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

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

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

400 Smiles A Day
Updated: 08/06/2013



                                                                                        Design: Yosida

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

    
                                                                               ...and everyday a doolally smile of the day
PS: The shortest distance between two people is a smile ...
                                                                             
Contact Me
 
Thursday, December 31st, 2015
 

Frosty the Snowman goes AWOL


ON CHRISTMAS EVE I wrote this:
Finally, and what with El Niño wishing us a barbecue winter, posties in regulation summer shorts and the fresh smell of freshly cut grass in December, poor old Santa is still having to battle against wet and warm storm winds from the tropics...

Well now, a letter from yesterday’s Times  newspaper:

Garden of Eden

Sir, While cutting grass today I noticed that we have in full flower: roses, snowflakes, honesty, penstemon, azaleas, wallflowers, paperwhites, rock roses, daffodils, pansies, hydrangeas, cyclamen, campanula, erigeron, fuchsia, bergenia, geraniums, lobelia, periwinkles, dierama, primroses crocus, nigella, hellebore, iris reticulata and camellia.
     What is going on?
John Pickup, Mylor Bridge, Cornwall 

I checked precisely where Mylor Bridge is ... on the south coast, near Falmouth and not a million miles from the tip of Cornwall, so a friendly climate anyway.

What I noticed, though, from John Pickup’s list of flowers in bloom was the lack of a traditional snowdrop. True, a snowflake is a close relative.

As a matter of interest, along my daily sunrise walk through the heart of the Towy Valley, there are two spots (ancient woodland and the old graveyard at the mothballed Llandyfeisant Church) that, come January, both are adrift with snowdrops.

This year, though, and despite the unnatural warmth, they held their ground until last Tuesday, the 29th, when they magically appeared at both locations...

Rise and shine

29/12/2015: First snowdrop of winter at
Llandyfeisant Church, Dinefwr, Llandeilo

True, people have already noted snowdrops this December, but I’m wondering if those, like all the other flowers reported to be in bloom all over the shop, are ‘planted’ bulbs rather than ‘natural-born’.

My guess is that the latter are more in tune with Mother Nature’s underbelly; indeed they intuitively know how to play the survival-of-the-fittest game.

Be all that as it may, today a response to The Times  letter from John Pickup (great surname, incidentally, do you suppose his pals call him John 4x4?) was published:

Garden of delight

Sir, John Pickup may be reassured that there is nothing new under the sun.
     Writing to a friend in 1748, Horace Walpole stated: “The weather is excessively stormy, but has been so warm, and so entirely free from frosts the whole winter, that not only several of my honey-suckles are come out, but I have literally a blossom upon a nectarine tree, which I believe was never seen this climate before on the 26th of December.”
The Rev Maggie Guillebaud, Salisbury

Noting that date of 1748 in the Walpole letter, it is fascinating to appreciate that the River Thames in London froze over at least 23 times between 1309 and 1814, with the first recorded River Thames Frost Fair in 1608.

The period from mid-14th to 19th century in Europe is referred to as the ‘Little Ice Age’ due to the severity of the climate. And yet in 1748, an exceedingly mild winter similar to the what we are experiencing right now, pops up.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Oh yes, talking of Europe, surely the most surreal sight of all right now is watching European winter sports on the telly with the surrounding landscape and mountains a dull brown, with snow having to be transported in for the courses and jumps.

At huge cost, presumably.

Whether it be politics or climate, we do indeed live in interesting times. But there again, there is nothing new under the sun, eh, Maggie Guillebaud?
 


Wednesday, December 30th

♫  Row, row, row your boat

A LETTER in The Times:

Smalltalk

Sir, Laura Morton reveals that “after you have spent 96 days in a rowing boat with the same person, there isn’t any new conversation to be had” (“Atlantic tempts back reality TV star”, Dec 21).
     Perhaps Ms Morton should take heart from the fact that, despite more than 35 years together in the same house, my wife and I still manage to contrive the occasional new conservation.
Kevin Cooper, Wargrave, Berkshire

I did think of submitting a reply along these lines...

Yes, but Kevin Cooper and his good lady are continually taking conversational cues from the world about them: newspapers, radio, television, internet, family, the pub, the corner shop, the neighbours...

For example, clickbaits trigger all sorts of weird and wonderful chit-chat and laughter starters for ten in my little world...

Why 3pm is the best time for making love

Mid-afternoon is the time when men and women are most in tune with each other’s desires due to hormone levels: women are more alert and energetic, and men are ‘more emotionally present’ in the afternoon

So, all along my trainee young-buck-about-town years, there I was trying to seduce girls into bed after 10―11pm and a night at the pub. Now they tell me.

But, as always, beware the ambush:

Man dies ‘after blowing up condom machine’

A German man dies on Christmas Day [afternoon?] after blowing up a condom dispenser with a homemade bomb in a botched robbery and was struck in the head by a steel shard from the explosion, police said

However, just to keep that curious tale in proportion:

Washington Post: 27 Americans were shot and killed on Christmas Day

Meanwhile, back on the relatively straight and narrow...

How much time will you spend working, sleeping and having sex in your lifetime? Quiz analyses your habits to reveal all

The interactive tool predicts how much time you’ll spend doing tedious chores before you die, as well as more pleasurable activities, and was created by WatchShop.com in Reading

Well, I couldn’t resist that click, especially with mention of an interactive tool ... of passing interest, it reveals that in 2015 men slept more than women, but had less sex ― 72 hours (three days), compared to 96 hours (four days).

That curious bedroom romp statistic was best summed up in this Mail Online  comment...

OrdinaryAverageBloke, Old London Town, England, UK: OK, if I only had three days of sex last year and the missus had four ... you know where I’m going with this?
!?

Very funny. (Do you suppose OrdinaryAverageBloke of Old London Town is a certain Boris...? No, surely not.)

Whatever, and speaking personally, perhaps Andy Warhol had me in mind when he nearly said: “In the future, HB will be famous for having 15 minutes of sex every year ― if he’s nice rather than naughty, with a lucky tail wind...”

And just to add to the confusion...

An orgasm a day could keep prostate cancer at bay, scientists claim


Now all the above are Telegraph  or Mail  clickbaits spotted over the last day or so (excepting the Washington Post  one, obviously). Astonishing. Anyway, let’s finish with my...

Tweet of the day

@SarahDuggers: I keep getting spam email from clairvoyants. What do they know that I don’t?

Hm, I keep getting spam emails from some Canadian company about Viagra. How do they know whether I am coming or going?

So you see, Mr & Mrs Cooper, when there are just two of you in a boat, rowing the Atlantic, and you don’t have access to such incredible topics that invite endless conversations ... well, chit-chat is bound to dry up a bit, even in an exceedingly wet environment ... um ... er...
 


Tuesday, December 29th
 

Woof ... purr ... baa ... moo ... tweet-tweet...

YESTERDAY’S glorious festive greetings doggy snap brought to mind a couple more letters from The Daily Telegraph, both published apropos safety calls for dogs to wear flashing collars and various reflective safety wear to ensure that both pooch and owner can be spotted at night when on ‘Walkies!’ duty:

Flash Arthur

SIR – My late Border terrier, Arthur, regularly sported reflective neckwear with a switch operated set of flashing red lights.
       Not only did this make him easier to recapture when he vanished into the Northumberland night, but it also prevented aircraft from landing on his head. Or so he claimed when speaking to other dogs.
Christina Sharp, Glanton, Northumberland

Actually, that funny final sentence about Arthur ‘speaking to other dogs’ reminded me of a discussion from some time back down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon, when Chief Wise Owl asked what our three wishes would be if we happened to pick up that bottle, give it a quick rub ― and out popped you-know-who.

Although we had a discussion at the time, Chief Wise Owl cleverly gave us a week to mull it over ― and while two of our wishes had to be within touching distance of reality (a crafty test of our imagination), the third could be magical.

My supernatural wish on the wild side was the ability to understand the creatures that surround me as they communicate with each other.

Never mind understanding our cats and dogs, imagine along my daily sunrise walk being able to follow what the sheep and the cattle are endlessly bleating and mooing about.

And best of all, the ability to understand what the birds are tweeting along the local branch lines and airwaves.

Now I would never want to talk to the animals ― the last thing I would want is to share humanity’s dodgy thinking with the animal kingdom, but how wonderful it would be to follow what they’re busy saying to each other.

Anyway, back to the dogs and their owners after dark...

Glow worms

SIR – Near where I live, on the recreation ground after dark, it’s common to see lights moving at varying speeds and directions, accompanied by a greenish glow moving along a more constant pathway.
       These are illuminated dogs and their mobile phone-bearing owners, doing evening walkies [not to mention talkies and browses?].
Dennis Gibson, Letchworth Garden City
 


Monday, December 28th  

Paws for thought

A LETTER in The Daily Telegraph  in the lead-up to Christmas came to mind when I spotted a marvellously festive picture online. First, the letter:

Gnasher’s greetings

SIR – Robin Welland-Jones calls for a stop to sending Christmas cards “signed” by dogs. Some friends of ours even send cards from their dogs to other dogs. If that wasn’t bad enough, the cards are edible.
John Smith, Great Moulton, Norfolk

And here’s that cheery Christmas card...

Christmas went to the dogs! Animal-loving Kentucky family share their
latest doggie-themed festive greetings with friends and family


“It looks like this family is ready for Santa Paws! Versailles resident
Kelly Furr sent us this picture of the ‘kids’ table’ at her house
!

Local TV station Lex 18, which shared the photograph on Facebook

Smiley XXL or what? I am reminded of a quote I shared on Christmas Day:

  “A family that almost never eats together is not a close family.” And no smartphones or shouting “Fetch!” at the table, as Pope Francis (nearly) said.

The smiley snap features seven incredibly well-behaved Labrador retrievers and one rescue dog (in the background, believed to be a Chihuahua-terrier mix). Actually, that little dog could be the court jester ― or more correctly, the kennel jester.

In front of each of the Labradors is a tasty looking bone on a plate, and more treats are laid out on platters ready for the Christmas feast.

What is missing, though, are Christmas crackers neatly laid out on the table (do they have those in the States? Google and BBC America say no, not really; which is a shame: imagine the fun dogs would have tugging away at them, although the ‘crack!’ might scare them).

Be that as it may, not all of these pooches live in the same house ― phew! ― the eight dogs are shared between three members of the same family.

I note that one of the women in that family, Casey Eckert Kight, is a veterinarian ― her empathy with animals clearly explains the perfect behaviour and table manners of those dogs.

Less ho, ho, ho, more woof, woof, woof!

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Welland’ as in Robin Welland-Jones, author of the letter about Christmas cards signed by dogs, came up as ‘Wetland’, which is rather apt for someone complaining about Christmas cards signed by dogs.
 


Sunday, December 27th

What goes around?

BRITAIN, according to a two-year commission into the place of religion in society, chaired by the former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloshed ― hic, Baroness Butler-Sloss ― is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is, a top-level inquiry has concluded, and calling for  public life to be systematically de-Christianized.

  “If Britain is no longer a Christian country, why is the second most important Christian festival celebrated by such a vast number of people?” Robert Hall of Skipton in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

And just in case we readers didn’t get it first time because we were a little bit Slossed ― hic, sloshed...

 “If Britain is no longer a Christian country, what is all the fuss about Christmas?” Kathleen Dunmore of Milton Keynes in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

Sadly, there are no Christmas cracker philosophies left over to throw some light on the subject. However...

  “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” Garrison Keillor, 73, American author, storyteller, humorist and radio personality, best known as the host of the Minnesota Public Radio show 'A Prairie Home Companion', hits the festive nail on the head in his short story anthology 'Leaving Home: A Collection of Wobegon Stories' (1987).

Yes, I’m with Garrison on this one.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Sloss’ ― Baroness Butler-Sloss, as is, and not Baroness Butler-Sloshed as I slurred ― came up as ‘Sloes’. Best not to wonder why.
 


Saturday, December 26th

   “My request is that you let Mrs Claus come this year. Yes, your silent partner. I know she’s the force that keeps you full of beans. You wouldn’t be so jolly, energetic and kind without the presence of a woman in your life.” Thandie Newton, 43, English actress, in a letter to Thanta Santa Claus.

I have to apologise for that ‘Thanta’ Clause ‘joke’ (yes, in poor taste, I know), but Thandie ― well, I had never heard the name before, neither had I heard of Thandie Newton, obviously, indeed Google photos show a rather handsome lady ― but the name does call out for some sort of juvenile joke.

And I plead guilty because I am programmed to indulge in my daily child-like joke to keep things turning.

Actually, and going back to the point in Thandie Newton’s quote, I believe Mrs Claus is the Chief Executive Officer of Claus Distribution Unlimited, an organisation that runs up an annual debt of some £10bn ― according to financial experts anyway ― but miraculously that figure is all written off every year against ‘goodwill’.

Now that is  magic.

Also, the news on the interweb grapevine is that Mr & Mrs Claus are already somewhere Down Under, relaxing on a sunny beach ― as this wonderful image spotted online suggests...
 


‘Barefoot on the beach’
Tom Browning
 

Now how relaxing is that?

And I do so hope those are snowflakes on Mrs Claus’ sweater ― not asterisks, ho, ho, ho!
 


December 2015
~
Advent Smile Calendar


 

Christmas Day

Kylie, Francis and Aesop come calling

 

  “Even when I’m at home, I don’t cook at Christmas. I’m in charge of vibes and atmosphere – candles, lighting the fire, table settings ― and I don’t mind cleaning up after lunch.”
Kylie Minogue, with 47 years of life’s experiences on her CV, has probably cracked it. And as a Christmas Cracker bonus, she reportedly believes she has found “The One”, her “Mr. Right”, her very own Joshua Tree
in current boyfriend Joshua Sasse, 27. Ho, ho, ho!

  “A family that almost never eats together is not a close family.” And no smartphones at the table, says Pope Francis, 79.

  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop (620-560 BC), a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece.  

This quote is from the famous story, The Lion and the Mouse, wherein a small Mouse, caught by the Lion, is released rather than eaten, as a kindness.

Later, the Mouse comes across the Lion, trapped in a net. The Mouse remembers the kindness done for him by the Lion, and chews through the ropes, freeing the Lion, and returning the kindness.

But as we know, far and away the most satisfying act of all is where you do someone a good turn or a kindness, but no one ever knows. Except you.

Finally, December 25 is a perfect day to share a couple of smiley and topical MATT  cartoons, compliments of The Daily Telegraph...

            


And a Merry Christmas Day to one and all.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Minogue’, as in dear old Kylie, came up as ‘Minge’. Best to make my excuses and leave, methinks, ho, ho, ho...!
 

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Thursday 24th

MY GOODNESS, how long has it been since Mrs Mills graced my smileometer? Too long, for sure.

Yeeees, you know Mrs Mills, she of The Sunday Times  Style magazine, she who sorts out all our problems.

For example:

Christmas wonder

My two children are still under six, but already say they no longer believe in Father Christmas. Can I restore the magic?
FM, Nottingham

Well, he doesn’t come to those who don’t believe in him, so don’t give them any presents. By next year they’ll be declaring their devotion to him and, OK, it might only be to humour their parents, but what a good life lesson that is.


Magic restored.

And talking of life lessons and those who don’t believe:


  “I have tried to believe Jeremy Corbyn can win the 2020 election, but more and more it feels like believing in Father Christmas.” Left-wing commentator and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, 68, who describes this as “the bleakest midwinter of Labour’s misfortunes”.

Yes indeedy, all very 2015.

There may be trouble ahead

Finally, and what with El Niño wishing us a barbecue winter, posties in regulation summer shorts and the fresh smell of freshly cut grass in December, poor old Santa is still having to battle against wet and warm storm winds from the tropics to visit FM of Nottingham and those two brats struggling to believe....

A couple of letters in today’s newspapers ― I was initially struck by the thought that they must have been written by the same person...

Come in Storm Frank

WE’RE being battered by the fifth storm in a row [Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond and Eva]. If you name them, they will come.
Sheila Tomkinson of Dartford, Kent in a letter to the Daily Mail.

Name for violence

SIR – We should stop giving these storms names. It only encourages them.
Peter Roberts of Crickhowell, Breconshire in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.

And remember, both were published on the same morning.

Anyway, the trouble is that the Met Office has given these storms soft and fluffy names which are not really fit for purpose. We simply find it difficult to take them seriously as they steam in off the Atlantic.

For instance, the first storm was named Abigail. Honestly, it could have been called A Your Adorable because the first thing I thought of was Abigail’s Party ― and I caught myself smiling.

Then came Barney Bear, followed by Clodagh Rogers Rodgers, followed by Desmond Dekker and the Depressions Aces, followed by Eva Braun ― actually, Eva Braun does put the wind up one somewhat.

The next storm is Frank-ly My Dear, followed by Gertrude er... 

See what I mean? Storms, surely, should have fearsome and aggressive names. Names that make you want to dive for cover.

For Storm Frank read Storm F***!

For Storm Gertrude read Storm Gertrude Jekyll and Hide!

Those names would definitely have the nation diving for cover.

Merry Christmas Eve.
 

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Wednesday 23rd

I COULDN’T resist this Twitter grab as today’s Advent Smile Calendar Christmas card, in particular for my friend Sue (who understands these things better than most).

First, though, a quick introduction to the central character in this Twitter feature:

Oxford Comma @IamOxfordComma: I am the Oxford comma. I resolve ambiguity. Sometimes I also create ambiguity.

Okay, introductions done and dusted ... the first example in this tweet is from a newspaper article listing examples of our friend the often AWOL Oxford comma...


Oh come, all ye faithful commas,
Joyful and triumphant...

Hello Sue

When I spotted that very antithesis of a DIY example (it has to be from Screwfix, no?), I couldn’t help but speculate how much higher up the smileometer it would have reached had it said “nails, screws & bolts”.
Merry Christmas,
Your friendly neighbourhood Nogood Boyo

Talking of Christmas cards, much has been said about our political leaders’ festive cards. Most appeared to enjoy Labour leader Jeremy Corby’s effort as something different and eye-catching.

True, there were lots of jokes, obviously ― and someone noticed that even the traffic light was stuck on blood red.

However, as far as I can tell, nobody spotted the subliminal political communication ― but first, a message from our sponsor...

“Within all of us there is a painting, within all of us there
is a novel, within all of us there is a real expression of
what we want to see of the world.”
Jeremy Corbyn

'Tis the season

(Now think Daisy, Daisy...)
♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫♥♫

Voter, Voter,
Give me your cross please do;
I’m ‘alf crazy,
All for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford much baggage;
But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle made just for you!

Or is it ‘the season’?

Then dear old Jeremy goes and spoils it all. A clickbait just spotted:

Jeremy Corbyn ‘cancels Christmas’: Labour leader refuses to issue festive message

Refusal comes a week after Jeremy Corbyn said: “I didn’t want us to move into religious politics in Britain. I respect all faiths” ― but he will produce a New Year message instead.


To quote Miss Universe (from yesterday):
“It’s all very 2015.”
 

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Tuesday 22nd

How very 2015

OCCASIONALLY a story lands on Look You’s welcome mat that perfectly reflects the absolute doolallyness of the passing parade.

For example, pulling a Christmas cracker was never supposed to be a disaster zone. Especially so pulling the most beautiful cracker in the world.

Last night I watched a really uncomfortable bit of television news, namely that cringe-inducing ending to the 2015 Miss Universe final, when Miss Colombia was mistakenly crowned the winner.

The court jester of a host had read out the name of the Silver medallist as the Gold winner. Dear oh dear.

His mistake meant that one of the most watched of beauty pageants ended in shock and tears as poor Miss Colombia was demoted from Miss Universe to being the first runner-up, with Miss Philippines declared the official winner.

For around 90 seconds Miss Columbia, Ariadna Gutierrez, was crowned the winner. She had even been presented with her flowers. Ariadna was basking in her moment of glory on stage.

Then disaster ... she was forced to give up her crown...
 

And the ultimate winner is ... 42
(42 being the answer to Life, Miss Universe and Everything)

Former Miss Universe Paulina Vega ... transfers the crown from
Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, right, before duly crowning
Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, left

What a heartless thing to happen, albeit a genuine example of modern-day incompetence by the host Steve Harvey (whoever he be jeebie).

However, top marks to both girls for recovering their poise and responding rather brilliantly to this mother of all cock-ups.

So, here’s the wrong way and the right way to pull a (Miss Universe) cracker...

First, the dethroned Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez:

“Everything happens for a reason, so I’m happy for all what I did for this dream,” she said while wiping away tears and being embraced by a group of other finalists backstage. “I’m so happy.”

And the actual Miss Universe winner ― Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach ― also spoke  immediately after the shemozzle: “It was a very non-traditional crowning.
It’s very 2015.”

Honestly, if there is one little sentence that says everything about the utter doolallyness of today’s world, then Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach takes that prize as well: “It’s very 2015.”

Doesn’t that just sum up the state of the planet, along with the clowns we call our movers and shakers?

To repeat myself from a previous dispatch: our leaders really and truly couldn’t organise a leg-over in a bordello on a lads’ night out.

And it rather confirms my suspicions that celebrities who front television and radio programmes are much like scratch cards: once you rub away the surface gloss, mostly there’s nothing there at all.

But I’ll tell you what: Never mind that everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes, Ariadna Gutierrez as runner-up will be remembered long after the planet has forgotten about the current Miss Universe, for no other reason than Miss Colombia will always be remembered and feted for the unfortunate trick celebrity life played on her.

But, as she said rather positively: “Everything happens for a reason.”
 

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Monday 21st

Lights and

A WEST COUNTRY town’s Christmas lights have generated much amusement because its festive decorations look suspiciously like a washing line of underwear.

Lights ... Camera ... Pants!

Tiverton’s Christmas decorations have been affectionately mocked because
they look like XXL green psychedelic pants: “Don’t look, Ethel
!

The £15,000 Christmas lights in Tiverton, Devon have added much colour and cheer to the town, but many say one particular set of lights resembles a washing line.

The string of lights, which look like briefs, have been hung across the town’s main shopping street.

Wonderful.


 

  “I hate The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. The music is too saccharine and all those cod posh English accents drive me mad.” Rock legend Noddy ‘It’s Christmas!’ Holder, 69, he of Slade fame, reveals his pet hate ... Julie Andrews musicals.

But hang about ... Noddy’s famous pension plan festive song, Merry Christmas Everybody, features this lyric:

         
Does your granny always tell ya
          That the old songs are the best,
          Then she’s up and rock and rollin’ with the rest----

You see, the thing is, Noddy’s granny (and mother too I’d guess) would not only be rockin’ and rollin’ with the rest, but probably singing along with those Sound of Music  and Mary Poppins  favourites as well.

And lo and behold, one of the secrets of life: Enjoy what you like, but never, ever rubbish what somebody else may like.

The only reservation I have, especially given repeated reports and surveys which conclude that most of us are consuming way too much sugar and as a consequence damaging our health (particularly so our kids’ health), then perhaps Mary Poppins singing “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” should be banned. Forthwith.

Mind you, it is one thing setting out what we should aspire to eat and drink to be healthy, and quite another making it happen.

PS: Mention of Christmas songs, I guess Dana’s 1975 song, It’s Gonna Be A Cold, Cold Christmas, could have been written with Christmas 2015 in mind:

     ♫♫♫
     According to the radio, warmer weather’s on the way,
     The chances are we won’t be getting snow;
     But even if the sun shines/rain reigns from now to Christmas Day,
     As far as I’m concerned, I know----
 

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Sunday 20th

THERE is currently much ado about large corporations, mostly American it seems, that pay no ― or at least insignificant amounts ― of taxes in the countries where they earn their huge incomes.

And that includes loss of taxes and VAT here in the UK.

It is known in the trade as superior financial footwork: Strictly Come Spiving.

For example, back in 2010 the American company Kraft Foods, under the name of Mondelez International, bought Cadbury, one of Britain’s more famous sweetie companies.

Never mind tampering with Cadbury’s traditional and tasty chocolate recipe ― and slowly losing its flavour as a yummy confection of affection as a consequence ― in the most recent financial year, Mondelez International was among the corporations that paid no UK tax.

Anyway, this wonderful letter appeared in The Sunday Times:

Pay Packet

There is no way Irene Rosenfeld, head of Mondelez International, the owner of Cadbury, earns $21m (£14m) a year, as has been reported.
     She may be paid that, but no one, not even Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP [the world’s largest communications services group], earns or deserves that sum.
George Conway, Grantown-on-Spey, Highlands

Wonderfully well put, George Conway.

Weight and see

Over the last year or so, much has been made of the way confectionery makers, such as Cadbury, have been keeping prices artificially steady ― but the size of its products have been shrinking at a relentless pace.

For example, Quality Street (bought by Swiss based Nestlé in 1968) is one of the nation’s favourite twist and wrap boxed chocolates ― and then last week the following image sparked outrage on social media after it was posted on the Quality Street Facebook page by customer Charlotte Stacey Hook...

Quality trim and slim

circa 1990s (far left) via the 2000s (centre) to 2014/2015 (far right)
The makers of Christmas favourite Quality Street have been
branded a ‘Scrooge’ by the internet over this depressing
picture of its tins over recent years.

The photograph appears to show how the confectionery giant has slimmed down tubs of Quality Street three times since 1998.

Charlotte, of Washington, Tyne & Wear, wrote on Facebook: “Been putting the Christmas tree up, always keep my Quality Street tins to put my decorations in after Christmas!

The latest tin, weighing 780g, is less than half the size of the 1990s version, when it weighed 1.7kg.

However, food giant Nestlé has said the picture represents an unfair comparison since there is still a larger 1.3kg tub on sale.

What is crucially missing, though, is price comparisons, in real terms that is. Now that would be interesting.

Be that as it may, I enjoyed these tweets...

@Lucille_Balls: Quality Street? More like a dead-end, a cul-de-sac [a cull-de-sweetie?], within an area of social deprivation.

@roughyed1969: They are doing their best to help solve the obesity epidemic.

@_holt: And they thought they’d get away with us thinking it’s just our bodies getting bigger over the years
!

And this, my favourite, has a touch of the Christmas cracker pull-and-chortle about it...

@embedded_geek: Well, it’s written on the box, ‘Quality Street’, not ‘Quantity Street’! :-)
 

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Saturday 19th

  “LAST year my husband bought me oven gloves. In eight years we have gone from Cartier jewellery to a pair of oven gloves. Shocking! Amanda Lamb, 43, English television presenter and former model, is not impressed with her spouse’s choice of Christmas presents for her.

Rings a Bells

I’m reminded of the newly married couple who decided that every time they made love they would pop a £1 coin into an empty Bells whisky gallon bottle kept by the bed.

And then, when the bottle was full ― and a gallon bottle takes an awful lot of coins, apparently ― the cash would pay for a grand holiday.

To avoid the temptation of taking money out of the bottle when caught short for some small change, they decided to periodically exchange 50 coins for a £50 note and stick that back into the bottle ― which was all rather clever because you would have to break the bottle to get the notes out.

After the first year of marriage, and a ceremonial smashing of said bottle, they enjoyed a rather spectacular holiday ― as they did the second year.

The third year though was a little less fabulous.

However, after eight years of marriage they really were rather desperate for another grand holiday, if only for old time’s sake. They really fancied something better than a long weekend.

Mind you, I’m not sure what Amanda Lamb and hubby would make of Rod Liddle’s suggestion in The Sunday Times.

                       A gut feeling this gift will go down the pan

Worried about what to get your partner for Christmas? Let me help. Why not invest in a fiendishly clever American device called the D Free. You fix it to your stomach and it tells you, via a series of text messages to your mobile phone, when you need to go to the lavatory.

The wording of the first text is as follows: “We have detected activity in your intestines” ― always a cause for muted excitement. But if you fail to take the appropriate action, it will send you a very stern reminder. And then, presumably, start beeping like mad, to the amusement of dinner party guests.

Nope, not kidding. Next, an American device you fit to your throat that tells you when you need to breathe.

Curiosity got the better of me, indeed, was Rod winding me up with his tale of the D Free? So I Googled it ... absolutely spot on, Rod, and as confirmed here:

D Free device that tells you when to go to the toilet: App gives you 10-minute warning and daily stats on your bathroom breaks ... This small wearable device is worn on your belly and can tell you when it’s time to go the toilet, with an app on your phone sending you reminders.

Yep, Rod was not pulling my (middle) leg. Never mind the G-Spot, spot the D Free.

Mind you, given how difficult it is to find a public toilet these days, especially so should you suddenly find yourself caught short ― well, it’s not quite as mad as it seems.

Indeed, I remember the infamous four-minute warning, a public alert system conceived by the British Government during the Cold War and operated between 1953 and 1992, which was the amount of time we Brits would get between the start of a nuclear attack and the first impact. (Back with the G-Spot again.)

So a 10-minute warning to save you pissing yourself sounds just perfect to me.

Oh happy days.
 

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Friday 18th

I’VE discovered a game to compliment all those Christmas cracker jokes mentioned thus far in December’s advent dispatches.

Now my delight in perusing news website clickbaits is well established, the secret of course being not  to click but to figure out what the story is compliments of my own imagination.

And hopefully get it all hopelessly wrong.

So here’s how the game works: you pull a cracker ― and out pops a trad joke:

What did Cinderella say when her photos didn’t arrive as promised? One day my prints will come.

And as you groan, out pops an actual clickbait:

Benefit cheat ‘too ill to get out of bed’ was filmed performing as exotic male ‘ninja stripper’ burlesque dancer called ‘Ian Kognito’ ... Mail Online 16/12/2015 ... DISCUSS...

Now imagine the fun you would have debating that while sat around the Christmas table. First things first though: what the hell is a ninja stripper? Martial art performed by a marital rat?

Second thing: Good name, good name; good game, good game.

Enough already. Let’s move on. And how about this clickbait cracker?

Chinese buy up bottles of fresh air from Canada ... Telegraph Online 17/12/2015 ― also the Telegraph homepage ‘Most shared’ story

There was a clue in the picture that accompanied the headline, of someone walking down the street wearing a mask attached to a container of sorts. In fact there was an additional clue further down at No. 8 in the ‘Most shared’ section:

Beijing issues fresh pollution warning

And then this clickbait mystery...

Lettuce ‘three times worse than bacon’ for the environment, scientists claim ... Telegraph Online 15/12/2015

Trouble is, lettuce does not tickle the jolly olfactory glands quite like bacon. Ah well, lettuce pray.

Next...

People who are experts at swearing have BIGGER vocabularies, claims new study ... Mail Online 14/12/2015

Now if you believe that f****** nonsense ... still, it should bloody well generate some interesting exchanges around the table.

And finally...

Crying after sex: There’s nothing to be ashamed of ... A study claims that almost half of all women are depressed after sex due to their hormones ... Telegraph Online 17/12/2015

Now that is  a relief. I always thought it was all my bloody fault. Ah well, every day a day under the duvet.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘Kognito’, as in Ian Kognito the splendidly named ninja stripper, came up as ‘Cocknition’ ― ‘Cognition’.
 

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Thursday 17th

TIME to once more plug my juvenile smileometer gene into the Christmas Cracker Joke socket:
 

What happened when Santa went speed dating? He pulled a cracker.

Why was Santa’s little helper feeling depressed? He had low elf-esteem.

Why did Santa pour Lemsip into the chimney? He was coming down with the flue...

What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar? He got 25 days.

What do you call a man with a seagull perched on his head? Cliff.

Yep, heard that one before ― but this was new, at least to me:

What do you call a woman who stands between two goal posts? Annette.

Hm, I like that, very clever. And finally:

Why did Jona Lewie want to stop the cavalry? His electricity bill was due and he was desperate to stop the charge of the light brigade. Boom-boom!

That’s better, I’m now fully charged and sort of prepared to face the coming week.

 

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Wednesday 16th

Remember yesterday’s Christmas Cracker Joke of the Year?

Why does Ed Miliband like advent calendars? Because he gets to open the door to Number 10. Boom-boom
!

And I pointed out that I had added the “Boom-boom” ― for no other reason than it yelled out for a “Boom-boom”. But I speculated that, just perhaps, I should have added “Knock-knock” instead ― and there had to be a joke in there somewhere.

So, having slept on it...

Now let’s time shift back to last May and the general election.
It was all going so very well for Labour and Ed Miliband ― at least according to the polls, but that’s another story.

However, as the campaign entered the home straight, Mr Ed heard a Voice from on high telling him to build a huge Stone Tablet with Labour’s election pledges writ large upon it…

Miliband descends Mount Manifesto

Miliband descends Manifesto not once but six times ...
then the Voice called to him from the mountain: “This is
what you are to promise to the descendants of Blair...”

Ta-dah!

When Ed Miliband unveiled his plinth of promises, above, the instant funereal associations were impossible to ignore. And yes, the sky duly fell on Ed’s head. 

So would Ed’s tablet be more appropriate as a headstone for the Labour Party? In fact, more ta-ra than ta-dah?

Well, the plinth did come to be known as the “Ed Stone”.

This, from a Guardian  report at the time...

The “Ed Stone” has been Photoshopped into history as ― to wheel out the kind of all too obvious sneer it seems to invite ― this election’s most monumental cock-up.

But what exactly is so silly about this slab? It all has to do with aesthetics, and the meanings we attribute to stone.

When does any ordinary person commission a stone monument? Only for a grave…

In the picture of Miliband unveiling his plinth of promises, the funereal associations are hard to resist. It looks like an awkward scene in a cemetery car park.

After months of bickering about the cost, wording and colour, an unhappy extended family has finally gathered to raise a headstone to a distant relative.

But what idiot told the stonemason to make it 8ft 6in high?

Ashes to ashes...

And so we come to my Knock-knock contribution apropos the 2015 Christmas Cracker Joke...

Cosmic dust to cosmic dust...

A suitable headstone for Labour following the election
loss and Jeremy Corbyn’s subsequent transportation
directly from a galaxy far, far away to hopefully
energize things back here on Planet Earth...

Live long and prosper.
 

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Tuesday 15th

THE BEST Christmas Cracker Joke of 2015 has just been announced ― which did rather throw me because most crackers won’t be pulled for another 10 days.

However, it turns out it was the winner of a topical Christmas cracker joke competition for the festive season run by UKTV’s comedy channel Gold.

Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, may have lost the general election to David Cameron’s Conservatives back in May, but he has come out on top compliments of a gag submitted by 44-year-old David Lawrence, from London.

The joke is also quite ironic given that December 2015 here on Look You features the Advent Smile Calendar.

Anyway, here it is, Gold TV’s Gold cracker of the year:

Why does Ed Miliband like advent calendars? Because he gets to open the door to Number 10. Boom-boom
!

Yes, it certainly is short and snappy, as well as being both funny and groan-inducing in equal measure, which is essential for a Christmas cracker joke.

Incidentally, I added the “Boom-boom”. Perhaps it should have been “Knock-knock” ― and therein must lie a joke ... I shall give it some serious thought...

The Silver medal was this:

I told my Granddad to go to Amazon for his Christmas shopping. He phoned me two days later from Brazil.

Hm, that set me thinking:

I told my Granddad to go to Amazon for his Christmas shopping. Jeremy Clarkson promptly punched him as he hadn’t brought any hot food with him.

Which neatly leads to the Bronze medal on Gold’s list:

Why were Jeremy Clarkson’s colleagues excited to try his mulled wine? Because they’d been floored by his punch.

Ho, ho, ho!

 

5-4-3-2-1-Zero ― Lift off, we have lift off...
 
 Good to see Major Tim Peake safely climb his every mountain. Cracker of a launch and link up, Tim. Be sure to say hello to Santa for me. Oh, I’m the one on the Naughty and  Nice list.

  “I want to go with daddy.” Tim Peake’s four-year-old son Oliver, present at the launch.

PS: I was disappointed that the Russians didn’t do the full American “All engines fire” countdown and commentary routine, which so adds to the drama.
 

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Monday 14th



OL’ BLUE EYES has been all over the news and the airwaves over the weekend as the world marked 100 years since the crooner’s birth ― so I thought I’d link in to my three favourite Sinatra songs.

But before I get there, the following tweet has also been all over the interweb shop over recent days...

@JananGanesh:
“Dust off those gossamer wings.” Sinatra’s open letter
to George Michael when he wanted out of fame.


 

The doc will see you now

Here are just a handful of response tweets that caught my eye...

@9471davidd: Wow ― that’s like the lyrics of a hundred Sinatra songs sliced and diced.

@Okwonga: That’s incredible, especially the section on the tragedy of fame.


(At this point, where the letter says “singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint”, I’m reminded of that marvellous Morecambe & Wise Christmas show sketch where Elton John sings to an empty studio, except for Eric and Ernie dressed up as two female cleaners ... very funny, Google it. Anyway, back to business...)

@eveystevey1: I’m guessing the pressure of pretending to be straight in front of the world’s press was GM’s real issue.

@_nwinant: I love that he put a copyright notice on his letter.

@fairwinds2: Fascinating ― is it real?


Fascinating indeed, @fairwinds2. That’s precisely what went through my mind reading it: is it real? And the copyright seems to fuel that suspicion. I mean, would you copyright an open letter?

The letter does indeed sound like one of his songs, so I’m thinking ... are they Frank’s thoughts but penned by, perhaps, a songwriter friend?

Be all that as it may, the tweet about the pressure of pretending to be straight hits it on the head, methinks. There again, Elton John did okay, sort of.

Take 3

And so to my favourite Sinatra songs ― and to be honest the lyrics of all three pretty much sum up my own smiley stroll through time to a T...

                                                                                                        

His That’s Life  is just a wonderful way to approach life. Don’t let the bastards get you down, just keep buggering on, as Churchill was wont to say.

And what a fabulous live performance and delivery it is, although I do miss the backing girls as heard on the record version. But I just join in myself with “♫♫♫ That’s life...”

As for the other two songs ― well, thanks for the memories, girls...

                                              That’s Life – Frank Sinatra

                                                                     Love’s Been Good To Me – Frank Sinatra

                                                                                      It Was A Very Good Year – Frank Sinatra
 

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Sunday 13th

FROM the suspiciously sublime...

 “There are three types of rings in a marriage: the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering.” Singer Madonna, 57, who has been married twice; Madge also adds: “I suck at marriage so far, but there’s always hope, I haven’t given up on love.”

Well, in truth there are many more rings involved.

It starts off with the telephone ring ― but between the wedding ring and the suffering there’s the boring, the bickering, the enduring, the overbearing, the overpowering and the domineering.

Finally ― ta-dah ― there’s the wring. (Note: No persons were hurt in the making of this cracker.)

Mind you, I have my suspicions about Madonna as this all-embracing sex machine forever promoting her own sexuality.

Remember last month, this quote from Carol Kirkwood, 53, one of the BBC’s most experienced and much-loved weather presenters, who has been flooded with date offers from viewers since she appeared on Strictly Come Dancing:

  “I have had marriage proposals ― and all kinds of other proposals ― and get asked out for dinner a lot and that’s really nice, but I am not a sex symbol.”

So I pointed out that there is all the difference in the world between being a sex symbol ― and simply being sexy, which explains why Carol is being asked out for dinner a lot.

And my suspicions suggest, that while Madonna endlessly promotes herself as a sex symbol, she may well be a bit of a dry fish in the madly, sexy department.

I keep thinking of the Christmas song Santa Baby  as performed by Earth Kitt and Madonna ― although in Madge’s defence she is clearly doing a Betty Boop take-off.

Could it possibly be that Madonna is less pussycat, more papier-mâché tigress? (Oh dear, I shall promptly go and wash my mouth out with soap and water...)

As a parting thought on the subject, perhaps someone should give the ex-Mr Madonna, Guy Ritchie, a ring.

Finally, from the negatively sublime to the positively ridiculous:

  “My pal Sid the Sleeper always wanted to be run over by Ivor the Steam Engine of ‘The Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited’ (located in the sleepy top left corner of Wales). When it actually happened, he was chuffed to bits.”

With apologies to comedian Tim Vine for borrowing and rephrasing his joke.

 

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Saturday 12th

A PARTICULARLY generous Christmas cracker chuckle was triggered while listening to the Book of the Week  on Shân Cothi’s daily morning magazine programme on Radio Cymru, the BBC’s Welsh language station.

It featured Dyddiadur ‘Dolig Non  ― Non’s Christmas Diary.

And very funny it was too. During one particular reading, Non was discussing the chaos that Christmas Day lunch can be ― in particular the days leading up to it with the supermarket trolleys loaded to the hilt with food and drink for just that one meal.

Oh, and being caught short on the big day without melba toast has disaster writ large all over it, apparently. 

And Non continued with something along these lines: “When you stop to think about it, Christmas Day lunch is just a Sunday lunch XL, but for some reason, which I do not quite understand, each and every year it takes on the magnitude and importance of an Olympics Opening Ceremony...”

Oh dear, I laughed. I must remember to tell the family as I join them to compete for the Gold medal awarded to the individual who has added the most body weight, relatively speaking, between first thing Christmas Day morning and first thing Boxing Day morning.

Anyway, once I had stopped chuckling, I spotted this rather startling clickbait:
 

Obesity should be treated as a ‘national threat’ ― health chief

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, insists obesity should be treated as a threat to Britain on the same level as terrorism, the danger being particularly serious for women and should be classed as a core risk to the country

That headline brought to mind a letter in last weekend’s Sunday Times...

Measure for measure

Jamie Oliver [English celebrity chef] wants schoolchildren to be weighed and measured each year to spot early signs of obesity. When I went to school in the 1950s we were weighed and measured each year for signs of malnutrition. How times have changed.
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, London

That letter is particularly interesting if you jump forward a generation, from the Fifties to the Eighties...

Lurking over there on My Desert Island Video Jukebox, under ‘Music my mother told me to enjoy’, is a Welsh song called Talu’r Pris Yn Llawn, sung by Côr Theatr Ieuenctid Maldwyn (Paying The Price In Full, sung by a youth choir from Montgomeryshire in mid-Wales).

I have mentioned this tale before. The choir was particularly popular here in Wales through the mid-80s to the early-90s. As it happens, they make a wonderfully agreeable sound, but what is fascinating revolves around the comments about the clip.

One says, light-heartedly: “Ah, 80s hair styles and Laura Ashley scarves, wonderful.” And another, by a man, states with telling observation: “How slim all the girls are, unlike today.”

I hadn’t noticed the slimness of the choir the first time I watched ― but my goodness me, how true.

Now if you look at the many choirs about today, especially so the ones made up of young people (thanks mostly to Gareth Malone’s influence and enthusiasm) you do notice how overweight so many young people are, especially the girls.

So there you have it: over just two generations we have gone from malnutrition ... via perfect weight ... to obese. What on earth will the nation look like in another generation or two?

Poor old National Health Service say I, especially so bearing in mind the comments of England’s Chief Medical Officer, above.

Here’s a YouTube link to that song ― and be sure to watch out for the scarves, the hair styles, but most of all how slim the girls really were back in 1991...

                                                                  Talu’r Pris Yn Llawn – Côr Theatr Ieuenctid Maldwyn
 

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Friday 11th

WITH Christmas just two weeks away, time to start pulling these...

A letter spotted in The Daily Telegraph:

Mayors in chains

SIR – Your report about a shrinking mayoral chain of office reminds me of a story about the Queen being shown round by the Mayor of Dover. As they approached a cabinet containing a fine gold mayoral chain, the Queen asked him when he wore it.
     He replied: “On special occasions, Your Majesty.”
Richard Symington, London SW17

I am reminded of the dusty old joke about the Queen thinking Britain must smell, not so much of freshly baked bread, a pot of coffee and fresh flowers, but rather of paint because everywhere she goes is re-painted before she sees it.

Whatever, talk of the lowly meeting the great and dancing around the totem pole of celebrity...

Walls have ears

Franklyn D. Roosevelt, President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, and commonly known as FDR,  never backed away from a good practical joke.

One time he read that people at social functions pay no proper attention to the murmured words that are required under given circumstances because they are busy framing their own polite retort.

Roosevelt decided to test the theory. He chose a big White House party, where the reception line snaked along. As each guest came up and took his hand, the President flashed his celebrated smile and murmured: “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

According to the popular story, not a single guest was conscious of what he had said. One former associate of FDR, however, denies it. He said a certain Wall Street banker was in that reception line, arrived in front of the President and heard the words: “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

The Wall Street man then said: “She certainly had it coming”, and passed on.

That tale of the unexpected surfaced compliments of The Wordsworth Book of Urban Legend  ― but I do so hope it is not  an urban myth because it has a ring of glorious truth about it.

Be that as it may, I trust the remaining season’s crackers will be just as good.
 

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Thursday 10th


VERY
 early this morning (yes, early even for me), I happened to catch on Radio 2 the last 30 minutes or so of Top of the Pops [Revisited]  with Tony Blackburn, “the cheesiest man in pop” ― no, hang on, “the cheeriest man in pop”. Allegedly.

Tony is yet another celebrity character who has gone straight from childhood to second-childhood, missing out on adulthood completely (and who’s to say that’s not a bad thing?).

Anyway, I was most surprised to hear him still having child-like conversations with his bestest friends, the opening lyrics of pop songs, and that some 90 years after he first went into broadcasting.

There was a wonderful moment as he was playing a Top Ten from 1982...

“At Number 7, Living On The Ceiling ― which is impossible” [yes, he really did say that last bit, missing the irony of the lyrics completely] ― “from a group that not only sounded good but tasted good too, Blancmange. We don’t know what happened to them, we heard they had a wobble and we haven’t heard of them since.”

The first thing that went through my mind when Tony said “we haven’t heard of them since” was ― well, because nobody could spell their bloody name, that’s why.

Do you know, I had to check how to spell blancmange ― lucky for me Google knew what I was attempting and instantly came up trumps. Actually, I have no recollection of ever having written the word blancmange before.

Strange but true, hence my spell-cheque moment.

Pause for thought ... it really should be spelt ‘blumonge”, no? (And yes, I appreciate that the word comes from Old French, but surely the English spelling could have been adjusted to taste. Even more surprising that American English spells it blancmange.)

And talking of Google ... a clickbait spotted today:

Google’s new quantum computer is ‘100 million times faster than your PC’

Have you noticed how, the faster everything works the less time folk have to put their feet up and relax, and as a consequence, the more stressed out they are? It’s an exceedingly doolally phenomenon.

And on that note...

Why the pressure to be happy is driving people mad

Books: Trying to be upbeat all the time just makes you miserable, says psychoanalyst Adam Phillips

There’s no answer to that. Well, yes there is, just a few clickbaits further along...

Five surprising health benefits of being stressed

Good news: that rising panic in the pit of your stomach could have a positive effect on your life

Never mind spelling ‘blumonge’, there are far more things to ponder on and wobble over.

Spell-cheque corner: ‘blumonge’, my phonetic notion of how blancmange should be spelt, generated a gentle wobble in the computer ― before insisting ‘Not in Dictionary’ ... ‘Change To:’  ‘blooming’, followed by ‘blaming’.

ET: Phone Etics.
 

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Wednesday 9th

Whose round is it?

“Here’s a simple question that can tell us an awful lot about you,” insisted a Guardian clickbait.

“Is this a circle?”

It appears that if I say “Yeah, sure, that’s close enough,” then politically I lean towards the left and Jezza Corbyn, strongly supporting the idea of government aid for the homeless and unemployed. I am also likely to support same-sex marriage and legalisation of marijuana for recreational use.

However, if I say “No, of course it isn’t a circle,” then I lean towards the right and David Cameron, strongly supporting the idea of protecting the rights of business owners and having a strong military. I am likely to take a particularly dim view of illegal immigration, and come down strongly on even relatively low-level crime, such as drug use and prostitution.

These were ― broadly speaking ― the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

So if you meet someone new and don’t know how to broach the subject of their political orientation, just show them a rough cut “circle”.

However, I apply my Crazy Horsepower Saloon logic hereabouts. Those who lean to the right and don’t see it as a circle are those who will buy their round in the pub, but only after everyone else has bought their corner first.

Those who think it passes as a circle are those who will spontaneously buy a round without expecting a drink in return.

So my truthful answer to the circle question is: yes and no. Or more precisely: 66 i.e. six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Yes, you will find me somewhere in between. Sometimes I spontaneously buy a round; sometimes I will stick rigidly to my turn.

But ― yes, there has to be a but ― it really depends who the company is. There are some tight fisted rascals out there who often try to escape without buying a round at all. Ever.
 

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Tuesday 8th

LAST Sunday I mentioned watching The Jungle Book  on telly. Well now, as I was enjoying King Louie of The Apes performing his marvellously entertaining Monkey Song  (“I wanna be like you ... I’m tired of monkeying around”), I suddenly thought, “Hm, this is Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the political jungle’s VIP, doing his thing”.

And the grey-haired monkey called Flunkey, who keeps giving King Louie a hard time ― well, that has to be Speaker of the House, wee John Bercow, who, under his grey hair, is forever swatting the politicians under his care and giving them a hard time.

And then I began spotting political figures all over the shop.

Actually, I saw myself as Mowgli aka The Great British Public, desperate to have my hand held in these troubled times.

But first, a picture of all the major characters involved…

It’s a jungle out there


 

Let’s start with Rama the wolf, along with his good lady Raksha, who adopt Mowgli as a babe and look after him into childhood. Well now, those two have to be Prince William and his good lady Kate.

But now it gets interesting.  President Obama as Bagheera (the panther who looks after Mowgli after the wolves decide he has to depart the pack because of the return to the territory  of Shere Khan the tiger)? Nah, I don’t think so. Obama talks the talk but appears reluctant to walk the walk.

Vladimir Putin as Shere Khan? Yes, yes ― but I couldn’t get the voice of MP Jacob Rees-Mogg out of my head.

Baloo the bear? The first person that came to mind was the larger-than-life and exceedingly colourful Russian President from yesteryear, Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), who was always having a good time and drinking too much. But I’m stuck for a current politician.

Actually, both Bagheera and Baloo have got me stumped, which I suppose says so much about modern politics. Whatever, on with the roll call...

Kaa the snake is clearly Chancellor George Osborne, what with his “Trust in me” routine.

The Vultures are the Labour Front Bench (“Okay, so what we gonna do?” “I dunno, what do you wanna do?”; and of course “That’s what friends are for”).

Colonel Hathi the elephant? Who else but Nigel Farage? Just perfect, made to measure.

But my favourite came at the end, the human Young Girl who captivates Mowgli. Hey, that’s Heidi Allen I sighed, the articulate new Tory MP who had captivated me earlier in the day on BBC TV’s Sunday Politics  show.

Remember this quote? “I just see him [Boris Johnson] in a room with Putin, naked from the waist upwards, wrestling fish.” That was the exceedingly eloquent and clever Heidi Allen; she also put on record that Chancellor George Osborne is “too smooth” to be prime minister.

Now think Osborne as Kaa the snake. Too smooth indeed, Heidi-Ho.

Anyway, here’s that young Indian girl who charms Mowgli out of the jungle ― and alongside the delectable Heidi Allen who so impressed me...

A bird in the hand...
   
...is definitely worth two in the jungle

So there we have it, the pantomime that is Parliament. And being that I am Mowgli aka The Great British Public, a perfect end to the story.

But hang on, I’ve got to work out who should be Bagheera ... oh dear, who is the political figure you would be perfectly happy to see your children and grandchildren cuddle up to for safety and security?

And of course Baloo the dancing bear. Do you suppose I could get away with Boris Johnson being both King Louie and Baloo, both the front and back end of the pantomime horse?

Hm...!

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Monday 7th

DEAR SANTA: A letter written by a five-year-old girl to Father Christmas in the 1930s has been found by builders, up a chimney in a house in Powys, mid-Wales.

In the note, a girl called Christine, now 82, asks for “some nice toys” and a hymn book.

Builders made the discovery in a chimney breast at the property, which is set to open as a wedding venue.

The letter’s author, Ms Churchill, said she was excited to see the letter again. She told the BBC: “We didn't really want for much. Back then Christmas was about family and friends, not material items.”

What a smashing little story.

And just for balance, this, spotted in yesterday’s Sunday Times  GOING VIRAL column...

ViralNova: Dear Santa, Here are my demands

This is the time when children are writing their letters to Father Christmas. ViralNova has collected some of the funniest.

“How are you?” one of them begins. “Well ― enough chit-chat. Let’s get down to business. This year I want...”

Another was just as practical. “Please text my dad. He has my whole list.” It’s not all games, either. One letter asked for “world peace” and a “ukulele”, while another also wanted “world peace” as well as some “beer”, and rounded off with a polite “Thank you, Chris age 29, I still believe”.

All the Going Viral team wants for Christmas is for you to visit tinyurl.com/DearOldSanta (“22 hilarious letters to Santa that will brighten your day”).

DearOldSantaLetters is highly commended and very entertaining, as you would expect.

However, the author of said web site is temporarily on the naughty list for using that dreadfully overused word “hilarious”. Now let’s see: amusing, funny, hysterical, comical, entertaining, uproarious, riotous, side-splitting, mirthful ― oh, and my own over-used favourite, smiley.
 

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Sunday 6th

WHEN I began to serve my adulthood apprenticeship i.e. setting out on my grown-up stroll through time, I sort of lost interest in being a film goer ― or “going to the pictures”, as we used to say as kids.

I never saw Casablanca  until the Eighties, and that was on terrestrial television, obviously, the only place where I now catch up with the occasional film that happens to catch my eye and ear.

However, going back to those days as an apprentice adult cum trainee young buck about town, the only time I would go to the pictures was when a girlfriend dragged me along.

I remember seeing From Russia With Love  because a particular sweetheart had seen Dr No  and insisted I would enjoy it. And she was right.

Truth to tell I did enjoy the first dozen or so 007 movies ― before I started to lose interest. I think that happened when the Bond songs lost their distinctive and catchy quality. Ditto the films.

And I vividly recall another girlfriend insisting I go with her to see Disney’s version of The Jungle Book. And, surprise, surprise, thoroughly enjoying it.

Indeed, years later I remember telling yet another beloved about my affection for the film ― and she promptly bought me a VHS tape, which I have watched a few times since.

But not for a goodly while now, in fact not since I boxed my video tapes and player during a house move some years back.

So imagine my surprise and delight in seeing it listed as The Sunday Times  TV Guide’s ‘Film of the week’, today on Channel 4.

To quote The Sunday Times:  “It’s reworking of a few Kipling stories gives us an array of extraordinary wildlife: creatures who are capable, between them, of valour, clowning and villainy, and who fill their jungle with remarkable sounds ― the film’s fantastic songs.”

Hear, hear. Indeed, given that the film is a terrestrial TV premiere, I’m surprised Channel 4 didn’t hold the film back until Christmas Day.

I have previously mentioned in dispatches that I was born middle-aged, but with a streak of juvenility. Hence listening to Chris Evans on the wireless of a morning in order to top up my adolescent battery ― much as an electric car has to be plugged into the mains for a quick charge to see it through the day.

As it happens, my girlfriend insisted I was Bagheera the panther with a streak of King Louie of the Apes thrown in for good measure...

                                      

Indeed, she insisted that where Baloo the Bear says to Bagheera during King Louie’s “I’m the King of the jungle” routine, “Yeah, well man, what a beat” ― and Bagheera responds with an impatient “Will you stop that silly beat business and listen” ― apparently that was very middle-aged me.

Who was I to argue?

So I shall lay back, revisit my teenage years ― and enjoy the beat.
 

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Saturday 5th

YESTERDAY’S Smile Calendar Xmas Box was awash with gossip about Sophocles, Socrates, Plato, Cephalus and of course Apocryphal. Well now...

  Q: “What is the most important lesson you have learnt about money?” Asked in a newspaper column of Bettany Hughes, 48, English author, broadcaster and TV historian, her speciality subject being classical history.

A: “I’m with Buddha and Socrates and Confucius on this one, who all say pretty much the same: wealth is not intrinsically bad, but you should never pursue it at the expense of wisdom.”

Hm, a bit of a chicken and egg thing, really ― in as much that you need the wisdom in the first place in order not to pursue money at all costs.

Indeed, ask our disgraced bankers.

Oh, and that fellow from Facebook attempting to buy his way into Heaven with a $45bn charity pledge (70 Virgins no longer on special offer, apparently).

 

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Friday 4th
 

Having problems in the bedroom? You’re not alone: Most people diagnosed with low sex drive or erectile dysfunction are actually ‘normal’ study claims

Far from being unusual, occasional ‘mild and transient sexual problems are sufficiently common to be considered normal’, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers say

Phew!
 

  “I am in favour of smashing the menopause taboo to smithereens.” Vanessa Feltz, 53, English freelance broadcaster and journalist.

 “I actually love being in menopause. I feel older, and I feel settled being older, I feel happy that I have grown up. I don’t want to be young again.” Angelina Jolie, 40, American actress.

Phew²!

Do you know, I personally remember womenopause creeping up on me ― a condition I called quality control at the time, until that is, Old Shaggy down at the Crazy Horsepower Saloon pointed out what it actually was.

As it happen, womenopause quietly started to lay down its marker when I was Angelina’s age, but it took a good many years before I preferred a good joke over great sex (you can enjoy a good joke over and over in your mind, but you have to experience great sex to actually put a smile on your face, sadly).

In the past I have quoted George Melly, English jazz and blues singer (among his many talents), who was reputed to have an active sex life, indeed the word on the street suggested that AC, DC and Three Phase sex got his current flowing ― and he is reported to have said, on finding himself impotent at 70: “It’s wonderful, like being unchained from a lunatic.”

Great quote. Then the other day I saw a similar line attributed to Sophocles: “The male libido is like being chained to a madman.”

So Ivor the Search Engine  went hunting...

Goodness. The quote can be traced back via:

     George Melly (1926-2007)
     Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)
     David Niven (1910-1983)
     Dunno what happened between 1983 and 347BC...
     Plato (Died 347BC)
     Socrates (Died 399BC)
     Sophocles (Died 406BC)

Larry King (1933----), a variation on the theme: “At my age of 82, sex no longer controls you. You’re freer. You can’t get in trouble.”

Russell Brand (1975---- ) was also listed, who is of course 40, that curious male middle age when Mother Nature sticks a sprag in our wheel by slowly reducing the amount of blood it pumps from our brain to the sharp end, which in turn allows the brain to retain some blood and be able to think straight. Or at least straighter.

Also mentioned in dispatches someone called Cephalus ― which initially I mistook for Syphilis, so best to move quickly on.

But my favourite suspect was Apocryphal (? ― ?).

 

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Thursday 3rd

WHENEVER I buy a lottery ticket or scratch card, I never expect to actually win anything. If ever I was disappointed at not winning, well, I would never buy one again.

I think I have shared this with you before: a wee while back, at the local supermarket, I had about five quid or so change from a £20 note, so I bought a lottery ticket and a scratch card. The chatty lady on the till asked me, as she handed over the card, if I ever won anything on “these things”.

I smiled. “No, it’s all money down the drain, I’m afraid ― but ― if it wasn’t going down the drain here it would be going down the drain at the pub. After all, I only have so much money to spend on frivolities.” She nodded empathically.

On the drive home I began, as is my wont, to ponder on these Aunty Camelot things: for every £10 I spend on the lottery, that’s £10 less being spent at the pub. So if you multiply that by the millions of people who play the lottery ... well, no wonder pubs are closing all over the shop. And it’s my entire fault.

Anyway, there was an article in last weekend’s Sunday Times  Money section apropos where to invest a bit of a windfall, say an inheritance.

Along the way they compared things like Premium Bonds and the lottery. In a piece about the lottery, Mark Griffiths, professor of behavioural addiction and director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said that people tend to overestimate positive outcomes and underestimate negative ones.

He added: “If someone is told they have a 1-in-45m chance of being killed that day, they will hardly give it a second thought because the chances are tiny. Given the same probability of winning a lottery people suddenly become overoptimistic: ‘It could be you’.”

How wonderful is that? I mention it because, checking my Lotto ticket this morning, I had three numbers and £25. I was over the moon.

So there I was in town this lunchtime, and I did think of buying a bottle of champagne ― but I’ve already got a couple in stock, ready for when I’m overtaken by that XL “Here’s lookin’ at you” feeling.

So I treated myself to a deliciously tasty ‘large’ fish and chips takeaway ― which is quite an agreeable treat for me.

I added mushy peas at home. And it was delicious. Actually, I divided the meal first, half being more than enough for me. I shall enjoy the other half tomorrow. Looking forward to it already.

Oh, and I had enough cash left from my winnings to buy a few Health Lottery tickets (only a £100,000 jackpot, but that would suit me just fine, thank you very much).

Last of the big spenders, me.
 

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Wednesday 2nd

  “WHY does wireless technology need so many wires?” Mike Catterall of Accrington, in a letter to the Daily Mail.

  “I hate electronics. I hate phones. I hate computers. I always loved the simple gadgets with a button and flashing red lights.” James Bond actor Daniel Craig, 47.

I empathise absolutely with both Mike and Daniel. I don’t use wireless technology, but I do use a computer, obviously, hence this web site. But it is always at arm’s length.

And I carry a mobile for emergency use only ― for example, when out walking or driving ― but I never receive incoming calls because the thing is always switched off.

I flatly refuse to become addicted to technology. Last year I even bought a new car with as few electronic gadgets as possible.
 

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Tuesday 1st

I’VE BEEN watching on S4C (the Welsh language television channel), farming’s annual two-day Royal Welsh Winter Fair, indeed now internationally recognised as the finest prime stock show in Europe.

The fair features the judging of sheep, pig and beef cattle classes; also horse classes, as well as poultry, produce, handicrafts and floral art.

But back with the animals: what made me smile were the names. Now we’re familiar with the glorious and often smiley names in horse racing ― the rural world is catching up fast.

I noticed that there were two winners called Miss Wales.

In the horse section, the Cob Foal was won by a Miss Wales ― but was beaten as the Supreme Cob Champion by a colt yearling bearing the Welsh name Iechyd Da  (literally ‘Good health’, but best translated compliments of a line from the film Casablanca: ‘Here’s lookin’ at you’).

In the cattle section, the heifer class was won by a Limousin also called Miss Wales ― which then went on to win the blue-ribbon beef cattle championship, beating the winner of the steer class which boasted the exceedingly smiley name of Dennis the Menace.

That’s entertainment in itself. But I do wonder if the judges are subliminally influenced by the splendid names these beasts are blessed with?

After all, when you are faced with two finalists ― with all the experts agreed that there really was nothing to choose between them and that it would come down to a very personal choice by the judges ― when you are in the middle of Wales, and there are two creatures called Miss Wales and Dennis the Menace in front of you ... well, I think you would intuitively go with Miss Wales.

Anyway, it was good to open the Advent Smile Calendar watching people awash with enthusiasm and dedication showing off something they were so proud of, whether it be a champion beast or a glorious example of floral art.

Marvellous.

Smile of the day 2015: Nov

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Previously on Look You...
Smile of the day 2015: Nov
Smile of the day 2015: Oct
Smile of the day 2015: Sep
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)

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: Nov
Smile of the day 2015: Oct
Smile of the day 2015: Sep
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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