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

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POSTCARDS FROM
MY SQUARE MILE
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Updated: 11/08/2013

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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
 
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
 

Do you know what every button in YOUR car is for?
Researchers say hi-tech features and warning lights are being ignored as owners are confused

Drivers are steering clear of technology in their cars because it is too confusing


The above clickbait appeared just the other day. I nodded my agreement, made my excuses and hurriedly moved on.

Actually, the only warning light I’ve had appear in the year since I bought my new car is the one indicated in the above clickbait, which did rather startle me.

A quick dig in the car owner’s manual came up with ‘Low tyre pressure telltale’. I liked the use of the word ‘telltale’ ― which was all very apt because a front tyre was indeed marginally low on pressure.

Anyway, I was listening to Vanessa Feltz first thing this morning ― and she told this tale of life in the celebrity fast lane.

Now Vanessa, aka Lady V to her listeners, as well as having a most relaxing broadcasting voice and a perfect command and deployment of the English language, is also a marvellous raconteur ― so here we go...

‘Ullo Lady V! Gotta new motor?

I sort of ambled into the studio at 4.30 this morning. Why? I’ve finally bought a new car after 6½ years. I mustn’t mention the brand but it’s a mini, the two-seater one, but I think it might be a now defunct brand of mini, which is okay by me.

It’s red with stripes on and it’s, well, nifty and it’s really magical driving around in it. I’m waiting to catch a reflection of myself in a shop window as I whizz by, but I haven’t done so yet. I’m convinced I look the absolute bee’s knees in this car.

[Ivor the Search Engine suggests that it’s the “liberating” two-seater Mini Coupe, “the sportiest car in the Mini range with its backwards-baseball cap profile and bulky back-end. It’s not cheap, but it’s big on style and fun ― just what Mini buyers love”. Yep, I can see why Lady V would love it. Back with Vanessa...]

Now I know nothing about cars, but this one has got all sorts of nifty gizmos and gadgets and bits to stick in ― but can I work a single thing in it? There’s not one bit of it I can work, honestly. I can’t work the radio, and there are all sorts of things you can plug in.

There’s somewhere to stick your iPod ― I haven’t got one of those; there’s somewhere to plug your superphone, smartphone, or whatever the heck it’s called ― I haven’t got one of those either, I’ve still got an ancient brick from 1803.

I haven’t got any of the things that you’re meant to plug in.  

Then it’s got a sports mode ― I’m not sure where that is or what it means. It’s got a cruise control, which I’d never use and don’t even know where it is. These things are utterly wasted on me.

But, I do remember when I got the car that the guy said to me: “It’s got a buttock warmer, Vanessa, and once you use it you’ll never turn back.”

Then recently it got colder and colder in the mornings, so I thought, this buttock warmer thing is the one bit of the car I really would like to master, apart from the steering, the brakes, the lights, the indicators and the windscreen wiper, obviously. I really would like to get this buttock warmer thing up and running ― but how to find it?

So I thought I’d find a child and ask. Now I happened to know a 6-year-old and asked him about finding this button that should warm my rear, my derriere, my behind, my bottom. Anyway, this child of six immediately located the button and pushed it.

Honestly, what can I tell you? I am a convert to the roasted derriere. There is nothing more marvellous is there than having your extremities warmed by a machine in a car. I’ve never enjoyed such luxury. It’s my veritable definition of luxury on earth.

Roasted buttock, what a fantastic sensation, I’d buy a car just for that.

Were I to be exiled to that Desert Island ― not that they’ve ever asked me to be on that programme, but if they ever did, of course I’m available. And if they did, I would have to have that as my luxury, a buttock warmer...

How marvellous. And told so entertainingly.

I empathise absolutely with Vanessa about modern cars and all those gadgets. All I want from my car is to get me from A to B safely, and essentially without inducing any stress or hassle i.e. no breakdowns, especially of the electronic and computer kind.

Mind you, I did especially empathise with her roasted buttock. Having owned a couple of Saabs along my drive through time, I can endorse that they had wonderfully heated seats.

Sadly my current motor doesn’t have that luxury. But I don’t really miss it because I do such limited mileage these days that I am rarely in the car long enough for my bum to be thoroughly warmed.

But what I do miss is the Saab’s classy radio/cassette player. I never listened to the radio in the Saab, I only played my many tapes, all tapes I edited together of music and humorous things I can listen to over and over. I still have the ability to play tapes at home, with even a couple of back-up players in case of emergency.

I mean, who would you find to repair a cassette player these days?

Oh yes, the other thing I enjoyed was Vanessa waiting to catch a reflection of herself in a shop window and looking the absolute bee’s knees as she whizzed on by in her Mini.

God, I remember at 18-years-of age when I owned a Triumph TR3 sports car. Yes, I really did look the bee’s knees in the Llandampness shop windows.

And of course there was the magical sound the Triumph made as I whizzed between the town buildings. What was it the famous car rally driver from the 50s and 60s, Pat Moss, called the TR2 she drove? Fruity ― in honour of the sound of the car. A perfect description of the music the distinctive TRs generated through their exhausts.

And talking of music...



Vanessa’s ‘Dilemma is in the ditty’ line today was from British pop group Hollywood Beyond and their song and title line ‘What’s the colour of money?’ Over to Vanessa once more...

Kenny from Edinburgh says that shortly there will be no colour, with technology progressing so fast everything will be paid via card and mobile phones etc. That might be OK for you, Kenny, but I’m clinging to my cheque book and my florins and my half-crowns and threepenny bits...

Honestly, you really are my sort of person, Vanessa.

Incidentally, if I had responded to ‘What’s the colour of money?’, I’d have said all the colours of the rainbow because my pot of money appears to be hiding at the end of it.
 


Tuesday, September 29th

The quick blue flash...

AS I am planning to take a break from Look You shortly, here’s a smiley little story I’ve been meaning to share for a few months now.

When I set off on my daily sunrise walk through the Towy Valley I pass the local ambulance station. Back in the spring I’d noticed a white transit van neatly parked up outside.

What had grabbed my attention was that it never seemed to move. Day after day, week after week, there it was. I became quite mesmerised with it ― so much so I even took a picture of it...

Here be a dragon

Llandeilo Ambulance Station: Dragon Care Solutions in the Community?

After taking the photo I set off on my walk ... and my imagination kicked into gear. Now we know that the Welsh Ambulance Service is under a lot of pressure, mostly through not meeting response time targets when called to emergencies.

Now some of the problems are not down to the ambulance service per se, but rather the vehicles are being held up at hospitals when they arrive with their patients.

So I thought ... hm, now what’s that written on the van? “Dragon Fleet Care ~ The Only Solution”.

Perhaps the white van is the cheapest form of safety net the ambulance service could come up with to meet its urgent calls target. For example...

If I find myself in a situation where I need to be rushed into hospital and there’s no ambulance immediately available ― and I guess I speak for every single person reading this ― then I’d be more than happy to be shoved into the back of a white van, and as the driver speeds away he plonks a flashing blue light on the roof of the van, you know, the way the American cops do in the films.

Well, it made me smile...

Anyway, around the middle of June I noticed that the van had gone ― and I never saw it again. Hm.

A few days later I was returning from my sunrise walk and approaching the ambulance station and I could see several paramedics present. It was just before eight and I knew they were changing shifts.

As I neared the gathered siren of paramedics my eyes searched out an accommodating face, the sort of face that would laugh at a Spike Milligan joke ― and I spotted my target.

Now this was June 23 ― I specifically remember the day because it was the morning after we had seen that extraordinary film clip of the cat that had somehow found itself stranded on the wing of a microlight aircraft and having to cling on for dear life at several hundred feet above ground before the pilot spots it and lands safely to rescue the cat...

Cat on a wing and a prayer

Surprise, surprise: one down, eight to go...

Anyway, I approached the chosen paramedic and the conversation went something like this:

“Oh hello, excuse me being nosey: now I appreciate that curiosity nearly killed the cat, but I’ve been intrigued by a white van that was parked up outside the station...”

And I told him the story as per my imagination, about the van being used as an ambulance in an emergency.

The paramedic ― whose name I sadly didn’t get ― smiled and said: “No, things are not that bad yet. Actually the van belonged to the people who maintain our vehicles; when they collect an ambulance they leave the van here until they return ― but as to why it was left here for such a long time ... I really have no idea.”

Hm, I thought, perhaps they’d forgotten about it; or, it was surplus to requirements at that time and parking it up outside an ambulance station ― and opposite a police station ― was as safe as it gets.

So I thanked the paramedic for humouring me. “Mind you,” he added, “if one morning you’re passing and you see a hot air balloon taking off from the park alongside and someone holding up a drip ― then you’ll know that we really are in trouble...”

Lol, as they say down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. And it’s reassuring that our knights of the road, despite their well-documented problems, haven’t lost their sense of humour.

However, there’s a wonderful footnote. I mentioned that the white van would have been safe outside the ambulance station and opposite the police station.

Well, just the other morning, I was setting off on my sunrise walk, and I spotted this van parked up outside the police station...

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s all this, then?

9 – 9 – 9... Help! Thief! Someone’s nicked me wheel trims

Lol², as they say down the Crazy Horsepower Saloon. Also, that vehicle could do with a quick wash.

And now, if you haven’t seen it already, a YouTube link to that amazing film of the cat flying high, high, high ― and watch out for the gloriously startled look when the pilot spots the cat...

                                                                                                                 First, remove cat before flight
 


Monday, September 28th

TODAY’S headline of the day comes compliments of that little game of rugby last Saturday night, which resulted in the somewhat surprising score of England 25 – 28 Wales ― and me breaking out the champagne...

So brilliant was this rugby eclipse by our resolute
Welsh warriors that even the moon is turning red
Carolyn Hitt in the Western Mail

Well, the visit to the dentist went startlingly well on Saturday night.

Let’s recall what June from Caerphilly had said on a radio phone-in on Friday morning about that hugely significant England vs Wales World Cup game in the ‘pool of death’...

“Look, the game is much like going to the dentist: I don’t want to think about it, I just want to find myself in the chair and having it all sorted out so I can carry on with my life...”

Well, June must be carrying on with her life today with a little ball bouncing along above her head ― at least until next Thursday when the Welsh lads have another must-win game against Fiji. Ho hum.

Whatever, much has been said and written about the game, so I thought I would smile at my favourite picture of the game.

Princes William and Harry were sporting divided rugby loyalties at the game ― even Madame Tussauds had draped the waxworks models of the royal brothers with the flags of their teams.

William had already urged the Welsh lads to beat their great rivals ― if only just to keep his brother quiet: “Unfortunately, I will be watching you with my brother, so I will need a Wales win more than ever!

The Duke is of course vice-patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, while brother Harry is honorary president of England 2015, the organising committee staging the tournament, he is also vice-patron of the Rugby Football Union and so quite naturally was cheering on England.

During the anthems, Harry, William and Kate sang God Save The Queen ― and then we saw both William and Kate enthusiastically sing the Welsh anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Which all brings me to the photograph taken during the singing of the Welsh anthem...

 


Marvellous sibling rivalry writ large ― Harry appears annoyed at his brother’s unbridled
enthusiasm as he and Kate refuse to hold back as they join the visiting fans in singing
the Welsh national anthem, William decked out in a red Wales zip-up jacket
 

Oh dear, that is such a gloriously smiley photo. And you just know that both William and Kate are belting out the Welsh anthem with extra gusto in order to wind Harry up. And it clearly worked. Just enjoy the look on Kate’s face.

Now we know from William and Kate’s three-year stay in Anglesey, North Wales, that she is word perfect in the Welsh anthem ― and clearly from what we saw on television, she has taught William well.

Yes indeed, Saturday and smashing memories of the unexpected. What you would call a smash and grab result.

And a perfect reminder of Celia Imrie’s wonderful advice: “I need to laugh more and drink more glasses of champagne...”

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Tussauds’, as in Madame etc., came up as ‘Tossups’. No comment. And honestly, I never make any of this ‘spell-cheque corner’ stuff up. I mean, I would find it a real challenge to think this laterally.
 


Sunday, September 27th

THE morning after the night before...
 

       England 25 – 28 Wales
 

Saturday, September 26th
 

                                   No thinking allowed

TONIGHT, the Rugby World Cup proper gets under way with Wales playing England at Twickenham in the dreaded ‘Group of Death’ encounter.

It’s already acknowledged that whichever side loses tonight will have a struggle to reach the knock-out stages.

I’ve been avoiding the subject all week.

Perchance, yesterday morning, I happened upon the tail end of Morning Call  on BBC Radio Wales, one of those dreaded phone-in shows full of experts discussing the big game, obviously.

June from Caerphilly came on, and I guess she spoke on behalf of 99% of all known rugby supporters.

I may well paraphrase, but the crowning glory is strictly June’s: “I listen to all these pundits and experts discussing what will happen Saturday night when really they have as much idea as I have. Look, the game is much like going to the dentist: I don’t want to think about it, I just want to find myself in the chair and having it all sorted out so I can carry on with my life...”

June, you are my sort of person.

So here’s my version of a visit to the dentist, a little something to keep my mind off the build-up to the game ― all triggered by a letter in this morning’s Daily Telegraph...

Size matters  

Sir – What a relief to read that men’s chinos from Marks & Spencer had recently been sold with shortened zips.
     Having purchased a pair, I had for several months believed that my anatomy had changed post-retirement.
Michael Cattell, Chester, Cheshire

How funny: at the beginning of last March I told the tale here on Look You of buying a pack of Y-Front-style underpants.

The fitting is fine, yet the stable door is tiny and it really is a struggle to get the old stallion out.

Now I am not boasting, indeed I am given to understand that I fall comfortably into the average category, the Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec of the motoring world, I guess. A Mondeo at a push, perhaps.

So I had a closer look at said underpants ... and noted that they are ‘Made in China’.

As I said at the time, I can only presume that in China they have little Mini Coopers which are perfectly suited for nipping in and out of traffic. So they must be happy with a cat-flap for a stable door.

I also reflected that, on the other hand, the Italians swish about with their Ferraris and Lamborghinis, so their underpants probably have double doors that open automatically.

Whatever, it would be interesting to know if those Marks & Sparks chinos purchased by Michael Cattell are made in China. Or thereabouts.

I shall post this smile of the day c17.30 hrs, well before the big game kicks off, so whatever the result, it will give me time to collect my thoughts.
 


Friday, September 25th
 

Bits and pieces, boobs and appendages


A LITTLE bird, compliments of
GOING VIRAL as spotted in last weekend’s Sunday Times...
 

Twitter: Where S&M means science and maths

“So,” she sighed, panting. “Did the earth move for you?” “Of course,” he said. “At 0.2771638 recurring kilometres per second.”

This is one of the erotic scenes from the @50NerdsofGrey Twitter feed, which enjoyed a sudden burst of popularity last week.

It’s like Fifty Shades of Grey, but deliberately ― rather than accidentally ― amusing.

@50NerdsofGrey: “I’ve been a very bad girl,” she said, biting her lip. “I need to be punished.” “Very well,” he said, and installed Windows 10 on her laptop.

@50NerdsofGrey: He was very careful during bondage sessions. He always used safe words that contained upper and lower case letters and at least one number...


I wonder if that number was 7 ― which brings me neatly to this:

@Corbynjokes: What would happen if James Bond took Viagra? He would continue being a state-sponsored terrorist thug whose actions disgrace us all.

@CorbynParody: Corbo isn’t bothered by criticism that his shadow cabinet contains too few women. “It’ll be okay,” he says. “We have a woman as shadow foreign secretary.” There is an ominous silence. “Ummm, Jezza ... Hilary Benn is not a woman. He’s a man with a woman’s name.”

@Corbynjokes:

               Knock-knock!
               Who’s there?
               A Pig.
               I’m sorry. This is not the old politics. We don’t do personal attacks.
 

  “Jeremy Corbyn’s election is the most important day for the Labour Party since man came down from the trees 10 million years ago.” Ken Livingstone, 140, English Labour politician and former mayor of London.

Actually, experts (proceed with care) now think that man came down from the trees some 5 million years ago ― give or take a million or so either way ― so that makes Ken Livingstone only 70-years-of-age as opposed to 140 ― and Jeremy Corbyn’s election is only half as important as Ken insists.

Handy rule of thumb: Divide everything a politician says by 2 and you start to dabble in half-truths.

Oh, and how about this letter in the Telegraph  (the John McDonnell referred to is part of the Corbyn cabal dedicated to the overthrow of Queen and country).

Trouble brewing

SIR – John McDonnell, the new shadow chancellor, states in Who’s Who that his hobby is “generally fermenting the overthrow of capitalism”.
     On the assumption that he meant “fomenting”, does that mean that in addition to being economically illiterate, he is also literally illiterate?
Christopher Monniot, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Every day a day at school spot: fermenting  ~ to stir up somebody or something, or be stirred up;
                                                       fomenting 
~ to cause or stir up trouble or rebellion.

Hm, a subtle but crucial difference. Nice one, Christopher Monniot.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Monniot’, as in Christopher Monniot, author of the above letter, came up as ‘Monitor’, which, given the contents of said missive, is somewhat spooky.  

 

Thursday, September 24th

            Trouble with tattoos


“Honestly Mr Beckham, Sir, this
Sanskrit stuff is a nightmare.”

SIR - The health risks associated with tattoos have been well-known to doctors for many years.
     Successive editions of Rook’s Textbook of Dermatology since 1968 have each devoted several pages to these dangers, which include infection, allergic reactions to pigment and skin diseases such as lichen planus, psoriasis and sarcoidosis.
     The problem is that tattooists don’t publicise these risks, and the fashionable young don’t care.
Professor John L Burton of Somerset in a letter to The Daily Telegraph

That missive flashed through my mind when I read this quote:

  “I want to start with something meaningful but I will probably end up looking like my dad ... and dad’s not happy about me being cooler than him.” Brooklyn Beckham, 16, is catching the tattooing habit from father David.

Well, Brooklyn me old son, if you want to be truly fashionable and mega cooler than your dad, then stay clean because if what I read is true, then ever increasing numbers of the fashionable are desperate to de-ink.

Indeed, mum Posh Spice is rumoured to be having laser treatment to remove her tattoos ― apparently because Victoria wants to be taken seriously as a businesswoman and the tattoos were getting in the way.

See the subliminal switch there? I went from Posh Spice to Victoria as soon as I was aware of her de-inking.

E by gosh by golly

Mention of Victoria as a successful businesswoman, this clickbait caught my eye...

ARE YOU BOSS MATERIAL? TAKE THE FIVE-SECOND TEST

It’s the test that separates those in charge from the people who will never move up the career ladder

American professors Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer say tracing the letter ‘E’ on your forehead separates those who have it and those who are only along for the ride

Now mother bread a jibber ... I instantly deduced that I must trace it so that anybody looking at me can see what it is. Actually, it was quite a simple thing to do. I even had a go at ‘e’ ... slightly more difficult tracing that in mirror image format.

Clearly I am a natural-born leader, which to be honest, did rather surprise me.

But hang about, hang about, this is what the good professors say...

The five-second test

Without thinking about it, trace the capital letter ‘E’ on your forehead using your finger.

E-to-self: If the letter is written so it only makes sense to you, as if you are looking at it through your forehead (є), it shows that you are self-orientated and have traits commonly found in powerful people and those in senior roles. 

E-to-others: If the letter is written so it makes sense to others but not yourself (э) it shows you consider people’s perspectives but you may not be cut-throat enough to make it to the top.

Well, well, well, so I am  a natural-born paid slave after all. That does make sense because I am not driven by ambition and all the baggage that goes with the territory.

The authors have published their findings in a new business book called Friend & Foe.

In another test the authors also randomly assigned a group of people the role of boss or employee. 

They then gave them the chance to buy chocolates for themselves or others. The bosses became the Scrooge, buying an average of 32 chocolates for themselves and only 11 for others. 

Lowly employees were far more generous, with the ratios reversed. 

In conclusion, to succeed in business you need to sharpen your claws and not be a likeable pushover. 

Well, I would have bought chocolates for myself ― I appreciate full well that I tend to be a bit selfish and I have to consciously instruct myself to share things.

However, I will on impulse buy chocolates (or a bottle) for others if they’ve done me a good turn or an unexpected favour, so I guess that partly lets me off the hook. And I’m back as a paid slave.

Cock up of the day

Lynda La Plante, the 72-year-old Prime Suspect  television crime series writer, today made an unfortunate and embarrassing (but hilarious) slip-up live on ITV’s This Morning when discussing hairdressing, and she accidentally said: “I have a tint and blow job waiting for me.” She of course meant to say “blow dry”.

Priceless.

Put-down of the day

Yesterday, I admired Vanessa Feltz’ brief and elegant tribute to author Jackie Collins: “She had a wonderful manner and impeccable manners.”

Well, at the other end of the scale, the Dalai Lama, the old sweetie pie, has been in the news when he called for a female successor ― so long as she’s hot. (Did he really say that?)

Well, the ladies of the meeja are not best pleased with old Hot Pot Lama, witness this headline from the Telegraph’s Rebecca Reid...

                      The Dalai Lama is as sexy as a fungal nail infection

Clearly Rebecca and me have something in common: we’ve both experienced a touch of fungal nail infection along our walk through time.

PS: This is the actual Dalai Lama (aged 80) quote:
“If female Dalai Lama come, then that female must be very attractive. Otherwise not much use.” He was asked to confirm his thoughts ― always double-check what people say if there
’s a language barrier ― and he apparently endorsed his views about Her Hotness.
 


Wednesday, September 23rd
 

  “She had a wonderful manner and impeccable manners.” Vanessa Feltz on her early-morning radio show pays a wonderfully elegant tribute to author Jackie Collins, who died the other day aged 77 after losing a well-kept six-and-a-half year secret battle with breast cancer, something which even her sister Joan knew nothing about until a fortnight before her death.

Vanessa also added that she had interviewed Jackie a few times down the years and found her absolutely charming. She was also one of only two interviewees who had ever sent her a polite thank-you note ― after all, Vanessa pointed out, why should they because she was only doing the job for which she was being paid i.e. interviewing celebrities.

“I still have the notes and I still treasure them,” added Vanessa.

A wonderful manner and impeccable manners. Now that is what I call a memorable personalised epitaph.

The other courteous person, incidentally, was author Jilly Cooper, 78, both ladies so clearly belonging to the same polite and well-mannered generation.

And talking of Jilly Cooper:

  “These days everyone is so respectable it’s Victorian.” Life used to be much more interesting, suggests Jilly, author of some well-thumbed bonkbusters.

Oh I wouldn’t say that, Jilly. This opening shot from Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times  about Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn and the news of a surprising affair from yesteryear...

Jezzer the bedder couldn’t be a chooser

Why are people so surprised that Jeremy Corbyn once had an affair with Diane Abbott? Who else did you think he was going to pull? The Duchess of Devonshire? Agnetha out of Abba?

Even Marxists need to have sexual intercourse once in a while, as Karl himself would attest, even if the pool of talent available for them is a tad shallower than it is for normal human beings...

Apropos that ‘sexual intercourse’ reference: Rod, I think Freddie Forsyth’s ‘coitus’ is so much more classy, no?

Anyway, back with Corbyn, things have moved on since that piece by Rod about the 1979 Corbyn-Abbott affair, witness this week’s clickbait in Mail Online...

EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Corbyn’s first wife reveals how their marriage really ended after his lover Diane Abbott made a ‘hostile’ home visit and told her: ‘Get out of town’

Hm, there once was an ugly duckling, eh?

But at every place they said to her face / Now get out, get out, get out of here ~ And she went with a quack and a waddle and a quack / And a very unhappy tear...

So who needs bonkbusters when you’ve got so much of the real stuff going on. And sticking with Jeremy Corbyn...

  “It wasn’t Cameron on the ropes. It was Cameron in a hammock.” Jeremy Corbyn gave Tory leader David Cameron an easy ride at his first Parliamentary Prime Minister’s questions exactly a week ago, says a Labour MP, speaking anonymously.

But of course, a week is a long time in politics and things have moved on rather spectacularly ― yes of course,

Pig Gate, and Dave definitely on the ropes...

@JohnClarke1960 ― Never before in the history of politics has THIS quote been sooo apt:

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” George Bernard Shaw.

I do so hope that the Shaw quote is from Call me Dave: The Pigmalion Years, ho, ho, ho.

Finally, and acknowledging that the unauthorised biography of David Cameron by Lord Mike Ashcroft is generally accepted to be a revenge dish served up cold ― and all because The Bad Lord was overlooked for a place on the cabinet...

The Pikey Laureate @ASH_Smyth > #piggate LATEST

Early drafts of miffed peer’s tell-all book [‘Call me Dave’] originally titled ‘Call me, Dave’.
 


Tuesday, September 22nd

They do say that it’s all in the mind

A RECENT advertising campaign for wines, as featured Down Under, seemingly offended three or four ― maybe more ― people. See what you make of it...

Bush tucker: A fork in the road


“Australia practically jumps out of the glass ― in fact,
some say you can almost taste the bush.”
 

Hm. Some labelled the advert, with its sales pitch as quoted beneath the above image, as “sexist”, “vulgar” and “childish”.

To be honest, I took the scenic route, as opposed to the dirt track, so I didn’t see anything to frighten the horses.

Mind you, now alerted, if I peer through narrowed eyes and slightly parted fingers, from behind the sofa------

Places on the sunny side of the street

Something curiously smiley stumbled upon, and all to do with Belize in Central America:

Some of the more fascinating place names and rivers in Belize include Baking Pot, Double Head Cabbage, Cattle Landing, Laughing Bird Caye, Monkey River, Gallon Jug Estate, Bullet Tree Falls, Crooked Tree, Teakettle...

More Tomorrow, Never Delay, Rock Dondo [er, not to be confused with Rock Hudson], Saturday Creek, Banana Bank, Cotton Tree Bank, Hummingbird Highway, Raspaculo River (meaning scrape your bottom in Spanish), Sal Si Puedes (come out if you can) and Labouring Creek.

Now how wonderful is that? You sort of wish that More Tomorrow and Never Delay ― villages located along the Belize River in Cayo District ― are twinned.

Mind you, everything is not perfect in Paradise. I spotted this headline on Plus TV, the Belizean News Blog Post, dated 22 Dec 2014:

                  Murder in More Tomorrow Village

The police did have a suspect in custody, though. Mind you, that was of no comfort to the deceased.

Memories are made of this

“They do say,” said Roy Noble the other Sunday morning on his wireless show, “that if you can look back on your life with contentment, joy and satisfaction, you have one of the most precious gifts in life: a selective memory.”

I plead guilty as charged. I always remember the things that make me smile. I sort of remember the many things that have made me blush along my stroll through time. But there has been nothing whatsoever to bring shame and scandal upon the family ― at least, I can’t remember anything.

I wonder how handily selective David Cameron’s memory is? 
 


Monday, September 21st

They sailed away for a year and a day,
                                  
To the land where the Doolally-tree grows,
And there in a club, Miss Piggy-wig grub,
        
        With a knob at the end of her nose.
(With apologies to the ghost of Edward Lear)
 

GIVEN that the whole raison d’être of this website is to glory in the jollity and doolallyness of the passing parade, there is just one subject matter today ― and here, a mix-and-match selection of the newspaper headlines and pictures on offer and as spotted online...


Regression therapy at work, rest and play?
It is a worry, mind, that our Dave is showing
 such affection for the Piggy-wig with
that knob at the end of her nose

David Cameron put ‘private part of his anatomy’ in dead pig’s mouth, shock biography claims

David Cameron, drugs, debauchery and the making of an

extraordinary Prime Minister: Lord Michael Ashcroft’s

Call me Dave: The Unauthorised Biography of David Cameron

How future PM took part in outrageous initiation ceremony after joining Oxford Dining Society at a Piers Morgan Gaveston event, involving a dead pig

Lord Ashcroft alleges in an unofficial biography that Cameron took part in bizarre ritual at the drinking club dedicated to the encouragement of ‘ostentatious decadence’

One specific allegation is that, in the Daily Mail’s words, Cameron took part in an initiation ceremony in which a pig’s head was produced by a club member and that Dave “inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth”. It cites a source ― a current MP ― who claims to have seen photographic evidence. It allegedly took place at the notorious Oxford University “secret society” drinking club, the Piers Gaveston Society.

[Apologies for the Piers Morgan Gaveston slip ― I must not allow myself to be prejudicially influenced, Your Honour.]

#PigGate farce: Story of Cameron’s ‘private part’ in dead pig’s mouth resonates gloriously online:

Well, I was spoilt for choice, really. Here are just a few, pretty much selected at random...

@GuidoFawkes: This explains Dave’s big policy fail. We misheard. He’s in favour of Pig Society.

@ImranGarda: So now Corbyn isn’t the only one being criticised for loving Hamass.


I particularly smiled out loud at this one:

@AsaWinstanley

“At least mine was still alive, you muppet.”

And then the unforgettable picture from the archive of Ed Miliband making a horrible meal of that toasted bacon sandwich, and duly earning a creative curtain call...  

@blueliberal1

“Dave did WHAT with this pig?”

Oh yes, earlier today, when I first heard the news, I typed ‘pig gate farce’ into Google ― but Google came up with:

Did you mean?  Pig bite force

And finally, I did submit to The Daily Telegraph  for consideration this brief missive, which I thought was reasonably good and original:

  And the pig got up and slowly walked away

SIR – Apropos Lord Ashcroft’s ‘The Unauthorised Biography of David Cameron’, is this what is known in political circles as a poke in a pig?
HB of Sty-As-Sweet-As-U-R, Llandampness

Great fun story ― but is it all true? Or just a jumbo wind-up? Perhaps it would be best for Mr Cameron to just come clean and say: “Look, like every young man of that age, I was merely sow-ing my wild oats.” Oh, and while we’re at it, was you-know-what actually inserted into the pig’s mouth? Or where? Or who? Or what?

Goodness me, it really is so difficult to take the whole thing seriously. Mind you, if that photographic evidence referred to above is actually true ― blimey², what must it be worth?
 


Sunday, September 20th

Hope dines eternal

My son and his wife received a splendid response after they complained about their meal at a café they recently visited for the first time.
     When they informed the smiling waitress that the beans were cold, the egg was hard and the toast was burnt she replied: “Perhaps it will be better the next time you come.”
Jack Lowe of Bolton in a letter to The Daily Telegraph (DT)

How marvellous. That waitress really should enjoy a rather agreeable walk through time.

Let me eat cake

My uncle wrote home from school in the last decade of the 19th century: “Dear Father, how is Mother? Finished cake, send another!
Brian Temperley of Bleasby in a letter to The Times

And I bet Brian Temperley’s uncle did  actually enjoy a rather agreeable walk through time.

Refer to drawer

My wife and I agreed to open a joint account when we married. She has the cheque book and I have the paying-in-book.
Terry McDonald-Dorman of Darlington in a letter to the Daily Mail

Yes, my guess is that both Mr & Mrs McDonald-Dorman are currently enjoying a rather agreeable walk through time.

Proms go paperless

Watching Last Night of the Proms, I wondered why, in this day and age, conductors and musicians are still periodically leaning forward to grab and turn over their music sheets.
     A computer with a scroll function would save a great deal of effort.
Peter Wyton of Longlevens in a letter to the DT

Well Peter Wyton, has anyone in the whole wide world ever done anything involving a computer where it hasn’t suddenly played up and not played the game, frozen, or worse, crashed? If what I am currently working on crashes ― curses, I will lose it ― but all I normally have to do is restart the computer, pick myself up, dust myself off and furiously start all over again.

Now if you’re conducting or playing at the Last Night of the Proms, or even the First Night of the Proms come to that, and the computer scroll function decides to play up ― you can forget the “Encore, encore!”.

It would take a brave conductor to put his or her entire trust in a computer with a scroll function.

Smooth elegance

In your otherwise excellent obituary of Lord Moser you describe him as “balding but elegant”.
     As one who has lost most of his hair, I can confirm that it is possible to be both balding and elegant.
Andrew Holmes of Bromley in a letter to the DT

Hopefully it is others who have told Andrew Holmes that he is elegant in his balding state. After all, self-praise is no recommendation.

 

Saturday, September 19th

Joking aloud

I’VE just caught up on the iPlayer with a slice of wireless gold heard last Wednesday afternoon, compliments of BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed with Laurie Taylor:

“I hope you had a good holiday,” says Laurie to us listeners. “I sound like a hairdresser don’t I. Anyway, before my summer break I gave you some holiday homework and asked you to come up with some social science jokes ― and you duly obliged. And they were just terrible.” Delivered with a little ball bouncing along over those final five words.

Anyway, over to Laurie...

When I tell you that this, from Jamie Bullham, is one of the best, you’ll sense some of the horrors that follow.

Joke: Did you hear about the right-on criminologists who refused a starter and a main course, they wanted just desserts.

Next: In my work I always have to apologise for the shortcomings of the human race. I’m an anthro-apologist. Groan.

Two social scientists go into a bar ― not the start of a joke but the start of a research project. Sigh.

An anthropologist, an economist and a sociologist walk into a bar. Whatever else happens, the economist is going to make the other two pay...

Actually, I quite enjoyed those, all rather clever. But this was my favourite slice of the sequence. Over to Laurie again:

I liked this story from Ian Salisbury. It was prompted by the story of Lazarus [and the miracle in which Jesus restores him to life four days after his death] in particular my jocular reminder at the end of the last series about Lazarus’s words: “Oh no, not again.”

Ian writes: Laurie, a little girl is asked what would be the first thing she would do if, like Lazarus, she was brought back from the dead.

She drew herself up to her full height, spread her arms wide and shouted: “TA-RAAAHHHHH!

I really like that. You can see the little girl doing it. Hugely smiley. Indeed, I think we should all go through life regularly drawing ourselves up to our full height, spreading our arms wide and shouting:
“TA-RAAAHHHHH!

Coitus continuous

Yesterday I featured the tweet from Guy Walters which led me to Freddie Forsyth and the marvellous tale of the countess and the Horst Wessel song.

Well, Guy has been at it again, with another brief grab from the Forsyth autobiography...

@guywalters
Too Freddie. Still, no Horst Wessel on this occasion.

It is said that everyone on earth alive at the time recalls where they were and what they were doing when news came through that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

I happened to be dining in West Berlin [aged 25] with a German girl called Annette. We were at the Paris Bar, just round the corner from the Reuters office. It was full and behind the clatter and chatter there was muzak playing. Out of nowhere...

I certainly remember where I was when JFK met his Maker, sitting in the corner of the Crazy Horse waiting for my pals to turn up for our regular Friday night safari around the local watering holes ― nothing as glamorous as our Freddie, sadly ― when out of nowhere the bar went deathly quiet and everyone was staring at the grainy picture on the black and white television in the opposite corner.

Anyway, back with Freddie. With all these weird and wonderful women ploughing through his life, do you suppose that a little of his novelist world is sneaking into his autobiography? Even if he was a part-time James Bond for MI6.

“Forsyth. Freddie Forsyth.” No, it doesn’t sound right, somehow.

And another thing: I am fairly sure the term muzak  was not around in 1963.

PS: Apropos yesterday’s wonderful piece about the German countess singing the Horst Wessel Song during coitus with our Freddie, this witty tweet was posted too late for inclusion yesterday...

Boris Starling @vodkaboris > @guywalters: Since an anagram of ‘Horst Wessel Song’ is ‘Tense Gross Howls’, maybe not so unexpected.
 


Friday, September 18th

Day of the jackal and hide (under the duvet)

FREDERICK Forsyth, the grand master of international suspense, has just published his most intriguing story ever ― his own, the “One day I’m gonna write, the story of my life” one: The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

Whatever, I was attracted by this tweet:
 

@guywalters: We’ve all known women like this---

[There was a brief three-para snatch and grab from Freddie’s book, which I duly reproduce here...]

The only other thing of interest during those ten weeks in the hot, sunny spring of 1956 [as a 17-year-old] was a torrid affair with a 35-year-old German countess. She frequented the training sessions and later taught me many things a lad should know as he steps out on life’s bumpy road.

She had the quaint habit of singing the Horst Wessel song during coitus. At the time I did not know what it was and only a year later learned it was the marching song of the Nazis. This probably meant she had been involved during the war with something deeply unpleasant, which would explain her migration to Spain which, under Franco, was tolerant of that sort of thing.

My folks spent a week at the Marbella Club, then we all left for Gibraltar and the ferry for Tangier.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tweeted response:

@WillHoneycomb: “Quaint”? I wonder what qualified as startling for Freddie in bed.

Me? At 17 what I remember is this: the girls playing hard-to-get and whispering things like “I really shouldn’t be doing this” and “You promise not to tell anyone”.

However, I did eventually share coitus ― what a wonderfully quaint expression that is ― with a woman similar to the countess. But I did not realise she was actually singing. Probably because it most definitely was not a marching song.

Thinking about it now, she wasn’t actually moaning either, in fact she was humming Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Research corner: I was intrigued as to what it was about the Horst Wessel song that made the countess so, er, rampant ― so I listened to it on YouTube, with English subtitles (link below).

Well, ignore the words ― mind you, the line “The day of freedom and bread is dawning” is hard to ignore ― but what instantly registered was that even during the first listen I found myself harmoniously humming along with the melody.

And I began to understand why the German people so effortlessly fell under Hitler’s spell. And all underlined by a song.

                       Horst Wessel Lied (English subtitle)

ADDENDUM DATED SEPT 19:

Boris Starling @vodkaboris > @guywalters: Since an anagram of ‘Horst Wessel Song’ is ‘Tense Gross Howls’, maybe not so unexpected.
 

 

Next, another tweet from Guy which tickled my old funny bone:

@guywalters:

The Sun:  They’ve Jihad It ― End is Nigh for Islamic State

The Times:  3,000 terror suspects plotting to attack UK

Which to believe? Both?

Depends whether you’re on the sunny side of the street ― or on the other side. Just keep your head down, Guy, and hope for the best. Mind you, regularly tweeting is no help.

You are my sunshine

Talking of the sunny side of the street, you realise the sun has suddenly gone in when you are in Burkina Faso and you turn on the telly for the evening news and your friendly-neighbourhood Huw Edwards look-alike suddenly looks like this...

Newsreader Kaa

 Trust in me, just in me, shut your eyes and trust in me...

Yes, there’s been a “coup d'état”, just south of the Tropic of Cancer, down West Africa way.

Mention of BBC newsreader Huw Edwards: could the above be what a newsreader will look like here in the UK when Jezza Corbyn strolls down Downing Street and disappears into No 10?

But hang on, we won’t have an army ― unless of course there’s been a coup d'état because Corbyn has threatened to abolish the army.

Hm, we do indeed live in interesting times.
 

Thursday, September 17th

BY THE LEFT, QUICK MARCH!

THE Jeremy Corbyn passing out parade marches by without a let-up in the smile quotient extravaganza.

Now we already know that the new Labour leader is exceedingly left-wing, is a republican and desperate to dump the monarchy, is a fully paid-up-plus member of the trade union movement, wants to abolish the army ― but we don’t yet know where he stands on supporting the England football and rugby teams (never mind the other home nations).

All the above brings me neatly to a couple of letters in the Daily Mail:

Open goal

With Jeremy Corbyn on the Left-wing, will England’s strike rate increase?
David Grace, Bourne, Lincs

How very witty, David Grace.

Atten-shun!

The logic that argues abolishing the Army would help achieve world peace must also conclude that abolishing trade unions would bring about industrial harmony.
Colin MacDonald, Bottesford, Notts

How very wise, Colin MacDonald.

And now, this cracker, spotted in the Telegraph’s  Sign Language gallery...

A sign of the times

Spotted in Connecticut by Sheira Pullin

By the right, quick march!

If the above picture had been published a few months ago, we might well have smiled gently at New Britain Avenue ― and probably wondered at its significance.

But here we are, September 2015 ― and we smile out loud to ourselves. It is, of course, the “KEEP RIGHT” that is the icing at the bottom of the cake.

Now it is already established that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t like wearing a tie, prefers a white poppy over red, and doesn’t like singing the national anthem.

Also, we have just learned that because he is the leader of the official Opposition, he will, while attending something called a Privy Council, have to kneel before the Queen and kiss her hand while promising to be her “true and faithful servant”, and that despite him desperately wanting to pack her off to The Tower.

You couldn’t make it up ― and I am surprised that our Establishment still has something so Monty Pythonesque still alive and kicking. My sympathies are with Jeremy Corbyn.

But of course, Jeremy Corbyn is already keeping to the right: he is now regularly sporting a collar and tie; he will, apparently, sing the national anthem next time out; he is already on the lookout for a pair of trousers with reinforced knee pads (allegedly) ― and on and on...

Remembering last Tuesday’s piece on Corbyn’s unforgettable casual wear combo which made all the papers, I wonder if the Graham Norton Agony Uncle column in the Telegraph  has received a letter along these lines:

 


Dickies Grafter Duo Tone Trousers (WD-4930) £27.95

Dedicated follower of fashion, not

Dear Graham

On the day my husband was given the nod and the wink that he was the overwhelming frontrunner in a four-horse-race result to be announced the following day (last Saturday), should I have allowed him to leave the house in a combo of striped shirt, bloomer shorts, black socks and a pair of trainers in need of a bit of spit and elbow grease, along with that green folder full of magic beans?
Laura from Islington

PS: Perhaps I could write to you again about this confusing business of ties, poppies, national anthems, the EU, the need for Trident, not to mention the Armed Forces ― oh, and the suitability of Dickies’ knee pad trousers for his audiences with the Queen. x
 

The last line of defence

We know that WD-40 offers all sorts of magic, from long-lasting lubrication and protection to easing the problems of piles ― but I was quite amused that the Dickies Grafter trousers is a WD-4930.

The Dickies magic ingredient is obviously 93. Wow!
 


Wednesday, September 16th

Foxy-whiskered gent

SIR – [Apropos pubs which induce nostalgia], the Tower Bank Arms near Windermere looks almost unchanged from the illustrations in Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddle-Duck. All that was missing when I visited was a Foxy-Whiskered Gentleman sitting on a bench outside.
Joanna Sharpe of Pitton, Wiltshire, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph

I was suitably amused by that letter, but knew nothing of Jemima Puddle-Duck and said Foxy-Whiskered Gentleman ― however, I instantly thought of Labour’s new Chief Sitting Bull, Jeremy Corbyn, a variation on the theme of a foxy-whiskered gent, I would suggest.

So I said “Fetch!” to Ivor the Search Engine ... this, from Wikipedia:

Jemima is a domestic duck of the Aylesbury breed, whose eggs are routinely confiscated by the farmer’s wife because she believes Jemima a poor sitter.

Jemima searches for a place away from the farm where she can hatch her eggs without human interference, and naively confides her woes to a suave fox who invites her to nest in a shed at his home.

Jemima accepts his invitation, little realizing her danger: the fox plans to kill and roast her. Kep, a collie on the farm, discovers Jemima’s whereabouts and rescues her just in time.

How delightfully sweet. And I again thought of Jeremy Corbyn, especially following the row yesterday when he took part in his first ceremonial engagement as Labour leader, appearing to remain silent as the UK national anthem was sung at an RAF service marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman later said he had stood in “respectful silence”.

No prizes for guessing that the sky duly fell on the foxy-whiskered gent’s head.

He is of course a staunch republican, and he has in the past called for the monarchy to be abolished.

Now you can see where I’m going with this: for Jemima Puddle-Duck read The Queen, and for the Foxy-Whiskered Gentleman read Jeremy Corbyn. The old fox, of course, plans to stuff Her Majesty and roast her.

May I have the pleasure of this dance?

 

 
 

Jemima Puddle-Duck and a Foxy-Whiskered Gentleman stroll down by the riverside

Len McCluskey and a Foxy-Whiskered Gent celebrate victory in a Westminster pub

 

What is fascinating about the second picture is that the tables are turned. Len McCluskey, left in the above smooch, an English trade unionist who is the General Secretary of Unite, Britain’s biggest union with 1.42 million members in various varieties of workplace, is really the fox and Jeremy Corbyn the duck.

Actually, when I look at the picture of Len and Jeremy in such a loving embrace ― and prey (sic), is that young Owen Jones of the two-left-feet Guardian  newspaper in the background feeling sorry for himself having missed out on a smooch with Jezza? ― I imagine the following slice of conversation shortly after...

Jeremy Corbyn: “The next round’s on me, comrades...” Feels his pockets... “Now what did I do with my wallet?”

Not, you understand, that I am suggesting Len McCluskey is a pickpocket ― at least, not of wallets.

And finally, a couple more relevant newspaper letters, the first from The Daily Telegraph:

Dig for victory

SIR – My real worry about Mr Corbyn, now that he will have to spend more time at Westminster, is who will look after his allotment?
Michael Leapman, London SW8

Well, Mr Leapman, that will be the least of his worries because now he is aiming to turn the whole of the United Kingdom into his personal allotment.

But what will he call the defunct United Kingdom once he has banished the Queen to some faraway place with a strange sounding name?

And this from The Times:

Air borne

Sir, The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a breath of stale air.
Alan Witt, Charing, Kent

Do you suppose that an author boasting the surname Witt places much too much expectation on the reader?
 

 

Tuesday, September 15th

No right turn-out

WITH Jeremy Corbyn, pictured left, now confirmed as the Labour Party’s new leader, much has been made of his unfashionable dress sense, which, to be honest, I have found particularly exhilarating given that I am not ― how shall I put this? ― a dedicated follower of fashion.

Mind you, on the day before Corbyn was officially announced leader, even a simple country lad like me understood perfectly well that he was pushing his luck big time when sporting the outfit featured alongside.

But oh my, it drew an entertaining twitter exchange:

@euanmccolm: You people are out of your f****** minds [to elect Corbyn as leader].

@murdo_fraser > @euanmccolm: Don’t kid that you have never been seen out in that black socks/shorts/trainers combo.

@MorpyJim > @euanmccolm: FFS
! You’re right, never wear stripes and shorts.

@ConnyDavid > @euanmccolm: ...a bad tempered geography teacher, circa 1981, whose wife has just left him. Push him too far, and he’ll flip.

@GHmltn: What’s in the green bag?

@MrsCupcake79 > @GHmltn: It’s an ethical, vegan, biodegradable multi-purpose container of magic budget beans.


Brilliant.

And today, I spotted this remarkable juxtaposition...

Battle of Britain: “75 years on, I’m still awake

every day by 4am”

Tom Neil, left, the last surviving RAF ‘Ace’ from the Battle of Britain, reveals what a day in the life of an elite pilot ― a group that Winston Churchill nicknamed The Few ― actually entailed.

At RAF North Weald in Essex, the day began at 3.30am, with the noise of the plane engines being warmed up. In the nearby huts, 12 pilots would be lying in bed ― sometimes in pyjamas, some still in uniform ― one ear listening for the telephone.

Wed start getting information via the radar systems, says Wing Commander Tom Neil, now 95-years-of-age, and one of the last of The Few, the 3,000 young Allied Forces pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940.

I know, I know, 95 years old ― and just look at him ... as neat as a new pin, is the expression (I think). Extraordinary. And I heard him speak today ― sounding just as elegant as he looks.

If appearances are anything to go by, into whose hands would you rather entrust your children and grandchildren’s futures? Tom Neil or Jeremy Corbyn?

Anyway, back with our hero...

There are only 20 of The Few thought to be left, but Tom Neil is the last remaining
‘Ace’: a pilot who claimed five confirmed ‘kills’ in a day. During that Battle of Britain summer he flew around 150 missions. 

Today, as Wing Commander Neil of No. 249 Squadron watches the 75th commemorative flypast of 40 Hurricanes, Spitfires and Blenheims at Goodwood Aerodrome in Chichester, his mind will go back to those adrenalin-fuelled flights, the subject of his latest book, Scramble!, a collection of his writings on his wartime career, published by Amberley at £19.99.

Even now, the Wing Commander has few regrets. “I was deeply privileged to be involved in the Battle of Britain,” he says. “I’ve had a wonderful life: sometimes dangerous, interesting, delightful, even.

“But I’m an old gentleman now ― always awake at 4am. Other people were deeply affected by the war and still wake up screaming, but that never happens to me. But sometimes I think: did I do enough?”

In fact, Tom Neil did indeed take part in the flypast itself, courtesy of Prince Harry. It seems that Harry was due to fly in one of just a handful of two-seater fighters, but when one suddenly became ‘unserviceable’, Harry gave up his seat to the old boy.

Finally ― and being that we’re discussing appearance and what it signifies ― I must return to those Twitter exchanges about Jeremy Corbyn and his memorably wacky combo.

So, there were the Twitterati having fun at the prospect of Corbyn as the nation’s next prime minister ― when this tweet appeared...

@gareth0108

“Could be worse, a lot worse.”
 

Now that,  is funny. But fair’s fair, Boris was  playing tennis, and we all tend to look a bit strange when pushing ourselves to physical extremes. Know what I mean, chief?
 

Monday, September 14th

“...and that means you, smartass!

  “He’s very f****** lonely. There’s a great sadness.” James Bond is a pathetic misogynist, says the 007 actor Daniel Craig, 47, currently working on his fourth outing in Spectre.

Perhaps someone should whisper in Daniel’s ear that James Bond is not a real person, he’s a make-believe character and therefore normal rules about life, the universe and everything do not  apply.

The real clue comes, not in how he can bed any woman that takes his fancy, but rather when the baddies have him bang to rights, and for some strange reason they always walk away and leave him to his fate ― and he always but always manages to escape. D’oh²!

My favourite example is the crocodile farm escape in the 1973 Live and Let Die: Mister Big aka Dr Kananga’s one-armed henchman, Tee Hee Johnson, leaves Bond to be lunched by the crocodiles.

Now think about it: I appreciate that back in the day they didn’t have mobiles to film the crocs devouring Bond and then instantly posting it on YouTube ― but you would have thought that Tee Hee would have watched it in every detail so that he could bounce his grandchild on his knee and tell him about the time he fed James Bond, the famous 007, to the crocs.

There again, if Bond hadn’t escaped along the backs of the crocs ― outrageously smiley sequence ― and then stolen a speedboat, we wouldn’t have met the unforgettable Sheriff J W Pepper, and heard that wonderful line by the older policemen to the younger one when they arrive on the scene and see one of the boats embedded in the Sheriff’s car: “Boy, where you been all your life? That there’s one of them new car-boats.”

Which resulted in the good Sheriff uttering that glorious line featured on todays welcome mat...

Perhaps Daniel Craig should spend some time with Scottish actor Tom Conti, 73, who has his finger on the pulse of the absurdity of believing in make-believe characters:
“Acting is a lousy job. It’s a waste of life.”

Sometimes though, real life trumps even make-believe ― witness this clickbait spotted this very day...

  American Airlines ‘flew wrong plane’ to Hawaii

At least they didn’t fly the right plane to the wrong place. Phew!
 


Sunday, September 13th

That’s ‘C’ as in champagne

  “I’m the kind of guy that when asked to spell something over the phone I say: ‘G... as in gnome’, just to throw ‘em.” A one-liner just heard on the wireless.

That reminds me of a character from my Crazy Horse Saloon days, a fellow by the name of Keith Popham. He had a somewhat broad Welsh accent, and it was clever pub regular Chief Wise Owl who spotted something quite unique about his name. Or at least the letters that made up his name.

Old Chief Wise Owl suggested to Keith that when speaking on the phone in a business capacity, say, to someone in England, he should, because of his pronounced Welsh accent, spell out his name phonetically. It went like this:

“It’s KEITH POPHAM: that’s K as in knickers, E as in eureka, I as in irk, T as in tsunami and H as in honest...

“And my surname, POPHAM: that’s P as in Psychology, O as in Ouija board, P as is pterodactyl, H as in honour, A as in aisle and M as in mnemonic. That’s Keith Popham.

It generated miles and miles of smiles. Even better, thereafter we all knew Keith Popham as Nurso Sweetoin.

Ah, those were the days.
 

Saturday, September 12th

Howdy pardner

THE other day I mentioned the Vanessa Feltz Radio 2 show, in particular her ‘The dilemma is in the ditty’ spot, where she takes a line from a popular song and invites listeners to respond with their thoughts.

That particular morning it involved Frank Sinatra’s ‘What are you doing the rest of your life?’ ― I submitted my five-card-God-trick, which Vanessa read out.

Well, just the other morning it was a line from a catchy 1996 one-hit wonder for American female singer-songwriter Paula Cole: ‘Where have all the cowboys gone?’

The responses were overwhelmingly to do with shoddy traders and dodgy financial advisers and bankers. So how could I resist something a little different ― and something much, much nearer home...

HB from the Wild West of Wales calling ― Where have all the cowboys gone? They’re all hanging out at my local watering hole, which I affectionately refer to as The Crazy Horsepower Saloon, in particular the Asterisk Bar.
     Once upon a time it was called simply the Crazy Horse ― but that was before Trigger and the pony and trap were traded in for a Land Rover 4x4 Discovery and a Quad bike.


Sadly, this time my little effort didn’t make the cut. Never mind. Later online though, I did come across this marvellously smiley photograph, a glorious image from the archives...

A four-legged-friend walks into a bar...

October 1937: Mr Jack Fowler, a coal merchant in Bedford regularly brings
his horse Sam into the public bar of the Balloon Inn for a beer and
a game of dominoes with the lads  (Pic: LC Buckley)

What a smashing picture. Made even more amusing because the photographer, LC Buckley, brings to mind Crown Buckley, a famous old brewery based in nearby Llanelli, but taken over in 1997 by Brains Brewery of Cardiff.

Such are the ways of the modern world.

PS: That fellow extreme left looks suspiciously like my grandfather, who clearly got about a bit. Yes, I sport a beard, sometimes wear a flat cap, enjoy a pint of dark beer, chat to horses ― well, if Tony Blackburn at 72 can have conversations with the opening lines of the songs he plays on Pick of the Pops on the wireless --- enough already.
 


Friday, September 11th

♫   Up a lazy river, how happy you could be

A COUPLE of weeks back I enjoyed the report that insists we should have three-day weekends all year round to boost our all-round health and productivity; not only that, David Spencer, Professor of Economics at the University of Leeds, also believes we should only work a 30-hour week to get the most out of other areas of life

I was instantly signed up to the report; after all, throughout my working life I hardly ever toiled away for more than 20-30 hours a week.

Well now, another welcome clickbait:

Humans are ‘born lazy’: Study finds we are wired to save energy ― and make our movements as streamlined as possible

The study from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University implies that despite all our efforts in the gym, our nervous systems are subconsciously working against us

You speak for yourself, Simon Fraser Uni; there’s nothing subconscious in my nervous system. I have always known that I was hard-wired not to be a slave and never to sweat to excess.

After all, only fools and horses work.

Mind you, it means I have never been top-drawer stuff when it comes to this sex business. I mean, all that effort. Ah well.

And on that note, I can feel myself coming over all lazy and lingering in the shade of a kindly old tree...

Zzzzzzzzzzz...
 


Thursday, September 10th

Another day another click

SPEAKING as a natural-born caveman...

Missing link found: new species of human discovered in South Africa

Scientists find fossils of Homo nerdi, our ancient relative, in a remote cave 30 miles north-west of Johannesburg

Actually, it read: ‘Scientists find fossils of Homo naledi...’ but I really did  read it as ‘nerdi’ when I first scanned it ― now c’mon, let’s face it, any missing link should indubitably show humanity as a species of nerds.

For example...

Woman says she discovered her long-term ‘boyfriend’ was her female best friend with prosthetic penis

A British woman told police she always wore a blindfold when around her boyfriend throughout their two-year relationship as he was recovering from a brain tumour and he did not want her to see his scars.

The complainant told Chester Crown Court she thought she was having sex with a man called Kye Fortune, when it was in fact her friend, Gayle Newland.

There’s no answer to that, as they say down the Crazy Horsepower. However, the court case continues to unfold in an intriguing and bizarre fashion, at least in clickbait form.

But enough already about such hide and seek things. Here’s a sporting clickbait from yesterday...

Record-breaker Wayne Rooney makes emotional speech to England team-mates following 50th goal

England football captain celebrates breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s national team goalscoring mark in win over Swiss

I most sincerely trust that I have been presented with the correct copy of Wayne’s speech:

“Friends, Royalists, Countrymen, you have passed me your balls;
I come to bury the Opposition, not to praise them.
The fouls that men do lives after them;
The good is oft flagged as offside;
So let it be with the Opposition...”

Stirring and emotional stuff indeed, young Wayne.

Finally...

Most apposite name of the day

Spotted under an Obituaries clickbait...

Gordon Darling, philanthropist

Mining tycoon who became a philanthropist and arts patron


Spell-cheque corner: ‘naledi’, as in Homo naledi, our ancient relative, came up as the following options, in order of preference: nailed/naked/named/malady/needy. I think I prefer ‘malady’, as in ‘the search is ended but the malady lingers on...’.

 

Wednesday, September 9th

We are amused

Today, September 9 2015, HM Queen Elizabeth II overtakes her
great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-
serving monarch
~ from Queen V via Queen E to Queen B

Remember this from a week ago?

  “She has done and said nothing that anybody will remember.” David Starkey, 70, a British constitutional historian and a radio and television presenter, on the Queen.

And of course, the ironic thing is, I remember nothing old Darkly Starkley has said, except that he can’t remember anything the Queen has said. And it’s Darkly Starkley’s job as a historian to say things I should remember.

Wide open

Well now, yesterday I was on one of my biannual visits to the dentist ― incidentally, I now call him Cecil, but he doesn’t know that yet. Mind you, if he starts hurting me I shall start bringing my bow and arrow with me to the surgery...

Whatever, arriving some 10 minutes early, as is my wont, I pick up the Independent newspaper ― and yes, it was actually dated yesterday.

I flick through ... and there’s a feature, essentially Queen Victoria vs Queen Elizabeth II ― all you ever need to know in the battle of the Queens...

What caught my eye, though, under the Queen Elizabeth section was this:

Memorable quote

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” A line from the Queen’s message to a service of remembrance for British victims of the 11 September 2001 atrocity so impressed Bill Clinton that he told Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell: “Find the guy who wrote it and hire him.”

Yes, I shall remember those words of the Queen’s for sure, whatever Darkly Starkley says.

 

Tuesday, September 8th

♫   Let’s go fly a kite

I WAS captivated by an image spotted online...

 


A time-lapse composite image of kite surfers at Waddell Creek Beach, Santa Cruz, California
pic: Casey McCallister at work, rest and play
 

What I particularly liked were the actual birds dotted among the kites ― seagulls? Truly eye-catching and beautiful.

But what really drew me into the image was the fact that it instantly made me think of kites here in Wales...

 


At 2pm sharp, every day, at a farm in mid-Wales, Chris Powell drives his tractor with its loaded
transport box into the field to feed the birds ― slightly more than tuppence a bag these days
pic: Kev Joynes at work, rest and play
 

Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch

At Gigrin Farm, near Rhayader, pretty much precisely located in the middle of Wales, the Powell family has been feeding red kites since the winter of 1992, when there were just two birds visiting. A year later, six appeared and it has been steadily increasing ever since as they draw in kites from an ever-exploding square-mile.

  In winter, on a cold and snowy day, up to an astonishing 500 red kites will attend...

The skies quickly thicken as a host of birdlife swirl in for their afternoon snack. Kites are quite shy creatures, so it is normally the crows and ravens that make the first plunge, followed swiftly by the buzzards. Only then do the kites begin to dive.

Their precision is astonishing. Unlike the other birds, kites don’t land on the ground, it is strictly a snatch and flee policy as they haul their beef chunks to a nearby tree where they can safely enjoy their spoils. The kites have a well-ordered ranking for food: the older birds feed first, before making way for the younger members of the family.

The farm gets through over a quarter of a ton of meat weekly, as supplied from a local abattoir ― an entrance fee to the farm and the hides pay for the meat.

The BBC’s Countryfile television series featured the farm a couple of weekends ago, and the kites’ complex flight patterns were revealed by super high-speed, high-definition cameras, which showed previously unseen wing movements (way too fast for the naked eye).

The feeding frenzy can last up to 30 minutes as the kites swoop and squirm down to collect the chunks of beef, or steal it from one of the crows already on the ground.

Back in the 1960s there were just a handful of red kites in the whole of Britain, all resident in Mid Wales. Now look at them. It would be wonderful though to know what distance they travel for their free lunch.

Nice story, perfectly highlighted by the two magnificent images which make up today’s smile of the day.

As a personal observation, whenever the harvest starts outside my window, and the farmer arrives to mow the meadow, as if by magic, kites and buzzards arrive to snatch the free basket of breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and high-tea that appears when the mower goes to work.

Similarly when the farmer starts baling or picking up the loose silage or hay.

Spell-cheque corner: Welsh words and place names always challenge the computer. ‘Gigrin’ Farm came up as ‘Gagarin’, unsurprising because both words look and sound vaguely familiar; and the village of ‘Rhayader’ came up as ‘Header’. Hm.

Also, ‘tuppence’, curiously, came up as ‘upended’, with a second choice of ‘sixpence’.

 

Monday, September 7th

JUST occasionally, reading say an article or a letter in a newspaper, I catch myself pondering at the doolallyness of putting something like that in print. For example, this letter in The Daily Telegraph:

Sent off with a bang

SIR – When posting a package of explosives at the local post office last week I was asked, “for security purposes”, what the package contained.
     The lady seemed quite happy when I told her it was three balls of string.
Tim Gibbs, Bideford, Devon 

Eh? Pray, what does the defendant mean by the word ‘explosives’? Of course it could be a box of Christmas crackers, which always go off with a bang.
So that’s okay then. But it does rather invite the police to come crashing through his front door?

But the more you ponder, the more you realise that Tim Gibbs is being ultra-ironic and making obvious the utter futility of the “for security purposes” question. And as someone pointed out, when asked the old “anything to declare?” question by the nice customs officer you’re not going to say “Yes” if you are carrying something you shouldn’t.

So Tim Gibbs made his point.

Meanwhile, on the clickbait front...

Need the lavatory? You’ll need a doctor’s note, school children told

St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School in Cardiff asks parents to provide medical note if

children need to go to toilet during lessons in move described by one parent as ‘disgusting’

That curiosity drew a couple of letters to the Telegraph, including something I certainly hadn’t noticed:

Note of urgency  

SIR – GPs do not train for 10 years in order to write notes for schoolchildren to be allowed to leave the classroom to go to the lavatory.
Dr Catherine Perry, Lincoln

SIR – I cannot be alone in noticing that the name of the school involved, St Teilo, is an anagram of toilets…
Fiona Wild, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Brilliant. More proof that we are living a computer simulation game played by superior beings existing in a parallel universe, just the other side of that friendly neighbourhood black hole .. see last Friday for full details.

Next, a letter I wholly empathise with:

Tune in, drop out

SIR – I am delighted to see that the BBC is scheduling Strictly Come Dancing  to clash with ITV’s The X Factor.
     I can now avoid both of them at the same time.
David Statham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

And finally:

All stalk and no action

SIR – You report that B&Q is employing a “plant whisperer”.
     If the company is interested in profitability, it would do far better employing somebody to go round the plants with a watering can.
Luke Mee, Leeds, West Yorkshire


And there you have it, five letters which prove why I find the Letters pages so much more insightful, witty and wise than the columnists who all essentially say the same thing over and over but always dressed differently in a magic glossary of words.
 
 


Sunday, September 6th

Five O’Clock Shadow Boxing

DOOLALLYNESS doesn’t come much better than this clickbait, compliments of the Telegraph...
 

Dear Graham Norton.  “Help! My husband wants me to shave ‘everything’.”

Graham Norton advises readers on love, life and everything in-between

Yes, curiosity tempted this pooch-puss (see yesterday’s dispatch) to click...


The SOS was from Melanie (via email!), who is “married to a sweet American man with whom she lives in perfect harmony ― expect for one small disagreement: He wants me to shave off my, ahem, body hair. I have refused as I have no wish to become a sexless Greek statue.”

Melanie and hubby are off on holiday to Martha’s Vineyard ... I begin to smell a rat, and that Melanie is, perhaps, a script writer’s delight.

Indeed, Uncle Graham’s response is littered with throwaway remarks such as “unruly ladygarden”, “a bit of deforestation before the holiday won’t go amiss”, and “downstairs décor”.

And Uncle Graham’s advice? “Just say ‘I tried it once and I didn’t like it’ and you’ll be able to cut your husband off at the pass whenever he brings the subject up again.”

Now what I did spot from the above clickbait picture, apart from Graham looking somewhat startled at the thought of running into a lady lumberjack intent on a bit of deforestation, was that until recently, he has been sporting a gloriously full beard. Suddenly he is clean shaven.

What does Graham expect the husband to do next if Melanie refuses to shave?

It doesn’t bare/bear* thinking about.

* ‘bear’ as in Slang  A hairy, stocky gay man (from an online dictionary) or ‘bare’ as in the bare necessities?

Incidentally, at the bottom of Norton’s Agony Uncle page it says this: “When appropriate, the best letter will win a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier”.

My goodness my Guinness, what a loaded promise. Perhaps it is not appropriate when the man involved in the personal relationship fracas comes across as a bit of a brute?

All engines start

Last Tuesday I compared Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer with the flying machines from The War of the Worlds.

Well, the following letter subsequently appeared in The Times:

Starck’s spaceship

Sir, I consider Philippe Starck’s futuristic lemon squeezer (letter, Sep 1) such an awe-inspiring design (as does the Museum of Modern Art in New York) that it has no place in our kitchen but sits ominously on a sideboard ready for lift-off and world domination.
     Having said that, we did use it once ― and very successfully too.
Keith Robinson, Littlewick Green, Berks

Obviously Keith had taken note of what Philippe Starck had said about his design: “It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations…”

I will add that letter as an addendum to Tuesday’s “easy peasy lemon squeezy” piece.
 


Saturday, September 5th

Believe it or don’t

YESTERDAY, at 11.30am, the ‘Most viewed’ feature on the Telegraph’s  home page was ― ta-rah...

Feminists are angry that Kermit the Frog’s new girlfriend is young and thin ... onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia ― no, hang on, I’ve got that wrong ― ribbit, ribbit...

Okay, hands up time, that last bit is made up ― but everything up to “...young and thin” is faithfully reproduced. Cross my heart, etc...

Meanwhile, back with the Telegraph, a brace of clickbaits coming up, the two separated by a couple of days:

 

Scientific proof that your cat doesn’t love you

Unlike dogs, cats do not need humans to feel safe and secure, preferring to look after themselves

And then today:

Rowan Pelling: Why we secretly envy a cat’s independence

The aloof indifference of a feline is so much more attractive than a pet dog’s pathetic neediness

Now I fall between two stools here. My father was a pooch and my mother a pussycat. Deep in my psyche I have a tail which I am desperate to wag furiously when patted on the head and told “Who’s a good boy, then?” Swish-swish-swish...

And when left on my own I will curl up on the sofa and generate a low continuous vibratory sound expressing contentment. Purrrrrrrrrrrrr...

In other words, I could be parachuted into the grounds of Buckingham Palace and, following the old James Bond thing where he peels off his wetsuit to reveal a perfectly pressed tuxedo with attendant red carnation, I would quietly and effortlessly mix with the in-crowd and endlessly wag my tail.

And then, when the Queen eventually spots me as an infiltrator and banishes me for a whole year to a desert island ― with my eight discs, obviously ― I would be perfectly happy in my aloof indifference.

Which all neatly brings me to my image of the day.

Pussy Galore

Some of the most famous artworks such as Mona Lisa and Girl With a Pearl Earring have been recreated with cats as the subject matter for a new book.

In feline interpretations of various artworks, painter Susan Herbert’s Cats Galore: A Compendium of Cultured Cats features the animals in renditions of paintings including The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli and Ophelia by John Everett Millais.

Cats Galore  also brings together illustrations of cats in scenes from theatre and film ― Julie Andrews’ Sound of Music is very smiley ― and is described as the ‘ultimate compendium for cat-loving culture buffs and cultured pet owners’.

And here’s my favourite Movie Cat...

Limelight

Charlie Chaplin, The Tramp (1915), in a catty manner

That truly is rather splendid. And I like the tail ― see above ― although cats actually tend to swish their tails when they are not best amused. I am sure the Queen, as reigning Pussycat of the Kingdom, would have briskly swished her tail when she spotted me in the Buck House gardens.

Incidentally, I enjoyed this comment apropos the paintings as featured in the Mail Online  article:

Larry Official Puss, London: This is excellent. Now, how about cats as famous sculptures? Rodin’s Thinker, for instance.

Yes indeedy, Larry Official Puss (are you Prince Philip in disguise, perchance?). And Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave would be particularly interesting.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Botticelli’, as in The Birth of Venus, came up, curiously, as ‘Optically’. Was that just a passing illusion?
 


Friday, September 4th

A shot in the black hole

HALF A MOON back I smiled at a fascinating clickbait, as spotted 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...

So I duly responded by playing my default God card.

Well now, Professor Stephen William Hawking CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA ― don’t ask ― 73, an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge ― oh, and a 5-star celebrity to boot ― has chipped in with the following, as told to the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm:

“The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another university universe.”

Sorry about the error, but that’s how I originally read it. Many an honest slip twixt page and brain.

Whatever, I have a sneaky suspicion that I know as much about the Universe and the answer 42 as the good Professor, simply because my guess is as good as his, and really, it is all a bit of a shot in the dark...

North and South and East and West of your life?

Anyway, first thing this morning, I’m listening to Vanessa Feltz on her Radio 2 show and she arrives at the regular ‘The dilemma is in the ditty’ spot, where she takes a line from a popular song and invites listeners to respond with their thoughts.

This morning it was a Frank Sinatra song from 1974: ‘What are you doing the rest of your life?’

So I submitted my five-card-God-trick, the one you will already be familiar with. The trick, that is.

It seems today’s Vanessa show received a torrent of responses, from the sublime, via the obvious and the ridiculous, to the deeply profound.

I particularly liked this ― over to Vanessa:

“From Karl in Kent ― What am I doing the rest of my life? Exactly what I do now: I’m gonna walk around with a smile on my face and I’m going to marvel at the wonder of it all.”

Yep, that flirted with my own personal walk through time.

And then Vanessa read this out...

“This from HB in deepest Wales ― What am I doing the rest of my life? Putting my feet up and watching the passing parade. However, given t
he 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.

But hang on: if You are listening to this ― then perhaps You are God and I am just a component, a character, a plaything in Your computer simulation. Now there’s a pause for thought ... Wow! Well, while you’re thinking about that, listen to this, Sam Smith performing last night at a live BBC gig, the beautiful Nirvana...”

I think it’s safe to say that Vanessa was rather wowed with my response, even if I say so myself.

Slip of the tongue of the day

Then listening to this morning’s 11 o’clock morning news on Radio Cymru, the Welsh language radio station, the news reader rounded off the bulletin with the weather. It was in Welsh, obviously, but it doesn’t lose anything in translation:

“So, a pleasant weekend then, dry with plenty of sunshine everywhere, and it currently looks as if next week will be a fine day ― week ― as well.”

Yes indeedy, many a subliminal slip twixt page and microphone. But the truth is, if the summer just gone has been anything to go by, next week will indeed be a fine day.

A very smiley slip.
 

Thursday, September 3rd

Orf with his head

  “She has done and said nothing that anybody will remember.” David Starkey, 70, a British constitutional historian and a radio and television presenter, on the Queen.

Having just read the above under ‘Quotes of the day’, it took me back a couple of weekends and something I spotted in The Sunday Times  TV and radio listings...
 

Sunday 23 August
Portrait of an art lover
When Lucy Met Roy ― Sir Roy Strong At 80 (BBC4, 8.05pm)

Never a guarded public speaker, the Establishment rogue and museum moderniser Roy Strong has become more entertaining with age, as Lucy Worsley finds out in a flirting session in which she struggles charmingly to maintain decorum by coughing a brisk “Now then!” while trying to return to her notes.
     As with many of his generation, these days, Strong laments what he perceives as a dumbing down of the arts, at which point Worsley declares, “But Roy, you invented populism” ― to which he replies, mischievously: “Yes, but I had it under control.”

Tongue tied? Lucy Worsley, 41, meets Roy Strong, 80

 
 


“Put that away, Lucy ― I dont know where its been”

 
 

Yuk²

I must be honest, I balked at that face-to-face photograph. How terribly common or garden. (“But darling, it works on so many levels” ― I know, I know, but I never have a spirit level handy.)

However, I was intrigued enough to watch the programme ― but from behind the sofa, through slightly parted fingers. In no time, though, I was stretched out on said sofa and quite enjoyed it.

But here’s the curious thing: as I write this, the only thing I remember from the programme itself is a quote from Roy Strong’s 2013 autobiography and memoir, Self-Portrait as a Young Man, his observation that our Queen has never publicly said anything memorable.

Hm, so that’s where David Starkey got the quote. Trouble is, he missed out the word “publicly”. That alters the whole meaning of the observation.

Oh yes, AA Gill reviewed the programme in last Sunday’s magazine. Here’s just a snatch...

Architects, politicians and prostitutes are not the only ones who become respectable with age. The gauze of time offers an invitation to the club of the Establishment to almost everyone in the end, even those who would rather keep their youthful disrespect: pop stars, eco-activists, bad-boy actors, disc jockeys. Finally, even Roy Strong has become respectable, if not actually respected.

What a line that last one is. To continue...

The fairy of nominative determinism was having a little joke when she called Roy Strong. Nobody has even been less roy or less strong...

And the chief joy was watching a bloke with such delicate sensibility about everything and everyone being so blissfully unaware of what a prat he looked. (I speak as one who knows.)

That’s what I enjoy about reading AA Gill. He knows precisely that, even though he is a great writer, he is also the mother of all prats. Wonderful.

Gill never fails to grab my attention. Even if it is from behind the sofa, through slightly parted fingers.

Talking of nominative determinism, I was attracted by this clickbait...
 

 

The end of a quiet pint? Noisy and naughty children are ruining pubs, say regulars who want landlords to stand up to parents

By coincidence, on today’s lunchtime ITV news, there was a piece from The Waterfront at Barton Marina, Staffordshire, a ‘Canalside pub and restaurant with terrace’.

It featured an interview with the boss, a female in her late-20s, I would guess, apropos a recently issued dictum by the pub: ‘No children under five-years-of-age are allowed inside The Waterfront premises.’

The policy has gone down really well with the regulars, much in line with the very point made in the above clickbait.

The name of the pub boss featured on camera, the General Manager (landlady in Crazy Horsepower Saloon talk), is one Megan Morrish. I know, it’s not quite nominative determinism ― but what a wonderful surname: Morrish.

Ivor the Search Engine  went all nosey on my behalf ... hm, a nice looking place The Waterfront, and it does appear to be a popular watering hole and feeding station, especially with noisy and badly behaved children now banned.

But here’s the thing: as well as the boss being a woman, the Deputy Manager is Anne Harrigan, and the Assistant Manager is Clare Kilkie.

I am not in the least surprised that three females run a successful pub, but there is something slightly ironic that it’s women who have banned children under five from inside the premises.

Presumably they do allow them on the terrace, which probably just about keeps the regulars happy.

Whatever: Megan Morrish, I adore your surname.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Harrigan’, as in Anne Harrigan the Deputy Manager at The Waterfront, came up as ‘Harridan’ ― oh dear, and honestly, I am not making this up.

And ‘Kilkie’, as in Clare Kilkie the Assistant Manager, came up as ‘Kidlike’. Methinks the computer is on the side of the naughty kids.
 


Wednesday, September 2nd

The doctor will see you now

MY health check watch continues. Over recent days I’ve learnt that a 25-minute daily walk could add years to life, a nap a day keeps the doctor at bay ― and of course that brilliant notion that we should have three-day weekends all year round, and then only work 30 hours over the remaining four days.

But here’s something I missed. Fortunately, it was brought to my attention compliments of Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times...

We meet again, Dr Bleedin’ Obvious

Astonishing news arrives from a study carried out by Dutch and Canadian scientists. The best way to avoid a hangover, they concluded, was to drink less alcohol. Further, if you do drink alcohol, the less you drink of it the less severe your hangover will be.

The team, led by Utrecht University, studied the drinking patterns of 1,600 students. A visibly shocked lead researcher on the project, Dr Joris Verster, said: “The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less.”

Joris Verster sounds a bit like what you would call someone if you’d had 16 pints of Stella and they tried to pick a fight with you in the kebab shop.

Indeed, here’s not lookin’ at you, Joris Verster (or was that Jolly Vest-Wearer?).

Rise and fall

Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE, 50-ish, is an Iranian-born British charity executive and author. She is best known as the founder of Kids Company, a charity which, until its controversial closure in August 2015, worked with inner-city children and young people in the UK.

But her fall has been brutally swift following a barrage of negative press since Kids Company closed a week after getting a last-ditch £3million government bail out.

However, she can’t help but come across as a figure which makes it impossible not to smile as she glides, stately as a galleon across the floor, doing the military two-step, as in the days of yore (with apologies to Joyce Grenfell’s unforgettable line).

And yes, this tickled my old funny bone...

“I have been wondering who Camila Batmanghelidjh reminded me of. Then I saw a picture
of Ronnie Barker in drag.”
Rob Gore, of Lowton, Cheshire, in a letter to the Daily Mail

        
Hello from me, Camila Batmanghelidjh – and hello from them, Ronnies Barker and Corbett
 

The resemblance is quite extraordinary. And so delightfully amusing, of course.

And in one leap, we’ve gone from Jolly Vest-Wearer to Camila Batman-Geldof.

 

Tuesday, September 1st

Doolallyness just a handy click away

NOW you know me and my clickbaits, headlines which are in truth my own version of speed reading in this infobesity cum infoxication age we live in i.e. information overload. Give me your clickbaits and, most times, I will join up all the dots compliments of my own rampant imagination.

Normally I pick these clickbaits up off newspaper web sites home pages.

But today, I spotted a glorious one on the front page, top left corner, of The Daily Telegraph, print edition...

Never mind “I Shot the Sheriff”

The BBC insists “F***, We Shot the Shagger”

Well, how could I resist? The modern BBC, bless, is addicted to its sex and use of bad language. And The Daily Telegraph  is desperate to dive under the duvet for a share of the action.

Be all that as it may, but staying with clickbaits, these two I smiled out loud at yesterday:

         
How 25-minute walk could add 7 years to life

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

I spotted those on the Telegraph  and Mail  web sites, I think, but obviously the reports were all over the media shop ― including The Times, witness this letter in today’s paper:

Health dictats

Sir, Your two reports (August 31) have confused me. Should I have my 25-minute brisk walk before or after my midday nap?
Michael Griffey, Llangynidr, Powys

Quite. And even though I knew nothing about some new posh yacht floating along on the crest of a wave, the following letter also grabbed my imagination XL...

Starck’s a peel

Sir, I hope that the £300 million luxury yacht designed by Philippe Starck (report, August 28) works better than his lemon squeezer.
Jonathan Austin, Birchington, Kent

Now I’m just a country boy, a common or garden caveman, so a lemon squeezer thingy is something totally alien ― so I sent Ivor the Search Engine  to look for a Philippe Starck lemon squeezer ... and I was flabbergasted because the first thing that came to mind was The War of the Worlds:

Easy peasy lemon squeezy – but KEEP CALM
  
“It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations…”
According to designer Philippe Starck, anyway

Now that quote from Starck is quite funny, the conversation bit that is, because what came to mind were Jeff Wayne’s words from The War of the Worlds  ― so chillingly and spine-tinglingly spoken by Richard Burton.

“No-one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space.

“No-one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

“No-one even considered the possibility of life on other planets. And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us…”

I apologise for the tiny bit of paraphrasing in order to give the above quote some neat visual balance.

But more importantly, is Philippe Starck’s easy peasy lemon squeezy monster slowly and surely drawing up plans against us? Well, the lemon squeezer has already drawn up plans against Jonathan Austin, if his letter is anything to go by.

Time to take to the hills and the cave, methinks.

ADDENDUM DATED SEPT 6:

Starck’s spaceship

Sir, I consider Philippe Starck’s futuristic lemon squeezer (letter, Sep 1 ― ‘Starck’s a peel’, above) such an awe-inspiring design (as does the Museum of Modern Art in New York) that it has no place in our kitchen but sits ominously on a sideboard ready for lift-off and world domination.
     Having said that, we did use it once ― and very successfully too.
Keith Robinson, Littlewick Green, Berks

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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)

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

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


Reception

You are here, way out west,
at Llandeilo

aka Llandampness
aka Dodgy City

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Previously on LOOK YOU......


Smile of the day 2015: Aug
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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