Sunday, 28 February 2010


I recently heard of what must rank as one of the most unfortunate allergies which a man can possess. The poor gentleman concerned is Robert Pattinson, a British film star most famous for his roles in 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter'.

Mr. Pattinson is blessed with outrageously good looks and must presumably have a massive female fan base. If my wife's interest in Colin Firth is anything to go by, most of these ladies would like to know him on an intimate basis. Should any of them succeed in this endeavour however, there is a strong caveat which they should be aware of in the form of Mr. Pattinson's curious allergy.

What is this complaint? I quote the poor man himself "I really hate vaginas. I'm allergic to vagina." Do I hear you scoff at this news? You believe he just said it for effect and to grab the headlines? How very cynical you are dear reader!

Let me now tell you a not unrelated joke which I heard today.

A man is seeking a job so he goes to a Gloucester employment agency.

"Good afternoon Mr. Smith. We have a local vacancy which requires no previous experience or training. It is for a Gynaecologist's assistant. The pay is £700 per month with 10 weeks paid holiday per year."

Mr. Smith cannot hide his keen interest and asks what the job entails.

"Well, as the assistant, your task is to liberally apply cream to the ladies to relax them and thus prepare them for their examination by the Doctor. The only problem is that it's in Edinburgh".

"But I thought you said the job was local!" said Mr. Smith.

"Oh it is - but the back of the queue for applicants is in Edinburgh".

Obviously, Mr. Pattinson will not be applying.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


So I've started taking guitar lessons. The way I figure it, you're never too old to learn - or in this case - you're never too old to become a rock god. The truth is that I could already play - sort of - but I want to improve. Nothing too ambitious you understand, maybe just good enough to get Eric Clapton's attention.

Is seven chords enough to be a rock god? Apparently so, for popular rumour has it that Status Quo only ever used three.

If you already play a musical instrument, you'll understand the sheer joy it gives to you, the musician. Whether the listener gets any joy from hearing you play is another matter entirely!

If you aren't a musician - why not? I started by playing the recorder at school and caught the bug there. The thing is that even if the recorder is beyond you, try comb and paper or if you want to be posh, a kazoo. It's great fun to play a tune on such a simple contraption and ANYONE can do it. (That means you).

PRO TIP: start with no-one listening.
Just go for it when you're on your own sometime. Apart from anything else, it's a brilliant way to get rid of your tensions and frustrations.

As Samuel Pepys attests to in his diaries, our ancient forebears used to spend many happy hours in those television and computer-free days just singing and playing music in small gatherings. It is a wonderfully social thing to do.

I remember in my 'hippy' days when I lived in Sweden, that a dozen or so of us would just gather at someone's house where somebody would pull out a guitar and we'd just sing along (OK and drink!), just having great fun. Music is one of life's simplest and best pleasures.

If you don't believe you have a musician lurking within you, you'll sympathise with my first wife who as a newly qualified teacher arriving for the first day in school was asked whether she played the recorder. She apologised and explained that she played no musical instrument whatsoever. 'In that case, you'll be taking the beginners' was the reply!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Feeling in need of light relief? Look no further than this seriously silly story of the hotel chain who is offering a new service to it's guests.

The hotel is offering - wait for it - human bed warmers! Yes, for the princely sum of nothingpence, you can have cuddly members of the hotel staff climb into your bed to warm it up before you get in.

Some of you may be saddened to hear that even if they are especially attractive members of the opposite sex, they will be leaving your room after just 5 minutes.

The human hot water bottles are dressed up to look a bit like white cuddly teddy bears and it looks like they come as a pair - probably to ensure that the warming pans on legs don't provide any other extra curricular services.

I'm sure your mind is racing with the possibilities after hearing this but my main thought is 'where did I go wrong?' I could have been paid to lie in bed for a living and I just know I'd have been brilliant at this job!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


I'd like to share a story with you which I heard the other day. It's a sad story from which there is much to learn.

It concerns a little boy who we'll call Bobby. He was about 5 years old and was an only child. He was very well cared for and his parents loved him dearly. In fact they loved him so much that when his Daddy became gravely ill, they decided to shield Bobby from the dreadful facts of his father's condition.

He was just told that his father was poorly and had had to take to his bed (he and his wife had separate rooms because his coughing kept her awake). The months passed and his Daddy became more and more ill. When the doctor called to see his father, Bobby was ushered out of the room 'for his own good'. Bobby tried to ask about his poorly father but was just told not to worry - everything will be alright.

Then one night, around 2 a.m. , Bobby was awakened by the sound of his Daddy calling for help. He nervously went into the bedroom to find his weak and feeble father asking for a glass of water. Glad to be able to help in some way, Bobby went downstairs and brought him a refreshing tumbler of water which his Daddy gratefully quaffed. Bobby went back to bed, happy that he had been able to help his poor father even in such a simple way.

Tragically, the next morning, Bobby's mother discovered that her husband had died in the early hours. The doctor was called for and although his Mum did tell Bobby that his Daddy had died, he was asked to stay in his room to save him from the sad facts.

Bobby couldn't help himself. He listened at the bedroom door. All he managed to hear was the Doctor saying 'Of course, it was the drink that killed him'.

Bobby told no-one about his guilty knowledge that he had killed his father by getting him that glass of water. It was a very long time before he finally learned that his father had died of cirrhosis of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism.

The moral of the story is that we best protect our children by giving them knowledge.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I have a fascination for old photographs. I just love looking at scenes of people who died perhaps a hundred years ago and imagining how their lives were back then.

There is one curious thing which I have noticed. When you compare a crowd scene of say 1910 with a crowd scene of 2010 there is one particularly obvious difference in people's dress. In 1910, everyone wore a hat. Ladies wore a wide variety of them and no doubt they were secured by hat pins. Gentlemen wore trilby hats, bowlers, flat caps or if they were real 'toffs' they would be sporting top hats. Schoolboys wore caps unless at public school, in which case top hats were the done thing. Schoolgirls wore bonnets or straw hats.

Clearly wearing a hat was an essential part of your outdoor attire. This meant that when you came indoors every home needed a hat stand to park your 'titfer' on - no longer an essential furnishing item. It also meant that Millinery was a thriving profession but sadly that is no longer the case.

I have a theory about what led to the demise of the hat. As suggested above, the type of hat which one wore was virtually a badge to signify which social class you belonged to. This was never more in evidence than in the classic comedy sketch from 'The Frost Report' on the social classes in which John Cleese as the upper class man is wearing a bowler; Ronnie Barker as the middle class man is wearing a trilby and poor little Ronnie Corbett, wearing a flat cap, 'knew his place'. I firmly believe that people tired of wearing a class badge and sought greater equality in their attire.

Of course, hats actually perform a useful function, namely to keep one's head warm. Mindful of this, I have purchased a rather nifty french style beret to see me through the recent spell of cold weather. I should be grateful, if any of you who know my wife, would see your way to passing comment on how fetching I look in it.