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

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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
 
Monday, August 31st 2015

Health check watch

THREE smiley clickbaits and a topless tweet spotted on this Bank Holiday Monday...

How 25-minute walk could add 7 years to life

New research at St George’s University Hospital London unlocks secrets of delaying the ageing process

Well, I guess I have a head start, fingers crossed, given my daily two-hour sunrise walk through the Towy Valley.

I say daily: during the month of August I have only been on a dozen or so morning walks, mostly down to the rainy season, ho, ho, ho. Not that we’ve had a month of torrential rain, but most of it appears to have fallen around sunrise and the first few hours of daylight.

I am happy to delay my walk an hour or so if the Met Office rainfall radar suggests that the rain front is about to clear through, otherwise I will take a rain check. Boom-boom!

Next... 

Forty winks: A nap a day keeps the doctor at bay and could save your life

So concludes research presented to the European Society of Cardiology at their annual conference in London

Actually, a forty winks fellow I am not. All things being equal, I enjoy seven hours uninterrupted sleep a night, and that does me just fine.

However, a word in your ear:

  “After 50, you have to stop seeing your heart as a muscle and more as an unexploded bomb.”
Hal Cruttenden, English stand-up comedian, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Finally, and remembering that today is a holiday in England and Wales...

Why we should have three-day weekends ALL YEAR: Better work-life balance boosts health and productivity, expert argues

David Spencer, Professor of Economics at the University of Leeds, also believes we should only work a 30-hour week to get the most of other areas of life

Yes siree bob, I believe in that notion, absolutely.

These days I have my feet permanently up, but I rarely toiled away for more than 20-30 hours a week during my working life anyway ― which I guess explains why I never garnered position, power and possessions. But I have no complaints.

The sky falls on a tweeter

Oh yes, I have found that 400 smiles a day also help keep the doctor at bay. There are of course degrees of smiles, so it really is quite easy to keep my account in credit.

For example, apart from the above three clickbaits, this headline and tweet did the trick today, with bells on...

Tory councillor ‘sorry’ over Facebook photograph of boat
full of naked women with dodgy caption:
 

If @carlsberg did illegal immigrants

 

Mike Kusneraitis, who sits on Runneymede Borough Council in Surrey, said he should be judged on his actions in the community, not by “misjudged postings on social media” after images he shared online were deemed highly offensive.

They included one image of a boat-full of nude women (pictured) with the caption ‘If Carlsberg did illegal immigrants’. The council is now investigating...

I must admit, it had me tittering away to myself because it so perfectly and wickedly fits the sort of ads Carlsberg are so brilliant at. Yep, a very funny tweet. And of course the glorious comment about “misjudged postings on social media”. Well, it makes a change from being all “tired and emotional”.

So how do you suppose it all came to pass? Well, a bank holiday weekend, relaxing in the conservatory, a few too many glasses of vino, perhaps ― a wee bit tired and emotional? ― and Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime  blasting away in the background...

♫♫♫
In the summertime when the weather is hot,
You can stretch right up and touch the sky;
When the weather’s fine
You got women, you got women on your mind;
Have a drink, have a drive,
Go out and see what you can find...

And then you have this really funny idea ... you duly press that accursed ‘send’ button ― and the sky proceeds to fall on your head.

PS: I was intrigued by his surname, Kusneraitis ... it seems he grew up in a family that came to the UK to escape fascism and genocide ― which I guess allows him a degree of irony.
 

 

Sunday, August 30th

A quick pause for thought


Dolphin or shark?

BOTH yesterday and the day before I indulged myself with ‘The 10 most difficult and challenging job interview questions’, in particular the first on the list: How many traffic lights are there in London? 

And my response, which I rather liked, even if I say so myself, was: “Three. The same as everywhere else in the country: red, green and amber.”

I have since realised that, really, I should have also indicated what appeared in the Mail Online article as a proper response if you were attending a proper interview, although I am pretty sure I would have got away with my answer because it indicated just a hint of superior footwork in a tight corner.

Anyway, fair’s fair, here’s the considered response:
 

Mirror, gear, clutch, accelerator ― go-go-go...!

“This is essentially a brainteaser to test how you would think through tough questions,” said James Reed, author of Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again. 

“Reassure yourself that no one is going to have the correct answer to the question. It is highly impossible unless you have a comprehensive knowledge of UK traffic lights.

“Take a breath to gather your thoughts and respond with: ‘I couldn’t give you an exact number, obviously, but I could make a guess by trying to estimate the number of traffic lights in a square mile based on my personal experience and then taking a shot at the total size of London in square miles’.”

Good response, even if it is a load of old bullshit. But which type of employee would best fit into your organisation?

Me, with my literal response ― true, you could challenge me regarding the red/amber combination, but they don’t mix into a specific and separate colour ― or perhaps the seemingly thoughtful answer suggested by the expert?

You pays your money, etc., etc...

While on the subject of lateral thinking, a couple of letters spotted in the Telegraph, along with one comment submitted in response:

Swallows on the line  

SIR – Swallows are starting to line up on the telephone wires around our village. Where did they congregate before the age of telecommunication?
Susie Brickwood, Widford, Hertfordshire

Some big questions

SIR – Susie Brickwood asks where swallows congregated before the age of telecommunications. There are, however, more puzzling questions: what did moths do before light bulbs, what did wasps do before picnics, and what did dogs do before lamp posts?
Nicholas Young, London W13

No To Nanny: Trees ... Candles ... Fetes ... Trees again ... Daft letters.


Nothing I can add to that, really. Nanny always knows best. But what an intriguing surname Brickwood is. Do you suppose the family are builders?
 


Saturday, August 29th
 


Lights that do mislead the morn

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the

Universe, and Everything is ...

(see Grovehill junction in Beverley, below)


YESTERDAY I attempted to answer ‘The 10 most difficult and challenging job interview questions ever’. For example:

Q1? How many traffic lights are there in London? “Three. The same as everywhere else in the country: red, green and amber.”

Well now, today, unbelievably, I tripped over the following headline and picture in Mail Online:

Junction with 42 sets of traffic lights:  Locals in despair
as roundabout is replaced by chaotic road layout


Lights that do mislead the motorist

 

Residents have raised concerns about Grovehill junction in Beverley, East Yorkshire, which they say is causing chaos for drivers. It boasts a total of 42 sets of traffic lights.

Howard Tomlinson, of the Grovehill Action Group, is worried that the number of traffic lights at the junction is confusing motorists. The junction, which used to be a five-route roundabout, is part of the £22million Beverley Integrated Transport Plan, which includes a newly built southern bypass.

Wow, crazy or what? Imagine a child needing to cross the road and having to navigate all those lights ― truly frightening.

Further evidence of the ever-mushrooming doolallyness of mankind?
 

 

While on the business of junctions and traffic lights and mucho confusion, a couple of letters in The Daily Telegraph:

Name that satnav

SIR – My husband and I talk to the satnav and have named her Gladys ― from “So glad I bought this”. We think she is great ― always prompt, calm and helpful. The accent is another subject.
Beryl Cain, Birkenhead 

Hm, I think, Beryl from Birkenhead, that I would have named her Able. Apart from her obvious abilities, imagine, when you leave home in the car the neighbours would nod and say: “There go Cain and Able.”

Two’s company...

SIR – We call our satnav Camilla because there are three of us in the car.
Terry Lockhart, Brentwood, Essex

Say nothing is best.
 


Friday, August 28th

On the ball

A clickbait spotted in Mail Online ― and it did draw me in...

The 10 most difficult job interview questions revealed (and how to answer them correctly)

It was all to do with what they call ‘curveball questions’ ― questions that have no right or wrong answers. All the interviewer is looking for is how the candidate actually responds under pressure to what is essentially an idiot question.

Or, as they would say down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon: the interviewer is looking for the person blessed with superior footwork.

Penny de Valk, Managing Director of people management business Penna’s Talent Practice, told Mail Online:  “Curveball questions can be used to put people on the spot … how candidates answer these questions can provide the interviewer with a bit of insight into how their mind works. It speaks volumes.”

What the Mail  did was not so much inform the reader how to answer correctly ― remember there are no correct answers ― but rather suggest how to set about answering impossible questions, to show that you have a logical train of thought to reach the impossible goal.

However, I decided to set about answering these 10 questions by saying the first thing that came to mind ― which I faithfully reproduce here.

Intriguingly, the first question does indeed have a definitive answer, but it is highly unlikely that anybody knows the correct answer ― at least not without doing much research.

Anyway, off we go...

1)  How many traffic lights are there in London?  “Three. The same as everywhere else in the country: red, green and amber.”

2)  How would you interject a fight between Batman and Superman?  “I’d say: ‘C’mon now lads, let’s all cool down, let’s all have a drink together and see how we can pool our resources to sort out all those bad guys out there.’ That interjection is probably down to having earned my honours degree from the University of Life while working behind the bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. I often came across people who thought they were James Bond or Indiana Jones.”

3)  What can you make from this piece of paper?  “It takes me back to my childhood and Children’s Favourites on the wireless ― but before I turn it into a plane, let’s have a quick game of Noughts and crosses.”

4)  If we shrunk you to the size of a pencil and put you in a blender, how would you try to get out?  “I would use the rubber stuck to my head to make a hole in the side of the blender, the blender drawn on that piece of paper you just handed me ― and then climb out. Simples.”

5)  What colour is your brain?  “Blue. As in blue sky thinking.”

6)  What do you think about garden gnomes?  “As little as possible.”

7)  Can you name the seven dwarfs?  “Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy ... um, John Bercow ― oh, that’s a House of Commons little joke...”

8)  What fruit would you be?  “Banana, one of Mother Nature’s works of art: sunshiny colour,
no need to wash hands or fruit before eating, no messy peeling, tastes great, easy to eat, even for those with no teeth, full of goodness and can be safely eaten even as it starts to go off. PS: in an emergency it can be used as a Post-it note, even a postcard.”

9)  In a news story about your life, what would the headline be?  “Born on the sunny side of the street.”

10)  Tell me a story.  “Hm, give me a word, any word, even an expression ― and I’ll take it from there...”

Being asked to tell a story or a joke off the cuff ― well, I go blank. But a word, any word, really, would trigger my association thought processes and hopefully join up a few dots in my brain...

And there we are, 10/10. At least, all 10 questions answered. Mind you, I now wonder what all that says about me?

Probably, that I am the sort of individual that will end up with a web site dedicated to the things wot make me smile.

Incidentally, I had a quick look through the comments and I smiled at these three contributions...

The Wolf of Salford:  11)  Have you had sexual relations with that woman?

SueinBath:  8)  What fruit would you be? A nice date.

Mike:  3)  What can you make from this piece of paper? Just tell them you once had an origami business but it folded and you moved on to a Bonsai business, which was so successful that you are now looking for a smaller garden.


That clever and funny answer from Mike put me firmly back in my box. But how would Mike have answered the other questions?

Spell-cheque corner: ‘SueinBath’ came up as ‘Steinbach’, a city in Canada, a town in Germany, a piano somewhere not a million miles away ― but, all the while it’s a nice date in a town in the southwest of England noted for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture.  
 


Thursday, August 27th

Something old, something new...

 “All my jokes have received a telegram from the Queen.” Jim Dale, 80, English actor and comedian, takes the mickey out of the longevity of his material ― which is, of course, 100-years-of-old, and counting.

My little joke there ― did you actually spot it? I always smile when presenters and celebrities on the radio or TV get caught out by two simple and very basic expressions, for example: 80-years-of-age and 80-years-old.

It really is very easy to trip up halfway though and say 80-years-of-old. Listen out for it ― guaranteed to generate a smile.

  “The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.”
         
Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), British (US-born) film director, in the Guardian (1963).

What a marvellous quote that is.


“All music is folk music, I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.”
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971),
American jazz trumpeter and singer, in an interview with The New York Times (1971).

True, but Mister Ed once stopped me in my tracks. “A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course.” That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed. Sadly, Mister Ed shares his words of wisdom only with Wilbur, his hapless owner.

And so, to something new...


  
“I just deleted all the German names off my phone ― it’s Hans free.” Darren Walsh, 39, English actor and comedian, beats a 12-year-old girl to win best joke of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015.

   “They’re always telling me to live my dreams ― but I don’t want to be naked in an exam I haven’t revised for.” Grace the Child, 12, schoolgirl and comedian, snuck into 10th place in the public vote with her Edinburgh fringe joke.

A point of order: those Edinburgh jokes are not actually jokes but one-liners, surely? Anyway, on with the show...

  “As a general rule of thumb, if you do the opposite of what happened to you as a kid, you will end up all right.”  Lenny Henry, 56, British comedian, actor and television presenter, offers up tips on parenting.

Hm, I wonder if his adopted daughter Billie, 23, will offer up similar advice in 2045, which really would be funny.

  “Your parents are not as stupid as they seem.” Krishnan Guru-Murthy, 45, English television presenter on Channel 4, offers up advice to young people.

Ah, but Mark Twain (twenty-five-to-seven – ten-past-seven) said it so much better: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

I trust that the ghost of Mark Twain (1835-1910) appreciated my second and very own little joke of the day.

And on that note...
 


Wednesday, August 26th

The bells, the bells ... revisited

THE silly season arrived a month or so early this year ― here’s the Mail Online  back in July...

Seen and heard: Council proposes putting hi-viz jackets and string

of flashing lights on COWS to cut back on road collisions


Disco fodder

Several cows have been struck by cars on the green at Hungerford, Berkshire, indeed in June one was so badly hurt it had to be put down by a vet, prompting the local council to put forward the plans.

The proposal, which would create a herd of “disco” cattle and in the process light up the local common, was put forward by councillors as a means of promoting a little Heaven in Hungerford where Cows May Safely Graze when God turns out the light.

The farmers were in no doubt ― it was a “ridiculous” idea and a prime example of health and safety gone mad.

The problem is far from new and farmers have spent years trying to persuade the local authority to introduce traffic calming measures to stop motorists tearing through the common at high speed...

Meanwhile, on the good old comment board...

zxcv1: I currently reside 10 minutes from Hungerford. Local residents are aghast. It has been suggested elsewhere that the councillors responsible should henceforth act as ‘sleeping policemen’ on the road across the common. Alternatively the cows should sound their horns.

Well, here we are in August, and the silly season is now in full flow: this tale has just surfaced from deep within the heart of the EU...

Cowbells could be banned after animal rights activists say that they

are CRUEL and send them MAD 

[It wasn’t exactly clear from the clickbait headline whether it was the cows or the animal rights activists that were being driven MAD ― so I read on...]


Animal rights activists in Germany are calling for an end to cowbells because they say they are cruel.

Cow bells tinkling across Alpine pastures is a common feature in the south of the country and farmers say essential for keeping track of their herds.

But the German Animal Protection Federation claims the bells send the animals ‘mad’ and that GPS trackers around their necks are more effective in the modern age.

The Bavarian government and tourist board have vowed to fight the move.

Meanwhile, on the good old Daily Mail  letters page...

Ralph Jerram, Gillingham, Dorset: Cowbells could be banned because they’re cruel, but cows have bells only because their horns don’t work.

Actually, Ralph, most cows are now dehorned when young for um, health and safety reasons, so no wonder their horns don’t work.

By the way, I know for a fact that bells drive cats doolally ... the birds always hear them as they creep up so they just fly away. It drives the cats bloody MAD.

Never mind a zebra crossing

Talk of all these stressed-out cows, and I’m reminded of a memorable incident from this year’s Tour de France.

There was almost disaster on stage 11 of the Tour, when France’s Warren Barguil narrowly avoided crashing into a herd of cows and their young...

No bullshit: herd seen and heard

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cows jumped in front of the Tour de France...
Mon Dieu, oh la vache, merde, sacrebleu, bon sang, zut alors...!
Oh my God, holy cow, shit, golly gosh, good grief, darn it, etc...

The Giant-Alpecin rider, who was descending off the Col du Tourmalet ― the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees ― at a speed not far short of 100kmh (60mph), had to take evasive action when a herd of cattle and calves started crossing the road.

There was a camera motorcycle following the rider ― see it just behind the first cow across, above. Fortunately, the 23-year-old rider spotted the hazard early and managed to swerve out of the way.

The cows though were briefly startled by the motorcycle and the accompanying team cars ― the vehicles did get through, but one was held up...

The cows are here, the bell I hear

The Tour de Cross Here ... modest horns, but note bell around neck of cow extreme left


Fortunately, by the time the peloton ― the main group of riders, about 100 strong ― came charging down the hill, the cows were well clear of the road.

A smiley incident for sure ― which made a change from seeing the cyclists being driven MAD when held up at railway crossings as the barriers come down.

Indeed it is incidents like the above that make road cycling such a joy to watch.
 


Tuesday, August 25th

Wrong way round

THE extravagant doolallyness engulfing the world is now well established. But I’m noticing that increasingly these days, everything is also back to front.

For example, a brace of photographs just spotted...

Riding madly off in All Directions

 

“Beatles Reaction Puzzles Even Psychologists.” So ran a headline in the American Science News Letter in February 1964.
     Yesterday it was reported that the band One Direction was breaking up. For bereft fans, of course, Beatlemania is ancient history, with many decades having past...
     Bemused parents should do their utmost to sympathise, perhaps consoling their distraught offspring that where there used to be only one direction, there are now at least four. If they won’t take it from them, they could ask grandma.

 

 

Thus The Times  newspaper today, reporting the catastrophic news about One Direction ... with tongue ever so slightly in cheek, methinks.

And then I saw this...

Nip and tuck

 

Topless activists pose for photographs for onlookers during a  ‘Free the nipple’ demonstration in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire ― giving exposure to a wide-ranging campaign to bring equality for men and women.

[Exceedingly funny, though, that all those dodgy-looking snappers have their  tops firmly on. So much for equality.]

 

See what I mean when I say that everything is back to front these days.

Given that the One Direction lads are walking away from the limelight, we should have seen the backs of them ― Famous Five Go Walkies ― and given that ‘Free the nipple’ is eager for us men, especially, to front up, we should have seen the five activists from the other side ― Famous Five Go Tits Up.

Ah well, it was just a thought.

Free the Clarkson

 “If your A-level results aren’t great, be cheered by the fact that I got a C and two Us. And I’m currently sitting in a villa in St Tropez.” There is life after disappointing results, not to mention an unexpected knockout blow, insists Jeremy Clarkson.

I trust Jeremy is not subliminally suggesting that the Côte d’Azur is now the new Costa del Crime. Scarcely believe.

Sticking with Clarkson, I see that Amazon has shelled out a whopping £160 million to sign up Jeremy, along with pals Richard Hammond and James May, for a new car show.

Goodness, Jeremy is not only a very naughty boy but also the very essence of a modern Messiah.

However, a word of caution...

Up the Amazon without a piddle ― à la go-karte style

The New York Times  rates Amazon not a particularly happy-clappy place to work: tears, regular sackings and a red button to make sure you don’t waste time in the loo.

Do you suppose that the Amazon workers know that a “very, very, very expensive” Jeremy Clarkson (and that is according to Jeff Bezos, Chief Shitting Bull at Amazon) is about to stride in through the door ― tired, emotional and very, very, very hungry?

“And how would you like your steak, Mr. Clarkson?”

“It’s outside, strapped to my car: just chop its
horns off, wipe its arse and fry it, baby.”
 

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Bezos’, as in Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon who has just used a tipper lorry to pour money into Jeremy Clarkson’s bank account, came up as ‘Bozos’.

And ‘d’Azur’, as in Côte d’Azur, Clarkson’s current bolt-hole, came up as ‘Côte d’aze’.

Oh dear, ‘Bozos’ and ‘Côte d’aze’ ... you cheeky computer spell-cheque.
 


Monday, August 24th

Headline act

THE smart money suggests that the Telegraph  newspaper has poached one of the Sun’s  top sub-editors ― you know, those clever people who deliver witty and eye-catching newspaper headlines, whether online or in print.

Just the other day I featured a picture of Vladimir Putin in a mini-sub disappearing under the waves and looking every inch a Bond villain ― my guess being that he was diving to remove some atomic bombs from a sunken Vulcan bomber ― and the picture was accompanied by this glorious Telegraph  headline:

A View to a Krill

Honestly, that gets better every time I read it.

Well now, yesterday I shared my thoughts on the young British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who dramatically failed in her bid for a first global medal when she fouled on all three long jump efforts, made worse because it was the event deemed to be her strongest.

Now I watched the highlights of the event on the BBC, and in the studio were a couple of high-profile pundits: Michael Johnson, the retired American sprinter, who is generally regarded as one of the best pundits on the BBC ― and Daley Thompson, a popular English decathlete from yesteryear, who was really there as Morecambe to Johnson’s Wise.

Essentially, Katarina’s bombed long jump attempt led the two BBC pundits to suggest that part of the problem might be her coach’s stance/support approach to the competition, in particular that disastrous long jump event ― which in turn led to a rebuke from Greg Rutherford, a current British long jumper who is himself going for gold tomorrow.

Personally, I thought their comments, especially Johnson’s, were quite reasonable and fair. It was constructive criticism from two who have been there and done it.

Anyway, that’s an outline of the story ― which drew this glorious Telegraph  clickbait headline...
 

BBC’s Johnson and Thompson blasted over Johnson-Thompson

Greg Rutherford hits out at “unfair” assessment of British heptathlete’s performance at the Beijing Championships


Now I am loathed to admit that I never spotted that quite extraordinary coincidence. Best summed up by this online comment...

unclealbert: “BBC’s Johnson and Thompson blasted over Johnson-Thompson”
                        What a great headline
! You could not make it up :-)

And if you did make it up, Uncle Albert, nobody would believe you.

Parting thought

At the conclusion of young Katarina’s disastrous long jump performance, her fellow British competitor, Jessica Ennis-Hill, went up to her, embraced her and clearly sympathised and reassured her.

Which drew this ruthlessly honest observation from Daley Thompson: “If a competitor who was threatening my chances of a gold had failed so spectacularly, I would have kept my distance and quietly thanked the gods that one serious challenger, at least, was out of the way.”

I appreciated fully where Daley was coming from ― but I guess it all goes to prove what an agreeable soul Jessica Ennis-Hill is. No wonder she is such a much-liked athlete.
 


Sunday, August 23rd

Rewind

YESTERDAY, I pondered ‘the God question’. Yes, you remember: given the utter doolallyness of the world at large I often think that, just perhaps, I am God and that I am playing some sort of computer simulation game simply to amuse myself.

How else to explain all this madness?

There again, perhaps you are God and I am just a character in your personal computer simulation.

Oh yes, and for some reason I threw in this line apropos other computer characters: ‘As are heptathletes Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill, currently putting their very best foot (feet?) forward in the Bird’s Nest Stadium out there in Beijing.’

I wrote that after watching the two athletes complete the first day of the heptathlon and finding themselves in first and second place, with Katarina perhaps set to overtake Jessica on the second and final day.

Well now, today...

Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill, pictured alongside, produced a display of immense focus and fortitude to be crowned world heptathlon champion once again and complete a remarkable sporting return following the birth of a baby boy just a year ago

[And if I can add a personal observation: what a pleasant and agreeable individual the 29-year-old Jessica comes across as.]

 

However, the British one-two of Ennis-Hill and Johnson-Thompson that had seemed such a genuine possibility after the first day of competition disappeared when Katarina Johnson-Thompson dramatically fouled out of the long jump, the fifth event.

Johnson-Thompson slogged through the final two events under duress but was in tears at the end, her hopes of a first senior global medal dashed by a combination of inexperience and inaccuracy.

Yesterday I wrote that the two athletes were ‘currently putting their very best foot (feet?) forward’ ― but Katarina, unfortunately, literally put her best foot forward a bit too far ― three times too far in fact, and disastrously so in what was deemed to be her best event, the long jump.

Poor thing, she was so upset. But she is young enough at 22 to have learnt some valuable lessons.

That which we call a rose

But I tell you what, the young heptathlete has a name as good and as memorable as it gets in this modern Britain of ours:
Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

The name Katarina just rolls off the tongue. Such a classy name. Only a natural-born pleb would reduce it to Kat. Unless of course we are talking a very intimate moment: “Hello Pussy Kat!

As for her surname ― we Welsh have a thing about internal rhymes, an important part of our poetry, and it doesn’t get much better that Johnson-Thompson. (And how curious that both heptathletes have double-barrelled names.)

I shall certainly keep an eye out for young Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the coming years. Indeed, Katarina and Jessica could well be competing for the gold in Rio next year.

Go girls.
 


Saturday, August 22nd

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform...

I heard it through the grapevine


AND here is an exceedingly interesting clickbait spotted lurking in Mail Online...
 

Is our universe FAKE? Physicists claim we could all be the playthings of an advanced civilisation

That’s the radical theory put forward by a number of scientists, who claim there is a possibility that our world is merely a computer simulation ― and there may be evidence of this if we know where to look...

Well, that is certainly not a radical theory here at Look You. Yes indeed, I have explored this curious phenomenon before.

When I look around at the utter doolallyness of the world about me I often think, this cannot  be serious, and wonder if, whisper it, I am God. And that I am just playing a game ― a computer simulation, in modern geeky terms.

But hang on: if You are reading this ― then perhaps You  are God in that exceedingly advanced civilisation of which scientists speak, and I am just a component, a character, a plaything in Your  computer simulation.

As are heptathletes Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill, currently putting their very best foot (feet?) forward in the Bird’s Nest Stadium out there in Beijing.

How else can I ― or, um, You ― possibly explain the utter madness unfolding all over the shop, indeed as highlighted in the news day in day out?

Yes, even help explain serious nonsense like this glorious clickbait headline, again in Mail Online...
 

Why going to the gym WON’T help you lose weight ― you need to eat less

Study finds exercise alone is not enough to shed the pounds (increasing exercise increases the appetite and causes people to eat more food, experts from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine found)

Dieting is the only way of losing weight, they said...


Ah yes, the now exceedingly well-established 100% Guaranteed EL Diet ― that’s EL, as in EAT LESS.

And we still have to be told all this?

But of course, this is just a computer simulation game that I am playing to ensure that the parallel universe I am working on ― or should that be what You  are working on? ― won’t be anywhere near as mad as this game.

You see, even the name Loyola University is much too close to Doolally University to be taken seriously.

Yes, it all adds to the delights of the passing computer simulation.

Look, you are my plaything and you will now feed me those grapes ... or rather, given yesterday’s smile, it should read: feed me those greengages...

 

Friday, August 21st

Cups that cheer but not inebriate

A RECENT letter spotted in The Times  instantly registered on my brain’s hard drive ― and is well worth sharing here on Look You:

Everyone a winner

Sir, Tim Hands’ ironic suggestion that scholarships might be awarded for “resilience or well-being” (“Scholarships are an out of date nuisance, says top headmaster,” August 7) remind me that at Eastbourne College prep school (now no more) in the 1960s, there was a Courtesy Cup, a Cheerfulness Cup, and even the Lord Rupert Nevill Prize for Otherwise Unrewarded Boy.
The Rev RC Smail, Oxford

How totally wonderful is that? It set me thinking: what cup would I have earned at school?

Probably the Would Rather Be Somewhere Else Doing Something Completely Different Cup. Or perhaps even the Always Looking Out Of Window Cup.

My cups would have overfloweth.

Smiles revisited

Yesterday I mentioned that I am not a watcher of The Great British Bake Off  ― I prefer to peruse the Reduced To Clear  bins and shelves down at the Lidl and Larger shops.

Well, today I had to force myself to do a bit of shopping. Now I am a strictly in-and-out shopper, whether it be for food, clothes, whatever ― I know what I want, and that is it; which is why I always have a peep along the Reduced to Clear  shelves ― I see things that I would never spot otherwise.

Today I notice a packet of GREENGAGESSWEET, JUICY AND DELICIOUS ... Produce of PORTUGAL.

Now I had never heard of ‘greengages’ ― they looked like plums, but green, obviously.

A 250g pack (pretty much 9 ounces in old money) was £1 ― but reduced to 58p. Yep, mother never bred a jibber...

When I got home, I duly sampled ... yum … sweet, juicy and delicious, just as it said on the tin, so to speak. And definitely plums.

I shall certainly look out for them in future.

The reduced bin clearly did its job. Perhaps the supermarkets do this to capture floating shoppers like me. And could that be what they mean by the term ‘loss leader’?!

Also, since last Wednesday’s smile of the day, I haven’t been able to get Vladimir Putin and John Prescott out of my mind.

Or rather, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched these two videos over the past couple of days ... and laughed out loud at the thought that I am actually watching Putin and Prescott ― you can just picture Prescott on the trail of that lonesome pine in the arse, and using the mallet on Putin’s head.

As for I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls, I wasn’t sure about the pretty girl (Rosina Lawrence singing, Jacqueline Wells acting) ― but who else but Kate Middleton.

Incidentally, and as someone points out on a comment board, the rare and perfect meeting of wonderful music and outrageous comedy is rare and works here to perfection. As it does, funnily enough, when Morecambe and Wise did Singing In The Rain.

Anyway, I shall enjoy Prescott and Putin on the Ritz yet again:

                                                                                                I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls

                                                                                                                 On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine
 


Thursday, August 20th

A CLICKBAIT spotted in this morning’s Telegraph:

 

Seven more things we learnt from episode three of the Bake Off ― CONTAINS NUTS

Oops, sorry, that should read CONTAINS SPOILERS


I am not a watcher of The Great British Bake Off ― I prefer to peruse the
Reduced To Clear shelves and bins down at the Lidl and Large stores.

However, yesterday morning on the wireless, on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, I was amused that octogenarian Merry Berry inadvertently revealed the identity of the contestant eliminated in that very evening’s show.

Bless you, Mary, I really like and admire you ― but should you not reign in all these celebrity appearances? I mean, for your own peace of mind? (Piece of mind?)

Anyway, it seems that revealing the loser was the least of the show’s problems, best summed up in this Telegraph  headline ― for sure a clickbait starter for ten, remembering the top chef who once said that he paid as much attention to the bread in his restaurant as everything else ― because that was invariably the first thing they would taste and would set the tone...

 

Was Paul’s ‘Cecil the Lion’ bread not winning Star Baker the Great British Bake Off’s biggest injustice?

Twitter users thought it a shame that the bread which looked like Cecil the Lion didn’t win Paul the top prize

 
 


Paul Jagger next to his magnificent bread 

 
 

Paul Hollywood, Bake Off judge, was full of praise for contestant Paul Jagger’s “King of the Jungle” bread sculpture ― which viewers thought looked a lot like Cecil, the lion recently shot with bow and arrow by trophy hunter Walter Palmer.

Hollywood said: “That is one of the best things I’ve seen in bread ever. It’s exceptional.” The chuffed baker, Paul Jagger, managed to win a Bake Off first ― a highly commended mention for his baked creation.

 

Actually, all that is a bit spooky because the show was recorded well before Cecil became a byword for a walk on the shady side of the bush.

Whatever, I enjoyed the following brief exchange in the comment section regarding the Cecil loaf...

sgtpluck: Wasn’t very good, was it? It wasn’t stuck with arrows for a start.

Free Speech: Is that meant to be funny??

sgtpluck: Depends on your humour, I guess. Mine runs dark, so yeah, I guess it was. Tell you what though ― a couple of fletched breadsticks stuck in his lion-loaf would have been unmissable TV. Bit of strawberry jam, you know, for realism. Ratings through the roof.
     Besides, ironic you asking me that with a moniker like ‘free speech’.


I enjoyed that final sentence. Very clever.

And my own particular response to the joys of the passing circus?

Sunshine&Showers: Given the curious case of the Cecil bread that did not go “Crumbs
!” in the night ― not to mention poor old Merry Berry’s spoiler leak ― is Bake Off morphing into television’s very own BOGOFF?

Whatever, you know me, always on the lookout for things that juxtapose...

Let them eat cake

 

Mother accidentally requests ‘a wee blind girl’ on daughter’s 21st Birthday cake after autocorrect fail

 
 

 
 

A 21st birthday cake for Laura Seggie, above, arrived with a little girl holding a white cane on top of it ― thanks to an autocorrect blunder

 

Marie Seggie, 52, had texted a friend and asked her to bake the cake with ‘a wee blond girl on top’ for daughter Laura’s birthday party, who is studying politics at university.

However, she failed to notice her iPhone’s autocorrect facility had changed ‘blond’ to ‘blind’. Marie only found out when her pal delivered the cake to her home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on Friday.

Obviously, they all saw the funny side, hence the picture and the story.

But what went through the mind of Marie’s friend when she saw ‘a wee blind girl’? Didn’t she think it odd?

Also, do you suppose that if she had actually texted ‘blonde’, the autocorrect wouldn’t have changed it?

Finally, and crucially, I note that the 21-year-old Laura isn’t exactly blonde.

Between you, me and Merry Berry, I smell a rat. I think it was all a set-up for a bit of a laugh and some publicity. And if so, it worked a treat.
 


Wednesday, August 19th

TODAY, a Putin and Prescott double bill special. Yes, the Laurel and Hardy of the planets movers and shakers (a tip, Lord Prescott: always remember to give the old stallion a good shake, rattle and roll before putting it back in the barn and closing the door):

The name’s Putin. Vlad Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, actually, to be precise (nonchalantly lights up cigarette).

The Russian President, 62, old Thunderballs himself, has burnished his swashbuckling “action man” credentials with a new telegenic adventure which draws comparisons with a James Bond villain.

The Sun  newspaper is noted for its clever and memorable headlines, but today, the award goes to the Telegraph...

A View to a Krill  

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen inside a research bathyscaphe C-Explorer submersible in the waters of the Black Sea as he takes part in expedition in search of an ancient shipwreck off coast of Crimea.

Excuse me: but are we sure Vlad wasn’t diving to remove the atomic bombs from a sunken Vulcan bomber? I know, I know, that’s pure SPECTRElation on my part. But he definitely looks the part of a Bond villain. And in the Black Sea as well.

☼       ☼       ☼       ☼       ☼

 

Barn door etiquette

Remember this tale from last Saturday?

Lord [John] Prescott: I didn’t grope Linda, she’s “built like a bloody barn door”

Exclusive: Former deputy prime minister denies allegations he stuck his hands up former MP Austin Mitchell’s wife’s skirt, saying “the f**cking house” would have fallen down if he had

Well now, Linda McDougall, wife of the former Labour MP Austin Mitchell, has attempted to close the barn door, albeit the stallion has well and truly bolted:

John Prescott is “insane”, says ex-MP’s wife after peer’s built like a bloody barn door rant


Well, I don’t think Linda will find many prepared to argue the toss with her. Prescott certainly acts in a doolally fashion, whether he is insane or not.

But here’s a funny thing ... whenever I trip over a John Prescott tweet I am always pleasantly surprised at its lol-factor rating. For example:

“I keep making the mistake of calling him Chumbawamba so I get into all sorts of bloody trouble.” Prescott on Labour’s promising rising star Chuka Umunna, 36, shadow business secretary, who has not ruled out one day running to lead the Labour party (watch this space, folks).

Now that tweet is funny ― but curiously, whenever I come across something he has said out loud, the “barn door” quote, for example ― he sounds so extravagantly, delightfully doolally. “Insane”, even.

I remember a time when we all had a bank manager hiding in the wardrobe ― remember those marvellous bank ads? ― but that was a time before all the bankers became spivs, obviously.

Do you suppose though that John Prescott has a wit doctor hiding on his hard drive? There is more than a suspicion that he has a tweeting script writer.

However, if the tweets are to be believed, then Prescott has morphed from a word-mangling Old Labour attack dog into a social media aficionado widely regarded as one of the funniest politicians on Twitter.

His pithy comments on stories in the news are regularly retweeted hundreds-of-times over by his devoted followers and invariably feature in lists of “Best Tweets of the Week” in magazines and newspapers ― see the above example.

But if the former deputy PM is not the author of his tweets, then who is? All fingers point, apparently, to his son David, a PR executive and active Labour campaigner.

And therein lies the ambush: when “followers” actually meet you in the flesh they are overwhelmingly disappointed that the reality of the old vulture in the hand does not match up to the melodic tweets of the red-breasted robin in the social media bush.

Whatever, it all adds to the delights of the passing parade ― and forever on The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine...
 


Tuesday, August 18th

Smoke signals

A MATT RUDD piece in last weekend’s Sunday Times  rang a bell ... I had previously read of what he speaks, the tale of the 80-something old boy who’d gone fishing.

Oh, first things first: the Sunday Times  article was accompanied by a large photograph of Matt ― I never quite understood why every columnist must have his or her picture accompanying every article, week in, week out.

Actually knowing what a writer looks like tends to put me right off. I mean, it’s the equivalent of a genetic fingerprint: it tells you nearly everything you ever need to know (60 per cent of what we are is written into the face, etc...).

Anyway, I found a more fitting picture on the web, which has nothing to do with Matt ― but everything to do with the tale he tells. So here’s the headline and opening gambit of his column, along with the photo of my choice:

All you hysterics take note: crash into lake, smoke pipe, panic over

What would you do if you drove into a lake? Let’s say you were following your sat nav, religiously, as you do. Turn left. Turn right. Proceed to next roundabout. Drive into lake. And now you’re in the lake and your car is filling with water. What would you do?

You’d panic. Of course you would. I’d panic too. There would be a lot of splashing about, brief recriminations and then we’d strangle ourselves with the seatbelt we were too panicky to remember how to undo.

Last Wednesday, an octogenarian on a fishing trip accidentally drove into a lake in Loxley, Warwickshire, but he didn’t panic. As his car filled with water, he got out his pipe and he smoked it, possibly listening to Air on a G string as he did. After a while, emergency crews arrived and rescued him.

“He wasn’t hurt or even cold but crews removed his clothing to ensure he didn’t get cold and he was driven home in the ambulance,” said a spokesman afterwards.

We must learn from the pipe-smoking octogenarian. Not the driving-into-lake bit but the smoking-the-pipe-after-driving-into-the-lake bit. Because we’ve become a nation of panickers. In a few decades, we appear to have exchanged the Blitz spirit for perpetual hysteria...
 


Ah, that Condor moment

[Be sure to click on this Nothing should disturb that Condor moment YouTube link for a TV ad from yesteryear that was just made for this story. Brilliant. Meanwhile, back with the tale...]

Matt Rudd went on to list the endless things that now stress us out: “Do you remember a time when we didn’t panic about a heatwave? Or a bit of rain? Or a dusting of snow? Or margarine? Or butter?”

His piece was very amusing. Especially the panicking about margarine and butter ― remember the health and lifestyle clickbait I nibbled at the other day?
 
Butter unlikely to harm health, but margarine could be deadly: Saturated fats found in butter, eggs or cream does not increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes or early death, a study has shown

Anyway, back to the pipe smoker. When I was but a pup I well remember that many a man, especially the older man, would forever be puffing away on a pipe.

The only person I know that does so now is old Chief Wise Owl down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

And the clue lies in why he is known as Chief Wise Owl.

You know how it is: we all think of that perfect response to a put-down or a smart aleck comment ― but infuriatingly it is always 10 bloody seconds too late.

You see, we only have a maximum of 2.5 seconds to come up with a perfect bit of repartee or a memorable bon mot. Miss that deadline and we curse ourselves for not thinking fast enough.

But take Chief Wise Owl. When someone says something to him that begs a witty or clever response, he will puff on his pipe, tilt his head slightly backwards and slowly blow out a cloud of smoke ... and then gently point the pipe like a James Bond camouflaged gun ― a routine which can last up to 10 seconds ― and of course he shoots the perfect response.

Now the thing is, when Chief Wise Owl does the pipe puffing routine, nobody ever cuts across. We seem to be mesmerised by the routine ― and of course he is left in peace to think and as a consequence be that extra bit wise.

Mind you, since smoking was banned in pubs, he’s lost his advantage.

Do you suppose there is such a thing as an e-pipe? Similar to an e-ciggie, the electronic cigarette?

Perhaps we should all start smoking an electronic pipe for that laid-back, no-care-in-the-world, Condor feeling.

Bring it on. Ah yes, that Condor feeling...
 


Monday, August 17th

0110100111001010100110
(Do you come here often?)

A Rod Liddle piece in The Sunday Times  grappled with my imagination:

Sex with robots? Auto-mate with care

There were two reports last week about how robots might interact with us in 50 or 60 years. First, they may be regularly persuaded to have sexual intercourse with us, which is terrific news. Second, they might be inclined to adopt one or another religious faith. Less good news, frankly.

So you enjoy a thoroughly vigorous session with some cyberbabe called Xylax B5100 and wake up to find it sitting on the edge of the bed, sobbing and counting on its rosary at the speed of light. “Dear Mary, Holy Mother of Christ, forgive me for what I have done, please forgive me. Especially forgive me for the bit with the melon and the whipped cream.” That would be irritating, I think.

Of course not all robots will be Roman Catholic. Some might, instead, start growing very long beards and investigating flights to Syria. Take one of those out for a date to the movies and, if you steal a Kola Kube from the cinema pick‘n’mix, you’ll have your right hand chopped off by the android, right there in the foyer.

Mixed blessings, in my book.

The one thing that intrigued me was this: apropos the cyberbabe called Xylax B5100 ― let’s call her Dot ― would she have an iSpot?

Women have the G-Spot ― named after the German-born physician and scientist Ernst Gräfenberg, noted for sticking his fingers where he shouldn’t ― so who would Dot’s iSpot be named after?

My guess is Ikea, one screw short of a result.

“Life is short. Have an affair”

“It’s not lipstick on your collar that gets you caught. It’s digital lipstick.” Text messages and voicemails give away the modern cheat, says Noel Biderman of the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison, which was recently hacked and caught with its trousers down and its skirt up.

Now I was going to say, you wouldn’t have had that sort of trouble with Dot ― but
that’s pushing things a bit far.
 


Sunday, August 16th

Putting it on the line

WITH Kensington Palace accusing paparazzi photographers of harassing young Prince George in order to get pictures of him ― in particular using children to draw the young lad into view in playgrounds, and a photographer setting up a “hide” in his car as he staked out a play area ― it curiously made me think of Lord Sewel.

If you recall, he was the 69-year-old Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords ― until he was pictured in an orange bra and leather jacket at a sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll party with £200-a-night shady ladies of the night.

Then I saw a certain picture online ... and I thought, blimey, the paparazzi have been staking out Lord Sewel’s back garden as well.

First though, a reminder of the Sun’s original front page...

 

      
The Lord’s cup runneth over


But no, fair play, it wasn’t Sewel’s back garden at all ― actually, this is what the clickbait said:
 
How to find the right bra
The right bra will streamline your shape, perfect your outfit and even improve your health. Here’s how to ensure you’re wearing the right one...

Well, I did smile at the thought of the right bra streamlining the naughty Lord’s shape, perfecting his outfit and improving his health ― but as per usual with these clickbaits, I quickly made my excuses and moved on to the next...

A pause for thought

Apropos the paparazzi stalking Prince George, those pictures have to be bought and published by editors of magazines and newspapers, right? So when their own children ask them what they do for a living, do you suppose they say: “I employ horrible people to stalk young children like you...”
 


Saturday, August 15th
 

The delightful doolallyness of Planet Earth

A BRACE of juxtaposed clickbaits spotted on the home page of Planet Telegraph:

Lord [John] Prescott: I didn’t grope Linda, she’s “built like a bloody
barn door”
 
[A bloody barn door ... with lots of fingerprints on its arse.]

Exclusive: Former deputy prime minister denies allegations he stuck his hands up former MP Austin Mitchell’s wife’s skirt, saying “the f**cking house” would have fallen down if he had

Hm, the curious case of the extra asterisk that barked in the night.

The first thing that struck me was this: all these years and I’ve been spelling “f**cking” all wrong. The word is faithfully reproduced here, from the Telegraph ― and yes, that is a double-**!

The only thing I can think of is, that as Prescott was born in North Wales, he actually does spell the f-word with a double-ff ― “ff” being a letter in the Welsh alphabet.

The Welsh word is of course “ffwcio” ― unlike its English counterpart the Welsh version always generates a smile ... I think it’s the letter “o” latched onto the end.

Whatever, perhaps Prescott really did say the Welsh version ― and something got lost or added in the translation.

Be that as it may, the whole story made me smile, without even having to click on it ― which is precisely how clickbaits should work.

And then alongside it, this:

Dear Graham: “Should I marry my girlfriend even though her father
is bald?”

“Ironically for your children, going bald wouldn’t be the worst thing that happened to them,” writes Telegraph  agony uncle Graham Norton

Graham Norton, agony uncle for the nation? How perfectly and wonderfully doolally is that? The whole world really is mad, except for thee and me, of course...

Meanwhile, back with John Prescott’s pal Tony Blair: here, the former prime minister is discussing the doomsday battle unfolding over the leadership of the Labour party:

 “The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes ‘disunity’. It is a moment for a rugby tackle, if that were possible.”
Tony Blair, warning that Labour faced annihilation if it elected left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

I might be missing something here ... but didn’t Tony Blair walk eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below, when, on the strength of that infamous sexed-up dossier, he led the nation to war in faraway places with strange sounding names?

Crucially, neither Blair nor George Bush sensed the intense tribalism of Africa and the nuclear winter that would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of Iraq and the Arab spring.

If ever a rugby tackle was needed, it was on Tony Blair and his enforcer Alastair Campbell when they sexed-up that report on the danger Iraq posed.

Anyway, I shall leave you with this memorable quote:

  “If Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership, I intend to set up a chain of assisted suicide clinics in the south.” Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun newspaper, doesn’t seem to be a member of the Jezbollah.

 


Friday, August 14th
 

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

This, from a BBC report:

THE cry of the herring gull is a staple of the seaside soundtrack, their distinctive white chests and grey wings part of the scenery.

Opinions of the gulls range from them being brutish birds to a beautiful species needing our protection.

There have been numerous run-ins with people ― and their pets ― in the past, often when the gulls feel threatened, are protecting their young or scavenging for food.

However, aggressive gulls that have snatched ice cream from children could be culled using drones, a councillor has suggested.

A Whitehaven boy was “traumatised” when a “seagull swooped down, took the ice cream out of his hand and off it went”, town councillor Graham Roberts said.

The drones could be used to spray nests with a chemical to stop eggs hatching...

However, the gulls could be way ahead of the game, as the following brace of images confirm...
 

 
The skies are alive with gulls getting their retaliation in first
 

The MATT  cartoon says it all: seagulls and drones sorted out in one. But what of that marvellous second photo?

This is one of a series of mind-bending mashups labelled Combophotos.

The surreal shots are the brainchild of art-director Stephen McMennamy from Atlanta, Georgia, USA: “At its core the Combophoto project is simply combining two separate images that complement one another to tell a different story.”

Yep, truly eye-catching, for sure. And the seagulls live to fight another day.

While on the subject of things surreal, a recent letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Alien neighbours

SIR – Now that Nasa has discovered a “twin Earth” just down the road, perhaps we could pay the resident aliens a visit, sneaking in under cover of darkness to leave some crop circles for them to find.
     It is time we got our own back.
Keith Miller, Godstone, Surrey

Very funny. And yes, there really is a village called Godstone. Hm, perhaps that’s where they’re hiding the infamous Labour Ed Stone which became part of the last General Election campaign.
 


Thursday, August 13th

The bells, the bells...!

A Morris dancer’s clogs: “I’ve got bells that jingle jangle jingle”

YEP, it all started with a tweet...

@SuffolkGazette:  SHOCKER ― Morris dancers in pub brawl with blind football team. Read here > > >

So I clicked ... and landed at the ― ta-rah ― Suffolk Gazette...
 

Morris dancers and blind footballers in mass brawl

August 12, 2015
Exclusive by Hugh Dunnett, Crime Reporter

Police were called after a mass brawl broke out in a pub car park between a group of morris dancers and a blind football team

Footballers were enjoying a match on the village green at Rattlesden, near Stowmarket, using a ball with a bell in it so they could keep up with play.

But all hell broke out when the morris dancers began performing at a nearby pub.

A player kicked the ball off the pitch towards The Brewers Arms, and then mistook a morris dancer’s uniform bells for the one in the ball.

He promptly kicked the dancer in the shin, sending him flying over a table and crashing into a flower pot. A hanging basket then fell on his head.

More blind footballers then joined the melee, kicking out at the bells and then being surprised when they were punched by furious morris men.

The brawl was only stopped when the referee caught up and blew his whistle loudly.

Three morris men suffered severely bruised legs, while one of the footballers had a cut caused by being hit on the head with a morris dancer’s stick.

With everyone blaming each other, the police were called to sort out the mess.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “It was certainly an unusual call from one of the locals in the pub. By the time we got there it had all calmed down, and both sides realised how the mistake had been made.

“In fact, they had made up and were all enjoying a drink together, although a couple were still being patched up by the landlord’s wife.

“We took no further action, but recommended that the morris men did not use bells on their uniforms when the blind footballers were playing nearby.”

Hm. The comment section beckoned ― oh yes, be sure to remember the name Hugh Dunnett, the newspaper’s crime reporter...

GRAPE VINE: This is just so morris. Love it
!

DIZZY BAGGE: Why are you poking fun at a terrible disability? Morris Dancers can’t help the way they are and there is no known cure.

THE EDITOR: Dear Ms Bagge ― A fair point. We have therefore made a small donation to the local Morris Men retirement home. You should hear its front door bell, though. Terrible racket. Regards, The Editor.

GARY JONES: Is your crime writer’s name really Who Doneit?

THE EDITOR: Dear Mr Jones ― Yes, crime reporter Hugh Dunnett works with my Crime Editor ― Rob Banks. Nothing funny about that. Regards, The Editor.

Chuckling away, as is my wont, I instructed Ivor the Search Engine  to fetch me some info on the Suffolk Gazette ... well, I never...

Britain’s finest spoof news and satire site, The Suffolk Gazette brings you all the latest dramas from Suffolk.

Wonderful ― effortlessly making my smile of the day. And best of all, endorsing that my living has definitely, positively not been in vain.
 


Wednesday, August 12th
 

How to live forever and die suddenly

MY search for the perfect diet and lifestyle goes on. Coming up are genuine recent clickbaits spotted online in major newspapers, and here given the traffic lights colour code ... proof that doolallyness is alive and well and getting fat..

Why three curries a week could lower risk of death: People who eat spicy foods three times a week cut risk of dying by 14 per cent, Harvard study finds

Revealed: How a can of DIET coke makes your body store fat, rots teeth and affects you in the same way as cocaine within ONE HOUR

☼   ☼   ☼   ☼  ☼

Daily glass of grapefruit juice ‘protects against heart disease’, study finds

Revealed: How to lose weight ― drink red wine
Cheers! Proof red wine helps you lose weight. An ingredient found in grapes, berries and red wine can help turn flab into calorie-burning ‘brown’ fat. Just drink responsibly!

☼   ☼   ☼   ☼  ☼

Fat is back: how a calorific ‘banting’ diet [eating enough animal fat] could be the healthier option
Fat. It causes high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, right? Think again.

Butter unlikely to harm health,
but margarine could be deadly
Saturated fats found in butter, eggs or cream does not increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes or early death, a study has shown

☼   ☼   ☼   ☼  ☼

One cup of coffee a day could stave off Alzheimer’s but two cups may INCREASE risk of memory loss, say scientists

Mobile phones ARE linked to cancer, study claims: Long-term use ‘is associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, headaches and skin irritation’

Can eating cherries banish your jelly belly?
They can trim tummies, sooth exercise pain and even help you sleep

☼   ☼   ☼   ☼  ☼

Do you have a ‘good looking’ penis?

Hang about: how did that amber clickbait get in there? Ah, got it...

Scientists believe they have worked out what women want from men in the lunchbox department ― and the answers might not be what you expect

Of course: ‘the lunchbox department’, that’s what threw me. Whatever, now  they tell me about having a ‘good looking’ penis. As it happens, my body is liberally sprinkled with little brown spots ― someone told me that they are birth marks.

But here’s the thing: I have a wee brown spot right at the sharp end of proceedings. Now if I had known about this ‘good looking’ penis thingy, well, I would have worn it as my buttonhole. So to speak.

Anyway, now that I’ve gone down this track, best to balance the books...

☼   ☼   ☼   ☼  ☼

Revealed, how to beat PMs, from eating cheese to munching on kale (but the bad news is, chocolate only makes things worse)

Should you give up bacon if you want to have children?


Now I didn’t actually click on any of those baits, even the handsome penis one. Best to press on regardless, methinks.

The answer to this living forever and dying suddenly thing is, of course, moderation in everything: a little bit of this, a little bit of that ― and definitely a little bit of the other.
 


Tuesday, August 11th
 

@asabenn: Love this Hayek quote ― “I keep waiting to meet a man who has more balls than I do.”

Yep, the quote certainly grabbed my attention. The tweeter, incidentally, is one Asa Bennett, Telegraph  assistant comment editor, also in charge of morning politics briefing. I know the feeling: Dai Aphanous is in charge of nightly bullshit briefing in the Asterisk bar down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

 

The @asabenn tweet was accompanied by a black and white, ever so slightly grainy photo of a middle-aged fellow, sporting glasses and a moustache ― and looking rather studious.

So I sent Ivor the Search Engine  in search of Hayek ... Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), Austrian and British economist and philosopher best known for his defence of classical liberalism.

Hm. However, I smelt a rat when I read this quote of his: “I regard it in fact as the great advantage of the mathematical technique that it allows us to describe, by means of algebraic equations, the general character of a pattern even where we are ignorant of the numerical values which will determine its particular manifestation.”

Blimey. Now why would Friedrich talk about meeting a man with more balls when, being a genius of “mathematical technique” and “algebraic equations”, he would appreciate that it is quite feasible that out there in this doolally world of ours there’s a man ― or indeed men ― boasting three, four, maybe more, balls.

Indeed, I smelt a dead rat. So I next gave Ivor  the actual balls quote ... first things first, the picture that accompanied the @asabenn tweet ― directly below...
 

        
Take your pick ... which Hayek image rings your bell and grabs your balls?
 

...and alongside old Friedrich, the image that Ivor  came back with: yes, a colour photo of a middle-aged woman sporting oodles of sex appeal ― and looking rather studious.

So who she? Well, meet Salma Hayek, 48, Mexican-American film actress, director and producer.

Suddenly, the quote made sense: “I keep waiting to meet a man who has more balls than I do.” A really clever quote from a really clever lady, obviously.

Moral of the tale: Trust the quote but double-take the author.

Mind you, my guess is that Asa Bennett knew precisely what he was doing. Playing off one Hayek against another. A sort of media in-joke?

Which all brings me back to one of my favourite quotes: Believe nothing you hear and only half what you see.

Worthy smile of the day, though, whichever way you look at it.
 


Monday, August 10th
 

Celebrate National Rice Pudding Day with centuries-old comfort
food
~ and still rated the world’s most popular dessert



“I took her to lunch and she decided I was all right because I ordered lobster salad
and rice pudding.” The late George Cole recalls meeting his second wife, actress
Penny Morrell,  and falling instantly in love with her.
 

Yesterday I celebrated and smiled along with International Cat Day ― albeit a day late. Today I am celebrating National Rice Pudding Day ― albeit a day late.

Oh dear, the story of my life. Never mind, by hook or by crook, I will somehow get there before the cat has eaten the pudding.

Interesting that yesterday, Sunday, was actually rice pudding day because it instantly whisks me back to my childhood and Sunday lunch ― or Cinio Dydd Sul  (Sunday dinner) as we called it back then in Welsh Wales.

There were two sorts of rice pudding from blessed memory: the one served up at school ― pass! ― and the special one my mother pulled out of the farmhouse oven ― delicious and exceedingly moreish. What I particularly remember, though ― ta-rah...

       ...yes, the generously burnt skin was something to die for.

Truly, it is astonishing what actually registers and is retained on the brain’s hard drive.
 

  “And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super-computer which was so amazingly intelligent that even before its data banks had been connected up it had started from ‘I think therefore I am’ and got as far as deducing the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

42

Returning to George Cole, whose death I acknowledged last Friday ― and of course I quote him above apropos his love of both Penny Morrell and rice pudding ― while perusing his obituaries over the weekend, a few tales grabbed my attention.

For example...

George Edward Cole was born in London in 1925. His real mother abandoned him when he was ten days old and he was adopted by a Cockney couple, George and Florence Cole.
     Aged 13, he was rummaging at the top of a wardrobe for hidden Christmas presents when he found documents confirming his adoption. “I can’t remember whether I was upset at that or the fact that I didn’t find any Christmas presents,” he recalled.


George Cole of course became best known for playing the lovable rogue Arthur Daley in Minder.

Daley’s Cockney jargon entered the British lexicon. He contributed memorable phrases such as “A friend in need ... is a pest”, as well as malapropisms such as “He’s an invertebrate liar”. They became known as Arthur Daleyisms.

But the best was “the world is your lobster”, which his son had heard someone say in a pub: “I took out my wallet and gave him £25 and bought the line off him. I sat on it for about two years and suddenly we had a boxing episode.
     “I went round to see Terry McCann [his minder] after the fight and he was covered in blood and moaning. And I said, ad-libbing, ‘Don’t you worry my son, from now on the world is your lobster’.”

Daley habitually referred to his wife as Her Indoors or ‘Er Indoors i.e. one’s wife or girlfriend; in extended use applied to any woman who occupies a position of authority who is regarded as domineering. The series original writer the late Leon Griffiths apparently first heard it used by a taxi-driver drinking companion of his.

The Duke of Edinburgh became such a fan that a pal had a cushion made for Philip bearing the legend ‘E11R Indoors’. It is said to be still in use today.

What is interesting is how many of these catchphrases come from real life, things that writers and actors overhear. Dylan Thomas was famous for always keeping a notebook to jot down such gifts from the gods.

The one thing I also liked about Minder was the lack of any foul language. It seems that Cole detested it and refused to use four-letter words on screen.

Well done, George. If the writing and the acting is good enough, obscene language adds nothing at all.

Think the famous line from The Italian Job:  “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

Now in real life the Charlie Croker character would have used the f-word. But actually, it adds nothing to the impact of the line. The original is just perfect because it reflects good writing and acting.

Good man George Cole for resisting such shortcuts.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Dalyisms’ ― as in Arthur Daley’s Cockney jargon ― astonishingly, came up as ‘Dualisms’ (if you don’t mind I don’t matter), followed by ‘Dialogisms’.
 


Sunday, August 9th
 

“One of the most striking differences between a cat
and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives”
Mark Twain

THE very first picture that caught my eye this morning was a celebration of International Cat Day, which apparently fell yesterday, August 8th.

And we all know how cats rule the interweb...

Who you lookin’ at?


Angry cat Garfi, a nine-year-old Persian pussy cursed with a natural-born contemptuous
glare, is, according to owner Hulya Ozkok, really a bit of a pussycat ―
but he does have his own set of rules of engagement and acquisition
 

What I like best about Garfi, though, is his obvious dislike of parties, especially birthday celebrations.

I have only ever celebrated one birthday, my 21st, which was the recognised coming-of-age thingy back in the day.

It unfolded in a local pub, and by one of those extraordinary coincidences that litter my stroll through time, Brian from the farm next-door had his birthday on the same day.

But we not only shared a birthday, we shared a date of birth (well, we shared one  of my dates of birth), which is quite remarkable, really.

And that one birthday party has kept me going down the years. Indeed, my birthday regularly passes without my realising it, which is a rather splendid way to grow older without fuss or bother.

Finally, I was really taken with this letter spotted in the Business section of The Sunday Times...

The four rules of negotiation

IN his column last week on the art of negotiation, Luke Johnson did not mention the four commandments that apply.

Aim high: you can always trade down, never up;

Get the other fellow’s total shopping list before you start negotiating;

Keep the whole package in mind all the time. Flush out all the minor details;

Keep searching for variables.

These rules apply whether you are negotiating our continued membership of the EU or the financial millstone strangling Greece ― or agreeing the terms of a purchase from a big supplier.
John Lidstone, Sutton Scotney, Hampshire

How wonderful. Hope you were paying attention, David Cameron.

Oh, and I bet pussycat Garfi deploys those rules of negotiation with owner Hulya Ozkok every time he feels peckish or needs attention.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Garfi’, our pussycat of the day, came up as ‘Garfish’, rather than ‘Garfield’ the celebrated comic strip cat.

The next choice was ‘Graf’, so I guess if Garfi were female, she could have been called The Admiral Graf Spayed.

 

Saturday, August 8th

  I tripped over this memorable diversion while visiting a comment board...

oldgit13: I have just been sent this copy of a letter published in a local paper ... somewhere...

Sir, I haven’t got a computer, but I was told about Facebook and Twitter and am trying to make friends outside Facebook and Twitter while applying the same principles.

Every day I walk down the street and tell passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel, what I have done the night before and what I will do for the rest of the day. I give them pictures of my wife, my daughter, my dog and me gardening ― me on holiday, spending time by the pool...

I also listen to their conversations, tell them I “like” them and give them my opinion of every subject that interests me ― whether or not it interests them.

And it works. I already have four people following me: two police officers, a social worker and a psychiatrist...

How fantastically witty is that?

I was intrigued, though, because there was no heading or title to the letter. Neither was an author indicated.

Now at first glance it looks like a letter to The Times  ― not just the way it begins (Sir, I haven’t... I mean, a letter to the Telegraph  or the Western Mail  would begin: SIR - I haven’t... the Daily Mail  would dive straight in: I HAVEN’T... ) ― also, the elegance and rhythm of the writing indicates a Times  reader.

So I dropped an email to The Times, in particular Rose Wild, editor of the paper’s Feedback column.

She duly responded ― thank you, Rose ― and advised me that she had in fact already come across the missive, and confirmed that it was not a Times  letter, indeed she had no idea whence it had emerged.

Shame, for it would be rather wonderful to identify the author and his classy rubbishing of Facebook and Twitter. I say his  because I presume that it is a man: “I give them pictures of my wife...”. Mind you, these days it is possible for a woman to have a wife. Oh hum.

Come to think of it, perhaps it was from Gerald Wiley c/o The Pearly Gates Hotel.

Gerald Wiley? That was the pseudonym used by the late and talented comedian Ronnie Barker to submit sketches to the BBC.


Incidentally, and whilst we are discussing Twitter, I am intrigued by the term ‘followers’ to describe those individuals who religiously follow someone ― anyone ― who publish their every thought and action.

So I presume that a person who tweets is the new Jesus Christ. After all, it was he who started this ‘followers’ business all those years ago.

Now there’s a thought: The Life of Twitter.
 


Friday, August 7th

It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it

WE all know what Sunday Times  writer AA Gill thinks of the Welsh: “Loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls.” Tra-la-la.

As I have written before, the words deployed mean nothing ― sticks and stones, etc. ― but it was the venom with which they were spat out which registered. There is little doubt that somewhere along his slither through time a Welsh lass made fun of AA’s manhood and he’s been taking it out on all us Welsh ever since. Tra-la-la.

Be that as it may, following the announcement of the death of the English actor George Cole at the age of 90, BBC News ran a selection of his best film and television lines.

Included was a brief scene from the popular 1980s TV series Minder, where Cole memorably portrayed the devious and cheerfully corrupt used-car salesman, general wheeler-dealer and all-round spiv, Arthur Daley. And George Cole managed to render attractive a character without a single redeeming feature.
 

“Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly”


George Cole, above, as Arthur Daley: “You don’t get what’s fair in life, my son.
You get what you negotiate.”

And so to the aforementioned scene from Minder:

Arthur and Terry (his likeable and long-suffering minder ― played by Dennis Waterman) are having breakfast aboard a train, and a German gentleman passes. Clearly Arthur and the German know each other from across a crowded carriage, but have not yet been introduced, and the German stops. “Good morning,” says Arthur in a cheery fashion.

The German bows politely: “Guten morgen.” (I am fairly sure he didn’t click his heels, but I can’t be 100 per cent.)

“Ah, pleased to meet you, Mr. Morgan,” says Arthur, extending his hand without bothering to get up. “Arthur Daley.”

The German gently rolls his eyes and moves on. Arthur turns to Terry: “He didn’t sound Welsh, did he? He seemed like a nice chap.”

Oh dear, how to put the boot in and still generate a smile.

A quick test: you walk into a bar and there are just two customers present; one side there’s AA Gill, a fine writer despite his need to peddle aggravation as his default setting; the other end of the bar, Arthur Daley, as fine a spiv as you could ever wish to meet. But which one will you head for to enjoy a drink and to share a chat and a laugh?

Spell-cheque corner: ‘morgen’ ― as in ‘Guten morgen’ ― came up first as ‘margin’, followed by, believe it or don’t, ‘Morgan’. I kid you not.

The last line

Following the announcement of the death of George Cole, there was a line delivered on the news by a fellow thespian. It is a line just occasionally heard out here in the real world, in the community. Indeed, there can’t be many a finer epitaph: “You never met anyone with a bad word to say about George.”

Perhaps this is how George Cole’s headstone should look...
 

RIP, George.
 

Thursday, August 6th

Quote, unquote

It started with a kiss
   “Kissing, in my opinion,
is one of the most erotic and sensual acts of foreplay.” Columnist Rachael Misstear kicks off her weekly  ‘Matter of Fact’ column in The Western Mail.

“Done properly,” Rachael continues, “it is an obvious, slightly tamer simulation of the engagement which might follow. Maybe that’s why I have such a problem with people doing it in public. It’s just too personal a thing to witness...”

Yep, I grasp what Rachael is getting at.

I then turn the page, and what catches my eye is the first quote in the ‘They said what’ column:

“My parents used to tell me off for licking my plate, but if the food is good it’s a great compliment. Smelling is the overture, eating is the main act, licking is the curtain call.” So says actor Richard E Grant, 58, Swazi-born English actor.

Linking that quote to Rachael’s thoughts on kissing, I suppose you could say: “Kissing is the overture, making love is the main act, and ‘I’ll be in touch’ is the curtain call.”

Talking of making love being the main act:

“If your heart is with Jeremy Corbyn, get a transplant.” Former Labour PM Tony Blair on the party’s leadership battle, in particular the exceedingly-left-leaning Corbyn.

“To suggest somebody should have a transplant if they are making decisions by the heart is totally unacceptable.” Labour peer Lord (John) Prescott (and Deputy Prime Minister under Tony Blair), attacks his former boss over the ex-prime minister’s remarks about Jeremy Corbyn.

“Tony Blair should face trial for war crimes over Iraq.” Jeremy Corbyn, currently leading the opinion polls for the Labour leadership, castrates any thoughts Blair has on becoming a heart transplant consultant.

Meanwhile, entering stage right:

“My real name is Joyce Frankenberg. I changed it when I was 17. My agent told me that it was too long, too foreign and too difficult to spell.”
Jane Seemore, 64, British-American actress. Oops, sorry, that should read Jane Seymour.

“I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship.” Sacked Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson on the news that he and his former BBC Top Gear team are to front a new show on Amazon Prime.

“So is he going to be delivering my parcels then?”
Jeremy Clarkson’s daughter Emily on hearing her father has secured an exceedingly profitable deal for a motoring show with Amazon Prime.

Very funny, Emily ― but I do hope that the spaceship Jeremy has climbed aboard is not called Amazon Galactic (see Richard Branson).

“Bins, filling the car up with petrol, recycling ... this is all men’s work. In the same way, lighting candles is women’s work ― and that’s that.” Baroness (Karren) Brady, 46, English sports executive, politician, broadcaster, columnist, author, lighter of the candles...

And what an entertaining ― and rather surprising ― quote that is to round off the smile of the day.
 


Wednesday, August 5th

Rise and shine

DULY captivated by yesterday’s two photographs of our planet as captured from space, I was reminded of my smile of the day from last Thursday, about Spike Milligan and his more memorable quotes.

Remember? When he was gently probed about his well-documented depressions? He responded thus: “You feel the pain much more than anybody else. But you also see the sunrise better than anyone else.”

And I, in turn, was reminded of what he said to his three young children while playing Cowboys and Indians out in the garden with them: “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 ... there are Old Masters everywhere: the flowers, the trees, the clouds ― and they don’t cost a penny.”

So, inspired by Spike’s observations about beautiful sunrises ― and indeed yesterday’s pictures from space ― I thought I’d get under the cloud cover and look through my own photos for some worthy contenders.
 

If all the world were paper,
And all the sea were ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we do for drink?
Anonymous (17th century)
 


Sunrise on a misty morn on the Dinefwr Castle and Park Estate at Llandeilo
 

He who bends himself a Joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.
William Blake (1757-1827)
 


Sunrise in the Towy Valley, Llandeilo ― with a pair of swallows caught in the aircraft con trails
 

Just ponder ... neither Anonymous nor Blake had the benefit of a camera to capture the joy of the moment and literally relive it later.

There again, that is probably why back then they were so good at capturing what they saw in verse. And indeed on canvas.
 


 
Tuesday, August 4th

Weather is here, wish you were lovely

GIVEN that the UK weather has temporarily forgotten that it’s actually high summer ― I’ve missed many a sunrise walk over the past few weeks due to the rain, including this very morning ― but today, coincidentally, I was captivated by two images spotted in the media.

And both to do with weather.
 

Britain’s rain clouds never looked lovelier: stunning colour
picture of Earth from a new weather satellite




2015/08/04: The European Space Agency’s weather satellite captured this image
at 10am this morning ― showing a depression centred to the North West of
Scotland, the rotten culprit which brought all the rain to Llandampness
 

The new satellite, holding station in a geostationary orbit some 22,000 miles out in space, will send back images of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere in 12 different wavelengths once every 15 minutes when fully operational. So there.

And it will show our planet in all its glorious colours; I particularly like the green and white cummerbund holding Africa’s stomach in.

Oh yes, the satellite will, fingers crossed, improve weather forecasting, ho, ho, ho...!

And then, I stumbled upon this extraordinary image...
 

Super Typhoon Soudelor: strongest storm on Earth this year




2015/08/03: Storm Soudelor roaring across the western Pacific Ocean and packing
wind gusts of up to 220 miles per hour as it heads for Japan, Taiwan and China...
 

How perfect everything looks from 22,000 miles away ... but from the height of the International Space Station, circa 220 miles ― well, things look a little different.

Incidentally, the typhoon picture was captured yesterday by Japan’s Himawari-8 Satellite.

As I said, a brace of quite astonishing and perfectly juxtaposed images.
 


Monday, August 3rd

Pomp on a romp

OVER the past week there’s been one story that has exercised both disbelief and hilarity in equal measures ― perfectly summed up by the following headline and two front pages from The Sun, the newspaper wot broke the story in the first place ― and endorsed with a perfect summing-up from smiley poet Pam Ayres...
 

Lord Sewel, Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, is pictured in orange bra
and leather jacket at a sex and drugs party with £200-a-night prostitutes
[What? No rock‘n’roll? He was had!]

All hypocrites should take due care,
When snorting coke in Dolphin Square,
An orange bra is not so cute,
And best left on the prostitute.
Pam Ayres

Honestly, what on earth makes a man of 69 behave in such a ‘Wish you were here; weather terrible but sex and drugs while dangling from the chandeliers just great’ fashion? And wearing an orange bra?

I am reminded of the dyslexic peer who walked into a bar ... actually, the proper joke is the one about the dyslexic peer who walked into a bra ― but Lord Sewel went and spoilt it all.

And what about that delightful word ‘romp’? It’s forever spotted in the tabloids, yet I’ve never once heard it in the Bible or down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon.

Actually, Lord Coke reminds me of a certain cartoon character ― even if his bra has slipped a little...

  Seriously, though, didn’t old Deputy Dirty Dawg think it suspicious, not so much why the girls insisted he wore the bra, but rather why they so meticulously sought his opinions apropos the nation’s leading politicians. Even those still visible and looking rather risible in our rear-view mirrors.

His views prompted this letter in the Daily Mail:

DISGRACED Lord Sewel may have shown a lack of judgment in cavorting with prostitutes and taking drugs, but his views on the political elite are spot on.
Janet Byrne, Harrow, Middlesex

Indeed, Janet Byrne, and here are just a few of said views as caught on tape...

Sneer of the realm

David Cameron: “The most facile, superficial prime minister there’s ever been. He just shoots from the hip [lip?]. He is false. He makes one-off commitments and cannot deliver.”

Well, Sewel is a Labour peer after all. But hang about...

Tony Blair: He went to war in Iraq “because he fell in love with George Bush, absolutely”.

And Cherie Blair: “Very ambitious and obsessed with money.”

The Labour leadership race: “A f****** mess.” Jeremy Corbyn “useless” and a “romantic idiot”; Andy Burnham “terribly contradictory” and “goes whichever way the wind is blowing”; Yvette Cooper “OK but not strong”; and Liz Kendall, whose name he had actually forgotten, “a Blair supporter who is just too naïve”.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson: A “joke”, an “arsehole” and a “public school upper class twit. He plays well in London because they like a cheeky chappie.”

[Spell-cheque corner: ‘chappie’ came up as ‘crappie’. How very Lord Sewel. But what a clever computer. Yes, electronic chips are slowly taking over the world. Chips with Everything  takes on a whole new meaning.]

George Osborne, the Tory Chancellor: “A very, very consummate politician who will one day be prime minister.”

I can take that last one as a “Yes” then? But here’s my favourite…

Alex Salmond of the SNP: “I watched him holding court: a silly, pompous prat.”

That last one sounds just perfect.
Do you suppose that people high on drugs behave just like individuals high on drink ― they just can’t stop themselves speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

It will be fascinating, though, how future historians view Sewel’s opinions on the political elite. Rather favourably, I guess.

Finally, I shall leave you in the capable imagination of who else but the Telegraph’s  smiley² cartoonist...

 


Sunday, August 2nd

Weight and see

YESTERDAY I shared with you my serendipitous enjoyment of Bells of Lazonby’s  “mouthwateringly moreish” Caramel Shortbread Slices ... well now, a missive spotted a couple of weeks ago in The Sunday Telegraph:

Jamming session

SIR – Where does this attack on sugar leave us jam-makers?
     A typical jam recipe requires a kilo of fruit and a kilo of granulated sugar ― the latter providing preservative qualities, so that the jam will keep for months.
     Jam made with artificial sweeteners, like stevia (which is extracted from plant leaves and is calorie-free), is more like a compote and should be consumed within two weeks.
Sandy Pratt, Dormansland, Surrey 

And here’s a smiley response:

Spoonful of sugar

SIR – Sandy Pratt should continue to use sugar for jam-making.
     The relevant question, when considering your teeth, weight and waistline, is not how much sugar goes into the jam, but how much jam goes into your mouth.
Sally Lawton, Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

Sandy Pratt had also written to The Times, which drew a slightly more sophisticated response:

Jam today

Sir, All Sandy Pratt needs to do to comply with the recommendation to cut sugar consumption by half is to spend twice as long eating the jam.
Tam Fry, National Obesity Forum

Goodness, a Fry-up at the National Obesity Forum; talk about nominative determinism.

And talking of putting on weight, again from the Telegraph:

Small trick for dieters  

SIR – The simplest way to deal with the problem of obesity is to serve scaled-down portions on smaller plates, as suggested by our family doctor some 20 years ago.
Jill Forrest, Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire

That last missive reminds me of a letter from a while back in The Sunday Times , where a lady ― perhaps it was the aforementioned Jill Forrest ― who had been to see her doctor and he had duly advised her to lose weight.

Confused by all the diets available she asked the doctor which one he recommended. He reached for a pen and paper and wrote: “EAT LESS”.

It’s what I now call my 100% Guaranteed EL Diet
 


Saturday, August 1st  

                          Crumbs


A TWEET link led me to this Telegraph  clickbait:
 

How every politician has answered Mumsnet’s 'favourite biscuit' question since 2009

The innocent question which then prime minister Gordon Brown refused to answer has become a ritual. Here's a searchable list of politicians and their answers...

The answer that had actually caught my eye was this, from March 2010 ... first though, a few joined-up dots about the author...

Douglas Alexander [...47,
a British Labour politician who was  the Shadow Foreign Secretary and former Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South ― until he lost his seat in May 2015 to the Scottish National Party’s Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old politics student at Glasgow University...! Crumbs, indeed.].

Anyway, his biscuit answer:

“Terrible admission, and not very patriotic but my favourite are chocolate Leibniz. (A slab of [German] chocolate pretending to be a biscuit.) Prefer the dark chocolate ones to the milk ones ― and of course I hope that they will soon embrace Fairtade(?).”

Now the reason this captured my imagination is ... well, I’ve mentioned before that when I visit a supermarket I always have a look along the ‘Reduced to clear’ shelves ― yes of course, I am always in the market for a bargain, but mostly I look for those things I would never normally buy because, price-wise, they look like a bit of a rip-off.

Well now, the day before I read about Douglas Alexander’s favourite Munchengladbach (a sort of German cum English cum Welsh joke), I spotted a packet of ― ta-rah...

 


BELLS!!  4 Caramel Shortbread SlicesMouthwateringly moreish ...
All butter shortbread, generously topped with caramel and finished with
a layer of milk chocolate [shelf price £2.25 ― reduced to 59p]

Having already tasted one of the above before reading about Douglas Alexander’s Leibniz variety, I really did smile out loud at that “slab of chocolate pretending to be a biscuit” line, a perfect description for the Bells Caramel Shortbread Slice.

Mind you, I thoroughly enjoyed my Bells caramel, especially so at 15p a slice. But would I pay nearly 60p for a not very big slice at that? Hm. Thanks, but no thanks.

Mind you, if Uncle Ernie or Auntie Camelot decide to come calling and I then have money to burn...

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Mhairi’ ― as in Mhairi Black the new Scottish MP ― came up as ‘Mohair’. From what I’ve seen of young Mhairi, she looks much more scratchy and itchy than mohair.

Incidentally, Mhairi is the Scottish Gaelic form of Mary. In Welsh it is Mari, pronounced Ma-ree.

 

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Smile of the day 2015: Jul
Smile of the day 2015: Jun
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)
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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