing machine. But it’s not as if Facebook will make you happy in life.” Yes, Angela Merkel gains bonus points for that observation. And what do points mean?

While we’re on the subject of social media...

“I am not on Twitter ― absolutely not. Joanna Lumley joining might well be a reason for remaining off.”
Dr David Starkey, historian.

Monday, June 8th

     Now is the hour: Bradley Wiggins breaks cycling’s coveted hour record
 “It was a strange morning. I went to get my haircut and a shave before tonight and my barber asked ‘what are you up to today?’.” Bradley Wiggins, interviewed after breaking the record, rounding it off with a typical Wiggo crack, adding:  “Not much, I said.”

Nice one.

I have chosen my favourite eye-catching picture taken Sunday night at the Lee Valley VeloPark during the record attempt...


          ...because it reminds me of a disastrous photo I once took of a fox performing its own record attempt ― a picture which I actually like...


Indeed, it looks as if old Basil Fox up there is actually riding a bike too.

Anyway, watching the hour attempt on the box, I heard what will probably turn out to be my favourite sporting quote of the year.

My favourite sporting quote last year also came from cycling, heard during the opening stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.

To recap: given that the cyclists spend such long periods in the saddle, and have to drink an awful lot of liquid to combat the heat and energy burn-up, they are allowed to answer the call of nature, the euphemistically termed ‘comfort break’, alongside the road, the only rule being that they must choose their spot carefully and must not, under any circumstances, frighten the women, children and horses.

During the opening stage in Yorkshire, it was reported that an unnamed rider had been nominally fined for “indiscretion”, but as a Eurosport  commentator pointed out, such were the crowds along the route that it would have been rather difficult to find a strictly ‘no pee-ping’ spot anyway.

To which fellow-commentator Carlton Kirby responded: “Ah, perhaps he was done for flamboyance.”

Down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, one of the local characters is believed to have been, at the moment of conception, at the front of the queue marked “Trouser Department”; but worst of all, when he visits the gents he tends to flash it about and put the rest of us to shame.

He is now known as Flambo.

Anyway, watching the Wiggins record run, the witty Carlton Kirby was again commentating. As Bradley reached the critical 50 minute mark, Carlton said: “Ten minutes left ― just two Tom and Jerrys.”

LOL²! For ever more and a day, five minutes will now be a Tom and Jerry.

Back with Bradley, I enjoyed these tongue-in-cheek online comments about his performance as he sped around the Olympic velodrome in London...

The Mild Mannered Janitor: I’m aghast at the man’s body position and his disregard for basic road sense. With his back horizontal and his head down, what chance would he have had of seeing any oncoming traffic?

His hands are nowhere near the brakes either, which is quite shocking. No doubt he expects cars to simply get out of his way even though they are the ones paying road tax. Thank goodness there didn’t appear to be any cars during his ‘record attempt’.

Pat Stoddart: Agreed. Not only was he not wearing a Hi Vis, at no point did he stop at any traffic lights. The man is a menace to society and should be gassed like a tubercular badger.

There was an unfortunate German pedestrian standing by the side of the road, obviously trying to cross. Each time the so called ‘Sir’ Bradley passed him the tourist tried to get his attention, but the git just sailed past.

Dazz555: If all that annoys you, consider that his bike does not even have brakes

Purple Rinse: Wouldn’t this [record] mean a bit more if the various people who attempt it all used the same bike?

Hm, it would be a bit of a hoot if every attempt was done on a penny-farthing.

Incidentally, in 1873, James Moore set the first recorded hour record of 23.331km. Not on a penny-farthing, though.

Yesterday, Bradley Wiggins completed a distance of 54.526km.

Anyway, on the radio first thing this morning, the record was duly reported on a news bulletin, along with a snatch of Bradley’s post-record interview:
  “That’s the closest I’ll ever come to knowing what it’s like to have a baby! It was tortuous and you’re counting down the minutes. My wife and children now know more about air pressure than anyone. I want to thank them, they've been the rocks of my life for the past 15 years.” 

Another item on the bulletin was this: “IVF pioneer Professor Robert Winston says ‘It’s a really good thing to delay having children because older mothers have not only had time to gather good skills and education and offer the child a more stable upbringing, but contribute more to society by delaying starting a family’.”

Hm, at least Wiggo put off having his “baby” until the age of 35.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘VeloPark’ came up as a most curious ‘Eloper’. And ‘Flambo’, the nickname of the Crazy Horsepower regular who flashes his old boy rather flamboyantly when visiting the gents, came up as ‘Flambé’.

Sunday, June 7th

Saturday, June 6th

                        Hands, knees and bumps-a-daisy
   Man spreading arrest: I was groped by a man’s legs on the train

Men who spread their legs on trains are symptoms of a society that still sees women’s bodies as public property ― and it has to stop. Louise Burke relives an uncomfortable experience on the Underground...

Oh dear. Meanwhile, New York has launched a campaign to stop the scourge of “man spreading” on the metro ... see below ... indeed, two New York men have just been arrested for man spreading...

Spaceballs – Mel Brooks’ The Movie


“On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP [Police Reform Organising Project] volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of ‘man spreading’ on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders.
     “Before issuing a DAT [Desk Appearance Ticket] for both men, the judge expressed her skepticism about the charge because of the time of the arrests: ‘12:11AM, I can’t believe there were many people on the subway.’.”


And talking of riders and women’s bodies still seen as public property...

 “What strikes me most is either that women’s bottoms have got bigger or men’s hands have shrunk in the intervening years.” Author Victoria Hislop comments on 30th-anniversary changes to the cover of Jilly Cooper’s famous “bonkbuster” novel, Riders.

Jilly Cooper’s jolly sex-filled novel has had its cover toned down for its reissue, and it’s a sign of our overly sensitive times, says Jilly herself, with the man’s hand now closer to the hip than in the original
. Ah yes, many a slip twixt the cup and the hip...

Changing times down Rutshire way

  Pre-watershed               Post-watershed

Hm, interesting change to the cover. Personally, I can only presume that, given men’s increasing confusion over their sexuality, the modern male feels less threatened if riding side-saddle.

Friday, June 5th

FROM The Times:

Buffalo gals

Sir, Your excellent photograph of the lion seeking refuge up a tree to avoid being trampled by stampeding buffalo reminded me of a walking trip through one of South Africa’s game reserves some years ago led by a game ranger with a gun.

Buffalo were spotted some 500 yards away and the ranger explained to our group of ten that should the buffalo charge or stampede then we should earmark a tree and climb as high as possible until the threat subsided.

At this point, Joan, one of the older members of the trek, exclaimed: “I don’t think I could climb a tree.” The ranger replied: “Joan, I can assure you that when you hear, see and smell the buffalo charging you will be able to climb any tree”.
George Thompson, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

And it drew this response:

Health and safety

Sir, George Thompson’s recollection of the advice offered in case of a buffalo stampede reminded me of a similar walking trip in a South African game park that I undertook under the guidance of a ranger, who led us along a dry riverbed.

He explained that lionesses often leave their cubs in dry riverbeds when they go hunting, and that if we encountered a lioness we should stay very still until she lost interest in us.

I asked what if she didn’t lose interest and he replied that, in that case, we should slowly take one step backwards, pick up some dung, and throw it at her. “What if there is no dung?” I asked. “Oh, there will be,” he replied.
Barry Max Wills, London W8

That last one sounds to me like a good after-dinner tall tale. I mean, a ranger, surely, wouldn’t expose his party to a possible attack from a lioness protecting her young.

As it happens, that letter was published before the story broke of a 29-year-old woman killed by a lion at a safari park in South Africa.

Visitors to the park, some 19 miles north of Johannesburg are, unsurprisingly, warned to keep vehicle windows closed while driving through the big cat enclosure, yet the lion jumped through an open car window while the woman took pictures.

Another man, thought to be the tour guide, travelling in the same car was badly mauled.

It seems the dead woman, Katherine Chappell, was an editor on the Game of Thrones TV series ― so it does beg the question as to why an obviously clever and intelligent person would break such a basic rule of survival?

One of the most fundamental rules of life is this: AVOID THE OBVIOUS AMBUSH!

Her death is so dreadfully sad and so desperately unnecessary.

Thursday, June 4th

                                  Crash, bang, wallop!

A PICTURE currently doing the online circuit is of a gulp-inducing road accident involving a British tank, an incident which happened last week out in Germany.

And if you remember, at that time Britain’s Prime Minister was having a meeting with the German Chancellor about the EU and the UK’s In/Out, Shake-it-all-about referendum...

It seems Cameron had been stalking Angela Merkel all day


                      Well it IS camouflaged
An 18-year-old learner driver miraculously emerged unscathed after colliding with a British tank in Germany. The driver of the tank, a 24-year-old British national, was unable to avoid the car as it drove into its path. The dramatic picture was released by police in Lippe ... hope they paid more than Lippe service. And the call to the insurance company would have made an interesting listen
: “Sorry, say again!


My goodness me, now that’s what I call flirting with disaster. If there’s a list of things out there that you should avoid crashing into at all costs, then I guess a tank must come pretty near the top.

Anyway, I enjoyed these Mail Online  comments:

Mini The Moocher, Cambridge: That’s torn it ― the Russians will know where our tank is now---

Peter Ex-Artillery, Manchester: It doesn’t matter. Now that the Daily Mail has reminded Cameron we still have a tank, he’ll sell it for scrap.


Finally, the Sepp Blatter pantomime rumbles on. Two letters surfaced today, one in The Times, the other in The Daily Telegraph ― and if the shoe fits...

Sepp Blatter steps down


                  Sole contribution

Sir, “Blatter walks” in brown suede shoes with a shiny blue/grey suit. Clearly not a man to be trusted.
Peter Sergeant, Hathern, Leics

SIR – There is no clearer evidence that Sepp Blatter is a cad and a bounder than the photograph of him in which he is shown at his resignation speech wearing brown shoes with a dark suit.
Michael Orpen-Palmer, Hove, East Sussex

Yes, it’s always those little things that give the game away.


Wednesday, June 3rd
  “He is a hard-working president. All these things happened just to discredit him so that he would resign.” Corrine Blatter defends her father, Sepp Blatter, on the day after he was re-elected as president of crisis-hit Fifa.

When I heard Corrine Blatter go on to describe her dad as a man of absolute probity, the name Mandy Rice-Davies flashed through my mind, in particular her court comment about a witness, here marginally paraphrased: “Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she?”

I don’t blame Corrine Blatter in sticking up for her father. That’s what a daughter is supposed to do.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more persuaded I am that Blatter is not quite the devil incarnate that he is painted out to be, but rather that he is locked into an organisation, a system, that lends itself to corruption.

But of course, things have moved on apace and Blatter has now resigned. Quite why the sudden change ― well, few people outside the FBI know that yet.

Today’s media in general and Twitter in particular, has been awash with everyone having a smile and a chuckle at the unfolding events.

Actually, the smiliest Blatter contribution I spotted today is a revisited tweet from way back on March 20, long before the current fuss blew us.


“Here at FIFA HQ, Zurich, have just discovered the Sepp
Blatter Honorary Trough. Almost too good to be true.” 
20 Mar 2015

Oh yes, I liked this next response ― and remember, this too was posted over a couple of months ago:

@Mark_Stockwell (> @tompeck): “Looks like a rather narrow coffin with a sort of guided pissoir. Could actually come in handy come the time.”
20 Mar 2015

Well, it looks as if that time has come.

LOL of the day

On the Welsh language Radio Cymru  station this morning, Shân Cothi had a chat with a lady, Nerys Burton, the chief executive of Menter Cwm Gwendraeth, an organisation that promotes the Welsh language in Carmarthenshire, and she was explaining that they were currently in the middle of a festival of events.

She listed the projects that the younger children were involved with ― and that the young people’s theatre was busy rehearsing for a pantomime, Jac and the Geranium.

Jac and the Geranium? Lol². The conversation was all in Welsh, obviously ― but I’ve been giggling all day at that glorious title...

Tuesday, June 2nd
  “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

As it happens, a letter written by Albert Einstein, in German, to students at a Brazilian college has emerged after nearly 65 years...

“He who knows the joy of understanding has
gained an infallible friend for life.”

“Thinking is to a man what flying is to birds. Don’t follow
the example of the chicken when you could be a lark.”

Reading that translation ― I presume that it is accurate ― it could have been penned by Confucius, such is its inscrutability. Actually, it brings to mind a quote from another source:

“The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.” Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), Maximes (1678).

Anyway, back with Einstein’s letter ... I enjoyed the following Mail Online  comments...

Patrick J, Leitrim: I find that Einstein featuring in the Daily Mail is somewhat uncomfortable.

Redonkulls, London: “To be is to do.” Socrates.  “To do is to be.”  Jean-Paul Sartre.
                                    “To be or not to be?”  Shakespeare.  “Do be do be do.” Sinatra.  It’s all relative, really.

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die
 (or hopefully the day after, if we listen to the experts)

Two recent clickbait headlines:

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

                              Is chamomile tea the secret to a long life?

Well, this was spotted in The Sunday Times,  author Roland White:

              Oh Nana, I’m sure The Guardian didn’t mean to make you cry

A headline in Friday’s Guardian was stern: “Don’t patronise older women.” I had much the same thought myself earlier in the week on reading an extraordinary attack on tea drinkers as relics of a colonial past.

“Go into any house in England and you will be offered some tea,” the writer complained. “Just walk into nana’s house ... turn to her. ‘Nana, old lady, whatever your name is: tea is shit’.”

And which newspaper was politically incorrect enough to publish this? The non-patronising, non-ageist Guardian.”

So, if Mother Nature don’t get you, the Guardianistas* will.

*Guardianista: a reader of the Guardian newspaper, regarded as middle-class, excessively liberal and politically correct, etc.

Monday, June 1st


I AM no petrolhead, but I do enjoy perusing The Sunday Times  Driving section.

The centre-page spread is the Jeremy Clarkson man cave where he chisels away on to the walls his thoughts apropos those things that go beep-beep in the night and which trigger endless emotional erections about his person.

In the Points corner, this letter appeared a couple of weekends back:

Tight fit

How did Jeremy Clarkson get into the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to test it (“Hold the high fives, Hank, till someone figures out how to drive it”, last week)?
     At 6ft 5in he is only 1in shorter than me and I couldn’t swing my legs round to sit in one. In fact how does he drive many of these cars? In a manual car such as a Porsche Boxster, I can’t bring my leg back far enough to operate the clutch.
Alan Horten, Ascot, Berkshire

And the following week, this response:

Wiggle room

Alan Horten asked how Jeremy Clarkson can fit in and drive some of the smaller sporty cars. The easy answer is that Jeremy is a master at getting in and out of tight spots.
Susan Russell, Halifax

Excellent. Very high fives all round.

On the same Sunday, May 24, the centre-page spread carried this message: “Jeremy Clarkson is away”.

I always feel that that should read: “Jeremy Clarkson is a way over the top”.

Whatever, his feature was taken over by Guy Martin, 33, “road racer, engine builder, downhill mountain biker, tea junkie, dambusters expert and occasional TV presenter and columnist”.

And an entertaining scribbler he is. So he writes about the Range Rover Sport SVR, all £93,450 of it.

Something grabbed my imagination, right off the starting grid of his column:

Let’s be clear from the start: the Range Rover Sport SVR is not my kind of car. When I first drove it, all I could think was how pointless it was. It’s a supercharged V8 Range Rover and, I thought, nothing but a trophy car. I can’t imagine what would make more of a statement.

The buyer wants to show they have a load of money, but of course they’re classy because they chose a Range Rover, and they know their onions because they bought a V8 supercharged one.

I can imagine an arm sticking out of the window with a Ralph Lauren shirtsleeve and a Breitling watch on it. Give it three or four years, the car has its second owner and it’s the local drug dealer’s tattooed arm hanging out the window...

What came to mind was the recent £60m (plus?) Hatton Garden heist, where a Dad
s Army of con-scripts (allegedly) tunnelled and drilled through a 6ft-thick concrete wall to access the secure vault of Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd.

So I decided to respond ― and it was actually published yesterday:

Wheels of fortune

Guy Martin suggests that the Range Rover Sport SVR is a trophy car (“It will do anything, go anywhere ― preferably without me”, last week), and that “the buyer wants to show they have a load of money”. Quite.
     How much more civilised to stuff the cash into a tin and stash it underground somewhere. The Hatton Garden area of London sounds perfect.

Sticking with Driving, the following letter also appeared the previous Sunday:

Setting limits

My Citroën C4 and Mercedes E 220 CDI are both fitted, as standard, with speed limiters. They should be compulsory in all cars.
Christopher Baker, Grasby, Lincolnshire

Which drew this response:

Slow gin

So, Christopher Baker has speed limiters on his cars. Does he also have a lock on his drinks cabinet to prevent him drinking too much? Good to see he has so much self-control.
Tony Draycott, Burbage, Wiltshire

Clickbait of the day

           Loud sex noises land woman in jail

Gemma Wale given a two-week prison sentence after annoying a neighbour with her ten-minute ‘screaming and shouting’ sex sessions

Oh dear, fifteen minutes of fame morphs into ten minutes of riotous infamy. Anyway, what with that surname of hers, perhaps the headline should have read:

Spell-cheque corner: The ‘Porsche Boxster’ came up as ‘Porsche Boaster’, followed by ‘Porsche Booster’ ― both alternative suggestions endorsing the perceived notion that Porsche is very much a trophy car.


                                                                   Previously on Look You...
Smile of the day 2015: May
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)

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


You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City



Previously on LOOK YOU......

Smile of the day 2015: May
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)

Sep to Dec '07

June to Aug '07
March to May '07

As it was in the beginning:

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

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

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

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